Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Michigan has no history with its next opponent

The Associated Press

        ANN ARBOR, Mich. — History suggests Michigan will have a positive response from last week's turnover- and penalty-marred 25-23 loss at Notre Dame. But the Wolverines have no history with their next opponent.

        That makes for an interesting wrinkle as No. 14 Michigan gets set to host unranked Utah on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.

        The Wolverines and Utes have never met. Utah was placed on Michigan's non-conference schedule in place of Oregon, which will play the Wolverines next year in Eugene, Ore.

        In Lloyd Carr's previous seven seasons as Michigan's coach, his teams are 14-4 in games following a loss. And the Wolverines are 106-24-4 all-time in first-time matchups with an opponent.

        But those are just so many numbers as the Wolverines (2-1) prepare to meet Utah.

        “They beat USC to death,” Michigan tight end and co-captain Bennie Joppru said, recalling the Utes' Las Vegas Bowl win over Southern California last year. “We can't take them lightly and we all understand that.”

        Joppru was still visibly angry two days after Michigan's loss at Notre Dame. He didn't even take any consolation in his own performance, which included a career-best eight catches for 80 yards and a touchdown.

        “There's no bright side to that game,” Joppru said. “You can't look at that as a bright side.”

        Joppru and the rest of the Wolverines were still kicking themselves for three lost fumbles and a host of ill-timed penalties, all of which proved crucial in the loss to the Fighting Irish.

        “We've got a point to prove — that that's not us,” Joppru said. “We're not a mistake-prone team and we've got some things to prove.”

        Joppru said he'll be over his anger when the Wolverines start practicing for Utah on Tuesday. Carr just hopes any residual anger will be channeled in the right direction.

        “I think when you come off a game like this in a program like this, you're hurt; I mean, you're disappointed,” Carr said. “So you can react one of two ways. You can feel sorry for yourself or you can make excuses or you can blame other factors. Or you can go back to work with a resolve that it's not going to happen again; that you're going to correct the things that caused you to not get the job done and get back to work with an attitude that we're going to correct this; that we're going to do the things we need to do to reach our goals.”

        Utah (2-1) will come to Ann Arbor a little angry, too. The Utes lost 23-17 at Arizona when an apparent touchdown pass was ruled to have been caught out of the end zone. Replays showed the receiver was inbounds.

        “Utah should be 3-0,” Carr said. “For some reason, the guy missed the call.”

        Carr had his own issues with the officiating at Notre Dame but said he wasn't going to make it public.

        “You couldn't print what I thought,” Carr said. “My mother would not be proud of me.”

        Replays appeared to show Notre Dame quarterback Carlyle Holiday fumbled before scoring a touchdown, although Carr said he wasn't aware of that until after the game. On the play before that, Carr was upset by an interference call against cornerback Marlin Jackson and contended both players were going for the ball.

        “When the ball's in the air, both players are eligible receivers,” Carr said. “Marlin Jackson was going for the ball. It was an absolutely wrong call.”


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