Players Speak to the Press

At the weekly press conference, Ronald Bellamy, Carl Diggs, Charles Drake, Victor Hobson, Bennie Joppru, Shawn Lazarus, John Navarre, and Tony Pape discussed their excitement and preparation for this weeks big game against the Buckeyes.

Wide Receiver Ronald Bellamy

On Ohio State's defense:

"They have a great defense. Chris Gamble is the real deal, he does it all. He has the makings of the next Charles Woodson."

On the key to containing Ohio State receiver Chris Gamble:

"Every game, you want to attack the opponent. I think Gamble might have a disadvantage against us if he plays a lot of downs. The key against Chris Gamble is to tire him down when he's a cornerback so that our defense can get to him if he's going back on the field as a receiver. It's going to be difficult for him."

On the difficulties of playing on both sides of the ball:

"It's very difficult, you have to learn both the offensive installations and the defense changes for the week. It's very difficult and time-consuming."

On if he sees this game as a spoiler game:

"We're not worrying about their goals or what they're playing for. Our goal is to win every game and that's what we're trying to do this week."

On the progression that John Navarre has made in big games:

"John Navarre is going to go into every game with a lot of confidence. He was put in a totally different position last year than he was this season. He's making better decisions and has more options. The offense has changed a lot. He has more three-man routes than last year, so it is helping his decision-making a lot."

On playing in Ohio State territory:

"That's a loud and hostile place to play in. The biggest thing for us is communication. It will be difficult to hear the plays but we have to be able to communicate with the quarterback and everyone has to be on the same page."

On last year's loss to Ohio State:

"It left a bad taste in our mouths because we sent the seniors out in their last home game with a loss. We were playing for a Big Ten championship at the time also. We're not playing the game to get back at them for last year. This is a new year and we still have goals that we're trying to achieve."

On OSU's defense:

"They're loaded on the defensive line. They have a real good secondary. It's a complete defense."

On the key to taking the crowd out of the game:

"I think that if we get up and early and play well, then we can take the crowd out of it. That's what we're going to have to do, play well early on in the game."

On his views of playing in front of a large crowd:

"I like to play in front of a lot of people and I like to quiet the crowd down. We're going to have to make plays. If they make plays and we don't, then the crowd is going to be a factor. Ohio State has a lot to play for and so do we."

On whether the players have had a hard time keeping their mouths closed:

"Anything you say off the field can motivate the other team. That's been the case in the past and we're not a team that is known for running our mouths. We respect every opponent that we play and we're going to express that when we talk to the media."

On getting a bid to play in a Bowl Championship Series game:

"We can't control who the BCS picks to play in one of the bowl games. We just have to go out there and play our game. If it happens, it happens."

On what the team needs to do before Saturday:

"We're just going to go and watch film and hopefully have a great week of practice. We can't look at the past because it has nothing to do with what's happening right now."

On playing his final game at Michigan Stadium last Saturday:

"Last week was pretty emotional. It finally struck me that it was the last home game, the last time I was going to play at Michigan Stadium. I couldn't believe that those were my final moments in that stadium."

On the keys to winning the game on Saturday:

"We have to come out and create plays. As receivers, we have to become better run blockers this week. We have to keep the safeties off of our backs and we have to get open for John (Navarre). If we click on offense, we're going to do pretty well."

On finishing the season on a good note:

"Finishing 10-2 is a great record here at Michigan; that's our goal. We can't control what bowl game we go to. If we finish 10-2, I will be proud of that record."

Linebacker Carl Diggs

On Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett:

"I had a chance to watch him in high school and he's a very good running back. I'm glad I got a chance to watch him early to see some of the things that he likes to do. I know him pretty well. He was a freshman at my high school when I was a senior. I'd talk to him sometimes when I came back home. He did a lot of good things as a young back in high school, so I knew he'd be pretty explosive at the next level."

On choosing to come to Michigan instead of Ohio State:

"I always wanted to come to Michigan ever since I was little. When I found out about the tradition that comes along with being a Wolverine, that was enough for me."

On what an Ohio State-Michigan game symbolizes:

"I just think guts and glory. You have to go out and put everything on the line and do whatever it takes to win the game."

On the growth of Clarett as a player:

"He's a very mature young man. He had a chance to go up in the spring and learn a lot of things. I didn't think he'd have this great of a season, but I knew he'd make some noise."

On if he hears a lot about the last year's loss when he goes back home to Ohio:

"When I go home to the barber shop I hear it all the time. Even my friends from high school give me a lot about it, but it's all just for fun."

On the team putting last season's loss behind it:

"We've pretty much forgot about last year's game and we're looking to focus on the upcoming game. Last year, we were down 23-0 and then fought back. That shows a lot about the team that we have. We just want to go in and watch film and learn the game plan."

On playing at Ohio State:

"That's the best away stadium I've played in, in terms of crowd noise. It's a great atmosphere. You come to Michigan to play in an atmosphere like that."

On Ohio State recruiting him as a senior:

"They came after me a little bit, but I committed to Michigan early in the spring before my senior year."

On being able to focus this week:

"As a team, we'll just focus on our team goals and what we're trying to accomplish. We're not worried about going down there and upsetting them and ruining their chances. We just want to stay focused on our team goals and do what we need to do to win the game."

On Michigan's defense:

"I think we're playing good ball right now and really coming together as a defense."

On how Ohio State will come out:

"They're going to be relaxed and come out and play the type of game they've played all year."

On Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel:

"You just need to wrap him up because he's the type of guy that makes the big plays."

On the development of the younger players on defense:

"We've got (Joey) Sarantos and (Scott) McClintock stepping in now. They're doing a good job of learning the game plan and being in the right spots to make plays. They understand the importance of this game and I don't think they will be too hyped up. If they stay focused on their keys, everything will be okay."

On the importance of beating Ohio State:

"You always want to win all of your rivalry games. We just want to go out and stay focused and do what we need to do to get a victory."

Safety Charles Drake

On the Ohio State game:

"I think it is really big based on the implications that it has. Every year when we play Ohio State it is big, but this year seems a little bigger since they are undefeated and they beat us last year. I think it is going to be a great game. It is exciting."

On if last year's game is in the back of his head:

"Not really. We are just looking forward and preparing hard this week for this year's game. Last year was last year and this is a different team. This is a new season and a new team. We are not really worried about what happened last year."

On Coach Carr saying the defense played its best game Saturday:

"Coach may have said that but some of the players felt that we made mistakes that we should not have. We are honored that Coach Carr said that and I think the defense is playing well right now, but we can still improve."

On Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel:

"He has been making the right plays at the right times. He is very smart with the football. He has only five or six interceptions this season. He is a good quarterback. It is going to be tough. He also seems to break a lot of tackles. I watched the Illinois game and it looked like they were going to have a sack and he broke a tackle and made a first down here and there. He is a good athlete."

On defending the deep pass:

"I do not think there is a lot of pressure because we have played a lot of teams with deep threats, like Washington and Michigan State. We know that Ohio State is going to try to throw the ball deep but our job is to not give up any big plays. We are going to do the best we can."

On if he wanted Illinois to win last weekend:

"It did not matter. I wanted to see a good game and I did. I was not rooting for either team because I always root for Michigan. I am kind of glad Ohio State won because it makes the game a lot better because they are undefeated."

On Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett:

"My roommate is from Warren, Ohio, and that is Clarett's hometown. They have been telling me about Clarett since he was in high school and they showed me film. I have seen a lot of film on Clarett in high school and college. He has been making a huge impact there. I do not know if he is ready to go pro, but he is making his case. He is very athletic. He is very big with good speed. He has good vision too. He waits for his blocks and waits for the holes to develop and then hits them with a burst."

On the Ohio State offense:

"They have a lot of weapons and a lot of threats at any time."

On the injuries in Michigan's defensive secondary:

"We have responded real well. We have a lot of young guys that have stepped up like Ernest Shazor. John Shaw is not a young guy, but he has stepped up too. Cato (June) is back and now Julius (Curry) is back. I was just really proud of the guys in the room with me because they had a challenge. When Zia (Combs) went out the corners stepped up, like Jeremy LeSueur. Guys are just stepping up all over the place and that is one thing that I am happy about."

On what he knew about the rivalry before coming to Michigan:

"I watched this game when I was young. They do not show a lot of Michigan games out in California but they show that one. I remember Coach Carr telling a story about when Woody Hayes went for two points and when they asked him why he said because he could not go for three. I remember Terry Glenn going off in the papers about the team. It is really special and I am glad that I get to play in a game like this."

On if Ohio State is beatable:

"Anyone is beatable. I think there is a lot of competition around the nation and that is why the games are so close. They have been finding ways to win and that is all that counts at the end of the day."

On Michigan playing spoiler for Ohio State:

"I have heard all of the stories. We are not looking to spoil anyone's dreams, but we have our own goals and we are going into Columbus looking to achieve our own goals. Our mindset is not to ruin their goals. We set our goals in front of us and want to achieve them."

On the atmosphere at Ohio State:

"I remember the opening kickoff when we thought Nate Clemens ran it back and it was the loudest place I had ever been on the road in my life. It was cold too. Those are the two things I remember. It was cold and the crowd."

On abuse from the crowd:

"They dropped beer on one of my teammates when we walked out of the tunnel. You look forward to that as a player. It gives you the atmosphere that you heard about as a kid. I look forward to the worst."

On Ohio State's receivers:

"Chris Gamble is a great athlete. He plays cornerback and receiver. I do not know if (Chris) Vance has played a lot. I was sorry to hear he had a tragedy in his family. Their biggest threat is (Michael) Jenkins. He seems like he has caught a lot of clutch passes and a lot of deep balls. He seems like the guy that we are going to have to contain."

On which team has more pressure:

"I think we both have pressure. They might have a little more because they might be thinking about other things. Their team and our team will be looking toward this game Saturday. There is going to be pressure on both sides."

On if Michigan looked past Wisconsin at all:

"We know that Wisconsin is the type of team that will beat you if you look past them because of how close the game was last year. We just wanted to make sure that we did not look past them this year because as you saw the game was close this year. It almost got out of hand at the beginning but we knew Wisconsin was going to play us tough because they had not beat us in a few year. Even if we wanted to look past them we could not."

On if his week is going to be different:

"Probably not. I am going to just keep doing what I have been doing. That seems to be working. I watch film early and late, practice hard and learn the game plan. We have been preparing hard all year and I think we are going to keep that up."

On the running backs:

"Certain guys like certain things at different schools. If you ask me to pick I am taking Chris Perry and B.J. Askew. Not to taking anything away from Clarett, but I think we have two good backs here at Michigan too."

On how he would describe the rivalry:

"The biggest rivalry in college football."

On why he came to Michigan:

"Charles Woodson, 1997. That was a big thing and I just liked Michigan when I was little, especially those helmets. A lot of people joke about the helmets and uniforms, but even in California a lot of kids love those helmets and uniforms. Growing up we would not watch the whole season of Michigan but we would watch the big games like Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan State. I got to watch players like Tyrone Wheatley and Tim Biakabutuka and when I made my visit it was everything I hoped for."

On what motivates him:

"It is Ohio State. If you cannot get motivated for this game, I do not know what it wrong with you. We do not need anybody form their team to say anything to the papers of anything like that to motivate us. It is a big game, in Columbus and they are undefeated. I do not think you could ask for anything more."

Linebacker Victor Hobson

On getting prepared for Ohio State:

"It's not too hard to get ready for a game like this. It's always a big game. All the records go out the door because it's a big rivalry game."

On his career at Michigan coming to an end:

"I try not to think about it too much. As a senior, this is the last game I play at Michigan during the season. You just have to take it all in stride and be ready to play."

On his views of the upcoming game:

"It's a big game, both teams want to win. I don't look at it as a spoiler game, I look at it as a game that we want to win."

On Ohio State's win at Illinois last Saturday:

"We saw the end of that game and we saw a team that knew how to win. That's a team that we want to prepare for because they want to win and they know how to win. We're going to have to play very well to beat them."

On last season's loss to Ohio State:

"Last year's loss is something you will remember because it's a loss to Ohio State. It's something you put in the back of your mind and you have to look forward. They're a different team this year and we're a different team this year. We just have to approach the game like that."

On Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel:

"He's a big, strong quarterback and he can run a little bit too. You're going to have to go in there and hit him instead of bringing him down with an arm tackle."

On the atmosphere playing at Ohio State:

"It's hostile. I remember how loud it got last year when they almost ran the opening kickoff back."

On Ohio State's determination to win:

"A good football team will find a way to win, that comes with the territory. Ohio State has done that and their record speaks for itself."

On losing to Ohio State as a senior:

"That was a loss that was tough for all of us to take. It was at home in our own back yard and I know it was harder for the seniors because they didn't get to win their last game at home. It's something that the senior class will have in the back of our minds when we go down to play."

On what it will take to win on Saturday:

"They're not a team that will give you chances to win the game. We're going to have to play our best football if we want to win."

On the younger guys on defense being prepared:

"I know they'll be ready, I'm not worried about them. They're younger guys but they've been able to step up and play well when they've gotten the opportunity."

On being prepared to play in Ohio State's stadium:

"You hear that it's a hostile environment and that the crowd is aggressive, but I don't think there is anything you can do to be prepared for that until you experience it yourself. I think we'll be ready when we go down there."

On head coach Lloyd Carr's approach to the game:

"Coach Carr will be Coach Carr. He'll be laid back at times and then do what he needs to do to get the job done. He's going to say what needs to be said and is going to have us ready to play."

On his view of how the defense has performed this year:

"I wouldn't say that we are disappointed with ourselves at all. At times we haven't played as well as we wanted to but we know we can play a lot better."

On Ohio State's offense:

"They have a real good offense. They're determined to run the ball and can run the ball. At the same time, they have some really good receivers who will hit you with big plays. You have to prepare for the whole team and can't focus on one aspect."

Tight End Bennie Joppru

On playing spoiler to Ohio State:

"I do not think that we are looking at it like that. They are 12-0 and having a great year but we are trying to have a great year as well. We are going down there to try to win this game for us. We are not trying to ruin anything for them. As far as spoiling anything, we are not looking to do that."

On the importance of communication during the game and crowd noise:

"It is loud but Notre Dame was loud and Minnesota was loud. Communication in our offense is an important thing. So far we have done a good job but it is something that we are going to have to work on this week."

On Ohio State winning in overtime at Illinois:

"They found a way to win. They have done it the past two weeks and that is the sign of a good team. You struggle through the game and then someone makes a big play. They have some big playmakers on the team. That is a sign of a true team."

On which team he wanted to win:

"I just wanted to see a good game. I just want to play them. I am not concerned with their record. You can throw the records out in this game, as you have seen in the past."

On why Michigan-Ohio State is a great rivalry:

"Besides the two states, it is the last game of the year and it makes or breaks your season every year. If you win that game, chances are you are having a good season. It is a great measuring stick for a season. Both programs realize that, and the fans do too and that is why it is a great rivalry."

On what the players do to pass the rivalry on to younger players:

"I do not know how much the players do it, but Coach Carr and our equipment manager, Jon Falk, do a great job with it. You will have to ask them about that. It is a big game and everyone knows that and understands it."

On if less explanation is needed for this game:

"I came to the 1997 game when I was in high school and got a little taste of it. Then when I came here, the intensity in practice steps up a little extra. I do not know if it is because it is the last game or because it is Ohio State but the intensity level is always up a notch. The freshmen will learn that this week."

On the meaning for him as a senior:

"It is my last game that I am going to play here. I would like to finish with a win but I am going to have to put a lot of work in this week. Hopefully we will get a win."

On this being a defining game for quarterback John Navarre:

"All year I have been saying that John is a great quarterback. I think he has been playing great all year. As far as this being a defining moment for him, I do not think it is. John has had a great year. He has played tough all year and I have all the confidence in the world that he is going to put together his best game of the year."

On if this is a defining moment for the team:

"It makes it easier for us. It is the last game of the year and that is usually what it comes down to. This can make or break your season. We understand that and we are going to put some extra work in this week."

On how John Navarre has improved from last year:

"I think this offense fits him better. He is a lot more confident. You will have to ask him though how he has improved so much."

On the feeling during the game last year:

"I remember at halftime we came in and rallied around each other and knew that we could come back and win."

On if the team needs to play a perfect game to win:

"We are going to play the way we play. We do not want to have turnovers. They really hurt you but if you do commit them you are going to have to deal with them. We understand that and we know that if we want a chance to win this game, we are going to have to be mistake free. We will address that this week in practice."

On if an Ohio State win or loss is more memorable:

"They are both the same. You are going to remember every Ohio State game you play in because it is the last game and it is a big one. I think both will stick just as well."

On what Coach Carr says to motivate the team:

"Coach Carr always has good words of wisdom. What you guys see is what you get and that is what we get too."

On what makes him think John Navarre is going to have his best game:

"I know he is going to prepare extra hard. I think everyone is going to prepare extra hard. I have all the confidence in the world that John is going to come through for us this weekend."

On if the team supported Navarre more this weekend because of what happened last year:

"Not any more that we would have. I am not concerned with last year because it is a completely different team this year. Just looking how he plays, he is tough and he gets up after every hit he takes. You saw the guy from Wisconsin trying to block him on an interception and he just slammed him. He just plays tough and that is the kind of quarterback that you want to protect for and catch balls from. It is the kind of guy you want back there."

On Ohio State's defense:

"They have always had a great defense down there. They have a great front, great linebackers and a great secondary. There is not a weak spot in the defense. I do not know how we are going to do it, but we are going to have to figure something out to attack them with."

On which is a bigger rivalry game, Michigan State or Ohio State:

"Whichever one you are playing that week. This week we are playing Ohio State so it is Ohio State."

On if last year is in the back of his mind:

"No. We are just thinking about this year and this year's game because we are trying to have a great season this year."

On the game plan:

"I think it just goes as the game goes on. The coaches do a great job of calling plays from up top, seeing what coverages the defense is in and putting the receivers in position to make plays."

On being in the spoiler role:

"We are not worried about trying to spoil anyone's season. We are trying to have a great season for ourselves."

On if the team guards itself from saying anything this week:

"I think we are always a little reserved in what we say. It is the same as any other week."

On if Michigan is the underdog this week:

"Anytime you go to Ohio State, a tough place to play, you are going to be the underdog. Obviously we are not favored."

On if Ohio State is a dominant team:

"They have a great defense and an offense that does not turn the ball over. They have playmakers that find ways to win. They are a great team. I do not know where the word 'dominant' fits in there, but I am sure it does."

On people saying this is a down year for the Big Ten, then having three team in the Top 10:

"That just goes to show how much people know about college football. There are ups and downs and surprises every year and it is a crapshoot to predict who is going to win. Everyone said the Big Ten was down, and who would have thought that three team would be in the Top 10?"

On why it is tough to get a national champion out of the Big Ten :

"It is a rough, tough conference. Injuries happen and it is a long year and we just beat each other up all year. I think it is tougher than other conferences."

Defensive Tackle Shawn Lazarus

On what makes the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry special to him:

"I'm from Ohio and I play for the archrival. It's a great tradition and it's always a great football game and you love to play in great football games."

On the difficulty of going from high school football in Ohio to college at U-M:

"It wasn't really that difficult for me. I didn't really follow college football. I didn't have a favorite team. Coming up here I had to make a little adjustment. My family is from the Jackson area and there's some family up in the Petoskey area so I was kind of mixed with ties there."

On the importance of the game given what is at stake for both teams:

"We just want to win the game. What's at stake for us is a possible BCS bid but we don't even really have any control over that. We just want to win the game. That's what's at stake for us. You lose or you win and we want to win."

On Michigan's players who are from Ohio being more intense for this game:

"I've often wondered that question myself. I don't know if you can. I think maybe your epinephrine gets going and you're pumping a little harder or running a little harder. You don't let up when you might in another game. There's nothing that I do differently this week than I do every other week."

On the speaking reservations made leading up to a rivalry game:

"Coach Carr never says anything to any of us before coming in here or at least he hasn't said anything to me. We're aware of what's been said before and we have a mutual respect for each other and I think you just want to maintain that professionalism and that's what you have to keep in mind at all times."

On feeding off of the electric atmosphere at Ohio Stadium:

"In high school I wasn't a huge recruit. I was always the underdog or unsung hero. I enjoy playing in that kind of environment when things are against you."

On Ohio State's offensive line:

"Their offensive line is really good. I'll be playing against Adrien Clarke and Alex Stepanovich and they're very good players and that's what you expect to see playing at Ohio State. Of course, they've got the freshman running back, Maurice Clarett, who has been having a great year. Lydell Ross is doing great too. He's shown that he's been doing a really great job and he can step in there and play. Craig Krenzel can beat you. He can beat you throwing the ball. He can beat you with his legs; if he gets in trouble he starts running. A few weeks ago I saw him run a quarterback sneak and two times he got a first down because he's a good athlete. It's going to be a challenge for us."

On Maurice Clarett's shoulder injury and how Michigan is preparing for him:

"I think he's going to play. I think they want him to play. We'll just have to step up to that challenge."

On Ohio State's fans:

"They're definitely enthusiastic. I wouldn't say they're a different breed. I think they're just really supportive of their team and they want to see them win and do well."

Quarterback John Navarre

On if he has watched the Ohio State tape from last year:

"I have not looked at it at all. The coaches look at from a strategy point but they do some of the same stuff this year as last year, so I think this year's film will be sufficient."

On what went wrong last year:

"I was trying to do too much. Looking back on it, I thought I had to win the game and I did not have to do that. I just had to manage the team, run the offense and we will be in good shape."

On how the team can make plays without beating themselves:

"It is a balance. You do not want to go into the game not to lose. You want to play to win, but at the same time, the winning strategy is to possess the ball, manage the game, ball control and field position. At times those can look like passive strategies, but they are the winning way to do things. If you possess the ball, it is going to come down to who makes the least mistakes. That makes a difference in the game. You want to be aggressive, and when you get your chances to be aggressive you have to capitalize on them. That is going to be the difference in the game."

On if last year was a learning experience for him:

"Yes, it was. Like I said earlier, you learn from it and realize that you do not have to win the game. All I had to do was some things differently and it would have been a different type of ball game. That is a learning experience. You learn the hard way but it is a new year and you move on and you take what you can learn from it and you use that."

On if a low-scoring game is expected:

"You do not want to go in expecting anything. You try to expect certain things throughout the year and they turn out to be different. I am not expecting anything going into this game. I am not expecting it to be low-scoring or high-scoring or anything. I want to prepare as well as I can and get our team as prepared as we can and just go in there and react to the situations that come in front of us."

On Ohio State's defense:

"They are very fundamentally sound and very good. They have a lot of talent and it is not just talent running around on the field. They are smart and they have a good base. They are going to play their defensive lineup and make you beat them. Like I said, the talent that they have ties in with their leaders and they are smart. That is chemistry for a good defense."

On OSU two-way performer Chris Gamble:

"Gamble is guy that is an athlete and steps up and took the role when some guys went down. He has done a great job. They asked a lot of him and he has done a good job with that. He is a guy that we are going to have to keep our eye on."

On what he noticed in the Illinois-Ohio State game and which team he was cheering for:

"The stuff you notice is the football stuff that you can take away from film. You just pick up what you can. The way a team handles certain situations, how guys play late in the game. I was not rooting for either team. When it comes to rivalry games it does not matter what the records are. Each team is going to play just as hard. We were concentrating on Wisconsin and now we are getting ready for Ohio State."

On taking away Ohio State's chances for the Fiesta Bowl:

"That is another one of those spoiler questions. It really does not pertain to us. We have our own goals. Bennie (Joppru) has answered this before and a lot of other guys have too and it is going to come up. We had our goals to get a championship season. We still have a lot of goals in front of us and we want to have a great season. Ohio State is the next step towards those goals, whatever the turnout may be. We have our own goals and we are focused on what we want to do and we are focused on what they do not accomplish but what we do accomplish."

On if he guards against looking at this game as a defining moment:

"Yes. I do not see it as a defining moment. I think it is a defining moment to accomplish your goals at the end of the season. Personally I do not treat it as that. You have to prepare a lot harder and become more focused. It is the end of the season and that is your natural thought. You will still treat it as we have had a good formula for winning the last few games and we want to stick to that and keep pushing on."

On if he guards against saying anything to motivate the other team:

"I think both teams do. You guard against it and it is something that goes through both teams' minds. That has been a trend in the past couple of years and you can say that is the reason why one team lost. It comes down to who plays harder on Saturday."

On if he visualizes himself making plays or succeeding in what the offense is at that moment:

"It is a number of different things. When I said I do not have to make plays all the time, I mean that I do not have to force things. Especially in November when defenses get better and start scouting you, you are only going to get three or four chances to make a big play. It is the same with Ohio State. That is what (Craig) Krenzel has been doing. When you get the chance to make those plays you have to capitalize on them. That is what Krenzel has done and that is what we have done the past few games. You are only going to get a limited number of opportunities against a good defense, especially in November, to make big plays. That is the difference in a championship team and winning and losing a game. When those plays present themselves in Saturday's game, I am going to have to make them."

On if the Wisconsin game served as a reminder to take care of the football:

"Definitely. It is hard to win a football game when you turn the ball over like that. We played hard. Wisconsin was a good defense and Ohio State has a good defense. Turning the ball over, you are not going to win the law of averages there and win a football game."

On if he feels added pressure because of last year:

"I do not feel personal pressure because like I said, I did not have to win the game last year and I do not have to win it this year. I do have to do what it takes to run the offense and manage the game. I think the only thing I put on myself is I have to do my job and manage the game. That is a lot of different things and everything plays into that. If I would have managed the game last year I think we would have given ourselves a better chance. You can manage a game well and still lose, but when you do not manage the game you do not give your team a chance. You take that side of the ball out of the game."

On managing the game at Ohio State with its crowd:

"The focus has to be stepped up. We are going to prepare for the crowd noise. It is a hostile environment. I think we have done a good job all year and in the past preparing to play in hostile environments. It is going to be one of the most hostile, loudest places in the Big Ten and that just adds in with the focus. You have to block out and whether you are home or away, it is still third down and seven that you have to convert. It is still fourth-and-one on the goal line. No matter where you are, you are still playing football whether it is 110,000 people or 10 people, you are still going to play football. The focus part of that is that you have to block that out and still play football."

On if it helps having traveled two years ago even though he did not play:

"Yes, it does. You know what to expect and you know how it is going to be and it is easier to prepare for that. I think that is a comforting factor. That is something that you do not have to worry about. It is not a question mark in your mind preparing for the game. You know what to expect and you say this is how it is going to be so now we are going to work on this part of the game. It is definitely easier to prepare."

On the toughest road game as a starter and how Ohio State compares:

"As a starter the toughest place was probably Iowa or Purdue. Washington was very loud. Not as a starter I would still say that Ohio State is the toughest place to play. I was not a starter but I was on the sidelines and I held in special teams. I was involved and I was in the mix of the game with strategies and stuff like that. I know how it is and I still say that that is the toughest place to play."

On the atmosphere on the field:

"I think it is like any other big game. Guys are going to play within the rules but they are going to play hard. I think every team in the Big Ten plays hard. The difference is that the other factors do not get talked about -- the fans and driving up to the stadium and the boos and the snickers and the roar in the stadium and stuff that you do not see on TV all the time but is an aspect of the rivalry. It is not going to be any different than the typical Ohio State-Michigan Big Ten football game. That is the way it is going to be on Saturday."

On how Coach Carr treats the game:

"He wants to make sure you are aware of the type of game it is going to be, the tradition that is on the line and what this game is about. He wants to get you prepared for it. That is the way he treats this game. He wants to get you prepared, to let you know what this game is about and to get you ready."

On the intensity of the players:

"That definitely builds up as you get into the season. There is a heightened intensity with Coach Carr and with everybody because we can taste our goals at the end of the season and it is right there. We have to go out and get it and that takes an extra level of intensity and we have to step up."

On if the season is not successful without a win against Ohio State:

"That is tough to say. Guys at Michigan always want a successful season, and a successful season around here has different definition than at other schools. Winning that game is ending the season on a positive note, but I cannot say that I have been a part of a team where we define our season on one game, whether it is Ohio State or any other team."

On winning at Ohio State two years ago:

"That was big. We shared the Big Ten title and had a great season. We were not defined in that one game but we won the Big Ten championship there and we beat Ohio State at Ohio State. That was a definite positive season for us."

On if the naked bootleg is still in the playbook:

"I do not know. We have to start the game plan and talk to the coaches."

Offensive Tackle Tony Pape

On whether he'll be playing left tackle or right tackle against Ohio State:

"I don't know. I don't know what the game plan is for this week. Whatever they have me do I'll be ready to play either side."

On motivation techniques heading into the Ohio State game:

"You don't really need motivation for this game. The game itself is motivation. We're playing Ohio State. We're playing one of our biggest rivals of the year. You don't need any outside motivators for this game. It's really easy to get up for this game."

On the game being bigger considering what's on the line for Ohio State:

"It's just as big to us as it would be to any team. We're playing our season, a 10-2 season. We hope to finish off with a great year. We're not worried about their season and how we make them feel."

On still having a solid season even though a Big Ten championship is out of reach:

"If we finish with a win that's a 10-2 season. That's a fantastic season. The Big Ten has shown to be very strong this year and it didn't work out how we wanted to but we can only control what we can do and that's prepare for Ohio State."

On players not saying anything inflammatory about the opponent for this game:

"It's been said that these games have been won and lost on Monday morning. We try not to say anything bad about each other. We're taught to be careful about our words and be respectful to the other team."

On the large media contingent that is going to follow this game through the week:

"It's exciting because the game has a special aura about it. It goes down as one of the greatest rivalries in college football. It's a special game. Everybody in the country is going to be watching the game because it's two great teams this year. No matter where the teams are ranked it's always one of the greatest games of the season and the teams are going to give it their best on that Saturday."

On the difficulty of hearing John Navarre's calls with the crowd noise:

"I think we're pretty well prepared for that. We've played in some pretty tough stadiums this year and last year. We've had some experience on the line especially being prepared for the loud crowd and obnoxious fans. I think we'll be prepared for that."

On the stories surrounding Ohio State's fan behavior:

"Ohio State is one of the toughest crowds to play in front of. You hear stories about them and they have loyal fans and sometimes they don't like it when we come in there."

On feeding off of the negative energy that opposing fans generate:

"It's definitely fun to go into a different place and beat a team at home. It's tough to go into somebody's territory in front of their own fans and beat them. It's definitely enjoyable."

On learning from last year's loss:

"Last year we started off rough. We got down quick and we just need to learn from what we did last year and correct the places where we made mistakes."

On the Michigan running backs' performances of late:

"They're running with a lot of intensity. I'm really excited about it because they've had a great season so far and we hope they finish the rest of the season with some rushing yards."

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