Press Conference Comments from Michigan Football Players

Player Comments from
Weekly U-M Football Media Luncheon

Previewing Notre Dame (Sept. 10); Reviewing Northern Illinois (Sept. 3)

Fifth-Year Senior Left Tackle Adam Stenavich
On the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry ... "It's one of the games, when you come to Michigan, it's one you want to play in. It's a big rivalry, one of the biggest in college football, and one of the biggest games on our schedule. It's an honor to play in this game, with the two great traditions. Notre Dame is Notre Dame and Michigan is Michigan. They're both great traditions and it's always going to be a good game, no matter how good the teams are. Both teams always play their best when they play each other."

On how the offensive line played against Northern Illinois ... "I felt we were just kicking ourselves in the foot a lot. When we'd get down there, and then that fourth-and-one we didn't get, that stopped the drive. Then we had a fumble on the goal line that stopped another drive. We just can't make those mistakes this week against Notre Dame. They're going to definitely capitalize more on them. That's something as an offensive line we definitely have to correct; make sure we can get that taken care of."

On Chad Henne ... "Obviously, he's got a year under his belt. He knows much more about the offense and everything like that. I guess I was always confident in Chad, but as far as his confidence, he's going to feel a lot better this year. It's a home game, so that's another thing that's going to help him."

On how the line adapts to injuries ... "A lot of times in practice we'll rotate and play with a bunch of different guys, so you get used to it. In the games we've got a lot of good offensive linemen that can step up if someone gets injured. It was unfortunate what happened with Jake Long, but luckily Mike Kolodziej stepped in and did a good job this week. And he'll continue to do a good job. I think with the offensive line, we practice together all the time, so it's not a big deal if someone has to miss a few plays, someone else can step in."

On Leo Henige ... "He's a good friend of mine, and he's had a hard career. He's had a bunch of injuries and he sat out a couple of years due to some knee injuries. It's always nice to see him play and that's what happens if you work hard and stick with it. It's a good story."

On Notre Dame's defense ... "I watched them against Pitt. They got after the quarterback very well. I think they had five sacks or something like that. That's always a good sign for a defense, if you can pressure the quarterback. So that's one thing we have to concentrate on this week: protecting Chad."

Junior Rush Linebacker LaMarr Woodley
On the defense's goal early in games ... "Our main thing is to try to get off the field early. You don't want your defense out there for too long. That's our main thing the first time we go out there, just trying to get the ball back for our offense."

On working out the kinks early in the season ... "I just think that as far as Saturday's game, we gave up that big play. Guys weren't lined up in the right position. Sometimes it's good for that to happen early in the season so that you can correct it and it won't happen later on down the line. We corrected it and it didn't happen again."

On how well the defense pressured the quarterback ... "I think we did a great job as far as getting to the quarterback, but it can always be better. This week hopefully, we'll put more pressure on the quarterback than we did this past Saturday."

On how the defense prepares ... "It's not difficult on defense. It's about how you prepare that week. When you know you're playing against a team that likes to run the ball, or a team that likes to pass the ball, it's how you prepare that week. When you prepare well, you go out and play well on Saturday."

On early criticism leveled at the defense ... "I don't even listen to it. When people talk bad about your defense, you go out and try to prove them wrong. When people say good things about your defense, you try to prove them right. So you're always just trying to prove people right or wrong."

On how the team felt after Saturday's game ... "Everybody was happy, but they know we can do better. Next week we're playing against Notre Dame in a big rivalry game. Everybody knows that this week we need to give 110 percent."

On last year's loss to Notre Dame ... "That was last year. They have a different team and we have a different team. I'm not looking back on what happened last year. We're going to prepare for this year. We have new guys, guys that can handle the pressure. They have a good running back. You have to give him credit. But we have to do what we have to do to stop him."

Fifth-Year Senior Defensive Tackle and Co-Captain Pat Massey
On how special the Notre Dame game is to his family ... "It always is. My Dad went to Notre Dame, so there's that aspect of it. Like I've said before, my Dad has two sons that play at Michigan and he's very supportive. That simplifies things a little bit."

On how much he follows the Notre Dame program ... "I'd say just as much as every college football fan. Being at Michigan, I've got plenty of other things to worry about, like my career and my team. But Notre Dame has such a big tradition and it's hard to not keep up with everything that's going on there."

On the tradition between Michigan and Notre Dame ... "You have to look at the players that have played on both sides in the past, the games that have gone on between them, and the institutions themselves. You have two of the finest academic institutions in the country and you combine that with the football tradition. That kind of rivalry isn't found anywhere else in the country."

On Michigan's loss to Notre Dame last season ... "Anytime you lose to a team the previous year, there's even more motivation to come back and prepare even harder. You definitely think about that last game a lot and it serves as extra motivation to come out strong this week."

On Notre Dame's new head coach Charlie Weis ... "We all know about Coach Weis and all the different schemes he throws at you. We have a big task in front of us in preparing for his multiple schemes and the different looks he's going to give us."

On whether anyone has contacted Tom Brady about Charlie Weis ... "I was thinking about that last night and was wondering in the coaches had talked to him at all. If anybody knows Charlie Weis, it would be Tom Brady. Maybe the coaches should give him a call."

On Notre Dame running back Darius Walker ... "The biggest thing that sticks out to me is what a tough runner he is. He's not going to go down after one hit; he's going to keep his legs going. He's a tough back."

On the importance of winning this football game ... "It's a really big deal. It's hard to put into words how important it is to myself and the entire team to come out with a win. You always want to say that you have a good record against a rival. That just adds even more importance to this."

On Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn ... "He's a lot like Walker. If he gets knocked down, then he'll get right back up and come at you. He's a good athlete and he can move with the ball. He's got a strong arm and he's a great quarterback. That's another aspect of the offense that we have to stop."

On the difference between playing Notre Dame at home and on the road ... "I love going to Notre Dame and playing there. It's such an incredible stadium and it's a great opportunity to play there. I feel lucky to have my last game against Notre Dame in my stadium. It's a whole different story when you play on the road. But when you're at home, you have the support of your fans. I feel lucky that we'll be at home against them this year."

On whether he was surprised at Notre Dame's win over Pitt ... "I know Notre Dame is a talented team and I know about Coach Weis' reputation and what he's accomplished in his career. It didn't surprise me at all; I knew they were going to have a good team."

On the importance of having a good defense ... "I still believe that a lot of defenses beat themselves. There are definitely some big offensive numbers being put up, but I still believe that a good defense should be able to stop a good offense. We're definitely trying to achieve that."

On whether the big offensive numbers they gave up against Northern Illinois bother him ... "Of course it bothers everyone on the defense. We've got very high expectations. We created a lot of turnovers, but it was just an average performance in terms of giving up points. But we all know that it's not good enough. For us to reach our goals, we're going to have to be great."

Senior Wide Receiver and Co-Captain Jason Avant
On the offense against Northern Illinois ... "We got off to a good start, so that's always good. But we left a lot of points out there. Hopefully we can improve on some of those things. It was an okay performance overall, but we're going to need to play a lot better this week."

On his own performance ... "It was good. I dropped a pass and missed a couple blocks. It was alright."

On Michigan's letdown in the second half against the Huskies ... "It's pretty hard to put your finger on it. Whether it was a missed assignment or a guy missed a block, we didn't do those things in the first half. We got a little lackadaisical in the second half and hopefully we can correct that before this weekend's game."

On his thoughts of the Notre Dame game ... "You come to Michigan to play teams like Notre Dame. The game means that much more to me because it's my last year and I only have one more chance to play this team. It's one of the greatest rivalries in college football between two schools that have the most tradition. I'm going to go out there and play as hard as I can to help us win."

On losing to the Irish last season ... "It always motivates you when you lose to a team. I would be lying if I said that it didn't."

On Notre Dame's pass defense ... "They're probably going to be a stiffer defense. Chad's (Henne) just going to throw the ball to an open guy. Whoever's getting open is going to get the ball."

On Chad Henne's season-opening play ... "He performed pretty well I think. He got the ball in the right spots and gave guys a chance to do something with it. I think overall he played a good game."

On making catches on third down ... "I taking pride in catching the ball, no matter what down it is. I didn't run all the way across the field just to go back to the huddle. I want to catch that ball."

On how much Chad Henne has grown from last season ... "It's night and day. He knows what he's doing now. I'm not saying he didn't know last year. He understands defenses and he knows our entire offense. Coach (Scot) Loeffler has drilled into him this whole year, so he knows how to check into things and how not to. He's got more confidence and he knows that he can win at this level."

On Chad Henne's preparation for Notre Dame ... "It seems like every game is a big game to Chad. He's not going to take any team lightly. I think he's going to come out and perform like it was any other school we were playing."

On what he remembers about last year's Notre Dame game ... "I remember that we didn't score in the red zone during last year's game. I remember that our defense played fantastic and created a lot of turnovers. I remember last year an offense that really let the team down. Hopefully we won't do that this year."

On the excuse of starting a young quarterback in last year's game ... "You don't want to make those types of excuses. Just because Chad (Henne) was a young quarterback is not an excuse. The coaches call plays and you have to have a determination that you're going to work no matter what play is called. It doesn't matter how vanilla the offense was or anything like that. The coaches call plays, and we should execute those plays."

On the play of Mike Hart ... "You can stop applauding Mike. He's become a great player here at Michigan and he's going to continue to improve. Mike's not a guy who rests on his laurels and I'm expecting him to play his best. He's developed into a very mature man off the field and also a very productive man on the field."

On his first memories of the Notre Dame game ... "I remember my first trip down there during my freshman year. I was really hyped up and I didn't play that much, but I was just glad to get in there just to get a block. It pumped me up just to be able to get in the game. You realize when you play a school like Notre Dame how important it is to be here at the University of Michigan, considering all the tradition."

Sophomore Running Back Mike Hart
On his number of first half carries against NIU ... "I didn't realize I had 19 carries in the first half. If I get the ball, I get the ball. I never expect to have a certain amount (of carries)."

On the difference of preparation from last season's Notre Dame game ... "Last year, like you said, I wasn't expecting to play that much. I played a little bit in the first half, maybe 10 plays. This year I'm going in there as the starter, so you prepare a lot more and watch a lot more film. You just have to get yourself ready, because they have a great team. Their team is really good this year and we have to go in there ready. We're going to have to bring our 'A' game if we really want to win."

On last year's experience at Notre Dame ... "That was my first away game ever, being at Notre Dame. Running out, getting booed, and seeing all those green shirts was really exciting. I was happy and you could just tell that it was a different type of game. You could tell there is a lot of tradition involved, and like I said, both teams bring their 'A' game."

On last week's devastating touchdown run ... "I remember getting out on the screen and seeing one of the lineman rush out, so I turned it up and there was one guy there and I was just lower than him I guess -- got underneath him -- and ran him over and just ran to the endzone."

On whether the running game sets up the pass ..."I think it works both ways. If we're running the ball well, the safeties have to come up, which open up things for Chad. When we start passing the ball, it makes it a lot easier on the run game. Like you saw, when we started passing more that game (against NIU) we started breaking out 10-yard runs, 11-yard runs and I just think they complement each other real well. The problem comes when we're not running the ball and we have to pass."

Junior Kicker Garrett Rivas
On the possibility of the Notre Dame coming down to a field goal ..."I don't take any game any differently than any other one. For me the uprights are always the same distance apart. I'm just going to prepare myself to come in there, and I know I can make the field goal that they'll give me an opportunity to make."

On last year's Notre Dame game ..."Any past game you try to put it behind you. I'm really not even going to think about last year's game at all. I'm really focusing on this year's game and I want to improve on some things from last Saturday. I'm not even going to think about last year's (game)."

On last week's 48-yard miss ..."I just didn't hit it right. I know I can make that kick. Nine out of ten times, I'm going to hit it. It's on me, I just miss hit the ball."

On senior punter Ross Ryan ... "All he did on the game field is what he's been to all fall on the practice field. He's been consistent all through camp and he was just put into action on Saturday. That's important, that's going to help us out every game from here on out, because that's field position. He kicked the ball real well on kickoffs, put it in really good locations. Good hang time. His punt was real good and he came up with that fumble. I give him all the credit in the world. He had a great game, it was his debut, and he really stepped up."

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

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