Michigan coach Lloyd Carr and many of his players blamed injuries for the inconsistent execution during Saturday’s game.

Julie Rowe
Junior linebacker John Thompson returns to practice this week after suffering an injury in the week leading up to the Northwestern game. (JEREMY CHO/Daily

Carr said quarterback Chad Henne faced increased pressure because the offensive line had to be shuffled. Running back Mike Hart said new players are apt to make mistakes.

But the excuses might have to stop, because some of the starters that missed Saturday’s game will return to practice this week.

Carr confirmed starting linebackers John Thompson and Chris Graham will practice, as will defensive tackle Will Johnson and right guard Tim McAvoy. Offensive linemen Jeremy Ciulla and Perry Dorrestein should also return to practice today.

Planning to participate in practice does not guarantee that the players will see the field against Purdue, though.

“They may feel better, they may look better, but it’s really how they can handle getting into practice,” Carr said. “It’s a very, very unusual circumstance where a guy can learn the game plan and play efficiently without practicing. We’ll just have to see.”

Some speculated the coaching staff held players with minor injuries out of the Eastern Michigan game for precautionary reasons, so they would be well rested for the remaining Big Ten schedule. But Carr denied that was the case at Monday’s press conference.

Wide receiver Mario Manningham and backup running back Brandon Minor will also return to action after each sat out last week.

Upsets don’t upset Carr: With Southern Cal dropping a home game to Stanford this weekend, Oklahoma losing on the road to Colorado the week before and Appalachian State stunning Michigan to start the year, reporters asked Michigan players and Carr yesterday what they thought of the nationwide and season-long string of major upsets.

“It happens every year,” Carr said. “Maybe there’s more (this year). But the one thing you know, there are 119 schools, and every week 59 are going to win, 59 are going to lose.”

While Carr’s math may have forgot about bye weeks, he did come up with a plausible explanation for the recent wild ride in college football.

“This time of year is when a lot of them happen,” Carr said. “Right now, across the country, a lot of kids are taking midterm exams, staying up late, not getting the rest they need. They are getting fatigued because they were in training camp for four weeks. It’s two and a half months they’ve been competing.”

Long is wrong: Senior Jake Long swore the Eagles were offsides on the blocked extra point returned for a two-point conversion Saturday. After the game, Carr said he trusted his captain because Long had never allowed a blocked kick in four years at the spot.

But after reviewing the game tape, Carr changed his mind.

“Their guy did a great job,” Carr said. “He moved almost the exact second that the ball moved. He made a great move and he made a great block, just as Terrance Taylor did when he blocked their extra point.”

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