Carr Speaks to the Press

Carr spoke to the media in his weekly press conference on Monday. He provided review of the Purdue game, a preview for this weekend's matchup with Iowa, and numerous other topics of interest.

Regarding Jeremy LeSueur's performance against Purdue:

"Jeremy LeSueur was outstanding. He played his best game since he has been at Michigan. We had a number of guys who stepped up. John Shaw came in when Julius (Curry) got hurt and did a very good job. Markus Curry played very well. I thought we had a good game plan. We played a lot of three-man rush, which I thought when looking at the film was very effective. The one thing is that if you allow Purdue to catch the ball and run with it they can hurt you. We did not do that with the exception of the 31-yarder. We tackled extremely well when they caught the football. You can go through that film and you will see very few missed tackles. That is always big when you are spread out as much as we were. I felt we did an excellent job against their running attack, with the exception of (Brandon) Kirsch running with the football and breaking contain. But he is going to make some plays against anybody."

Regarding the focus of the team:

"I always look at it going into the season. I know that there are games that because of the way that the schedule falls that you are going to have to worry as a coach and you are going to have to try to do things to maintain their concentration. I do not think this is one of those games. Last week was one, when you come off a game like we had against Penn State, a very emotional game. Penn State has become a big rival here. We had another one when we played Utah after a big game. Normally when you get to this stage in the season, when you have the opportunity to be in the hunt for the championship it gets easier. We understand there is a long way to go and there is not a team on our schedule that is not a good football team."

Regarding the progress of freshman wide receiver Jason Avant:

"Jason Avant has done a great job on special teams. He had a great block on a play that Chris Perry got about seven or eight yards. Jason was a little banged up the past two weeks. He made one of the great catches you will ever see on a day when we were not in full pads. Unfortunately he laid out and extended himself. His feet were off the ground and he made a great catch and came down and hurt himself a little bit. It was not enough to keep him out but he was not at full-bore. I can see him playing more as we get into this. He has a great future here."

Regarding Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz:

"He has done a great job. I thought two years ago, when we were getting ready to play him and I looked at what he did what that team, I could not believe it was the same team I had seen the year before. Last year going into the season, I felt they would be the most improved team. They are a program that is where they want to be and he has done a tremendous job."

Regarding Iowa's secondary:

"I think we have some confidence offensively. I do not look at statistics until you have played three or four games in the conference. Iowa has had four conference games and we have had three. I look at strictly the statistic based on those games, I see Iowa's pass efficiency defense as No. 1 in the conference. They are giving up some yards but the problem that Iowa gives you is when you hold teams to 60 yards a game rushing, you are going to throw the football when they want you to. You try to run the ball on first down and you come up with a one- or two-yard gain. Now they substitute, they can get into their different coverages and they cause you a lot more problems. What I feel good about is that (Bennie) Joppru is having a tremendous year, Braylon Edwards has been very consistent and Ronald Bellamy has really stepped up. With B.J. (Askew) catching the football and we have gotten the ball to Chris Perry so we have an opportunity and we are not a one-dimensional team in terms of throwing the football. I think any time you have that going for you, and our quarterback is playing well. Against Iowa you have to protect the quarterback and you are not going to have a lot of time to throw it."

Regarding John Navarre:

"I think one of the things that he has done very well since we got into spring practice is his decision making. Scot (Loeffler, quarterbacks coach) worked very hard with him. You hate sacks because a sack is like a penalty, but you lose the down. Sacks kill drives. If you can get rid of the football or throw the ball away or if there is nothing there and you can run for some yards, it demoralizes a defense. I though one of the big plays in the game was John's scramble out of there down to about the four-yard line on our first touchdown drive. The primary receiver was Braylon Edwards and he got jammed, so John took the ball down. He had five passes in that game where he threw the football away. Those were good plays because the people were covered or the protection was breaking down and he could not scramble so he threw the ball away. That is all part of being a quarterback."

Regarding the short yardage plays in the Purdue game:

"They looked ugly from our side of the ball. Purdue has a good defense. On the first one we had a miscommunication, so we were short a blocker. Out of the field goal, that is a play that we worked on for eight weeks and we should be able to make a yard there, but we did not. The third-and-one and the fourth-and-one, on the third-down play we did not gain anything. They had a defense called where they had a great call. They had an extra guy there we could not block and he made the tackle. Then on the fourth-down play, they had a good call and the corner struck. They had good calls but what you would like to be able to do is make a yard anyway."

Regarding the decision to go for it on forth down:

"You evaluate that play on who you are playing against, who is over the center, who is over the guards and are they going to pinch down. What have they done defensively? We have had some plays here on third-and-a-foot for touchdowns. Defensively you can overcommit to a point where you give up a big play in those situations. You are trying to know as much as you can about who you are playing and what your matchups are up front. There are a lot of things that go into it. Sometimes against real good teams a yard is not easy to get. But we have to find an answer."

On what goes into making that decision:

"That all plays into it. I told our team early in training camp that if you want to win a championship and if you want to be a good football team, when it is third-and-a-yard or fourth-and-a-yard, you have to make it. That is where you start. If it is third-and-two or it is fourth-and-two and you are going for it, then obviously the odds are more against you because that is a different situation. Our ability to kick field goals has not been what we would like it to be, so we will continue to strive and work to get better. That is why we practice."

Regarding Adam Finley practicing field goals:

"When he got roughed in the Penn State game, his ankle was sore so he did not practice field-goal kicking last week."

Regarding Norman Heuer:

"Heuer is back. He probably could have played last week, so he is ready to go."

On whether the defense has been disappointing:

"I think our defense, if you look at them from the standpoint of this entire year, there has been only one disappointment for me and that is the big plays that we gave up early in the season. I think we have shown some improvement. Certainly this team will challenge us because any time you have a quarterback that can run like (Brad) Banks, you have a running back like (Fred) Russell and a tight end like (Dallas) Clark, that really stretches you. As a secondary, if you do not come up fast enough everyone is complaining. They are trying to get you up there to make tackles, come to the perimeter and if the play breaks everybody says why didn't he come up faster. Yet the criticism is unbelievable if somebody gets behind them. What you are trying to do is prevent big plays and still be aggressive in pursuing the football. I think our defense has played very well with the exception of the big plays that we gave up early in the season. Every week, you are playing against teams that can move the football and the rules make it tough defensively. We played that game Saturday and there is not one holding call all game. The rules are different so it is harder to stop teams."

Regarding the scrutiny placed on the referees:

"I do not worry about things that I cannot control. I do not think there is any question that they are under a scrutiny that has been made worse by some of the conversation. I think it is very disappointing and unfortunate."

Regarding the "Maize Out" and what is does for a team:

"There is an old quote that enthusiasm is a force that creates momentum. Anytime you are anywhere and there is enthusiasm, it creates a force. There is no question that a spirited stadium motivates your team and everybody. Yet, it is a two-edge sword. If you go out and do not play well and do not play hard the crowd is not behind you. There has never been a big game where the crowd was not there and excited. I do think the fact that the students seem to be getting involved and there is more of an organized effort to create some energy is very positive for our team."

Regarding who will be returning punts:

"Ronald Bellamy will work back there; Jermaine Gonzales."

Regarding athletic quarterbacks:

"When you talk about athletic quarterbacks, (Notre Dame's Carlyle) Holiday and (Iowa's Brad) Banks are guys that can make plays when things break down. I do not think we have seen a tight end like (Dallas) Clark. When you look at Banks, his efficiency rating is tremendous. He has only thrown four interceptions, I think, and he has a 58 percent completion rate."

On criticizing of the officials:

"I do not think it does any good to discuss that publicly. I think there are a lot of issues and we need to discuss then in a way that helps us solve them. I think those are discussions that should be held at the Big Ten meetings."

Regarding fullback Sean Sanderson:

He has soft hands. He catches the ball every day in practice. If you look at the film on him in the first game and you look at him today, he looks like a different guy. We will get him the ball out there."

On whether the fake field goals are a reflection of the inconsistent kicking:

"No. I am sure that a lot of people will say I am not being honest, but the truth is I would rather get seven points. On the fourth-down play, on the field goal we had a first down. The thing that happens to you is when you are expecting a field goal to be rushed you are almost always in a defense that is predictable. From that standpoint you are vulnerable. Plus, a lot of teams it is obvious that they relax a little, because they are expecting the ball to be kicked. Every play that we have tried has succeeded to some degree, except Saturday. It was a communication problem as opposed to the play. I think the play was going to make a yard but we were short a blocker because he did not get the call. I think it is obvious that we are not executing the field goal part of it, and the most alarming thing is we missed an extra point. We certainly are not where we want to be there."

On punting inside the 20:

"That is a more difficult thing. What I try to tell them is any yards you can get inside the 20 is better than kicking it in the end zone. If it is at the 16, four yards is better than none. (Adam) Finley had one real good one this year. What you really would like to do is hang one so it would go out of bounds as opposed to going into the end zone. It is one of those things that is not easy to do and it is frustrating when it goes in the end zone. Sometimes it does not work."

Regarding pooch punting:

"I have always felt you have to be a lousy kicker to do that. That is why (Brian) Griese was so good at. (Tom) Brady was okay and so was (Drew) Henson. We have worked on some of that and we could do that."

Regarding Adam Finley:

"He is a tremendous punter. He got one on Saturday where they got a decent return. I think Deitan Dubuc made a great tackle where he did not get enough air under it. As a pair, Philip Brabbs and Adam Finley, we never have had two guy who have made as many plays tackling. Finley has made some great plays. Brabbs made a play Saturday where he did not tackle him, he hit him. I like them both."

Regarding running backs Tim Bracken and David Underwood:

I am confident that both of them are good backs and good football players. I would have liked to have got them more work. That goes back to playing a schedule where every game goes down to the wire. When you do not have as many opportunities, it makes it more difficult."

Regarding the blocked field goal:

"We had a protection problem in there. Purdue came with a great rush and they did a great job. Troy Nienberg has kicked a game-winning field goal, as has Philip Brabbs. Percentage-wise we are not where we want to be but they have made some kicks and I do not think you can forget that. The kick Nienberg made before the end of the half was a great kick. If you were down on the field you knew the wind was unbelievable. It was not only strong but it was a crosswind and he made a great kick. On the missed field goal, we had some penetration. It is very difficult to determine if he did not get it up, but certainly a big part of that was the penetration. When I got home Saturday night, I saw two games that were decided by blocked field goals. That is what is happening. People are doing a very good job at that. If you look at the number of blocked kicks and our opponents' field goal statistics against us are not very good. And we have played against some very good kickers. You add that to the fact that you are kicking on grass and it is harder. It is harder to get the ball up on grass because the surfaces are uneven and the ball, if you happen to have a place where you have a divot, the ball sits down there and you are more likely to have it blocked. There are a lot of factors. It is not just the kickers, but certainly we want to do better."

Regarding the Iowa defense:

"I coached with Norm Parker, the defensive coordinator. The thing I remember is that you could just see the improvement. I think if you could describe Iowa they are very fundamentally sound. They do not make mistakes. They are well coached. They play very hard. They are very physical. That is the kind of team you like."

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