Players Speak to the Press

At the weekly press conference, Ronald Bellamy, Jermaine Gonzales, Courtney Morgan, John Navarre, and John Spytek addressed the big win over Minnesota, and their preparation for Wisconsin.

Wide Receiver Ronald Bellamy

On playing all the receiver positions:

"Since my freshman year I have moved around a lot. Since I was the smaller guy, I played a lot of slot but I had to learn all of the receiver positions because Coach (Erik) Campbell likes to move the receivers around. My freshman year, to get me on the field, I had to learn all of the positions. That has been the case my whole career."

On his last few games:

"All I ask for is the opportunity to make plays, and now that I have that opportunity I am producing."

On if head coach Lloyd Carr has said anything about the seniors' last home game:

"What he tells us is that this is the seniors' last game. First of all, Michigan prides itself on winning every game at home. That is number one. You always want to send your seniors out with a home victory. Last year we did not do that for our seniors. Those guys still had a sour taste in their mouths. This year we want to send our seniors out with a big victory."

On if things Coach Carr says motivate the team:

"I think I am motivated myself. I cannot speak for other players. There are times when Coach Carr gets the guys ready to go."

On the seniors leading on the field:

"Definitely. As a senior you not only lead on the football field, but you lead off the field as well. Like you said, Bennie (Joppru), B.J. (Askew), myself, Drake, Cato (June), (Shawn) Lazarus and (Dan) Rumishek are leading on and off the field. We are producing and having fun. When you are having fun, it is contagious and everyone else has fun too."

On knowing he might get the ball as a third option:

"Last year I do not think John (Navarre) had any progressions. It was more of just throw this way, throw that way or run. This year with the new offense and the system that Coach (Terry) Malone and the other offense coaches have put in, it gives John a chance to look at his first read, second read and third read. Now he is doing a great job when everyone is covered of either throwing the ball away or running with it."

On if the new offense is the reason for the increased production:

"John (Navarre) is doing a great job of taking care of the ball also."

On if there is any chance he will return punts again:

"I do not know. In practice I return punts, but I think I am more of a just in case. I do not make that decision. If Coach Carr or Coach Campbell want me back there then I will go back there, but it is not my decision."

On why Michigan has not had a long punt return this season:

"I think we are getting so much pressure on the punters that they are shanking the ball and making short kicks which allow the coverage team to get down there and make tackles. When Julius (Curry) was back there he was doing a great job and now that Markus (Curry) is back there he is doing a great job of fielding the punts. That is not an easy thing to do. To me that is one of the more difficult things to do on the field, to catch punts."

On the punt fielded inside the 10-yard line on Saturday:

"I think he was focusing so much on the ball that he got distracted on where he feet were. The rule is that you put your feet on the 10-yard line and if the ball goes beyond that you let it go. I think he just got distracted."

On how dangerous it is to try to pick up a bouncing ball:

"It is very dangerous, especially on a surface like the Metrodome. You have to have guts back there and you have to be a smart decision-maker. Some of those things I agree with Markus (Curry ) on. It may look like he made a mistake or that he was not thinking, but you have to be back there to understand what is going through his mind."

On if the team may look past this game to Ohio State:

"We are focusing on Wisconsin. They are a tough team. They want a victory and they are going to come in here with the strongest punch."

On the confidence on offense:

"Definitely. Personally, I believe that we can score on every play. Chris (Perry) on the second play of the season broke a long run. B.J. (Askew) broke a long run this past game. We have been going deep and with this offense I am very confident. We have a lot of playmakers. Bennie (Joppru) is doing a great job, Braylon (Edwards), myself, B.J is stepping up at the tailback position, Chris, and John (Navarre) is making great decisions. Guys like Tyrece (Butler) and Jermaine (Gonzales) are stepping up. As an offensive coordinator, I know Coach (Terry) Malone is happy because he can get the ball into any of those guys' hands and they can produce."

On if the team is looking ahead:

"Not really. Coach Carr stresses that we focus on the next game. We know what we have to do against Wisconsin. We are not worried about Ohio State or a bowl game. It is just Wisconsin this weekend."

On Wisconsin's secondary:

"I know (B.J.) Tucker has finished second in the Big Ten in the 100-meter dash, so he is a pretty fast corner. He has six interceptions. Then there is (Scott) Starks and he caught an interception on us last year. The safety has something like eight interceptions. Actually I have watched tape for only an hour. I watched a little film yesterday and their secondary is pretty good."

On if having to split time with the other receivers inhibits the flow of the game for him:

"It helps actually because you cannot get double-covered as much as last year when we had only one receiving threat. As a receiver you are just as good as your partner. If your partner is not producing then you are going to face all of the double-teams. Braylon (Edwards) is doing a good job as are myself, Jermaine (Gonzales) and Tyrece (Butler), so if you have four receivers out there that are catching the ball, you cannot just double-cover one guy. It is helping a lot that we have a lot of options at the receiver position."

On the increased playing time for Jermaine Gonzales:

"He is just producing on the practice field, and that is what it comes down to. He is doing a great job catching the ball and running after catches. He does a great job blocking downfield so by now Jermaine is playing real well."

On if having played quarterback helpe Gonzales as a receiver:

"I think so. By playing the quarterback position, he anticipates what is going to happen before it does happen. That is helping him out especially when he is running his routes. He know when he is going to get double-covered or when the linebacker is going to jump the route so I think it helps him out a lot."

On how he deals with double-teams on the field:

"You watch film and you study your opponent. We saw that Minnesota had a tendency with their cornerback stance that if they were standing a certain way they were playing under the route and their safeties had coverage over the top. It is a matter of studying the film and knowing your opponents."

Wide Receiver Jermaine Gonzales

On how the transition from quarterback to receiver is going:

"It's been going pretty well for me the past few weeks or so, as far as performing in practices and then taking it out on the game field and trying to make plays. I think a lot of it is about adjusting to the transformation from quarterback to receiver. It's coming along pretty well."

On the mental game:

"I think at first I was playing receiver, but I was still thinking about quarterback and what the quarterback was doing. Now, it started to hit that playing receiver is what I'm doing and I've been able to focus on the position 100 percent."

On how playing quarterback helps him at receiver:

"I think it had its advantages as far as reading coverages and knowing how I had to get open in certain situations. Knowing what the quarterback would be thinking in certain situations helps me out as well."

On getting used to blocking:

"You have to get used to the blocking. As a quarterback you're never really involved in the blocking game. It wasn't really a big adjustment. In high school I played a little defense so that helped me. I'm physical enough to go and make contact with other players."

On how the change was made:

"I was testing the waters, really. I wanted to see if I could handle the position. At first it was a struggle after having played quarterback all my life. To all of a sudden change your position was hard. I was discouraged at first and after hearing things from the outside about it, I had to just say that the change was something I wanted to do. I made the decision on my own and I had thought about it and I was going to stay with it."

On when he decided to play:

"It was towards the end of spring practices. I knew I wanted to put myself in position to be on the field and help this team win, make plays for this team. I knew (John) Navarre has been doing a great job and the job was his. I knew if I worked hard at receiver then I would have the opportunity to be on the field and step up and play a little bit."

On getting encouragement from former players:

"I talked to DiAllo (Johnson). He and I had a pretty similar situation and he'd talk with me and tell me positive things about how his adjustment was tough but when he got through with it, it worked out for him. He encouraged me to stay focused and give it 100 percent and I'd be okay."

On how he offers another dimension to the offense:

"There are a lot more ways that they can try to expose me in the offense."

On Michigan's tradition of drop-back quarterbacks:

"There's a way for everything. Michigan has a strong tradition of drop-back quarterbacks, someone who can stand in there and take the heat, deliver the ball and take hits. I won't say they're not open to change, but we have our style of quarterback and it's worked that way."

On mobile quarterbacks:

"I don't know about the future. Mobile quarterbacks are having a lot of success right now in the NFL and even in college. Who's to say, really, if they're the next standard? I'm not sure."

On what the coaches see in him:

"I like to make plays and coaches see that in me in practice. A lot of what the coaches see in practices, they'll take to use in games. They put me in there to make big plays or trick plays, however I'll work best."

On the receiving corps:

"Our receiving crew, I believe, is the best in the nation. We've got a lot of depth. We have the ability to come in with any one of us and start the game. John (Navarre) sees that and I think he relies on the coaches so it's easier to expose different guys in the offense taking advantage of the weapons we have."

On having more than one weapon:

"It's a good thing for the defense not to be able to focus on one guy, not double up on marking one guy. They have to worry about every receiver that comes into the game. That's a plus for us."

On having experience at receiver:

"Freshman year in high school, my first time playing in a high school game, I caught a touchdown pass. So I knew I had the ability to do it, so to make the decision I knew I had to just stick to it."

On how John Navarre has grown at quarterback:

"I think John has grown a lot at the position to this year from last. He knows what he's doing with the ball and knows his reads well. He's been a great leader for this team and helped this team get better."

On Coach Carr's support of his position switch:

"He said it was up to me as to what I wanted to do. He said he recruited me as a quarterback and if that's what I wanted to play, I could play there. It was clear that it was my decision to make, so the move was all my choice."

Offensive Tackle Courtney Morgan

On if he feels more comfortable at the right tackle position:

"Right now I do. I have had the most success at right tackle."

On if the move is permanent:

"I would say yes, but nothing on our line is permanent, especially with me because I play so many positions. I have to be ready for anything."

On how the team blocks out thinking about Ohio State:

"After last night, watching film of Wisconsin's defense, it was easy to block it out. They have a very good defense with experienced ends and they are real good up front. It was real easy for us to block it out. We know we have to handle our business this week because Wisconsin is capable of playing well and beating us."

On if the line is ready for the final two games:

"Last week Coach (Andy) Moeller came into the meeting and stressed that we have only three weeks left. We are looking at it as a three-game season. He said that he know we are tired and the season is draining but it is a three-game season and if you put everything into it, you will be happy instead of just going through the motions. I think everybody has bought into that."

On why the running game was successful against Minnesota:

"Coach Moeller has done a good job of getting us prepared for what we were going to see. Everybody went out there and executed and really just did what Coach said. Sometimes when we have problems is when people do not do the technique that Coach Moeller teaches."

On what long runs mean to the line:

"It was the same feeling as when Chris (Perry) ran that long run against Washington on the second play from scrimmage. It was an exciting feeling to see that he ran the ball for a touchdown over 50 yards. That is a great feeling."

On his improvements:

"The Iowa game is a game that I am trying to erase from my mind. I went out there and disappointed my team and as far as the way I played and not doing what I was coached to do. Me getting beat in the Iowa game was me not playing with the technique that I was taught from day one. Then I went back and talked with my dad and he told me to just erase it and try to get better. Coach Moeller was supportive. He just told me what I had to do to get better, and I believed in him and did what he told me to do. It helped me and I need to keep getting better because we have two big games coming up."

On the differences between the left and right side:

"Really there is no difference. It is the same technique on the left side or the right side. If you are playing guard or tackle it is about footwork and leverage. It does not matter because you have to do it in any spot. I think I could be successful playing left tackle as long as I do what our coaches say to do. That is what I need to do. As soon as you lose technique, then you have a bad game."

On how a long season is tough on the linemen:

"I know for the linemen it is very hard. Your shoulders get sore from all the pushing and pulling and your legs get sore. It is all mental. I am excited now. I am tired but excited because we have something to play for. You really block out the being tired. If we beat Wisconsin and then go on to win, we really have something to play for. These are two big games with two good teams. Wisconsin is very good. I am just excited. It is a drain, especially playing on the turf last weekend. You block it out through because you cannot think about being tired right now."

On how the season has been up and down for him:

"I think I started off well. A lot my mistakes were mental mistakes. As a line and as a group we are really tight. It is hard to watch someone take your position, but at the same time you are happy because he is a young guy and a good person. It was hard but when he came off the field I was supportive. Whoever is in there I just want the line to do well as a unit. We all take the blame if we do not play well."

On how he felt when he knew he was playing again:

"It was an unfortunate circumstance. I do not wish that on anyone. I did look at it as a second chance though. I also looked at it as do or die for me because I did not want to let my team down. I was the next one in there and if I did not play well, I had to stay in there because Adam (Stenavich) was hurt. I was really focused and I wanted to have a good game. If I let the team down that would have hurt more than anything."

On if the left side focuses more on pass-blocking than the right side:

"As a tackle the first thing you know is that you cannot get beat inside. That is the number one rule. You want to make the guy go around you. A lot of times people will see the defender go around the quarterback and they will think the lineman got beat but the lineman really took away the inside and made the defender go wide so the quarterback could step up. That is the main thing about playing left tackle is that you do not want to get beat inside because John (Navarre) is not going to see that. That is the fastest route to the quarterback. That is the key to playing left or right tackle. I really do not think about it as being his blind side. Either way I do not want him to get hit."

On if John Navarre feels the pressure better this season:

"He is moving real well this year. It helps the tackles out a lot because if you let the guys go wide, you know that he is going to step up. Also during the course of a game we will tell him that they are coming wide and he will step up. They key is do not get beat inside and he is avoiding the outside rush."

On his weight:

"It is not really an issue. Mike (Gittleson) plays with me from time to time. He looks at me and can tell how much I weigh. It is kind of scary. I try to keep it around 300."

Quarterback John Navarre

On last season's performance against Wisconsin:

"We have to study what they did to us last year. They're going to try to do some of the same types of things this year. They played well as a defense last year. We didn't play well as an offense and I think they're going to try to stick with some things they did last year. We have to focus on our game plan, we've been playing well. We can't get out of synch to try to beat their defense. We have to stay with what works and focus on the critical balance where you need to beat their defense."

On whether they have paid attention to Wisconsin's off-the-field problems:

"Not at all. We didn't pay attention to any of that, just as we didn't with Michigan State. We know that Wisconsin has a lot of motivation to beat Michigan. They're going to come in here ready to play. We don't focus on the records or any of the off-the-field stuff. That's the way we treat every game."

On how he played against the Badgers last season:

"Not as well as I wanted to. I wanted to protect the ball a little better. I didn't make the plays that I had to make and that's something we want to correct this year. Watching clips of the game last season, you want to look away because you don't want to grab those old habits again. It's good to look back so you can see how far you've come. I've got a long way to go and I still have a lot to improve on."

On his decision-making capabilities:

"Last year, when I was out or rhythm, I would pound on the ball and wait for guys to get open. This year when guys aren't open, I'm off looking for the second or third read. I have rhythm and have a groove in the offense. I know what I'm doing on each play, I'm not waiting for guys to get open or trying to make something out of nothing. I'm real confident and my decision-making is a lot better."

On the things he has learned from quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler:

"Scot came in and imposed a philosophy on us. I have to believe in what he's telling me to do out on the field. The natural part of it is that you will start believing in what he says, you'll start believing in your footwork and your rhythm in the play. That started this spring, I've improved leaps and bounds since spring ball and I'm going to keep improving with Scot and through natural experience. It's a good relationship. He tells you what to do and you have to buy into that. The evolution on the practice field has been the big difference for me."

On the general rules he has learned from Loeffler:

"There are some general rules for decision-making. If a guy isn't open, don't wait for him to get open because he will just have more coverage on him. You have to believe in your footwork. When you finish your drop and the receiver is covered, you have to believe in your feet. That's something Brian Griese, Tom Brady and Drew Henson have all learned through Scot and other coaches. You have to believe in your feet and rhythm and trust in your decisions."

On a key play that has shown his growth as a quarterback:

"I think one key play where I hit a third read was in the Utah game. I hit Ron Bellamy on a shallow cross underneath on third-and-seven and he got the first down. That's a good example of where I hit a third read in a pivotal moment where you really saw my progression. I'm not forcing the ball. I believe in the rhythm of the play. If my primary receiver is not open, I'm not going to wait for that to happen. I'm not trying to win the game on every down."

On his confidence and belief in the receivers:

"I'm confident in all of my receivers. They know where they have to be on each play and they understand the defense. Our receivers have to know where they have to be at on different defenses. They also have to be quarterbacks on there. Bennie (Joppru) makes great calls, he runs great routes and he gets open. I think all of our receivers do a great job of that."

On Bennie Joppru:

"I think Bennie is a great guy. He runs really well and has great hands. I think his knowledge of the game puts him ahead of other guys."

On the importance of finishing the season strong:

"We didn't finish as well as we wanted to last year, we kind of stumbled through the month of November. Our goal this year is to really step it up this month. We have four games in November and we want to finish strong. I think these guys are real motivated and they can taste what's going to be coming this season."

On looking ahead to the Ohio State game:

"If you look ahead to certain games, you get in trouble. We know the task at hand. Wisconsin is a great ballclub and we know that they're going to fight, no matter what their record is or what the situation is."

On the other receivers having a chance to see time in the games:

"Their blocking, effort and hustle are what has gotten them on the field. They go out and play hard on every down. With Jason Avant against Michigan State and last week with Jermaine Gonzales, when their number was called, they were in the right place at the right time. The reason why they are out there is because they practice so well."

On the leadership of the seniors:

"I think seniors step up and play their best football at the end. Any Michigan player can tell you that they've had their greatest years the end. They know that their days are numbered here and they start playing well at the end they start pushing and become leaders. We have a focus in November where we want to address what we didn't do last year. These guys are focused and ready to go."

Linebacker John Spytek

On Wisconsin:

"They started off the year real well. We know they're going to come in and give us their best game, they always do. It's obviously a huge game for us, as it is for them."

On his personal connection to Wisconsin:

"Both my parents attended the University of Wisconsin. Since I was six or seven years old, I probably went to four of five home games a year. Even though I grew up in Wisconsin and went to all of those games, Michigan was always the place I wanted to come. I have some buddies on that team and we go back and get in touch and talk about how things are going. I want to see them do well, for my buddies' sake."

On the injury to Zach Kaufman:

"It's tough, especially for Zach because he's such a great guy. It's tough to see him on the sidelines with the ice wrapped around his knee because everyone knows what that has the potential to be. I think we have some guys who are ready to play and step up and that they'll do a good job. That's not to say that Zach won't be missed, because he will be."

On the opportunity for other players to come in and contribute:

"It's been unique this year with the way that's worked out. I think we've had a lot of guys come in, play well and fill the holes. Hopefully, we'll be able to do that again this week."

On Joey Sarantos and his performance against Minnesota:

"He had an opportunity on special teams early in the season, and he played well. That carries over when the coaches see the intensity that he comes out with. He comes ready to play every day and brings a lot of excitement to the field. He's just a great example of a guy who made the most of his opportunity. When his chance came on Saturday night when Zach (Kaufman) went down, he went in there and did a great job. Joe has been picking things up really fast. He really wants to learn. He's taking notes and watching film all the time. His desire to be a good football player has really helped him. He's really focused on helping this team."

On the team's attitude after the loss to Iowa:

"We came together and told ourselves to just take one game at a time and that we can still make what we want to make out of this season. We have to appreciate each game and go out there each Saturday and not feel sorry for ourselves. It was kind of a gut check, so we had to regroup and the last two games have been a product of that."

On the importance of the special teams:

"There's a great chance every game for special teams to decide the game and Saturday night was a great example of that. After the blocked punt, things started to go our way. I think special teams play an important role every week."

On his brother, Dave Spytek:

"He's doing well. He's kind of in the logjam of tight ends right now. He's been working out with Mike (Gittleson) in the weight room and he's getting big, which is what he needs to do."

On his move to special teams:

"It wasn't my decision, the coaches moved me there. I just want to do whatever I can do to help this team. I play mostly on special teams and that's fine."

On the defensive line and the pressure they have put on the quarterback:

"I think one person who has emerged as a pass rush center is Grant Bowman. He'd done a great job and always seems to be in there around the quarterback. We knew at the beginning of the season that those guys would get after the quarterback and I think they've done a good job of that all year."

On the level of excitement going into Saturday's game against Wisconsin:

"I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't excited for this game and didn't point to it on the schedule. It's as big of a game for me as it is for anyone else on this team at this standpoint."

On his chance of seeing some time in the game:

"I'm going to prepare like I always do. If I'm given an opportunity, then I'm going to be ready."

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