LaMarr Woodley came out of the Michigan locker room beaming from
ear to ear on Saturday.

Michigan Football
Michigan defender LaMarr Woodley drags down Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton on Saturday. Woodley turned in an impressive performance off the bench. (tony ding/Daily)

One week earlier, Woodley had been late to a team meeting
— and subsequently removed from the Wolverines’
starting lineup against Purdue.

But instead of sulking, the sophomore from Saginaw came off of
Michigan’s bench and dominated Purdue’s offensive line,
time and time again beating the Boilermakers’ linemen off the
corner.

“You’ve got to learn from your mistakes,” said
Woodley after Michigan’s 16-14 win over the Boilermakers.
“I said since I wasn’t starting this game, I’ve
got to go out there and play as hard as I can.

“(Michigan coach Lloyd) Carr made a challenge this week
and he told me that I had to do what I’m supposed to. I knew
(Purdue) was a passing team, so I wanted to help the team get to
the quarterback.”

And that’s exactly what Michigan did. With Woodley
storming from the outside, the Wolverines were able to put constant
pressure on Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton. All told, Michigan
finished the game with three sacks and countless hurries of
Purdue’s Heisman Trophy candidate.

Woodley finished the day with two of those sacks for negative-17
yards, four tackles, a forced fumble, a pass deflection and
arguably his best performance in two years wearing the Maize and
Blue.

“He played like he should play,” Michigan defensive
coordinator Jim Herrmann said. “He’s a fantastic
football player, and there at the end, when we needed him, he came
off the ball and made some great plays to put some pressure on the
quarterback.”

A standout linebacker at Saginaw High School, Woodley shifted to
the defensive line in his freshman season at Michigan. He recorded
23 tackles and two sacks in 2003.

But with Michigan moving to a 3-4 defense this year, Woodley has
returned to a combination outside linebacker/defensive end position
— a move that has paid off for the Wolverines’ defense.
Woodley is the team’s fifth-leading tackler with 31 on the
year, including seven tackles for loss.

“I just call him ‘Animal’ out there,”
Michigan linebacker Roy Manning said. “LaMarr —
he’s something special. He’s a big guy, he can run,
he’s faster than he looks. (But) for the most part, he just
overpowers guys and he does it well.

“He’s just something to be reckoned with.”

Manning himself has had a solid season, tying Woodley with 31
tackles, while recording four tackles for loss.

Still, the fifth-year senior can’t help but marvel at
Woodley’s efforts.

“I wish, when I was that young, I played the way he
plays,” Manning said. “I give him a lot of credit
— he’s a hard worker and he’s just going to
continue to improve.”

Woodley’s performance this year has been a critical factor
in the overall steps Michigan’s defense has taken forward.
The Wolverines’ pass rush was one of their biggest question
marks coming into the season, but those fears have been calmed in
recent weeks.

According to Woodley, that’s something everyone deserves
credit for.

“You know, the other guys are doing their jobs,
too,” Woodley said.

For his part, Woodley’s personal gameplan is simple.

“I figure, if I can get to the quarterback, we can make
something happen,” Woodley said.

And that would continue to give Woodley reason to smile.

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