Press Conference Comments from
U-M Head Football Coach Lloyd Carr
Previewing Michigan State (Nov. 1); Reviewing Purdue (Oct. 25)
Opening remarks ... "We enjoyed a great team victory on Saturday. The tempo was set, and our defense, I want to particularly mention Jon Shaw, a fifth-year senior, who stepped in there in place of Marlin Jackson. Anytime you have a guy like Jon, who has waited his turn and steps up when you really need him, that's what team is all about. We had a number of guys who I could mention. I thought the kicking game was a plus for us. Adam Finley punted the football as well as he has since he's been at Michigan. Brent Cummings, Carl Tabb and Ernest Shazor covering punts, I thought there were a lot of good things in the kicking game. Offensively what we were able to do there was make some big plays. That's what you have to do against a defense like Purdue, who was bringing down eight, nine guys into the box and their safeties were making hits two or three yards across the line of scrimmage. The fact that we could make some big plays was important."
On Michigan State ... "They're very physical, very athletic. They're getting a lot of people to the football, and that is the most impressive thing about this team, I think. The fact that they're number one in the conference in the turnover margin, anytime that you're that good in the turnover margin, it says a lot about the kind of year you're having, along with an outstanding kicking game and an offense that can possess the football. It's a very good football team."
On safety Ernest Shazor ... "Ernest Shazor, like a lot of guys who've had an opportunity to start for the first time, which Ernest broke into the starting lineup this year, he's had some very good games, he's had a couple games where he didn't play as well. At this point in the season, as well as he's played, he is really a force because he's big, he can run, and he is always around the football. I thought he played his best game since he's been at Michigan, that's what we were hoping for all along. I think he's developing some consistency and that's certainly big for our team."
On high scoring in NCAA football ... "I think first of all, it's a long season. Teams today offensively, unlike the NFL, where you get basically the same offense every week or some style of it, in college football defenses are challenged to a much greater degree because week in and week out you see a lot of different offenses. Which means that young players have to make adjustments in that what they learn and what they were doing this week is much different than what they were asked to do last week. You also don't have the meeting time. I think part of the reason in college football that there are so many points being scored is the defenses are stressed because they're getting so many offensive looks. I think that's a major factor in college football."
On Michigan State quarterback Jeff Smoker ... "He's always been a guy with great talent. What I see is a guy that's playing the best football he's played since he's been in school. He's always been a very accurate thrower. What I like about him is he knows where to go with the football, he doesn't throw many interceptions, I think he has a grasp of the game. He's smart, he's tough, he's accurate and he can move with the football when something breaks down."
On cornerback Jeremy LeSueur ... "I think Jeremy LeSueur had a lot of outstanding plays in that game (Purdue), but twice when he came, he had great plays on the quarterback. He caused an interception. He's playing as well as you could expect a corner to play."
On the offensive line ... "All these people say you can't do this or you can't do that about any offensive or defensive team. The truth is, defenses can dictate whether you run the football or not by putting nine people or eight people up there. To say that an offense, their line isn't playing well or they aren't tough, misses the point. The point is that when you put a guy there and he's unblocked and he's a good football player, he's going to make the tackle. If that happens, you throw the football. I thought we had pretty good balance in there on Saturday. I think we hit three big plays for touchdowns, 24 points against an outstanding defense, I think that's pretty good."
On the defense ... "I looked out there one time, and I think (defensive line coach) Bill Sheridan has done a wonderful job as has (defensive secondary coach) Ron English, but I looked out there at one time at Rondell Biggs, Gabe Watson and LaMarr Woodley in the second quarter. Three young guys. When you add that to Pat Massey, Grant Bowman, Norman Heuer and Larry Stevens, and Jeremy Van Alstyne is back now, I think we've developed some depth, which I really did not expect to have that kind of depth at that position going into the season. I think we've really helped ourselves in that area."
On the keys to the Michigan State game ... "There are a lot of keys. You have to start with turnovers. In a game like this, that's always something that has a major impact on the game. It's not necessarily predictable what's going to happen out there. That's what makes it such a great game."
On the critics of U-M quarterback John Navarre ... "In seven or eight months, John Navarre is going to be making a hell of a lot more money than all those people who've criticized him."
On assistant coaches Bill Sheridan and Ron English ... "I think Bill Sheridan is a great football coach and I think if you look at what has transpired out there, with a lot of young guys being developed, we're playing very well, and there's been a lot of great secondary coaches at Michigan. I was one. I've had three since I've been head coach and Ron English is as good a secondary coach as I've had here. Both Vance Bedford and Teryl Austin were great coaches and they're coaching in the NFL now. We've had a lot of guys banged up throughout the course of the year, but I think both of those guys have been a tremendous addition. On Saturday they came up with, with (defensive coordinator) Jim Herrmann's leadership, a great plan."
On this being a "team" game ... "There's a lot of challenges, a lot of matchups in every game, but what I've always believed is, it's a team game. You can have great coverage, but if you let the quarterback stand back there, or if you have great pressure but you don't do a good job covering, you get a problem. There are always interesting things to look at, but a lot of times, what may appear to be poor coverage is not poor coverage. It may be attributed to the fact that the quarterback had too much time to throw the football. There are a lot of issues there that are not what they seem to be, but when it really comes down to it, you have to cover people that are spread all over the field, and if you don't cover them, you're going to pay the price. That's certainly an important part of this game, because of the type of offense they run."
On emotion ... "Emotion plays an extremely important part of any football game. It is a game by nature that is extremely emotional, and if you don't have an emotional effort, I don't think you're going to play as well. I think you have to go in understanding that it's important to play hard, it's important to play with everything that you have, and if you have that mindset, you'll have that type of emotion that will you allow you to play well. That doesn't necessarily mean you're going to win, because I think in most of these games where rivals come together, I don't think there's many people that don't have great emotion. But if you lack it, you're going to have a hard time."
On the importance of preparation ... "One of the things that I always enjoy about these types of games is, unlike some other games that are like pulling teeth because it's a long season and sometimes you're playing a team that you may feel like you're better than, they may be injured, those are the games that as a coach are not enjoyable as much as games like this. Every guy understands the importance of preparation. One of the difficult things is the understanding of, as you go into something, often the success comes from what you're doing before you get to the event; the preparation. In a game like this you don't have the challenge of trying to charge the team or get them to pay attention because they understand the meaning that it has."
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