When Marlin Jackson’s one-week suspension ended, he wanted to
make sure his Michigan teammates knew about it.

Janna Hutz
Junior Marlin Jackson was impressive in his 2003 debut this Saturday against Houston. Jackson finished with six tackles, and forced a fumble that jumpstarted the Michigan offense. (TONY DING/Daily)

“I was walking around all last week telling them that I’m back,”
the junior safety said.

Saturday, Jackson didn’t have to say anything. His play spoke
plenty loud enough.

On Houston’s second possession, quarterback Kevin Kolb tried to
run with the ball and was promptly thrown down by Jackson for no
gain. The next time the Cougars had the ball, Jackson forced
receiver Vincent Marshall to fumble on Houston’s 31, a turnover
that led to Michigan’s first score of the game. Jackson led a
much-improved Michigan defense with six tackles.

Safety Ernest Shazor also energized Michigan’s secondary.
Shazor, kept on the sidelines last weekend for undisclosed
disciplinary reasons, recorded just one tackle, but it was a big
one. He drilled receiver Chad McCullar after a catch in the first
quarter.

“You saw Ernest put the lick to somebody early,” lineman Larry
Stevens said. “(Shazor and Jackson) can change the flow of the game
in a hurry. Both of those guys can put some big hits on the other
team and get the entire team pumped up.”

That added excitement was evident Saturday, as the Michigan
defense looked like a different group than the one that gave up 218
rushing yards to Central Michigan. Houston managed just 74 yards on
the ground and 138 yards of total offense.

“This is Michigan, and when teams come into this house we have
to defend it like it is our own backyard,” Stevens said. “Our
defense took that to heart today, and we played tough.”

The Wolverines harassed the true-freshman Kolb, sacking him six
times – once for a safety – and caught the Cougars behind the line
of scrimmage 11 times. Against the Chippewas, Michigan did not
register a sack and made just five tackles for loss.

“I think we were a little better prepared for (the Cougars’)
scheme,” tackle Grant Bowman said. “They always say the biggest
improvement is between the first week and the second week. I really
think we improved the way we were playing, our techniques and the
intensity we had in the game.”

Jackson, a former cornerback, and Shazor brought a lot of the
speed that the Wolverines used to overwhelm Houston. Jackson said
the move to safety means that Michigan can effectively have three
cornerbacks on the field together.

” We have a lot of speed, and it really showed up (Saturday),”
Jackson said.

But Pierre Woods said the secondary players aren’t the only ones
with speed. The 6-foot-5, 244-pound linebacker showed quickness of
his own when he chased down the 5-foot-7, 170-pound Marshall early
in the second quarter.

“I thought he had me beat,” Woods said. “He was like 10 yards
ahead of me, so I didn’t think I was going to catch him, but I did.
One thing I pride myself on is we don’t want anybody to score
touchdowns. And I know I can catch you. I’ve got nice speed, too.
I’ll get you from behind.”

While the Michigan defenders were pleased with their performance
Saturday, tackle Norman Heuer said they enjoyed it for “two
seconds.” They know they have bigger tests to come, namely Notre
Dame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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