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November 8, 2004

Lloyd Carr

Q. Can you talk about what you'd like to get better at in practice?

COACH CARR: Well, I think there's a number of things. We're a very young offensive football team in some regards. And I think that's been a factor. We're not where we need to be offensively in terms of the sacks that we've given up. But if you look at the guys we're playing in the backfield, if you look at the fact that we are starting redshirt freshman at one tackle, a redshirt sophomore at a guard position, those are all contributing factors. And so, obviously, we'd like to be better in that standpoint. Defensively, I think we've worked on the fundamentals of alignment, stance, alignment, responsibility, where you're supposed to be. Because in many cases, big plays occur because, in today's football, the way you are when you're spread out, if one guy is misaligned, if one guy goes to the wrong gap up front and the ball hits a crease quickly, and you're out of position as a line backer you're out of position as a secondary back, you're going to give up big plays. And defensively, that's where it starts for me. I think looking at our last game, we were not -- we're physically -- we needed a break. And so, I think, you know, there's a lot of factors. There's a lot of things obviously we can do better, but those are two things that certainly we work to improve on.

Q. How does their offense compare with what you see from Purdue and Michigan State?

COACH CARR: Well, I think this team is -- more than the other two, this is a football team that wants to run the football with the running back. And Herron is an outstanding football player. What I like about Herron is that he can catch the football, he will protect, and he can run the football with power and when he gets out, he can break the big one. For a guy his size, he is a very, very impressive football player. But you know, unlike Purdue who can run the football, but they want to throw the football first. Michigan State obviously used the quarterback as a tailback. This team wants to be balanced, but I think more than anything else, they want to run the football and then go from there. They have an ability to check, I think probably more than the other two, to take what they are going to give you. If you don't have enough people up there, they are going to run the football. If you do, they are going to throw it and they are going to dictate that at the line of scrimmage.

Q. Do you think Northwestern is a team that gets overlooked compared to Ohio State or Michigan?

COACH CARR: Well, you'd have to ask the people that play them. Certainly we are not overlooking them.

Q. These games over the past weekend, does that re-emphasize the point, always finishing out and taking care of your own business?

COACH CARR: I think as a philosophy, if you respect your competition, if you understand the nature of your competition, if you know -- for example, in this league, there's nobody out there that doesn't take great pride in the way they play this game. There are no guys, there's no teams out there that I see that are not going to play hard; and when you play hard and when you're well-coached, which they all are. And, you know, the other thing I think that's a little bit different today, every team understands, they are all on television. They all know, if not a national, there's a regional audience and they have an opportunity to show a lot of people the pride with which they play the game. So I think the competition part of it in this conference, you know, is something that you'd better understand. You'd better know -- I was telling the first rule of preparedness. Don't assume they won't come, because they are going to come. They are going to be there every Saturday. You know, you'd better be there, too.

Q. They have had success against Michigan unlike your rivals, why do you think that; that they have had as much success as Ohio or Notre Dame against Michigan?

COACH CARR: I haven't given it any thought. I'd have to spend some time thinking about it.

Q. What do you want to see from your defense?

COACH CARR: Well, I think we'll -- we've got to be better against the run. I think that's where defensive football starts, and that's certainly where we want to be, and we have to do a much better job against the run. That starts with making sure people are where they are supposed to be, making sure people are getting off blocks and pursuing the football and tackling. You know, those are the fundamentals.

Q. Talk about how rare the combination is of the hit-and-cover from a corner perspective, to be as hard-hitting as he is and also athletic enough to cover people all over the place?

COACH CARR: Well, I think the reason that he is an All-American is that he can cover extremely well because he's very, very quick. He's very, very competitive and he uses his hands, his athletic ability. But where I think he's different is that he is very, very physical. You know, he's an aggressive, hard-hitting cornerback, and I think that's something that's not easy to find.

Q. Can you talk about what the bye week did for your team from a physical standpoint?

COACH CARR: Well, in terms of -- we had a lot of guys that were in the training room and resting, and so, you know, we'll know the results on Saturday. I think that's where you find out what it did for you. But, you know, we needed -- a lot of guys that are playing with lot of bumps and bruises, which is very typical this time of the year.

Q. When the media starts talking about the Bowl picture, do you say anything to your guys about not paying any attention to that or is that understood?

COACH CARR: I talk to them about what are the things that will cause us to lose, what are the things that we need to do to win, and understanding that at this time of the year, you'd better be paying attention to those issues, and there are distractions out there every week. It may be that you've got all the critics telling you if you know what's wrong and what you're not doing well and why you aren't good enough. That's one problem that you have. If you're winning, if things are going very well, then you may have to deal with the other part of the coin, where they are telling you how good you are, and looking ahead. So regardless of whether you're -- where you are, you know, it's just that the -- it's more fun to deal with the issues of winning and when things are going well. But the challenges are no less difficult.

Q. Do you ever look at it yourself and figure -- look at the Bowl picture, figure you can use a loss by a team?

COACH CARR: Well, I think the worst thing about having an off-week is watching games, and the teams I want to win very seldom win. And so, I feel like, you know, I've wasted time there. So, I mean, yeah -- you know, you know what's out there. But you just don't -- in my judgment, you can't afford to spend time worrying about it concentrating on it, thinking about it and talking about it. I mean, when you're off, when you're watching a game, I think it's only natural. And don't get me wrong, there's no mind control out there. I mean, nobody has the ability, or no one has the ability to completely shut the arena in which they are in, all of the things that are going on. But you'd better be paying attention to what's important.

Q. Do you yell at the TV?

COACH CARR: No, I very, very seldom yell. I used to.

Q. Do you talk to it?

COACH CARR: Yeah, I do that once in a while. (Laughs).

Q. Before your last home game, is there any sort of tradition that you do with your players or seniors going into your last home game, that you want to share?

COACH CARR: Well, I mean, we have -- it's not, I don't think it's anything necessarily that anybody would be interested in outside of our football team. But it's an emotional time, and that's one of the issues that you have to deal with. Sometimes guys get to thinking more about, well, you know, the nostalgia and the emotion of going out that tunnel the last time. And, you know, it's certainly a special time. But by the same token, you'd better be thinking about how you're going to play, how you're going to perform, and your opponent.

Q. This is obviously a game -- inaudible -- is there anybody that could decide to come back?

COACH CARR: That's another problem, worrying about whether you're going to leave or whether you're going to come back. Let's just concentrate on this game and that's something that I don't worry about that until after the season, and then, you know, they will have a chance to make a decision.

Q. But there's no nobody walking on the field on Saturday --

COACH CARR: We haven't even discussed that.

Q. Marlin Jackson, what is it about him that the teammates look up to him?

COACH CARR: Well, I think Marlin Jackson, we want to rehash things. I think Marlin Jackson has had a wonderful year. I think he's proven the kind of person he is.

Q. Could you envision yourself coming here this morning -- or here are guys who are in the same situation you are and really felt at the end that they had done the right things, how much do you expect that?

COACH CARR: Well, what I believe is that, you know, there will be enough things written about it. I think it's always going to be out there. Some guys leave an unbelievable legacy and some have an opportunity to do that and don't do it. And certainly, when you have three guys like this who decide to come back, and are successful in not only coming back -- sometimes a guy comes back and he thinks it's all about showing up, and then he doesn't perform well because his approach is not what it takes to perform. Because in the final analysis, it all comes back to how he performs. Because one of the considerations in most cases for a guy to come back is, will he help himself in terms of the draft, and that is economically. And I don't hesitate to say that, you know, the things that they have done in terms of their performance has not only had a great impact on this season, I think when it comes down to it, it's going to have other significant impact in their lives. So to me, those are the things. I think obviously when you see the kind of season Braylon Edwards has had, for example, in terms of the records, and, you know, the records are to me secondary but to a guy that has accomplished what he's accomplished, it's significant. So I don't think there's any question that it has an impact. And will I ever point it out? If the occasion presents itself.

Q. Those are three high-profile guys that all of the fans know, you talked a lot this year about Roy Manning and other guys like that who have slowly become starters out of nowhere, specifically Roy Manning and other players like that in his class.

COACH CARR: Well, if you've got specific names, ask me, but Roy Manning has had an exceptional year. He's not only had an extensional year on the field. I think he's been an exceptional leader here. He's one of those guys that's going to be very successful whatever he does because he can communicate and he is really an upbeat, energized, positive guy. He's a guy everybody likes to be around because he's always got something good to say. He's a team guy, nobody loves Michigan more than he does. And I think he's always a guy that has reached out to the people behind him. When you're in that environment and you're a young player and an older guy takes the time to say, "Hey, I went through the same thing when I was a freshman," or, "Hey, keep your head up, everybody is going to have a bad day," those are the kinds of things that keep a guy going and keep his spirits going and eventually enables him to give back to somebody later on. And I think Roy has done as much off the field as he's done on the field, and that's significant.

Q. You see a lot of teams really fading at this time of year, is there something that you give to the players at this point in the season to try to give them that mental edge that they need to finish strongly?

COACH CARR: Well, we talk about having the ability to sustain an effort throughout the year. It begins, you know, those are things -- you're trying to build a foundation, and you start the day, a guy gets here, by telling him the things that he needs to do to be able to compete in an arena like this. And then, when he gets on the practice field, and then when he gets into the heat of the summer and he doesn't feel like working out and he knows he's going to have to deal with the weather that is always part of Big-10 football, and then the days in November when it gets cold and you're banged up and you've got to make a choice, I'm going to keep going, I'm going to fight through this or I'm going to give in. And if you have a group of people who won't give in, and you have a work ethic, then what you're able to do is to get better and improve as the year goes on and hopefully play your best football at the end of the season. I think that's always been something we put an emphasis on. And some teams get better and fight through and have the leadership and all of the things that are necessary, and some teams don't. You know, that's always the answer -- the answer always comes. It always comes, and the answer will come here shortly.

Q. Talking about the Children's Hospital, what does it mean to you --

COACH CARR: What I believe and why I'm a part of it is I think everybody in this state; you know if you've ever seen a kid in the hospital and what they go through; and if you've ever seen a kid die because of a disease that we don't have a cure for; and you know there are people there spending their lives on trying to find a cure; and if you know the facilities aren't there; and if you know that to keep the best doctors and the best researchers here; that we need the best hospital in the world. And we can do it. And the best way to do it is to become part of this effort. And I think that wristband is a magnificent symbol of trying to join a team and be able to say to your children or your grandchildren, "Hey, I was a part of building that hospital." I think that's what's gratifying to me, and when I see that it's going on throughout this state, I just think it's really special. And I think as a result of that, the bigger your team, the stronger your team, then the quicker you can get something done. And the quicker that hospital gets built, the more lives that we can impact in a positive way. That's the way I see it.

Q. Inaudible?

COACH CARR: Well, you know, the power of an idea, and I don't -- I guess I felt right from the beginning, the first time I heard the idea, I felt like it would be very good. But I guess, yeah, I'm surprised and I think it's great.

Q. Can you talk about the contributions that Jason Avant has made to the team this year?

COACH CARR: Well, you know, football is a team game as we all know -- or maybe we don't all know. Because some people, you know, it's different than that. But the one thing that Jason Avant brings from the day he's got here, and I've told this story a number of times. When he was in high school, he was in our camp and he wasn't the fastest, he wasn't the biggest. But every time I watched him play and all he had on was a helmet and shorts and shirt, but he was diving and catching the ball when it's too low or too far away and coming high on the ground and catching the football. I just like the way he competed. And so what he's brought to our football team is a toughness and an aggressiveness and a team first attitude that has enabled him to make a great contribution, and he's over there making some big catches almost every week or making some big blocks. You know, a lot of times that goes unnoticed, but, you know, that's why I liked the column on Brian Thompson. Here is a play, here is a guy that, you know, people are going to acknowledge much because it's one play. I mentioned Jake Thompson, those are the play that is make a difference. He's going to have a great career and he'll play in the NFL.

Q. Have you had much discussion with your backup quarterback?

COACH CARR: Well, first of all, I would say this about Matt Gutierrez. I can't -- it would be hard for me to say how much I admire the way he has handled this whole issue of coming down with a bad shoulder and having to go through a period there where he wasn't sure what they were going to do. In the meantime, he continued to go out every day, to go to every meeting and be a great help to Chad Henne. Now, a lot of guys are going to wallow in self-pity and make everybody miserable because they are miserable. And, you know, I think it takes a special individual to ignore his own discomfort, his own unhappiness, and continue to support those people around him. That just does not happen. That's uncommon. And Matt Gutierrez is uncommon. As far as the future, after this season, you know, it's the same thing with those guys who may contemplate doing something else, that's in the future. What I've asked Clayton Richard to do when this injury occurred, is I don't know how it's going to turn out. What I think, what I hope you'll do for this team, is compete every day as hard as you can, compete and prepare like you're going to be the starter because you're one snap away. And if you do that, you're going to earn the respect and the admiration of every single man in this program, and that's worth more than a lot. And then when it's over, you can think about what you want to do. But if you can put all of those thoughts aside and just concentrate on being prepared and improving because the alternative is just the same types of things we talked about with Matt Gutierrez, being the backup quarterback, it is a hard duty. I've been there. It's a real challenge mentally and emotionally and I think Clayton Richards has done a remarkable job of doing that.

Q. Inaudible?

COACH CARR: Well, mine was ability and injury. I had a shoulder that was torn up.

Q. How much of a learning tool has Tom Brady been?

COACH CARR: You mean -- .

Q. Well, when he was here, everybody thought Drew was going to start --

COACH CARR: How much is it a lesson for these guys? Well, you know, when I talk to them, I talk to them about Tom Brady. Tom Brady sat in front of my desk and told me he thought he was going to leave because he just didn't see an opportunity. And we talked for a while and I said, "Well, think about it, talk to your dad, comeback tomorrow." He came back tomorrow, the next day, he came back and he said, "You know, I made up my mind, I'm going to stay here and I'm going to prove what kind of quarterback I am. I'm going to lead this team to a championship." And that's uncommon. Because nothing had changed in 24 hours. The same guys were still there and his situation was not going to immediately change. And yet because he made up his mind, he made a choice. You know, he chose his own destiny. That's what Tom Brady did. And what happened in those next two years, three years that he stayed here, I don't think there's any question that they have proved invaluable in his career because he fought all the tough battles here.

Q. Is it sobering to see the number of quarterbacks that have gone down this year?

COACH CARR: I think that's really what people don't understand. Injuries are going to impact a program when they come at certain positions. And it's ludicrous to think that you can replace a guy that has started for four years and not have a learning curve, but there are those who, you know, they just think that they don't care if the guy is 18 or 22, you know. And that's why Spencer Brenton said what he said. He said if he had it to do over again after what he saw happened to Navarro, he would not have come here. What an indictment. What an indictment.

Q. When you have a bye week, a few extra days to prepare and practice --

COACH CARR: I'll act like you didn't ask that question. Well, I think obviously, I would say this to answer your question. If you have ten games left, and, you know, a bye week, then you would approach it one way. If you had two games left, you might look at it a little bit differently; I said you might.

Q. How do you look at it?

COACH CARR: How do I look at it? I look at it like right now we're in Northwestern.

Q. What about last week?

COACH CARR: We studied the Northwestern/Ohio State film very closely. It was a heck of a football game, and like any game, there's things to learn.

End of FastScripts...

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