Chris Perry may be Michigan’s thoroughbred in the backfield, but
the Wolverines have several horses battling for that second
position on the starting gate.

Janna Hutz
Tim Bracken made the most of his rushing opportunities Saturday, going for 57 yards and a touchdown — his first of the season — on eight carries. (DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily)

After this weekend, it appears Tim Bracken has come around the
bend ahead of the bunch.

The senior from White Castle, La., had just 22 yards on five
carries this season going into the Illinois game. But he more than
doubled that output in one game, going for 57 yards on eight
carries, including a 27-yard touchdown in the third quarter to put
the Wolverines up 42-7. Carr says that Bracken, who was hurt
earlier this season, finally started playing up to caliber a few
weeks ago.

“He’s been playing very well lately,” said Carr of Bracken. “A
week ago, he had three blocks on two kickoff returns. He made some
really good shallow cuts, and he has an innate ability to make a
guy miss.

“He did not report to training camp in very good shape, but he’s
made some really good strides since then.”

David Underwood is the second-string back according to
Michigan’s depth chart. But after rushing for 108 yards against
Houston, the junior hasn’t seen much action. He has just nine
carries for 32 yards since playing Notre Dame.

Meanwhile, Bracken, Jerome Jackson and Pierre Rembert have been
splitting the load subbing in for Perry. Jackson also had eight
carries against Illinois, rushing for 54 yards and one
touchdown.

Carr has said that the competition behind Perry has heated up
lately with the improved play of Bracken and the two younger backs,
and no one back is gaining a clear advantage over the others. But
this weekend, it was Bracken’s turn to shine.

“Tim has been amazing in practice,” Perry said. “He has been
hitting all his assignments, and he got the role that he
deserves.”

Boccher misses last two games: Michigan special teams
coach Jim Boccher has not been at Michigan’s past two games. Prior
to the Minnesota game, Carr issued a statement saying that Boccher
did not travel with the team to Minneapolis because of personal
reasons.

Boccher was still not on the sidelines this past weekend.

999 and counting: Perry ran for 140 yards on 24 carries
Saturday, but as it turned out, he left the game just one-yard
short of 1,000 for the season.

“I didn’t want him to get a big head,” Carr joked after the
game.

After being held under the 100-yard mark the past two games,
Perry finally broke through that barrier. It was the fifth time
this season he has rushed for over 100.

Gutz getting his reps: After playing a couple nail-biters
away from home, Michigan’s blowout over Illinois allowed backup
quarterback Matt Gutierrez to get back out on the field. The
redshirt freshman played the entire fourth quarter, throwing for 41
yards, including a 21-yard play-action bootleg pass to tight end
Tim Massaquoi – a play that hasn’t been run regularly at Michigan
since the days of Brian Griese.

First time for everything: If you wait long enough, good
things will happen. Senior tight end Andy Mignery caught the first
touchdown pass of his career in the second quarter to make it a
28-0 Michigan lead. It was a nine-yard touchdown play from Navarre,
but Mignery actually caught the ball around the 4-yard line, and
dragged a defender into the endzone.

Injury update: Michigan kicker Troy Nienberg has never
been afraid to use his head. But this time, it cost him. Nienberg
suffered an apparent concussion while trying to make a tackle on a
kickoff return by Illinois.

Safety Marlin Jackson missed the game because of a leg injury
suffered against Minnesota. Carr is hopeful that Jackson will be
back for Purdue. Willis Barringer started in place of him.

Jacob Stewart injured his left leg in the third quarter on a
kickoff, and was forced to leave the field on stretcher. Carr did
not have information on his injury.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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