“Hello everybody it’s great to be here. We’ve finished our training camp and we’re moving into game week. We’re excited to be pursuing the goals that our team has set this year for themselves. We open against a Joe Novak coached team and I think I know Joe Novak as well as most people. I coached with him for two years at the University of Illinois and I don’t think anybody in this country has done a better job of coaching than Joe has. He’s done a great job at Northern Illinois. When you look at what they’ve accomplished, particularly in the last few years, it’s really special when you think of where that program was when he started. He’s got a football team that plays to his personality. He’s an old school guy that cares greatly about his players and I think he represents the coaching profession's very highest ideals. They want to control the football on offense. When you look at the 238 yards a game a year ago, that’s impressive. I think in Harris and Wolfe they have the best tandem that I’ve seen and we’re going to have our work cut out for us in stopping the run. They’re two very different types of back and I suspect that they’ll probably use them both in the game a significant amount of time. They’re a team that plays very hard and very aggressive. They’re an opener that’s going to be challenging for us.”
On the Jake Long:
“I think that obviously losing Jake Long is a great disappointment for our football team, and certainly for Jake. He’s worked hard and he’s an extremely talented guy. He brings a great intensity to our team and it’s not something that you want to see happen. It was a very freak injury. It was in a non-scrimmage situation. Actually his part of the play was over and somebody rolled up on his ankle and we just have to hope for the best for Jake. It does create a situation that happens in football and that’s the type of game it is. The way we’ve tried to approach it is that you can’t worry about those things, they’re going to happen, and we expect to move forward.”
On the excitement towards the new season:
“I think that’s what brings you back here to this game. There’s nothing like starting a new season and trying to put a new puzzle together. The excitement that you have as a coach is mirrored by the same excitement of young players getting their first opportunity... or your older guys coming back with great confidence because they’ve been there before and understand what’s in front of them. The new leadership… I think we chose two great captains. I think that when the excitement isn’t there then you’re in the wrong game.”
On the secondary:
“Leon Hall is back. Brandent Englemon is back and had an outstanding spring and fall. Ryan Mundy has missed some practice but he will return today. Grant Mason is a guy with a lot of experience. We’re fine there. We have some young guys like Charles Stewart and Darnell Hood. Those guys have improved significantly. Brandon Harrison, a freshman, has had a very good fall. We do have some youth there but that’s part of the deal.”
On a timetable for Mundy and Long:
“I think we have to see how Ryan practices but I have to assume based on the trainers report that he’ll play (versus Northern Illinois). With Jake it’s going to be a while, but I do think there’s an excellent chance that he will return. When that will be, you’ll be the first to know.”
On the recovery status of Jeremy Van Alstyne:
“He is healthy and Van Alstyne brings a toughness and competitiveness. He’s a guy that maybe not in terms of being the type size you want, but he more then makes up with that in the heart that he plays with. He’s an outstanding technician. He brings an effort, an intensity, and a toughness that I think adds to any defense.”
On McClintock and linebackers:
"McClintock has been around for a long time and he's got a lot of experience. David Harris has had a lot of experience from the standpoint that he's been in this program and he's played extremely well. He's been hurt with some injuries. I think Prescott Burgess…there's no question in my mind he's going to be an outstanding linebacker. He's 240 plus pounds, can run, he's tough and I think he's had an absolutely great fall. I think he's going to be on those guys that as he gets into it, will develop into an outstanding linebacker."
"Well, we're competing at fullback. Brian Thompson had had an excellent fall. He's come back from a tough injury. He's fought through the discomfort that initially you're going to go through when you come back from that type of an injury. Will Paul has really really progressed. I think he's going to play an increasingly important role as we go and I think Obi Oluigbo does a lot of good things in there. I really like our fullback position. I think those guys have competed. I think the competition has made them all better."
"Zoltan has competed well. I think Ross Ryan, to this point, has had an outstanding fall. And of course Mark Spencer. They've all competed well. I think we will watch them in practice and see where we'll go."
On Will Johnson:
"I think Will Johnson has competed extremely well. The competition at that nose guard position was very intense. Will missed a few practices in there and fell behind a bit, but Will is a powerful, tough guy. He's a lot like (Jeremy) Van Alstyne from the standpoint he's a very very intense competitor. He does the things that you want him to do, he's very coachable, and he's had a very very good fall."
On why Rueben Riley was moved from center to tackle:
"With the injury situation and Rueben has played guard and he's played tackle. So with the fact that (Mark) Bihl and (Adam) Kraus both played very well. If we had some type of an injury, Rueben could certainly go back to center but more than anything it's necessitated by our depth there."
On Adam Kraus and center:
"Well we knew going into the spring that he would miss, but he played very well last fall. It was obvious he had gotten bigger. I think in the summer he's increased his strength, as has Mark Bihl. I think this has really been a very good competition. I think it's a very close call but I have confidence in both of them."
On players family's being affected by the hurricane:
"I think all of our thoughts and prayers are with all of those people down there. It can't be anything but tragic. Adam's (Kraus) family evacuated the day before yesterday and went up to Jackson, Mississippi. LaTerryal's (Savoy) family I think is far enough away that they didn't have to leave."
On Steve Breaston returning punts, kicks, and starting at receiver:
"I think you want him back there every opportunity you can and yet, Adrian Arrington, as I mentioned last week, has had a great fall. I think Arrington has the ability to be an outstanding kick returner. What you hope to do is to be able to get a young guy some opportunities back there because it prepares him if he needs to become the starter and the guy that carries the load, but I like both of them and I think obviously Breaston is a dangerous guy. He has proven that."
On Pierre Woods:
"Pierre has had a very good fall. He's playing like he did a couple of years ago. I think he's been healthy all fall, which has always been a problem. I think he's been around, so from an experience standpoint he gives us some flexibility. If we had a problem at the SAM linebacker, I think he's very capable of helping us there. Shawn Crable is working and we'll just have to see when he gets an opportunity in there. I'm hoping he will perform like I think he can."
On the freshman WRs:
“Antonio has missed some practice and I think that Mario is ahead in the standpoint that he hasn’t missed any practice. As the season goes along, if they continue to learn and practice hard, do the things that they need to do on every particular play that they appear in, then I think their role will be dependent on how those things develop. Every time you play in a game you get a chance to impress your coach or you don’t. The goal is to get better every time you have an opportunity to play. I think they certainly have the physical ability; we have to see how they handle game conditions. That’s really the test.”
On having five backs on the depth chart:
"It's a long season and an old coach told me one time you never NEVER have enough backs. I would hope five is enough (laughing), but we'll see."
On Mike Hart carrying most of the load himself last year:
"That's unusual. And that's why when you look at the kind of season Mike Hart had, particularly in view of the fact he just walked in here and had not been part of our strength and conditioning program except for a few weeks in the summer time, what he was able to do I think was remarkable."
On Brandon Logan being on the depth chart:
"We tried to recruit his brother John who went to the University of Kentucky. It's a great family. Brandon chose to come to Michigan and he is a guy that can really run. He has got wonderful athletic ability and I think at some point here, he could factor in. It depends, again, on how quickly and how well he continues to learn as we go. I think there is a good chance that he will play, and certainly he could factor in extremely well on special teams."
On of the move of Brandon Harrison to safety was one that they though best suited his talents or if it was more a move of necessity:
"He is a very bright guy. He will hit you, and he can run. I think probably more than anything, that move was made when Ryan had some problems early. We did it with the idea in mind that we would be able to help ourselves depth wise if Ryan couldn't come back."
On how different things are for Chad Henne this season:
"He is not in the same world that he was a year ago. Just getting the signals…we had some issues in the early games particularly where we didn't into the right play, we didn't into the right formation, or we didn't get into the right check…all because if his youth. That's not going to be a problem right now. We're not going to have to worry about just getting up to the line of scrimmage and getting the ball snapped before the 25-second clock expires. This is a complicated game from that standpoint at that position in our offense. I would say the same thing, and I have said the same thing about Mike Hart…they're both much more confident and much more comfortable. By the same token, there is more pressure because everybody expects more. But both of them have had a great attitude, a great approach, and I think they will acquit themselves very well."
On if the defense has a chip on its shoulder and if it has helped them improve
"I think obviously when you're part of a unit that has had as much criticism as the defense has had, I think it is a motivating factor. What I look at is the way they've worked, the way they've trained, and the way they've practiced. I think we are much stronger up front than we were a year ago. I think that was one of the big problems. We're stronger, we're bigger, and we have better depth and I think that is going to make a difference. Now, we have to see…it all comes back to how we perform on any given Saturday."
On Leo Henige:
"Well I think anytime a guy is coming off an injury, you wonder. Those
injuries…it sounds simple…you get surgery, you rehab, and you come
back and play. But it doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes there are
complications. Sometimes a guy has had injuries before, it's frustrating, and
his determination is not the same. But Leo has paid the price. If you look back
at his career he had surgery before he ever took the field here because of a
high school injury. Then a year ago he gets a chance after four years to get
into the starting lineup, and shortly thereafter gets another major injury.
Then he had some complications this spring. I know one thing…he wants
to play! It's important to him. I hope he can have a year where he is healthy."