Press Conference Comments from
U-M Head Coach Lloyd Carr
We've had a very good training camp. I'm very pleased with the progress we've made. I think this team has a wonderful attitude, a good work ethic. I'm anxious to see how they'll perform once we get the season underway. I'm pleased with the selection of our three captains. Juaquin Feazell is, in my judgment, one of the finest people I've been able to coach. He was kind of an unsung guy on this football team a year ago, and I know he's going to provide great leadership. Marcus Ray is a great competitor; he's a hard-nosed guy who loves to win. I think it says a lot about Jon Jansen. He was a captain a year ago and he was almost unanimously re-elected this year, which I think says loads about the kind of leadership he has given this team.
I have nothing to report on injuries. (Junior RLB) Jeff Holtry has left the team, and Tom Brady has earned the starting quarterback position at Michigan.
What does Brady bring to the table
Tom Brady is much like Brian Griese. He has paid his dues. He has worked extremely hard. He's a bright guy, he has a good arm. He has the respect of his teammates and I'm anxious to see Tom play. He's got all the right stuff.
How is Drew Henson doing
Drew has made excellent progress. He has gotten better almost daily. He is improving rapidly. He's a bright kid. He's picked up the offense well. He is without question the most talented quarterback I've been around; it's just a matter of continuing to compete and continuing to prepare. He's going to play some this year because he's not just 'another guy.' He's got everything you want. I knew he was a good athlete, but he is really even quicker and better on the move than I thought he'd be. He's a guy who can make plays when the defense breaks down. If you get pressure and he has to scramble, he can do that. He is a guy who really adds a lot of mobility to that position.
Where do the other quarterbacks stand
They're all competing and that's the situation. We talk at Michigan about the expectation is for the position. That's, in my judgment, a very important part of our program. You compete everyday, you get better because you don't know what's going to happen. I've seen two quarterbacks go down in one quarter. In my judgment, you don't have to worry about where you are on the depth chart; you have to be ready when your time comes.
What were the factors that made up the quarterback decision
I think it goes back to the fact that Drew Henson has been here two weeks and Tom Brady's been here three years. Tom Brady knows the offense. He's a talented guy. Tom Brady is a fighter, he's a competitor, so I don't sell him short at all.
Why did Holtry leave
Playing time. I think he was disappointed with his position on the depth chart. I don't put a lot of stock in depth charts. I think we should do away with them. We'd be the first college team in the country not to list a depth chart, because in truth they don't mean a lot because you're always looking to get the next best guy on the field. The other key factor is that it's a long season and competition is on-going. If you have an attitude that you're going to continue to compete in order to improve, and if you do those things, when your opportunity comes, you'll be prepared.
How is the fullback position looking
Good. Evan Coleman is going to be an outstanding player at Michigan. Like all young players, he has to learn. The thing about young guys is that there's so much more communication to be done in the huddle, at the line of scrimmage. So any young player is going to make mistakes early in the season. That's not to mention the fact that the game is much quicker than it is in high school. The intensity is greater so those are all things a guy has to adjust to. Evan has very good talent, he's a good pass receiver, he's got his weight down, he's down to 250. So he's going to be a fine fullback. Ray Jackson is much like Chris Floyd was. He's an outstanding athlete, one of the best athletes on our team. So I'm very comfortable with our fullback position. The thing any coach is faced with today is that if you have injuries, you're going to have depth problems. If we can stay healthy there, we'll be good at fullback.
On Notre Dame
Only Lou Holtz would complain about the talent down there. Notre Dame has as good of talent as anybody in the country. They have a tremendous offensive line, they have two tight ends back, they have two wide receivers (FL Bobby Brown, SE Malcolm Johnson) who each caught over 40 passes a year ago. They have (Autry) Denson, a great back, who was a 1,000-yard rusher each of the last two seasons. He's got a chance to be one of the leading ground-gainers in Notre Dame history. You've got a great athlete at quarterback (Jarious Jackson). You've got the best punter maybe in the country (Hunter Smith). I think that's an outstanding football team from a personnel standpoint. They've got a lot of guys back who missed some playing time a year ago. Based on everything I read they've improved their strength and conditioning so Notre Dame will have a great football team.
Is this team ready to deal with all the expectations
We have great kids at Michigan. They came here because they understood they'd have an opportunity to play in the greatest stadium in the country, to play in big games nationally. They understood expectations are tremendous so I think they're excited about the challenge. They're very much aware of the expectation, particularly based on what happened a year ago. As a coach, I've never been so excited in my life and those guys who are going to make up this team at Michigan feel the same way.
What about freshman tailbacks Fargas and Cross
Both Justin Fargas and Walter Cross have acquitted themselves extremely well. One or both will play. Fargas has had a very good fall, and so has Cross. The thing about Fargas is that he can knock it out of the park. He's a guy who brings a dimension we haven't had in a while.
What about (linebackers) Copenhaver and Rosel
Clint Copenhaver has come back; he's right where he was before he got hurt, which I was very much worried about. The first few days of training camp he didn't appear to be fully recovered. But he is fully recovered. At 100 percent, Copenhaver, (Sam) Sword, (Dhani) Jones, (Ian) Gold -- those guys give you a set of linebackers who can really run to the football. Eric Rosel is going to miss 4-6 weeks with a broken arm. It was a freak injury but he will be back. He was doing extremely well; he would've been an outstanding special teams player. But the good news is he'll be back. He broke it on Monday (Aug. 24). Basically, he fell and all of his weight went to his arm.
Do you see in a lot of places where freshmen have an opportunity to play that that competition has elevated the play
I don't think there's any question that if you're a veteran and you know the talented freshmen coming in, if you're competitive, it gets you going. The thing I really like about this team is that the upperclassmen have embraced the younger players, they've tried to help them. There's a competitiveness there, but there's also a willingness to support them. That's an important factor in their team chemistry. The truth is, today in college football, you have to get some help from freshmen and it makes their adjustment easier if they've been accepted. The test comes with every football team: there are going to be crisis situations and the close teams stay together. That allows them to forge on through the tough times. If they don't have the closeness, then they crack and that's certainly something you don't like to see.
Are you surprised by the number of freshmen who come in and are ready to play right away
In days past, the numbers created a situation where you didn't have to play them. Today, you have to. The truth is that you have to have systems in which they can come in and you don't overload them if you're going to give them a chance to be successful. The first freshman I remember coming in and ending up starting in our nickel defense right from the beginning was Ty Law. And then of course (Charles) Woodson came and he started the very first game. Now those are extremely talented guys. Most freshmen have a hard time being ready to start in the first game. But there are guys who can do that.
How hard is it to replace Charles Woodson
Truth is we had two big play guys on that defense a year ago. Glen Steele was a guy who created tremendous pressure all the time. He was guy who played with a relentlessness that only the great players have. In combination, Woodson of course had the ability to take the best receiver in the country out of the game, which he did. Guys like that don't come along all the time. I don't think you replace guys like that, but what has to happen is that everyone else who's coming back has to elevate their play. We've got a lot of veteran guys back. I don't expect James Whitley to be another Charles Woodson. I expect him to be the best he can be.
Contact: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423