Monday Presser Transcripts - Week 5

Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr met with the media yesterday to discuss his team's 14-9 victory over Penn State and look ahead to this week's match-up with Northwestern. 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:

"In watching the film, I thought the coverage teams -- the kickoff teams -- were outstanding. They were averaging 48 yards, which was I think first or second in the nation -- unbelievable statistic. I thought Bryan Wright did a good job kicking the ball. He got one into the end zone -- not returnable. Charles Stewart and Mark Moundros made a wonderful play there on an early kickoff. Brandent Englemon made a big one. I thought our coverage really gave our defense a good field position. Zoltan Mesko had another wonderful day. This guy is having a great year. Three punts inside the 20. Brandon Minor had an outstanding kickoff return, put the ball about 5 yards deep in the end zone, and he brought it out past the 30. That's great field position. We need to continue to improve in that area. But he did a good job on that play. The only negative in the kicking game is we have to start making our field goals and we'll be working hard to do that."

"I thought defensively we played extremely well together, (we) did not leverage the football one play. As always, in most cases, it turns into a big play. But with that exception, I thought we really played well together collectively. Will Johnson is having just an outstanding season. I think Morgan Trent had his best game. Morgan made a great play down on the goal line -- third down and two or three -- took on his blocker, turned the football back in. Jamar Adams made the play. Then that was, of course, I think the play where they were called for holding so it was a big play. I think Jamar Adams had his best game at Michigan. He tackled well. I think (it was) a very good effort by Jamar. Offensively, I think obviously it goes back to being able to run the football. You have to be able to block people. We did that well as a group and, of course, Tim McAvoy came in during the second half and performed well. If you have somebody who comes in and doesn't perform well, it's a different story."

"I think our receivers played extremely well (and) caught the ball. They made some very good catches. Mario made a catch of a ball on his shoelaces. Adrian Arrington made a catch where the ball was thrown behind him there before the end of the first half. I think we blocked well."

"I thought Mike Massey had a good game. He had a big block on Ryan Mallett's touchdown, as did Mike Hart. Mike (Massey) had another great block after a catch by Carson Butler. I think we have shown an ability to run the football even when the defenses are good (and) stacked up. The other thing you have to do to be an outstanding offensive team is you have to be able to prove you can score quickly. I'm sure those challenges are in front of us. We like where we are right now as far as some of the things that we've improved on.

"I thought Ryan Mallett played much better in this game than he did against Notre Dame. He made more mistakes in this game than he did in the Notre Dame game, but that was due to the fact that we gave him a lot more to do. He played against a defense that brought a lot of pressure, a lot of blitzes. He made some mistakes obviously -- some turnovers. Those are things that we've got to work hard to eliminate. I thought he did some wonderful things. Mike Hart will show him how to act when he gets into the end zone again but, you understand, he's only been there once. I'm sure he can do a better job there. I thought he made some progress. Now we have to take the things that we're not doing well, work hard, come back and practice hard.

"As we go on the road to play Northwestern, I do have a couple of things related to high school coaches I want to comment on. I visited Don Lessner this morning. Don is a legendary coach here in the state of Michigan. He coached where I went to school, Riverview, for 30 some years -- a great man in that community. He's fighting cancer. Pray for Don and his family because it's a difficult time for them. Of course, Don's son Don played here at Michigan. So we have a special feeling for that family and what they're going through.

"I also had a call from Chuck Donaldson. Chuck coaches at Plymouth High School. Chuck -- 15 years or so ago, I'm not exactly sure -- I got a call he had been in an automobile accident. He was in the U-M burn center. I went up to see him late one night around midnight. I can remember talking to an attendant up there after seeing him. I did not think he would leave that hospital. He had a spinal cord injury. He had serious burn problems. But by some miracle he came out of that hospital. Since then he's coached in a wheelchair for all these years. He's coached in our camp. He's been up here at practice. I got a call from his mother this morning. He unbelievably has been in another car accident. He's at the U-M Hospital. Keep him in your prayers as well."

On the offense:

"I think we had a good game plan. I mean, we did some things that enabled us to run the football and stay out of -- I don't know exactly, we did have some big-yardage situations on third down where Ryan made some excellent throws. What you're trying to do in that situation is keep your quarterback out of third down and long. If you can stay third and five, third and four, those are much easier down and distances because your passing game is much different than it is if you're third down and nine, third down and ten. We ran the football for 200 yards. That's to me an amazing accomplishment against that defense. Of course, we did have some negative plays where we lost yardage, so our total was not 200. But I think the fact that we could run the football, we had four drives in there over 10 plays. What that enables you to do is play more plays. And I think it was obvious to me at the beginning of the game, Ryan is not intimidated, but I do think he was nervous. I think the speed of the game in the beginning of the game is always at its height, especially keeping a defense on the field. I thought he settled down. There's no question that everybody on our team understood that the critical part of us winning that game offensively was to be able to run the football and then we did some things scheme-wise to help the protection. Of course, Mike Hart was unbelievable as a runner. He was equally as impressive to his teammates in pass protection. I mean, he was sensational in that area. It goes back to the kind of guy he is, the kind of player he is. It was certainly a team effort because our receivers made some good catches. When Ryan did the things that he needs to do, he executed extremely well."

On the injury situation at right guard:

"Alex Mitchell will not play this week. Jeremy Ciulla, I don't know. But I would assume that from a practice standpoint, Tim McAvoy will be in a position to step in there and play."

On Northwestern's offense:

"They have a lot of players returning from a year ago. You remember on a cold windy day here in Ann Arbor, it was an excellent ballgame. I was very impressed with how hard Northwestern played. I think (Tyrell) Sutton will be back. There is no question that they are a different football team because he's an outstanding player. I think it begins, they still have good production out of their other backs, but Sutton is the guy that can hurt you a lot of different ways. I think he makes them a different team offensively. I know Pat Fitzgerald, what he's all about. He'll rally them and they'll play hard. When you look at the game on Saturday, it's another example that when you give up big plays, you put yourself in a position where it's awfully difficult to have a chance to win."

On if he worries about running Mike Hart too much:

"If I have any worries, I tell them to my pillow. You know, to answer your question, I think Mike Hart told us last week, he wanted to carry the ball 50 times. He's proven beyond any question that he's durable, that he's tough. We're seeing across the country -- I think it was a major mistake to go back to the rules as they are. We're playing too many plays. Penn State's defense was on the field 86 plays. In a pro game, those guys are on the field 60 plays. The rules are such that we're playing more plays. We had a good rule a year ago. Now we're back to playing too many plays in my judgment."

On Jonas Mouton and Anton Campbell:

"Anton hopefully will return (this week). He had a muscle injury. I'm hoping he'll be back because he's been outstanding on special teams all season. He's a leader on our team. He's a guy that we missed. We'll have to see about Jonas, whether he can practice or not."

On the play of Donovan Warren, Brandon Graham, and John Thompson:

"I think Donovan is one of those guys, he's really an excitable, competitive guy. He really loves to play. He's not intimidated at all. We've had some great corners that have started here as true freshmen. I think what he has in common with those guys is that he's awfully confident. He's talented. But he's not intimidated. He loves the competition. I think he's only going to get better and better. He still has a lot of things to learn. I think we're all pleased with where he is.

"Brandon Graham, I think after a very slow start is really starting to play like we had hoped he would. And he had to fight through an injury in training camp where he missed some time. The weather was awfully cool. From a conditioning standpoint, I think the missed time, all those things affected him. I do think these last two weeks he's been a force. He has wonderful athletic ability, so he can move. Certainly he made some big plays in there on Saturday.

"John Thompson played his best game a week ago. The thing that he brings is he's a tough guy. He likes to be in the fray. I'm very confident that he's going to continue to get better as the accept goes along."

On whether Ryan Mallett will start Saturday:

"Do I anticipate him starting? Well, we have to see. Chad took some snaps last week. Paul (Schmidt) worked him out yesterday. It's to a point now where the doctors, they really will leave it up to Chad, how he feels. And then, of course, it will depend on what I see, what I think. So I think as we go through this week, we really are encouraged by where he is. But we just have to look at him and see. Certainly we want to make sure that when he comes back, that his mobility is there. At that position, it would be unfair. We're not going to do anything that's going to jeopardize Chad's ability to react to the pressure that comes with that position as far as people trying to get after him."

On how much Henne practices last week:

"He took snaps every day."

On if it's a sign of defensive progress that Jamar Adams didn't spend as much time directing traffic against PSU as he did in the first two games:

"I think you could say that. I think sometimes a guy wants to be a leader. He gets focused on some things that detract from his ability to perform well at his position. I think what we try to say tomorrow is, look, because at training camp this fall, Jamar had a great training camp, played like he did on Saturday. Of course, when you're playing with a new group of guys, which there's some new people back there, that can take away. And I think certainly I would agree with your statement."

On if Adams plays better when he doesnt have to be concerned with directing traffic:

"Yes, but the nature of the game now is not what it was like in the old days when you had two backs in the backfield. A lot of times you had three, plus the quarterback. Well, that really limits the variation of formation. Now a lot of times you have one back in the backfield and then they motion him out which creates an infinite number of possible formations. All those formations have to be adjusted to find linebackers, the secondary, checks have to be made. If you mess one of those checks up, you don't have people where they need to be, and you give up big plays. Those guys they're getting the ball to are skilled athletes."

On Northwestern C.J. Bacher:

What is C.J. Bacher doing different than he was doing a year ago? ... "I thought a year ago he really showed great promise. Once you show it, it's there. I think, as I said, when you get behind like they have, I think it makes it difficult. Particularly they're on the road. They have a young team in there. The noise and all those things that go along with it. I think he's an outstanding passer. I think he's very effective running the football. It's obvious he understands what they're trying to do. He's a bright guy. You can see that in the way he manages the game. I liked him a lot a year ago, and no reason to feel any different today."

On kicker Jason Gingell:

"The only thing I know is that sometimes when things don't go well, you press. I know he's a very good kicker. I have seen that over the time he's been here. Yet that field goal he missed there is not a kick he should miss. Whatever it may be, what he has to do is focus this week. With all the things that happen to you, there's a good book 'Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect,' that I've always tried to get all our kickers to read and a lot of other players. If your guy is focused on the past, it's going to bother your future efforts to improve and to get past the downside. That's really right now, as I see it, probably what he has to do."

On Ryan Mallett's development:

"I think Mallett will continue to improve. That's why at practice and those games, opportunities where he gets a chance, every snap he gets he should learn from. I do expect that he's going to get better."

On whether reports that Chad Henne was begging to play against Penn State were true:

"No, in my judgment he could not have played. That's not a medical thing. The doctors, I don't think they would have allowed him to play either. I didn't ask them because I knew from what I saw that he wasn't ready to go back even if he wanted to. But he never begged to play, so I don't know where that came from."

On Steve Schilling:

"I'll tell you what, this guy, he's something. He's going to be something. He's got a mindset, he's a smart guy. For his age he's very, very strong. He's a great athlete. He is a great athlete and he loves to play. For Steve Schilling, the sky's the limit."

On the success they've had shuffling in young players on the offensive line:

"I think more than anything else, it's Andy. We have a plan as far as we try to do that at every position, for every player. You're trying to constantly daily develop your players. Some of them are freshmen. Some of them are sophomores. Some of them are juniors that haven't played much. Every single day you're trying to help them get better. A lot of the time that involves doing things in terms of our practice schedule. We put them into position where it's a competitive situation, for example, against our defense. Some of the younger players, some of the inexperienced players on defense, they got everybody watching. From a motivational standpoint, we're trying to keep them in a frame of mind that even though they're not playing, they're getting better. Then as a coach, I can take (Tim) McAvoy as an example this week of a guy who probably deep down, he certainly did not expect to play as much as he did. But because he has developed, he's been in practice situations where he's in there with the first team, so as you do all those things, that's exactly what you're trying to prepare for."

On how much of the offense Ryan Mallett knows:

"He's not had enough repetitions to where he can just go bang, bang, bang, one, two, three. When you're quarterback, it's hard enough just to get to the line of scrimmage to get the snap. You got to call the play. Those plays are long. I mean, our offense is complicated from that standpoint. Yet we do that because it makes it less complicated for all the other players. So now he's got to go up there, he's got to get you into the proper play. That means recognizing what the defense, maybe there's a safety over here tipping the coverage. We worked on it all week, but in the pressure of the 25-second clock, in the pressure of getting the play called, maybe he doesn't see that. So now when the ball is snapped, if it's a pass play, he's got to go back one, two, three. A lot of times he goes one, two. He eliminates one and two because he's thinking too much. He's too much in a hurry. That's the process part of it. It sounds simple maybe, but it isn't. When that ball hits you in the hands, you know there's pressure coming. It may be a blitz. On a blitz, all these reads are gone and now you got to get the ball somewhere else. So you don't just walk in the door and execute those types of things. I think, like I say, he did some great things in that game. He did some things that excite you as a coach. But what we're trying to do is to get him to where he could perform on a more consistent basis. That entails getting him more repetitions. There's nothing like game experience to help a guy understand the urgency of doing the things that he has to do. You saw on film a number of times where he rushed things. The touchdown pass was an example. He had a guy open, a touchdown run. An example: He had a guy open. He was in too much of a hurry to get to the next read. All of that has to be coordinated with the drops that he takes. Is it a three-step drop? Is it a five-step drop? Is it play-action? All those are different as far as the things he has to do to get himself set so that technically and fundamentally he can throw the ball accurately."

On Perry Dorrestein:

"I think in the last three weeks or so (he has come on). I can remember a number of guys here that as linemen, you never make a judgment on a lineman for at least three years. Mark Bihl is a guy that for two years here was an outstanding player. For the first three years he was here, he wasn't strong enough. There were some things that he didn't do very well. It was a frustrating time. But as a coach you just have to keep coaching him and as a player you have to keep working hard. Perry, he had some periods where he hasn't performed very well. But he has the ability to be a very good player. He is a guy that I think in the last three weeks or so has made some real progress. He has gained confidence. I think he's earned Andy's (Moeller) confidence."

On his motivational speech to the field hockey team:

"They came over after our practice last Wednesday. They came over to Schembechler Hall. I spent a few minutes with them. You can tell as a group that they've won a national championship here, so they know what the pressures like, the expectations. They were playing Iowa. Of course, Iowa was ranked ahead of them. Then they played Penn State on Sunday. I told them they should have been coming over to talk to me. But, you know, hey, they're part of the Michigan family. When you really take it all away, athletic competition is athletic competition. It's no different what sport you're in. You're trying to compete. You're trying to compete against great competition. There's pressure. There's expectation. There's academics. When I was asked to do that, it was something that was pretty easy to do. I just didn't have as much time for dinner."

On the quarterback-center exchange between Ryan Mallett and Justin Boren:

"That's one of the most basic fundamentals. I think the difference for all of our quarterbacks -- we had a quarterback here several years ago who was a left-handed quarterback. He'd been in the shotgun his entire career. Taking a snap was different for him as a right-handed snapper. So for the first time in my memory, with the exception of Rod Payne and Steve Everitt, both of whom in big games snapped left-handed which is an unbelievable thing they were able to do because their right hands were injured. But if you're a right-handed quarterback, you probably never had a left-handed center. The ball comes up differently, so it's one of those things that you can only perfect with repetition. If you're a quarterback, you've never taken snaps from a left-handed center, it's something that takes a lot of work. It's not a matter of it's anybody's fault; it's just that it's different. The ball comes up differently. We had one earlier in the season. We had one last week. We had one this week. So the goal is to get it to where it's not. That just requires a lot of work, a lot of discipline in terms of if you know that's an issue, you have to be on guard to do the best you can to make it something that doesn't occur."

On the improved tackling:

"I think there's no doubt that much of our improved tackling has to do with the fact that we are leveraging or keeping the football where it's supposed to be. There have been some great ball carriers earlier. I think the real test of our defense is ahead but I think we've made improvements, yes."

On what percentage chance he'd give of Chad Henne playing this week:

"Those percentages that people give, they're fly-by-night. The only thing I can tell you is I'm not going to play him until I know that he's ready. That's the only thing I know to tell you. A part of that will be how he feels, a big part of it. I'm going to ask him, Are you ready? Is that thing ready to go? When he tells me that, then I've got to decide based on what I think and what I see."

On resting him another week:

"That's really the issue. I don't know if it's something to be said. I just know the most important thing is, is he ready to play like he's capable of playing, because if he isn't, then it's not the right thing to do."

On if there is any concern about reinjury:

"No. I think right now what I know is that he's cleared as far as medically. Now it's a matter of how he feels and what we see so I hope I answered all your questions."

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