Spring Football Comments from Coach Lloyd Carr

University of Michigan Head Coach Lloyd Carr
Pre-Spring Football Press Conference

Opening statement ... "Tomorrow we will complete the first phase of the 2007 season, our winter conditioning program. We've made some improvements individually. As we go into spring practice, we're allotted 15 days, three of which are without any pads, helmets only. Two of those will be the two opening practices this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. Then we'll get into the schedule basically of Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for the next four weeks.

"We have a lot of work to do, particularly true on defense because of the number of players we lost. What we will try to accomplish, the No. 1 goal I always have is that if every single guy will improve significantly by having a great attitude, competing as hard as they can, they'll improve. If every guy improves in the next 15 practices, we'll be a better football team.

"Obviously, we want to install our offensive and defensive schemes. Along with that, in the kicking game this year, there is a significant rule change which puts the ball back on the 30-yard line. They lowered the tee a year ago, which also made a significant change. The coverage and returns on kickoffs, I think you are going to see some significant impact in games in terms of field position. That's something we certainly have to work hard on this spring.

"The other thing is we have some great competition. We have a lot of young players that will get their first opportunity to compete for starting positions. Finally, we've got to establish depth, find out where we are at certain positions so we know where we are and can make some plans for the freshmen who come in this fall.

"We have three guys who have come in early (high schooler seniors Artis Chambers, Ryan Mallett, Vince Helmuth). It's a difficult transition any time, but it's particularly difficult in the winter because there are only three of them. Normally you come in with 20 or 25 guys, so there's a lot more support at that time of year. The adjustment ... the guy walked out of high school and he's gong to the classroom at Michigan, and also working in a new conditioning program where the intensity is much greater away from home. There are a lot of issues there, but they are doing well."

On Adrian Arrington's status ... "There are a number of guys, one of the biggest issues everybody in the country has this time of year is numbers. You don't have a freshman class and you've lost your senior class. Numbers are a real issue.

"A year ago we had probably the best spring football we had in a number of years. We did not have a lot of injuries coming out of the season we had to take care of. This year we have several guys who will not compete because of injuries. This time of year there are also other issues that arise that have to be dealt with. That's part of the landscape."

On whether Arrington, Eugene Germany or Carson Butler will practice this spring ... "No."

On whether all three could return by fall if they do what's expected of them ... "That is possible, maybe not probable."

On other injuries that will affect spring drills ... "Mike Hart will not play this spring. He had a minor arthroscopic procedure a couple of days ago ... he'll be fine, but in winter conditioning he still had some discomfort.

About the battle for the backup quarterback position ... "Jason Forcier had surgery following the bowl game. We'll have to see what the doctors and the trainers have to say, but he will be limited.

"As far as (Ryan) Mallett goes, he's going to get a great amount of work and a lot of repetitions. I think he'll have an opportunity to make a lot of progress this spring."

On what Hart's injury is ... "I didn't say. You'll have to ask him -- that's confidential information. Not that I'm trying to avoid it. It's confidential."

On other injuries ... "Brandent Englemon ... Steve Schilling will practice. But we're not clear yet. We'll have to see how he does the first couple of weeks.

"Mario Manningham will be limited. We'll have to see how he comes along the next couple of weeks. I'm hoping all of them will be able to get some contact work the last few weeks, but I can't give you an answer on that.

"Adam Kraus is out. He had some work done. He played most of the season with a lot of discomfort. The decision was made to have that corrected, and he's doing fine. But he'll miss the spring."

On the difficulties of playing with limited numbers in spring ... "You're not going to have the same team you're going to have in the fall. There are some guys we know what they can do, so we will limit some of the things they do. The main thing is to develop particularly our young players, evaluate where they are in relation to where they need to be."

On position switches ... "Carlos Brown came in to see me after the bowl game and has an interest in moving to cornerback. That's going to be a great move for us. We will still work him some as a tailback, but Carlos, because of our situation a year ago at quarterback with Antonio Bass being out, Carlos' development as a tailback was limited because during the course of the season, we prepared him to play a role at quarterback if we had so needed. Jason (Forcier) had some problems, and we weren't sure he'd be able to hold up.

"Carlos played quarterback in high school. He has handled a difficult first year extremely well. I'm really excited about what I've seen from him this winter and his potential to develop over there."

On who will handle kick return duties ... "Steve Brown will be a candidate, Carlos Brown is definitely in the mix. Greg Mathews. We'll look at a lot of guys, but I think those three have shown the type of potential to do well."

On other position switches ... "We moved Andre Criswell to tight end. Criswell is a big, strong guy who really, I thought, towards the end of the season began to emerge. He'll still play some fullback, but this spring the emphasis will be at tight end because Mike Massey is out for the spring with a procedure."

On whether Antonio Bass will be back by fall ... "I'm not optimistic."

On the battle at center ... "David Moosman and Justin Boren will be the guys that get the greatest look. Tim McAvoy, another young player that played there all fall long ... I have confidence in all of those kids. We'll just have to see how the spring develops.

"I like both of them. I think they both have shown the kind of ability it takes. They ware both smart guys. That is an area of extreme importance. We'll know more after the next 15 days."

On Michigan's kickers ... "If you talk about the kicking game, I think Zoltan Mesko displayed the ability to be a great punter. He's a great athlete, and a guy that has everything it takes to be a great punter.

"But at the placekicking position, if you look back at what (Garrett) Rivas has done in the last four years, this guy was productive, he was great under pressure. We have a young freshman, Bryan Wright, that we recruited who will get a good look. Jason Gingell, K.C. Lopata -- those are guys that have been in this program, and both of them have kicked very well. I don't know that we'll make a decision on that until training camp. Those are the frontrunners."

On whether he's ever seen a spring during his 28 years here with so many players missing ... "Yes, we've had some springs where we were limited. We've got some holes in the numbers, that's for sure."

On Vance Bedford rejoining the coaching staff ... "Vance, when I became the interim coach in 1995, he was the hire that I made to replace me on the defensive staff. He was here four years and he did a great job. He's a great football coach.

"Then he left to go to the Chicago Bears, and he left the Bears after about four years to go be the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State. He's just an outstanding coach and it's great to be able to have him come back. I think our players are excited about what he brings to the game."

On what he would like to see out of the secondary this spring ... "In our secondary, we lost Leon Hall, who I think is going to be a very early pick in the draft, and one of the best corners we've had here, since I've been here. He's got some young players. What I want to see is improvement. I want to see young players get better. He's got some good young guys to work with.

"Sometimes, you have a coaching change and he sees things differently, because he doesn't have anything to judge it with. He hasn't been here. He likes the guys he's coaching. He sees good potential there.

"I would like to see Jamar Adams develop the kind of consistency that it takes to be a great player. Jamar has the ability, and I'd like to see that. I'd like to see Steve Brown develop. I'd like to see Brandon Harrison continue to develop.

"At the cornerback position, we've got to bring some young guys along. Johnny Sears, I already talked about Carlos Brown, Charles Stewart we moved to safety. That will be a good move for him.

"In these next 15 days, we have got to try to put them under as much pressure as we can so that we can expedite their progression."

On the right offensive tackle position ... "We've got some young guys -- Perry Dorrestein is a true freshman that has very, very good potential. I mentioned Schilling. Cory Zirbel is another young player who was in the two-deep a year ago.

"We've got to find a guy out of there and I'm confident that we will. I like Schilling a lot. He's a great athlete. I mean, a great athlete, who missed the season because of that injury. I'm just hoping he'll be able to get some work, so that when he goes into training camp, it won't be the first contact he has. He needs to see a speed rusher, so he can gain some confidence and get a feel for what that position is like.

"He had an extremely difficult freshman year. He got mononucleosis, missed four or five weeks, then his shoulder ... but he's healthy, except he's still got some work in the rehab area. He's 300 pounds, and a guy that moves like a 200-pounder."

On offensive linemen Mark Ortmann and Alex Mitchell ... "Mitchell is at right guard and Mark Ortmann ... we've got Jake Long over there at left tackle. But if Ortmann plays better than any other tackle, he'll play. We'll move him to right tackle.

"They're competing not just at the position they're at. Hopefully, we've got them at the right position now, and they develop and come out of the spring with the confidence it takes to come into the fall ready to play.

"(Mitchell) has started a game at tackle, so he's able to do that. But we'd like to keep him where he is."

On the replacement for David Harris at middle linebacker ... "We've got a number of guys. Austin Panter. Obi Ezeh is a guy that I think has great potential. He's the kind of guy that is under the radar, like David Harris was when he came out.

"But Obi Ezeh was a tailback, he was a fullback, he was a tight end, he played some on defense at different positions. He's got the kind of physical abilities, and he's a smart guy. Both he and Panter ... now we've got Chris Graham in there, John Thompson, we've got some guys back. So we've got some competition.

"I think those two new guys have got the ability to compete. Now it's how fast they can learn, how fast they can pick it up."

On taking precautions with Long in the spring, given past injuries ... "I think that would be smart. But that doesn't mean I'll do it, because I'm not the smartest guy (laughing). You've got to do some things, every time you step on the field.

"When you look at some of the injuries we've had, that were not contact related. We lost James McKinney right at the end of the spring game a year ago. He never got touched, and we lost him for the season. Every time you step out there and you start to play, then something can happen.

"I told Jake that in January. We know what Jake Long can do. He is in the best shape of his life. He's lost a few more pounds, and he's excited to go. But yes, we will try to limit the exposure he gets."

On Jonas Mouton ... "Jonas Mouton is another position change. He's moving to the Will linebacker, and I'm excited about Mouton. He's one of these guys that when he reported, I think he was 220. As a coach, it's pretty obvious when a guy is going to keep getting bigger. He's probably 230. He's tough, he's got good instincts, and I'm excited about watching and seeing his progression this spring."

On the wide receivers ... "LaTerryal Savoy got some playing time a year ago. I think Greg Mathews has the ability and the competitiveness. He's a smart guy. I think you're going to see Mathews become a great receiver here.

"But we are, from a numbers standpoint -- I'd love to play a spring game, and I hope to play some kind of a spring game. I plan to play some kind of a spring game. But if you look at our depth at tailback, with Hart out, we've got Kevin Grady and Brandon Minor.

"If you chose up teams, you'd have one tailback on each team, which would mean that that guy is going to have to play the whole game, which you don't want to do. You have to limit the time. We've got that same situation at receiver."

On Doug Dutch ... "Doug Dutch is another position change. Doug came in and wanted to move to cornerback. We'll have to see how he does, but Doug's got ability. He can run, he's got good hands and he's excited about seizing an opportunity over there."

On whether or not Chris McLaurin is healthy ... "Chris McLaurin is healthy and he's a tight end."

On whether he hints to players that they might get more of a change if they changed positions ... "This is the deal. Every guy on the team knows what is at every other position. So if he sees an opportunity and he wants it, if he thinks that's his fastest way onto the field ... For example, Carlos Brown. We have a guy named Mike Hart, who is a pretty good player. When he looks over there, he wants to play. Did I discourage it No.

"We did have one more (change). Brett Gallimore came in to see me yesterday, and he wants to move to the defensive line, because he sees an opportunity over there.

"We'll look at these position changes after the second week and at the end of the second week, I'll call these guys in and ask, 'How do you like it How do you feel like you're doing Do you want to stay there' Or, 'This is what I think. I like what you're doing. You may not feel you're where you want to be right now, but I see progress. I think you've got great potential there.'"

On position switches in general ... "We'll look at these position changes at the end of the second week and after the second week I'll call these guys in and ask, 'How do you like it Do you want to stay there Or this is what I think. I like what you're doing. You may not feel you are where you want to be right now, but I see progress. I think you've got great potential.'"

On whether Carr ever says I like your chances more at one position than another ... "It all goes back to recruiting. Ian Gold from Belleville High School (is a great example). He was a high school tailback and wanted to be a tailback at Michigan. I offered him a scholarship with the provision that if I didn't think that he was going to help us at tailback or that I thought he could help us more somewhere else, than at the end of his freshman year I was going to move him. If I recruit a guy I'm not going to recruit a guy and tell him, 'Hey, I'm never going to change you' and then go change him because then you have morale issues. You weren't honest with a guy. Have I ever brought a guy in and told him what you just said Yeah I've done that."

On Carlos Brown not playing quarterback in the future ... "Never is a long time. He had an unbelievable number of repetitions last fall for a couple of reasons. Antonio Bass probably would have been our backup quarterback a year ago. We also needed to prepare our defense against some spread teams. What we decided was to create an offense with a limited number of plays where we could utilize some of the things Carlos can do. He's not going to play any quarterback at least in my plans this spring, but to say that he never would C I can't say that."

On Brandon Graham playing defensive end ... "I think he'll play inside. Some of these kids, especially in the front, will get opportunities to play different positions, but I can see him probably, when it all shakes out in the fall, I see him playing over the tackle, in a five-technique."

On defensive ends Tim Jamison and Adam Patterson ... "I think Patterson is going to end up inside and of course you've got Terrance Taylor -- he may miss some time here early because he came down with an injury a couple of days ago. I don't know how long that will be, (I really) can't say. Jamison is going to be a defensive end. He's bigger, and if he ever can stay healthy I think he'll be an outstanding player. He's been nagged by injuries both of the last two years."

On James McKinney playing defensive end ... "James McKinney will not practice this spring. It's a medical issue."

On Bass remaining optimistic ... "He's one of the more incredible kids I've been around, and he is 'never say die'. He's doing everything he can everyday to come back. His attitude is just absolutely -- incredible is the only word I know that describes it."

On his attitude towards Bass' injury and future ... "I'm not giving up if he doesn't give up, until he gives up, because as long as there is hope and determination on his part."

On Marques Slocum's status ... "He was able to participate in our strength and conditioning program, but he will not be allowed to practice. But he's made some strides."

On a long snapper waiting in the wings ... "In the wings We've got a couple of guys. We have a kid named Jon Saigh who has worked hard this winter. We have a kid named Sean Griffin who was our backup snapper a year ago, who has done a very good job. And then we'll have a guy come in this fall that we think has some potential. The guy that is ahead is Griffin based on past performance."

On what Carr wants to see out of someone held out of spring ball for non-injury-related reasons ... "The No. 1 thing when you reach a certain stage is a guy has to prove that he really wants to be here, and that he is willing to do what he is asked to do."

On his reaction to Appalachian State on the schedule ... "My reaction If you recall there was quite a controversy over the 12th game. I think first of all Appalachian State won the national championship so they are a quality program. Now, because they are a different classification there is obviously a lot of criticism about them being on our schedule. But that is, if you look around the country, that is a direct result of the 12th game.

"Bill Martin has been very vocal, as I have, that in the Big Ten Conference we play a ninth conference game. I don't know where that discussion is, but that would solve the issue for those people who do not want to see a Division I-AA team on the schedule. That's my reaction."

On how a nine-game Big Ten schedule would work ... "There are some issues, but there are some issues with an eight-game schedule because when you don't play two teams and you can go back through the history since we've been in that system and know there are inequalities or difficulties. There are issues. If you go to nine games it means that every other year you're playing five Big Ten road games and four home games and nobody would love that except on the year they're playing five home games. It's harder to win on the road. That's an issue. There may be others. In terms of scheduling, playing a bigger Big Ten schedule would resolve a lot of the complaints. There will always be complaints."

On whether there is a better chance now of a ninth conference game ... "We'll have Big Ten meetings this spring. I think Bill could probably answer that better than I can at this point as an athletic director because they've had meetings since January and as coaches we have not. I don't know where all the coaches stand."

On whether a game will be moved back after Thanksgiving with a traditional bye during the season ... "Well that would be my preference and my guess is that will be discussed and I will be surprised if there isn't a lot of support for it."

On whether it's fair to say the three players 'violated team rules' ... "I have issues that have to be dealt with, so whether it's fair or not, I leave that to you, as if I have any influence."

On whether the use of that term would be accurate ... "I can't judge the fairness. Accurate It's up to you."

On whether the term 'suspended' is accurate ... "I think I was clear. They're not practicing and they're not injured."

Media Contacts: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423

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