Monday Presser Transcripts - Week 12

Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr met with the media yesterday to discuss his team's 37-21 loss to Wisconsin and look ahead to this week's match-up with Ohio State. Among the topics covered were the recent troubles stopping the run on defense, the status of Mike Hart and Chad Henne, Michigan's recent record in the rivalry, and much more.

For player comments, click here.

On how the team turned things around after the 0-2 start:

"I think our guys have fought through a lot of issues, particularly on the injury front. I think we've had great leadership from our seniors. And we've had a lot of different guys in the course of this season step in and fill the breach and compete and do the things that would help us to win. And I think that's been a special thing about this team."

On if he has done his best coaching job this year:

"Well, this team, I'm very proud of the way this team has fought and competed. They've been down on the road, they've fought back. So they've done a lot of things that, you know, that as a player and as a coach, they could be proud of. And they've put themselves into a position where they're not only playing for the greatest rivalry in sport, they're playing for a championship. They're playing for the Rose Bowl. So those are things that you come here to do. And they're in a position where they have an opportunity to do that."

On if Chad Henne and Mike Hart will play versus the Buckeyes:

"We'll have to see on Saturday."

On Jake Long:

"Jake of course is a two time captain here, which I think speaks to the respects of his teammates and the people in this program. He's tough, he's smart, he's durable, and he loves to win. He's a great competitor. Those are all I think the qualities that great leaders have. I think he's been a great leader, and I think he's been a great role model for all of the players who are young and just trying to figure out what this is all about."

On what he'll tell his team this week:

"I'll save that for my team (laughing). I mean I think it's about opportunity. I think it's about appreciating the opportunity to represent Michigan. For many of them to play in their last game in this stadium against our great rivals. So, I think it's not what we're trying to focus on are the things we need to do to improve to play better than we have, to play our best game. And the things that we need to do to be able to execute on Saturday afternoon when that ball is teed up."

On how hard it has been without Bo this year:

"I think I'll always have Bo with me."

On the Wisconsin game:

"I think there are a lot of things we can improve on. We can improve on our tackling, we can block better and we can run harder. We can do a lot of things in every phase of the game. Because, certainly, it was not our best game."

On why the running game struggled:

"I think it was a collective issue. And I think we'll learn some things from it, and I think we'll prepare. I have every confidence on the guys on this team that they understand we did not play the game like we're capable and like we like to. And that's not to take anything away from Wisconsin who did a great job."

If some of the shuffling on the offensive line has set things back:

"In the last two weeks we've had the same starting lineup we started the season with. But any time you do change, it takes a while. And sometimes you're not as efficient as you would like to be. But going into this game, I think the truth is that there are no excuses. There's just the game. Everything will be dictated by what type of plan we come up with and how we execute that plan."

On Henne's abbreviated outing versus Wisconsin:

"He threw a pass to Adrian. He warmed up very well. He threw a pass to Adrian Arrington that was short, a third-down play. Then he came back the next series, and threw another pass to Adrian that he just lost control of it. And it was pretty apparent at that time to him and to everybody that it wasn't going to be his day."

On whether the players in the rivalry have been more guarded about their comments in recent years:

"Well, I told Mike Hart (laughter)... you know, this is part of the fun of it for the players, for the coaches. When you grow up and you're making a choice on where to go to school, a lot of times, particularly the guys that grow up here in the midwest, because of the national exposure, this is what you do. And it enhances the visions of the program, the university. And we want to do it and we want to represent our team in a way that will not hurt our chances to win. And we want to do it in a way that will help you do your job and yet there is a priority for us."

On Bo's comment that he did something every day to beat Ohio State:

"I've also seen quotes from Bo that he did nothing special during the course of the season. So Bo was either being misquoted or he was being deceptive (laughing). And the truth is I coached for 10 years with him. What you do is you prepare in terms of the culture you're trying to accomplish. The great work ethic. The trying to practice at game speed, and all the things that you're doing. So you're preparing for them on a daily basis. But in terms of doing things that are special on a daily basis, I think more than anything else, you know who the competition is. You're dealing with the competition on a daily basis in a lot of different areas. Every player, every coach. So from that standpoint, I think that's probably what he was talking about."

On the players saying they want to win the game for him and his desire to sed the seniors out winners:

"I think this program going back to Bo and probably before that, but certainly Bo built this program based on 'team.' And we share those great moments together, and they're special, and that's why you do all the work and put everything you have in terms of your heart, your mind, and your soul into trying to win. And if it doesn't work out that way, then you lose together. So for me, it's about Michigan. And I think for the guys on this team, on this staff, it's about Michigan."

On if he is surprised how Todd Boeckman has performed this year:

"I think he's done an outstanding job. I've not given that any thought. I thought it was pretty obvious right from the beginning of the season that he was an outstanding quarterback, and I tried to recruit him. Offered him a scholarship early, and, so, I've had great respect for him since he was in high school."

On why Michigan had so much success against OSU in the 90's but the Buckeyes have had more success recently:

"I don't have an explanation, except to say on those given Saturdays the best team normally wins. And I think other than anything else, I don't have much to give you there."

On the careers of Hart, Henne and Long have had:

"We've talked about them really since they got here. They've all started as freshmen. Jake was a red shirt freshman. And they've been everything a coach could want and a player and as a representative of this program on and off the field. They've played the game as great competitors, and they love this school. When you look at three guys, all of whom could have left early to go on to the draft, and they all came back. To me, that speaks for the fact that they love their experience here, and they weren't ready to leave because they enjoy what they're doing. They're all going to graduate. And they're all going to be very, very successful when they leave Michigan."

On how he got his team to believe it could come back from 0-2 to contend for the Big Ten title:

"What we talked about was trying to win this week. You know you can't change the past. And I think, you know, it was no question it was a very, very difficult time. That's why I credit the leadership, and the culture of this program is that you work hard, you practice hard, you play for each other. You take coaching you come out and give your best effort every time you get an opportunity to represent this program. So I think it was those things that enabled us. It's possible to crack under that kind of circumstance. But they never wavered. Were they disappointed? Absolutely. But they fought. They fought hard."

On the legacy of outstanding linemen t Michigan:

"We have that type of situation in a lot of positions. Certainly going back, we have a wall over there with the All Americans on it. And an extraordinary number of those offensive linemen have been All Americans here. And it's something that we use absolutely, because it is part of the Michigan tradition."

On if he wants to be at Michigan next year:

"The only thing on my mind is this game."

On how much pressure he us under to win this game:

"I think we put pressure on ourselves. The one thing I tell players when I recruit them is you got to want the pressure here. You've got to want it, because it's here. We want to embrace that pressure because we want to win every time we take the field."

On whether there is a common thread to the last three Ohio State losses that he'll have to address heading into this year's contest:

"We need to play our best game. And this game is about this team. Part of the week is the tradition, all the great games, all the great players and coaches. Those things are fine. But the only important thing in our minds is this week. Today, what we do to prepare, what we do to give ourselves a chance to win."

On whether Ryan Mallett has been thrown into the fire enough to be ready for the OSU game if called upon:

"I don't think you could be in more fires than he's been in. He's grown a lot. He's like any freshman. He's got a lot of things to learn. He's done some great things and he's learned from some mistakes and it's all part of the process that you go through that you go through to play that position."

On what it would mean to win without Hart and Henne:

"I just look at what we have when we go in there on Saturday. And making sure every guy who gets an opportunity is as prepared as he can be. You can't worry about things that you have no control over."

On Hart's toughness:

"He's as tough as they come. When you play against Mike Hart you know that you're going to get his best. He's a high energy guy and he's extremely tough. He's got all the characteristics that enable people to be successful. He's passionate about the game, and takes great pride in the way he performs. He can perform with or without the ball. When he gets the ball, he's going to find the way to do some things to help his team win."

On some of the seniors saying that they were tired of hearing how much they've lost to Ohio State and how its time for them to change that:

"I don't know. I don't worry about anything except the way we prepare and the way we approach this game. The focus it stakes to win, and that is really the key. If you can use every moment, every second that you have this week outside of the classroom to focus in on the things that you need to do; for some guys that means they have to be healthier. For some guys it means they have to improve their technique. For some guys that means they have to do a better job in terms of executing. So there are a lot of things that go into it. But it comes down to being able to go out there on Saturday when that ball is kicked off and play your best."

More on the Wisconsin game:

"I think in the first half we did not play well defensively. We had penalties, the penalty where we intercepted the pass and gained great field position for us, it's an inexcusable penalty, and that caused us to take that stadium on the road, and Tyler Donovan had a great day. He's going to make some plays, but we missed them some assignments there where we allowed him to get outside. And probably more than anything else, that led to too many big plays in the passing game. So when you do that, you're going to pay for it, and we paid for it. And obviously on the other side of the ball, we didn't run the football in the first half very well. And in the second half we were behind, we were in a hurry up mode, so the game changed."

On what the Michigan - Ohio State game has come down to over the years:

"All those games are different. But inevitably there is always something in the kicking game, penalties. Penalties, always play a big role. Turnovers. How well you take advantage of your opportunities in the red zone. Offense, defense. (laughter)"

On why the team hasn't gotten as many turnovers as they're accustomed to getting over the past few weeks:

"Well, we lost one because of the penalty. That would have helped us."

On whether he has had any more conversations about that penalty and its interpretation:

"It wasn't an interpretation, it was a bad call. And anybody who thinks it was a good call is either uninformed or not informed. I mean look at it on film, I've looked at it on tape, it's one play. It was an important play. I don't want to get off on this, but the rules were changed to protect quarterbacks in the pocket and quarterbacks who were scrambling. That's an option football play. He was not hit in the head. It was just a bad call. And the reason, if I might defend my behavior, the reason I was so adamant was because I was certainly expecting that play to be run again. So what, are we going to have a 15-yard penalty every time they run the option? That rule was misinterpreted. And I would hope that for the future that be clarified. Because when we run the option this week, I do not want Henne hit like that. (laughing)"

On what he and his staff did differently to turn things around this year:

"We've got a great group of people here on our staff. And, you know, you've either got a choice, when you're down. You can lay down and stay there, or you can get back on your feet and fight. And that, to me, is really the essence of competition. You know, there's going to be days out there where you get beat up. And they're no fun.So, like my dad told me one day after I got beat up, you got to go back on that playground, and you've got to fight."

On how old he was when the fight happened:

"11 years old. I didn't want to go back. He was a bully, you know. I was afraid. But I did what he told me, and it was one of the great lessons of my life. I was not afraid again."

On his opinion of Ohio State:

"I think you ought to ask Coach Tressel. Have you seen him yet? They're a typical well balanced team. They're well coached. They play hard together. And that's who they are."

On who is responsible for getting the team up emotionally if Hart and Henne aren't in the lineup:

"I think that's a challenge for every guy. I think leadership is important. But I think it also comes down to every guy making sure that he, himself is ready to play. You can't get somebody else ready to play. Now you can inspire people with your performance, with the way you compete and with some of the things that you say. But ultimately it is up to the guy that's there to compete with the best of his ability. And I think that's the way we approach it. Next man up."

On if he has struggled with with the decisions to play or sit Hart or Henne:

"Well, with Chad it really has been easy and with Mike, Mike wanted to play Saturday. But I didn't what I saw in the pre-game warm-up, I just didn't like. And so that was my decision."

On whether it's fair to judge the senior class by its record in this rivalry:

"I think the record in this game, you know that you carry that forever. By the same token you don't judge, I don't judge a player on his record. I judge a player by the way he competed. By the way he represented this program. By the things that he did in terms of his development, academically and in football. And I think that's the only fair way. But that is certainly everybody is judged, there are a lot of people out there watching. That's why it's an exciting game to play in. There are a lot of people that are going to write about it, and talk about it. And that's the way legends are made. So, you know, it's a great environment to be in. You just have to understand that you have to be able to cope with all the pressures that those things create."

On whether he is happy that the Rose Bowl is the grand prize this weekend:

"If there's a greater bowl than the Rose Bowl, then I'd like to see it. I'd love to be there."

On his impressions of Wells and the Ohio State offensive line:

"Very well. A great line. I mean, he's a threat because he's got great feet, and he's got great explosiveness, and he runs very, very fast. And he's big. So if you've got another quality you like in a running back explain it to me."

On whether he has to preach about the improtance of this rivalry to the players that didn't grow up in it:

"A lot of guys come here for that game when they're in high school. They grew up watching it on TV, they read about it. And from the moment they get here, they know that it's the game. So if you're a freshman, you don't know what a senior knows, but I think you learn quickly."

On smack talk that has fired the other team up over the years:

"I think there are a lot of comments that sting both ways. So it's all part of the week, you know. What some guy said 25 years ago, I've got it up over there on the board. You don't forget."

On whether he counsels players on watching what they say this week:

"Well, I did have a conversation with them, I talked with Mike. And he said, Coach, I'm not dumb. And he isn't. What I've tried to do is deal with the issue of the media in the preseason and in the beginning of the season and the spring. And at this think there are essentially some fundamental rules. Respect the game. Understand that when you say something don't say it unless you want to see it in print. And we want to talk about a game in a way that we can answer questions. But we want to do it in a way that we respect our opponents. I think that's the essence of competition. And sometimes guys that are this age, they say things that may be misconstrued or aren't construed properly, and it becomes an issue but that's part of their education. Because when they do say some of those things, it's helpful to the other team, and it's a lesson for everybody else for the future, so."

On if he has fun this week:

"Yeah, I guarantee you. Except for a few minutes in the week on a Monday around noon, 1:00 o'clock (laughing). I mean, look you have a game that everybody that loves this game cares about. They may not care as intensely as some. But they all want to know what happened. What happened in Ann Arbor? Michigan, Ohio State. So when you're playing for a championship, when you're playing for an opportunity to go to the Rose Bowl. When you're playing against your fiercest rival, that's fun, except, if you can't enjoy that, then God help you."

On how he deals with the pressure of this game:

"Well, the pressure, you embrace the pressure because the competition is why you play. It's why you coach. More than anything else, it's about competing to the best of your ability in a game you love. And to try to do something and achieve something with a group of people that you care about, and in this case, that represent the University of Michigan in a way that we can all be proud."

On Mario Manningham:

"I think Mario's a guy from the very beginning he did some great things as a true freshman. A year ago, he really began to display the unique qualities as a receiver that he possessed. He's got a great burst. He's tough, he loves the competitive part of it. And he's, you know, in terms of all the things you want a wide receiver to do, he can do them. Of course, a year ago he got hurt and he was not the same after his injury. And he came back this fall, and I would say in the last six, seven weeks, he's been unbelievable. He's been sensational. He's a threat every time touches the ball."

The Michigan Insider Top Stories