With head coach Lloyd Carr ready to talk about the promise of the 2001 football season at Michigan Media Day, he also had to brush on topics of a more discouraging note.
Carr told reporters of his disciplinary action for prize-recruit Kelly Baraka. Baraka was arrested for the second time this summer on possession of marijuana charges on July 31.
“Normally, I do not comment on the disciplinary actions that I take,” Carr said. “We have a very unusual situation with Kelly Baraka. I”m going to honor Kelly”s scholarship at Michigan, but he will not participate in any games, nor will he dress for any games for the 2001 season.”
Baraka did not attend the two freshman practices prior to media day.
Getting defensive: Last season, the Wolverines” defense was one of the least effective in school history, giving up an average of 19.1 points per game, with a season-worst 54 points at Northwestern. Opponents took advantage of the inexperienced and injury-decimated defensive line and secondary.
But with a year of experience and the return of seniors Cato June and Jake Frysinger, the defense hopes to be the strength of the team this year.
“Coach Carr always tells us that you have to have a good defense to win a championship,” senior linebacker Larry Foote said. “Last year, we learned that. We had some games we should have won because the offense was doing well, and we let them get away.”
Foote, senior Eric Brackins and junior Victor Hobson have been recognized as one of the best linebacking corps in the country by numerous pre-season publications.
“There are a lot of expectations on us and we are certainly ready to handle it,” Brackins said.
In the secondary, Carr believes that the return of June will spark the young defensive backfield.
“The thing we missed a year ago without (June), is he brings a real enthusiasm to a defense,” Carr said. “He”s a big, heavy-hitting guy, he”s a leader. It”s great to have him back.”
Carr also expects freshmen Marlin Jackson and Ernest Shazor to contribute this year.
“Both Ernest Shazor and Marlin Jackson have been tremendously impressive in these two days,” Carr said.
Arms race: Carr has yet to name a starting quarterback, but he pointed out that red-shirt sophomore John Navarre has the advantage due to the experience he gained from starting four games last season.
“We have four young quarterbacks, and I like them all,” Carr said. “I”m going to try to be fair and give them all an opportunity. John Navarre has the advantage in that he”s been here, he”s been in games, all of those things.”
Carr was also high on transfer quarterback Spencer Brinton, who has spent the past two years on a mission in South Africa.
“You sense immediately that he has a maturity about him,” Carr said. “This kid has had some experiences that certainly I”ve never had, and most of us haven”t had experiences that will mature you in a hurry.”
FILLING IN: Carr expects senior Marquise Walker and sophomore Chris Perry to step into the voids left by David Terrell and Anthony Thomas.
“Marquise came in here with David Terrell as the two most highly-touted receivers in the nation, and I think he”s a guy that needs to have a good year for us,” Carr said.
“I expect Chris Perry to be an outstanding tailback,” Carr said.