Once again Coach Randy Walker was talking from home
as he recovers from his illness. First his opening statement:What is your doctor ordered schedule like now?
First of all, just a recap on the Penn State game. As I said after the game, and I continue - I'm really proud of our kids, its a very tough venue and again, just listening to Joe [Paterno] waiting to get my turn, someone talked about his young football team and I really think they are a football team on the horizon.
They have a lot of young players who are going to be back next year, get a year better and I think every one is going to look out for them next year, and we knew we were going into a tough situation, and we were able to go in there and get a victory, get back on the plane and now face another demanding test.
Going to Ann Arbor isn't any easier. Its one of the great venues in college football, one of the great programs, and [Michigan Coach] Lloyd [Carr] has his team playing extrememly well and you look at 'em - and I've defined them this way - they continue to have just great diversity on both sides of the ball. You look at them from top to bottom and they have quality players and great team speed - its hard to find a lot of weakness with Michigan football teams, but as I always do, I try to focus and emphasize our football team, what we have to do to play well, that's all you can do in this business.
We know we're playing a great football team, and a great program and tradition, but we still get back and focus on ourselves. We again find ourselves with a lot to play for - that's good this time of year. We continue to be excited about our football team, and we think we're making progress, getting better each week, and we need to make big strides this week.
I'm home now [Tuesday at 12:30 PM]. What I do is I come in in the morning, go in the office and plan practice, give some direction, kinda hang around until 11 O'clock. I come home and kinda hit back in the easy chair, I usually bring some tape with me and put it in the TV but its a lot more relaxing here.Are the players giving you a good ribbing about your schedule?
Nobody's calling, there are no crisis' here at the Walker house so I just kinda sit around and watch some tape and I'll cruise back in there about 2 O'clock in time for meetings and then go through practice but the way my doctors kind of decided - its going to be about a 4 week, 5 or 6 week type of recovery and I guess the prognosis is great. I had a great visit with my doctor last week. I've turned the corner and things are going well. Expect a full recovery. I am going to be tired. Its going to take a little while to get my strength back.
There's some good stuff - our kids are real good and I can't say enough about the family and even our players. Its one thing you expect moms and dads to send you cards and best wishes but even the kids, "Hey Coach, you doing all right? OK?"Talk about Soph O-Lineman Joe Tripodi and his future at NU.
It makes you feel good but I reassure them all the time, yeah I'm doing great - we're ready to go.
Its really good. He had a couple of injuries that set him back - this is probably the longest stretch of continue practice time we've had with Joe. We've had him virtually all season.Talk about the play of Linebacker Tim McGarigle [AP Photo below].
He's our first backup at the Guard position and he's done a lot of work, a lot of quality reps and we'll continue to bring him along.
Its probably frustrating for him, no one likes to be a backup but I really see him with some growth. I comment many times with our line coach, James Patton, and said, "Boy I see some good things in Joe."
I think he's poised and ready. He's always been a hard worker, great strength and all those things you try to develop in the off season, so we see a great Spring Ball and I think we see a lot of Joe Tripodi.
Tim's a special player for us and as I've said often, I thing that probably, a lot of guys gifted as him, but his passion and intensity for the game are unmatched.Playing Michigan off of the Bye week - do you almost expect the unexpected?
He just flies around. He comes every week, every day with a huge passion to play this game and its made him a very special player.
Of course this is his third year as a starter - he started as a true freshman when he was about 210 pounds, didn't have any lead in his pencil. But he's gotten in the weight room and gotten busy - he's put a little punch behind that athleticism he's always had and I honestly feel he's one of the best linebackers I've every been around.
He's very productive, very instinctual and when you combine that with the passion he comes to the game with he's making abunch of hits every game for us.
I [don't] think so, especially Michigan. They're going to do what they do. They're very competant, successful, you see them getting better and better as the season goes on. I would be shocked if they...Who scares you more - WR Braylon Edwards or RB Mike Hart?
Now you might get a new wrinkle or two here and there, but that happens every week - everybody throws a wrinkle out there - but they're going to play football the way they've been playing. They've been very successful they're getting in a rythm.
You see their young players, especially on offense, [QB Chad] Henne and [RB Mike] Hart growing by leaps and bounds every game, and then the great veterans they have - the players who have been down the road - they have a lot of confidence in their players. I really expect them to do what they do, especially with a program like Michigan, of course the great job Lloyd does.
I think we're going to see what they're about - we already know that. Its a matter of us executing and I know they're going to execute.
[Laughs] That's what makes them great, and that's why they've done such a great job at Michigan. They really do have, when you talk about Balance - all of us talk about balance - but they really have it, and they've done it now for a number of years.How does the Michigan Defense compare to Wisconsin?
They've been able to put together a number of wide receivers, guys who could launch it - the ball to them, and the tailbacks and as soon as you load up in one end or the other, they get you with the second aspect of their game, so, it makes it very difficult on your defense, its going to take our best effort, we know that because we're playing some great talented players and all of them are capable of busting the game wide open.
I think that they're one of the - I don't know statistically - certainly we think they're one of the best defenses we've played.And that's a wrap -
I think the Big 10 has several really strong defenses. Obviously Wisconsin's playing very well; Penn State ranked among the best in the country; and of course this week, Michigan is ranked among the national leaders.
I think the thing again that defines Michigan is their great athleticism. Now again they've got some big strong kids up front - you talk about Gabe Watson and Harrison and Massey and they've got some big guys who can run up front, but their back half has great make-up speed and athleticism and I think that's what always strikes you.
I know every year, last year, when we played Michigan, it jumps off the tape at you. They really have good athletes who run and fly around the football and you ask any coach and they'll take that as a starting point.
And I think Lloyd and his staff do a great job coaching - they're sound, they execute well, you just don't catch them making mistakes, they don't cut people loose, they show up every play they are well coached and you couple that with great athleticism and it makes it real tough to go against them.
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