After giving up 543 yards to Illinois last Saturday, Michigan is giving up an average of 360 yards per game of total offense, sixth in the Big Ten. But coach Lloyd Carr is not as concerned about giving up yards, because he knows that is not the most significant stat.

Paul Wong
Defensive lineman Dan Rumishek and the rest of the defense may have given up over 500 yards against Illinois last week, but they are not a question mark for the Wolverines.

“You’re always going to look at statistics, but there is always one important statistic and that’s the score,” Carr said. “After that it comes down to turnovers. If you win the turnover margin, you’re going to win and that’s the goal.”

After forcing five turnovers and giving up just one against the Illini, the Wolverines are now 18th in the nation in turnover margin, at plus 7 (16 for, nine against). Turnovers have been a key factor in Michigan’s 4-1 record, both in the wins and the loss.

“When you consider the competition that we’ve faced you realize that turnovers aren’t easy to come by,” Carr said. “Everyone understands that you have a hard time winning games when you lose the turnover battle.”

In Michigan’s only loss this season, a 25-23 defeat at the hands of Notre Dame, both teams had four turnovers apiece.

Above just winning the turnover battle, the offense must take advantage of its opportunities. Against the Illini, the Wolverines’ offense did just that, turning the five turnovers into 24 points. The offense could not that against the Irish.

The yardage given up against Illinois is a bit deceiving as Michigan had pretty much wrapped up the game by the third quarter and Carr used the fourth quarter to give other players more time on the field.

“We substituted at the end of three quarters because number one, we had control of the game and it gave us an opportunity to play a lot of our younger players,” Carr said of playing the second string.

“As far as the score goes, would you like to come out of there allowing only 13 points? Yes, but the game was clearly in hand and it was in the best interests of our program that we give those young players experience and another important factor is that when you leave people in the risk of injury is higher.”

Bye, bye love: According the Carr the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. It is very early in the Big Ten season, giving the Wolverines a break before the long haul.

“Anytime the week comes during the middle of the season it enables you to get your breath,” Carr said. “If you have it late

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