Carr Speaks to the Press

Lloyd Carr spoke to the media in his weekly Monday press conference, discussing the loss to Ohio State.

On not running as well in the second half at Ohio State:

"I look at a game, and there are some things that we did statistically that were probably beyond what I thought we would be able to do, in terms of time of possession, our third-down conversions, and I thought we did a tremendous job in the kicking game. It was our absolute best performance of the year. All of those things were negated by two things. The turnover came at a critical time. We only had seven penalties in that game, but every one of them hurt us. It is hard to make 10 yards against Ohio State. That is a great defense. When you put yourself in first-and-15, it changes the things that you are trying to do. We were very successful in the first half. There were several times when we ran on first down, ran on second down, came up third-and-three and threw for the first down. Then you have an opportunity to attack tendencies. When you have a 16-play drive and a 19-play drive and do not come up with any touchdowns, that is how you get beat. We just could not find a way to get the ball in the end zone.

"We had some good opportunities in the second quarter. We got the ball down there and we had a very well-executed play where he had the ball momentarily in the end zone and the ball just trickled away. It was a little bit thrown behind him, but it was one of those plays that we could not finish. I think the next play we were going to throw into the end zone again. We had the matchup that we wanted and we missed out protection and let a guy come through and hit John (Navarre). Our offensive line played as well as they could play. They played aggressively, they played with effort against an outstanding defense. There were a lot of blitzes in that game and they did a great job of protecting the quarterback. I thought we had a wonderful plan in terms of being able to run the football. We did some new things in there that enabled us to keep drives moving because we were not in third-and-long situations. I thought there were some good holes in there and some good plays but we just could not get into the end zone."

On right end Bennie Joppru and possible replacements for next season:

"I do not remember, since I have been at Michigan, a tight end having a better season. Bennie (Joppru) has surprised a lot of people with the way he ended spring practice. I am just disappointed that he did not do that for three years, because that is what he is capable of. The great news is that this kid has changed his life and that he is going to have a lot of success at the next level. He has been a tremendous leader. He is fun to go out on the field with. The last three weeks, every Wednesday of Thursday he would come up to me and say, 'Coach, are you ready?' and I would say, 'I am ready if you are ready.' He was fun to coach. He was a great practice player. Practice, from a coaching standpoint, is one of the most enjoyable parts of the coaching profession, if you have guys that have a great attitude and love to come to practice, do not mind the cold, do not mind the heat and have fun trying to get better. That is the kind of season it has been here because Bennie Joppru is a great leader as all of our seniors are. They were tremendous. They never made excuses and they never got down.

"In the course of any season, you are going to have some problems. All of those things are just part of it. It was a fun year. I think Tim Massaquoi got better and better as the season went on. Remember, he came to me after spring practice to move to tight end. He is a wonderfully talented guy. I think he has made real strides. He is very athletic. He can run and he will block you. You are always concerned when a guy moves from wide receiver of how well he is going to adapt to the physical part of it. When you are blocking those defensive ends that way, that takes a will and a determination. Some guys get in there and that is not fun all of the time. There is always a dirty part to any job. He has done a good job there. Andy Mignery got some snaps in there. There is no one more motivated in the world than Andy Mignery. He is a fun kid to be around and I think that Andy is going to help us. Of course, Jim Fisher was hurt much of this year. We will have good competition there."

On which bowl game Michigan will play in:

"I have no idea. There are so many things that could still happen. I do not want to guess because I do not want to be wrong."

On if he can see a scenario where Iowa is not invited to the Rose Bowl:

"That will be an interesting decision. I would hope, but it is a different day. If that happens, I think it would be a tremendous disappointment, obviously for Iowa. When I watch the Rose Bowl, I like to see teams from the Big Ten and the Pac-10. I do not think it is beyond the realm of possibility, but I am saying that strictly from things that I hear. I do not know how well-founded they are though."

On having two unbeaten Big Ten teams that do not play each other:

"You have a team that is going to play in the national championship game and they are co-champions."

On if the team will follow the same travel plans this year as in the past:

"I am wrestling with that. Some of that will depend on where we go. We probably are not going to go as early as we have because of final exams and being unable to practice with a full squad because of the conflicts that are created. You could do it but you are going to have to practice late at night or early in the morning but that is not conducive to doing well in academics or in football. That is something that I want to look at."

On the improvement of the offensive line:

"The performance is always a reflection of the coaching that they are getting. I think David Baas was a very young, inexperienced player. I told you in the spring that the day would come when he would be a great football player. I still think that day is going to come. I think David Baas is vastly improved and should now be able to play that position with confidence based on the success that he has had and the experience and repetition and knowing what he has to do. I think Dave Pearson just made unbelievable strides, when you consider the first time he had ever been on the offensive line was this spring. In high school he played fullback, tight end and linebacker. What he has done is due to an incredible determination, toughness and intelligence. I though he really got better as the season went on. (Adam) Stenavich missed a lot of playing time with that injury, but I think he gained enough experience that he is going to have confidence. I thought Courtney Morgan played well on Saturday. I think he is at the right position at right tackle. David Petruziello finished the season very well."

On when he thinks the next great offensive line will emerge:

"I think that we were set back some because of injuries. We lost Matt Lentz for a few weeks and we lost (Adam) Stenavich. I think part of playing as an offensive line and becoming an exceptional unit is that you need to be able to play together and we did have a lot of different lineups in there. The good news there is that it improves your depth. Of course when young players miss their opportunities it retards their development. I don't know where we are, but I do know this -- we're much better than when the season started."

On the impressive statistical output against Ohio State:

"For the last three weeks we had run the football very, very well. I attribute that to the fact that our offensive line improved. I think B.J. Askew has had an incredible season. That's the only way I can describe it. I think when you look at what he's done for this team and the role that he's embraced, I think he's had a big impact on everybody. We lost Zach Kaufman as the slot on our punt team and we had taken B.J. off of that. He had done it down throughout his career but going into Columbus we put him into that position. It was not something that we wanted to do but we had to have him because of the significance of that position. He went in there and did it. He's the wing on the field goal team, which is a thankless, tough job and you're always taking a beating at that position. He did that all year long. I think the key is that we gained confidence offensively. I think John Navarre's grasp of what we were trying to do got better and better as the season went on. Confidence is something you can't buy. In most cases it's a wonderful thing but it comes very seldom without a lot of pain and we had some of that. I think we got better as a group of people working together."

On the players' mentality heading toward a bowl game after the loss at Ohio State:

"I can't speak to that right now. We met yesterday and we didn't talk a lot about bowl games because that's not something you get over in one night. If I know this team like I think I do I'd think that they'll be motivated to finish the season. One of the goals that they set back in training camp and last January was to be able to have the type of team that could finish the season and be better, stronger and tougher in November. I think we did that. There's one more game and we'll have to see how we do."

On the places where improvement has been made or still needs to be made:

"I think early I look at the Washington game. Washington is a game that we, in my judgment, controlled most of the game. We had control of the football game and we lost it (control) because we gave up some big plays. Then in our first loss we gave up some big plays. I do think as the season went on that we improved in that area, which I don't think you can have a good team if you have a defense that is going to give up a lot of big plays. Offensively, the thing we would like to do is have some more big plays, some gains that come out of there. We had some of those throughout the course of the season. When you get a chance to break a big play those are plays that break games open. Certainly we'd like to do a better job in that. I thought our kicking game improved dramatically from the beginning in terms of what Adam Finley did. I think he has punted the football as well as any punter we've ever had at Michigan. What he did on Saturday, kicking three field goals, going in there, I'm sure, without a lot of confidence. He reads the paper and all he read was how bad we were and he went in under the greatest of pressures and made three wonderful kicks. He punted the ball really well. I think our kicking game was much better than it's been in the final game and hopefully we can continue that."

On getting over a loss to Ohio State:

"The most important thing is to get ready for the next time. That's the wonderful thing about competition. There's always a next time. It's not always with the same team because those things change. If you get the right people they'll respond because it's competition and I think we have great people."

On specific things that characterize this year's team:

"I don't want to do that until the season's over. The challenge this team had was coming off of last season. There were tremendous questions about the toughness of this program, the guys in it and their ability. They had to confront all the questions anytime you aren't as successful as you would like to be. At Michigan that standard is extremely high. This team from the very beginning had to deal with all the questions in terms of playing with great effort, great attitude, great enthusiasm and the type of toughness that it takes. I don't think anybody can question that about this team now."

On Michigan actually receiving praise for the way it played even though it lost:

"I told them in the locker room after the game that when you walk out of this stadium you walk out with your heads high. You have nothing to be ashamed of. (But) there's no substitute for winning."

On recruiting efforts:

"Our assistant coaches are on the road today. The first day of official contacts off-campus is next Sunday. I'll be on the road Sunday. The next two weekends we'll have official visits here in Ann Arbor. We'll bring the kids that we're interested in for the weekend and then that next week we'll begin some bowl preparations. I'll spend the next few days looking at that schedule because one of the things that I got yesterday was our exam schedule for our players so that we know what we have to deal with in terms of the conflicts that come as a result of that. Hopefully, these guys can get home for at least a couple of days. That's one of the things that I think is very important."

On having recruits visit during game weekends vs. after the season is over:

"I think the advantage is that they get the feel of the campus on a game weekend. They get the excitement of going to Michigan Stadium when it's full. When they come in here in December and January and we take them to the stadium it's not quite the same. From that point of it there's an advantage, but the downside of visits during the season is that there is a lot of time on Saturday that the coaches are wrapped up. From 7:00 in the morning when we get up until 7:00 or 8:00 in the evening when I get out of here after press conferences and 'Michigan Replay' there is no time for me to recruit. You don't have the contact on campus. There are positives and negatives. What I like is when the parents can come in during the weekend in December. I think the parents are important, particularly if you're recruiting kids that are from out of state. Most of the other guys have been here. Their parents have been here down through the years many times. When you're recruiting a guy out of state, what I feel is very important is getting the parents here so that they can meet our coaches, doctors, trainers, faculty and get a feel for what we're all about. They can see the way we're going to conduct this program and the people that their son is going to be associated with."

On supporting Ohio State in the national title game since it is a Big Ten member:

"I think Ohio State will represent the Big Ten Conference very well. I don't know who they're going play but I think it's going to take a great team to beat them."

On how the public and the media expected the Big Ten to have a down year:

"Everybody that follows college football has an opinion with regard to that. I think the truth is that year in and year out if you had a national championship where you took the eight best teams in the country every year you'd always have a Big Ten team in there. The Big Ten Conference, over an extended period of time, would win as many national championships as anybody."

On whether he and the team would rather go to the Outback Bowl or the Capital One Bowl:

"I think the truth is that our players do not want to go to Orlando. I do not think, honestly, the people in Orlando want Michigan back. I don't think our fans want to go there because one of the problems that we have with our hookup is that you have this type of possibility. Our players want a change. I don't think there's any secret about that. They do a great job in Orlando. That's a top-notch bowl. They do things the right way and you're always going to play an outstanding opponent, but I think they'd like a change."

The Michigan Insider Top Stories