2003 U-M Football Media Day -- Offensive Player Quotes

Offensive Player Comments from
2003 Michigan Football Media Day

Jason Avant | David Baas | Calvin Bell | Tyrece Butler
Braylon Edwards | Jermaine Gonzales | Andy Mignery | John Navarre
Tony Pape | Dave Pearson | Chris Perry | Adam Stenavich | David Underwood

Sophomore Wide Receiver Jason Avant

On improving his receiving and upping his number of receptions ... "The biggest thing I want to do with my game is to run better routes so I can be in a position to get myself ready for passes. A lot of the time it was my responsibility for not getting a lot of balls because I wasn't in position at the right time."

On his down-field blocking last season ... "I think blocking does a lot. When you're a receiver you've been recruited as a receiver and the coaches know you can catch. One of the biggest things here at Michigan is you have to learn how to block because we have a wonderful running attack. All down through the Michigan tradition we run the ball, so you have to learn how to block. That's one of the things that I'm good at and that helps me stay on the field. The coaches know that I can catch in practice and everything, so if I can block I can get on the field easier."

On how the competition is shaping up at wide receiver ... "We feed off of each other and the competition is more of a friendly thing. Everybody in the receiving corps is real tight friends and we're happy to see each other do well. We understand that we win for Michigan and not for Jason Avant, Braylon Edwards or Jermaine Gonzales. That's what the job is, to win for Michigan. We don't get too caught up in competing against one another. We know that whoever is on the field earned it and they're going to win for Michigan."

On if he's excited about the emergence of the passing offense at Michigan ... "It's really exciting to see that we can make the receiving corps that good so we can put more and more guys on the field. I really like to see that. I'm pretty happy to see that it's becoming a passing show."

Senior Offensive Lineman David Baas

On playing with an experienced offensive line ... "It gives us more confidence in the fact that people know what to do. You don't have to worry about as many mistakes, but you still have to develop more as a unit and go out there and jell and play your game."

On this year's offensive line possibly being as good or compared to great lines from the past ... "There hasn't been a lot of talk about past players so far, but we are just trying to develop as a unit, be the best that we can be, and try to establish ourselves as one of the great offensive lines at Michigan."

On protecting John Navarre's blind (left) side ... "I do like the fact that I have a huge responsibility, along with Adam Stenavich, and I take pride in protecting John's blind side, and that's why I try to do my job as good as I can so that John can be in there every game and suffer no injuries."

On being quiet and reserved off the field but talking to the opponent on the field ... "Well, I don't talk when I am on the field; I just let my play out there do the talking. It's a completely different mentality when you're out on the field and when you're not on the field, and I like jumping back and forth."

On his relationship with Adam Stenavich and the left side of the line ... "Stenavich and I have developed a good relationship. We always communicate with each other. When something happens we're always talking about what happened, we're getting things fixed, and we're joking around with each other. It's really good to have that good relationship because that way we can play better next to each other."

On the offensive line's progress thus far ... "There has to be a jell to an offensive line. I think that we have established that pretty well, and we are still establishing that, and by the time the season rolls around I think we'll all be on the same page and that will help us a lot."

Senior Wide Receiver Calvin Bell

On the new artificial turf in Michigan Stadium ... "The first thing that caught my eye was the way that it looked; it looks really bright and green, and it looks nice. The footing is really, really good. It feels good, it's just a little warmer than usual. It's hot, your feet will definitely feel it, but during game time you don't really think about that. Other than that, I'm really happy with it. With the route running, especially for receivers and such who run routes, the surface is really nice. No slipping, sometimes perhaps a little too much traction, but that's fine with me."

On the offense ... "A lot of people are coming back; there'll be a lot more chemistry, a lot more confidence, a lot more experience. We really don't have a lot of weaknesses. Our line is great; we have a lot of depth at receiving. All the returning receivers have played and have a lot of game experience. Our quarterback speaks for himself, as does our running back, Chris Perry. I'm just ready to see what's going to happen. I really think that the only person that can beat us is ourselves. If we can just execute, we'll be really good."

On his role on the team ... "I just want to get in where I fit in. As long as I'm contributing, I'll be happy. It's hard to say, because so many things can happen through the course of the season. I'm a senior, this is my last season, so I just want to help the younger guys out and help this team win."

Fifth-Year Senior Wide Receiver Tyrece Butler

On surprise players on this year's offense ... "Breaston, (wide receiver) Steve Breaston. He's going be the fastest guy on the field any time we play. I call him the game breaker. He can do kick returns, receiving the ball, reverses, everything, he can do it."

On fellow receiver Jermaine Gonzales ... "If he gets out in the open field and catches the ball he's going to put a sick move on somebody. That's one thing the defensive coaches always get mad at (in practice), they're always screaming, "You've got to tackle Jermaine.' He's an incredible player."

On being the fifth-year leader of this year's receiving corps ... "My role is that I am the veteran, I school the young bucks. I have to let them know if they are doing a route wrong, and also just to get the guys hyped. If the defense is beating us out there on the field I'm the guy that has to let them know, 'Hey, we gotta pick it up now.' We're not last year's team, we're a better team. I tell them (receivers) all the time that we need to score a lot of points, and we need to be out there on the field so the coaches have a lot of confidence in us."

On which players are the most vocal team leaders ... "Marlin (Jackson) is the vocal leader out there on the defense. On the offense it's probably Chris Perry. He is always enthusiastic. When he wakes up in the morning, he's asking Coach Carr, 'Why aren't you up, I'm up, why aren't you' He's a crazy guy out there on the offensive side of the field."

On John Navarre's progress throughout his career at U-M ... "I've seen him all along from when he had to step in for Drew (Henson) when he got hurt until now; he's a much more mature player. In the summertime he's watching film, working on stuff at six o'clock in the morning. He's always thinking, 'What do I need to do to get better' and he's a really mature player."

Junior Wide Receiver Braylon Edwards

On his jersey switch to No. 1 ... "My father played here, so obviously I know the Michigan tradition. I know that 1 is a very significant number. Only five people before myself wore the number, and it is a symbol of greatness. I figured that if I wanted to notch my name to the list, it would be a good idea. I always wanted to wear that number. I talked to Coach (Lloyd) Carr beforehand, and he told me that if I played good my sophomore year, I could do it. I said I played good (last year), and I still wanted to do it, so there it was."

On the depth of the receivers ... "We have so many weapons at receiver this year. We have seven solid guys that are all going to contribute, they're all going to play, and they're all ready to play. If my numbers drop, which is a possibility -- as a matter of fact, it's pretty much a fact -- it won't bother us, because we'll still be getting the same amount of production just from the other positions. We're going to balance the ball out this year, and we have the team to do it."

On his improvement since freshman year ... "I'm much better, but not necessarily just physically, it's more mental. I approach the game different. My positions coach, Erik Campbell, has shown me a lot of things, taught me a lot of things, and I've listened to him and I've understood these things. It's the little things that count -- how to read a cover, little signs to look for, how not to get rattled, things of that nature. So it has made me a better player mentally. The game is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical, and I'm learning that more and more as I go along. I still have a long way to go, but I'm a better player now because of the mental game."

On sitting out the end of his freshman year ... "Sitting didn't really hurt me, sitting helped me. It helped me understand the fact that I was a small entity on a team. It helped me understand that I have to learn the system before I was able to thrive in it. Once I did that, once I sat back, realized all that and took it in, then I began to utilize that, it helped. I'd say from the end of my freshman year to halfway through my freshman year, it has really helped."

On the team leaders this season ... "I'm one of them, because I have more game experience than any of them. I'm not a senior; we have three seniors. Not including myself, we have Tyrece Butler, Jermaine Gonzalez and Calvin Bell who have been here, who understand the system as well and are leaders. I myself will be a leader too, but they can do it just as good as I can. We're all leaders amongst ourselves."

Senior Wide Receiver Jermaine Gonzales

On how the receivers are looking ... "They are looking real good and we have a great bunch of guys that are each capable of turning shorts passes into big gains."

On how quarterback John Navarre has progressed during the off-season ... "Navarre has gained so much respect and confidence from the team and the receivers. He has just gotten better over the years where he can just go in there and it just clicks of where he knows what he can and can't do vs. different defenses."

Fifth-Year Senior Tight End Andy Mignery

On the competition at tight end ... "I feel like I have a good chance at starting. I am going to do what I have to do and hopefully take that starting role and do something with it."

On what he has done to prepare to start at tight end ... "Coming out of spring, I had a pretty good idea that I would be starting. I really took on that role as a fifth-year senior and knowing that I would probably starting and I did the extra stuff. I have always been a hard worker, doing the extra stuff. I did that when I was a quarterback and now I am doing that at tight end. Putting in those extra hours in film, and different things like that. I really focused in the summer. I didn't work too much and really rested my body to get ready for what I am doing right now."

On the differences between tight end and quarterback ... "The biggest difference is that the quarterback never delivers a hit or a block. They do every once in a while, but for the most part when you look at the situations the quarterback never really has to come off the line and deliver a strike. You have to pick that up fast because everybody I have competed against so far has been doing that their whole life. You have to learn faster than the other guys. I really think I am able to do that and take advantage of my talent."

Fifth-Year Senior Quarterback John Navarre

On the team's goals ... "As far as team goals, they are always set high, and a conference and even a national championship is always mentioned there. We have to iron out those goals, but if we set them high, I think we have the talent and the right attitude, which is something special. A tremendous attitude and great chemistry is going to help us achieve those goals."

On his confidence level ... "The confidence is very high, as it is for the entire team. I think that is the result of experience, not just on my part but also for the whole team. We had a great spring practice. A lot of guys got healthy over the summer. The more we rep things and work on things, that brings confidence. You can see that and now that we are taking more time with meetings and studying the offense we have more confidence and we are practicing with confidence. That goes along with our high goals and adds to the attitude that is going to help us achieve those goals."

On his development since he came to Michigan ... "I think development-wise, I used to try to get by on raw talent. Once I grew into the system, I realized there is more to it. I wish I worked on the mental part of the game just as much as I worked on the physical part. I do not think I matched those up well at an early age. Once I adopted that, I worked hard towards that and I was able to do my job consistently and do what was being asked of me as a Michigan quarterback and leading this offense."

On his relationship with quarterbacks coach Scott Loeffler ... "Being a quarterback we have a family and we have a special relationship from the coach down to the sixth or seventh guy. We are a family. We work hard. We study film and the offense just as hard as anybody. We have to have a family and that relationship is a friend/coach relationship. We can talk about anything, but there is still that respect there. He has been absolutely instrumental in my development in the last two and a half years. He has been a great help and a great friend."

On if this year's offensive line is the best he has seen at Michigan ... "I have seen some great offensive lines, so I cannot say if it is the best. I came in with some great lineman in (Steve) Hutchinson and (Jeff) Backus. Those guys were great O-lineman. This line can be as great as they want to be. They have the talent and the size and the experience. That is the key because they have been playing together so long and working hard. They want to push and be mentioned as one of those great offensive lines. I think they can do that."

On if going through reads is second nature ... "Yes, and that comes with experience. We are repping the plays and at meetings we are going through the plays. The confidence level increases and it is easier to go through your reads and pick up things on the defense. It gives you that much more of an advantage."

Fifth-Year Senior Offensive Lineman Tony Pape

On the competition on the offensive line ... "With our line, we have been together a long time. Any competition there is friendly competition and is to make each other better. It is not 'I am taking your spot' or 'you are taking my spot.' It is good competition in the sense that it makes people play better."

On his feeling about the team heading into the season ... "I am just excited for the team we have. Like I said, we have all played together for a long time. We have been through a lot of hard times. John (Navarre) went through a whole slew of bad press and bad crowds. I think he deserves a good season and for that part so does our whole offense."

On how to improve the running game ... "That is what we have been focused on since the season has ended. It has been our focus that we were third-to-last and that is not how it is done here at Michigan. It was a letdown for us because we expected more from ourselves. This year we made an absolute change that we are going to run the ball better."

On where the changes need to be made ... "It is mostly an attitude and dedicating more of yourself to it. In the off-season, we dedicated ourselves to watch more film and practice more with each other. Things like that."

On the strategy behind running the ball well ... "The thing is we want to block the down guys first. That is our No. 1 rule and then we worry about the linebackers. If there is an extra guy, that is what we have Chris (Perry) for. He has to make somebody miss. If there is one guy left in the box, that is his problem."

On being the leader on the offensive line ... "I do not feel like that guy. I still feel young and like I have a lot more to experience here at Michigan."

Fifth-Year Senior Offensive Lineman Dave Pearson

On this year's offensive line ... "We should be real good because we have a lot of guys coming back with experience this year. We are looking forward to having a great running back and quarterback behind us. So, we're looking forward to having a good season."

On the preseason accolades for the offensive line and that possibly making them uncomfortable ... "No, I don't think it is uncomfortable but it may put a lot of pressure on us. When you play at Michigan you expect to have a lot of pressure, especially being a Michigan offensive line. So, we are just working hard and trying to bond as a unit and be able to play real well together."

On how different it is a year later after switching positions ... "Having a year of experience under my belt has obviously made a big difference. I am a lot more confident, I understand defenses a lot better and I know exactly what our offense is trying to do on certain plays. So, I think it makes a big difference."

Senior Running Back Chris Perry

On how much it motivated him seeing Ohio State celebrate winning a share of the Big Ten championship last year ... "That motivated me throughout the whole off-season, along with a lot of other goals. Everywhere you go you see the Ohio State championship T-shirts and commercials. So, of course knowing that we had a really good chance to beat them and we let it slip away, it keeps the whole team motivated."

On whether it was tough seeing Ohio State win the national championship ... "Yes, but then I was also happy for the Big Ten because I feel that we don't get enough respect in the national picture of college football. A lot of people underestimate the power off our conference."

On his role in the offense this season with John Navarre and Braylon Edwards ... "I think we are all poised for a big year. Navarre is coming into his third year as a starter and Braylon is coming off a great year. I'm coming off an okay year. We are all ready to go out there and prove once again that we are very good players. We also all complement each other because Braylon and Navarre passing and catching helps me out and me running the ball helps them out. So, as long we complement each other throughout the whole season we will be fine."

On improving the running game this year ... "I think the reason we can be better this year is because the line is more experienced. Everybody up front knows what they are doing and I am better at reading defenses. So, it really depends on how I run the ball. The line is going to get the job done so it all comes down on my shoulders."

On building on his Outback Bowl performance ... "It is a big motivation for me to come off the bowl game and to keep on rolling. I had a good receiving game that game but I could have did a lot better in the rushing, but it is always good to have a good game at the end of the year."

On missing fullback B.J. Askew's blocking ... "You are always going to notice a difference when a great player leaves. We have Brian Thompson and Kevin Dudley there to pick up the slack, and I think both of them combined will do a great job."

Junior Offensive Lineman Adam Stenavich

On this year's team featuring both the run and the pass ... "We think Chris Perry is a great running back. We're very excited about our running game. We have the tools to be a good running and passing team."

On playing for a great Michigan offensive line ... "Coach Carr expects us to carry the offense. The offense isn't going to be too successful if we don't give John Navarre time and if we don't make holes for Chris Perry. Everyone on the offensive line knows how important our job is and what our expectations are. We're just excited about getting things going."

On playing next to David Baas ... "It's nice to play next to a guy like that because he gives you a lot of help in terms of when you're playing he can take care of anyone that's going inside. It's nice to have help like that."

On if he hit a wall last year during his first season ... "Now that you've played some games and you know what it's all about you have more confidence that you can just go out there and focus on your job. You don't have to worry about the noise or anything like that. You're more focused and it's easier to handle and you're worried about playing and not all the other conditions."

Junior Running Back David Underwood

On his transfer rumors earlier in his career and why he is happy at Michigan now ... "It is just part of growing up, because you are going to have problems. Life is not always going to be what you want. I was used to having everything given me in high school and now I have to compete and learn every day. When I thought I was ready I wanted to be playing and I started to get frustrated. Some of my friends and family wanted me to come home, but I am happy here now."

On what he has done to prepare for the season ... "I have been working on my reads a lot and working on watching a lot of film. This summer, I was working out extra, getting up early in the morning and running at the stadium. I ran a lot, even sometimes after team workouts."

On the running backs as a group ... "This year I think we will be better than we were last year. Chris Perry and I have some of the same style but we are different at the same time. We are going to add something to this offense. The offense is going to have a nice receiving corps, a good tight end, a smart quarterback and a good offensive line. We should be good."

On the differences and similarities between him and Chris Perry ... "We are both big backs with some speed. I may be a little faster than he is, but he definitely has better hands than I do. We each have things we can bring to the team."

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

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