On how it feels to hold the Big Ten Championship Trophy:
“It’s great. It’s a dream come true. It’s special. I wouldn’t rather be any other place than this and I wouldn’t want to share it with any other group of guys than the ones in that locker room.”
On what winning the title means to him:
“It means a lot. We stubbed our toe early in the season and we kept hope. We still had the Big Ten championship in mind. We won seven home games and continued to win out after the Iowa game. We just did the job. It started at Minnesota. We had no quit in us. It just means a lot. We had the momentum and the last five weeks I said lets keep our momentum and our focus…and we did that. I more proud of the team I played on than anything else in my life.”
On if losing the past two games against Ohio State and not wanting to lose a third was a motivating factor in the team’s performance:
“No. Our team doesn’t focus on trends and what the past dictates. We were going to focus on our game plan, what we were doing, and how we were going to counter what they did. That was it. We don’t look at the past and we don’t look ahead. That’s the reason we’re standing today with this trophy.”
On the last time he cried after a game:
“In the locker room after the Michigan State game I was crying like a baby. My teammates were making fun of me, but that was a big game and it meant a lot to me. So did this one. It was fitting for it to be at home and win in that kind of fashion.”
On what the post game locker room was like:
“It was very emotional. As you saw today, there were a lot of ex-players back. There were a lot of old faces…so there was a lot of love in that locker room and a great feeling of accomplishment. It’s a feeling that I’m going to hold dear to me the rest of my life.”
On Michigan’s balance:
“When you’ve got guys like Chris and Braylon, a team has to decide whom they want to stop. Chris did a great job running. That’s a credit to our fullback, tight ends, and offensive line. That opened up the pass for us. They had to bring guys in the box and play tight coverage. We countered that. That’s a credit to the great adjustments by our coaches. They did a great job with that. There were points in that game where we were flawless.”
On the 3rd down pass to Tyler Ecker in the 4th quarter:
“That was a big play. They were in man coverage. Like I said, they were going to get guys down in the box because we had success running on third down. Tyler was one on one there. That same type of play happened last week. Tyler was on a corner route and was jammed a little bit in man coverage. He got out of the break a little slow and it was an incomplete pass. We schooled up on that and this week with same type of route he swam the guy, got over the top, made a great catch, and then did a great job running after the catch.”
On what the win meant to the team:
“It’s huge. This is something we haven’t had in a while. We’ve been saying that the Big Ten championship was our goal and anything else was gravy. Once we knew that we still had that goal in our hands and we controlled it, we had a greater will than any team that we played. We were going to go out and get it. This group has been around here so long and we hadn’t had that taste. We hadn’t beat Ohio State in a while. We just prepared so hard and had so much focus. There were no distractions.”
On if he cares what bowl they go to:
“The Rose Bowl is great. We got the bid in the locker room and that was very nice. That’s awesome. That was our goal coming into this game. Whatever happens after that is out of our hands. We’re very happy to go to a BCS bowl. The Rose Bowl would be fun and it’s been the culmination of a Big Ten championship…traditional style.”
On if Michigan made a conscious effort to “go after” Chris Gamble:
“I don’t think our attack was to ‘go after him.’ We just wanted to play our offense. Our offense involved throwing to the side of the field where he was. He lined up on Braylon a lot. That’s our offense and we were going to run it. It’s not that we were picking on anybody. We were going to go in and not let anybody dictate what we do.”
On the talk about the game against OSU defining him and what he thinks the victory says about him:
“Well to be honest with you I think that people saying that all week was BS! That’s not how I felt. I didn’t feel this game defined me. That was an inside thing. The Michigan family knew that. But the reality of it was that’s how the media and everyone else was going to see it. I put that aside and focused on what I had to do. I worked harder and prepared harder…and so did this team. We all rallied around each other and showed what we’re capable of.”
On how hampered he was by his injury:
“It was a little problem. No one wants to talk about injuries here at U of M (laughing). If they want to change they’ll tell you. But I wasn’t going out. This was the biggest game of the year so there was no way I was going to come out of his game.”
On if he’s surprised by how well he ran against the #1 rush defense in the nation:
“No I’m not. Maybe the analysts were. What were we supposed to get? 10 yards? I think that’s what Trev (Alberts) said.”
On why he was so successful:
“The line. They did a great job. And Kevin Dudley doesn’t get anywhere near as much credit as he deserves. He opens up holes when there is no hole. He’s like my bodyguard. And the wide receivers did a great job blocking down field. We just played our game.”
On how it feels to win the game:
“It feels great! Fantastic! I was here for a Big Ten championship when Train, Dave, Drew, and Hutchinson won it, but you don’t earn it until you’ve played a lot. Coach Carr always says they GAVE us the Big Ten Championship. But we earned it this year and it’s ours.”
On if he was pointing to his mom when he pointed to the sky toward the end of the game:
“I could make it emotional and say it was to my mother, but naaahh…I was just pointing! (laughing). I was just putting up the number 1.”
On how it felt for fans to chant his name:
“I was saying a few things to Schmidtty about how I how I got hurt, but I heard them. It felt great. To hear a stadium full of fans chant your name is a dream. That’s what you see in a movie…you don’t experience it. It felt surreal at the time. It was a great feeling.”
On what exactly it was he said:
“I can’t repeat that. “(laughing)
On if his leg actually got wrenched like it appeared to have been on TV:
“Well if that’s what it looked like, cameras don’t lie. If that’s what it looked like then maybe that’s what it was.”
On how much pain he was in:
“I was hurting a lot. It was pain, but at the time your adrenaline is going and you aren’t going to let anything hold you out of this game. I could have had some ribs broken and I wasn’t going to be held out of this game. It’s one of those games that’s going to be remembered. People are going to look back at this game for a long time and talk about the players that had great performances so there was no way that I was going to let injuries hold me out.”
More on how it felt to win the game:
“It’s a great feeling. It’s a great feeling. And it’s even better to win the big 10 outright. I mean there is no other. It’s undisputed. It’s us.”
On what it was like to see the fans rush the field:
“It was great. I think our fans were rougher than the Ohio State defense (laughing). They were jerking me around. I was worried about getting hurt out there celebrating. It was just a great feeling. The team came together after two losses and nobody expected that to happen. And we ended strong. We have one more game to go and we are going to go out there and represent Michigan the best way we can.”
On OSU’s #1 ranked rush defense:
“You know, it was something that I looked at. But somebody told me that Tampa Bay had the best defense ever and you see what’s happened to them this year. So they have to play the game just like we do. All the rankings and stuff goes out the window when you step out on the field. And you know John took it personally and they went out and worked hard. Kevin did a great job opening up the holes, John did a great job making the adjustments to the defense, and the wide receivers did a great job blocking down the field. I wouldn’t have made half as many yards without them. I wouldn’t have made any. So it was a team effort all the way.”
On the comments from Robert Reynolds about taking the fight to Michigan:
“I don’t know who said it but I think we took the fight to them.”
On what the game and championship mean:
“It means a lot. We all tasted greatness but we never really got it. We never really succeeded in accomplishing something great. But we did it today and it’s a great feeling. That’s something I said at the beginning of the year I said that I wanted to be great and be remembered. We’ve got one more game hopefully we can succeed in doing that.”
On not letting the season fall apart after sustaining two losses:
“We were a better team than our record showed. We knew that with a few different plays and a whistle here or there that we would be undefeated. We knew we were a better team than 4-2. So we just kept that in our hearts and souls and we just kept on working hard to succeed.”
On whether his mother inspire him when he was hurt during the game:
“My mother has been inspiring me forever. I wouldn’t just pick this time or this game and me getting hurt – to just same she inspired me. She inspires me every day. I think of her all the time. It wasn’t something I thought about. She’s always in my heart. She’s always going to me a part of me. She’s the reason why I’m where I am.”
On if he was told that he should sit out after being injured:
“Yeah, but they knew I wasn’t sitting out. That wasn’t happening.”
On how Jerome Jackson and his other back ups performed against OSU:
“He (Jerome) did a great job. Jerome did a great job going in there and running hard. Tim and Dave and Pierre did a good job pass protecting and doing what they needed to do to help the team win. I mean it was a full team effort. So I was very positive.”
On the relationship between he and John Navarre:
“Me and John both had our rough roads. It was just a great feeling for our last game out here to be a win. I can’t explain it. I think we have a little bit of a bond. We are teammates. I’m close with him. He’s my quarterback. I'm his running back. I’m his last line of defense when there’s a blitz. It’s going to be somebody I know for the rest of my life.”
On what he was saying to his team as the time was winding down:
“I just said remember it. Just take it all in.”
"I just heard that Jack Sayler passed away last night. I want to send our best to his family. I’ve read him for years and years and years. I didn’t know him very well personally but I knew from reading what he wrote that he was a good man.”
“It was a great win and it was a great football game. If you love passion and intense concentration and effort for 2 or 3 hours, I don’t think it gets any better than that. We said on Sunday that what we wanted to do was take control of the game and get ahead because felt that Ohio State would have a hard time playing from behind. But they played very well from behind. They fought back and they didn’t go away. They had a lot of chances to. When you are down 21 in the 3rd quarter, there are a lot of bad things that can happen. So it was a great football game and I’m thankful for having the opportunity in my life to coach a group of kids like we have in this program. I’m particularly happy for the seniors. I think they are as good a group as has ever been here. The test of leadership always comes when things go poorly. These guys stood the test. They are wonderful human beings. I’m just happy that they can go out as champions of the great conference that the Big 10 is. I want to congratulate them and I want to say how appreciative I am to the finest group of assistant coaches. There is no better group anywhere in this country. In this day and age, being an assistant coach is not easy because you are under tremendous scrutiny and you are being criticized often for things that you shouldn’t be. But that’s the nature of what we do. They are tremendous men. So I want to thank them and we are excited about whatever opportunities we are presented with as we go forward.”
On John Navarre:
“John Navarre, on the first game of this year, led his team in an outstanding performance in Tampa Florida over a very good Florida team. Let me say this… I have no problem with criticism. I tell our players all the time, ‘if you come to Michigan to play in this arena you are going to get criticized and you better learn to deal with it.’ I’m not talking about criticism. I’m talking about people who went overboard…who wrote and said things about this kid and tried to humiliate, embarrass and degrade him. I think some of those things are just absolutely despicable. But John Navarre came into this fall and played well against Notre Dame. And whether you think it’s a big game… make no mistake that at Michigan it’s Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State. And he was a winning quarterback in all three of those games. In the last 4 weeks, three times he beat teams ranked in the top 10 in this nation. He is an UNBELIEVABLE human being. The way he has handled all the things that were said and written about him… I can’t tell you how much I admire him. I’ve had some great quarterbacks here. I mean great ones. John Navarre is one of them. I don’t want to say any more on it because I’m afraid I'll say something that I might regret.”
More on how John Navarre played against Ohio State:
“He was unbelievable. He had a 95-yard touchdown pass called back! Add that to the statistics. Unbelievable! Against that defense?! So often everybody credits the quarterback for winning and blames him for losing. The truth is this was a great team effort. Our offensive line was unbelievable. Chris Perry was absolutely sensational. There is one guy around here that writes about how Chris Perry is an average back with average speed and is a straight-line guy. Chris Perry is a first team All-American! In my judgment there isn’t a better back in this nation than Chris Perry.”
On the offensive line and the running game against Ohio State:
“I think first of all our coaches…Terry Malone, Andy Moeller, Fred Jackson and Eric Campbell… those guys did an exceptional of putting plan together that allowed us to do some things that we felt would be effective. But I thought John Navarre did a great job getting us into the right plays. Of course that is a lot easier to do at home, but that was a big part of the plan. Chris Perry ran hard. There were some holes in there, especially when they were spread out. Carl Tabb really stepped up today, Tyrece Butler and Calvin Bell got a chance to play some, and Braylon Edwards was outstanding. When you are spread out by people with the type of skill that we have, you should be able to run the football. So some of that helped.”
On what he told his defense in the fourth quarter:
“It probably wasn’t anything important. (laughing). Well I just told them if you want to win the Big Ten Championship, you have to protect the lead in the fourth quarter. We’ve got to get better pressure on the quarterback, we’ve got to tackle better, and seven points should be enough in the fourth quarter. But they knew that…I didn’t tell them anything that they didn’t know.”
On Steve Breaston scoring from the quarterback position:
“I think that idea germinated in the offensive staff meeting in which I had did not have any input. (laughter). But I told them early in the season that I think Steve Breaston has special abilities. Let’s find some ways to take advantage of what he does. That play was design to be run with three wide receivers in the game, so we split John Navarre out. The thing I was scared to death of, was that he would fumble the ball. But Breaston made all of us look good and it was well-blocked play. It was a very important play because they gave us the lead early in the game.”
On whether it was as emotional a day as he has had at Michigan:
“Well, I think every time you go out there it’s emotional, but when you are playing Ohio State there is no question that it’s different. It’s special because it is the last game of the year, and this game means so much to the people who love the University of Michigan. And it has so much meaning to the people of Ohio and the people who love Ohio State University, so you are in the eye of the storm. You know that you are going to be as disappointed as you can BE at losing, and you know the euphoria that you can experience if you win. But I want to thank our fans because they were tremendous. I have heard the criticism so much that Michigan isn’t a noisy stadium, but I think the truth is there are people who have expectations. I tell the players all of the time, ‘don’t be raising your hands to get the crowd in it. If you play good enough, they will be in it.’ Certainly, this game they were in it. I am so appreciative of all the former players who came back. Don’t think for one minute that didn’t have an impact on our players because it did. It was an unbelievable feeling. And I don’t know how many were out there but it seemed like a thousand.”
On the loss of Jason Avant early in the game:
“Well everything is preliminary, but everything I’ve been told thus far suggests that he should take a couple of weeks here and then be able to come back for the bowl game. I couldn’t see, but I knew he took a good shot. I think he sprained both his ankle and his knee. To start the game off without that guy was certainly difficult. But we talked last night and I told them that someone was going to go down. I told them that in 97 Chris Howard got hurt in the first quarter, got knocked out in the second quarter, and Clarence Williams went out. Then in came a freshman from Winfield Louisiana named Anthony Thomas that played the whole second half. So you’re going to have to have people step up. As I mentioned earlier, some of our young guys, especially Tabb did one heck of a job in there.” (Check the Monday Presser link below for an update).
On what the Rose Bowl representative said in the locker room:
“Honestly, I didn’t hear him. (laughter) Chris Perry was making too much noise and talking so loud that I couldn’t hear. It was a pretty boisterous locker room. The roses were there and the Big Ten Commissioner, Jim Delaney presented the trophy.”
On the meaning of the 100th game:
“For me, absolutely no meaning. But looking back on it, it will have a lot of meaning. You are so concentrated on that game and that’s just a distraction in my judgment. There are enough distractions in this week, and in this game that can hurt your opportunities to do the things that you need to do to win.”
On the satisfaction of winning the Big 10 after overcoming early season adversity:
“I think the disappointment that comes with losing, particularly in a program like this, is as tough as it gets… especially the way we lost. So that is what I spoke of when I was talking about leadership. But I can tell you this… the games that we lost, we played offense enough well enough to win both games. Now you can point to the rushing yardage at Oregon. Yeah it was down, but we threw the football and we came back and we had a chance. And you can say the same thing for Iowa. We had the lead and the problems we had with the punt team, in my judgment, more than anything else is why we lost. So I don’t agree with anyone that we didn’t play well offensively or defensively. The field position our defense had at Iowa was unbelievable. So I think the fact that they hung in there says everything about them because they had ample opportunity to make excuses. They didn’t so I think that says a lot for them.”
On OSU throwing for good yardage in the game:
Well I think that says a lot about Ohio State. There is nobody that would have thought they would have come in here and throw for that kind of yardage… at least we didn’t. But I think that’s what you have to be able to do when you get behind, and they did it. They changed the tempo of the game. They made it very difficult for us to pressure the quarterback. They threw the ball pretty effectively, so I give them credit.”
On why Michigan was able to run on OSU:
“I think we had a will to run the football, I think we had a plan, we had the people that could do it, and we stayed away from negative plays. I don’t think that we had the quarterback sacked once.”
On the joy in the locker room.
“I think there is nothing better than a winning locker room. But that’s fleeting. You’re in the locker room with 100 guys in there, and 20 minutes later everyone is gone. The great thing about it is you know that when a group of guys achieve something like what they did today, they’ve got those memories. They’ve got Minnesota to remember the rest of their lives. They’ve got the fact that they’ve won a championship at the highest level and in the toughest conference. So the teamwork that that it took and all of the other things that went into it is what’s enjoyable.”
"The greatest concern I had going into the game was the kicking game. I think Ohio State had the ability to play a field position game, and I think we ended up doing a great job in the kicking game.
- Our kickoff (coverage) team did a wonderful job on coverage and we made some great plays there that gave our defense field position.
- We had two very good (kickoff) returns. Breaston brought one out, and Jeremy LeSueur got up front and had a good block. Then Scott McClintock's after the kickoff return by Breaston to start the third quarter was really a big play, gave our offense great field position.
- I think our punt return team did a great job. We had one 33-yard return by Steve Breaston on a great play that was aided by a block by Calvin Bell.
- Adam Finley had a tremendous day. He punted the ball as well as he's ever punted. The protection that he had was excellent.
- The (punt) coverage was good there, so we didn't give up any big plays.
- We blocked an extra point. A great individual effort up front even though it was good, it could have been a decisive point (in the game).
- So, I want to commend all of our guys on special teams. They played a vital role in our victory."
"Offensively, we played extremely well. Going into the game, my biggest concern was obviously running the football. But I was equally concerned about how well we could protect the passer, and I think our offensive line was outstanding. Kevin Dudley did a great job. We had a number of guys who stepped in and really made some good plays. Carl Tabb came off the bench to replace Jason Avant and made two big catches. Tyler Ecker made a great play on a big third down, maybe the biggest play of the game for us. John (Navarre) made a great throw for us, but Tyler is a young guy that made a big play there. A number of our receivers and backs are young. Our young backs went in. Pierre Rembert, Jerome Jackson and David Underwood all got some snaps in that game."
"Defensively, we found a way to get it done late."
"So it was a great victory. It was a total team victory and I give all the credit for the turnaround of this season to a great coaching staff and a great group of senior players."
For more (including an update on Jason Avant's injury), go to: MGoBlue.com
Also, late last week The University of Michigan Board of Regents approved the schematic design for the new Academic Center to be built on the south athletic campus. The $12 million, 38,000-gross-square-foot academic learning center will provide academic study space for more than 700 U-M student-athletes as well as other U-M undergraduate and graduate students. It will be built adjacent to the Marie Hartwig Building on State Street.
For more, go to: MGoBlue.com