Lloyd Carr on Gator Preparation

Lloyd Carr discusses a wide variety of topics on the team's preparation for the Florida Gators.

On leaving early to go down to Florida:

"I wanted to make sure that our kids were agreeable to that. The downside to leaving early is missing the Christmas holiday. Some of our guys have done that for five years now. I was pleasantly surprised that they all wanted to go down early and do the things we've done the last few years. Anytime they're agreeable to that, it makes it a lot easier to concentrate on the things that we need to get done."

On the team's schedule:

"We're going to practice in St. Petersburg from Dec. 21-24. In the mornings we will have short practices with emphasis on the special teams. In the afternoon we will get into our regular practices. We'll have a short practice tomorrow morning, but most of our game plan will be implemented down there in the three days prior to Christmas."

On the inside linebacker position against Florida:

"Florida, from a structure standpoint, is mostly a one-back team. Victor Hobson's move to inside linebacker should work well. You can look for (Scott) McClintock and Hobson to start at the inside linebacker positions."

On Florida:

"I think Florida is an outstanding football team. They have great team speed. Defensively, they're third in the nation in total defense. When I look at their schedule, they've gone through some outstanding football teams. I don't think anyone has played a much more difficult schedule than they have played. To be third in the nation in total defense is very impressive. I think they have a very good front four. They had three defensive backs on the All-SEC team, which will tell you a lot about their ability on the back end. When you have that kind of talent in the secondary, it makes it difficult to gain a lot of yards. They haven't given up a lot of big plays. Offensively, Rex Grossman is a tremendous quarterback. They're first in the SEC in total offense. They have great receivers; I think (Taylor) Jacobs is right there with the great receivers that we've seen this year. I think Ernest Graham is an outstanding tailback. Florida is a team that wants to spread you out and create one-on-one situations either between the secondary and the receivers or the linebackers and the running backs. It's a well-coached football team with outstanding talent. I think it's going to be a great football game."

On the opportunity for his assistants to become head coaches, such as Brady Hoke at Ball State:

"I think they're all good candidates. Brady has done a tremendous job at Michigan. He's a great recruiter. Anytime we have a guy that has an opportunity to become a head coach, it's exciting. You want the best for them and you want what they want. These are men that have goals and aspirations. One of the things I try to do is hire people that have the potential to become head coaches. These guys are goal-oriented and have great motivation to be the best that they can be. One of the things that I hope I can do is help them as they move through their careers. It's never a difficult time because you're helping them reach their goals."

On playing Florida in its home state:

"Almost every bowl game we go to is a road game. You have to treat it as an away game because when you get there, the media is going to be SEC and Florida oriented. The crowd is going to be predominantly Florida. We'll have a very good crowd there, so we'll have very good support. But you have to approach this game as a road game."

On getting the younger players prepared:

"We will spend part of every practice working with the younger kids, developing them at their position. We will try to evaluate their abilities to switch positions. One of the key elements of coaching is to try to get the right people in the right positions."

On Iowa going to the Orange Bowl instead of the Rose Bowl:

"The matchup in the Orange Bowl is a great matchup. The Orange Bowl is a tremendous venue. The people down there do a tremendous job. When you look at the Rose Bowl from a traditional standpoint, this year's matchup is a change. In the past few years, we've seen a lot of traditions that have ended. You have to deal with the reality that the BCS has changed everything."

On Florida quarterback Rex Grossman:

"He's been in a lot of big games. Many consider him the best high school quarterback to come out of Indiana. He has a great arm and is very athletic. He can throw the football under duress with great accuracy. He can throw the ball on the run and he can also run it. He can hurt you in a lot of different ways."

On the status of Julius Curry:

"Julius is fine. He's close to full strength. By game time, he'll be at full strength."

On John Navarre:

"I think he's worked hard. His experience has helped him. Becoming a great quarterback is a process. You have to suffer to gain experience, especially when you play young. When you get an opportunity to play as a sophomore, you're going to suffer. It's too complicated a position to play without making mistakes. When you play at a high-profile program where you're expected to win every time you go out, it creates a pressure. It's hard to have confidence unless you've had success. I think he's studied extremely hard and has worked hard physically. His knowledge and understanding of the position are also much better."

On the offensive line:

"I thought the last four games we have made tremendous strides in that area. David Baas had an exceptional year. I think Adam Stenavich suffered because of the time he missed with the injury but I think he'll leave this season with tremendous confidence. I think Dave Pearson improved dramatically from the first game. Tony Pape was our best guy going in there and I think he had a very good year. We've got some young guys that have done a lot of work and I think that our offensive line will be one of our strengths going into the fall."

On Stenavich and Lentz:

"Both of those kids missed some critical time and you can't get better if you aren't playing."

On the younger players or positions that he looks at particularly during spring practice:

"If you have a position problem or an area that you are thin because of graduation losses or whatever, you deal with that issue by trying to move people and strengthen yourself from a depth standpoint. But in terms of developing your football team, you are trying to develop every single guy and the way that you do that is to give them as many repetitions as possible and to put them into competitive situations so that he can learn from the competition. That is how you get better."

On changing bowl practice after not winning last year's game:

"We will develop all of our practice plans in the next two days, but you are always looking to improve. You always change to some degree, but you may change your meeting schedule or other things that are circumstantial. We are in a position because of injuries at linebacker that will impact some of our practices because we don't have the ability to do that without taking too big of a risk. That is something that we would rather not have, but that is where we are and what we will deal with. We are not going to change dramatically though."

On John Navarre's development over the season:

"He has done a great job managing the game. The communication aspect of playing quarterback is vital but difficult. I should bring some of our plays in here and let you communicate them to the rest of the group. You would be amazed at just that aspect. In the NFL, the coach gets on a microphone and tells the quarterback what the play is in certain circumstances and they have a few seconds longer to do it than you do in college. In just dealing with getting in the huddle and if you stumble or miss a word on a 10-word play, then somebody in there doesn't know what to do. Just managing the huddle and what's going on at the line of scrimmage and doing it in 25 seconds is a very difficult challenge. You have to be smart and intelligent to do that. He has always been good at that because he works so hard, but we changed some things this year, which means he had more to learn. I think his confidence is better and his progression has been tremendous. I laugh because all the experts out there talk about the quarterback glues onto a receiver. That is hilarious some of the things I hear. I think that he did a tremendous job in terms of the progression of things he has to do once the ball is snapped."

On the seniors passing the torch to the younger guys:

"Well, we will see next fall."

On there being any legitimacy to the stereotypes concerning team speed heading into this game:

"I think that you will find out on New Year's Day. If there is a tremendous disparity, then in most cases you are going to lose. So my point is that we won't know until then and we will find out a lot about that then. When we played Alabama in the Orange Bowl that is all we heard. Every time we play somebody down there. Well, we have won a few times. It doesn't bother me because I don't look at it that way. If you are one of those people that buys into those perceptions because there are some teams that you will line up against that are faster. Then you have to try to develop a plan in which you can win anyway. That is the beauty of the game."

On the argument stemming from last year's game against Tennessee being fair:

"They had a great football team. That was as good of a football team that I have ever played against. Speed, yeah, but it wasn't just speed."

On his thoughts on the Fiesta Bowl:

"I think that it will be a great game and I look forward to watching it."

On feeling that the team is better prepared for the bowl game this year as compared to last year:

"It is an entirely different team because a year ago we had replaced almost every guy that was playing. The things that you learn going through your first experiences starting or playing 13 games is something that you can only learn how tough it is by going through it. Last year I think we wore down physically and mentally, which was obvious. I don't think that happened to us this year because I thought that we were a better team at the end of the year than we were at the beginning. I thought we got better in a lot of areas in spite of our situation defensively at linebacker. I thought we competed hard and I think that it is a much different situation."

On how he allocates the last scholarships he has left -- by best available player, first-come, first-served or filling in certain holes:

"Well, you look at all those things. If you have met your needs, then you take the best player. If you haven't met your needs then you have to take a little bit different tact to fill a certain position. You may wait on somebody that you normally wouldn't. It always has a way of working out although it doesn't always work out the way you want it to. It is always interesting because there are always some surprises both ways. It is different every year. I like where we are right now."

On the role seniors play in the bowl game:

"I think that it is a team sport, but I do think seniors have a tremendous impact from a leadership standpoint. If you have seniors that are looking beyond the bowl game, thinking about things that aren't connected with their last game then you are going to have a hard time winning. There are always other issues out there like postseason bowl games and the (NFL) combines. So sometimes there are all kinds of distractions for everybody. The team that deals with those the best has a real advantage on game day."

On this game being a defining point of a successful season:

"I don't look back. We have a one-game season. That is the way that I look at bowl games to have the best chance to be successful because you do have some time off. You are going to operate under entirely different circumstances because you will be on the road for an extended number of days, which makes it entirely different. Your seniors want to go out as winners because that is going to be your last memory. You are going to play against a quality opponent and you are representing the Big Ten Conference. Some people are going to look at that game as a gauge as to what kind of a season you had."

On the shifting of another player to linebacker:

"I don't think so. But it could change. I am not being evasive ... well, maybe I am. We might change one, but that's all I'll say."

On Philip Brabbs and Troy Nienberg still competing for the kicking duties:

"You base your decision somewhat on practice, but mostly on how they perform in game competition. Adam (Finley) certainly did a great job in Columbus, but that doesn't mean that the other guys still aren't practicing. So you look at that, but we will go into this game with Finley doing the placekicking."

On how well coaches know each other and how that plays into the mind games surrounding bowl game preparation:

"The best way that you know about a coach is by what you see on film. I have no idea what Ron (Zook) knows about me, and I think that down through the years you know the guys that have been coaching. I remember when Ron was at Ohio State. I had a chance to visit with him a little bit the other day when we were in Tampa and I think that he is an outstanding football coach and I like the way his team has played. In terms of developing his program, you don't do that overnight. I like everything about him. He is a hard worker, an outstanding recruiter and he knows the game."

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