On Ohio State's linebackers:
"Well, I want to say this first. There's been an article written about Scott McClintock and there seems to be some question about the validity of my comments about why he is not playing. My comments are accurate…just like I said them. And I think what [was written] about him is unfair. Scott McClintock hurt his back the week prior to the Michigan State game, that's why he has not played. Last week, I sent Jeremy Van Alstyne in here. He was ridiculed because, as a defensive lineman, he did not know the numbers of the wide receivers at Indiana. I think that was unfair to him."
"The answer to your question is when you are dealing with great linebackers, you got to block them. It's fundamental. It begins there and it starts there, and that's no small task."
On how OSU QB Troy Smith is different this year:
"I think he's got the same athletic ability. He's got the same great arm, and, obviously, with the experience he has, he has been in a lot of big games, a lot of good games where he has played extremely well."
On whether the game is any more important after coming back from a 3-3 start:
"I look at it as this game is really a special game. Regardless of what transpired before or what will transpire next, this game is what it is. That's what I think the motivation is for a lot of people who come here, and certainly for our seniors, the last opportunity they have to play in this great stadium."
On whether previously injured players will play vs. OSU:
"Well, it is what it is. I don't think you can be concerned about injuries in this game. I think every guy that is humanly capable of playing will play, and you can't worry about anybody who can't play."
On how kicking game will affect this contest:
"I think when you look at it, the kicking game historically and certainly in recent years, with the emphasis in college football on the kicking game, I think it impacts in some way or another every game. Certainly when you have skilled people like Ohio State has, like we have, you have an opportunity to create great field position, you have an opportunity to create great momentum shifts, and those coverage teams are up against it this week."
On Chad Henne's leadership:
"I think he has been a good leader since he has been here. I think obviously with the experience he has had with the increased understanding of what he is doing in terms of his role and learning what everybody else is doing, I think, he is developing as we speak. I think he'll continue to develop."
On how and when Mike Hart became the heart of the team:
"I don't know exactly when it happened, but I think he is one of those rare individuals who had an opportunity, when presented with an opportunity from the beginning, to display the type of poise and maturity. He is an extremely bright guy and he is an extremely emotional guy. I think his team feeds off that. Even in the games where he hasn't played, he has been a factor on the sidelines. That's just the kind of guy he is. He loves to win, he loves to compete, and I think those are qualities that every leader possesses."
On what makes the Michigan vs. Ohio State rivalry the best in college football:
"I would have to say it's the tradition. You go back to the turn of the century and over a period of time there's been so many great games…so many games that stand out in people's memories. I think the thing that it means to the people who are involved with those universities. And certainly, I think television played a great part back in the 70's, when Woody and Bo got together with so many of those great games. And the players…I think certainly the guys that have played the way they have played…the intensity of the games…I think all of those are things that are very special. It comes at a special time of the year…the week before Thanksgiving. The weather turns cold and all those things that make it a great game, I think comes together at the end of the season on a great rivalry. I think across the country it's a game that people enjoy watching regardless of where they are."
On whether off the field gamesmanship like being searched by police and dogs outside of the stadium last year is a part of the rivalry:
"Well, I think there is a difference between gamesmanship and disrespect."
On whether the fans feelings toward the rivalry have changed recently:
"You'd have to ask the fans. For me, it's Michigan-Ohio State. And since the first time I coached in this game, it doesn't take long to understand that it's special. It's certainly the greatest game that we play at Michigan, and I don't think that's ever going to change and I think you learn that in a hurry. Every coach, every player leaves a legacy. Every coach, every player has a record and that becomes part of who you are, and it's an important part of who you are in terms of this game that we play."
On if the competition with OSU can be consuming:
"I don't think as a coach you ever get away from the immediate competition. The people that you are competing against, whether it be in recruiting, whether it be on the field, it's a job that is consuming. If it isn't consuming then you shouldn't be in it. If you aren't consumed by it, at least to some degree on a daily basis, then you are falling behind. So you are out there competing every day. And certainly, there are other games, there are other rivals, but certainly this is the greatest one."
On if his demeanor changes during Ohio State week:
"You know, they (the players) would be a better judge of that. Tim Massaquoi spoke to the team last night at the end of practice and he talked about what this game means. I think for the guys that are going into it for the last time or the first time they're going to play in this game, there are a lot of things that they don't know yet…and they're going to find out in a hurry. I think, obviously, there is a sense of urgency about this week that's very special, that perhaps is different. But how I change, I don't begin to know."
On Jake Long's status:
"We have got a lot of guys and I think all of them that are humanly capable of playing will play. And other than that, I don't have a lot to say about that particular subject. I hope you understand."
On Ohio State's special teams:
"I can't imagine anybody having a better special teams than they do. I think they have guys that are explosive and have an ability to make a big play every time (Santonio) Holmes and (Ted) Ginn touch the football. They have a great punter who is a redshirt freshman and is leading the Big Ten, and a great field goal and kickoff guy that has been incredible in terms of kicking the ball out of the end zone. I think the field position that they have been able to create through their special teams is…I don't think anybody has done a better job in special teams than they have."
On Ohio State's offense:
"Well, they're extremely balanced and they're extremely explosive and they have a guy touching the football every down that can make a lot of things happen. And any time you are dealing with that type of explosiveness, that type of ability to be balanced, to run it and throw it, you have got a challenge and certainly our defense has a challenge. It is only one phase of the game and you can do some things to help your defense, hopefully we can do that."
On why his team was able to turn it around after starting 3-3:
"I think it comes back to the people in this program, the leadership that we have had from the seniors. If there is one thing I would point to, it would be that."
On he ever felt that he lost a game in the rivalry because he was out-coached:
"I have never given that a thought. I think when you walk off that field, certainly you know that there are some things regardless of (the outcome)…you know ultimately you were responsible. And it's a team game. It comes down to the way your players perform. It comes down to the plans that you establish as a coaching staff. And yet, as a head coach ultimately it's your responsibility."
On if it is important to keep the team loose this week, and if he
sings during practice to do so:
"Oh, absolutely. And when I sing, believe me, it keeps them loose. (Laughter) I don't sing that loud. I just sing very well."
On what song he sings:
"Don't Cry For Me Argentina. That's my best."
On if this the most physical game of the year:
"I think the Big Ten Conference is extremely physical on a weekly basis. Certainly the intensity of this game is always special. I think whether it's emotional, whether it's physical, I think it's the most intense. I think every player understands that on every single play, there is an opportunity to make something happen or there is a chance to make a mistake. Everybody understands that every single play is important, and any time two teams play with that mind set, normally it means great intensity and a great football game."
On protecting the quarterback vs. OSU:
"Well, I think the scheme of the things that they do, they play coverage very well, they also zone blitz you as well as anybody. They have got wonderful athletes and guys at linebackers that can blitz very effectively. I think you certainly have to be able to protect the passer, because, if you can't, then it doesn't matter what the receivers are doing or what the quarterback is doing. The passing game always starts with the protection."
On the running game:
"I think the team that runs the football the best has the best chance to win because, if you can run the football, you can avoid third and long. If you can run the football, then you can maintain possession of the ball…you keep the other team off the field. I think that leads to a lot of things. But you know, you have to also take into consideration how they're going to play the game. I mean if you've got 8 or 9 guys up there, then sometimes you can't run the football. I think that's what you have to see when you get there."
On the criticism pf the team when it was 3-3:
"I think that every player and every coach understands that what the expectations are. I think the critical role of a coach is to set an environment within that team that we're going to compete to the best of our ability every day. We're going to do our very best and when we do that, that's good enough. It's good enough for us, and you can't be concerned with all the things that are happening around you because, if you are, then certainly your chances to be successful are going to be impaired."
On whether parity in the conference will ultimately diminish this rivalry:
"I can't envision anything that would impair the rivalry. I think certainly since the early 1990's, when we got down from 105 scholarships to 85, I think you it see across the country…and I think certainly that makes it more difficult for those schools that have those great traditions going back into the 40's and the 50's and the 60's because it certainly has leveled the playing field. I think certainly, in the big picture, it's made college football what it is today. I think it has been positive. I don't think it's always been positive for the guys that play the game because when you go to 12 games and you've got that few players, there are a lot of ramifications from that standpoint. But I think it has been a good for the game."
On the team not controlling its destiny when it comes to the Big Ten title:
"I think we do control our own destiny. I think it's how we play that's going to be important. That's the only thing that is important, this week, this game, today."
On if Ohio State's defense is the best his team has faced:
"I think we played against some outstanding defenses, and yet, I think this defense from an experience standpoint and from the standpoint of having almost every starter back makes it special. I think when you look it at statistically, those defensive statistics, scoring defense, defense against the run, total defense, I think, it's the best defense we have played."
On if Grant Mason has exceeded his expectations:
"I think it's hard to exceed my expectations for everybody else…not necessarily for me. I exceed my own expectations all the time (laughing)."
"I think Grant Mason has had a wonderful year. We don't have many guys
who transfer in here, we don't have many guys that we recruit out of the junior
colleges, and so it's unusual, and I think Grant Mason has done an unusual job.
"Last week, Pete Sarantos, the father of Joey and Paul Sarantos, two guys who played here for me…Paul is still on the team…their father passed away after an incredibly courageous fight against cancer. I went over for the memorial service last Tuesday, and I am leaving the church and there is Grant Mason. Grant Mason had driven over there by himself to be supportive of Paul. But Grant is just an outstanding human being. He has done a great job and has made a real positive impact on our team I think on and off the field."
On A.J. Hawk:
"I think he is a great football player. I don't get into ranking players very often, but certainly he has had a great career and he has done it over a long period of time. I think consistency is always a great measure of performance and he certainly has done it for a long time. I'll be glad to see him leave.(laughter)"
On how the back ups, specifically Jerome Jackson, have stepped up for injured players:
"I think the measure of a team very often in this era is your depth and the ability of a player to stay motivated when he is not playing, when the role that he has is not what he wants it to be. I have seen a lot of guys down through the years let it affect them and then consequently they have been unable to perform when their opportunity does come because they just haven't prepared like they need to prepare. Jerome is one of those guys that never gets down, and he is a fighter, and what he's done has really made a world of difference for his team."
On whether the season hinges on this game:
"Yeah. Yeah. And I think for both teams. I think this season will be a major disappointment with a loss. I can't think of anything less, because there is a lot at stake and I think that's what this game is."
On Willis Barringer:
"Willis is just an incredible guy, great energy, great enthusiasm. He is tough and very, very competitive. And what he did beginning the fall…in some ways his career had not gone the way he wanted it. Like Jerome Jackson, he just kept working and kept believing in himself and got off to a wonderful start. And then of course he got hurt and has missed some time, but to have him back I think emotionally is a very positive thing for our team because he is an emotional player and he is a big hitter and he is one of those guys from an intensity standpoint that brings a lot to our team."
On Shawn Crable:
"I had a number of talks with Crable, and I was beginning to wonder if anything would ever impact him. But every guy comes along in a different level. Everybody matures a little bit differently. Shawn is one of those guys a lot of things athletically come easy to him because he is a gifted guy, but I think he has done a wonderful job and I think what you are seeing is just the beginning of what hopefully will be a great career here."
On if he worries about players who are playing in this game and if he feels better than he did heading into the game last year about how Chad Henne will perform:
"I think there is no question that you have to have an understanding as a coach that the first time that a guy plays in this game, particularly when it's on the road, it's a little bit different. And certainly Chad learned some things. I think if you watched him in the game in Columbus last year, and then you watched him in the Rose Bowl in an even bigger audience, you saw a guy that had learned some things. I think you are always concerned about young guys. You understand that they're going to make some mistakes. I don't think there is a guy that is going to play in this game, there isn't a coach that is going to coach in this game that isn't going to make some mistakes. You just hope that you make fewer than the other guy."
On if he can recall any recruiting battles going down to the wire with Ohio State:
"Shawn Crable went down to the wire. I can remember but not all the details. He could probably tell you more than I could. But you know, very, very late, 48 hours, before the signing date, we're waiting on him, and I really did not think that he was going to come to Michigan. I mean it went that close to the wire, and so when he did, we were of course delighted to have him."