Monday Presser Highlights: Week Eight

Carr discusses the victory over Penn State, Chad Henne's critics, Mario Manningham, the Iowa Hawkeyes, and more.

Opening statement:

"We're looking forward to playing an excellent Iowa team...a team that has really established some momentum here in the Big Ten Conference race. When you look at (Abdul) Hodge and (Chad) Greenway, two of the finest linebackers in the country, No. 1 in the Big Ten in red zone offense and red zone defense, which certainly presents a challenge for us. And offensively, I think Drew Tate is another of the great quarterbacks we have got in this conference this year. (Albert) Young has done a great job in the running game. And, of course, this (Clinton) Solomon, with 21 yards a catch is extremely impressive. We need to prepare and get ready to go into a very tough arena in terms of communication and in terms of the enthusiasm their crowd brings to their team."

On Iowa:

"What Iowa really does is they move their tackles down into real tight positions on our tackles and make it very difficult to run inside. They're going to make you run the football east and west, and they're a very difficult team to run the football on because of the way they play. And to play that way, you have to be physical. And they have established I think a toughness there and a pride in defense. Their offense plays to that because they run the football extremely well, and two those things complement themselves in terms of philosophy as to how you are going to win. They have got a great kicking game. They always have great coverage teams and they have always done a great job in the return game. I think that's where it all starts, being a physical football team that plays together."

On the play Jamar Adams and Brandon Harriosn:

" I think I mentioned after the game...I think what Brandon Harrison did coming in as a true freshman, I don't remember a true freshman, ever, since I have been here, starting at safety. We have had some that started at corner. It's a little bit easier out there in terms of what you have to know because of the nature of defense. But certainly to play inside, and I think Jamar Adams really had a wonderful game. When he recruited Jamar, we were fully expecting him to be an outstanding football player. I think with the experience he has gotten this year, I thought he made great strides late last week. In the second half of the Minnesota game they came back with some things that they had done to him in the first half, and a smart player is a guy that doesn't repeat mistakes. I thought in this game he was physical. He is a big guy. I think that was one of the real positive things that we took out of this game, that two guys could go in, and it limited us somewhat defensively in some of the things that we could do, particularly at the end of the game because we are so thin. But hopefully we will get (Brandent) Englemon back and at some point Willis (Barringer) back and I think that, as a team, its going to be a position of strength when they come back because these two guys have proven they can do some things under the stress of a big game."

On Iowa's defensive line:

"Well, I think they have gotten much better. And that's always part of any team because every year you are losing 25 percent of your team and some years you lose more at one position than others. So I think it's one of the reasons they have been so good in the last three games."

On if Mario Manningham has surprised him:

"No. I do think that there is a lot to learn at that position. If you don't line up right...I have seen a number of penalties this year. Nothing ruins an offense like penalties. Normally they lead to punting the football. You've got to have six guys on the line of scrimmage. If you don't, it's a five-yard penalty. If you take a split that is improper, now the entire timing of the route can be off. There is a multitude of things. I think what [Mario] has really improved since he got here is his urgency of getting lined up and shifting and in the motioning and running his routes at the right depth. He ran a wonderful route on the touchdown pass. He broke it outside and he got the defender to turn and he made a sensational catch. Now, there are a lot of great receivers out there, but he caught that ball knee high with his hands away from his body. That was a magnificent catch. And in the last play of the game, if he doesn't take the proper split, if he doesn't do everything he is supposed to do, then that play has a different outcome. I am not surprised because I saw him in high school film, and he comes from an outstanding program with great coaches there. He has been in a very competitive high school situation in terms of the competition they played. So he had great preparation. I saw him play basketball. He's a great athlete with great quickness, and he is tough. So I am not surprised, no."

On Rueben Riley:

"I can't say enough good things about Rueben Riley. Because, first of all, he played almost an entire year a season ago. He stepped in and played left guard and did a wonderful job. And then he missed most of spring practice because of an injury he received, I think, the first day of pads in the spring. So then to come back and be asked to move to tackle which is an entirely different world.... A lot of times out there at tackle, you are on their best football player, their fastest rusher. And he's got a two-way go and you have got to protect the inside and got to be quick enough to not let them get around the edge and hit the quarterback. To do all that with two casts on your hands and never, never, complain... never make an excuse, and just go back out there and fight...that's what Rueben has done. And if you know him, you are not going to find a better person...better human being. I think our football team is very appreciative of what he is trying to do under more than difficult circumstances."

On Riley's comment that the turning point for him came after he lost a starting job last fall:

"There are lot of people who think that, it takes three years for a guy to be in a program before you really know. Now you may know earlier that a guy is going to be a great player. We have had some guys like (Jeff) Backus and Jon Jansen and (Steve) Hutchinson and (Maurice) Williams some of those things where you knew immediately. But you don't give up on a guy for at least three years. Rueben was at a stage where I had some concern, and when he did really fight back after that, I thought he had a disappointing fall a year ago, but he just kept working hard. And when his opportunity came, he went in at a new position again, at guard, and did a great job. So yeah, he's got something to him."

On Riley possibly playing center:

"I don't think his future has been decided here yet. I personally like the thought of him playing center because he is a very good athlete. I mean he can move for a guy as big as he is, so we will just have to see. But the good news is no matter what he is asked to do, he will. He'll have been through a lot tougher things."

On the special teams since the Iowa game of 2003:

"I think of course, we had some issues that year because we had some injuries and we had some young guys in there, and then I made some mistakes. I think Mike DeBord has done a great job. I think our guys have really bought into the importance of special teams, and I think he is done a great job coaching them."

On former special teams coach Jim Boccher's situation:

"I think you need to talk to Jim about that. I would feel more comfortable that way. But he is doing great. He is doing very, very well. And you know, he had a lot to do with the recruiting of Chad Henne and Michael Hart. I mean he left some very, very good things here at Michigan and a lot of good friends."

On Alan Branch:

"I think Alan has been one of the more improved football players on our team. I think he is a great athlete. For a guy that size, I think I told you the story where he was in the backfield in high school and he played basketball. There is no question that he probably could carry more weight easier than a lot of people because he is so athletic. But in terms of season, he needed to get some weight down because of the wear and tear and your ability to recover and your ability to play in the fourth quarter. He is still a young guy. Twice on Saturday, he lost containment on the quarterback. Once on the fourth down play late in the game and earlier on a scramble out of there. But he's been playing a different position the last couple of weeks than he played earlier. So those are things that are going to happen when you move guys around. But he has really shown, I think, great potential. I think he has a chance to be a great player."

On where he'd like to play Branch:

"I do think with the experience that he is getting [at defensive end], it's going to give us, our coaches, a lot more flexibility because he has the ability to play either. But I like him inside because he is so athletic and he is hard to get blocked. When you have the abilities he has, it makes it very difficult in the middle of the line. But he also hit the quarterback a few times in that game and I think he did a lot of good things."

On getting the team re-focused after the emotional victory over Penn State:

"Well, I think it has to begin Sunday. I think the great thing, the thing that gave us a chance to win the game on Saturday, the thing that gave me a great feeling going into that game, was the fact that last Sunday, what we talked about was forgetting the Minnesota game because there was nothing that we could do. If we didn't let that game go, then we would be thinking about it Tuesday and Wednesday instead of getting ready for an outstanding team. I don't think it is any different this week. We have to put that game behind us. I think smart teams do smart things, and smart teams understand that what you did yesterday and what you did last week doesn't mean a thing."

On the importance of getting the two seconds put back on the clock:

"Well, I think, earlier in the game and I don't know exactly how it transpired, [the referees] put four seconds back on the clock at the time. I can't remember the exact scenario. But when I called timeout, and there is a new rule in college football this year, or maybe it started last year, where the coach can call timeout. Up until this rule change, the timeout had to come from a player. When I asked for that timeout, I immediately looked at the clock, and I saw 32 seconds. Now, you always understand that just because you are calling it at that time...he's got to go through the process of stopping the clock and signaling and so on and so forth. But his job on that play was to spot the ball for the previous play. He told me, 'Coach, I had to spot the ball.' And I asked him if he would check with the referee. And the referee fortunately was doing a good job because he saw it and he said to me, 'I think there were, by the time the call was made, by the time it got in there, it was 30.' He said, 'we're going to put two second back on.' I have done that a number of times. I think every coach does. You are always looking at that clock and you are hoping one of those officials close to you will see the time. And there is an official assigned to do that, the back judge, I think, and so that's how it happened."

On if he thought about calling a timeout after Chad Henne's fumble so it could be reviewed:

"No. Well, I didn't ask. I didn't because that wasn't part of my thought process. But what I saw, really, the play on tape is much, much closer. I don't know if they had called it the other way, if they had had enough to overturn it. But what I saw on the field and what I think is the right call is the one they made. I think it was a fumble and because of what I thought when I saw it, I never thought about asking for timeout."

On if the lack of a review on that play concerns him:

"I think what we probably will do, I am sure our officials in the Big Ten will do, they're going to look at this whole issue and say okay, how much time has been added to the game and could the games be shorter by giving coaches the responsibility to ask for the review? Right now, what we have, and one of the things that some people are complaining about and I'm not one of them, is [controlling replays]. I don't like to add time to the games, but I think there are some things that we can do in the rules to shorten the game. I do like the fact that they have the ability to look at an unlimited number of plays and get it right. I think that's part of the price we pay for getting it right. I think there have been a lot of calls that have been made right because we have this process."

On what does Mike Gittleson means to the program:

"Mike Gittleson? Mike is not a throwback. Mike got his master's degree here in exercise physiology. I think he was one of the very highest in his class. He is a very intelligent guy and he understands the human body. And in my judgment, one of the issues as we go forward in intercollegiate athletics that I see as a looming issue is all of the things that people are doing. What I really appreciate about Mike is his dedication, his commitment and his love for our players. He is a guy that is available. He is a very intelligent guy and we have a program here in strength and conditioning that is based on safety first, and I'm proud of that. I have talked with a lot of our players and about three years ago I took almost a year to study our program in relation to other programs across the country. I talked to a number of our players who have been in the NFL and who have had a lot of experience in different training programs and to a man they had great support for the way that we conduct our program. I think that Mike Gittleson has done a great job here."

On the issue that concerns him:

"If you look around we have a major issue across this country with young people and steroids and human growth issues. I think we need great leadership not only among coaches, but among the presidents and the people who run intercollegiate athletics because I think it’s a battle that we need to take a zero tolerance position on. It's here and to think that it isn't here is to put your head in the sand."

On what Gabe Watson did to earn his starting job back:

"Well, you will have to ask him. I think he will have to answer that. I think what is obvious to me, is that his enthusiasm, his intensity, his enjoyment of the game in the last two or three weeks has been what I was expecting, what I was looking for. But the rest of that question, you would have to ask him."

On Steve Breaston's play in recent weeks:

"Steve really struggled late in the summer in the training camp with a hamstring, and so he wasn't full speed, and I think that injury really slowed him down. And he is a guy that never complains. I think he went through a tough period there. There is no question about that. But the last couple of weeks, I'm seeing him do some things that indicate he is ready to go and I think that's a great thing for our team."

On scoring the first third quarter touchdown of the season versus Penn State:

"I think our drive in the third quarter was something that we needed. Our plan was to run inside because of the great speed and quickness they have outside in the secondary. If you look at that game on either side defensively, and I think this is true in most games, the defense wears down in most cases more than an offense. I think neither team, late in the game, rushed the passer like they did early. And certainly in the second half, we ran the football.

"The only good run we had in the entire first half, I think, was Antonio Bass's run which was a big play because it led to three points down there. But in the second half, particularly on that drive that you are talking about, we ran the ball effectively. Even then, the biggest play of that drive was a great throw that Henne made. That's a great defense now. I mean there is no gimme's. And that's why I think Chad Henne made some great throws just throwing the football away. But on that third down play, he made a great throw and of course Tyler Ecker ran a great route and there wasn't much space in there, but he hit him and we got a first down on the two and we ran the football in and Mike made a good run. I think it was extremely important to that game because I think it gave us confidence offensively."

On Chad Henne's critics:

"I think this. People are looking, in many cases, and when I say people, I am talking about those vocal critics... The truth is the great majority of the people that support the University of Michigan, they think very, very highly of Chad Henne and how he has conducted himself since he has been there. I think there are always a few that are looking for perfection and they're not going to get it from anybody. If you look at that game, he made, I think, one bad throw in there. And that throw, if you know what happened, the play he threw the ball away. He had all kinds of time. We were going into the north end zone. The play before that, he got hit in the eye, and so he couldn't see out of his left eye on the next play. The next play there was all kinds of time and he finally had (Steve) Breaston breaking open, they had to play to coverage and Chad threw the ball away because he couldn't see.

"But when you do what he did in the fourth quarter....I mean the throw he made on the first down play after Breaston's return to start the last drive was an excellent throw. I mean he under pressure...and in my judgment, that's how you judge a quarterback, how they react to the pressure. And trust me, there wasn't a lot of space in that defense and those people can rush the quarterback. So I think you know, he didn't do it by himself. But I don't think anybody could ask anymore of Chad Henne. Now, if you want to look across the country, just tell me how many freshmen have done what he did as a true freshman. But to expect perfection because he is a sophomore, he is not going to be perfect next year or the year after. He is going to have some bad days. He is going to make some bad throws. He is going to throw some interceptions. He is going to have some fumbles. That's life."

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