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Published: Thursday, 1/3/2008

Carr enjoys the morning after

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Now retired coach Lloyd Carr relaxes yesterday after Michigan's victory New Year's Day. He finished 122-40 in 13 seasons. Now retired coach Lloyd Carr relaxes yesterday after Michigan's victory New Year's Day. He finished 122-40 in 13 seasons.
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ORLANDO, Fla. - He sat down at the table, his morning cup of coffee in hand, and looked across at the dozen or so reporters sitting around him for the very last time in this capacity.

Lloyd Carr was no longer the football coach at the University of Michigan, retiring after 13 seasons with a 122-40 record and the third most wins in school history. He also had a victory in his final game at the Capital One Bowl the day before, a 41-35 win over No. 9 Florida.

Rolling out of bed yesterday morning, Carr was at peace.

"I felt good," he said, "and it has everything to do with yesterday. These guys are special guys."

Carr said he received more than 100 text messages and phone calls Tuesday night after the game before making it back to the team hotel, where a reception from Florida Citrus Sports awaited him on the 15th floor.

As to what he attributed the victory over the heavily favored Gators, Carr pointed to the play of quarterback Chad Henne and the game plan of offensive coordinator Mike DeBord, along with a healthy dose of emotion.

"I think emotion always plays a big part of the game," Carr said. "But No. 1, we were healthy."

Henne had battled injuries since the second game of the season when he suffered a partially torn PCL in his right knee against Oregon and then separated his right shoulder at Illinois on Oct. 20.

Back to full strength on New Year's Day, Henne threw for a career-best 373 yards as he completed 25 of 39 passes, including three for touchdowns, and collected Capital One Bowl MVP honors.

"Chad Henne is a great quarterback, has been a great quarterback, and he proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that he was a great quarterback yesterday," Carr said. "This guy is something, and he'll have a great career in the NFL."

While many after the game asked when the Wolverines had implemented the spread offense, based on the numerous empty backfield, five-wideout looks Michigan gave Florida in the game, Carr put an end to that speculation yesterday.

"Gentlemen, that was not the spread offense," he said. "It was nothing close to the spread offense, as we know it."

Instead the offense was similar to that of the Indianapolis Colts. DeBord spent last summer studying with Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore, who has found a way to utilize the talents of quarterback Peyton Manning by spreading the field with four-wideout sets. The system is pass-oriented in nature, unlike a traditional spread option that is a run-first scheme, Carr said.

DeBord saw a weakness with Florida's young secondary, and he decided that exploiting that chink in the armor with the offensive system of the Colts would be the Wolverines' key to victory.

"And [DeBord] added the wrinkle of the no-back [sets], flanking Mike Hart out, which gave them some matchup problems," Carr said. "But I thought we executed from the very first drive. It was just a fun thing to stand there and know that if we didn't commit penalties and turnovers, we were going to score."

Carr also gave credit to the Michigan defense and defensive coordinator Ron English, who announced after the game he had accepted the same position at Louisville.

Michigan limited Florida quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow to just 17-of-33 passing for 154 yards and three touchdowns through the air and 57 yards rushing, well below his season averages.

"I thought we did an outstanding job on Tebow," Carr said. "I mean that guy just won the Heisman Trophy."

As far as his predictions for next season's team, Carr said he'll leave that for someone else, with exception of hoping freshman quarterback Ryan Mallett sticks it out at Michigan under incoming coach Rich Rodriguez.

Carr's merely going to enjoy his new position as an associate athletic director at Michigan, along with catching up on several seasons of his favorite TV show, 24.

"I'm like everybody else now, except I know who's there," Carr said. "I know the personnel, and I'm sure there'll be some changes."

But never another Lloyd Carr.

Contact Zach Silka at: zsilka@theblade.com.



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