J.T. Floyd shaves dreadlocks in search of fresh start, tries to get Denard Robinson to follow him
ANN ARBOR -- J.T. Floyd woke up recently with a strange feeling. Something he hadn't felt in five years.
He could rub his head.
After five years with dreadlocks, the Michigan senior cornerback shaved off the look before the Big Ten opener last week against Purdue.
"Just starting a new season, Big Ten season, and I had them for five years," Floyd said. "Just ready for a different look.
"It was a great feeling to just be able to wake up and just finally be able to feel your head. Actually feel your scalp."
Although several Michigan players employ the dreadlock look, none are more famous than Denard Robinson.
Floyd told Robinson he was going to do it, although the quarterback didn't believe him.
"I told him right before I cut them, 'Man, 'Lace, I'm going to cut 'em,'" Floyd said. "He's like, 'No you're not, no you're not.'
"He was the first guy I saw. He just looked at me and smiled, 'Man, I can't believe you did it.' We had a little dreadlock bond, I guess. Now I'm trying to persuade him to cut 'em, but it's not going to happen. Not going to happen."
Floyd said he lost about 2 pounds from the shave, and joked he hopes it will "add a little speed."
For the most part, though, he's been playing fast enough.
Floyd is a senior member of Michigan's secondary, which has been strong this year. It ranks seventh nationally against the pass, and leads the Big Ten.
It has helped knock two consecutive starting quarterbacks from games, first Notre Dame's Everett Golson and then Purdue's Caleb TerBush last week.
The Wolverines will have another challenge Saturday against Illinois (3:30 p.m., ABC), whose best player is quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.
The third-year starting quarterback was hurt earlier this year, but appears to be regaining his form. He was 18-of-29 passing for 178 yards and one touchdown in last week's loss to Wisconsin, and also rushed for a season-high 84 yards.
Scheelhaase was shut down by Michigan last year, managing only 16-of-31 passing for 170 yards and one pick through the air and 14 yards on the ground.
He was superb two years ago, though, completing 14-of-25 passes and racking up 101 yards on the ground. He accounted for four touchdowns, and helped lead the Illini to 65 points.
They lost to Michigan, 67-65, but the offensive threat was clear.
Floyd said he believes the Wolverines were better last year against Scheelhaase -- and against mobile quarterbacks in general -- because the defense faces Robinson in practice every day.
"I'm biased, but we go up against the best mobile quarterback in college football today in Denard," Floyd said. "But it's definitely a task. Scheelhaase is an elusive guy, he's real agile, has a lot of moves in his repertoire. So it's definitely a challenge.
"We stress angles. We have to get 11 hats to the ball, and that's when we're most effective. When you're trying to take down a guy that's as elusive as Nathan Scheelhaase, it's mandatory to get 11 hats to the ball."
Michigan's defense appears to be peaking, after allowing only 13 points in three consecutive games. It has allowed only two touchdowns in that time.
The improved play up front has helped, but that Big Ten-best secondary remains the strength.
"It's been decent, but I think we can get better in a lot of areas," Floyd said. "Three words: Focus, discipline and concentration. If we do that on every play, we have a chance to win every play, and that's our goal. We go out there and just try to win the next play, no matter what happens.
"Numbers are numbers. Sometimes they're misleading, in some cases, but I think it's just something we pride ourselves on, something we work on in practice."