Chris Perry knows the fumbles can’t continue. If they do, it means his job.
Following a dramatic loss to Notre Dame, when three fumbles by three different players (including one by Perry) cost Michigan momentum and eventually cost it a win, Saturday’s game against Utah was an opportunity to get the offense functioning properly again. The dropped passes over the last two games by various Michigan receivers were enough to cause the Michigan coaches to sweat; the last thing they needed was their sure-handed tailback coughing the ball up too.
But on Saturday, Perry fumbled in the first quarter on a 2nd-and-goal run from the two-yard line. He dove over the pack, Superman-style, losing the football into the endzone where it was fallen on by Utah linebacker Brooks Bahr. A touchdown would have given Michigan an early 7-0 lead.
“I was sick … I can’t do that,” Perry said. “If the team’s going to trust me with the ball, and trust me to take the ball into the endzone, and I’m going to be a leader on this team, I can’t fumble the ball.”
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, who (like many coaches) views fumbles as one of his greatest pet peeves, benched Perry. In so doing he gave his younger running backs – Tim Bracken and Dave Underwood – an opportunity to perform in a close game.
Bracken rushed six times for 19 yards, including a 12-yard run.
“We have to take care of the football,” Carr said. “And if you don’t take care of the football, then somebody else will get a chance. There’s an old clich