Monday Presser Transcripts - Week 9

Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr met with the media on Monday for his weekly press conference. He recapped the 20-6 victory over Iowa, looked ahead to the Northwestern game, updates the status of Mario Manningham, and more.

To hear the player comments, click here.


Opening Statement:

"I think the Iowa game was the most physical football game we played this year, and I think our defense was obviously outstanding. Our special teams did a great job making some big plays and creating some tremendous field position for us. Offensively we did a great job in the second half, and we made some big plays in the running game that broke the game open. I thought Steve Breaston had his best game since he's been at Michigan. He's a guy that his teammates, coaches, understand the value that he adds to this program, and certainly I appreciate the career he's had. He's a great football player. We had a number of guys in that game, particularly in our special teams area, that really did a great job. So we improved as a football team. Right now, what we needed to is find the other things that we need to improve on. And we need to get healthy, because we are a banged up football team. There's no question about that.

On if he plans to get Kevin Grady and Brandon Minor more work over the next few weeks:

"The plan is to win."

On why he felt the Iowa game was the hardest hitting of the season:

"It was the speed of the game, or the flow of the defensive teams to ball. I thought our defense came with just great effort and intensity. I think the contact, if you look at the backs, both quarterbacks took a pounding in there. I mean, it was extremely physical. And the other thing, when you look at a film and you see the guys that are away from the play running and sprinting to the football, you know that they've come to play. Iowa, I thought what they did on both sides of the football -- I thought they were the most physical team we played, and I expected that because I knew in watching the Indiana game that they got a lot of guys healthy and they and came ready to play. It was a great game. If you really appreciate the essence of the game, I thought it was an outstanding football game."

On the team's ability to run the ball in the second half:

"I think when you're patient with the running game and you have a will, then some days that's easier to run the football than others. But certainly it can take a toll if you're blocking them and controlling the line of scrimmage. That's a challenge every week. As I said, if you have a will to run the football, then you're going to have a chance to be successful. And to me, it comes back to that."

On why Garrett Rivas is more accurate this year:

"I don't know. I can't answer that. But he's certainly having a great year. I think he's had a great career. He's like every other guy. Everyone expects perfection. They don't understand. Field goal kicking, some of this comes to the protection, some of it comes down to the snap, some of it comes down to the hold. And if all those things aren't exactly right, you're going miss. Sometimes you're not going to plant your foot exactly the way it needs to be to get the ball through. So it's an extremely difficult skill, and there's no question that because of the experience he's had I think he feels comfortable. There's no situation that he hasn't faced. He's won games at the last kick of the game. He's a confident guy."

On Rivas' steadiness over his four years:

"If you remember, we missed an extra point out at Oregon because we had some issues. Adam Finley, who did a great job for us as punter, did the place kicking for a while. And then after that game, I think Garrett got an opportunity to become the placekicker. He was really solid all year long as a true freshman. He's one of those guys that likes the challenge and he likes the pressure. He's having a great year and he's doing a great job on our kickoffs, which I think Saturday our coverage was outstanding. Part of that is where he kicked the football, so I think he's having a great year."

On Northwestern's Tyrell Sutton:

"I think he was the freshman of the year a year ago, wasn't he? He had an outstanding year. He's tough, he's durable, and he's got great balance. I think he's an outstanding football player."

On Adam Kraus:

"I think he stepped in there and he came back in great shape. He's done an excellent job." On his position: "I think he's a guard. I think he can play center, and you know, he's been trained to do that, but I think his best position is at guard."

On being first in the nation in least turnovers given up:

"I think it all starts with the quarterback-center exchange. And a year ago, we had a couple, and one of them cost us a game. It's one of those things that you take for granted, or you can take for granted, and yet it's the most important part of any play. And if you're in the shotgun, it's the same and probably a little bit more difficult. It all starts there, and it starts when the quarterback hands the football. It starts when the quarterback goes back to pass and those people that are protecting him, when they let people through there then it's about ball security because that's when fumbles happen. That's when interceptions happen. It's all about protecting the football. If you're the guy handling it, it's your job. It's the most important job you have. If you catch a pass, it's the most important job you have. If you pickup a fumble on defense or intercept a pass on defense, it's the most important thing you do because if you don't do your job then you turn it over. So it all begins with, I think, a fundamental approach that allows you to understand as a team and as a player that if you look at winning percentages related to turnovers, then winning has a lot to do with taking care of the football. We've done a great job of that, and I think even the turnovers we've had, they were in situations -- for example, on Saturday Chad threw an interception on third-and-21. We called that pass because we had great confidence in him. He threw it because he was hoping to get a pass interference call, which he should have gotten, because they held the tight end as he went down the field. And a couple of his interceptions have been as a result of throwaways late in the game. So thus far, we've done a great job with the football, as good as any team I've been around."

On why the rush defense has been so successful:

"It gets down to being in favorable down in distant situations because if you can stop the run, then you're going to be in third and long. And when you get sacks in college football, I think that's what you need -- the average fan who is into statistics maybe doesn't understand that rushing yards come off with sacks. So to be in the statistical area that we're in means that you've had a lot of sacks. It comes off the rushing yardage. But fundamentally, it means that you're playing together as a team and guys are doing their job because in the running game, everyone's looking for a crease, everyone's looking for a gap that's been vacated by somebody who either can't stay in his gap or misses an assignment. I think the credit goes to not only the guys up front, but the fact that we haven't had a lot of big plays. That's the other thing that distorts rushing defense. If you allow big plays, you can still have decent stats. But it's when you don't give up big plays then it gives you a chance to have a great defense."

On what things need to be improved upon:

"Every game it changes, because the challenge you have every week is different. I thought coming out of this game ... one thing is the offensive line ... and part of it is that Reuben Riley went out; he's a veteran guy. So when you bring in two guys at different positions, it creates some situations from an experience standpoint that you expect. But coming out of that game, I think we have to do a better job of protecting the quarterback on offense. Defensively, I think we lost contain there late in the game against mobile quarterbacks. You need to keep them in the pocket where you can either force them to throw it or knock them down. There are some areas in the kicking game. We had a couple plays there where we mishandled a kickoff deep. It bothered me at the time, because we put our defense in a terrible position. Although I think our offense got two first downs there. So we got it out of there, which was a good situation for our offense to be in, but Brandon Minor will learn from that experience. We had another play in there where we ran into one of our guys who was trying to hustle back to make a block on a punt return and he ran into Steve Breaston. So there are always things that you need to correct and improve on."

On what he saw in Carson Butler that made him recruit him as a TE:

"Two years ago at this time he was starting at wide receiver and defensive end in high school, and there's no question in my mind that he would be a great defensive player, because he's got the temperament. He's extremely athletic and he can run. He's got good hands. I think we just looked at him, and I asked him what he preferred to do. He said he preferred to be a tight end. I asked him when we recruited him that I felt he had the ability to play on either side of the ball, and I think he would be a potentially great player on either side of the ball. He has a long way to go and a lot of things to learn, but he's really stepped up and played an important role and played it very well."

On Justin Boren:

"I think he did extremely well. I don't think you could ask more of a true freshman lineman than what Justin did in there. He made some mistakes, but he'll learn from that. And to be able to -- the thing about getting an opportunity to play, in most cases you don't know when it's coming. And so often, because you maybe don't expect to play, or you go out there two, three, four games and you don't get to play because nothing happens. All of a sudden somebody goes down and you have got about three seconds to think about it before they call your name and tell you to go in the game. So to be prepared and do as well as he did, I think, speaks highly of his motivation. He would be much further along had he not missed the last six weeks. He's missed a lot of practice this fall. I don't think he could have done what he is doing or what he did Saturday had he not been here last spring."

On the excitement having the # 2 BCS ranking:

"I think we're just excited to play again this week. Because those rankings they're impacted by what you do every opportunity you have. I don't mean to downplay it, but I'm not going to stay in here and talk about it because everything is predicated on what you do this week."

On the status of Rueben Riley:

"We'll have to see. He's had yesterday and he'll have today to rest and get treatment, and then we'll have to see. I have not had a report from a trainer. I talked to Reuben yesterday, and he feels much better. I think he's optimistic, but we need to see what he can do."

On Riley hustling to recover the football:

"I thought he came to me on the sideline line. There was some type of delay on the field. He had been out, and he was in there at half time trying to get it taped up. He came up to me and he said, 'I can go.' And I said, 'Well, go.' And he went in, and then it's an interesting deal, because it was third-and-one, and of course, they drew us offsides, so now we got third-and-six. So Reuben's in there and we're throwing the ball. I think he would have been fine on third-and-one, but on third-and-six he had to back pedal and protect the quarterback and he was a little bit slow. They hit Chad and knocked the ball loose, but Reuben made a great play, great hustle because otherwise you lose the ball. We ended up losing it there anyway, but he made a great play."

On challenging Leon Hall his other defensive players:

"What I try to challenge them to do is 'Hey, can you play better?' And that's really an attitude that Leon and a lot of these guys, particularly the older players, they understand that. I was teasing LaMarr Woodley last week. I said I don't think you can play better, I don't expect you to play as well as you did against Penn State. You're probably going to go downhill because you'll be listening to all the people telling you how great you played. But I can tell you he played a great football game. I think the deal is you better understand that that guy across from you is going to give you his best, and you can't -- you have got move on. You have got to move on. Whether you win or lose, you got put it behind you and try to get ready for the next one."

On what type of player Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald was:

"I remember Pat Fitzgerald as being an outstanding player, a great competitor, and a leader on the team. They won the championship and went to the Rose Bowl. So he was a guy that I thought represented himself and his school, the Big Ten Conference, intercollegiate football, I think in a very positive way. It was obvious that he had some special ability, and I'm sure that's a big part of why they felt confident enough to name him the head coach there despite the fact that he's so young.

On what he said to Fitzgerald when he got the job:

"I congratulated him. I talked to him at the Big Ten kickoff luncheon. We had a short time together. We didn't have any meetings, but I congratulated him and wished him well."

On the Northwestern Offense:

"Well, the spread offense is an assignment based, requires an assignment, a concept on defense. Somebody's got to be assigned to the quarterback. Somebody's got to be assigned to the pitch. You can't just go where you think the football is going. If the ball goes to the right, if you're on the backside, you better make sure the ball's not coming back before you pursue. A lot of teams, they're going to hand the ball off. You know where the ball is going in most cases as soon as the quarterback comes from underneath center. In this offense it isn't that way because the option is a take off of the old veer option principals. It requires discipline, and you know, if you're spread out to begin with -- I guess that's why they call it the spread offense. If you don't do the things in pass defense that you needed to, then you create huge seams with your coverage, and, of course, that creates other problems."

On Mario Manningham:

"I think he's making very rapid progress. All I can tell you is that he's ahead of schedule."

On if he expects Manningham to come back this season and play:

"Absolutely."

On what he means when he say Manningham is ahead of schedule:

"I just expect that he's going to come back pretty soon."

On if the replays of the Adrian Arrington plays were the right calls:

"It's impossible on my copy to tell. They say it's a game of inches, and we made two very good plays there. Chad made a great throw on the first one, and Adrian ran a very good route. We were inches away from a touchdown. And then the same on the second one. To expect either one of those to be overturned based on the film I saw, I think would be expecting too much. And they probably got it right because they were right there."

On if he has talked to Bo:

"I'm going up to see him in a few minutes. He had a procedure this morning, and the reports are that it went very well. I'm sure he's going to be going home here in the next day or two."

On if Manningham's injury has been a blessing in disuise for the other receivers:

"I'd never say that it's a blessing because of what happened. But as far as the depth and the confidence, obviously Adrian Arrington's role expanded significantly. Steve Breaston, I think has always had an important role. But Greg Matthews got an opportunity to play more. So I don't think there's any question that overall, as a team, we've been able to gain some confidence at certain positions because of the increased playing time in big games. The last two weeks those were big games, tough games, hard fought. I think there's no question they gained confidence."

On the status of Ryan Mundy:

"I think he'll be back this week."

On the status of Mike Massey:

"Mike Massey, I don't expect that to happen."

On Kirk Ferentz's comments about how Mike Hart should be in the running for the Heisman Trophy:

"I wish I had a vote because I'd vote for him. Mike Hart is a great football player. I think what he has done here, I think what he's done this season -- and I'm not promoting anyone because right now we're just trying to win a game this week. But certainly he deserves all the accolades that he's received."

On Steve Schilling:

"In keeping with my policy of always keeping you informed on injuries, Steve Schilling, he had some discomfort last spring when we recruited him with one of his shoulders. And then, of course, he had the mono. He had some surgery last week because the doctors felt like it was something that just wasn't going repair itself. He'll miss the rest of this season, and we're very confident that he's he'll be back practicing during spring practice, which we all look forward to."


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