Opening statement ... "I do have an announcement to make regarding one of our players. Zia Combs' football career at Michigan is over. He will not continue to play based on the recommendations of the doctors. It is certainly a tremendous disappointment for Zia, his teammates and coaches because he was a tremendous football player. We are going to miss his spirit and his enthusiasm and the way he competed. He will stay in school and will finish his degree.
"We are looking forward to the Ohio State vs. Michigan game, and it is always fun to go to Columbus and compete in that game."
On possibly ruining Ohio State's perfect record ... "We only try to concern ourselves with the things that we can control, and the things that we have the ability to control is the way we prepare, the way we think, and the way we compete on Saturday."
On the defense's good play against Wisconsin ... "I think in the second half we played well. In the first half, our punt coverage team was not that great, and I think that neither punter played very well. Our hang time was not that good and neither was Wisconsin's. I don't know if it was the weather, but there were certainly not that many good kicks out there. Our punt coverage was not that good, and as a result our defense did not have the field position that we should have had. I thought in the second half the defense came up with some great plays and did a better job against (Anthony) Davis in the second half. I know that our intensity and effort was extremely good, and I thought that we tackled well. We also did a good job on (Brooks) Bollinger. He is a guy with tremendous mobility and he can hurt you that way."
On linebacker Victor Hobson stepping up this year ... "If you took at all the film and evaluated what Victor has done, he's performed at an extremely high level of consistency. He's made a lot of big plays and has played through some bumps and bruises. Sometimes when a guy is in his fifth year, he relaxes. But I think that Victor has played with intensity, effort and that has provided good leadership for our entire team."
On the Ohio State defense ... "First of all they are a tremendously talented defensive team and are a great football team. When you are 12-0 late in November, you are a great football team. Defensively they have a tremendous front four with outstanding depth. I don't think that substituting hurts them, and at this stage of the season that is a big factor. I think (Matt) Wilhelm is having an outstanding year. I think that he is much better than he was a year ago because last year he was hobbled with some injuries but is having a great year this year. I think that their safeties are tremendous, and what else is there They play well together, they are well coached, and they play very hard."
On OSU receiver/defensive back Chris Gamble ... "He is a great athlete. The thing that I am really impressed with is the fact that he can make that transition in the season without the benefit of a lot of practice and coaching. I think it is much easier to go the other way with a defensive player moving to receiver. He has done a tremendous job."
On preparing the team for the atmosphere at the game ... "During the week you try to do some things in terms of crowd noise to prepare them for the noise. The most important thing is to try to understand that communication is difficult. That is the only thing that you worry about because if they control things like they should there should only be 11 Ohio State players on the field at one time."
On what makes this a special rivalry ... "History. When you look at all the great games, players, coaches and anytime you have an opportunity to play in that game it is special because of what it means to so many people. There are a lot of guys that played at Michigan that watch that game every year, and I am sure it is the same for Ohio State. They go to the games because it is a way for them to relive the opportunities that they had to play in the game. It is just something that you can't buy, tradition, and Ohio State and Michigan have it."
On past games that he remembers most ... "As a coach, the ones that never leave you are the ones that you lose, and I don't care to discuss those. They are all great because no matter what the circumstances are when you are seven days away from that game, you don't do anything but think about it. When you go to bed, when you wake up, and when you eat, you are thinking about them. It is a consuming thing for seven days because on that day you will look across the field and see a team that wants this game as much as you do. That is what competition and football is all about."
On the rivalry with Ohio State ... "I think that it is the greatest rivalry in college football."
On games in the past that are specific in his mind ... "Yeah, I can remember Woody (Hayes) and Bo (Schembechler) running up and down the sidelines, but you don't do that anymore. I also remember the 1969 game. I remember reading about how the U-M players were so upset in 1968 when Ohio State went for two. Of course they were really upset, which led to the memorable game next year. They hired Bo, and they had a good season. Ohio State was such a big favorite during the week of the game, but you sensed that Michigan was going to play hard. The rest is history. That fueled the fire."
On what he tells guys about experiencing Ohio Stadium for the first time ... "Well, I can't tell you what I tell them. What they are going to see and hear is X-rated. Normally it is a cold, gray day and you start to see some scarlet and gray as you near the stadium and then it is all around you. People are screaming, yelling and little old ladies are making obscene gestures. The closer you get to the stadium, the more emotional it becomes. There is always one guy that always welcomes us with a sign every year as the bus pulls into the stadium. It must be a tradition, but I can't repeat what the sign says. But that is all part of the fun of it."
On what stays with him longer, an Ohio State victory or loss ... "There are at opposite ends of the spectrum. It is the agony and the ecstasy because you put a lot into it."
On captains Bennie Joppru and Victor Hobson getting the job done as far as leadership goes ... "Yeah, they have been special, which I have said throughout the course of the year. I don't care what the season is, you are going to face some adversity, and to be able to deal with that and stay together as a group of people is a test. When you pass that test, it is almost always the result of good leadership."
On the Ohio State offense ... "They are a team that is very patient, and they have a will to run the football. I think that is where everything begins. If you can't stop or at least slow down the run, you are not going to beat Ohio State. I think (Craig) Krenzel has done a great job of creating plays. He has improved a great deal and is smart and competitive, which is shown by him making a lot of plays when things broke down. He has hit some big passes, especially in the last two games. I think they do a great job with what they want to do and the way they want to play."
On Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett ... "He is a great player because he has great size, vision, and is very patient for a young guy. I like that he is not rushing things and he has made a lot of big plays cutting back against the grain, and you have to have great vision to do that. He is strong, powerful, and is always getting extra yards. He is a great player."
On Ohio State's special teams ... "I think that they know that they can play the way they do offensively because they have a great defense. But just as importantly they have a great kicking game. They know that they can score field goals anytime that they get within 50 yards and are going to keep you offensively at the long edge of the field. That is why I think that they are truly a great football team, because they don't have any weaknesses. They have a great kicking game in every area, a great running game, and a great defense. What else do you want"
On the fine line of John Navarre trying to make plays but not forcing things ... "You are going to make mistakes. That is part of the game. The quarterback is not out there by himself. The problem is that he is going to take all of the blame if you lose and that is just the way it goes. But the truth is that everybody around him has to play well, and it is the same way for (Ohio State's) Craig Krenzel. They are part of a team. The team that plays the best will win."
On what the offense has to do to be successful ... "I think that you have to be balanced. Ohio State has a great rushing defense and is a great defense period. They haven't allowed anybody to run the football well. I think that our ability to establish some type of running game is critical. That is going to be the challenge because Ohio State has great defense."
On having concerns about crowd control ... "I am very concerned about crowd control. We have a lot of young women who are student trainers and managers. We have coaches, equipment people and doctors as well. I think that the thing that we have to do in intercollegiate athletics is that the visiting team has safe access on and off the field. I hope that we are not going to have somebody killed before we do the things that are necessary to protect those people. If we can't protect the students, players and coaches, we shouldn't be playing. Whatever costs are necessary to ensure the safety of the people on the field is important. It is just a matter of time before we have somebody seriously injured and I think they have to do something about it."
On not having the problems at Michigan Stadium ... "Several year ago, we averted a real catastrophe at Wisconsin. Following that, I think that they have made some changes to improve things. The advantage we have in Michigan Stadium is that the opposing team is right at the tunnel. We don't have the problems that we have at other places."
On the last time he felt worried about this happening ... "The last time we were in Columbus we had our equipment manager, Jon Falk, knocked down. It was really a terrifying experience. When I see how some of these games end and how people are allowed on the field, I think that it is extremely dangerous. It has to be addressed before something happens that we are all going to regret."
On enjoying this week ... "Yeah, where else would I want to be. I think everybody that is involved with it does."
On preparing for Ohio State ... "We don't practice every day for Ohio State, but you certainly base your program on how you measure up in that rivalry because that is part of the standard."
On the word 'spoiler' ... "I think that we set goals at the beginning of your winter program. Our team set goals at training camp at a meeting run by our captains. Those goals are what motivates and drives us."
On OSU head coach Jim Tressel ... "He is an outstanding football coach. He has had a great career and has a great record. He has been there as an assistant and he knows how to coach."
Contact: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423