Graham Says Just Keep Working

Michigan SR defensive endBrandon Graham on what went wrong against Illinois, bouncing back from the loss, playing loose, being a leader, and more.

Question:  Watching the film, what was the most disappointing thing you saw?

Brandon Graham:  "I haven't seen it yet.  I got to do in today.  I haven't really seen it."

Question:   Without seeing the film, what was the most disappointing thing?

Brandon Graham:  "Just losing.  Working so hard for that work and still didn't have the outcome…it still hurt.  It don't frustrate me because I know we going to come in today and we going to work hard and work toward Purdue.  We know that we can get it back, why not try to go get one.  We got three games left, four games – we trying to go for a bowl and that's a goal right now."

Question:  How big of a game this is with the chance to be bowl eligible with a win.

Brandon Graham:  "Yeah.  It's a real big game.  We know Purdue going to come in and try to beat us at our own house.  We know that there is a lot at stake for this game to clinch a spot in a bowl.  That's what we trying to this week and that's real big.  I'm going to explain it to them when I get there to practice today."

Question:  Do you think that if you get that sixth win this weekend, it'll take some weight off your shoulders and you guys will be able to play looser going into Wisconsin?

Brandon Graham:  "I don't think that we going to be so tight but we know that it is an important game.  Hopefully after we beat Purdue, it'll calm down a little bit, a little pressure off of us.  I don't think that it is going to be too much pressure, because we know that we let a couple games slip and we just got to keep progressing and keep working and make sure that we keep it cooking.  At the end of the season and hopefully have four games to go."

Question:  Rich mentioned that some of the guys may be playing tight and he mentioned you as someone who plays very loosely; how do you get yourself to just let it all out?

Brandon Graham:  "Some of it comes with experience I guess. Some of them out there getting thrown out there because some people not stepping up as much as coach wants them to and just throw them out there.  I think they doing a good job of listening to coach.  Sometimes, a lot of people try to make plays that are not there plays and that's how big plays happen.  That's what I see that has been happening to us these past couple of weeks."

Question:  Did you have to learn how to play loose?   When you were young did you think too much on the field?

Brandon Graham:  "Yeah, I always wanted to make a play and just wanted to let them know that I was capable of making plays and doing my assignment at the same time but, you just get nervous just being out there on the field for the first time.  That second year, you still kind of nervous because you just want to make sure that everything is right and you want to make sure that you hold up your end.  I understand that, but just got to let it go.  It comes in time and I believe that they will end up playing loose sooner or later."

Question:  How much did that second half slide against Illinois was mental after things started go wrong?

Brandon Graham:  "After that goal line stance, it became more mental, because we had the physical part down, we just got to keep our composure, play smart and get the ball back.  It just didn't happen like that and they just took over.  The momentum shifted – I seen it.  You could kind of see it because of the bounce when they come out of the huddle and they just looked ready to go like they had a chance.  That's what we was trying to take away from them, because we knew they were a good team and they had big time players and they stepped up at the right time."

Question:  Is it frustrating for you as a senior that you three or four more games go, to watch a game like that slip out of control?

Brandon Graham:  "Yeah it's frustrating.  I was frustrated a little bit.  Stuff happens for a reason.  Maybe this just wasn't our game was to win.  Maybe this game right here and the rest of the games are the games for us to win and they just wanted to see us finish strong.  I don't know, I just believe that if we keep working stuff is going to happen.  It just hasn't been working in our favor these past couple of games."

Question:  I was just curious, internally what strides has the team and program made that maybe we don't see from last year to this year?  How much further along are you guys?

Brandon Graham:  "We just more in tune with what coach trying to do.  I think that it is going to get even better for next year or two.  I think people are starting to understand the scheme of things on both sides of the ball.  I think everybody is starting to get it a little bit better each week, but we still progressing.  A lot of people need to just really trust and believe in coach and know that he is going to put you in the right situation because I just think a lot of people just want to make other people's play instead of their assignment first.  That's what I see on our all side of the ball on defense; I don't know about offense."

Question:  Was it a tear it up to build it up type thing; did everything have to go back to square one last year like it did in order to build it back up and get this to be a championship level program?

Brandon Graham:  "Coach, he just stress that last year was over with and we were just going to start a clean slate, nobody is guaranteed nothing and nobody is starting and all this, you got to work.  Everybody worked and for us to have this type of season that's five and four, it just don't show, but I know we put in a lot of time and effort.  It just hasn't happened for us."

Question:  Did you know during camp that the defense could have some issues or were things going better at that point?

Brandon Graham:  "We was just so excited that the season was almost here and everything was looking good in practice, but we knew that we was going to get tested on game day because it is always different.  Practice is going to be practice.  You are going to look good in practice, you just try to do your assignment in practice and make sure that you in the area of where coach wants you to be and it was looking good but in the game it was something else.  It was good all the way to the losses.  I don't know – we going to be alright."

Question:  You've mentioned quite a few times that you guys have put in the effort; at this point with three games to go Brandon is now mental; has there been a loss of confidence the last few games?  Now with you as the team leader, do you have to get these guys…?

Brandon Graham:  "Yeah, I've just got to let them know.  Don't worry about what's going on, you got three to four games left and it is all about what you got to decide to make sure that you work as hard as you can so that we can win these last three, so we can get this fourth.  That's just how I'm going to bring it.  I'm just going to tell them it's all about your heart now.  We done talked about it and we just said so much, now it is all about if you really want to do it and that's all it is.  We already know how it feels to lose, lets get back on that winning streak that we started off with.  I believe that everybody on the team is going to be right along with me and they going to be ready to go."

Question:  How do you give that speech; like is it during practice, is it in the locker room?

Brandon Graham:  "It could be during the break of the huddle before practice.  A lot of people, they really tuned in to them breaks on practice, especially when their teammates talking, because we show a lot of respect for each other and the coaches.  So they are going to listen to everything that I got to say or any senior got to say, because Coach Rod always call on the seniors to break down the huddle and somebody is always giving a speech.  I believe they going to take heed to it and prove everybody wrong."

Question:  So you plan to do that?

Brandon Graham:  "Yeah."

Question:  Do you think about what you're going to say ahead of time?

Brandon Graham:  "Sometimes I just let it flow.  Just off the moment, what's been going on, what's been said already and what I believe is right and what's wrong – what we need to do.  Sometimes I think about it, like before games, I always think about what I'm going to say because I be nervous, just as nervous as everybody else until that first hit.  So I just think what am I going to say to get these motivated to get their mind off the game a little bit and off their assignments, because I know a lot of people think about what their supposed to do and who coach is going to call.  We just want to make them feel comfortable, let them know – just go out there and play.  At the end of the day, all you can say is you went 100%... that he showed that he put forth the effort to try to make the plays and try to do his assignment."

Question:  You really still get nervous before games?

Brandon Graham:  "Oh yeah.  Always get nervous, yeah, always get nervous.  I might not show it because I don't want the (his young teammates to see it), but they should know, everybody get nervous – everybody, until that first hit and then it's like okay."

Question:  On what the offense not scoring more points did to the defense?

Brandon Graham:  "It hurt, because we just was in the red zone so many times and for us not to convert and just to get field goals in the first half that hurt it and then in the second half we really couldn't do nothing just turnovers killed us again.  I don't know, we just got to keep pushing."

Question:  Do you feel like as a defense that you guys let down?

Brandon Graham:  "We did, but we just said that weren't going to quit and that's what I was telling them.  Don't quit on us, because you never know what might happen.  The ball could come out, and we score on defense and we back in the game.  Anything could happen, just like the blocked punt.  I was just trying to make a play because you never know, you never know.  Just like how quick we came back on Wisconsin just off an interception right after the next possession, you never know.  The game is not over that's all I kept preaching.  Until it says 0:00 that's when you can stop, but just keep going and that's all I can say."

Question:  Brandon you guys have not forced a turnover in now I believe three games; what do you attribute that too?

Brandon Graham:  "Just got to keep working.  Just got to keep practicing our turnover drills and learn how to strip that ball a little bit more because we got to have everybody try and get it.  It came out a couple of times, but we didn't get it.  The ball bounced their way, but other than that, we just need to keep practicing and it'll come out."

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