Player Comments from
Weekly U-M Football Media Luncheon
Previewing Northwestern (Nov. 15); Following Bye Week (Nov. 8)
Sophomore Wide Receiver Jason Avant
On his family and friends in Chicago ... "I have about 30 family and friends that are coming to the game."
On Michigan controlling its own destiny ... "To think back, it is amazing where we are now from the third quarter of the Minnesota game when we were down 27 points."
On the teams in front of U-M in the rankings ... "I actually yelled at a few of the younger guys yesterday, telling them to stop looking at those things. It is like a poison. When you look at that type of thing you think about if they lose, we can go here and you stop worrying about what we have to do this week and lose."
On watching the polls ... "You can look at the polls. I will look at them, but that is about it. If it is going to happen, it's going to happen. We can just worry about our games. The only thing we can do is win the Northwestern game this week. If we just continue to win games, then everything will work itself out. We have no control over what happens so why even look at it and say 'what if.'"
On if he watched games this past weekend ... "I was watching football, but I cannot say I was rooting against teams. I just like watching the game of football and that was what I was doing. I just liked having the chance to watch who everybody is talking about because we are usually playing when they are. Players like (Pittsburgh's) Larry Fitzgerald. He is a great player."
On if he lost any timing over the bye week ... "I think we will know Tuesday if we lost timing or not. That is the big thing coming off the bye week. Guys are sitting around and not practicing. We played 10 games straight and practiced every day. You do not want to lose timing, and I think we will know on Tuesday if we lost any or not."
On if the team has a second wind now ... "I think we have a second wind gong over this hump. We had a chance to let our bodies to recuperate this week, so I do think we have a second wind."
On Northwestern ... "I think they are a real good football team. Sometimes your record does not show how good you are. I think they will be jacked to play us because we are Michigan and they are coming off a two-game winning streak. They could not ask for anything else than to have Michigan come into their house and play."
Fifth-Year Senior Quarterback John Navarre
On focusing on the Northwestern game ... "This is one of the better teams I've been on talent-wise and also our ability to focus. From the beginning, I don't think we got ahead of ourselves and the games we lost weren't due to us looking ahead to anybody. We definitely weren't looking past Iowa. They were just tough games and we could have done some things better but at no point during the season have we gotten ahead of ourselves."
On the high-scoring game at Northwestern in 2000 ... "We don't want to do that. Our defense will be keyed in on that and no matter how the game goes, you want to be able to adjust to the pace of the game. We want to go in and play well and control the game but if it doesn't work out that way, we'll have to adjust to it like we have before."
On the week off affecting the timing of the offense ... "The coaches and players did a good job over the weekend and week of keeping our timing. We ran a lot of team and repped a lot of plays where we can really keep in rhythm."
On Northwestern's defense ... "We watched them a lot and will continue to watch them this week. They are a physical ballclub and have pretty good team speed. Their strength is their front and linebackers. They do some good things scheme-wise. We want to stay out of third-down situations. They do some good things on third down and they just have tough, hard-nosed guys who play hard. They are playing for a lot right now and it's going to be a battle."
On the importance of the next two weeks ... "We realize that if you don't get past this game, you're in trouble. This is a championship game. This is the third quarter of the last four quarters of our season and we are going to treat it like a championship game. The Rose Bowl is our big goal and we know if we don't win out we aren't going to be there. That makes it a lot easier to not look past a team like Northwestern. They are a good team and it's going to be tough to play at their place. These next two weeks are very important because this is the culmination of a lot of seniors' careers, players who have yet to win a championship. It's going to be important to them as it will to me. These are both going to be championship games in what hopefully will be a championship season and we are going to work very hard."
Fifth-Year Senior Offensive Tackle Tony Pape
On if he looked at the new rankings on Sunday morning ... "I pay no attention. Rankings make no difference, especially during the middle of the season. What matters is what they are at the end of the season. You can't determine what somebody else says about your team anyways. You know who you are and what you are capable of so it's kind of worthless to go see what somebody else has to say."
On the possibility of still playing for the national championship ... "We have to win two more games still and we play Northwestern on Saturday, so there is a lot that happen still. We have to win the Big Ten championship before we go after the national championship."
On what happens in terms of maintaining rhythm during a bye week ... "I think if anything, we gained a lot rather than losing anything. We had played 10 games in a row and so I think we gained some confidence and some pep in our step. Not that we're slowing down, but we got a chance to rest and see what we've done, what we're capable of doing and what's ahead of us. I think it helped us."
On how many tickets he needs for the Northwestern game since he is from the area ... "As many as I can get. I think I have 20 but I need like 20 more. My dad works all the time. He works constantly. He can't even make it to the game and he's 15 minutes away from the game and he can't make it. He has to work. He's an electrician."
On the 2000 game against Northwestern ... "You have to learn from it. I was there and a couple of other guys on the team were there and it was a heartbreaking loss. You have to learn from it. That's what is so great about having a lot of seniors and guys with experience on the team. You've been through a lot of situations and that was one of them."
On the personality of the team at this point of the year ... "I think we have a spark. We have a little fire under our tails now. We're doing things right and we're playing together as a team. We're just having fun. We know what's ahead of us and what we can accomplish and we're not going to let anything stand in our way."
Junior Inside Linebacker Lawrence Reid
On his season ... "Coming in I really didn't expect to play as much as I have been. In the two-a-days I was competing with Zach Kaufmann and I got the coaches to believe in me so they put me on the field."
On if the game is slowing down for him ... "After playing 10 games, I feel a lot more comfortable out there. I think that plays a big factor in the way I have played."
On being surprised by the Northwestern offense ... "I couldn't be surprised by anything they did against Penn State because that was the first film I had seen of them all year."
On the Northwestern offense ... "I don't remember the last time Michigan played Northwestern. This will be my first game against them. From what I have seen on film, they like to run the ball a lot. I would say they are more of a spread team than Purdue and Michigan State, but they have a better running game."
On Northwestern's running back Jason Wright ... "He looked like a really good running back. He runs low to the ground. It will be a struggle to try and tackle him."
Fifth-Year Senior Defensive End Larry Stevens
On knowing first-hand how potent the Northwestern offense can be ... "It's a dangerous offense. Anyone who takes them lightly is foolish. They are going to do what they want to do. They aren't going to worry about the defense. We need to do what we are coached to do -- pay attention to our keys, use your technique you'll be fine, but if you start looking around at other guys, it will be all over."
On the defense coming together ... "It feels good when you see a team jelling and on the same page. Everybody knows what they are doing and wants to execute and do their best because who wants to be the reason why you aren't playing well Everyone wants to do their part and play their hearts out."
On the Northwestern backfield ... "I don't think Northwestern's backs get the attention they should get. Those guys are excellent backs as far as pass blocking and rushing. They are complete backs who happen to get overlooked."
On this defense living up to expectations ... "This team is going to be measured by what we do this Saturday because Northwestern's offense is good. If Michigan is a good defense, it's going to come out these next two weeks. If not then we'll be seen as an incomplete team."
On the early season losses ... "Sometimes you think about how one play here or there can make or break a season but Coach Carr teaches us that the most important play is the next play. We can't worry about the past but we can control the future and our own destiny. We know we have to win, bottom line."
Media Contacts: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423
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