"Good morning and welcome. I have a few comments I'd like to make before we get started. We've lost some great Michigan Men in the last year or so. Most recently Garvie Craw, who was an outstanding player and a guy that loved this university. I think it's safe to say that he was one of Bo's (Schembechler) favorite guys. He was just a special player and a guy that had incredible energy and enthusiasm for life. We'll miss him, and our condolences go out to his family. "
"We also lost Alex Agase. Alex was a World War II-time football player in the Big Ten. He served in the armed forces. He was an All-American at Illinois and Purdue. Later he was head coach at Northwestern and Purdue. I met him when he was the athletic director at Eastern Michigan while I was the assistant coach there. He became really instrumental in my life. He was a mentor and a great friend. When he left the athletic director job at Eastern Michigan, he came over here and was as a volunteer coach for several years. He was one of the most popular guys on the staff. He lived a great life and touched a lot of lives."
"Jim Schneider has been released from the hospital. He's going through some intensive rehab over at Glacier Hills in Ann Arbor. He sounds much better, but he's got a long road ahead of him. Thanks for your prayers and thoughts for Jim. We're optimistic that he'll be back."
"I also want to congratulate Bob Becker on his retirement. For those of you who don't know him, Bob was a long-time sports editor and columnist for the Grand Rapids Press. I've met some great people in the media and I've made some great friends. Bob is one of those. I have tremendous respect for the way he did his job. In that community, he was a guy that always gave back. I wish him all the best."
"Justin Schifano will not be playing football this fall at Michigan. I'm hoping that Justin can come back to school in September. We also have several (NCAA) clearinghouse issues. I don't think any of them are significant. When you're dealing with the clearinghouse, one of the deals is that there is a lot of communication to be done. Sometimes there is a failure to get all those things in. It has nothing to do with eventual status here. Hopefully all of those will be cleared up in the next day or so."
"We're excited about this season. We've got a great nucleus of outstanding leaders coming back. We do have a lot of work to do. We've got some great competition at a number of positions. As coaches, the one thing that we have to do is settle on a field goal kicker; that's a big decision. We've got three guys that are competing and have competed since they've been here. We've got to get that done before the season. We've got some competition at the right guard and right tackle position. We'll also have some competition at linebacker and in the secondary. We've got to find out which of our freshmen are ready to step in and play now. We've got a lot of work to do in the next month, but we're excited about the challenge of this season and competing again for Michigan."
On Carson Butler:
"I'm hoping to have something for you in the next day or two."
On Antonio Bass:
"Antonio is not giving up. He will not play this year, and that's really all I can tell you. He has done a great job in school. He's going to be successful at whatever he does. As I've said many times, I'm not counting Antonio out of football until he counts himself out."
On whether there are any definite starters in the sceondary other than Jamar Adams:
"I have a philosophy here, and that's 'earn it, keep it.' Not that we're unsettled on a day-to-day basis, but everybody has to compete. It's a new season. Hopefully we'll have a number of people who will be much better and much more competitive this fall than they were a year ago. They'll be improved over where they were in the spring with the experience they've gained. We've got a lot of guys that had experience. We do have some talented freshmen. We're going to watch them and let them compete and try to find a role for the guys that display the ability and can pick up our scheme and prove that they can handle the pressure of playing as young players."
On Doug Dutch:
"I think we'll find out this fall. He made some strides in the spring. He certainly has the athletic ability. Now he has a chance based on what he learned in the spring and the things he worked on this summer. I'm hoping that he can make a contribution."
On strenghts and weaknesses of this year's team:
"Obviously, offensively we return a lot of experienced guys who had great success. We have talent and depth at the wide receiver position. I expect Greg Mathews to really step up this year and become a very vital part of our offense. I think we have the makings of an excellent offensive line. Certainly in the backfield, we have (Mike) Hart and the guys that back him up. Brandon Minor had a great spring and a great summer. Carlos Brown is a guy that brings great speed and explosiveness. I think we have good depth at the tailback position. Ryan Mallet made great strides in the spring. He got over and got through the transition and some of the homesickness that goes with leaving home in the middle of winter and coming to Ann Arbor. Our depth at quarterback is very good. Steve Threet from nearby Adrian, Michigan, has joined our team. He was an outstanding quarterback here. He transferred back, and we're excited to have Steve. He won't be eligible this fall, but I really like our position there.
"Weaknesses? Just me. Why do I say that? I'm old.(Laughing)"
On the competition for Alex Mitchell at right guard:
"I think Jeremy Ciulla will have a chance there. Jeremy had an excellent spring and a very good summer. I think he's in great condition. It will be interesting. I want to see David Molk, a true freshman. He's a guy that brings really outstanding athletic ability. Those are guys we really want to look at and give an opportunity to."
On the place kicking job:
"I think Bryan Wright, based on what I saw in the spring, will be our kickoff guy. He's got a great leg, probably as strong a leg we've had since I've been here. We've got K.C. Lopata and Jason Gingell who will also compete for the placekicking job."
On the early season tests on this year's schedule:
"One of the keys to a great season is to win the opener. When you go into a season, the opener is a critical game because every team goes in with great enthusiasm. We've got two teams (Oregon, Notre Dame) following Appalachian State that are among some of the better teams in the country. It's a great non-conference schedule for us. If you want to create momentum, you want to get off to a good start. I don't think what we're dealing with is any different than most teams. You always have inexperienced players getting their first opportunity. If you can get off to a good start and get the younger players some game experience, now you have a chance to develop the confidence that comes when you have to go on the road and play when everyone is cheering for you to lose. We do have the benefit of being at home, but it still comes down to the preparation that we have in the next few weeks and using it to our every advantage."
On Brandon Graham:
"I don't know that he's more committed, because I think he has always loved the game. I think he knows the value of the experience he gained. He got an opportunity to watch LaMarr Woodley. When you get a chance as a freshman to play behind a great player, you learn a lot. You learn what it takes. I think LaMarr and Rondell Biggs were great mentors for Brandon. He had an excellent spring. If we started tomorrow, he would certainly be a starter in there. He'll have a lot of things to learn. He's still physically not as big and as strong as he will be. He's much advanced from where he was a year ago."
On the back up QB position:
"I think Ryan Mallet, based on what he did in the spring, will be difficult to beat out as a backup. David Cone is a young guy that has a very good upside. We expect him to continue to improve. He made dramatic improvement this spring from where he was in the fall. Based on what I saw in the spring, I would expect that Mallet will be the backup."
On Marques Slocum:
"I need to see how he competes when we start practice and how he handles the day in and day out monotony and drudgery that comes with training camp. The meetings, being on time, all the issues that you're confronted with when you're in a very regulated period of time, which is what training camp is. I have to see how he handles that. I think he has the ability based on what we know and what we've seen. He's a guy with very good potential. Now we have to see how he handles making that potential become reality. He has proven to me that he is willing to do a lot of things to get to this point. I knew he had the ability when we recruited him. I got good reports from our strength and conditioning program this summer. I think we're at full speed ahead. He may not be experienced from a standpoint of practices and all that, but he has had ample time to get in great shape. We're hoping that his ability will surface."
On the linebacker position:
"We've got two guys that have started games and have a lot of experience. Chris Graham is a fourth-year senior who played as a freshman. He brings great enthusiasm. He's quick and extremely tough. I'm excited about the kind of season he's going to have as a fourth-year senior. When a guy is playing his last year of eligibility, you know that you're going to get his best effort. I expect Shawn Crable to have a great season. I'll be very disappointed if he doesn't, because he's been in this program four years and he really had a great summer. He's in great physical shape and he's a guy that has great energy, enthusiasm and ability. He probably runs as well as any linebacker we've ever had here. Those are the guys I'm counting on to lead that linebacking corps."
On how much Ryan Mallett will play:
"Hopefully Chad Henne stays healthy and Ryan has a chance on a daily basis to watch a guy who possesses everything you want from an intangible standpoint. That's a great advantage in your career if you can play behind a guy like that. You're going to learn some things just by watching. I hope that the opportunities will present themselves to get Ryan some experience. I think it's good for his development. It puts us in a position as a team that if something happens, he can call upon whatever experience he's been able to gain."
On this year's defense:
"When you look at scoring, it's up. There are a lot of factors that go into that. I think defenses are much more stressed than they used to be. I can't predict anything. I'm expecting a defense that will play very hard and that will be quick and mobile. We have to try to coach to the strength of our players. It's a team game. The things that impact the defense are your offense and the field position that is created by your special teams. I like our enthusiasm. They read the paper. They know what people are saying about our defense. I think that is a motivating factor. We are going to play some young players. What I expect is that we'll get better as the season goes on. I certainly hope so."
On balancing a young defense with a veteran offense:
"When you've been through that, you learn some things. The main thing is if you can be patient when bringing young players along and support them when some things go poorly. They feel enough pressure just from the expectation that they have here at Michigan. If you can help a guy through some of the rough spots, you enable him to gain confidence. Once he gains confidence, then he's going to play well."
On finishing the season strong this year:
"That's something we stress every year. It's something that is certainly a goal. The disappointments we had will motivate us. Hopefully we'll be better at the end of the season than we have been."
"I think it speaks to their love for Michigan and their experience here. It also speaks to education. There's a wonderful message out there. It's not fair to criticize a guy for leaving, but for the three guys that stayed, I think it speaks volumes about them and what they're values and goals are. We're excited to have them back. They are three special guys, not just three special football players."
On Justin Boren:
"His dad played here; he was a tough, smart and competitive guy. Justin is the same. He's extremely powerful. He walked in here a year ago as a true freshman, and he was big enough, strong enough and tough enough that he would have played a bigger role had he not been hurt early in training camp and missed four or five weeks."
On how much longer he plans to coach:
"What I really want to do is focus on this season. I've answered those questions a hundred times and have tried to be as honest as I can. I'm going to try to stay on task here. I want to enjoy this season. I want this team to be able to reach its potential and reach its goals. I want to talk about this team. What's important are the goals of the players, not anything that is related to anything else."
On the keys to a successful season:
"What you need to have a great season, first of all, is great leadership. That, in most cases, has to come from guys who have been around and understand that there will be ups and downs. Secondly, what you need is for your great players to have great years. I think that is fundamental. If you look back at the great teams here, the seniors had great seasons. Third, you have to be lucky. You've got to be able to avoid injuries at critical positions. That's why your potential is unpredictable. That's what's so exciting about a season. There are a lot of teams that surprise and do things that nobody expected them to do. This team is not going to have that luxury because we're picked pretty high. The expectations are high, which is something we're used to. Our players know what's out there, and they need to understand that it's what you do on a daily basis, how you stay focused, what kind of work ethic you maintain, and what kind of chemistry you maintain in the locker room that makes the difference."
On the senior leaders this year:
"I think Tim Jamison is a senior who we expect to be a great leader I've already talked about Shawn Crable. I think Will Johnson is in that position. There are some guys in the secondary. The first thing is to play your best. Fielding Yost used to say that to be a leader you've got to play your role in the fray. Regardless of what leadership skills you have, you have to perform. We'll see how that goes."
On offensive improvements:
"In every season, you do things that will help you improve upon the previous year. One thing you need to remember is that we went from ninth in the Big Ten in rushing to first. To me, that's pretty significant. We were a much better offensive team. Part of that had to do with the fact that we were able to stay healthier. I like what we're doing. I think we can improve and I expect us to improve."
On the kick return duties:
"I expect Carlos Brown to play a major role. Stevie Brown is certainly going to be a factor there. Greg Mathews will work back there as will Brandon Minor. We have got some freshmen that we'll want to work out how they handle a ball. The most important thing, where it all starts, is with a guy who is going to make good decisions whether to field the ball or not, where to fair catch it. So, experience is something we don't have. When you lose a guy like Steve Breaston, it's like losing a great placekicker, like Garrett Rivas. You take all those kicks for granted, and you take all those plays that Breaston made for granted. Looking at it from a coaching standpoint, those were great players. We don't have experience in either of those positions, but we've got guys who are excited about the opportunity."
On the impact of the rules changes for kickoffs:
"I think the biggest change from the rule standpoint is moving the ball back to the 30. I don't think that you'll find many college kickers that are going to be able to kick the ball into the end zone. Even if they do, you have an extra five yards to cover, which means that return team has more time than ever to bring it out. I think you will see a dramatic increase in the number of kickoffs that are returned. I think that will change the field position significantly, and I'm sure there will be a lot of different strategies on how people try to kick the ball off. Not everybody is going to have a guy who can kick the ball deep, and it's much harder to kick the ball high now because the tee has moved forward. So, I think that's a big issue going into this season."
On Bryan Wright's leg:
"In the spring, the weather is so bad that it's difficult to know. He got some balls into the end zone, but we'll find out a lot more about his consistency in the next few weeks."
On senior cornerback Morgan Trent:
"I think Morgan has wonderful ability. The biggest thing is confidence. That's the test back there. You have to have a guy with a short memory. You can't dwell on the bad plays because everybody sees them. That's pretty much true with any positions, but it's particularly true back there. So, Morgan has wonderful ability. I think our coaches did a good job with him in the spring. I think Vance Bedford will have a significant impact on him, and I expect that he'll have an excellent year."
On Tim Jamison:
"I think Tim is an excellent football player. He's been plagued with injury, and I think if he can stay healthy you're going to see one heck of a football player. That's is the thing that's been part of his experience so far, and we're all hoping that this will be an injury-free year for him."
On Terrance Taylor:
"Terrance did an excellent job a year ago. He's a great athlete, and he's capable of being a great player. If he doesn't become a great player here, it'll be a great disappointment. He's a guy who likes to play. He had good leadership skills. He's a fun guy to be around, and he likes to win."
On the teams and players that stick out to him in the Big Ten:
"We have to play eight of them, and I know one thing -- there's not one of them that's going to be easy. What do you base this year's predictions on? Returning guys? Everybody has lost people. A lot of people have new quarterbacks. Everybody has got a different issues, but nobody has the same team they did a year ago. Every team is going to have some incoming freshmen that will step up and have an impact. There will be some guys that didn't play much a year ago that will emerge as outstanding players. So, I think it's pretty difficult to be accurate with any kind of predictions."
On the team's goals:
"We spend a lot of time in the fall -- an entire evening, maybe more -- during which our captains will lead a discussion. That team will set their specific goals. So, I think that goals have to be something that you write down, something that you keep in front of you. What are you willing to do to reach those goals? The expectations here are never going to change; that's a good thing. But I think goals are something else. I assume they're going to be awfully big goals."
On the 10-year anniversary of the 1997 national championship:
"It seems like forever. That team did something that nobody expected them to do. What that has done is focus this program in a way that is extremely positive. When you're trying to be the best of the best, it can be frustrating and it can be disappointing. But it's never a lack for exciting."
On offensive philosophy:
"What we're trying to do is have an offense that can do two things: score fast and yet, when necessary, line up and possess the football, protect the defense or run the clock out. If you're playing a great offensive team, you got to be able to do the latter. Defensively, you want a team that, late in the game, if you're behind and they have the ball, you can pressure and get the ball back. If you're on the field defensively and you're ahead, you have to be able to protect the lead. It's not about statistics in my mind. It's about those things."