STATE COLLEGE For the second straight week, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr tried to outsmart his opponent by using trickery.
In last week”s win over Illinois, the Wolverines (2-0 Big Ten, 4-1 overall) used a halfback option and a lateral from backup quarterback Jermaine Gonzales to Marquise Walker, who threw the ball back to Gonzales.
Both plays were successful.
In Saturday”s 20-0 win over Penn State, Michigan drove the ball the length of the field before stalling on the two-yard line.
On fourth down, Carr sent in the field goal unit, except Gonzales was the holder not John Navarre, who normally holds the ball on field goals.
Gonzales took the snap and tried to run the ball in and replays showed that he might have scored but the officials ruled him down on the one-yard line.
“I designed that play,” Carr said. “I wanted it to work in the worst way. I took the blame for it, but I was made it didn”t work.”
Bad times: Saturday”s loss set another record for futility at Penn State.
Michigan”s shutout win marked the first time the Nittany Lions had been shut out at home since 1965, before coach Joe Paterno was at Penn State.
The Lions had played 216 home games without being shut out since a 23-0 loss to Michigan State in 1965.
The loss also marks the first time that Penn State has opened 0-4 in 115 years, and the first time it has lost three straight home games since 1964.
“It”s not easy, it never is,” Paterno said. “We”ve gotten beat by four good football teams, so it”s not as if we have anyone we can beat up on. We knew going in we wouldn”t be a dominant team but maybe we”d be able to steal a game.”
Penn State has a bye this week before playing at Northwestern in two weeks.
“It”s extremely tough” to stay positive, cornerback Bryan Scott said. “I”m an optimist. I think we can still turn the season around.”
“Good start”: Junior tailback B.J. Askew had perhaps his best game as Michigan”s featured running back Saturday, carrying the ball 27 times for 122 yards.
He also caught four passes for 56 yards.
“B. J. is off to a good start his junior year. We played him as a fullback and that was not an easy adjustment for him,” Carr said.” It made him a better football player. I know it helped him as a pass receiver. Now he”s the guy that”s carrying the load for us.”
The game was Askew”s third game this year in which he topped 100 yards of total offense.
Askew”s play comes at an especially good time for Michigan, considering sophomore Chris Perry has been slowed by a knee injury.
Perry played Saturday after missing the Illinois game and finished with 12 yards on four carries.
Net returns: Junior safety and punt returner Julius Curry didn”t travel with the team to State College because of an undisclosed injury that happened in practice last week.
Junior Charles Drake replaced Curry in the secondary and played well.
Junior receiver Ronald Bellamy handled punt returning duties and didn”t play so well.
He returned two punts for eight yards, and fumbled another punt which set up a Penn State field goal attempt, which sailed wide right.
Bellamy did score a touchdown in the third quarter on a 53-yard pass.