Big Ten Media Day: Carr at the Dais

Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr took the dais in Chicago Tuesday to set the table for the 2007 Wolverines. In this transcript of his commentary he discusses the maturation of Chad Henne and Shawn Crable, his expectations for his receiving corps (including Adrian Arrington), the roles for Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown, rumors about his future as Michigan's coach, and much much more.

Opening Statement:

“Thank you. It’s great to be here. For those of you that have dealt with the University of Michigan, you probably know Jim Schneider (Football Media Relations). If you don’t know him, you missed out. Jim is not here today. He was rushed to the hospital last Friday. He’s got some major issues. If you pray, pray for him because he is one of the finest human beings that I’ve ever known. If you know him, I think you’ll agree.”

“I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about the Big Ten Network. I just would like to say that I think it’s a tremendous idea. When you look forward 15 or 20 years, it just makes a lot of sense. I think Jim Delaney has big vision. He certainly has planned well. I think he has put together a team that hopefully will be able to take this thing forward and I think it will.”

“We’re excited about our team at Michigan. We return a lot of guys offensively…some outstanding players, some outstanding leadership…guys that have had experience in big games.”

“We return an outstanding punter in Zoltan Mesko. He has an opportunity based on what he did last year as a redshirt freshman to be one of greatest punters we’ve ever had at Michigan.”

“We’ve got to replace our place kicker, Garrett Rivas, who was just a phenomenal kicker under pressure throughout his career at Michigan. We’ve got to get somebody to replace Steve Breaston, who had such a great career. We made some strides on that in the spring.”

“Defensively we have to rebuild. We lost four great players… all of whom were drafted high in the NFL draft last year. We do have some guys that are excited about their opportunity. I think our front is going to be solid. Our depth will be young. The linebacker position has some good experience. Shawn Crable and Chris Graham have been starters. In the secondary we have five or six guys that have had experience, but we’re probably going to need some help from some true freshmen.”

“But we are excited about this team. Our goals are going to be high. We’re going to do everything we can to make those of you who voted us preseason (conference champion)… we’ll try to make you look good.”

Q & A with the Media

Over the last three years your teams have lost to Ohio State and the bowl games. Are there any changes this year that are going to be instituted to ensure that Chad Henne doesn’t leave U of M 0-8?

“Well, I think we’ll be doing our best to win every game we play. That’s always our goal.”

On how Chad Henne stacks up against some of the other QB’s he has coached:

“I think Chad Henne has had a remarkable career. I think I’m correct…if I’m not, you can correct me… I think he is the only quarterback in my experience in the Big Ten Conference…maybe ever…to lead his team to a Big Ten Championship as a true freshman. When you consider what that takes and the inexperience that he came in with and the way that he was able to take that team and do the things at his position. He didn’t win it, certainly, by himself. I think he has made great progress. I think today he has grown in terms of his maturity. I think he’s really emerged personally as an outstanding leader. He has always been a guy with a great passion about the game. He is a student of the game, he is smart, he is tough, and he is competitive. I don’t like to compare guys that have played for me, but I’ll take Chad Henne any day. I think he’ll play this game for a long time.”

On Mark Dantonio saying he using of Michigan as a measuring stick:

“I think Mark Dantonio was a great choice at Michigan State. I don’t have any doubts that he is going to do a tremendous job. He has a great background. I think anytime a statement like that is made, it’s a tribute to your program. Certainly we take that as such. We try to make sure they don’t beat us any time in that course… but I think it’s a compliment.”

On speculation about how long he will continue coaching and the rumors of unspecified health issues from a few years back:

“To the best of my knowledge I’m healthy. I don’t think there is anything to that. I think at some point we’re going to all retire, and there is always an appropriate time to speak to that issue.”

On what his future will be after football:

“Hopefully when I’m through coaching, I’ll be able to do something that will be productive. What that may be I don’t know. I don’t think it will entail athletic administration, but we’ll see.”

On Adrian Arrington’s status and the other receiver options for Chad Henne:

“Of course Mario Manningham is back. Greg Mathews had a sensational freshman year if you evaluate all of the potential and all of the things that he did in practice… his development his strength and conditioning over the winter time. I think we have three young guys coming in that will have to contribute.”

“Adrian has passed the test. He has proven to me that he wants to be at Michigan and he’s willing to do some of the things I’ve asked him to do and some of the things I expect from him this fall.”

On how Mike Hart will handle the increased attention this year:

“I think what should help Mike is the fact we do have some weapons outside in terms of the passing game. When you look at Mike Hart today, when you have the opportunity to see him and talk to him, you’re going to see a guy that is much stronger and much bigger physically than he was a year ago. He did not play spring practice. He had an injury in the Rose Bowl game, so he has concentrated on building his strength. I think he is a great football player. A guy that is very unselfish. You don’t have to take Mike Hart out on third down because he can catch the football. He is an outstanding pass protector. From the first time he played in a game you could just sense a guy that loves to win and has wonderful leadership skills. He has been a real dream to coach.”

On Kevin Grady’s injury on the roles of the backup running backs:

“Kevin Grady is rehabbing his knee and I think at some point he may be cleared to play toward the end of the season. Then we will have to make a decision whether that would be worthwhile as opposed to gaining an extra year of eligibility… and that is something I would talk to Kevin and his family about.”

“I expect Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown to play a significant role on this team. I think Brandon Minor, a year ago, showed flashes of being an outstanding player. Carlos Brown, because of or backup quarterback situation a year ago, did not get the opportunities to play because during the week we were working him as a quarterback. So his development was not as fast as he would have liked or we would have liked, but he made that sacrifice for our team. He’s a guy with good speed and I think he is going to play an important role on our team.”

On the 20-year extension of the Michigan / Notre Dame game:

“I was a strong proponent of that. I think Michigan / Notre Dame is a great football game, not only for the fans, but for the guys that play the game. I think if you look back at the history of Michigan / Notre Dame, there is a long period of time in there where there were not very good relationships between the coaches. Some interesting stories. Moose Krause and Don Canham put that series back together in the 70’s, and it was on and off. When Penn State came into the Big Ten, there was a lot of controversy at least in terms of our scheduling…. about what that did to our scheduling…to the difficulty of it. But having been in it, I just think it’s a game that really means a lot to college football. It’s played at a time during the season where it has great excitement and national appeal… two programs that have a shared history in terms of when they began and the way they developed. I think it’s a great thing. I applaud the fact that Bill Martin and Kevin White could get together and make that a reality. I think in terms of today’s scheduling where you have twelve games and it’s very difficult to put together a schedule that is fair to your team, but is also fair to your fans is a difficult issue. That’s one of the reason it makes so much sense to do this. So I’m extremely happy that they were able to put that together.”

On Shawn Crable’s leadership:

“Shawn came in (as a freshman) and probably would have played as a true freshman had he not suffered an injury early in the season. So we ended up redshirting him. I think he has shown dramatic growth in terms of his maturity and his work ethic. I think if you see him at some point, he has grown up. I think he has taken the leadership part of his expectation very seriously. I think he was outstanding in our summer program. He brings a lot of innate enthusiasm and intensity. We are expecting and hoping that he is going to be a great leader. I don’t have any question that he has the ability to be an outstanding player.”

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