Press Conference Comments from U-M Head Football Coach Lloyd Carr
Opening statement ... "We've had very good practices. I appreciate the weather, whoever is responsible for that. We've had very good practice facilities. Calvin Bell, our wide receiver, fell on his shoulder and is questionable for this game, but other than that, we're healthy, and we've had very good preparations. We look forward to a great game."

On practices and the development of younger players ... "I think those three days that we spent at St. Petersburg we really got a lot done in terms of working specifically with young players. We have changed that a little bit right now. Our focus right now is getting prepared for this game and so we've backed off that a little bit here in Tampa."

On his approach to a bowl game ... "Personally, I look at a bowl game as a new season, a one-game season. That's the way I've tried to approach it in terms of our team. I think certainly for the players, they would speak to that. I think we're all aware that this is a great opportunity to play on New Year's Day. I think if college football is anything, it is the tradition of New Year's Day bowl games and being able to play against a great team from a great conference. Those, I think, are the motivating factors. But certainly in terms of the way you look back at the season, there's no questions that the more games you win, the better season you have."

On Florida taking advantage of Michigan's linebacker injuries ... "I think you always play to your strengths. Whatever your strengths are, I think you're going to do that. If that fits in with trying to take advantage of some matchups that you think are advantageous, then you do that. I don't think you change everything you're doing because of something like that. But I think it's certainly something that goes into the way you look at a team."

On the temptation to overprepare ... "I think one of the difficult decisions in coaching is there's always a tendency to do too much. And I think that's true more probably for an opening game, certainly for a bowl game, maybe when you have an off-week. That's something you try to fight, because it's what your players have been doing, a system you don't put in over one year, one spring, one fall, it's over a period of time. I think you're always better doing the things that they know and the things that they do well."

On how quarterback John Navarre handles criticism ... "I think as a quarterback in a program like Florida or Michigan you either handle it or it will destroy you. It's not any fun, and in many instances, it is unfair, but that comes with being a quarterback in a high-profile program. I think John has done an excellent job. I've seen John throughout all those circumstances. I've never seen him react in a negative way towards anything that has been written or said about him. That takes a special guy. He's just focused on trying to become as good as he can be."

On the improvement of tight end Bennie Joppru ... "Bennie's had a tremendous season. He's a guy that was up and down from the moment he came to Michigan. We expected that he would be an outstanding football player, but it was really not until this summer that Bennie took control of his own destiny. I think he's a talented guy, he does a lot of things. He's not just a guy that's good as a receiver, he's a good blocker, a guy that likes to win, a great competitor. He had an incident off the field, and he was not a focused guy. He was an underachiever. At some point, he took control."

On the strides offensive lineman David Baas has taken this season ... "David had an injury as a freshman, which really set him back. He's always had all the physical skills, it was just a matter of learning the technical part of the game. He's had a tremendous season, and he's made wonderful progress from the beginning to the end. I think he's gotten better almost every game. It's pretty rare in the Big Ten Conference for an offensive lineman as a sophomore to be All-Big Ten. It's easy to get overlooked as a young player at that position, I think. He's had an outstanding year and I think he has a tremendous future."

On the current bowl system vs. a playoff system ... "I'm opposed to the extension of the season. I do agree with Ron (Zook, Florida head coach) that we should all be playing the same number of games. Unfortunately, we don't have an opportunity because of 11 teams in that conference to have a conference playoff. But philosophically I'm opposed to a playoff because I think the bowl system allows a reward for the most players, a reward for the guys that play the game. In my judgment, that's an important component that would be missing if you go to a playoff system. I don't think there's a playoff system out there in college football in terms of dealing with the academic issues that can satisfy everyone. I think the polls have always been part of the controversy and the discussions that keep people talking about college football throughout the year."

Contact: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423

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