Monday Presser Transcripts - Week 9

Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr met with the media yesterday to discuss his team's 27-17 victory over Illinois and look ahead to this week's match-up with Minnesota. Among the topics covered were the inspiring performance of Chad Henne, the injury status for a number of players, the Little Brown Jug, and more.

For player comments, click here.

On knowing when to be lighthearted and when to be serious with his players:

"I don't know. I think, you know, it's been under the circumstance. That's the best I can tell you. You try to put yourself in their shoes. I think it's important to understand the pressures that they're under. And if you can appreciate that, then you have a chance to approach it in a way that will have some positive benefit for your team."

On Chad Henne's performance against Illinois:

"I think it was a courageous performance. I know how much pain he was in. And some way he found a way to submerge his pain because of his will to win. You know, there are a lot of different arenas, a lot of different types of courage. But on a football field, certainly what he did was special. None of us who are part of this team will ever forget what he did."

On Henne's status for Saturday's game against Minnesota:

"I think we have to see, first and foremost, how he feels because when you get into sprains, you get into injuries, you can look at the x-rays, you can look at the MRIs, and sometimes those things make the decision. There are a lot of other issues, a lot of other injuries, where it really comes down to the threshold of the player and the judgment of the doctors. Of course, they will always be the ultimate decision maker as far as what they know. Then it really comes down to the player. As a coach what you have to do is assess what you think they can do and what gives you the best chance to win."

On Mike Hart's status:

"I'm sure Mike is going to be a lot better than he was last week. I think daily he'll improve. From the time he got hurt, you just don't know. All you do know is they're getting better, and we'll have a much better idea tomorrow when he runs. Again, he'll know a lot more and we'll know because we'll be watching him."

On trick plays:

"Well, we love trick plays because it maintains our reputation as a very creative and exciting type offense (laughter). What you're trying to do, at least what we're trying to do, is create plays that take advantage of sometimes the pursuit of the defense. It may be to take advantage of a particular player. As you watch film, you see things that you feel like you can take advantage of. And, ultimately, you know, it is dictated by the skill of your players, whether they can execute a particular skill that they normally may not have to execute."

On Carlos Brown's performance:

"I thought he went in, in a very high-pressure situation and performed extremely well. He's a very, very young back. A year ago, the only game I can remember him playing in was in the Indiana game. He got a few snaps late in the game, late in the season because, as I mentioned, we tried to prepare him for some other things regarding our team a year ago at the quarterback position. Then this fall he did get an opportunity to play earlier. He had a broken hand. So when he couldn't secure the ball, it limited him being able to get more snaps. So I think he's hung in there. He went in and he did a great job securing the football. I think he's only going to get better. This is going to be a tremendous confidence boost for him and, of course, any time you have confidence ... He's got ability. He can run. He can run fast. It was a great thing for us he was able to step in there and perform at a level that helped us to win."

On Chris Graham:

"Since the day Chris has got here, he's always been a high-energy guy, a guy that he's not the biggest linebacker, but he is tough and he plays extremely hard. He's an extremely positive guy. I mean, he's one of these guys where the glass is always half full, and because of that, everybody loves him. He's just a genuinely good person, great character, and a guy that as a coach you know that Chris Graham is always going to give you his best. He's worked hard academically. He's done a good job in school. He's going to get his degree. I'm extremely proud of what he's done since he's been here at Michigan on and off the field."

On Ryan Mallett's development:

"I think he's like most freshmen, he's made some progress. He's got a lot of things that he needs to improve on. That's something that he has to take care of on a daily basis."

On what he will stress this week in practice:

"Keep the jug in Ann Arbor. That's what we'd like to do this week. I think when they see the film, that to me was a great win because Illinois is a very good football team, to go in and get down 14 3 and fight your way back. We did a lot of very, very good things in that game. But certainly on the film there are things we need to address, we need to be working hard to improve on."

On if the plan is to keep Schilling at right tackle:

"I think the beautiful thing is, I talked to Steve Friday night when I checked him in, you know, two weeks ago, three weeks ago when he got his first start at guard, it was not something that he relished because there's a degree of feeling comfortable that he didn't have then. I asked him Friday night what he thought. He said, 'You know, I'm feeling a lot more comfortable at guard, so I feel comfortable wherever you want to use me.' I think that's one of the real benefits for our team that we have right now in case we do have an injury. But Jeremy Ciulla played well before he was injured. What may dictate that is what we see on the practice field as well as what we see on a game-to-game basis from our opponents."

On if Alex Mitchell will get back to practice this week:


On how the team has grwon up over the first eight weeks:

"I think they've proven to be resilient. I think what's been exciting is when you're not at full strength, it's exciting as a coach to watch guys step up and perform in a way that helps you to win in spite of maybe their inexperience or whatever it may be that they're dealing with. We can go back almost every game in these last six weeks and see where somebody really went into a position where he did lack experience. For example, when you replace a guy like Mike Hart in the lineup, you feel pressure because everybody's going to be watching you. Those are big shoes to fill. So when a guy can do that, then it's a wonderful thing for the morale on your team and it reinforces the concept that this game is a team game. Regardless of the skill of the guys, if you don't have 11 guys out there operating efficiently, playing hard, playing together, knowing their assignments, then you're going to have a hard time winning because the margin of error is very small. From that standpoint, I think it makes it much tougher to coach because when you put game plans together, you've always got to take into consideration what those guys can do. What can they do? What can't they do? Don't ask them to do things they can't do. Sometimes that limits the things that as a coach you would prefer to do. I think our coaches have done a great job of dealing with that issue."

On who came up with the phrase, 'the expectation is for the position':

"I read that somewhere. It was an idea I got from somebody else. But really it speaks to team. It speaks to the issue that every guy's responsible for preparing and developing himself. You don't do that just in October. You do it back in January and February in a weight room. If you're going to be successful, there's a foundation you have to build in terms of strength and conditioning, studying film, being a guy that knows what is entailed. There's a ton of issues there. Every guy's got a job description. Everybody has responsibilities. And to the degree you can get everybody working to the best of their ability, then that's what gives you chances to have a chance."

On if that expectation has to be reinforced every week or if it something that is just understood:

"No, I think that you're always trying to sell that idea because on any football team, you're going to have guys that are second team, guys that are third team, guys that are not on the depth chart. That to me is one of the ways you give hope to a player because what you're trying to tell him as a coach is, 'Look, I see things, and you're going to get an opportunity here.' It may be a year from now. It may be two years from now. It may be four years from now. But if you really have a passion and you have some goals that you're willing to work for, then just be prepared when it happens. Invariably it happens. Sean Griffin has been here four years. He's been here four years. He's done a remarkable job this fall. I can name down through the years a hundred guys that have waited three, four years for an opportunity. That's really one of the other rewarding things about this game, you get an opportunity to see guys do things that nobody thought they could do. You know, that's fun."

On Anton Campberll:

"Because it's very difficult as a special teams player to get recognition, except within the framework of your team or if you're at a skill position where you get to handle the ball or you have to do something extraordinary to block a punt. Essentially a lot of guys grow up thinking that special teams are not that big a deal. What you're trying to sell your team as a coach is that those special teams impact almost every game. I mean, I think that's no secret. Everybody knows that. But if you can convince those people how important those plays are, every one of them, what you're trying to do is create pride in that team, in that unit. You can't do that unless you have guys who take pride in those plays. What's fun to see is when they have some success and do some things, and it's clear that those plays impacted a game, maybe won a game. Anton Campbell is a guy that last week, you know, he came here as a tailback. At the end of his freshman year we moved him to defensive back. He's one of those guys that is willing to do anything to give his team a chance (to win). He never complains. He's always had a great attitude. He was in a role where he was going to play some on defense. For the sake of our team last week, we asked him to move over to running back. He never hesitated. That just speaks to the kind of person he is. A lot of guys would be complaining, would be moaning. And that's what helps your morale. When you have seniors, when you have guys that have been here five years that are willing to do that, then it speaks to your team. It speaks to those guys who are freshmen because they see a guy like that, maybe they want to be like him, maybe they want the same kind of respect that he's earned on his team, they want to have that."

On Englemon's comment that Carr sings in practice to loosen the players up:

"Don't Cry for me, Argentina. I got that down pretty good (laughter). What else did they tell you? I'm going to shut them up (laughter)."

On K.C. Lopata:

"I think what he's done for his team, there's another case, we had great competition going back into the spring. Every day as coaches you talk about during spring ball, during training camp, you talk about that competition that he had with Jason Gingell and Bryan Wright. So ultimately we made a decision. K.C. Lopata never once reacted negatively or in a negative way and continued to compete every day. Now, the next thing you know, he gets a chance. I truly believe part of his success thus far has been based on the fact that his attitude was positive and he continued to work hard, he continued to prepare. When he got the call, he has done a magnificent job. If you saw, we had a play, it's not on our film, I don't know if it's television or not, but the first field goal in Champaign on Saturday night, I don't know how he made the kick because the ball was bobbled by Zoltan. Zoltan did a miraculous job to get the ball down. How K.C. maintained the composure to make that kick I will never know. I mean, it was truly a remarkable play because almost in every case, when the ball's on the ground there as long as it was, you're not going to be successful. Yeah, he's done a great job."

On the team's reaction to Henne's decision to play through injury Saturday:

"We have not met as a team since the game. If you were on that sideline, what he endured there, he was resolute about playing. I'm amazed. I'm amazed with that situation, that he could do that. All I can speak to, is knowing him as a coach. But as a teammate, I'm sure it's just something that none of us will ever forget."

On if Henne had to lobby to get back in the game:

"No, that was really... it was up to him. That was his call. This was a period there where he couldn't go. I knew he wanted to. There was no doubt about that. I think in the meantime he was just trying to get the pain to subside so he could feel good enough about going in there. Of course, he didn't want to go in there not feeling like he could perform."

On deciding how much practice time to allocate to special teams:

If there's an area where you want extra focus, how do you expand that? ... "I think in the course of my career, one of the things I think is most important about any season, and it's important in the spring, is your practice organization, your meeting organization in terms of how much time are you allocating for meeting time with special teams, then in your practice schedule, how much time you allocate to each part of it. It's an important decision from an organization standpoint. We are at a point right now in this season where we have cut back our practices, as we always do as you get to the mid-season point. Sometimes that creates an extra five minutes a day that you feel like you can devote to an area where you may be having some problems. But one of the issues we've had, we've had so many guys hurt, you're always putting a new guy in there. J.R. Hemingway is going to be, I think, an excellent return guy. But in that game he's under the lights, he's on national television, and he's a very poised guy, but he just didn't square up like he wanted to, and dropped the ball. Now you have got the ball on the 10-yard line. You know, those are all learning experiences. Some of them are much more expensive than others. But he'll be better next time."

More on the the trick play:

"Those plays are plays that normally, in my experience they're plays you may work for six, seven weeks. What you're trying to do is give the player some level of repetition on some of the things because what's really unpredictable is how the defense is going to react, or maybe they have a perfect call. You want to run that at times, see how he handles it because the one thing you don't want to do, especially down in there is turn the football over. Adrian had not had a ton of repetitions at that play, yet he had repetition, but he happened to be in the game when the play was called. That's why the throw he made, I mean, I couldn't have made a better throw than he made, and I can still throw."

On whether forcing more tunrovers has been emphasized more this year:

"I don't think so. I think that's always been a major part of what we try to do. I do think what Ron English and our defensive coaches have done, I think one of the things that they've been able to do is really instill the importance of every guy running to the ball on every play. I think we've had good pursuit. Consequently there have been some balls that come loose that we're getting because you've got other guys that are hustling to the ball. Tim Jamison caused a turnover last week against Purdue. He was on the backside of the defense. He pursued and stripped the ball from behind. We've had some good pressure at times on the quarterback. That's enabled us to get some deflected passes that maybe the quarterback threw the football maybe before he was ready or maybe as he was delivering the ball he was getting hit. I think there are a lot of things that factor into it. But getting a lot of guys hustling to the ball is really I think what has been important in our success so far in that area."

More on Henne's status for Saturday:

"You know, the only thing I can say is that he's day to day. We'll see how he feels, go from there."

On the Little Brown Jug:

"You remember Tommy Roberts and Fielding Yost. Tommy Roberts was the manager, 1903. Coach Yost, when they got up there, with good cause, he did not trust that Minnesota would provide good, clean drinking water. So he sent Tommy Roberts out, I think it was a buck and a half or so, to buy a jug. Tommy went down, brought that jug back, and the Michigan team drank water from that jug. Now, whether they had cups or not, I do not know. So after the game, it was unfair that the Minnesota fans rushed the field before the game was over or we all know Michigan would have won that game. Instead it ended in a 6-6 tie. In the rush to leave, get back on the train -- the train -- they left the jug there. When they got back to Ann Arbor, Coach Yost, who was a very frugal man, realized that the jug was not there -- they hadn't brought it back. So he wrote a letter. He didn't call. He didn't text message. He called and asked them to return the jug. Of course, they said, if you want it, come and get it, come and play for it. That's today now 104 years later we're still playing for that coveted jug, the oldest trophy in college football. It has a great tradition, a great meaning here. So, you know, when you lose it, it's a miserable experience. When you win it, you get to keep that jug where it belongs. I mean, we bought that jug (laughter)."

The Michigan Insider Top Stories