Player Comments from
Weekly U-M Football Media Luncheon
Previewing Iowa (Oct. 4); Reviewing Indiana (Sept. 27)
Fifth-Year Senior Defensive Lineman Grant Bowman
On last year's loss serving as motivation ... "You don't really want to look back to last year. That will just get you stuck. The main thing is that we are in our Big Ten schedule now and we are playing a very good team on the road. Obviously we are thinking about last year and what happened and we don't want it to happen again. Mainly we are just focused on what we have to do to get prepared for this team."
On Iowa's run and pass games ... "There are things you can do against both. I do not think they are just a team that can run. They are pretty balanced. It is always a tough team to defend when you have to do both. You can tell when you watch them play, they are very well coached, especially on the offensive line. Even though they lost a lot of good guys last year, they still have some great players up there. You can just tell the way that they play that they have some great coaching and take a lot of pride in what they do. They are always tough to play against."
On Iowa's quarterback ... "I do not think we have played against a guy that weighs this much. I think he almost weighs 260 pounds or something. A lot of times quarterbacks go down easy when you try to tackle them, but you know if you get near him you have to really wrap up. Losing a sack is a pretty big deal. It can really demoralize you to have someone in your grasp and lose them. It is not something you have to think about or prepare for too much. You just have to make sure that you get him to the ground."
On if Iowa may be desperate after losing to Michigan State ... "They are not desperate. I know that no matter when we play an Iowa team how tough they are and that they are always going to give us a great effort. I do not know if this will give them more motivation, but I would not be surprised if it did. But you know they are going to play tough no matter what is going on. They are a solid team all around, they do not make many mistakes and they do not lose the game. You have to beat them and that makes it tough."
On his impressions on Iowa running back Fred Russell ... "He is quick. In the scheme they run, they do zone blocking, which gives him the opportunity to make different cuts depending on what he sees. On any given play, there is no predetermined place to run. There are three or four places where he can take the ball or cut it back. The type of quickness he has really lends itself well to his scheme. It is tough because with a small back like that, if you are not defending where you are supposed to defend, he can squeeze through without even seeing him. What he does fits real well with their system and he is a great back."
On what the defense has been doing differently from the first three games ... "Each game is different in its own right. I think the first three games were against a lot different opponents and a lot of different types of games. Obviously the scores were very different when you look at it from that perspective. When we look at ourselves in terms of how we play, I do not think it is as different as the scores have been. Yeah, you would like to win every game by 30 to 40 points, but you are not going to do that in a competitive league and you sure are not going to do that in a tough game like this. I do not think we are doing anything different, it is what the opponents are doing."
On if motivation will be a problem against Iowa ... "I do not thing so at all. We have the motivation of going on the road and getting a win on the road. We are playing against a tremendous team that beat us last year. We are playing for a Big Ten championship. I do not think there is any chance of us not being prepared for a game of this caliber. Hopefully that won't happen for any game."
On the progression of Larry Harrison and Gabe Watson ... "It is tough to play defensive line as a young guy because there is a lot of technique involved in the position. There are a lot of things you do that are unnatural. The way you get in your stance and have to bring up your hands and things like that. It is tough, but they have done a decent job at it, but there are things that they can do better. Gabe is a guy that has a lot of size and is very talented. That is the main issue because it is tough to come in and play in your first few years, because you have not had the experience to learn the technique yet. It really is tough to do that down in and down out and focus on that. They are coming along and I think they are both guys that are team motivated and want to play for the other guys around them, which will always keep them improving."
Sophomore Wide Receiver Steve Breaston
On what he saw on film from the Indiana game ... "I feel that I didn't block well on the field. When I watched tape it confirmed it. I didn't block well. I made a mistake on a couple routes. I didn't feel I played all that good of a game."
On how many blocks he made in high school ... "I didn't throw that many but I played on kickoff return so I made some when I was on off return."
On if he looks forward to going on the road and the challenges that brings ... "You look forward to the challenge. It's different when you're playing away because everyone is cheering against you. That's why you prepare all week and work hard in practice. You just take that to wherever you go, whether you're at home or on the road."
On how he is working to improve as a wide receiver ... "They put me in at receiver and I feel good about it. I'm just trying to work hard every day. They're putting me in more roles and I have to do it for the team. I feel good about it, but I feel that the other receivers have to do their job the same as me. We have a bunch of types of receivers."
On the functioning of the offense over the last two weeks compared to the first three ... "Turnovers are going to happen. Poor plays are going to happen sometimes. Every week is a new week. Every week is a new team. We just have to go out to practice and work hard at correcting our mistakes and be ready to play next week."
On if he feels better prepared after his decision to redshirt as a freshman ... "Yes, I'm happy I redshirted. I'm happy the coaches redshirted me. It helped me out a lot to learn. I had to learn how to run routes and I had to learn the plays. I also got to watch a great bunch of receivers on the field. I got to watch Ron Bellamy, Braylon Edwards and Tyrece Butler. I was happy when Jason Avant played last year. His work ethic during practice and everything else is great. He goes all out. Watching him and Carl Tabb -- I came in with a great bunch of young receivers -- has really helped me learn a lot."
On moving into a starting role being awkward ... "It's not awkward. Any given week somebody could be in there. You just have to be ready to play. I'm fortunate enough to be in there right now. I know for sure that if I went down with an injury Tyrece Butler or Calvin Bell would be right in there to pick me up and we'd never miss a beat."
On how the other receivers have helped his development ... "They've taught me route techniques and how to get off of the line during jams. They've been playing the position their whole lives. They've helped me out a lot."
On who the leader of the receivers is ... "We don't have a leader. I'd have to say the seniors -- Calvin Bell, Tyrece Butler or Jermaine Gonzales. They're basically the leaders of the group. They've been to a lot of places and been in a lot of situations. They have a lot of knowledge about the game that the younger receivers don't have. We learn a lot from them."
On the communication issues that take place on the road due to crowd noise ... "I think I feel more comfortable. Oregon was a loud place to play at and it prepared me a lot for road games. It was different type of environment and it prepared me for a lot of road games in the future."
Fifth-Year Senior Linebacker Carl Diggs
On facing Iowa's offense ... "The biggest thing for the linebackers is that we all have a gap to maintain. If we can get to our gaps we will be in position to control the play."
On last year's loss to Iowa ... "They took it to us last year. They wore us down and took advantage of us. It was kind of hard to deal with. We don't want any team to come in here and push us around but that's what happened. This is a new team and a different year so we can only look ahead to this game."
On Iowa running back Fred Russell ... "They are a zone team and he's a great zone running back. He makes a lot of good cuts so he presents a challenge. Again, if you can't control the gaps, he will break a big run on you."
On the performance of the defense heading into the Iowa game ... "I feel like we are playing at a high level right now, we just need to make sure we maintain that for four quarters throughout a game. Indiana was able to come out after halftime and we didn't play at a high level and missed a lot of tackles. We need to play a full game against Iowa. Any time you play a road game, you need to bring your best, but especially against Iowa."
On Iowa's formula for success ... "If you look at them right now, they are playing good defense, they have a great special teams unit so they are doing everything it takes to set the tempo. They go out and control things from the start; that's why I call them the bullies of the Big Ten."
On how to game-plan against Iowa ... "They like to run the ball, they are going to run the ball at least 40 times a game. They try to control the game and let their defense win it for them. I think the game will be won between the tackles this week. You have to pay attention to their cutback runs as well."
On playing in Iowa City ... "It's a very tough place to play. The fans are going to be rowdy, it's going to be a hostile environment, we have to be ready from the get-go. Especially in Iowa, the crowd is right on your back so you need to be extra focused on what you need to do to win the game. This week is very important to us. This will set the tone for the rest of the season."
Fifth-Year Senior Offensive Tackle Tony Pape
On this week's game ... "This is a huge game for us and a huge game for them. The Big Ten race is on and everyone is still in it."
On what to expect from Iowa ... "They line up and just challenge you. It's no surprise what they are going to do, you just have to go out there and play harder than they do is what they are saying to you. This is a Big Ten game and this is what it's all about. Playing great defense and running the ball is what both teams try to do. This is definitely a Big Ten game for a Big Ten title."
On the offensive line's point of emphasis ... "We are putting a huge emphasis these next few weeks on getting the first down. We are going to try to get that, get things rolling, and establish momentum. That is our main goal as an offensive line."
On practicing to eliminate mistakes during the game ... "It's watching film, doing drills, doing the little things correct. We try to take the right steps, recognize the defense before we line up, and know what we are going to do before the defensive linemen can hurt the play. I think we know that we are in the race for this Big Ten championship, and for us to get there we have to focus on the details. We know that and are ready and prepared for that."
On the unique challenge of Iowa's defense ... "You don't see many teams like this anymore, it's different and it's a challenge. You see a lot of defenses now with a lot of blitzing. Iowa will give you some of that but it's not a scheme thing, it's more of a case of us vs. them. It's fun for an offensive lineman because the game is going to come down to the offensive line and running the ball. It's a great challenge for us."
Fifth-Year Senior Offensive Lineman Dave Pearson
On last year's Iowa game ... "We had a tough loss last year. Our offense didn't get the job done. We are looking to improve this week and work out some of the mistakes we made last year and figure out a way to go in there and get a victory."
On what Iowa's defense did last year ... "It wasn't anything specific they did. They don't run a whole lot of different things, but they do what they do very well. It's a fistfight when you go in and play Iowa and that is what we are prepared to do this year."
On the running game ... "The last two weeks we haven't run the ball the way we feel we are capable of. We plan on improving on that this week. There are a lot of things that go into that. Our offensive line has to work together as a unit to create the holes and Chris (Perry) needs to make the cuts. I think that we are capable of doing it, putting all the pieces together in one game and getting the job done."
On having two consecutive Big Ten Conference road games ... "Right now we are just focused on Iowa. I am sure it is going to be difficult to play two games on the road, but it's something that we have done before and this team is mature enough to handle it. Iowa City is a tough place to play, but I am sure we will be ready to go in there and play well."
On the game plan for Iowa ... "I think we are going to go in with the intent on running the ball this year. We are just going to play tough this year and that is what it is going to come down to."
On facing Iowa after last year's loss ... "It is a challenge for us. We got called out a little bit by them here last year and any time you lose to a team you want to go into the next game and put a solid performance up and take the game to them. I think the whole team wants to go in there and prove to everybody that we are a tough team and show what we are capable of doing."
On the highs and lows of college football ... "Emotion plays a big part in college football; it is a game of emotion. You have to go out ready to play and you have to be excited to play every time. You have to come out focused and ready to play each week or anything can happen to you."
On playing in Iowa's loud stadium ... "It was definitely a good warmup to play in Oregon and deal with that. So I think the team has figured out exactly what we need to do. Iowa is a very loud place to play, so we have to be really focused to play in a stadium like that. Oregon was very loud and that gave us a good idea of what to expect. We have to prove that we can win on the road; that is something we haven't done yet this year."
Media Contacts: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423