Comments From U-M Players Following Final Spring Practice

Press Conference Comments from
U-M Football Players

Following Final Spring Practice (April 10

Braylon Edwards | Matt Gutierrez | Marlin Jackson | Clayton Richard | Ernest Shazor

Junior Quarterback Matt Gutierrez

On his progression this spring ... "I felt like overall, as a team we all improved. The coaches don't expect anything but our best effort everyday. When that is expected of you, you can't do anything but improve."

Where do you think that you've improved ... "All areas. Overall, my ability to play the game has improved. That's a credit to the coaching staff and the guys around me."

On having a strong offense around him ... "It gives a quarterback a lot of confidence when you have a group of guys around you that can make plays and you have a great offensive line that is going to protect for you. It just makes my job that much easier and the offense that much better."

On the spring ... "I feel really good. I felt that our team got better. We had good enthusiasm at every practice. I feel our mindset is good right now. We have our sights set on a big season coming up and we are just trying to get ready for it."

About Lloyd's comment about you 'running the team like a veteran' ... "It's the quarterbacks job to run the offense on the field. The guys around me make my job a lot easier. The veterans on the offense help make my job a lot easier and they help lead the offense as well."

On the competition with the Clayton Richard and the other quarterbacks ... "It is a great thing for both of us. As a group we are always competing, every drill we do and every day at practice. We are always trying to compete against each other and outdo each other but in a friendly way, a friendly competition. It can only make us both better."

About his overall improvement ... "With our coaching staff we work on all facets of the game. General improvement is what I feel like I've done over the past year. Understanding the offense and the speed of the game and getting a feel for the players around me (are a few areas of improvement)."

About whether they've talked to him about scrambling versus sitting in the pocket much like they did with Drew Henson ... "I never knew Drew Henson or what his abilities were. I've never seen him play. I know that he was a great athlete. What I do know is that our coaches want us to make good decisions with the ball and try to play hard every day. That's what I try to do."

Do they talk caution you about getting out of the pocket too quickly ... "They want me to be disciplined and do what I'm coached to do in the pocket but if the play breaks down I have the freedom to try and make something happen as long as I'm smart with the ball."

Are you ready for a break ... "I'm sure a lot of the guys are ready for a break especially those who have been banging heads all spring. I didn't get hit all spring so my situation is a little different. I enjoy practice. As a young guy, I enjoy every opportunity to get better that I can. We'll be working hard during the summer time as well."

Sophomore Quarterback Clayton Richard

On today's practice with a large crowd ... "It was a little bit tougher (keeping emotions in check). We did the same thing today than we did every other day this spring practice. Obviously there were more people watching, but to us it's just a normal practice."

On his improvement this spring ... "There has been constant improvement this spring. I feel more comfortable with the team and offense. Taking more snaps makes me more comfortable than earlier in the spring."

Are there ways that you can make up for Matt having an extra year in the program ... "There is a lot of hard work that needs to be done. I need to work hard every day, learn every day and improve every day. I need to do the most I can to get myself better and as a group improve."

On the receivers and talent on offense that makes the quarterbacks job easier ... "We have a receiving corps that is second to none. We have a lot of great receivers. On the other side we have a great defense that we know is going to get us the ball back and with that type of talent on the perimeter and on the other side of the ball it's really easy to have a lot of confidence in ourselves and in our team."

On the adjustment from working out of the shutgun primarily in high school to going under center ... "It was more of a big deal last year taking snaps under center. They changed a few things with the way that I did it but it has worked out really well. I feel more comfortable under center all the time and it has been more comfortable this spring."

Is the learning curve harder than you thought coming in as a freshman ... "It does come quick but it was something that I was expecting when I came here. As a freshman coming into the program, you know that there is going to be a lot to learn. You just have to take it a day at a time and learn from your mistakes."

About your mobility and do you see yourself being able to scramble and make plays when things breakdown ... "I really haven't been able to run the ball all that well. That is not what I've been known for. I like to stay in the pocket and do what I can in the pocket and if need by get out and try to make a play."

What type of difference is there between you and Matt ... "I don't know. That's kind of a tough question. Coach Carr might be better to answer that. Matt's been around an extra year and he's been a little bit more used to the system. I think we are similar in many ways."

On the difference between and right-handed and left-handed quarterbacks ... "I think it's not too much of a difference. They have had Spencer Brinton throwing them the ball for a while now. The only difference between a righty and lefty ball is the reverse rotation."

On when you think the starting quarterback will be decided ... "Right now I'm just thinking that we want to get better as a group. We work together as a quarterback group every day, getting ourselves better and learning from each other in terms of mistakes. We are going to take things one day at a time. Coming into next fall we're just looking forward to the competition."

About adding Chad Henne and have you met him ... "He is a great guy and we're looking forward to having him work with us to."

Senior Safety Ernest Shazor

On the defense ... "I think our defense played really well this spring. We did not lose a lot of guys and we have Marlin (Jackson) back at corner, so I think we are looking really good this year. Our defense is still fast and now we are a little older and a bit stronger."

On being a returning starter ... "It feels good to come back for my senior year as a returning starter. I feel that I can be an anchor on this defense. I am feeling comfortable back there. It is my job to tell the corners and other safeties what to do."

About Ryan Mundy ... "He has really impressed me the most out of all the young safeties. Mundy and Brandent Englemon, another freshman safety, have impressed me the most. Mundy is a quick learner and has the heart of a fighter."

Do you sense a change in Marlin since moving back to corner ... "You will see a lot out of Marlin. He is excited again just like he was during his freshman and sophomore years. You will see a lot of him this season. I think he has that swagger going back at corner and that he is going to be that type of corner that he used to be. I think we're going to have a pretty good defense this year."

About the practice matchups between Marlin and Braylon ... "Oh yeah, they get after each other kind of crazy. Braylon will win one and then Marlin wins one. It has been crazy. You'd just have to be there to see it."

On his spring ... "I think I had a good spring. I think I helped this team. I need to be strong and be a leader. I think I will help this team a lot this season."

About the team's quarterbacks ... "I feel great about the quarterbacks we have. Matt can get the job done. Clayton can get the job done. I think they're both pretty good."

Senior Cornerback Marlin Jackson

About why he returned for his senior year ... "It was kind of a weight off my shoulders making the decision to come back. I think it was the best thing for me to do in the long run for my future to come back and finish things the right way at Michigan."

About his weight ... "I naturally picked up 5-7 pounds to play safety. I lost about five pounds going back to cornerback."

About his decision ... "It was a tough decision because I was hearing a lot of different things from a lot of different people about the NFL that sounded good. My heart told me to come back here because I didn't want to end on the note that I did. I wanted to come back and have a better season and finish up and graduate."

Did you and Braylon talk about the NFL decision ... "He came up to me and asked me what I was doing immediately after the Rose Bowl game was over. We were walking off the field together at the Rose Bowl and both of us were disappointed. He said 'What are you going to do' and I told him 'I don't know.' I said that I was going to go home and decide because I was right on the fence the entire time. I didn't know and he didn't know but we knew that we had to make the best decision for us personally in the long run. He said on that walk off the field that we couldn't leave like this."

What do you need to accomplish in preparation for the season ... "I still have a ways to go. I need to do some extra things this summer, work out and get in the best shape so I don't get tired when I'm out there playing. I want to be in the best shape that I can possibly be."

What are your goals for the season ... "To have the kind of season that I set out to have and to play the position that I'd like to play. Off the field situation to leave with a clean slate."

What would be the ending you'd like ... "I want to win a national championship and individually be in Orlando, Fla., for the Thorpe Award."

About being a leader on this team ... "When I made that decision to come back I know that a lot the guys on this team look up to me as one of the leaders being that I've been here for four years. It's a responsibility that I look to take over."

About being seen as a leader ... "First of all, teammates have to want to follow you. A lot of my teammates on defense, I think, look up to me and want to follow me since I've been through just about every situation on and off the field. You have to make the right decisions on and off the field and when working out being an example for others."

About not having this past year's seniors on the field with you again ... "It's crazy. It will be different without Jeremy (LeSueur), John (Navarre) and Chris (Perry). Chris was the host on my official visit. It is hard not to see those guys around anymore but we all have to move on and eventually I'll have to move on."

Were you disappointed about playing safety last year ... "It wasn't that I was disappointed or anything but I'm happy to be back playing where I want to be. I think it was harder than I thought it would be. I thought I'd be able to learn the position quick. I got in there during two-a-days and then we got into the games and it got a little overwhelming in terms of learning on the run.

Was there a big difference between safety and cornerback ... "It is two completely different positions that have different situations. You have to re-learn everything."

How hard was the decision to come back and why did you make it ... It was kind of hard but my heart was telling me that it wasn't my time. There are more things for me to tend to here at Michigan this year and I wanted to do that first."

About Michigan's receiving corps ... "We go against them every day. It is very competitive. We have the three or four best wide receivers in the country. It's a good match-up every time we step out there."

About his match-up with Braylon Edwards daily and the pass interference call during the scrimmage ... "It was even. It was even. I am going to leave it at that. I got a little anxious on the play but I didn't think that it was pass interference."

About Ryan Mundy ... "He can put people on their back. He's had a real good spring and I look forward to watching him play this season."

Did you go the coaches or did they come to you about moving back to cornerback ... "The coaches came to me and said they thought the best thing for me would be to move back to corner.

About the defense ... "The defense as a whole got a lot better."

Senior Wide Receiver Braylon Edwards

On seeing a new quarterback out on the field ... "Starting off, its kind of weird not seeing John (Navarre) and Chris Perry out there, but Clayton (Richard) and Matt (Gutierrez) have come a long way. They progressed each day. We've had 15 practices in 15 days and they've steadily gotten better. Obviously out there today, they were making a lot of good throws and a lot of good reads. As a tandem, between the two of them they look great ... both of them have played good football and they make it more evident, so I'm glad I came back."

On his thoughts about the starting quarterback position ... "To be honest, you never know who the starter is going to be. You don't want to come with the premonition that it's going to be Matt (Gutierrez) and then Clayton (Richard) ends up being the quarterback. I came back because as a whole, I see this team doing big things this year. I see great potential in them, so I'm glad to be a part of it for my fourth year."

On his views of his role of next year's team ... "My role is to kind of keep everybody calm when things aren't looking good. My role is to be in the right spots all the time so it makes it that much easier for the quarterback. My role is that whenever the quarterback needs something, he can call and say 'Braylon, I need help with this play' or 'I need help in life.' My role is to just be there for the quarterback and to do whatever so that I can help them out on the field. My role is to not yell at him on the field or look in a state of distress to make it look like something is going wrong. Always be calm, cool and collected. That's my role next year."

On whether his role on the team has differed from previous seasons ... "Last year as a junior, you're kind of one of the guys that you can look to, but its not so much as senior leadership. (As a junior), it's kind of more so you look to make plays. This year, I'm a senior and it's my last year here. The guys have been around me for a while. The freshmen have stayed with me, so now it's pretty much I have to be their leader. I have to be the guy that's setting good examples. I have to be the guy that they can talk to. I have to be the guy that has to say what other people don't want to say. I have to be the guy who makes those decisions, where as they may not want to hear it, they need do. My role has definitely changed."

On his new short haircut ... "I cut my hair the beginning of February. To be honest, I don't miss it. It was a lot of fun; we had of fun with it on media day and in general. But, it was a phase. As you get older, you grow. That was just a phase for me and now its over. This is who I am now. I'm a guy who trying to mature, trying to get out of the young man state and try to become a man. So, I went with a short hairdo. I hope you guys like it."

On the differences between quarterbacks Matt Gutierrez and Clayton Richard ... "They both pay attention to detail. Matt is a guy who can get out there with his feet and make plays happen. He likes to scramble, and he'll pull the ball down at any second and try to make something happen with his feet. Defenses will have to respect that. Clayton is a guy who's going to make plays with a very strong arm. He throws a 95 mph fastball, so he has a very strong arm. A lot of times, some guys can't make certain throws, but he can make those throws because his arm allows him to do that. A lot of the time you'll see a play that some quarterbacks won't go to or run away from, but Clayton will throw the ball there anyway and it will get there. So that's pretty much the assessment of the two. Both have good footwork, but that's the difference. Matt is real good with his feet, while Clayton has a real strong arm."

On the difficulty of catching a pass from a strong-armed quarterback ... "It depends on what kind of routes you run. If you're coming back to the ball and its going full speed, it's a very hard pass to catch because you're running full speed and the ball is going full speed. But if you're more so running in stride and the ball catches you, it will just glide in there."

On how Marlin Jackson's decision to stay affected his decision to return ... "Marlin declared that he was coming back before I did. When he declared, I was ecstatic because it helped me know what I wanted to do. Marlin and I were both kind of looking to each other to see what we were going to do. When he came back, it took a load off of my decision and him being back and us being together is great. Marlin is a guy that you know is going to make plays. Whenever he's on the field, you kind of tend to not look at the play and sit there and talk to the guy next to you, because you know that if a pass situation is coming to Marlin's side, it's either going to get knocked down, picked, or deflected somehow or another. It's great to have him back. We battle in practice all the time, you've got two good guys who are competitive and both love to win and both hate to lose. We have some pretty heated battles. He wins his fair share and I win my fair share, but it makes us better as players. That's the only way to get better."

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

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