Michigan Receivers Hot Topic on Wednesday

The Irish closed their second practice of the week on Wednesday in preparation from Michigan on Saturday. The Michigan receiving corps was the hot topic of the day after practice as we spoke to a number of Irish defensive backs and head coach Tyrone Willingham about the deep and talented Michigan unit.

Irish defensive coordinator, Kent Baer, called Michigan's wide receiving corps the best in country on Tuesday after an Irish practice. On Wednesday, senior cornerback Dwight Ellick said he wasn't so certain about that.

"People say they're the best in the country. They've got to show me," Ellick said. "I saw them on film and they're definitely good receivers.

"We've went against Mike Williams, Larry Fitzgerald, Braylon Edwards is one of them too. Like I said before, people say they're the best receiving corps, we're going to go out there, they got to show us. They got to prove to us that they're the best receiving corps.

"If they're trying to prove that they're the best receiving corps, we're going to prove to them that we're one of the best defensive backfields in the country. We're going to step up to the challenge."

Senior cornerback Preston Jackson says the Irish secondary will have to play physical with the talented Michigan unit on Saturday.

"You've got to be more physical," Jackson said when asked how the Irish secondary can have success on Saturday. "Receivers don't like hands on them so we've got to get our hands on them and bang them around a little bit.

" We've got to make them step up to the challenge to us instead of us stepping up to their challenge. They're playing in our house and we feel nobody is going to come into our house and kick our ass. They're going to have to play ball with us."

Head coach Tyrone Willingham said he's glad his secondary has confidence they can play against what many would consider the best receiving corps in the nation.

"I'd be very surprised if they had any other approach to it," Willingham said of his secondary having confidence against Michigan. "We know on this schedule that we play great teams and this will not be the last great receiving corps that we face this year.

"You've got to be up for those challenges. This is a test for them to see exactly where they stack and how they rank in terms of being a sound secondary."

As for how his team stacks up again Braylon Edwards and company, Willingham said we won't know until Saturday.

"That's why we play the game," he said. "We're going to find out exactly how we stack up and what we're able to do. We already know that this is a proven and I guess you could say veteran group of receivers that have done outstanding things.

"We're green, but we are hopefully growing fast and learning and working hard to be a good secondary."

Willingham also agreed with Jackson's sentiments and believes his secondary will have to be physical against Michigan.

"I think you have to be physical because these guys not only have the size differential, but they also have great athletic and great leaping ability," Willingham said. We have to be physical."

After the BYU loss, plenty of media outlets have been discussing if Willingham has this team headed in the right direction. Willingham was asked what his comments were to that type of speculation.

"You have to understand, if you're saying that we missed the boat and did not get it done against BYU, that's absolutely correct," Willingham said. "We didn't perform and do the things we needed to do as a football team. But does that stop you from being successful the next time?"

Senior running back Ryan Grant didn't play in the BYU game last Saturday but told Irish Eyes he expects to be available this Saturday. Willingham said he's not sure what Grant's status would be for Saturday.

"I really don't know," Willingham said when asked if Grant would play on Saturday. "He's worked some this week and we're going to see how it progresses into the weekend.

"He's better than last week, but I don't know if I can say that's capable of him starting. I don't know if I can say it's not capable of him starting. By Saturday, we'll find out."

Also, missing from practice on Thursday was sophomore defensive back Isaiah Gardner. Willingham would not comment on his absence after practice.

"I can't comment on that at this time," Willingham said when asked Gardner's status.

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