Weekly U-M Football Media Luncheon
On the upcoming Purdue game ... "Coming into this Purdue game, we are going to have to shift gears. We have another Heisman Trophy candidate (Purdue quarterback Drew Brees) coming in with a tremendous supporting cast of receivers. They are a team with an outstanding kicking game and a defense that rallies and plays hard to the ball. We are going to have to come up with our best game of the year as we have another outstanding team on our schedule."
On Michigan hitting big plays ... "Teams seem to be making up their minds that they are going to stop us from running the football. When teams do that, it forces you to pass, and I think we have proven that we can pass the football and there isn't any question that helps become a balanced offense."
On turnovers ... "I think ball security is a key factor. We have to keep your man away from our ball carrier, that's where it all starts. A couple of weeks ago, you saw (quarterback) Tom Brady throw an outstanding block that kept his man away from the ball carrier on a reverse. It all starts with the mentality the guys have when it comes to protecting the ball carrier."
On Michigan's passing game ... "When you look at the way people have defended us, you see they have put the free safety anywhere from six to 10 yards right over the ball or the tight end, and he becomes the guy that supports on the run. Wisconsin played their coverage inside on our receivers, which gave us a much better opportunity to throw the ball outside. The defense has the ability to dictate how they want the game to be played and as an offense, you have to adjust to that."
On the blocked field goal against Wisconsin ... "There are a lot of things that go into kicking a field goal successfully. It begins with the snapping of the football, getting the ball down, the kicker getting the ball off quickly and of course, a good job of protecting up front. We were deficient in that area."
On the play of running back Anthony Thomas ... "Anthony is an outstanding football player because he has no weaknesses. He's an outstanding pass protector and he learned that from Chris Floyd two years ago. You watch him back there, he does a great job of protecting the passer. He is an outstanding receiver. He is not a guy that just wants to run the football, and because of that, he has the respect and admiration of everyone on our team because he's not just into stats. He wants to win and he plays every down."
Comparing Purdue's offense with Washington State's of two years ago ... "I was reading (Purdue head coach) Joe's (Tiller) biographical sketch this morning and I didn't realize that he coached for Mike Price at Washington State. I knew he had spent a lot of time out there in Montana, but he's a part of that offensive philosophy and yes, it's very similar."
On stopping the Purdue offense ... "I don't know if you can stop it. You would have to play a perfect game to stop it and even then, I don't know if you could stop it because there is too much space between the defenders. You are spread out and they have enough speed to throw the ball deep. You have to try to mix up the way you cover and the way you rush so he (Purdue quarterback Drew Brees) doesn't get in a comfort zone and you keep him off balance. The most impressive thing about Purdue, in spite of all the statistics passing, is the fact that Brees has only been sacked once. That speaks of his athleticism, his getting the ball off quickly and the job the offensive line is doing. I think it's incredible the way they are playing football."
On defending the spread offense ... "I think defensively it comes down to owning the seams. When those receivers get into the seams, they have to be hit. You have to knock some balls loose. That takes its toll in any football game. I think turnovers will still be big in a game like this."
On wide receiver/defensive back David Terrell ... "One of the things I love about David Terrell is he has tremendous enthusiasm. He is always cheering for whoever is out on the field and he's an exciting guy to be around because he's going to play hard every down and have fun doing it."
On the unsportsmanlike conduct call on David Terrell ... "He violated the rule that says you can't call attention to yourself. I think it was a good call and I'm sure David will learn from it. It cost us at least three points."
How difficult a turnaround is this game defensively ... "I told our defensive coaches this is very similar to the situation we faced a year ago when we had to face the option because we had an inability to simulate it in practice, but this is still an option offense -- the option is, hit the open guy or run the football if nobody is open. There isn't any question that we haven't seen anything like this since the (1998) Rose Bowl, and that will be a tremendous challenge. The game is going last a lot longer, the defense is going to be working a lot harder than they normally do. They test you from a conditioning standpoint and it tests your concentration."
On Purdue quarterback Drew Brees ... "Brees is in an outstanding system and is surrounded by outstanding people and he has an outstanding line in terms of the protection. What he brings, in my view, is great athleticism. He's 220 pounds and plays with great enthusiasm. He's a guy that loves the game. He has a very quick release and is extremely smart and is a guy that knows where he is going with the ball before the ball is snapped. He's not getting hit a lot, he's not getting sacked a lot and they aren't getting into a lot of long-yardage situations. He's got it all. I don't see any weaknesses."
Contact: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423