Big Ten Media Day: Carr Interview Part 1

In part one of our Big Ten media day interview series with Lloyd Carr, the veteran coach discusses replacing Edwards, running back depth, Pierre Woods, and more.

On Breaston and Avant replacing Braylon Edwards:

"I think that is how you replace a great player. You seldom have somebody that can step in and replace Anthony Carter or Braylon Edwards…and that's the caliber of player I think he is. What you have to do is you have to get more production from the other veterans that are coming back. We have to hope that we have a couple young guys that have wonderful potential that will come in and contribute. That's the way you deal with a guy like that."

On Jason Avant:

"Avant is a great receiver. He's got great hands. There isn't a ball that he touches that he doesn't have a chance to catch because he can catch the ball on the ground, he can extend and catch, and he can lay out. He's just such a competitive guy that if it's anywhere near him... That's a great feeling for a quarterback because some guys, if you don't put the ball in the frame of their body, they fight it. Avant is one of those guys that can catch the ball anywhere near him."

On the center position:

"Rueben [Riley] is a guy with enormous physical skills. He has developed himself. He has got great strength. He's a wonderful athlete…which is really what you need at center. He's a smart guy, and if you're not smart, center is not the place to be. He has got everything except experience. The last part of the season when he became a starter, he got better every week. So I think he is going in there with a lot of confidence."

"Adam Kraus is a guy we moved from tight end. He is a very good athlete. He has worked hard to get to where he has built his body and his size to a point where he can compete in the middle of the line. And of course Mark Bihl is back. Mark has really worked hard this summer. I think he is an improved football player. And Alex Mitchell could at some point factor in there as well."

On if Leo Henige is running and if he will be in camp Sunday:

"Yeah, he'll be there. He had a small setback with his other knee…a knee that he had had surgery on when he first came to Michigan. But we expect that at some point in there he would be 100%."

On the expectations for Chad Henne and Mike Hart:

"Well I think they understand that the expectations are going to be incredibly high. With that comes a pressure that wasn't there a year ago. There was pressure, but I don't think there was anything compared to what there is going to be this year. So, how do you handle pressure? You have to be prepared. I think both of these kids have worked extremely hard. Mike, his weight I think is one pound under what he played at a year ago. He is a high energy guy. He is very smart. I think Chad is the same way. They are two unusual guys and I have every confidence that they will continue to get better. They're going to have some down times. They're not perfect. They're not machines. They're kids that are going to have to deal with all of the things that come their way. But I really like what they've done thus far."

On Hart fumbling only one time last year:

"That was one of the fears. Normally a young kid like that…you fumble the football when you're not strong enough to hold on to it. That was one of my biggest concerns. He was not very big. But he disproved that theory. He was strong enough. If you look at how many times he carried the ball…I would never have guessed it."

On how much Henne progressed last year:

"We had some problems early in the season with him getting the signals and getting them communicated. We knew we were going to have some of those, so we tried to take it slow with him. As the season went on, I think he gained confidence. I think you could see that. If you look at him in the Rose Bowl…if you didn't know he was a true freshman you would never have guessed that he was playing in his first year of college football."

On if Henne's experience will allow them to expand the playbook:

"Well I think that's what you do. You have to go back and re-teach some things. You have to remember that he is going to have other receivers. He is going to have a younger receiving corps this year. Last year, most of those guys had been around. You're always in a process, in college football, of developing your team because if you've got freshmen that are playing, they don't know everything you would like them to know. You've got to take all of those things into account. But certainly he's built a foundation that will allow us to add some things and to expand some of the things that we do. Those are the kinds of things that can help you make a difference."

On what the perceived running back depth will mean this season:

"Well first it means that I can sleep a lot better because when you go to bed and night you worry about your depth at that position. You know that it is grueling what they go through. That's another remarkable thing about Mike Hart. If you can carry the ball that many times, gain that many yards, and still be healthy... "

"I don't know exactly what it means because I don't have a set plan. We've got to go through training camp here and let them compete. We know a lot about Max Martin. We've learned a lot. I think this spring he really elevated his play. And we learned a lot about Kevin Grady. We, as coaches, know a lot. Now what we've got to do is let this thing take its own course and know that we've got three guys in there that can play. They've got different strengths and weaknesses, so we should be able to take advantage of what they do best. But to say that I'm going to give the ball to Mike Hart X number of times a game and Kevin Grady and Max Martin…that's not what I'm thinking."

On the expectations for Kevin Grady:

"The biggest thing a young back has familiarize himself with if you're going to leave him in the game on third down is he has got to know pass protections and who to block. There are different pass protections where he has got to know the front of the defense to really understand what he is doing. So he has got a lot of things to think about from the time they break the huddle until the time the ball is snapped. If a back makes a mistake in a pass protection, then your quarterback is out for the season. I think Kevin has got good hands. The passing game totally…as a receiver, running the proper routes getting the proper depth, getting to a certain spot. If he is in a protection where he checks, his man doesn't come, and he releases… he has got to be where the quarterback expects him to be. If he is too deep then you can't get him the ball. If he is not deep enough then you can't see him. I think the thing that he'll continue to learn is the passing game. In the running game he has got wonderful instincts."

On if coming out of the spring he had a feel for what the receiver depth chart would look like after Avant and Breaston:

"I came out of it feeling that Carl Tabb has good ability. He has had some nagging injuries that have impacted his playing time. I think Adrian Arrington and Doug Dutch have made some progress this spring. It is going to be very competitive because Mario Manningham and Antonio Bass are going to join that group, as well as Laeterryal Savoy. We're just going to let them compete there and the guys that are the hungriest and work the hardest, and catch the ball the best…we'll give them a chance to play."

On if all of the freshmen aside from Marques Slocum made it in academically:

"We come in next Sunday. I expect all of them to be here."

On if there's a feel for how much the 3-4 will be used this year:

"Well what I like is we've got some personnel that give us a lot of flexibility. At one point there, we had Ian Gold and Dhani Jones…guys that were 205 pounds. It's pretty difficult to play a 3-4 defense with linebackers that size. Lamarr Woodley can play down or up. We've got enough guys that can do that that we are going to be able to have more flexibility than we've had on defense. We've got some young linebackers that have really gotten big. Shawn Crable is 248 pounds now as a SAM linebacker. Prescott Burgess is 240. David Harris is close to 250. I think our front is going to be much improved. I'm going to be very disappointed if it isn't."

On if the running quarterback is something new:

"I think it's definitely new in the last six to eight years with regard to the way some of the way some of the spread offenses utilize the quarterback. That's really what we were dealing with against Michigan State, Ohio State, and Texas… games where quarterbacks really hurt us. A lot of those runs were designed runs. I think any defense is going to have problems with those schemes because it is a great scheme. The only negative about that offense is you expose the quarterback to injury. But it creates incredible stress on the defense. With that said, we certainly have to do a better job in a lot of ways if we're going to reach our goals. You can't give up the big plays we gave up and be successful."

On quarterbacks coach Scott Loeffler:

"I think there are several things about him. I think he is very smart, very passionate, very knowledgeable, and very detailed oriented. So he is not ever going to let the little things slip. I think if you talk to the guys that have been around him, going back to Tom Brady and John Navarre, I think both of those guys will tell you. In John's case, he made a great difference in John's career and what John did at Michigan. He is all of those things. As smart as he is, and all of the other things...probably the thing that stands out as much as anything is his work ethic."

On what can be done to combat the stresses brought on by the spread:

"I think it depends on who you're playing. There's an old cliché': the greatest defense is a great offense. So your offense, when you're playing a team like that…if you can do a better job possessing the ball…because talking about some of the teams that we've played…they're going to score points. It's not like these games are 10-7 anymore. There are too many great athletes on the field. I think that offense has really changed the dynamics of college football. The second thing and the most critical thing as far as doing a good job and being effective is you can't give them easy touchdowns. Long touchdowns. That means being in the right position. That means tackling and pursuing. From a standpoint of playing defense, if you're going to give up big plays then you're going to give up a lot of points. When you give up a lot of points, your only hope is to win a shootout. I think history would evidence that most shootouts are 50/50."

On Pierre Woods:

"Pierre, really his last two seasons, during the offseason his strength and development was not what it needed to be because of injuries. I do think he has had the best offseason lifting, as far as increasing his strength, since he has been here. I think we're all hopeful that will be the difference in his role on the team this year."

On where Woods fits in on the depth chart:

"The depth chart is not what's important. If a guy is in a position is getting some repetitions and is competing as hard as he can, his role is going to change. He is right in the thick of competition for playing time. He just has to take advantage of that this fall."

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