Press Conference Comments from
U-M Head Football Coach Lloyd Carr
Previewing Northwestern (Nov. 15); Following Bye Week (Nov. 8)
Opening remarks ... "We're looking forward to going to Evanston to play what I think is a very good Northwestern team, a team that has played some outstanding defense. If you look at the Penn State game and the Wisconsin game, that's a tremendous improvement. Offensively, what impresses me, other than the fact that on the offensive line four of those -- two guards and two tackles -- are big guys, they're all over 300 pounds, and they have two outstanding backs in Jason Wright and Noah Herron. Brett Basanez is doing a great job at quarterback. Their balance offensively between the run and the pass is almost 50-50 in terms of yards per game. What they do a great job of is changing up the personnel packages, using some of the no-huddle, so it's going to be a challenge for our defense, and what we need to do offensively is control the football and keep their offense off the field."
On Northwestern's offense ... "It's still the spread offense in terms of using Herron, they use him as a wide receiver, so you think there are two backs in the backfield, but he's flanked out. The thing that I had heard earlier in the year where Coach (Randy) Walker said that Wright was as good a back as he's coached, so that's high praise. He's coached some great football players at that position. Both of those backs are good receivers, so when they flank them out, it forces you to make personnel adjustments and the matchups and all that type of thing. You need to know who's in the game; you've got to be able to line up properly, which is a challenge."
On Northwestern running back Jason Wright ... "I like him because he's tough, he's a guy that can play without the football. He's an excellent pass-protector, he runs with power, breaks a lot of tackles, he runs with great leverage, and he's a guy that can catch the football. Anytime you have a guy like that, it's hard to hone in on just one part of what he does."
On Northwestern's offense ... "It appears that their quarterback is making a lot of checks. They still check the play, they still get into the no-huddle, which means they go right to the line of scrimmage and take a look at what you've got, and then the quarterback makes the checks. But I'm sure that they have the ability to do the things they've done in the past."
On how Michigan will play after the bye week ... "I know this, and I don't remember specific games much in terms of bye weeks, but I think that my recollection is, sometimes you come out of a bye week and you're not as sharp as you were before the bye week. I think for the most part we have not played as well after a bye week as I would have liked to, so certainly that's a challenge for us."
On safety Jacob Stewart's injury ... "Jacob Stewart has not progressed as well or as quickly as we had hoped. So I don't expect Jacob to play. I expect Marlin Jackson to play."
On safety Marlin Jackson ... "I want to see how he practices this week. He practiced yesterday and says he feels fine. But coming off that type of thing you just have to see, first of all, how well he practices, and then how he responds to being out on the field and how the injury feels. Whether he feels full speed or not."
On if the Minnesota game was a turning point ... "I think we played well offensively for the most part the entire year. I think we've played well defensively the entire year. Our problem when we lost was primarily my judgment, due to the punt team, more than anything else. We had some breakdowns there in coverage and in protection, but I think we've done an excellent job offensively. I think in that particular game, we ran into an outstanding football team at home who had a lot to play for, and they outplayed us for three quarters. I think we managed to hang in there and continue to fight and made some plays. I think the first three quarters were probably, certainly a time where we didn't play well defensively, and we didn't play very well offensively. In that game, in that quarter certainly, we played an outstanding 15 minutes. We were fortunate that we didn't make any mistakes. In a game like that, you make one mistake, one penalty, you throw an interception, you let them keep a drive alive, you're going to lose. I think we've played well most of the year."
On linebacker Lawrence Reid ... "Lawrence was really beginning a year ago when he had the blood clot to really play well. It was a major disappointment for our team when he went down. And then this fall, I didn't feel real good about him until the second or third game of the season. Then he began to really play like we thought he could play. He's made an unbelievable contribution because he's a very bright guy, he's very athletic, very quick, and he's made a lot of plays. When you look at the statistics defensively and what he's done, he's made a tremendous contribution. Certainly you have to be in the right position and you have to be knowledgeable about what the other team is doing. I think his instincts are very good, but there's no question that he's made a lot of plays simply because of his athletic ability and his toughness. It had been a long time since he had game competition. Anytime you start a season and you've been out a while, it takes a while. He just didn't react like we had hoped he would early. I think he had a little bit of a slow start."
On the polls ... "They recognize that those polls are great for the interest that they generate, but they don't have a lot of meaning at this point. They don't have any meaning at all until it's over."
On watching a game on television and learning anything about the opposition from it ... "In coaching you're so used to being able to rewind the play and you're at the mercy of the television crew when you watch the game. They replay some. You get a feel for personnel at times, particularly in the front seven, the offensive line and the defensive line, and you may notice something that maybe you didn't, that you don't see on film, things that you see when you watch on TV. For example, if a team is no-huddling, in our film exchanges, you cannot tell whether a team is in no-huddle mode. It used to be, 20 years or so ago -- we didn't get a lot of no-huddle teams then -- you could get a film and go into the next game and a team may have used the no-huddle and you go into the game not knowing. With all the games on TV now, that's pretty much a thing of the past. The substitutions on the kicking game is, some teams now are trying to take advantage of the rules by rushing their punt teams on very late, and making it very difficult for you to get your kick return teams on, and that's something that's being addressed at the conference level. Also there are a lot of signals that you can pick up on TV. Sometimes when the offense signals in a play and the camera's got the guy, you can make out a couple signals here and there."
On the BCS ... "I've always said this: there's a big part of me that would love to have a playoff, where you'd have an opportunity to get into it, but for me there are a lot more negatives. I think the truth is, thus far it has done what it was designed to do. But the scheduling and all those issues, I don't think we're ever going to be without controversy because it is limited from the standpoint that if you have six or seven teams at the end, it's just a vote. That's what it comes down to."
On Northwestern's defense ... "They're playing very good defense. Luis Castillo, I like him in the middle, I think he's one heck of a football player, and so is Loren Howard. Their linebackers are playing well, and I just think they're stronger than they were a year ago. Of course, we haven't played them in the last two years. But defensively, they're much tougher, much stronger and much more physical then they have been."
On Michigan's defense ... "First of all we're playing with a lot of experienced guys, with the exception of some positions in the secondary. I think our secondary has really done a good job of preventing big plays. If you take away the play at Michigan State where we had a miscommunication and they got an easy, long touchdown, we have been able to avoid the big plays. Of course it is the big plays that tear the heart out of a defense. Anytime you can prevent big plays and give yourself another chance to get them stopped and maybe they get a field goal instead of a touchdown, those are the things that when you look back at a game, really get lost in the statistics. But they mean everything."
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