Carr Sees Progress

Sometimes it really is hard to tell when, or if, Lloyd Carr is having a good time.
``Don't I always look like I'm having fun?'' Carr asked sardonically when questioned about enjoying the week of practice prior to Michigan's 38-0 rout of Notre Dame.

A question about how many beers he downed in the postgame celebration with actor Russell Crowe didn't get any reply, just a withering stare.

OK, then, what about the win over the Fighting Irish, especially after those unforgettable losses to Appalachian State and Oregon.

``I thought we made some big strides,'' Carr said Monday. ``I liked what I saw up front on both sides of the ball.''

With the Wolverines hosting Penn State in their Big Ten opener Saturday, the biggest question is the health of quarterback Chad Henne. The senior watched the Notre Dame game from the press box, wearing what appeared to be a knee brace.

Again, Carr wasn't giving out much information.

``I think he's day to day,'' he said.

Upon further questioning, Carr referred to the injury as a ``sprain'' and said Henne's return will depend on how well he can play with limited mobility.

``The final decision on an injury always rests with the doctors, but it is tougher when you have a sprain, it is more dependent on the player,'' he said. ``We have guys playing every week with an ankle that's sprained. It's really about how effective you can be and how much discomfort you can stand.''

Freshman Ryan Mallett replaced Henne and did what the Wolverines needed, throwing three touchdowns in seven completions.

``We were effective in the passing game. Our receivers only caught five balls, but three went for touchdowns,'' Carr said. ``Ryan had a great experience in terms of starting in a big rivalry game. He did some very good things, and he did some things that need to be corrected.''

Mallett provided enough passing to keep the Fighting Irish from collapsing on Michigan tailback Mike Hart. Even with Notre Dame focused on him, Hart ran for 190 yards and two touchdowns.

``The guys on the offensive line did a great job, and of course, Mike,'' Carr said. ``We ran the football extremely well, and that makes it easier to control the ball and easier to protect the quarterback.''

Hart felt fine on Monday despite 35 carries against Notre Dame.

``I got tackled, but I didn't get hit,'' he said. ``That's the difference. When you're getting hit, it wears on your body.''

The 10th ranked Nittany Lions will be a tougher matchup than anything Michigan has faced to date, and Carr expects them to be better than they showed in a 17-10 loss to Michigan last season.

``Penn State has had great teams down through the years, and this is an outstanding football team in every phase of the game,'' he said. ``It's truly one of the best Penn State defensive teams that I've seen.''

Carr's players know that beating one of the worst Notre Dame teams in history doesn't mean they will have success against unbeaten Penn State.

``That's going to be different,'' senior linebacker John Thompson said. ``Even against Notre Dame, we made a lot of mistakes. We can't do that against a team like Penn State.''

by: Anthony White - - Email Us

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