Carr Thinks Stopping Walker Is Key

By Adam Caparell - September 13, 2006

There are plenty of intriguing matchups in Saturday’s Notre Dame-Michigan game. Can Brady Quinn stand tall against the Michigan defensive line and better counterpart Chad Henne? Can CB Leon Hall keep in check WRs Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnights? Between Charlie Weis and Lloyd Carr, whose calls will be the right ones.

Then there’s the Darius Walker vs. the Michigan defense and Carr thinks the Wolverines ability to slow down Notre Dame’s leading rusher could be the their most important job.

“Walker is the heart and soul of that team,” Carr said. “I think he’s just an outstanding football player.”

Carr thinks highly of Walker - despite only having 155 yards and one touchdown to start the season – because he sees a lot of Walker in his own RB, Mike Hart.

“Both of them have great instincts,” Carr said. “They’re guys that love to play the game. They both have great vision as running backs. They’re both tough and do the things in pass protection that you want to see done.”

Hart is off to a great start, thanks to Michigan’s new zone blocking scheme on offense. He's averaging 131 yards per game for and is the leading rusher in the Big Ten.

But the focus this week is on defense as Michigan has spoken very highly of Notre Dame’s offense. The Wolverines better hope they're up to what figures to be their toughest challenge defensively until they face Ohio State.

The Wolverines are leading the Big Ten in total defense, but it’s come against Vanderbilt and Central Michigan. Notre Dame, in South Bend, could be a bear.

Carr’s teams have really underperformed in these kind of big games over the last several years. Whether it’s Ohio State, Notre Dame or the Wolverines bowl games, Michigan has disappointed in the big spot lately. Carr is on the hot seat and he’s getting really ornery with all the questions about the pressure on him. I think he's safe for the time being, but he can’t keep losing to Ohio State, and Notre Dame to a lesser extent, game after game. Falling to your biggest rivals consistently will cost you. Just ask John Cooper.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 05:48 PM on September 13, 2006

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