Monday Presser Transcripts - Week 4

University of Michigan head football coach Lloyd Carr addressed the media to break down the Notre Dame game and look ahead to Wisconsin. Among the topics covered were the performances of Morgan Trent and Chad Henne, keeping his team focused, Ron English, and more. A link to player comments is also included.

To review the comments from the players, click here.


Opening Statrement:

"After watching the film, I think what I saw coming out of the game, it was truly a team victory. We played with great intensity and I thought we were focused, and I thought by far we played our best game. The special teams were much improved. I thought in particular kickoff coverage improved; we kicked the ball off 10 times. So that part of it, I thought Steve Breaston did a great job of fielding the punts and getting the ball back up the field and reducing the net punting that they had because certainly he punted the football very, very well. Garrett Rivas kicked the ball, the one extra point -- I thought Notre Dame and most people have concentrated efforts to push inside and hit guys up. I thought maybe the ball was a little bit low. But with that exception, I thought Garrett continued for the second week in a row to really kick the ball extremely well. Defensively and offensively I thought we did the things we needed to do to win. The negative is late in that game in the fourth quarter we had some penalties that we've got to avoid. I'm talking about the three personal foul penalties. I don't think any of those were flagrant, but I think that we've got to be able to pull off on the sideline over there because those penalties really aided their last touchdown. So we've got a lot of work to do.

"We're excited to go into the Big Ten season and to play a team, Wisconsin, who's 3-0. It's the same basic Wisconsin team from a year ago that beat Auburn in their (Capital One) Bowl game. They beat us a year ago. I think they have an outstanding defensive football team. They play with great intensity. They pursue the ball extremely hard. They're physical, they're talented up front. The linebacker I think is one of the better players in the league, and offensively they're a big strong team that wants to run the football, control the football, play action pass, throw the quick game, and of course, John Stocco has been around forever. So we're looking forward to hosting Wisconsin, getting into the Big Ten season."

On the difference in Wisconsin under Bret Bielema:

"I'll tell you more Saturday. I think they're an attacking defensive football team, and Mike Hankwitz, who played at Michigan, is the defensive coordinator and highly regarded throughout the country as an outstanding football coach, and what I think is that he really mixes his coverages. They play some coverage, they rush three, and they bring every other number. They're a well-coordinated defensive football team, probably more blitzing than maybe they've done in the past."

On what he was concerned about heading into the Notre Dame game:

"I was particularly concerned about big plays because Notre Dame, you look at them the last two years, they've had a lot of plays that go for big yardage, long touchdowns. Our secondary I thought played extremely well. Leon Hall had a great football game. I thought Morgan Trent played his best game since he's been at Michigan, and I thought we did a great job of contesting and being in position for every deep throw."

"I thought Morgan got outfought for the ball over there but it wasn't because he wasn't back. They went after us twice I think in the first series. They threw the ball deep in the first series of the game and Morgan was in excellent position. But that all started with pressure, and my concern, I felt very confident that we would exert great pressure on the quarterback, and I felt that that would be the difference in the game if we could control the deep passes. So if there was one concern that was it. I thought after watching the film that we did the things that we needed to do."

On Morgan Trent:

"I think a year ago he gained a lot of experience. He learned a lot of lessons. A year ago we did not put pressure on the quarterback like we are right now, and of course if you're a cornerback and you play -- that's why it's a team game. If you're playing in the secondary and you're playing behind a front that really pushes and plays with great effort, that pushes the pocket and that is making the quarterback step up because you're getting great pressure off the corners, it's a lot easier to play defensive back. But I think he's competed hard. He's a wonderful athlete, and he has tackled extremely well thus far. I like where he is."

On Brandon Harrison:

"Brandon played a lot a year ago. We moved him early in the fall to safety because we had some issues there. For a young kid, he did okay. But we recruited him as a corner because he can run. I thought Ron did a great job of putting him over the slot -- for the most part he played over the slot receiver, and he can run and he's tough, and in his first extensive game competition this fall, I thought he played very well. He's got a lot of things to learn and to improve on, but he really brings some quickness to our defense. We brought him off the edge several times. I think that game will do great things for his confidence."

On what the Notre Dame game told him about his defense:

"I think my take on it is that you have to improve on a weekly basis if you're going to be a great defense, and I think that certainly after three games, we've done some very, very good things and I think we've displayed the kind of cohesiveness, because it takes cohesion to prevent big plays and to stop the running game. One guy is not going to stop a team; it doesn't matter how good your linebackers are if you're not doing the things up front and the secondary isn't converging and leveraging the ball. David Harris is off to a great start, and Prescott Burgess had his best game and Shawn Crable played well. If we continue to grow and mature and if we stay focused, and that's always the challenge, this is a long season. It's a long season for every player, and if you're focused and doing the things that you need to do to take care of your body and doing the things it takes to prepare on a weekly basis because this game changes dramatically week to week depending on who you're playing, so there's a lot of challenges out there, we'll just have to see how we handle the things off the field."

On staying focused heading into the Wisconsin game:

"I told our team before the season that I felt this would be one of the greatest challenges of the season for them because of the place where it falls in the schedule and because of the kind of football team Wisconsin is, so we'll have to see. I don't have all the answers. But I do know that fundamentally if your preparation isn't the same, if your intensity isn't the same week in and week out, in this conference you're not going to be successful."

On Ron English:

"He's an outstanding leader. He has outstanding passion. I think he is surrounded by outstanding coaches. I think it's always a product of teamwork; I don't care what you're doing in any organization. I think he knows that he has good people, he relies on them, they work very well together. He's not afraid. He's not afraid. I think that he's aggressive. I think the players relate extremely well to him."

On Wisconsin runningback P.J. Hill:

"He's a very, very strong, powerful guy. I mean, what I read, I saw 242, so he's a guy that you're going to have to wrap him up because he's strong and he's a guy that is very capable of breaking a lot of tackles."

On the national sentiment that "Michigan is back":

"We've played three games. We've got 75 percent of the season to go, and we have an outstanding opponent. You have to be able to handle all of the hype that goes with being up there in the rankings, and some teams can handle it and some can't. That will be our challenge here. I think our players understand that. They know what Wisconsin will bring in here on Saturday. I don't think all those things mean a thing. I mean, get ready."

On this team's character:

"I think one of the reasons that we're off to a good start is that we do have, and we have had, outstanding leadership. But we've been under the radar. And now that changes, and so you have to see how you handle it when you're in the glare of the spotlight. It doesn't matter where you're at; there are certain fundamental issues that you have to deal with, and that's really our challenge. If our leadership continues to exhibit the right qualities, I mean, if you're a great leader, you're going to practice hard. You're going to prepare hard, you're going to play hard, and you're not going to be distracted by all those things that are being said or being written, so the fundamentals don't change."

On Ryan Mundy:

"I thought Ryan Mundy really played well. He's been through the ups and downs of an injury that is a miserable injury, but he's aggressive, he runs, he's smart, and I think Ryan really, really played well on Saturday."

On the interference call on Ryan Mundy in the Notre Dame game:

"That call from my vantage point, and I talked to the officials who have been in this conference for a long time, and I felt like he missed it. He felt like there was contact before the ball got there, and quite honestly, it was a lot closer call than I thought it was on the field. I was convinced it wasn't close, and I think it was close. I think in looking at it, I can see the call. But you cannot fault him. Mundy was going for the football, and that's what you're supposed to do. You want a guy to get there early. He was in position, but the call went against us, and so in looking at it, I think that's one of those penalties. There are a lot of penalties that are acceptable, and then there are some that aren't, and that one was a good, aggressive effort to get to the football."

On if Adrian Arrington took a step forward against Notre Dame:

"Adrian Arrington played extremely well. What I liked about our receivers, if you watch the film, they're playing when they don't get the football. They're blocking well. We missed a couple of blocks where they changed the defense at the last second, but I thought Adrian -- he's a big guy, he's physical, he's got good hands. I'd like to have him catch the slant in there, and next time I think he will. But I thought he really gave us a lift. We need him to be a better offensive team. So I think he's healthy, I think he's gained confidence, particularly in the last two games. And I think (LaTerryal) Savoy has done a great job on special teams. And Greg Mathews, just like Mario, Mario is showing some tremendous competitiveness because that play where he scored the third touchdown there, he got knocked into the metal chairs down there, and a lot of guys would have been -- they would have been fine without being able to play. We went in at the half and we got it X-rayed and it was fine. He played with some pain, and he's going to have some discomfort but he'll be fine. And certainly Greg Mathews took an incredible hit there and then he went back in the game. So I like the type of toughness our receivers have shown and the kind of competitiveness, outstanding blocks. We're getting better. I'm hoping that Savoy will get some opportunities because there's some things that he brings to the table, too."

On Obi Oluigbo:

"He had one of the biggest plays of the game. He forced a fumble down there on our kickoff. This is the kind of guy Oluigbo is. He's on a kickoff return, he's on our kickoff, he's got a major role on our punt, and there at the end, because of his of the commercial timeouts, even though you're not playing you're on your feet. I mean, that game went on forever, but Oluigbo had some cramping problems. But he blocked extremely well, caught a pass, caught his first pass. He's got good hands. So he is a valuable, valuable guy, and he's off to a great start."

On the length of commercials during the Notre Dame game:

"We got there and the four of us thought there was four commercial timeouts per quarter at five minutes each. I mean, that's 80 minutes. That's where television is having too big an impact on the flow of the game. If I'm a fan sitting up there, I love football, but I was ready to go halfway through the third quarter (laughter). I would hope that in our contractual issues with Notre Dame that we take a position there. I just don't think that's positive for the game. Of course, that's me."

On if he thinks commercials should be part of the deal:

"I think that should be part of the deal. I'm going to talk to Bill and see what he thinks, but I think going forward, that certainly can be an issue. I think the commissioner, I'm hoping Jim Delany, will also get involved. I've never heard of commercial breaks being that long. I have never in my life in college football heard of five-minute timeouts, and we had ten of them. No, we had 16 of them."

On if that a deal breaker in the Notre Dame series:

"I know this, the last time we were down there, we didn't have five-minute timeouts. It's an encroachment on the game that in my judgment has gone too far. My apologies to NBC (laughter). Nothing personal. You know how that goes."

On when Justin Boren will return to practice:

"Justin Boren ran yesterday, and he will resume practice tomorrow. I don't know how he'll respond, but he's made a lot of progress, and I think there's going to be a point here hopefully soon that he'll be back."

On if last year's loss to Wisconsin helps hi team focus on this weekend's game:

"In the preseason that's when you deal with schedule, and then on a weekly basis you talk about where you are and how everybody else is doing and what is the reality of whatever the situation is. But my point to our team in training camp was that regardless of the Notre Dame game, regardless of how it went, emotionally it was going to be a game where they had to come up with a great effort because if you lose that game, then you've got to deal with that. And if you win it, you've got to deal with that. We've tried to be prepared for what we're faced with, and certainly every guy knows on our team what happened a year ago. We couldn't move the football and we couldn't stop them, so we know what Wisconsin will bring."

On if he has spoken any former players since the win over Notre Dame:

"I've talked to quite a few of them. I talk to Jeff Backus regularly because he's got involved in the development efforts for Mott Children's Women's Hospital, and I just talked to Hutch (Steve Hutchinson) last week. Steve Hutchinson and Aaron Shea called me after the game, and I had a call this morning from Desmond Howard. I get a lot of notes and voice messages wishing us all the best, and it always means a lot because we always tell them that these guys are watching and there's no question they are."

On if the Notre Dame victory a big one for the program:

"I've taken four teams down there as the head coach, and I've been down there a lot of other times. I know how hard it is to win there. So did it mean a lot, you're damn right. I mean, when you're dealing with two great traditions, the two winningest programs in the history of this game, that's big. But I'm not overdoing it, either. We've got a long way to go here. The real sad thing is there's no time to celebrate. There's no time really to enjoy it. You get a few minutes on the way home where you can really just relax and enjoy what happened and appreciate it, but when you get up on Sunday morning, it's over. You've got to move on, and that's what we have to do."

On if the win boosts Chad Henne's confidence:

"I think Henne, if you get to know him, he's a pretty reserved guy, but he's got a fire in his belly. This guy is a great competitor. When you look at the quarterback, if you know anything about the game, you're watching to see the protection. Chad Henne, if we do a great job of protecting him and that's probably as difficult a thing for the offensive linemen and backs as anything else, so it's not easy. But when he gets protection, then good things will happen. And when he doesn't, they won't. And a year ago he took a beating, and that's largely as a result of not being able to protect very well a year ago."

On if the number of carries Mike Hart has gotten means he isn't as comfortable with the other backs:

"We have great confidence in Kevin Grady, and I think Kevin Grady gets better each week. Mike Hart is truly, because of a lot of things, when you look at all the games he played as a freshman, Mike Hart is a tremendous value. If you look at that film, there's one play in there where he picks up a blitzing linebacker and that linebacker's feet are pointed at the sky. He knows pass protections, he knows exactly who's coming, and he knows when he can release and when he must help. So if you talk about pass protection, that's a big part of who he is, because of what he does. I mean, he's saved Henne from a lot of shots. I think he's a great football player."

On Wisconsin's wide receivers:

"They're a very controlled passing game. They're not going to drop back and throw the football 25 times a game if things are the way they want them to be. So they're going to throw the quick passing game. And I think fundamentally they're going to throw the ball off a play action. They want to keep the ball. They want to run the clock down and keep your defense on the field and your offense off the field. So that's the way they're going to play. They know how they want to try to win, and they've been very successful at it."

On Mario Manningham and Prescott Burgess both coming from Warren (OH) High School:

"Sometimes you get guys from the same school, Martin Luther King and Orchard Lake St. Mary's and probably some other schools where we've had more than one player on the team, and I probably shouldn't mention those without mentioning all the others. In my memory, I don't remember two guys from the same team playing like they did in that game, I mean, in a game like that, no."

On if this team has a personality yet:

"That is an interesting question. These guys have fun, and they're a loosey-goosey outfit, too. But they know when to get serious, and they're extremely competitive. But what I see that I like is that they hold each other to a high standard. Any time you have that, the peer pressure, that is where -- I think that's an extremely important part of leadership because so often that's left to the coach. But if you have a lot of guys who really understand that to win, a lot of it goes back to the way you prepared, the way you practiced, the way you know what to do. There's a real bond. But there are challenges ahead of us. Ultimately your leadership is defined by how you react to all the things that come your way and how you handle them."

On having the nation's top ranked rushing defense:

"I think that's a result of playing as a team. If every guy is where he's supposed to be, there are always plays where somebody gets blocked, maybe two guys get blocked. But if everybody does their job, now they're still going to have some success. And that's where this word pursuit really comes in. If you have guys that are really hustling to the ball, then you're able to overcome some of the mistakes and some of the plays that the other team makes. The other team has got good players, too, so it's a team concept. But I think one of the reasons that we're getting pretty good pressure, and this plays into this game this week, one of the reasons that we're getting excellent pressure is because we have not allowed teams to run the football on us. So we're in a lot of third down and medium, third down and long situations, and it's much harder to throw the football in those circumstances. Wisconsin, their whole plan is to be third-and-1, third-and-two, third-and-three. It's old-fashioned football, and it's a lot easier to throw the football on third-and-three than it is on third-and-six."

On Rueben Riley:

"I think he showed a lot of toughness, and I think throughout this training camp, what I'm seeing is a real maturity. He has proven to his teammates and I think he's proven to himself that for us to be a good football team, we asked him to play tackle, and I think he's really accepted that and he's playing well. He has really grown up, and I'm really pleased with him."


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