Press Conference Comments from
U-M Head Football Coach Lloyd Carr
Previewing Eastern Michigan (Sept. 17); Reviewing Notre Dame (Sept. 10)
Opening statement ... "It's obvious I think in the game, the problem that we had was in the red zone, we got down there four times, got one touchdown, turned the football over twice, and I think that's really the story of the game. Defensively, I thought we played hard, I thought we played physical, and I thought as the game went on we got better and better. I thought we really came out of that game feeling like we can have a good defense and I think with a lot of confidence. We have a lot of improvements to make on both sides of the football, but I do like the way we plays defensively.
"It was a poor performance in the first half. Our inability to run the football put us into too many situations, long distance, yardage-down distance situations. So in the second half I thought we played much better. I thought we ran the football. We had an opportunity for some big plays in that game, but we didn't get them. We broke a run out of there, where we should have a big play, and we don't execute it. We had a couple of passes that we had chances to make big plays on, and then in the final analysis we just didn't execute. Chad Henne uncharacteristically did not play like we've come to expect him to play. Certainly he did not have the help that he needs to get, and certainly when Mike Hart went out, we become a different offensive football team. We're much younger, and so what we've got to do is regroup here, and put an offense out there that will execute and run the football, and do some things to help us get some points on the board."
Can you access your team's injury status ... "I think we're a very, very unlucky team in that regard, and we're certainly not at full strength. We've lost some great football players, but that's part of this game. It's the unfortunate part because a guy like (Tim) Massaquoi is playing in his last year at Michigan, and to lose him for a while, I can't tell you how long -- and I'm not going to comment on length and when people are coming back, because I don't know.
"I'm certainly during the course of a week not always going to tell you about injuries because that puts our team at a disadvantage, and I hope you understand that. If you don't, you should, because when a team knows ahead of time who is not going to play, that helps them, so it's nothing about anything else than that.
"So Mike Hart, I will say, he came in yesterday. The spirit is willing, there's no doubt Mike Hart is one great football player. That's what I can tell you, and he wants to play. But we've got to see how he comes tomorrow, because the flesh is not always able."
About Ryan Mundy ... "I think Ryan Mundy, I just don't feel very good about where Ryan is. He's not been able to practice like he needs to practice. So I'm not optimistic there."
Is the biggest challenge for this team right now to forget about one game and look ahead ... "I think that's the challenge no matter what happens. You've got to get ready to go again, because you've got to assume that everybody you play is going to be looking forward to playing you. And certainly, I think that's always the case at Michigan.
"But I think that's true for anybody in any sport and any business. You'd better be trying to figure out what happened and find some solutions to the issues that you face, but you'd better be zeroed in on the next deal. That's what we've got to do, absolutely."
About developing continuity along the offensive line ... "I think that when you don't have continuity, when you're putting people in other positions or new people, there's no question that it affects your communication. There are a lot of things that go on at the line of scrimmage. For example, Rueben Riley played very, very hard. But he's at a new position, and so he's working with a new guy over there at right guard in Matt Lentz. There's all kind of things that go on there. There's a comfort level in playing beside a guy all the time. That's part of our challenge. That's part of the deal."
Do the assignments change much as you move from center to guard In other words, when a play is called, do the assignments change that much Does a center know when he moves to guard how difficult, is it difficult to make that move from center to guard as far as the assignment goes ... "I think it depends on, for example, a year ago, David Baas moved over there. But David Baas was a fifth-year guy and he had worked some in the spring. But he made an incredible transition. Most of the time, it does not go as well as it did with David Baas. He was an exceptional athlete.
"And so moving from guard to center is I think an extremely difficult thing to do, because you've got to snap the football before you do anything else.
"And the communication, the protections, you know, there's a communication there, not only that, but you're doing something different. And when you're aligned against different personnel, it's a challenging position to play anywhere in the offensive line. Next to quarterback I think it's the most difficult place to play on the football field."
About the offense ... "I think our offense is predicated on the quarterback making progression reads. He's got the first thing to do, the first guy to look at to check, and then he's got to be able to come off and go to two and then down to three.
"In that game there were a few times he didn't do that and that's very, very unlike him. He's a sophomore; I think we're all surprised, I was surprised, and yet I shouldn't be because he's a young kid. We are a different football team, with Michael Hart in there. I think Michael Hart is really special, and so Chad had some people in different positions in there, and he didn't have (Tim) Massaquoi. There's an inexperience factor I think that impacted him. He made some great plays.
"But you know, he'll settle down. He'll learn from this. This is all about trying to learn from every game, and that's the wonderful thing about this game. This game will humble you. This game will teach you a lot of things if you just are tough enough to stay focused on what you're trying to do. And I guarantee you Chad Henne is tough enough and smart enough, and he'll be back and he'll be better for this. But, you know, it's not easy."
Did you consider putting Matt in the game when Chad was struggling ... "I wasn't tempted to take Chad out at all and that has nothing to do with Matt. You know, I think you have to fight your way through some adversity. I think that you have to fight your way through some up and downs."
Watching the film, did Chad see what he did wrong ... "He knows exactly what he did wrong. And you know, the thing -- the first interception -- the interception to start the third quarter his first read was a tight end. The tight end was almost immediately a no and had he said no and gone to his second read, Jason Avant was wide open. But he didn't and tried to force the ball, which I've seen before, and the best will do that, the best, and that's what he did. On the fourth and five, the same thing happened. You know, so he'll learn from it."
Can you evaluate the play of Kevin Grady ... "I'm not going to evaluate him. From the standpoint, I've said this a hundred times, experience is a wonderful thing but it's hard to get without suffering. That's a young player, a big game, playing more than he played before. He played over 50 plays, so you start with that. He had a lot of things coming at him. He did some good things, but he made some mistakes that he's going to have to learn from. I think he will."
Is this the most banged up you can remember a team being this early as a head coach here ... "I think the main thing for our team is that we understand that we're not at full strength. But that's something we're not going to dwell on. We're going to go forward here and hope that some of those guys can come back.
"But the truth is, it is what it is and we've got to understand that every guy on that field has got a job to do, and he's got to do it as well as he can. If he does it as hard as he can, if he plays as hard as he can with every bit of his heart and his mind, then whatever happens, we can accept that.
"So it's about doing the very best we can, and that's what we'll do, because we've got people that have good character. They care deeply, and nobody is more disappointed than they are.
"So we're not going to dwell on any of the things that we don't have any control over. We've just got to go to work and become the best team we can be and that's what we're going to do."
Do you envision using three with Carson Butler or would you rather redshirt him ... "I think Carson Butler is absolutely a factor depending on how long Tim is going to be out. I don't want to have to do that, but I've got to figure out, find out or decide how long we can go without using him. We'll just have to see how that goes."
Did you talk about the fumble that was overturned there on your show Can they hear a whistle, are they looking at what the officials do ... "No, I think all of the replays that they reviewed were correct."
"Well, I think he (Chad Henne) scored on the first down play. Chad Henne was in the end zone. Leo Henige knocked their two technique two yards deep in the goal line. Now, the problem that we're going to have as we go forward is I certainly would have asked for that play to be reviewed, but I'm not sure there would have been enough to overturn the review.
"The truth is, that as an official, you can't be thinking, well, they will get it in the box. I mean, you've got to make that call. I think the longer we go here, there will be coaches who want to decide what the review is.
"Now, you know, there's a lot of people that don't want to get into that in college football because the rules and the time that it would take. And I'm not proposing that, but I can tell you that if you're asking for somebody to -- if some things are reviewed and some aren't, then you have controversy and the whole purpose of this thing was to avoid controversy.
"I'm not talking about the officiating. I'm just saying, that call, that's my judgment, and like you, I have the right to voice my opinion. I respect your right."
What do you think the biggest difference was from week one to week two in the defense ... "I think we played very hard. I think we played very physical. That was a hard-hitting football game. I mean, everybody on that field laid it out. From that standpoint, people can say, well, the offenses didn't do certain things. That was a hard-hitting football game. I thought we played collectively much better. In other words, guys were where they were supposed to be.
"And you're going to always have some things that you look at the film and say, well, this shouldn't have happened. Well, no, but the other guy is pretty good. The other guy made that happen. I thought David Harris made a world of difference in there. Harris is capable of being an outstanding linebacker. I thought Chris Graham played well, and we were much better up front, much better."
Has Jerome Jackson stepped up into the third tailback spot ... "I think Jerome has experience. I think Fred has a lot of confidence in him. I want to see what Max Martin can do. You know, the toughest thing for young backs is pass protection. That's the amazing thing about Mike Hart. Mike is so smart and walked in here, I mean, what he did a year ago is just amazing. So now we've got to find a way to be able to throw the football, and that means protecting, but I want to get a look at Max Martin because Max can do some things and we'll see how that goes."
When Leo Henige was deciding whether or not to come back from the injury, did you advise him in any way ... "I encouraged him to come back. I talked to him about how I understood all of the things that he had been through. He had made an unbelievable investment here, and he had been through more than the average guy goes through as far as injuries, and I think he was very, very frustrated. Leo doesn't talk much but he plays the game like you want him to play it. I just told him, you won the starting job, you've got to go after this, because if you don't, you're going to look back 10 years from now and say, I wish I would have stuck it out; I wish I would have come back for that fifth year. I think right now, he's awfully glad that he did because he's doing a good job and he's having a lot of fun and he's playing a lot."
About Grant Mason ... "Grant is a smart guy. Early in the game he let the ball outside once. I think what I liked about him is he had a couple of bad plays on the first series, but from then on, he played very well. He's tough, he's smart and he competes. I mean, those are the things I like about him."
Do you have a report on your new Michigan Replay intern Pierre Woods ... "Well, he'd better get his degree, because based on what he did on Michigan replay the other night, I wouldn't hire him. I'm just kidding. Pierre, I love you. I would hire you to take (Jim) Brandstatters' place next week. I think if we did anything to improve that show, to improve the ratings, Pierre should take over for Brandstatter. Brandstatter can take over for (Bob) Lipson. And then you can take over for me. (Laughter). I know, I'm bad but not that bad."
Is it that high school running backs don't learn to pass protect or is it that do they not get much experience in high school ... "I think that's an excellent point. I think depending on most high school backs are recruited for the way they carry the football. And I think, you know, by and large, if you look at high school football players today, there's a lot of one-back teams, there's a lot of spread teams. We are a drop-back football team where the back must first know what the protections are, and those protections can change at the line of scrimmage. So that changes what your assignment is. There may be three linebackers in there on one defense, and you've got to know which of the three you've got to take.
"Then the next down, there's only two and then there are times when nobody comes and you've got to check out and get into the pass, the passing game. It's not an easy thing to pick up, because the number of repetitions a young player has, and that's why I say, what Hart did was absolutely astounding. But they get better as they do it, but it happens fast.
"You know, that's the other thing that happens to a young player. Things happen awfully fast out there. It's impossible in practice to get a lot of simulations where it's game speed. We have a part of each practice where we're going against our defense, but you know, you can't do that a lot once you get into the season because you're trying to get prepared for the offense or the defense that you're playing that week."
About Eastern Michigan ... "The spread offense, they did a good job there, Matt Bohnet, the quarterback; (Eric) Deslauriers is an outstanding receiver, and I think it starts for them offensively because he can put points on the board. I've been very impressed with their special teams. I think they are doing some things special teams-wise that gives them a chance. It makes it very difficult to prepare, because they are not just an orthodox kicking team. They are going to spread the ball around. You don't know where the ball is going to be kicked off. They have got an interesting punt. They are going to make it difficult for us to return kicks simply because of the way they punt the football.
"Defensively, I think they have improved from where they were a year ago. They had a chance to beat a good Cincinnati team, and of course, got a win last weekend. They are an improving football team. That's an improving football program."
Can you elaborate on what you saw from David Harris and what he did out there ... "Well, Harris is big and he's strong and he's tough. He likes to play the game and he's a competitive guy. And he's smart. I like everything about him. He really had a tough season a year ago coming off that knee injury. He was never back to where he had been, but he a very good spring, a great training camp until somebody rolled on his ankle and missed a lot of time.
"Last Tuesday, I would never have guessed he would play in the game because he was limping around, but Harris came to play, and he made some very, very good plays in there."
What are your recollections about working over at Eastern Michigan ... "I remember I was coaching at John Glenn High School, and I had three kids, just bought a new car, making $20,000. That's in 1976. And a guy offered me a job, Ed Chlebek offered me a job at Eastern Michigan in the summertime. George Mans who coached here (at Michigan) and was a great player here, captain, was the head coach at Eastern Michigan. He resigned in the middle of the summer, and I was the head coach at John Glenn High School. I had a great job, and Ed Chlebek offered me a job for $10,700, which I immediately took.
"The first season I think we went 1-9-1, and I was regretting ever leaving that job. But I had a kid. I was a secondary coach over there, and had a guy named Ron Johnson and Eddie Woods and some great guys. The next year we had a great year, went 8-2-1 I think, and Rocky Raklovits was our quarterback. I was only there about 18 months. Nearly starved to death, but everything worked out okay. I like Eastern Michigan. I like the people there, good people."
About the perception that maybe Pierre was in your doghouse last year ... "First of all, I think I made that very clear. And I don't like that term. I wish you would not use that term. I don't have a doghouse. I mean, we're dealing with people here. So I've never had one and I don't like the term.
"Now, you can use it but I certainly don't like and you're not the only one (who uses it). I've always said this. The player/coach relationship is like my relationship with you; it's ongoing. Some days it's great and some days it's not so great.
"But what you're trying to do as a coach, sometimes you've got to let a guy know what you don't like, and you've got to let him know that what he's doing; he's capable of better. So the coach/player relationship changes, and it changes after they leave, because that's when you go from being a coach/player relationship to friends in almost every case. That's why, some day, we'll all be friends in here, I hope."
Did Pierre Woods' comment after the Ohio State game, was that particularly upsetting to you ... "Let me say this. There's a way of dealing with things when they don't go your way. You know, one of the things that I believe strongly in is I don't care what happens to you, or what happens. Let's don't make excuses. Let's give the other team credit. Let's go back and decide what we could do better, and if you're an organization that makes excuses, you've always got an answer. And that answer will prevent you from getting to where you need to be. I think from that standpoint, I didn't like what he said there, no. But was I mad at him No. I didn't like what he said."
Looking at the way Matt Bohnet operates the offense, what concerns you most about his ability, the passing or the run ... "Well, that's what bothers me. He can do both. He's a big guy, he's strong. He's got a good arm and he's in an offense that allows the quarterback to do both, and that stresses the defense. He's done a great job there. Hey, 21 touchdowns in a season, that's a lot of good work.
"I think that's an offense like that always gives you a chance to score points. Any time you score points, you've got a chance to win."
Does the fact that Bohnet was at Iowa help him prepare for a game like this ... "I'm sure it does. When I watch him, I see a very confident guy. And he's been around, he's been through some experiences that absolutely prepare him to come in this stadium."
How do you feel your wide receivers have done through the first two games ... "I think the thing that happened Saturday, they always defensively have a chance to take a guy out of the game. You can double a guy and now you've got to be able to go somewhere else with the ball. That's why the quarterback is the key in terms of progression reading, knowing what his progression is and getting to the guy that's open, getting to the guy that's being single covered. We've had a chance for some big plays that we haven't made, but, you know, that's all a fine line.
"The play to Steve (Breaston) in the end zone, I thought the defender made a great play. I hear people say that should have been a touchdown; well, I think the defender made a great play. I think we can all get better. I can sure do a better job and every guy on our team can do a better job."
About the play of Tyler Ecker ... "Tyler had some real fluid problems after that game because he left everything (out on the field). Because Tim was out, he played a lot more than he normally would have played and probably more than we would like for him to play, but I thought he played really hard. I thought he caught the ball well and I thought he did some things to get open. Tyler Ecker is a heck of a football player."
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