Several times throughout the season, Michigan running back Chris Perry has asked coach Lloyd Carr to remove him from the game because he felt fatigued.
Last Saturday wasn’t one of them. Perry carried the ball a school-record 51 times in the Wolverines’ 27-20 win over Michigan State. Carr said the Big Ten’s leading rusher was more than willing to sacrifice his body for the good of the team.
“The competitor that Chris is, I think he is extremely proud of what he was able to do on Saturday, ” Carr said. “He has a record that probably will hold up for awhile, and maybe for a long, long time.”
Michigan’s previous rushing-attempt record of 42 was set by Ron Johnson in 1967 and was matched by Anthony Thomas in 1999. Following his grueling performance, Perry began the recuperation process by soaking in a hot tub in his apartment complex for an hour.
“I was sore in more places than I usually would be,” Perry said Tuesday. “There’s still a little bit of bumps and bruises, but overall I feel fine. When you know the team is depending on you and you have some goals that you want to achieve, you need to be in really great shape.”
Perry was named Big Ten Player of the Week for his 219-yard effort, making it the third time he has collected the award this year. His season average of 131.3 rushing yards per game leads the conference.
Perry and the Wolverines have a much-needed bye this week, allowing them to rest up for their final two games against Northwestern and Ohio State. With a conference record of 5-1, Michigan controls its own destiny for a Big Ten title crown and subsequent Rose Bowl appearance.
MISCOMMUNICATION: Indiana’s offense, defense and special teams have delivered poor performances during the Hoosier’s 1-8, 0-5 Big Ten season. After last week’s game against Minnesota, the same can now be said of Indiana’s medical staff.
The Hoosiers medical staff neglected to inform coach Gerry DiNardo until the night before last Saturday’s game that quarterback Matt LoVecchio would be unable to play due to a concussion he sustained the week before. DiNardo learned of LoVecchio’s condition after making a phone call to his Minnesota hotel room.
“Obviously letting the coach know the Friday night before a game that the quarterback, who has practiced all week, won’t be playing is a flaw in our system,” DiNardo said.
Due to the miscommunication, freshman Graeme McFarland learned the morning of the game that he would be the starter. McFarland’s lack of preparation was apparent from the outset, as he fumbled after being sacked on his first series, leading to a 22-yard touchdown run by Minnesota safety John Pawieski. Indiana went on to lose the game by 48 points.
According to Dinardo, LoVecchio is expected to practice this week and should play against Illinois on Saturday.
BIG RESULTS: By Big Ten standards, Minnesota has an undersized offensive line. But there has been nothing small about the Golden Gophers’ production this season. After 10 games, Minnesota’s 3,007 total net yards and 36 rushing touchdowns lead the nation. Minnesota’s total offense average of 495.9 yards per game and scoring average of 41.3 points per game both rank first in the Big Ten.
“What Minnesota did to us was as dominating a performance as I’ve seen,” said Carr, who saw his team surrender 495 yards to the Gophers in Michigan’s 38-35 victory on October 13. “They’re extremely well-coached and their scheme is excellent.”
The Gophers rushing attack has led the way. Their 300.7 rushing yards per game average is second in the nation, trailing only Navy. Sophomore Marion Barber III is 5 yards away from his second 1,000-yard season, and true freshman Laurence Maroney has turned heads in his first year, averaging 7.3 yards per carry on his way to 786 rushing yards.
“We didn’t expect Laurence to even play this year,” Minnesota coach Glen Mason said. “But the way things developed during two-a-day practices, Laurence came to the forefront. I couldn’t be more pleased with his progress.”