Writing that “those who would write off the Wolverines as being too staid in their approach to modern football do so at their own risk,”, the New York Sun’s Russell Levine reconsiders Lloyd Carr in the wake of Michigan’s mugging of Notre Dame on Saturday.
The chief criticism of Carr in recent seasons has to do with his conservative approach. Four of Michigan’s five defeats a year ago involved blown fourth-quarter leads, all characterized by a lack of a killer instinct on offense and a passive approach to defense. The Alamo Bowl loss to Nebraska was a fitting end to the season, as the Cornhuskers rallied from two scores down in the fourth quarter.
The parallels between the 1997 team and this one are obvious.That Michigan squad was coming off four consecutive four-loss seasons and there were plenty of questions about Carr, then an unproven third-year coach. They weren’t taken seriously until a late-season road rout of Penn State, perhaps the last Michigan big-game victory that was as complete as Saturday’s. This year’s squad has announced its intentions to compete for Big Ten and BCS titles by mid-September, but the Wolverines must prove they can handle success.
The first test comes Saturday, in Michigan’s conference opener against Wisconsin. In 2003, the Wolverines crushed an overmatched Notre Dame by a 38“0 score, but their stay among the nation’s elite lasted all of seven days. A ragged Michigan lost at Oregon in its next outing. The schedule is a bit gentler this time around, with three winnable games (vs.Wisconsin, at Minnesota, vs. Michigan State) before a road trip to Penn State.
For Carr, redemption will last only as long as he keeps winning. Another season-ending loss to Ohio State, which would drop Carr to 1“5 against Jim Tressel, would renew the calls for his head, no matter how unlikely his firing would be.