In the News:
After a performance in which he had 6 tackles, a forced fumble, and an 83-yard fumble return for a touchdown, Michigan junior cornerback Leon Hall was name Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. This was Hall's first time earning that honor. For more on the story, clich here.
On the Northwestern game:
"I thought defensively, when you look at all the statistics in the game, except for obviously the final score, in that particular game, 38 minutes time of possession, the best defense is keeping the other team's offense off the field I guess. I thought our defensive team was exceptional. The truth is we made three mistakes all in the first half. We missed a check. They stemmed the formation, moved it around, and we didn't have anybody in the deep half of the field and that led to their first touchdown. Their field goal was a result of an option play. Our strong safety let the ball outside the defense, and they made the biggest run of the night. They got a field goal out of it. At the end of the half, Grant Mason got caught. They disguised the coverage. All of those things are things we got to get corrected. And yet, I thought the way we played, I thought the game plan, I thought the intensity with which we played was outstanding. I think offensively we were very good. I thought our kicking game was very solid. And offensively, the biggest disappointment I had in the game offensively is third down percentage. There were probably three times in there where we didn't get to where we were supposed to get to in the passing game. And so then Chad, the interception on third down was a play he should have checked the ball down and thrown to the third receiver, and he didn't. But he did some good things. I think Mark Bihl stepped in there and played for Adam Kraus. I thought did some good things running the football. But what we need to do is work on the things that we need to correct so that we can become a better football team."
On if he is surprised by how close the Big Ten race is at this point:
"No. There is a lot of football to be played. There are three weeks left in the season and there is going to be things shake out this week. But you know, I think there are three teams that still have their destiny in their own hands, but that's going to shrink to two this week and maybe more. I think it's the era we're in. It's here."
On if he would be in favor of a nine game conference schedule:
"Well there are a lot of ways to look at it. I think in the interest of college football, and I think in the interest of our fans, to cut out any or to really cut down the non-conference schedule is the debatable issue. I do think in terms of conference championships that there are better ways to do it, and yet that is something our conference has chosen not to do. I think until we get a 12th team it's going to stay the way it is because with 11 teams you have some problems. You would end up with every other year you would play five home conference games, and then the other year you would play four. That of course would become a major issue in a conference championship because it's obviously a lot easier. If you are in a year where you have five home games, you have got an advantage over a school that has four...so you would face that argument. You really would need to play 10 conference games. But with the extension of a 12-game schedule, you still could play 10 games and two non-conference games. You could do whatever you want to do with your other schedule."
On Will Paul moving into the starting lineup versus Northwestern:
"Well, I think Will has really come on. When you look at physically, he is 265 pounds and he developed into, at this point, I think an outstanding blocker and of course that is something that we're looking for at that position. I think he did a very good job. I think maybe he had his best game as a blocking back. And the truth is Will has excellent hands. I mean he is going to be a very good receiver. I am optimistic that will happen. But he was a tight end in high school coming out of the backfield a little bit different, but I think he'll improve as we go."
On the play of Brandon Harrison:
"Well, except for fumbling the football (laughing). You know, you turn the football over, that's not good. I think Brandon Harrison has been one of the real, real pleasant surprises of this season. To have a guy step in, in a position that is as complicated as safety is, and play as well as he has, has really given our football team a lift."
On Jake Long:
"Well, I think Jake Long is certainly going to be an All-American at some point here. He is a great football player. I was just reading a very interesting article inone of the major newspapers about offensive linemen in the NFL and the money that is being spent on them. And tackles have become I think the fourth leading position in terms of off-season bonuses because of all that they are asked to do. You cannot run the football if you don't have tackles that can move the people out of there...and certainly you can't throw the football unless they have an ability to block those defensive ends to pass protect. So I have said this and I believe it...I think when you start to put a football team together, one of your priorities has to be at tackle, so we're delighted Jake is back. And I would say this...Adam Stenavich has had an outstanding season. He has played through some injuries, but been a very, very consistent guy. He's played well every game."
On if he would rather be playing this week to keep up the team's momentum:
"Under normal circumstances, I think we would prefer to continue to play because we do have some momentum and we're doing some things very well. But given our injury position, I would not trade that bye week, no."
On Adam Kraus:
"Kraus, when he first came off the field on Saturday night, I was concerned that he wouldn't be back, but I think there is a very, very good chance, based on the report I got yesterday, that he'll play against Indiana."
On the status of Mike Hart and Lamarr Woodley:
"I think Mike Hart will play definitely. We will have to see with Lamarr. That injury is a little bit more complicated than we thought, but I do think, based on the report again, that he will play."
On Rondell Biggs:
"Rondell, played a few snaps in there. I think by Indiana he will be at full speed if he doesn't have any setbacks."
On if Adrian Arrington will play or redshirt:
"Adrian, if I had to guess, I would say he will not play this year."
On the tradition of Michigan's helmet:
" Well, I think the advantage we have here is certainly down through the years the exposure you get at Michigan to young kids all over the country, I think particularly since we have become a school that recruits nationally, that's a great part of our success. I think it's a big factor...at least being able to get a lot of guys from far away interested in Michigan. If players understand that there are a lot of guys from far away from home, I think it makes it easier sometimes for them to feel comfortable in a place as opposed to going somewhere where the great majority of kids are from that state or from that region. So I think that Fritz Crisler did Michigan a service when he brought that helmet here."
On why he enjoys this year's team so much:
"I think in spite of some of the challenges we have faced, they have really hung together. I think it's a very, very close-knit team...coaches and players. I think the leadership has been exceptional. You always find out a lot about a team when things go against them. I think this team has rallied. I think they have supported each other, they have maintained great enthusiasm, and great work ethic from the very beginning. And sometimes you can feel sorry for yourself and the next thing you know, you only compound the problem. I just enjoyed the way day in and day out they have approached this season and approached the challenges and the obstacles that they have had."
On playing for a share of the Big Ten title:
"I think it's too early for us to talk about that. We have got a game next week that we have to take care of. I do think what they have indicated thus far is that they're fighters, and they're competitive, and they're focused. I think those things, any time you have those things, you have got a chance. I think [the players] know there is a lot to play for. I think every team in this conference understands that. I mean, there is a lot of football left to be played."
On who pulls the team together when things aren't going well:
"I think all of us. I think coaches, players. I think, coaches can't do it unless they have the kind of guys that will respond, that like challenges, that have a fighter's mind set, and yet, coaching obviously is a significant part of that because in many cases it comes down to being able to individually take a guy and help him to understand that he has got to step up, and help give him the confidence that he may need or the boost that he may need and the encouragement that those people get from those around them in my judgment is a critical part of being able to keep a team functioning even though you may not be at full strength. And you know, it comes down to coaching from a standpoint of when you have, as we did in one game, two very, very young players starting in the secondary, you have to do some things to simplify, and that may hurt you in some areas of that particular game. It may mean that you can't do some things that you would like to do, but you do them any way. You cut back because it gives those guys a better chance to be successful because you don't overload them with too much thinking. And you may not play as well, but your chance to win is better if your guys know what to do. I think we have had a lot of challenges as coaches. We have had a lot of challenges as players. And you know, it's just been rewarding for me to watch that. I mean, I think our seniors have done a great job of making sure everybody understands, as long as there is time left, than we want to utilize it and be the best we can be."
On why the defense has done better against the spread:
"Well, we were an extremely young defense a year ago, and with the injuries that we have had, we're a very young defense right now. If you look at the Iowa game, John Thompson played in there. A year ago, late in the season, we had some injuries there too, particularly in the last game. We had three starters out of that game. And that's not an excuse, that's just the way it is. I think we're physically a much stronger team up front this year. I think all those kids who played undersized or were young and were not near as strong. Take Rondell Biggs, for example, he became a starter in this year's team, and a year ago he just wasn't big enough. He wasn't strong enough because he was young. I think Alan Branch is the same thing. Alan Branch has had an outstanding year. I think he is going to be a great football player here and because he is in much better condition. I think he is much stronger than he was a year ago. And then you know all those guys that played some a year ago they're back. LaMarr Woodley is a much, much stronger football player this year than he was a year ago. I think Gabe Watson in the last several games has played very, very close to his capability. I think that's where it starts. Now, David Harris is one the best linebackers in this conference. We didn't have him a year ago, he still suffering the aftereffects of that injury. Chris Graham is a young player who has gotten better as the season goes along. Prescott Burgess, in the last few games, really began to play. He is much stronger than he was a year ago. And you can go down the roster. I think the biggest thing is that these kids have grown up and they have been through a lot of learning things that you can only learn by playing."
On why Brandon Harrison was moved from corner to safety:
"Injuries. Brandon did a very good job in training camp at corner, but with Morgan Trent who played very well on Saturday... With Morgan Trent it was pretty easy to see this fall that he was much better from a knowledge standpoint and a confidence standpoint this fall than he was when he started in the spring, and it was obvious that Brandon Harrison had the kind of speed that you would love to have at safety. And yet, although he is not a particularly big guy, he is a very tough guy. So when he had those injuries and we moved him in there. I think that's when we made some moves. Will Paul was one and certainly Brandon Harrison is another that has paid some dividends for us."
On if Harrison could move back to corner:
"I think he could. I think there is no question that he runs well enough, and that certainly is possible. Although he's played so well that it would probably be something very easy to do, for example, if you play against the spread team where you playing six defensive backs."
On Henne's first interception:
"I think we did not have the spacing we wanted. But I think, more than anything else, Chad needs to throw the ball maybe a yard outside of where he did and if he does that I think maybe we get a touchdown."
On what's keeping the offense has had to settle for so many field goals:
. "I think it's a combination of things, and certainly the third down situation. We had a lot of opportunities there, and for various reasons, we did not convert. And of course on fourth down, we had three opportunities, made one. I think you need to give Northwestern some credit. I think they were all plays we would like to have back because we weren't exactly in sync."
On Steve Breaston:
"I think he's proven, sometimes you press. When Breaston touches the football good things happen for us. He has made some very, very big plays. I think he is healthy, and certainly as a punt returner Saturday night, I thought he did an excellent job."
On Shawn Crable's play in the last few weeks:
"I think Shawn Crable has really given us a lift. I was disappointed in the fall because I didn't think Shawn came back playing as well as he had late in the spring. I think he has given us a great lift in the last three games and I think he is a guy that can make plays and he has made some big plays."
On if it istough to keep Mike Hart on the sideline:
"He very much wants to play. I think not having to play him will certainly help in terms of being at full speed next week."
On Antonio Bass at running back:
"I think we're always trying to look to ways to get certain guys the football. I think Antonio is a very bright guy and very talented, and you know, because he missed so many things in the fall, it hasn't been as easy to put him into a lot of situations, but we're getting there and we're going to continue to try to find ways to get him the ball."
On how you maintain momentum with a week off:
"You hope that you have a football team that understands that there is a lot to play for. I think that's the most important thing. I don't think there is...if there is something that bottles that, I would like to know what it is. I think the truth is it's a motivation at this time in the season. At other times, I would think it's much more difficult because of you are in the middle of the season, worn down. We're worn down. We're tired, like every other football team in the country. But there is only two weeks, two games left.
"I don't think motivation will be a factor in coming off the bye week. Now, with that said, we have had some very poor performances after bye weeks and we have had some where we played pretty well, but that doesn't mean that we could have played this Saturday and played poorly. I don't look at it as it's because of the bye week. I don't subscribe to that."
On some of the backups that have stepped up:
"I think Tim Jamison has really come on. It was obvious last fall that he is a very, very active player, and by that I mean he doesn't stay blocked. You may block him, but he is going to get off the block. At Iowa City he made a couple of outstanding plays where he was blocked and then the play stays alive and then he gets in on the tackle. He missed three or four games in there, but we knew when he got back, when he became healthy, that he would be a factor for us. We fully expected Shawn Crable to do that from the beginning, and I think he is beginning to do that. I think Pierre Woods is playing right now his best football since he has been at Michigan. I think on the play where Leon Hall ...the play that Leon made was really as a result of what Pierre Woods did. It was part of it."
On the bye week schedule:
"We're going to practice tomorrow and Wednesday and coaches will spend some time studying those last two opponents, and we will work on some of those last two opponents on tomorrow and Wednesday. Thursday, the players will lift. Thursday and Friday, their coaches will recruit, and we will come back on practice on Sunday evening."
"I can't comment on individuals, but I can say that I think we're in great position right now. I think we have got a lot of visits coming in, but where we are, as far as guys who indicate they like Michigan and some of them who indicated they're coming to Michigan, I think it's got a chance, depending on how we finish, to be an outstanding year."
On if Jake Long might play left tackle at some point:
"That depends on how well he plays right tackle the next two weeks. I think Jake could play anywhere. I like a right tackle that is a great run blocker because traditionally teams that are to some regard right handed. I mean most backs are right handed. Now and then you get a back that's left handed, so it's much more natural to carry the ball in the right hand and all those issues. I think the left tackle obviously is the guy that protects the backside of the quarterback. There are a lot of things we have to look at, and then all of a sudden everything is different when he was a left tackle. I think he could be a great left tackle, don't get me wrong, but we will have to see how that fits in with what everybody else does."
On if the bye week will be used to prepare for BOTH Indiana and Ohio State:
"Well, we have got three days here: Today, tomorrow, and Wednesday. And then, of course, we still have a normal week of preparation for our next opponent. Yeah, I think, obviously, there is time in there that you are trying to prepare for both of them. I think even during the course of the year, every week you are watching an opponent that you are going to play against. You are also, during the course of the season... there is always another team on that tape. It's just natural that you look at things that they're doing. You note how particular guys are playing, and you know all those things. I don't think that you are ever 100 percent focused (on just one team) as you watch a film. You are watching both teams because there are things you can learn from both teams, and I am sure it's the same for everybody else, too."
On why John Thompson didn't play versus Northwestern:
"One of the things that you have to consider...Chris Graham of course is the starter at that position where John filled in last week. John normally has been a backup to David Harris. And so as a coach you are making a decision there on who you are playing. In that particular game, David Harris had a big responsibility as far as when he played two-deep zone, he is covering that receiver that goes down the middle. And John, right now, is a young player and he is playing extremely well. I think he is going to be very good player, but his strength has been the running game. I think I mentioned this several times, but he missed all of training camp a year ago as a true freshman. So I think in that particular game, you make a decision based on the kind of offense that you are playing you needed to have David Harris in the game. But we certainly have a lot of confidence in John. I think the most important thing right now is he has a lot of confidence in himself because of what he did last week. And that doesn't mean that he is not disappointed that he didn't play because anybody that doesn't play has disappointment, and I wouldn't want them to be any other way."
More on Lamarr Woodley's injury:
"I think it's not what I would call a serious injury. I think it's just a matter of how quickly it heals, and only LaMarr is going to know that."
On the status of equipment manager Jon Falk:
"Our players gave him the game ball. I think I may have told you that after the game. I talked to him this morning. He is probably -- that hospital they're probably glad to get rid of him because of all the people that he has had in there to see him and all the phone calls. But he sounded really upbeat and I think he is very hopeful that he will be able to come home in the next day or two."