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UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 3, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We have punter Zoltan Mesko.
Q. Reactions to the semifinal status?
ZOLTAN MESKO: I mean, I didn't know when the semifinalist list came out. It was kind of a surprise to me that everyone came up to me and congratulated me.
You know, it's pretty honoring to have such an accomplishment. Like I said, I'm honored to advance from last year.
Q. (Question about punting and wind.)
ZOLTAN MESKO: Punting-wise wind used to affect me a lot earlier in my career. I mentioned the wind being a factor. Kicking-wise, the kicking game, you can focus on just your form and not playing the wind. It's an advantage to limit your factors.
Q. Are you able to take any gratification in this season, the fact that you have been able to achieve at such a high level even when things have not gone well in other respects?
ZOLTAN MESKO: Well, I mean, it's all right to do individual things. But I'd rather trade everything that I've done for a team effort always. It's something that's been instilled in me ever since I started playing football.
Q. What is the mood of the team right now?
ZOLTAN MESKO: Well, right now, you know, it's kind of self-explanatory. We just have to keep our heads up, stay positive, finish these three games for the seniors on a positive note, spring into the next season with high energy and a big boost.
Q. Are you to the point where you are as comfortable rolling out to punt as you are in the normal formation?
ZOLTAN MESKO: I would say so, yeah. It's been a learning process. But I've never settled for something to be average at it. If I'm average at it I would say towards the beginning of the season, I've kept working on it, practicing. I think I've got it down to somewhat where I'm above average, so...
Q. You've been so consistent this year. Not a lot of punters, really good punters, are necessarily all that consistent. Anything technique-wise, developmentally you could point to this year that's been qualitatively different from previous seasons?
ZOLTAN MESKO: There's a lot of factors. I have a great snapper. Sean gets it right where I want it every time. I've gone to a lot more camps this past season and I've been an instructor at 'em. I've worked with a couple NFL guys to fine tune my mechanics.
It's just a cumulative of everything. Just working hard in the weight room as always, staying flexible. I can't point to one thing that's made the difference, but...
Q. Which NFL players have you worked with?
ZOLTAN MESKO: Former Cowboys punter Filip Filipovic. He played when the Big Tuna was there.
Q. Did you watch the other team punt? Did you have any clue they were going to fake the punt?
ZOLTAN MESKO: Sean Griffin noticed. I'm always watching my position. Sean was saying he was a snapper that looks up instead of looking down. The whole time that play was going on his head was down because he was aiming to the personal protector.
It's something I didn't notice until Sean mentioned it.
Q. Is it especially hard for you, you came in with a group of seniors, to see their last three games, to know this is the end for them?
ZOLTAN MESKO: It's a little tough to be in this situation. Like I said, we have to make the most of it. Why stop now? Just send them out on a good note.
THE MODERATOR: We have defensive end Tim Jamison.
Q. How tough is it to know you're in the position you're in, no Bowl game, three games to play, your senior season?
TIM JAMISON: Yeah, it's especially tough for the seniors, being the first team in 33 years not being able to go to a Bowl. It hurts. But, you know, got to have a short memory. We can't dwell on that. We have a tough Minnesota team coming in. We got to go there. It's going to be a big game for us. I mean, we playing for the Brown Jug, so that's a big rivalry.
Q. What do you usually get out of the 15 practices you're allowed when you do go to a Bowl? What will you not be able to do this year?
TIM JAMISON: Well, usually like a lot of teams are conditioning, preparing for like the climate, if you're going to a warmer Bowl game, stuff like that, just get prepared for it.
Q. Any foundation laid for the next season, as well?
TIM JAMISON: Yeah. I mean, I think you see like a lot of the players that are redshirted, how much they got stronger and faster over the year they redshirted to start out the next year.
Q. You being a senior, what do you think you'll be doing in the month of December now that you won't have Bowl practices?
TIM JAMISON: Right now, I don't want to think about that right now. I want to think about the preparation we got getting ready for the Minnesota game.
Q. Do you guys as seniors get together the last couple days about trying to stay into it and stuff?
TIM JAMISON: Well, like after the game, everybody was kind of hurt. It's really not that much talking after the loss of the game. Yesterday we got together as a team and we said that we're going to finish this season off strong. We're not going to hang our heads down. We're going to go out and compete for these last three games.
Q. Particularly as a defense, do you feel like you have a point to prove after what happened at Purdue?
TIM JAMISON: Yeah, I think as a team we got to prove that we can play, because we can. It's just the little things, like it's been all season. We just got to create those little things, like wrapping up, tackling, finishing. That's all we got to do.
Q. How much of tackling is kind of self-coaching, reminding yourself about techniques, fundamentals? How much is it coming from you?
TIM JAMISON: I mean, tackling is, like I say, hitting, keep moving your feet till you hear that whistle. You just got to keep doing those things. I think if you keep doing those things, keep telling yourself that, you do it.
But, you know, saying and it doing it is two different things.
Q. Coach said there were 21 missed tackles. Not that you're going to name names, but is it specifically the same people week after week or different people?
TIM JAMISON: It's not really the same people every week. It's different, different people. You can't just expect to just grab somebody, somebody's going to fall. You've got to use technique to get them down.
Q. Is that something you can work on much in practice?
TIM JAMISON: Yes, we work on tackling drills almost every time we practice. You just got to go out and do it come game day.
Q. Are you looking forward to playing a spread team? At this point would you like to kind of take a break from seeing the spread?
TIM JAMISON: I think the rest of our games are all spread. That's what we're gonna see for the remainder of the season. Just work at it, get better at it.
Q. Do you know much about Minnesota's version or any of the players?
TIM JAMISON: They got a much improved team than last year's team. Their quarterback has great footwork. Watched him do his zone option. He's great at faking. They're a much improved team. I look for them to be great this weekend.
THE MODERATOR: We have junior tailback Brandon Minor.
Q. Can you talk about how your role on the offense has developed over the last few weeks.
BRANDON MINOR: Well, you know, it's basically like just lead by example. Just go in there and work hard. Just hustling every play, that's what I try to do.
Q. Watching film, what did the offense do differently Saturday?
BRANDON MINOR: We did everything right. Well, not everything. But we got a lot of fire back together. Everybody was like clicking at the same time. Before we had like one set of groups clicking, runningbacks, offensive line. But we brought the whole line as a whole, that's why we had so much success.
Q. What's the biggest difference between your game this year and your game last year?
BRANDON MINOR: It's more experience. Like the more you be on the field, the more you get more of a feel of it, you know. Basically that's just it.
Q. You scored significantly more points than you have in any other game offensively. Did you make that much progress?
BRANDON MINOR: I mean, yeah, we had a lot. We left a lot of plays out there. I felt we could have scored two more touchdowns out there.
Q. You had better field position this week. How much of a difference is that?
BRANDON MINOR: I mean, statistically it is. But for me it's not because we try to score on every play. I mean, you can say it's different, but for me it's not a big difference.
Q. Are you concerned about any teammate maybe letting down these last three weeks given the fact you don't have a Bowl game to look forward to?
BRANDON MINOR: No, ain't worried about no teammates 'cause, I mean, if they do that... We got to just keep rolling. I really can't go out based on what they do. I know I'm going to stay here, work hard, finish this year out strong. I can't speak too much about any players quitting because I don't know anybody that's gonna quit.
Q. The goals are different, though, because you can look ahead to next year. The seniors aren't going to have that chance. What do you see out of them? Maybe they have a different focus.
BRANDON MINOR: Probably they may have a focus to finish off school. To me, I don't see why they just let down like that, I mean, if they decide to. But I don't think -- I don't see no reason for them to do that because there's a lot of pride. It speaks a lot about their character if they don't try to finish out this year.
THE MODERATOR: We have offensive guard John Ferrara.
Q. Can you talk about the adjustment for you. Obviously switching sides of the ball, you came in as a defensive lineman, but mentally was it difficult?
JOHN FERRARA: It wasn't that bad. I hung out with a lot of offensive linemen the last few years. I roommate in the dorms is Perry Dorrestein. I kind of always knew what they were doing.
Then from playing against them all the time, I knew what their general objectives was. Now it's just been a matter of trying to learn the technique and really hone the little fundamentals of playing offensive line.
Q. Do you like it?
JOHN FERRARA: Yeah, it's been fun. Especially the first touchdown play that Brandon had, I think I might have ran a 4.2 down to the end (laughter). I was just really excited 'cause he ran behind my side, I made a nice block, and he got to run into the end zone. It was exciting to see it from that perspective, just making a tackle and stuff.
Q. Did you play offensive line in high school?
JOHN FERRARA: No. I played a little bit of tight end. Really just caught passes. I've been trying to work on the Coach Rodriguez little throw-back screen.
I've just been trying to learn as much as I can right now as far as fundamentals and technique goes of the offensive line.
Q. Is that the first time you've been on the field for a touchdown?
JOHN FERRARA: Yeah, 'cause I started against Wisconsin. I just played the first half of that game. We weren't doing too good in the beginning of the game.
Q. What have you gotten better at between then and now?
JOHN FERRARA: I think the coaches saw that I've been practicing pretty well. They liked what I was doing on the practice field. They saw each week I've progressively trying to get a little bit better, my techniques. Just basically trying to be like a sponge, trying to learn as much as I can right now, trying to pick it up, question the guys all the time, trying to watch as much film as I can, just trying to learn everything about the offensive line.
Q. What's the toughest thing to pick up for you?
JOHN FERRARA: Toughest thing is probably pass protection. That's something I've been struggling a little bit with. The run blocking, you can be a little bit more physical. You just have to make sure your footwork is right. But on pass protection you've got to really make sure your technique is really sound. That's just something that is going to come with experience. Continue to take pass sets again and again.
Q. When the change was first made, did you initially think you'd have this much fun playing offense?
JOHN FERRARA: It wasn't so much about having fun. It was just what I could do to help the team more. At that point during camp when coach came and asked me, he wanted to know, we had the earlier attrition from the off-season. They had a couple of guys get injured. I knew we were hurting on that side of the ball, the offensive line, as far as depth at the position.
So really for me it was just let me do what I can to help the team out. If it's another way to get on the field for me, it's just another possibility to get on the field. It was just a good move for me.
Q. Michigan, they don't recruit a lot of guys out of your area.
JOHN FERRARA: Coach Stripling -- actually Coach Sheridan who is with the New York Giants now is the guy who originally recruited me when I was a sophomore in high school.
I think my class, we had about like five or six guys from the New York area, like the tri-state area, especially in the city come out and get recruited to big schools. My good friend Eric Olsen plays at Notre Dame, offensive lineman there. I have a couple guys at Penn State I'm good friends with from the city. Last few years, probably the development with rivals, getting a good chance to get the country knowing about different parts of the country, getting different exposure, I think that's helped the recruiting process for New York kids.
Q. Do you feel like you're on the offensive line for your career? Or next year...
JOHN FERRARA: Whatever would be necessary. I think that move's probably going to be permanent. That's up to Coach Rodriguez, where we're at. I'll do whatever's necessary to help us win.
Q. Have you seen the offense progress?
JOHN FERRARA: Steadily it's been getting a little bit better. I'm talking just from an offensive line perspective, we've been getting better and better each week. Really we got to make sure our fundamentals are getting better. That's probably the biggest thing that's probably hurting us right now. As long as we can hone the things that Coach Frey is teaching us, we can keep seeing that progression keep going upwards. I think it has been getting better and better each week. I think we ran for 200 yards this week, which is really good. You can see the improvement there.
Q. Perry is your roommate or he was?
JOHN FERRARA: He was and he still is. We just got an apartment.
Q. Did you grow up a Michigan fan?
JOHN FERRARA: Not really. I was a big college football fan. Most of the games I got to see were Notre Dame, Penn State, because that's who they play in our area. It was a lot of fun for me when we got to go and play Penn State a couple weeks ago. I had a real good time up there. Had a lot of family come up to the game.
During the recruiting process, I just wanted to go to a school that was the best both on the field and in the classroom. I felt like Michigan was just a good fit for me.
Q. Who are the Penn State guys you know?
JOHN FERRARA: Maurice Evans, Ollie Ogbu. They had a couple guys there a few years ago that graduated that I also played with, like in the Catholic football league in New York.
Q. Have you had any teammates you bounced stuff off of?
JOHN FERRARA: Oh, yeah. Really pretty much the whole group has been real helpful with trying to help me out, trying to bring the learning curve, make it shorter for me. The guys in front of me, Tim McAvoy, Moosman. If I'm not sure, those guys have been playing center and guard interchangeably. They could help me out with a lot of technique stuff. Really all the guys, the whole line, even the younger guys will bring me over and say, You got to work on this a little bit more. I appreciate it. Like I said, I'm just trying to be like a sponge right now, get all the knowledge I can. I'll take it from anyone.
Q. Is it easier to do because there's so many new guys on the line, everyone is changing positions?
JOHN FERRARA: I mean, I was probably one of the first guys to change positions. That was back during camp. As far as the change went, I didn't have a lot of people to talk to about it. I just sat around, mulled it over with my dad and my mom. We thought it would just be a good move for me. Like I said, I'm good friends with a lot of the offensive linemen, so it was easy. We hang out all the time. It was a pretty easy move because I knew most of them.
Q. Is it different from the defensive line?
JOHN FERRARA: Playing offensive line, it's more like a collective. We all have to be on the same page at the same time. As far as the defensive line goes, you don't need -- you don't have to be -- my job isn't completely dependent on the defensive end job. My job on the offensive line, offensive guard, offensive tackle, we need to work together on plays. A lot of the blocking schemes, we got to know who each guy is working to and how we have to get there. If we're working up on the same guy, if we're doubling someone, someone's coming off, you just have to know who's working with who, which way you're going. Whereas the defensive line, it's a little bit more individualistic. You just kind of do what the play calls for. There's times when you have to be on the same page if we're running a stunt or something like that. From an offensive line perspective, you really need to be together and really have to know what everyone is doing.
THE MODERATOR: We're bringing in center David Molk.
Q. How hard is the adjustment for John?
DAVID MOLK: It's a tough thing to do, go from defensive line, which is a completely different stance, totally different way of taking on the game, going to the offensive line where you're really adapting, reading, all that kind of stuff. I knew it was going to be hard, but he's moving long, progressing well.
Q. What has it been like for you this season being the only consistent fixture on the offensive line?
DAVID MOLK: I'm not the only one. Schilling and Moos have been very consistent. They're playing very well. But it's exciting. It's really exciting. It's been my dream for a really long time. It's taking place right now.
Q. Are you seeing it come together week to week?
DAVID MOLK: Very much so. Every practice we have together we get more and more, like you said before with John, we gel. It's a comfort level that you have to earn with every single guy. Like I have a comfort level with Moos. Now I have to form a new comfort level with John because he came into that guard spot. Every day, every practice it gets better and better. When this comes together, it will be something exciting.
Q. How have you handled all the losing?
DAVID MOLK: It's tough. But you really can't get too down on it. Once you do that, you really kill your mental attitude and you'll start playing worse. You have to overcome an obstacle. That's how you move on.
Q. What do you hope to get out of the last three games?
DAVID MOLK: Wins.
Q. Are you setting a foundation for next year at the same time?
DAVID MOLK: Definitely. Because we have so many young guys on offense, the whole line is going to be back, we're just building and building and building, so...
Q. Did you think there was going to be this much of a transition this year, it was going to be as radical as it appears to have been?
DAVID MOLK: At first I didn't think so. But then after realizing how different this offense is and what we used to run, even though it's still zone like we used to run, it's a totally different pace, a different way of running it. We run a stretch zone instead of a reach zone like we used to where we turn back. It's a tough transition. We're gradually getting through it. It's coming.
Q. Did you play stretch a little bit?
DAVID MOLK: Last year our zone plays, if I was working with the guard, we'd be working through the backside backer. I would actually step and then turn back and reach the guy. But now it's stretch, so you're just working forward, forward, forward. Sometimes people on the offensive line will end up on safety, DBs. Whoever is coming inside, it's running a track, and keeping them moving.
Q. Is it easier to make a transition on blocker than pass blocking? Is one easier than the other?
DAVID MOLK: It pretty much goes hand-in-hand. The pass blocking is a little bit more difficult because we used to run a lot of slide protections. Now we're more man. It's different for a lot of guys, so... The only good thing is I was only in there for a year. Really never set home. I was basically a clean slate.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
End of FastScripts