ANN ARBOR - Michigan starting cornerback Zia Combs lay motionless on his back in the Penn State end zone early in the first quarter yesterday in Michigan Stadium after attempting to down a punt before the ball crossed the goal line.
UM's Ernest Shazor was also trying to stop the ball and dove over Combs, evidently hitting Combs in the head with his knee.
Combs was strapped to a stretcher, taken off the field on a cart and admitted to University Hospital with a neck injury. He was kept overnight for observation, but had full movement and suffered no fractures, according to a Michigan athletic department spokesman.
“The report right now is pretty positive,” Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said after the Wolverines' 27-24 overtime victory.
Carr, asked how difficult that was to deal with, said, “When you're [on the field], at first he was scared. And so I was scared. The longer we stayed out there he began to get some feeling, but there are no words than can express all the things that go through your mind.
“It's a great game, but it's a dangerous game. Your greatest fear is that any player is going to suffer an injury that would change his life, so I'm very thankful.”
Carr also said that freshman linebacker Lawrence Reid, who had played in all five of Michigan's games this season, is suffering from blood clots and will be out for the remainder of the season.
The Wolverines also played without two defensive starters, end Shantee Orr and tackle Norman Heuer.
ODDS AND ENDS: Yesterday's attendance of 111,502 was the fifth-largest crowd in Michigan Stadium history. ... UM's triumph improved its overtime record to 2-0. The Wolverines had previously won in overtime against Alabama 35-34 in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1 2000. ... UM quarterback John Navarre recorded a career-high 27 completions. His previous high was 26 at Washington last season. He finished the game 27-of-41 for 244 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored the first rushing touchdown of his career on a one-yard sneak near the end of the second quarter. ... Penn State quarterback Zack Mills, who led the Big Ten in passing, completed 19 of 31 attempts for 264 yards and two touchdowns. ... Penn State coach Joe Paterno used backup quarterback Michael Robinson as a running back and a quarterback in the first quarter with Mills split out as a wide receiver on three occasions. Paterno said he was afraid to use Mills too much early because of a left sore shoulder that the lefthander suffered last week against Wisconsin. ... Carr became somewhat aggravated when he was asked why he decided to run out the clock at the end of regulation with the ball on the UM 22 and 33 seconds remaining. “Anyone who would have even thought twice about [trying to advance the ball] doesn't know anything about football,” he said.