Player Comments from
2006 Michigan Football Media Day
Kevin Grady | Leon Hall | Mike Hart | Chad Henne | Adam Kraus
Jake Long | Mario Manningham | Ryan Mundy | LaMarr Woodley
Junior Safety Jamar Adams
On what changes new defensive coordinator Ron English brings to the team ... "We just want to play fast and play up to our ability. It's basically the same scheme but faster. We just want to play up to our potential and be very aggressive."
On his improvement from last season ... "Just like every other guy. I got faster, got stronger and got a little bigger. I gained another year of experience. My mental game is a little higher than it was last year, and I think I've got a little bit more confidence. Just a general progression as a player."
On his personal goals for 2006 ... "I just want to make a whole bunch more plays. At my position I have an opportunity to make a lot of plays. I want to make more interceptions. I have been here two years, and in high school I had 10 or 11 interceptions a year. That is something I want to get started up here."
Junior Defensive Tackle Alan Branch
On if his confidence is shaken after last year's struggles ... "Not at all. My confidence is always up when I play football because first of all we're at the University of Michigan and the tradition alone puts us a step ahead of most other teams. My confidence is always up here because we know we have a bunch of talented people here. Confidence is not a problem."
On playing behind some talented defensive linemen ... "I learned a lot from Gabe Watson my freshman year, watching him and everything. I just noticed how I needed to get my strength up because when I came here I wasn't that strong at all. So I got working on my strength. I learned from all the older guys when I was young -- Larry Harrison, Gabe Watson, Rondell Biggs."
On if he's going to be playing strictly on the interior line ... "Really I couldn't even tell you that because we haven't finished putting all of our packages in on defense. I might stay inside but right now it's really up in the air."
On the challenges of playing inside vs. outside ... "I don't really see a challenge. It's fun to me. I like playing both. I have to use sheer strength on the inside, and on the outside I get to have a little bit more freedom and get a speed rush and do a little bit of the finesse game, if you want to say that. It's just fun."
On his outside pass rush ... "It's more of a technique rush for me. It might not be a complete bull but I might get someone's hand off of me and then be able to finish off the quarterback."
On his learning curve the last two seasons ... "Strength was the biggest thing. I never really lifted too hard in high school. I wasn't strong at all. There were running backs that were stronger than me when I got here. I had no choice but to do the technical stuff to get ahead of people. I started working on my technique and I got so good at it that my strength really didn't make a difference."
On the goal of pressuring the quarterback from the front four ... "Our goal is to be the top sack team in the Big Ten. Myself, I want us to have the most sacks in the nation, but that's a hard thing to do in the Big Ten. It's a reasonable goal to be the top sack team in the Big Ten."
Fifth-Year Senior Wide Receiver Steve Breaston
On following up Braylon Edwards' and Jason Avant's great senior seasons with his own ... "If it's in the coaches' plans, yes, I'm looking forward to it. I just want to go out there and whatever the coaches have me do I just want to do it. When it comes down to it I just want to win. Jason wanted to win last year and he didn't go out probably the way he wanted to go out. If I'm that person then I'm that person, but if I have a lesser role I don't care. I just want to win games."
On his biggest motivating factor this season ... "This is my last year. I can't go back after this one. When you're an underclassman you can sit there and think there's always next year. There is no more next year now. I really want to just come out here and have fun. I've enjoyed what I've done so far, and since this is my last year I hope to go out on top."
On his best strength that he can rely on ... "So far, my best strength has been in the return game. I want to better myself as a receiver, keep trying to improve on those things because that's definitely going to help the team a lot better. It's important to not focus on your strengths but focus on your weaknesses in your game. I'm trying to focus on the receiving aspects of my career right now."
On the thought processes that you go through on working a deep route ... "It's a feeling, catching the deep ball and everything. Just catching the ball period is a feeling. There is a lot of stuff that goes on. That's why you practice. It's so fast in a game like what coverage they're in. Presnap, what coverage are they in. After the ball snap, what coverage did they shift to because they don't always stay in the same thing. You have that going through your head. When they're in press coverage you work the top of your route. That's why practice is here. It's so fast. On the field it's that much faster. You can't explain but that's what all goes through your head and you have to be seeing out there."
On the difference between a senior and freshman being that adjusting on the fly instead of thinking then reacting ... "I think that's a big difference between a senior and a freshman. There are some people that naturally got it. That's the big thing about adjusting to college football. You can see one coverage before the play, but as soon as the ball is snapped the corner comes down and presses you and you have to have that possibility going through your head. That's why it's so important to get out of the huddle and get out there and be ready and set. Chad's (Henne) going to start that snap count and you have to have that stuff going through your head. Then you have to remember what route I have to convert into another route because they switched coverages. That's the thing about coming in as a freshman. The game is so fast and you have to learn so much. In high school you might get like two or three coverages and then man and that's all you need to worry about. They aren't shifting and things."
On how having threats at the tight end position affects the wide receivers ... "It affects us by giving us more space. It's just like having a good receiver out there. They might have a safety that has to cover the tight end. And if the safety is covering him you might be able to get a one-on-one somewhere else. Having good weapons like that is just like a good backfield is important. If you have a good backfield that keeps the safeties' eyes in the backfield there are things you can do with play-action and things like that. It's good to have people at other positions who can make things happen."
Senior Outside Lineback Shawn Crable
On the biggest difference about new defensive coordinator Ron English ... "Excitement. In the past we just kind of did the job and went back to the huddle. Coach English is exciting. When you look over and you see your coach is excited as well as you it's good. There have been days when we've been in practice and we're not excited and he's running out there and telling us to start getting excited and start playing. It doesn't bother him if we're talking trash because we're backing it up. I think there's a lot of excitement. It's an attitude. They want us to have a swagger. They want us to take the field and know we can compete with anybody."
On how he wants to improve his game personally ... "I want to play lower. I've been working on playing lower and my flexibility. I can always improve in the areas of rushing the passer and taking on blocks, but playing lower can always help you."
On Coach English's emphasis on getting back to the basic fundamentals on defense ... "The playbook is way simpler. He's simplified it just so we could play football and not think. The first eight practices of spring were the same stuff over and over and over. He stopped practice in every possible situation and ran us through stuff. He wanted us to be good at what we were doing before he threw in any tricks or other stuff. Learning the base package we didn't speed through it at all. After a while we were just doing the same stuff over and over. We learned to react because we knew what we were doing. After a while you knew when it was your drop, you knew what happened when something else changed. It's going to help a lot because you know what the base package is, so when we throw the new stuff in and the blitz packages it'll be great."
On the improvement by the linebackers ... "I think the work ethic. A lot of people are working on their own and coming in early. There are guys pulling people to the side and telling them as linebackers how we do stuff -- get up front in the run and compete. The linebackers this year took it upon themselves to be the best."
On his attitude having his biggest role yet ... "I just don't want to disappoint anybody. I just want to play tough every down and play tough every game. I've talked to Coach English and every time we talk he wants to know if I'm going to be one of those guys who plays sometimes or plays all the time. Coming out of spring and going into this I'm working on finishing and taking rep seriously."
Sophomore Running Back Kevin Grady
On trimming down for the 2006 season ... "After last season, the coaches and I sat down and evaluated my performance last year. We just thought it would be in the best interest if I was able to lose a little weight as long as I stayed strong. I came to spring ball and had a pretty good spring. It's been a huge difference. Lateral movement, endurance wise I feel a lot better. It was a big key for me to be able to lose that weight."
On his forecast for the 2006 season ... "As long as we stay healthy the sky's the limit. We've got a pretty good nucleus of guys here so I think we're going to be able to do some good things this year offensively and defensively. For the most part, I think we should have a good season. Anytime you're able to return players it's a big help in a big way. You got guys knowing what's going on and what they need to do."
On the expectations for the 2006 season ... "We always have high expectations for ourselves. We're looking to come out and have a better year than we did last year. We're always trying to compete for the Big Ten title. Personally, I just want to be able to contribute."
On any advice for incoming freshmen ... "There's going to be a higher roof, camp is going to be hard, don't get down on yourself when things don't go your way. You just have to keep a positive mind and keep working hard."
Senior Cornerback Leon Hall
On defensive coordinator Ron English ... "I was sad that he was leaving, but at the same time we still have games to play and workouts to do. It's definitely a plus having him back, now as a defensive coordinator. I definitely think that the defense will reflect Coach English to the fullest: his passion, his aggressiveness and his intensity."
On helping the younger corners grow ... "I am definitely excited about that. I think back to when I was a freshman or sophomore when Marlin (Jackson) used to help me out. It's kind of different being in the other spot now but I take it with open arms. I'm all ears. If they have questions I'll have answers for them, hopefully. I definitely take that seriously."
On the secondary ... "We're a lot smarter now. We have a lot of experience and depth at the safety position. The young corners that are on the other side, they're willing to learn. They have a lot of athletic ability. I, along with the other seniors, just have to get them up, get them through the season and execute everything that they need to do."
On what led him to Michigan ... "That's a crazy question because through the whole recruiting process, everything was just Pac-10, then Michigan came into the picture. Even before the process, I had something in my mind that I would be in the Pac-10 at UCLA or something like that. Then Michigan came into the picture and I put them into consideration because it's a great school. It's just something about the school. I couldn't picture myself playing anywhere else. I used to see myself in the uniform sometimes. I couldn't see myself in USC or UCLA's uniforms. When I pictured Michigan, I could definitely see myself in out there in the Maize and Blue running around."
On how Coach English has helped him ... "He definitely helps, because he'll let me know right away if I'm doing something right or wrong. He'll do the same thing with other players. He'll ask me once in a while how I think other players are doing. I talk to him; he's kind of like a mentor to me. He's trying to guide me to where I need to go."
Junior Running Back Mike Hart
On Kevin Grady's progress in the off-season ... "He's looking real good, he's definitely gotten a lot better. He lost a lot of weight, he moves well, he's quicker, he's running a lot better and he knows the offense a lot better. I'm looking forward to see how he does this year. He's definitely made progress."
On the pressure for the 2006 season ... "It's always pressure for Michigan. I guess it's a little bit more this year after coming off a 7-5 record this year, to show people we're still a great team and that we can win games."
On how he can help younger players deal with the pressure ... "You can only tell the younger guys to not worry about what people have to say. Everybody handles pressure a little differently. So you really can't tell them how to handle it, you can just tell them how to approach it. The only thing I can tell them is to not listen to what people say about you and just go out there and play like no one's watching."
On what he worked on during the off-season ... "Tried to get into better shape, get stronger, and know the offense better. I just tried to work on every aspect of the game. There's nothing I really focused on this year. I just tried to get better at everything."
On how he feels coming into the season ... "I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life. With that I have to come out and have a healthy year. That's all that really matters, but I feel great. I feel better coming into this year than I did last year."
Junior Quarterback Chad Henne
On the team's feeling after last season ... "At a great institution like this, where the expectations are so high, you never want to go in that direction again. We're going to come out and fight like hell to win."
On Lloyd Carr ... "He's a great inspirational coach that teaches us well. He really understands the game and the situations we go through. He's always out there making practice the hardest thing we go through so that in a game it is kind of easier on us. That's what I really like about him: he really gets on you in practice so that you can deal with the pressure in the game."
On the receiver corps ... "We're definitely going to spread the ball around a lot. We've got Steve Breaston back, we've got Mario Manningham, and Adrian Arrington is healthy. There is not going to be much of a go-to guy. We're going to spread the ball around because we've got a lot of great athletes out there and we need to get it in their hands."
Senior Offensive Lineman Adam Kraus
On the speculation about head coach Lloyd Carr ... "We're not paying too much attention to what people are saying about Coach Carr. He's the greatest coach I've been around. He's an outstanding guy that would do anything for you. I'd rather nothing more than for him to be coaching me. I just can't say enough good things about him. He cares about his players. He's like a father to me away from home, he's there when I need him and always around to give me some good advice."
On the positional competition on the offensive line ... "Right now everyone is still competing. Rueben Riley is going to fit in there somewhere and then someone is going to have to take that remaining job. A lot of people are competing and looking good, which is a good thing for our team."
Senior Offensive Lineman Jake Long
On switching from right tackle to left tackle ... "It's not really that big of an adjustment. It's just changing around your stance and footwork a little bit. Besides that, it is really the same concept. Just switching around your footwork. I like it. I am lefthanded so I feel really comfortable on the left side. It's a lot of responsibility coming from that side and I am really excited to try to live up to that expectation."
On new offensive coordinator Mike DeBord ... "During spring he brought a lot of intensity. He is a very smart man. Watching him in spring and the intensity he brings is just awesome, and it will be something great for the offense."
On the offensive line depth ... "Last year, a lot of guys got a lot of game time that probably wouldn't have and a lot of guys stepped up. So that worked out really well and got a lot of guys experience. We have three great fifth-year seniors and a fourth year and a lot of young guys who stepped up and I am really looking forward to seeing what this offensive line can do."
On blocking for tailback Mike Hart ... "It's awesome. He makes the job so easy because you know he is going to give you 110 percent. Even when you may not get your blocks perfect, he will create his own holes and get off blocks or get off tackles. He is just that great of a back and it's so fun to block for him."
Sophomore Wide Receiver Mario Manningham
On if he's ready to take a leadership role ... "Me being an underclassman, I lead by example. I don't open my mouth. We have a lot of leaders on this team like Steve Breaston and Chad (Henne). Everybody can be a leader whenever they want to."
On running back Mike Hart ... "Mike, he works real hard. Mike runs with a purpose. Some people run and just get it over with. That's what our team learned over the summer. We learned to run with a purpose, not to be out there just running. Get something out of it when you run. Don't just run just to run."
On being ready to get more attention from defenses since he wasn't as well known last year ... "Yeah, I'm ready. I know they're going to know. Every time I think about it, it just makes me work harder."
On if he has any personal goals ... "I don't have any personal goals. No losses this year. That's the only thing I can think of."
On if it's just the little things that kept them from winning more last year since the games were so close ... "Yeah, it's the little things. I'm not trying to talk about last year. The Michigan I know, that isn't a 7-5 team. That's no Michigan team right there. We have to step it up."
On what it's like to go against people like cornerback Leon Hall in practice ... "Leon Hall isn't going to do anything but make me better. He played three years before I got here. He knows how it is. When I first got here, he jammed me up. But now, I know the little things. They all taught me the little things. I had to learn. They all taught me little things like what to do and what not to do along with the technique."
Senior Safety Ryan Mundy
On how he feels going into the season ... "I'm feeling good; this spring went well for me. I'm ready to give it a shot going into fall camp."
On coming back from last season's injury ... "At first it was kind of scary because I didn't know what was going on, but after a while I got back out there in the spring and I didn't even think about it. That would hold me back, but now I don't think about it, I just go out there and play."
On his first contact in spring practice ... "At first I was kind of rusty because I hadn't played in a full year. Towards the end of the spring I got more comfortable and started playing better."
On some of the things he worked on during the off-season ... "Mentally getting ready for the game, because physically it's all about the running, lifting and everything else. I'm just trying to take it to another level and that's when you become a great player, when you can mentally outthink your opponent and anticipating what's coming and reacting."
Senior Defensive End LaMarr Woodley
On the Wolverines' defense ... "We've got a lot of guys from last year returning. A lot of guys who were playing backup roles will be starting already with a lot of game experience. The depth chart is just full of experience. We changed up a lot of things. I can't give it up quite yet -- we'll wait until we get to the first game -- but a lot of things did change."
On his defensive role ... "If they want me to play defensive line, I'll do that. The next week, I may play linebacker. I just go wherever they tell me to. I'm willing to play anywhere, wherever they need me that week."
On his attitude entering the season ... "Being a year older, I guess I feel smarter. I know what to expect. It's a different attitude because I know it's my last year. You have to get guys going early. I haven't yet reached my full goals or seen my full ability yet, so I'm looking forward to this year."
On senior linebacker Shawn Crable ... "Shawn Crable is really going to step up this year. During spring ball, he definitely changed his attitude and just brought it every day. He's going to be one of the guys to watch."
Media Contacts: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423
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