Aug. 12, 2012
Opening statement ... "We appreciate your attendance today and coming out and your time and your interest in Michigan football. We've got seven practices that we have handled so far during fall camp. Our first full day in pads was on Friday. We had two padded practices yesterday, and I think we are starting to get how this team is going to perform a little bit. It was nice to get into pads, it was nice to hear football, and I think for the most part we have done a pretty good job with that. We need to play a little bit with better leverage on both sides of the ball up front, that's a big part of playing the game of football. We've got a lot of fundamentals and technique, a lot of work to do. I like the energy we've had. I think for the most part the guys have gone out there and understand that this is work and it's hard and I like that part of it and we just have to continue. It (football) hasn't changed -- you play football up front and our offensive front and our defensive front, that's where we have to make great strides. At the same time that is also where we have to, as we get further along, find out where our depth is going to be on both sides of the ball.
"A couple of in-house things -- Roy Roundtree had arthroscopic surgery on Friday. He had a little cartilage that he needed cleaned up. We expect him back in two weeks. It went great, he feels great, and it was just one of those things that he didn't do practicing, he just needed to get it done. He kind of felt it a little bit walking back to the huddle to be honest with you. With him, he's one of the great kids on this football team, and as a senior he's been a guy that will do a great job bouncing back.
"On Fitzgerald Toussaint and Frank Clark, they will begin practicing with the team tomorrow. They are still, obviously, the guys who as teammates we love them, but there are consequences for their behavior and they are paying the price, and they will continue to pay that price for a little bit. I think both of them realize that they have an outstanding opportunity to play at the University of Michigan and get a great Michigan degree. They understand that there is a standard of performance from the community and a standard of performance from the academic side and there is a standard of performance from a football side that they have to do a great job and understand. As coaches you are a teacher and you get an opportunity to teach life lessons. Believe me, they have paid a heavy price and will continue to pay a price for actions unbecoming of a Michigan football player.
"Tamani Carter has decided to leave Michigan. He is a great young man, tremendous kid, but he decided to leave and I will leave it at that."
On how the start of Roy Roundtree's season is impacted by his surgery ... "Having a scope to fix a little bit of cartilage, a lot of guys come back in two weeks. Our doctors do a great job and we have a great medical staff here. They all do a great job and I think everything went well from talking to them. You have a guy like Roy who is a committed guy -- he's going to do everything in his power to get back."
On what he's most excited about this season ... "To see the development and the seniors and what their leadership is. We'll find out a lot about ourselves continually every day. There's an expectation for them every day. It's part of growing up and maturing. I think a lot of those guys have."
On whether he sees an elevated intensity in the team because of opening with Alabama ... "You come to play football at Michigan to play in those kind of ball games. You're expected to play and perform. Playing the defending national champs is always something that is a great challenge and a great opportunity. Going to play the game in a venue like the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington I think is going to be a lot of fun."
On whether he's concerned about being ranked so highly in the preseason ... "Our expectations are always the same and that's to win the Big Ten championship. Year in and year out, that's what the expectation is for the Michigan football team. We don't really care too much about rankings. I think we were picked fifth in our division in the Big Ten a year ago, so that's how much those things mean. Like in life, it's not where you start, it's where you finish. We have to finish in everything that we do to prepare to be the best Michigan team that we can."
On his concerns regarding the defensive and offensive lines ... "Believe me, we could have the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line and defensive line and I'd be concerned. Knowing the opponent that we're going to play against and watching them -- I'm a defensive coach and watching that offensive line, that's as good an offensive line as I've seen in college football."
On this year's defensive line's potential to match last year's defensive line ... "I think they can and I know we think so. I know Greg (Mattison) and Jerry (Montgomery) would tell you the same thing. They're hard-working kids. I'll talk about Will (Campbell) because to see the maturity that he's gone through and what he's done physically from body fat to all those things, how he's worked, and he's really done a good job. Then you have Quinton Washington and Richard Ash and moving Jibreel (Black) inside gives us a little better depth inside at the three. And Craig (Roh) inside and having Nate (Brink) back I think is all important."
On his confidence in Thomas Rawls to be the starting running back if needed ... "I have confidence in all our backs. Thomas is a guy who has been here. Vince Smith has played a lot of football at Michigan. I think Justice Hayes is a young guy who we redshirted a year ago and then you have Thomas. I think all three of those guys have had good camps to this point. We're just scratching the surface of where we're at as a team. All three of those guys are doing a nice job."
On where he's seen Denard Robinson improve in the offseason ... "I think his maturity and leadership and how he approaches the game from being a quarterback. What he's done in the offseason -- watching football, watching technique, watching fundamentals. I think in all that part of it I've seen growth. I've seen him take a more vocal, active role within that senior class. I think that's important. He's played a lot of snaps. From a fundamental standpoint I think he's improved. We're going to talk about that all the time. He's still going to throw a ball off his back foot every now and then, and probably shouldn't throw a ball over the middle late, but he's improved in a lot of ways. I'm really proud of him."
On whether Toussaint and Clark can earn the opportunity to play against Alabama ... "I'll make a decision sometime. They're part of this football team. They're guys who are 18-23 and like some of us have not made great decisions and they're paying for it. They're paying the consequences of bad decisions."
On what he and the seniors can do to help the team keep moving forward in his second season ... "I think remembering what the expectations are. Where did we fail and why did we fail? I think that's a big part of it. As coaches, that's on us first. Believe me, it's on me. We failed because I failed as the head coach. We have to do a better job of coaching and we have to do a better job of preparing those guys on a weekly basis for how we're going to play the game of football and how we're going to prepare to play the game of football."
On whether or not opening with Alabama has increased the team's intensity ... "It's a storied program with a lot of tradition, just like we have. I know one thing, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Our first impression of Team 133 will be Sept. 1 against Alabama."
On whether it's possible for the team to have a better season but have a worse record ... "If we don't win the Big Ten championship, then we failed. We know what the goal is and if we don't meet it then we fail. It's pretty cut and dry."
On his comfort level going into his second season ... "It's about the same to be honest with you. You really think about those 115 kids. It is what our focus is for our staff and the people that work in this building. We have a job to do as mentors and we have a job to do to be an extension of their families and helping them grow and mature. But does it feel any different? No, it probably doesn't because I've been here for eight years before. I haven't been up here, but it all is focused on those kids."
On the freshman class in the first week ... "To be honest with you, I'm not going to single anybody out because they are finishing classes, they've missed some time, they are trying to catch up a little bit mentally. Most importantly they have to do a great job finishing those classes. Once we get that over on Tuesday, we will see a little bit more and have a little better idea. I think it's a very good class of guys. I like how their demeanor has been, physically and genetically they are a little bit different."
On NCAA rule changes ... "I think the rules, the safety issues are important. They tried to help the kickoff return by not having three-man wedges anymore, a couple years ago. I think moving the kickoff, they moved it up and now they are moving it back, the approach only being a five-yard approach, all filters down a little bit from the NFL and what they do. I think it will be interesting to see because now that the ball is coming out to the 25-yard line, which is a little different, how as a team you approach and game plan for your kickoff team and your kickoff return to some degree. In the NFL, I think one time a year ago, they had more kicks being returned when guys were catching them eight yards deep in the end zone. I think that depends on one, who your returner is and two, who can stay on blocks long enough. Kickoff-wise, can the guy put it eight yards deep? I think Matt (Wile) has done that at times, and as we get through camp we will know a little bit more. Does it effect? No doubt."
On the strength of the team ... "I think always having a senior quarterback is a plus because he has been in the big games, tough situations at home, the Notre Dame game a year ago, how he handled the end of that game. I think being on the road and how we play on the road is a plus because there is a sense of confidence and composure and poise that is very important to every position when you play in big football games. Other than that, the wide receiver group to a degree, they have guys who have played snaps. We have more depth at the linebacker group, and having Desmond (Morgan) back and Kenny (Demens) back and some other guys, (Brandin) Hawthorne has played some significant snaps from the defensive standpoint, and on our offense I think that Joe Bolden, who I know is a freshman, but coming in January gives us some depth there. The secondary point, I think the core group is pretty good, but we have to develop some guys for depth. That being said, our two fronts better play."
On having a tough, physical team ... "The great thing about fall camp is that it's a grind. It's a grind on our coaches, our medical staff, taping and (Jon) Falk and equipment, turning over laundry, and everything else. It's a grind on everybody. You find out with the adversity, the one thing that I promised them is that I would put tremendous stress on them and get them out of their comfort zone and see how they come together as a football team -- who stands up, who leads. Are we there? No. When you look at our team, I like how we practiced with no pads. That usually comes around pretty good, but to be tough daily, tough every play, I can't answer that."
On increased respect of Michigan ... "I don't understand why anyone wouldn't respect whenever anyone says, 'This is Michigan.' This is Michigan football, it's 11 national championships and 42 Big Ten championships."
On Alabama being a regular game or a bowl-like game ... "It is definitely not a bowl atmosphere. This is business, going down there and playing the reigning national champions who have a lot of great players. Coach (Nick) Saban has done a tremendous job, obviously. This is about us getting ready to play our best football Sept. 1."
On the importance of the defensive line ... "I think that Will (Campbell) has done a good job from a leadership standpoint, and this is usually what happens with self pride in how he prepared himself to come into camp and how he has taken the role of a leader, coaching guys up, and how he has gone out to practice. Rich Ash has improved, I think that Quinton Washington, there is some improvement when you look at fundamentals and technique when you look at both of those kids and what they are doing. I think that the move of Craig Roh and Jibreel Black have been very positive for us. I think it gives us a faster overall defensive line from point A to point B to the football. The biggest thing is that their weight gains have been pretty good and substantial. They've done it the right way. Now can they take the 70 plays of 'knock-'em-back football' and that is something that we are working on every day."
On Will Campbell's technique improvement ... "It is so important up front, the use of your hands and playing football with your eye. I think that part of it is where he has made the best growth. I think that the past couple of days he has played with better leverage that he needs to play with. Will had a tendency of standing up and looking for the ball instead of believing that the visual key is going to take you to the ball. I think he has improved in that area. Just his overall demeanor on how he takes the field, I could go on and on, but it is probably kind of boring."
On talking to the team about being picked to win the Big Ten championship ... "I'd lie to you if I said we didn't talk about it. We said that it doesn't really matter."
On talking to the team about what a win against Alabama would do for the program ... "I think we have talked about the opportunity because we get a change to represent the Big Ten Conference also and that's important. We have a great conference. There are a lot of great schools from an academic side of it and the football side of it and the athletic departments and all that. We have talked about that part of it. We're not just representing the University of Michigan, but we've got a chance to go out and represent the Big Ten Conference."