There were a number of reasons for Michigan’s unimpressive 7-5 record in 2005, but the most prevalent was their inability to win the fourth quarter. So how does Michigan change that trend?
“Make it so it doesn’t come down to that” said senior wideout Carl Tabb. “We put ourselves in a lot of situations that required a lot more of us simply because of our own lack of finishing things. Lack of putting the finishing touches on something that should have been done. We as a team have to learn how to do what we are capable of doing all the time, not just sometimes.”
While the team focused on working themselves into better condition to perform at a higher level in the later stages of games, Tabb says there is still more to do. “It’s more of a mental mindset than a physical one” he said. “The body does what the mind tells it to do, so if you're not mentally prepared to play in the fourth quarter, you won’t be able to play in the fourth quarter. If you think a game is going to be over in the third quarter, and it ends up going into the fourth quarter, you're in trouble. You're underestimating your opponent and you're underestimating your competition. I think what the coaches are really stressing is that we all have to be mentally prepared to take a game to the very last snap whether that be in the fourth quarter or in triple overtime.”
While Tabb acknowledged the team has learned from their past, he also indicated that they are eager to put it behind them.
“A record is just that, a record," The Ann Arbor native said. "Just like all records, it is in the past. The beautiful thing about it is when you have another opportunity you can put that to bed and move on to the next year and have optimistic thoughts about that year. Everyone knows none of us like to lose. If you liked to lose you wouldn’t be here. This is not an institution that was built on losing. With that being said, we’re all trying to do all that is necessary and all that we can to prevent that same kind of thing from happening again.”
Improving on last season started with hard work in spring practice and continued into summer workouts. As Tabb explained, the team has shown the raw materials for success heading into fall camp.
“The summer went well…a lot of hard work…a lot of good days” Tabb said. “The team definitely has come together. Now what exactly that means I don’t know because we haven’t started camp yet. But as far as work ethic and picking each other up and doing the right things at the right times goes, we have all that down.”
One of the most focused players during offseason workouts was junior quarterback Chad Henne. According to Tabb, Michigan's field general was dedicated to getting better. “Chad is Chad," Tabb said. "He is one of those guys that is concerned how he is as a player and he’s trying to improve just like the rest of us. He has put in a lot of hard work. I’ve been there with him a lot of those days. He’s the leader of our offense and we intend to follow him.”
When asked how well Henne would perform this year, Tabb was hesitant to offer a prediction. “You’re not going to make me jinx anything that happens this year” Tabb joked. “I wish Chad nothing but the best this season, I’m going along for the ride so if he does well, I do well, if he doesn’t do well, I don’t do well.”
Tabb has been a special teams standout
Tabb's unselfishness has been on full display throughout his Michigan career. He may not have been able to utilize his great speed in the passing game very much, but he certainly has done so as a member of the special teams unit.
“Special teams are not just one of those things a guy goes and does because he isn’t playing," Tabb said. "It’s a privilege to play here.”
Tabb's best chance to be a regular contributor may finally be in front of him in 2006. He knows that nothing is guaranteed, but he plans to be ready just in case he is needed.
“I’ve been preparing just like I prepare any other year," he said. "I try to take every day with the idea that I’m going to be playing whether I play or not, because I don’t make that decision. It would be a shame for me to be called on and not be ready. ”
On Jason Avant:
“When you lose a guy like Jason Avant, you lose just that, a great guy. Jason was one of those guys, if you were having a bad day, you could go pull him aside and tell him about it. He would be more than willing to listen and he would tell you the truth. You knew he wasn’t pulling any punches so you couldn’t be mad at his answer. He was the most honest guy I’ve ever come in contact with, I wish him nothing but the best in everything he does.”
On the receiving corps:
“All of us do things differently, like Steve (Breaston) is obviously a type of guy that can make a lot of people miss. Adrian (Arrington) is a little bit taller than everybody else, Doug (Dutch) is a little bit strong than everybody else. I might hurt a few feelings with this but I feel like I’m faster than everybody else.”