Carr Comments on Spring Practice

Following Michigan's final spring practice on Saturday afternoon, Head Coach Lloyd Carr sat down with the media to discuss the team's progress.

On the improvement that the defense has made this spring:

I really like the intensity our defense showed in the last week and a half. I think we're athletic. We're not a particularly big defensive team unless you put (Larry) Harrison and Gabe (Watson) in there - those are a couple of 300 pounders, and it's kind of unusual to see two guys like that. But they both made real significant improvement. Larry has to learn to stay down, but he's athletic, he gets off blocks. Gabe, he's a powerful guy that is learning every day.

On the wide receiver position:

We use a lot of three wide receiver sets, some four wide receiver sets in the two minutes, so you have to have depth. Your wide receivers have to rotate if you are going to have any freshness at the end of games, so you've got to have a lot of guys there. We've got some real competition there. We've got a lot of guys plus we have three young freshmen, all of whom are going to push for playing time. So we have the kind of competition that will make every guy better, because competition either makes you better or it makes you back off, and I don't think any of them are going to back off. We've got some veteran guys who are going to be pushed; however, by some of these young kids.

On the tight end position:

The tight end position is really tight. Andy Mignery has had an excellent spring and Tim Massaquoi is a guy that has a lot of ability, and he just gets better all the time. Of course we've got some other guys in there, but Tyler Ecker will be back. We don't have a lot of experience at tight end, but we've got a lot of competition there, and guys that I like.

On David Underwood:

I think David Underwood proved to me this spring that he has what it takes. He's hung in there and done a real good job. He has a much improved grasp of what we're doing, and he's one of those kids who just keeps coming back. He keeps coming back. He keeps fighting, and those are the kinds of guys who are usually successful.

On Chris Perry:

I expect Chris Perry to have an outstanding season. He has proven he's a quality football player, and with a year under his belt … he understands the length of a season, knows how physical it is. He understands that he has to go in there with great endurance, built this summer through conditioning. He's much more physical than he was, yet his weight is down a little bit. He's had a very good spring because he's practiced every day, he's worked hard, and I think he's really improved as a pass receiver. Great backs can do everything. Perry has turned into a very good pass protector, he can catch the football, and he can run with power.

On his early sense of team chemistry:

From my standpoint, if you have a great work ethic, because that shows up in practice…if a team doesn't like to practice, I don't care, you're not going to have much chemistry. If you have guys with a competitive spirit who want to practice hard, that's where it begins. What happens when you practice hard, when your practices are physical every day, it toughens you. You learn how to fight through things when you're tired, when you're hurt, when you're banged up, when you're not playing well. You've just got to keep going. Eventually that molds an esprit de corps that allows you to be better than the sum of your parts, and that's really what you're trying to get done. I like what I've seen, but the proof comes in September, October, November and August. We're starting the seasons now in August.

On Matt Gutierrez:

I think Matt, for a true freshman – and he's got a long way to go, but I think he's a very bright guy, knows what to do with the football. For a freshman, I think he's on his way.

On the offensive line:

I think we're going to have great competition at right guard. I think the rest of that line is solid, if you were to start today. But we've got some other guys, Andy Christopfel, the move to guard I though was a positive one. Mark Bihl I think really came on late in the spring. He's a tough guy with a lot of intangibles you like for a center. A center has got to be smart, he's got to be tough and competitive because he has to snap the ball before he does anything, and that's a hard deal. He's got to make a lot of calls. Rueben Riley and Mike Kolodziej, I think those two guys are going to be very good tackles before it's over. I think we should have a good line if they don't change.

On Pierre Woods:

Every day is a new day for him from the standpoint that every day was an opportunity for him to learn something. He's always been on the edge rushing, but I think he's got good instincts as a linebacker and he's got wonderful ability, and we'll try to do some things to utilize his ability.

On if he wishes that he had redshirted Gabe Watson:

I don't look back for four or five years. Every senior we've had who is a four-year guy you say ‘boy, I wish I would have redshirted him.' But every situation is a little different because of the way you recruit. I think you don't worry about what happened last month or last year, you just go on today, and Gabe got better every day. He plays with great leverage. I'll tell you one thing, there won't be many people who knock him off the ball because he plays low for a guy his size, and he's got great power.

Of course, he's got some things he's got to learn. As a three technique in there, a guy that plays over the guard, you are involved in a lot of stunts where you line up over the guard, but maybe the nose guard is going to loop into your gap and you're going to come around into his gap. Those are things that take time to learn how to do them with quickness and speed, so those are all new things for him in there. But he made good progress.

On Jermaine Gonzales:

Jermaine is a guy who can make you miss. He's athletic, he's got wonderful hands, and he's played all spring with a bad ankle, which I like because he just kept coming to practice when some guys wouldn't practice. I think when you learn to do that, it toughens you. He's got wonderful hands, and he's got a knack with body control to make you miss. You realize, he just moved to wide receiver a year ago at this time when spring practice really was over. I think he's in a position to play an important role on our team.

On Marlin Jackson spending some time at safety in the spring:

We looked at our whole defense, and I'll tell you, he could be a great safety. He's an outstanding cornerback, but a safety has an opportunity to have more impact on a lot of games. We simply want to put him in a position where if we have to, if we need him, it won't be a move that we would have waited until the fall to make. I think it gives us more options…I think he liked it. I'll talk to him this week. But I think it helps him as a football player.

LeSueur and Curry are two outstanding corners and when you add Marlin, you get three. That means when you are playing a traditional two back team, one of those guys is standing over by me when the game is going on. I think it would be a nice idea to get them in the game. We'll have to see how that goes.

On the injured Wolverine receivers:

Tabb has been fighting an ankle injury the last few weeks, Jason (Avant) fell on his shoulder Tuesday, so we've got a lot of guys who didn't practice or we limited their snaps today. That's all part of the spring, and everybody should all be back.

On whether Earnest Shazor's absence from the final practice was injury related:

No. He'll be fine.

On the academic status of Sean Sanderson:

I have nothing to say.

On safety Willis Barringer:

He had an excellent spring. He's going to play an important role. He's a good tackler, and he's very instinctive. I think he has a chance to really be a good player. He's tough, he's competitive, and he's got a lot of fight in him. I like Barringer a lot.

On the injury status of Zach Kaufman and Carl Diggs:

They'll be back. Diggs is running, he felt very good on Thursday. Zach is not quite that far along because they are different injuries. We expect them both back.

On if he looks forward to playing on the new FieldTurf surface in Michigan Stadium:

I won't be playing on it (laughing)…Coaching on it? Oh, that'll be fun.

I think our players will like it. Even on good grass fields, as the season goes on, you get divots. I know one thing for sure; every place kicker will be happy we have it. I think if you took statistics, since 1990 when we went to grass, I think the percentage here was the lowest field goal percentage in the nation. So I think that is going to be a great advantage for all of the guys that are kicking. I think all of our players, when you think of what we have played on, I think they're all going to be very excited to play on that surface.

On whether playing four former or current cornerback (Jackson, LeSueur, Barringer, and Curry) on the field at the same time provides an advantage in coverage:

Absolutely. If you're playing a different type of team…for example, if you're playing a team like Purdue, where you're going to have five wide receivers, no backs, no tight end, it gives you more flexibility in what you can do. Normally, against normal offensive two-back sets, the only person a safety has to cover is a tight end or maybe a back. When you have safeties who have the experience of covering wide receivers, it gives you more flexibility.

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