Monday Presser Transcripts - Week 4

Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr met with the media yesterday to discuss his team's 38-0 victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and look ahead to this week's match-up with Penn State. Among the topics covered were Chad Henne's injury status, Ryan Mallett's first game as starter, the success on defense and more.

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Opening Statement:

"I liked what I saw up front on both sides of the football. I thought defensively we played well up front. I thought it was our ability to put pressure on the quarterback; that really was the difference. All of the guys played well. I think John Thompson had his best game at Michigan. He really made some wonderful plays. Chris Graham made a big play on a big hit that caused a fumble and the secondary kept the ball in front of them. So we made some strides defensively. Offensively, it all started with controlling the line of scrimmage up front. I thought the guys on the offensive line really did a great job; and of course Mike Hart. We ran the football extremely well and that made it a lot easier to control the football and certainly to protect the quarterback. I think we made some strides offensively. I thought we were effective in the passing game. Our receivers caught five passes, but three of them went for touchdowns. The biggest part of the game I think was the fact that we scored 24 points after taking over the ball inside the 50-yard line. That always makes it a lot easier, and yet we've had some of those opportunities earlier and didn't take advantage of them. Zoltan Mesko continued to punt the ball extremely well. He's having a great year. I thought Jason Gingell kicked the ball well; (we've) improved in the field goal protection (and) extra points. But we've got a ways to go and that's what we're going to be working on this week."

On Penn State:

"I think Penn State, they have had a lot of great teams down through the years and I think this is an outstanding football team in every phase of the game. It is truly one of the best Penn State defensive teams that I've seen. I think their front four, they rotate a lot of guys, and they all have different abilities, but they are all athletic. They are physical. They hustle and they have just been outstanding. I think the linebacker corps. I think (Dan) Connor is certainly one of the best three or four linebackers that I've seen this year. I thought a year ago, he was an outstanding linebacker and he's having a great year. I think (Sean) Lee is really an athletic guy. They can run. I think their secondary is extremely mobile, quick. They are always going to have eight guys down there to stop run. So it's an outstanding defense. Offensively, they are extremely well balanced. They are running for 217 yards a game and throw one for almost 200. So they are a well-balanced offensive team. They have got a senior quarterback in (Anthony) Morelli, a big guy that's got a great arm. I think what really is impressive is the skill. They have got four or five guys at the wide receiver position that could hurt you. So, it will be a challenge. There's no question about that, and hopefully we can put some pressure on the quarterback. I think that's really the best pass defense, but their offensive line is good. They are all well-coached and have outstanding special teams. This is a good football team, no question about that."

On Ryan Mallett:

"I think Ryan had a great experience in terms of playing in a big game, starting in a big game -- in a big rivalry game. So he'll take the experience. He did some very good things and he did some things that need to be corrected. In the previous two games, was passing or tackling the more concerning issue? ... "I think more than tackling, it was leveraging the football, constricting the running lanes and keeping the ball inside the defense. We did an excellent job of that from where we were earlier in the season. We've got some things to build on. We had a great week of practice. I think that made a big difference."

On Chad Henne's status:

"I think he's day-to-day."

On preparing for Penn State:

"We're going to continue to do the things that we believe in, and that always includes practices and meetings where we have good focus, where we have good intensity. This team has worked hard. It's just that we have played much more intelligently last Saturday in terms of making sure that every guy from an assignment standpoint is in a position to do his job. And when you keep leverage on the football, you should be a good tackling team because the ball is where it's going to be vulnerable to the pursuit of the defense. When you don't leverage the football, you're always going to look like a poor tackling team because the ball will not be where it's supposed to be. It's pretty fundamental to the game."

On Carlos Brown's problems holding onto the ball because of his cast:

"I think he's frustrated. I met with him yesterday. It's a tough deal because he wants to play, likes to play and yet when you go and turn the football over, it's discouraging. The thing I've tried to tell him is you can't lose confidence. He's getting closer, but we just have to see how he does this week. It's frustrating for Carlos. It's impossible to play to your full potential when you have an injury like that, particularly the running back. So we just have to see where we go this week."

On Michigan's offensive line:

"I think our offensive line has played well all year. I think we have blocked people well. We've had running lanes. I've thought that they continued to get better. I think Steve Schilling had his best game and of course Justin Boren I think has got better every game. (Adam) Kraus and (Jake) Long have played extremely well all season, and Alex (Mitchell) has come back from a tough injury. The good news on the offensive line, we had an opportunity to play some younger guys and some guys that are in backup roles. And that experience is always valuable and it's always valuable to the morale of your team when you get an opportunity to play a lot of players."

On Terrance Taylor:

"I think Terrance played his best game on Saturday, and he played at a level that hopefully he will continue to play at."

On John Thompson's improvement:

"I think he really got to some plays that a linebacker needs to get to. He made a tackle on a screen; he was a little late getting there but made a great tackle. His interception, his pass defense I think was good in that game. But I just saw him attack the football better than he has, and John is a very physical player. He's a guy that he's a tough guy and I think he did a better job with the defense than he has in those first two weeks."

On Johnny Sears:

"He's no longer on the team."

On J.R. Hemingway:

"Junior will practice tomorrow. We're excited to get him back in there. Toney Clemens got some snaps which was valuable experience for him. Zion Babb got in there a few plays. So it was great to get those young kids in there."

On playing a lot of freshmen:

"I think first of all, it's an opportunity and that's always been what we've tried to do. If a guy came in here during the summertime and reported to training camp in good shape and was able to pick up the things that will enable him to play effectively. I think there's more opportunity, and I think this is really a good class potentially."

On Anthony Morelli:

"I thought he was an outstanding quarterback a year ago. I think he's an outstanding quarterback today."

On last year's Penn State game:

"Last year? I can't remember last year. I mean, we'll watch the film. Obviously we know this team. They know us. We've played against them and there have not been any coaching changes at Penn State. So you know a lot more about teams that you've played every year, and certainly you always study the previous year's game and try to see. That's one of the reasons you watch a game and study a game immediately afterwards. You always make notes. You always take note of some things that you had problems with. You take notice of things that went well which you would do if you were going to play them again differently. That's all part of assessing a game. It's not just the performance of the players; it's your performance as a coach in terms of the game plan."

On what he did with Russell Crowe after the game:

"When it was all said and done we had dinner."

On Chad Henne's availability in practice this week:

"Chad Henne has got enough experience that he could play without practice. But you know, those are all decisions that we make as we go forward."

On when a player returns from injury:

"Every medical issue is decided first and foremost by the doctors. But there are injuries, there are situations where a trainer, a doctor relies on how the player feels. I think it's complicated by this case being a sprain. He's going to know when he's ready. I think the trainers or doctors will do a great job making sure that no player returns when it's not proper for them to return. But a player in a situation like a sprain, we have guys who play every week with an ankle that's sprained. It's really how much, how effective you can be and how much discomfort you can endure. That's just the nature of the game."

On how badly Henne wants to play in this game:

"He's a great competitor and a great competitor hates to miss, period. And of course that is certainly a game that means a lot to him, but yet, you have to know that you can play effectively and so we'll find that out this week."

On the players saying that they had a fun and loose week of practice:

"I've always told our teams that the hardest part, toughest part playing at Michigan is the expectation. That's also the most fun part. And pressure is an ally. The enemy of pressure is stress, and stress, you see it because if you're stressed out, you're afraid, you're doubtful, you're without confidence, you're worrying, all those issues. But I always try to remind our players, you play the game because you love it, because it's fun. And it's fun to play with a bunch of guys that you know and that you enjoy being around, and you also enjoy the opportunity to represent the University of Michigan; and to play against great competition. Those are fun things, and it's easy to lose sight of. I think it's important in any circumstances to look at the positive, and that's what we try to do as coaches last week. The opportunity that we had to play in that game was not going to come again this year. I mean, you get one chance. You don't get to do it over. So let's approach this like we do every game. We don't have to be concerned or worried about anything. It's a game and I think when you approach every situation like that, you do enjoy it more. That's not always easy to do."

On the support the former players gave the team last week:

"I've always tried to tell our team, regardless of the circumstances, we've been in tough situations before. I've always tried to tell them, the great majority of Michigan fans support them through the good and the bad. That's just a fact. And it's easy to lose sight of that because the appearances are that everybody is against you. And that is never the case here. When our former players were there outside the locker room, I think I had told them they were going to be there, because I with was informed sometime on Friday; and, because they are part of our family, you know, there's a Michigan family. There's a Michigan football family. Those guys have played the game. They know what it's like. They know what it's like when things are good. They know what it's like when things are bad. So they were there simply to say, hey, we're with you. We know what you're going through and keep fighting. So when you get that kind of support, when you know that there is great support out there for you, it means a lot. There's no question about that."

On whether the team had lost confidence before the Notre Dame game:

"I don't think confidence; lack of confidence was not an issue. I think in terms of young players, inexperienced, it was a factor, and it always is because the young player, you have to gain confidence through hard work, through a great attitude and through success. And so that's how you build confidence."

On if Henne is a game time decision:

"I can't tell you what's fair. I can just tell you that I'll see how he does this week. And ultimately I will decide depending on what I see."

On Donovan Warren:

"I think he's done a wonderful job. He had a very good training camp. What I love about him, and I can tell you, I've had Marlin Jackson; Ty Law, Charles Woodson and Leon Hall. I've had some guys that came in here as true freshmen and started and to a man, the common denominator is competitiveness. The type of mental toughness that they don't get down when they make a mistake, they just keep playing the next down. Donovan has shown I think very good resilience. He's got a wonderful attitude. He's aggressive and he'll learn some things as we go forward here. But I would say we're extremely pleased with the way he's competed."

On Morgan Trent:

"I think Morgan has been extremely motivated and I think Saturday he made some very good plays in there. I have confidence that he will be able to take all of the things that he's learned in his career and have the kind of year that he wants to have. I have confidence that he will do that."

On his relationship with Joe Paterno:

"I've always liked Coach Paterno. I've always admired what he stands for, the way he runs his program. And as an individual, I like him. I like him personally. I admire what he stands for as a coach. I think he represents our profession in a way that makes us all proud to be coaches, and his success speaks for itself."

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