Monday Presser Highlights: Week Eleven

Carr discusses what his team worked on during the bye, injuries, previews Indiana Hoosiers, and more.

On if LaMarr Woodley, Mike Hart or the injured safeties will play this week:

"I expect all of our safeties to be ready. So the other guys we will just have to wait to see if they practice."

On what the team got done during the bye week:

"Well, hopefully, we did some things to improve ourselves in the passing game. I think we have been inconsistent there and for a variety of reasons. We're just not where we need to be, and so we worked hard on establishing better spacing and understanding where everybody has got to be...trying to improve getting out of our cuts at the right time so that the timing of our passing game is improved. In the Northwestern game we were was not executing very well on third down. Of course, we're working to eliminate big plays. If we ever do that, I think we will have a good defense."

On Indiana:

"I think defensively, they are really a scrappy outfit. They're tough. They hustle. But I think offensively, they have really done a good job from the standpoint of doing the things that... for example, the Iowa game... when you look at that score, and then you look at the number of plays, they ran 101 plays against Iowa. They have been outstanding in time of possession. They have been outstanding on third down, which is really our big concern with the Indiana team...getting them off the field. To do that, we have to do a good job on third down defensively. And I think they have more than anybody else in the Big 10, they have tried to convert on fourth down. So they're the kind of team that wants to keep the ball and protect their defense. I think Terry Hoeppner has done an outstanding job."

On if Indiana's personnel has gotten betteror if Hoeppner is responsible for the team's improvement:

"I think Gerry Dinardo is an outstanding coach and I think he developed a toughness there. I think Terry has inherited a group of kids that know how to compete and know how to fight, and yet, he has changed a lot of things offensively. They have won some games and there hasn't been many times in there where they didn't have a chance to win."

On Indiana wide receiver James Hardy:

"First of all, physically he is a great talent from the standpoint of his size, 6'7". The fact that he plays basketball I think is an indicator of the kind of athlete he is. And when you look at 15 yards a catch, that's excellent, because I think he probably goes into most games as a marked man. I think he has had a great year."

On Adrian Arrington:

"I have not had that discussion with him, but based on what I see, for him to have come back and played this year and use a year of eligibility, he would have had to show me a lot more as far as his physical preparedness."

On if he likes the bye week:

"Do I like the bye week? I like it at the point we were in during the season. I think it would have been very difficult for us to field a healthy team...anywhere close to a healthy team. I think, as we go forward here in the Big Ten, without a bye week, I think it's going to be an incredible strain on the players. I think it's really something that the conference has to look at. As much as I would hate to see the season extend past Thanksgiving, unless they're going to let us start early...because I think for the welfare of the players, somewhere in there in the course of the season, you need to have a week off. I think that's only fair to the players."

On if there is indication that teams will be starting earlier or playing later:

"We have always in this conference had the philosophy that we would not play after Thanksgiving unless it's a trip to Hawaii or one of those situations. I think the landscape of college football is changing dramatically. I looked at, for example, our last two appearances in the Rose Bowl. We finished the season before Thanksgiving, and the teams that we played in that game both times played after Thanksgiving. I think there is an issue there from a competitive standpoint in terms of being out of the game for a great length of time.

"I think we have always had the right approach in this conference because I think it's only fair, after the length of that season, that our players have always been able for the most part to spend Thanksgiving with their families. I think that's going to be, with the addition of the 12th game, something that will change. I think it's one of those things that once you go down that road you are going to have to deal with a lot of things that aren't in the best interest of the players."

On if the conference makes the call on altering the schedule to preserve the bye week:

"I don't know that the conference has...if you started earlier, which would be my preference, the NCAA would have to change the rules for starting dates. That's something we have been trying to get, a standardized starting date, because of teams having an advantage of playing the game before somebody else did in the opener. So it's a complicated issue. I don't know exactly how it's going to come out, but I think there are a lot of issues to be looked at."

On keeping the team together when they were 3-3 and facing three tough games heading into the bye:

"I think it goes back to the kind of people you have. I think they know how to fight. They're competitive people. And I think you have to learn from the mistakes you make. I think the wonderful thing about this season is that we have had, more than any season I can remember, an opportunity for guys to play who were in so-called backup roles, who had an opportunity to come in and play and they have played at an extremely high level. We have talked about those people throughout the season. Mark Bihl was one in the last game who went in against Northwestern and did a great job. We have had a number of guys do that, defensively and offensively. I think that's the rewarding thing, and I think it's a credit to our players to our coaches that we were able to stay focused and find a way to win some very tough ball games."

On Jeremy Van Alstyne:

"He is an incredible competitor. When you watch Jeremy play at that position, he is not the biggest guy, but he has great instincts and he has great toughness and desire. When you watch him play, he plays with a love of the game, a passion, and because of that, he is able not only to play at a very high level. It's that attitude that has enabled him to fight back after injury after injury after injury."

On if lack of size is an issue for Chris Graham:

"I learned a long time ago with Ian Gold and Dhani Jones, we were at a point there where our prototype linebacker was coming out of high school, we were looking for a guy 235-240 pounds. When Ian got here I think he was 205 pounds. We moved him at the end of his freshman year. Dhani Jones was I don't think anything over 205 pounds when he was a high school senior. And those were two of the finest linebackers we have had at Michigan. I think that it's still a game of instinct and toughness and quickness. I think, any time you put a player in any position in a mold that he can't do this or he can't do that because of physical measurements, I think that's where you can make a mistake."

"Graham, he's got great instincts, he gets off blocks extremely well, and he does a great job of diagnosing plays. He has an instinctive ability to know where the ball is going. He is a good tackler and he is tough and he is competitive and he's gotten better and better as the season has gone on and he's gained experience."

On the Big Ten Conference:

"I think Indiana has a lot to play for, just as most teams in the Big Ten do at this stage. I think that speaks to the competitiveness of the conference. A lot of great football teams. You are always playing in arenas where you are going to have to deal with crowd noise and all those issues. It's amazing the number of games that are going down to the last minute or two, so the margin of error is very small. I think that's really one of the great things that our conference did in terms of moving the replay because when you look at, I think 42% of the plays in the Big Ten Conference that have been reviewed have been overturned. In other words, we're getting a lot of plays right that weren't necessarily called correctly, and it's a very difficult game to officiate. I think instant replay, for some of the problems that we do have with it, I think it has been an overwhelming success."

On the offensive MVP at this point in the season:

"I don't look at anything in terms of MVP. I think it's a team game and I think what we're trying to do as we forward, and I would have hoped we would have been there before now. We're not where we need to be, where we want to be offensively, and I think part of that has been due to the fact that we have had a lot of different guys play and we have also played very good competition, all those are issues. But in terms of MVP, I think that's something the players decide at the end of the season. I think it's a great honor, but I think the truth is you better have 11 guys playing together if you are going to be successful."

On keeping the players from looking ahead to Ohio State:

"I think the challenge for any team is to keep an eye on what is directly in front of them, and there are a lot of lessons out there that -- and you pay a heavy price when you aren't paying attention to what's in front of you. So hopefully they're smart enough to understand that."

On Will Paul:

"He played in the defensive line the first two years that he was here, and so I knew from watching him on a daily basis that he was tough and he hung in there when he was a young player. He was not big enough, not strong enough, but he was -- he got bigger and bigger. I knew from high school that he was a good receiver, good athlete. He played tight end, he played fullback. And we talked at one time during the recruiting process of playing him at fullback. I was confident because I knew that he was tough, and that position requires toughness. "I think it was a matter of him learning the offense. It's a very difficult position because you are blocking very good athletes. You are blocking, in a lot of cases, the inside linebacker who is a very physical guy who is hard to block, that's why he is playing in that position. He is blocking the same linebacker at the end of the line of scrimmage that's trying to rip across your face and force the ball outside, and then on the sweeps you are blocking the strong safety. He was athletic enough that we felt he could do all those things and he's done all of them well."

On Michigan's standing in the Big 10 title hunt:

"Every week on Sundays we talk about the reality of where we are, where the race is. I mean we're not acting like there is nothing else going on out there, but I think, when we talk about where we are, and the things out there that we need to be aware of, there is also an understanding that in this conference the deal here is to try to get better every week and you can't get better this week if you are thinking about next week. If you want to achieve some things that are under your control, then you need to get better every week, and in order to get better every week, you have got to get better on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday in terms of the way you practice and the way you prepare. So as a team, it comes down to the preparation that you put into it."

On if the early season adversity will help the team make a run at the title:

"The one thing I do not know, and that's how it's all going to turn out. But I do think we have had a lot of games that have been highly contested. In those types of games and in overtime situations, you have an opportunity as a team to learn some things, to gain some confidence. I think from that standpoint the answer is yes. The reality is we have got Indiana this week and it's a conference game and there is a lot of football still to be played. There are a lot of things that can happen. The reality of it is that the only thing that we have control over is how we play this week. You know, there are a lot of possibilities, but the deal is I think to take control of the things you have control over. It's an old cliche, but it's true."

On Jim Herrmann and the defensive coaches prepared for the spread this year:

"I think it always begins as a coach, there are opportunities to learn every week. The difficult thing is, during the season, you are so busy from the standpoint that, 12 hours after a game is over, you've started on the next one. But you have an opportunity after a season to much more objectively study the problems, to discuss the lessons, to study the game itself wherever it's being played. I think that's where I will begin and I think certainly there is a motivation from the standpoint of our players to improve and have the kind of defense that we want to have here. I think that's where it all starts."

On the running game:

"We're still leaving too many yards out there, so there are a lot of things that go into playing like we're capable of playing. I think we're doing some very good things, but, we still are missing some cuts, and that's something we're working on daily."

On if he'll still rotate backs if he has a healthy Mike Hart:

"I don't like to project on that. I think you go into a football game and you give the guy the ball that gives you the best chance to win and you see what happens in a game and how it's going. And you know, I think the deal is to make sure everybody is prepared as well as they can be and be ready. And of course, Jerome Jackson has done a great job of that."

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