Monday Presser Transcripts - Week 11

Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr met with the media yesterday to discuss his team's 28-24 victory over Michigan State and look ahead to this week's match-up with Wisconsin. Among the topics covered were the performances of Chad Henne and Mario Manningham, the effort turned in by the defense, the difficulty of playing in Madison, and more.

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On whether facing Michigan State's strong rushing attack helped prepare the team for Wisconsin:

"I think obviously with the change in what we've done offensively, the power running game, the off tackle, block down, pull the backside guard, kick out with a fullback, the more you get that with the kind of speed that you're going to see at the next week, the more that helps you. So I don't think there's any question. I think that play that really statistically impacted the game was Javon Ringer's big play there, I think a play that was well-defended, we just weren't able to get him on the ground. But if you take that play out, then our run defense looks a lot different, not what we would like it to be. I do think that there will be a benefit, or there certainly should be a benefit, from playing a game like we're going to see this week."

On the last two offensive drives:

"I think the interesting thing is that the first third down conversions we had in the second half all came in the last drive. We had been unable to get a first down with the exception of -- we had Manningham for 47 yards off our own goal line, and the last drive we executed three times on third down and long, and we had great protection, ran good routes, Chad made good throws. So any time you can execute like we did in those last two drives, we had one penalty, which we were able to overcome. That's not something that normally, statistically the odds are against you there, so we did overcome a mistake. Of course Henne made two great throws on the touchdown plays. You have to appreciate how difficult the throw he made to Greg Mathews was, and certainly the throw to Mario Manningham, because the defender was in excellent position. The ball was thrown with a great arc, and the way the ball came down, of course Mario made a great play on it. But it was a well-thrown ball."

On Shawn Crable running down Javon Ringer to prevent a touchdown:

"I think what we've always tried to do here is, be a team that has great pursuit and great effort to the ball. I think the play that Shawn Crable made ranks with the best plays I've ever seen on a football field. I think what he did, I could not believe, I didn't realize until later in the game that he had made that tackle. I knew he had been unable, he had Javon Ringer in his grasp and couldn't get him to the ground, and I could not believe that he made the play. And when I saw it -- I just think it's an unbelievable play, and it's certainly one of those plays that in Michigan defense, it will be there in the future to stand as an example of what great effort is. It's only disappointing that we weren't able to make a stop because the quarter changed and they scored on the first down of the fourth quarter. So it would have been an even greater play, a memorable play, if we had been able to hold Michigan State out of the end zone after that play. But regardless, it was a great play."

On Ron English's ability to get great effort out of his players:

"I think Jim Young and Gary Moeller and Bill McCartney down through the years, that's been the tradition, the way that we've tried to play defense here. And I certainly think that that's something that Ron English has done a great job with, as all of our coaches because it's really about getting every player on every play. To the degree that you can get a guy to run and play until the whistle, then you have an opportunity to have a defense that's difficult to score on."

On Greg Mathews' development:

"I think he had the great advantage to play a significant role a year ago as a freshman. It was very clear when he came in that he was one of those guys that had excellent ability; he's got great hands, he's got great size, he's very tough, and he's very smart. He's done a wonderful job for us as a punt returner. He broke a big return there at the end of the second quarter that really gave us an opportunity that we weren't able to take advantage of. But he's a guy that, he's a physical presence, he can run, he makes the tough catches. And in that game he ran a great route on the touchdown pass. I mean, it was a route that we were attacking the short side of the field, and we got the corner to hesitate one split second and Henne made a great throw, but Greg went in and made the catch. And then he made another play over there where he got hit out of bounds and there was a penalty. But I think Greg is so consistent, he is so reliable that to me that's always the hallmark of the outstanding players. They're not up and down. He hasn't missed a play this season I don't think. So he's tough and he's a competitive guy, loves to play."

On the way players have stepped up on defense as the year has gone along:

"If you go back to the guys we lost, we lost seven starters on that defense, and so we understood that there was going to be a time of transition. I think where we've had some guys up front that really have come on. I think Chris Graham is playing his best football here at Michigan. Our safeties really have both really had wonderful years. Jamar Adams is playing his best football and so is Brandent Englemon. So up the middle, Obi Ezeh has gotten better on a daily basis. He's a heck of a football player. But we've been able to build our defense from the inside out, and Morgan Trent made a great play, one of the biggest plays of the game, when he knocked down the pass late on their last possession. That made it now fourth-and-18 instead of fourth-and-10 or fourth-and-8. That was a big, big play."

On why he settled on Adam Kraus at center:

"I think Adam has done such a good job when he's been in there, and I think Justin played guard all last season. So it's been an easy change. Really initially the reason we made the change is because of Ryan. But I think Adam Kraus has done a great job this fall and is having a great season. You know, he's everything you want, a great leader and tough as nails."

On Alex Mitchell:

"He's a big strong powerful, physical guy, and a guy that has great experience. He's really had bad luck this fall. He got hurt early and came back very quickly from an injury that normally would take two or three weeks longer, and then he got hurt again, and that was a very frustrating time for him. I had some question three weeks ago whether he would come back, but he really all of a sudden last week on Tuesday, was cleared to practice and came out on Wednesday and practiced, and practiced very well and did a good job in there considering the time he's been out."

On the challeging of preparing for Wisconsin while not knowing if injured players (like P.J. Hill) will play:

They were such a package team last week whereas the rest of the season they've run the ball so much. ... "I think you understand Lance Smith is going to play. I think we're going to prepare as though P.J. Hill will play. But their freshman, Zach Brown, stepped in there and did an excellent job. But they're potentially, from the standpoint of the weapons they have offensively, and they've had an injury to (Luke) Swan, but (Travis) Beckum and (Paul) Hubbard, those guys, they are quality receivers, guys that will run, guys that are big targets, and I think Beckum maybe -- I don't know, but if there's a more talented tight end in the country, I'd like to see him, because he's really something special. He is a great athlete. Tyler Donovan I think has done a great job. He proved himself I think a year ago, came in against Iowa and he proved what kind of competitor he is. He's very smart, he's very tough, he's very athletic. It's an excellent football team. And of course defensively Mike Hankwitz I've known for a long time. He played here at Michigan back in the '70s. He's an outstanding football coach. So we know what we're heading into. We're going to have a great week of preparation and go in there and be prepared to play our best."

On whether any of his other QB's have had to endure as many injuries as Henne has this year:

"I think you're always fighting something here as a quarterback, the mental, the physical, the pressure, and you have to be able to deal with all of them. I don't know that we've had a guy... we haven't had anybody I don't think. Of course Scott Dreisbach was a redshirt freshman when he got hurt. Other than that, I don't remember. Drew Henson got hurt in the preseason going into his junior year here. But we haven't had anybody that has suffered the injuries that Chad has had in their last year. So the answer to your question is no."

On if Chad Henne will practice this week considering how he was able to perform against MSU without the benefit of practice:

"Well, think how much better he played in practice. I think we have to see. I think he's much better than he was two weeks ago, and I think he'll be much better in another week. You know, we have to see on a daily basis. That's where we are."

On Chris Graham:

"He's one of those guys that has an incredible outlook on life. I don't think I've ever seen him down. I mean, I've seen him disappointed at times, but he's just got a great spirit about him. The players love him because he is genuine. There's nothing that isn't true about him. He's just who he is. He approaches his life with the attitude that nothing can stop him, and he's willing to work. Nobody works harder. Nobody is more committed. He's a guy as a coach you never have to worry about when that phone rings late at night that he's going to be an issue because he isn't. You know that. You know that he's a great role model for the guys on that team, and you know that he's going to play as hard as he can on every down."

On playing in Madison:

"Well, sometimes it's cold, sometimes it's hot, depending on the month. Now, the one thing you know, it's going to be loud. That's a great stadium. That's a great place to play. It's a sea of red, and those fans, they're into it, and they love their football team there. So it's a fun place to play, but it's as challenging, I think, as anyplace we play. That's how loud it is. Of course they always play tough, hard-nosed, physical football. We've had some great games with them down through the last 10, 15 years, and I think this will be just the same as it always is."

On Mario Manningham's performance over the last five games:

"I think he struggled early. You know, what I've tried to tell him is... and one of the things I think any young player has to deal with, Ryan Mallett is going through right now a period where... and it'll be great for his long-term development... he gets frustrated because he's not used to having things not go his way. Is that a double negative? I think it is. Excuse me for that. So Manningham, what he's learned to do now is to not get frustrated when he doesn't get the ball and he's open because maybe the quarterback didn't see him, maybe the quarterback got sacked. He beat the guy, he ran hard, he did everything he was supposed to do, didn't get the ball. In other words, you've got to learn to let the game come to you. You don't have control over the pass rush, you don't have control over what the quarterback sees. You've just got to do the things you're supposed to do, and the game will come to you. I think that's been a great part of his maturity. I think you're seeing a guy that's really grown up, and he's an exciting guy to watch and he's an exciting guy to be around. And I think his practice preparation has really been outstanding. I think he understands. I think maybe the other thing about him is that he did not understand, even though we tried to educate him, the defenses you're going to get this fall are going to be a lot different than the defenses you got a year ago. He's getting people up on him, pressing him, trying to jam him. You're a marked man, and he's had to learn to deal with that, and I think he's done a great job with it."


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