UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 15, 2004
COACH CARR: Well, after reviewing the film, certainly we would have certainly liked to have played for four quarters offensively. I thought defensively, with the exception of the long touchdown run where we did not fit our defense the way we wanted to, I felt we did a lot of good things. I thought the best thing about that game was our kicking game. We gave ourselves great field position in the kicking game and did some very good things. I thought Steve Breaston, to have him back, obviously healthy to where he was a year ago, is a great asset for our football team. And of course, it's always great to end your last game at Michigan as a winner, and our seniors were able to do that. Now we're ready for the greatest rivalry in college football. We're looking forward to going to Columbus to play in this game. If you have any questions about this game, I'll be happy to answer them, to the best of my ability.
Q. Did you give him time off or would that not help?
COACH CARR: Well, he had some time off in terms of his practice. I mean, we held him out and rested him. But you understand, he wants to play. When he had to have surgery on his hand, I think he did the surgery on a Monday, the next Tuesday of the week, 10 days later, he practiced. I mean, he came in, and it was after the Indiana game, and we had had a couple of returns, Grant Mason had one, and I said, "Steve, what's your last name?" Kidding him. He said, "I'm going to play this week." It has to do with a guy's will to play, and Steve Breaston is as tough as any football player I've ever coached, because he's had to deal with a very painful foot, the surgery and all the rehab that goes into that, and of course this hand surgery he had was -- there was 21 stitches in that hand at the top where it did not interfere with him catching the football, except there's pain there anyway. He's doing what he wants to do.
Q. Did you allow or encourage any celebration over Michigan's share of the championship?
COACH CARR: Of course everybody was gone from this stadium by the time the Michigan State/Wisconsin game was played. When we met yesterday, our focus after watching our game is to get ready for this game. Did we know? Yes, absolutely. There's really not much time during the course of a season to celebrate a win, and that's one of the difficult challenges about a season, and just there is no time to hang your head and worry about a defeat. There's nothing you can do about either one. You have to move on and you have to know there's going to be somebody there the next week.
Q. Did you watch the game?
COACH CARR: I got back into the locker room about the beginning of the second quarter, and I waited there and watched -- I watched the Purdue/Ohio State game and I watched the Wisconsin/Michigan State game through about the end of the third quarter.
Q. Ohio State do well offensively?
COACH CARR: They're a very talented football team. They are very young at some positions, just as we are, but I think the thing that gets your attention immediately, it's a very, very explosive football team in terms of ability to score quickly. I felt a year ago that Holmes was going to be a great football player, with the way he played against us here. I mean, I was really impressed. And I think he's having a great season. I think Troy Smith obviously is an extremely mobile guy. He has got a great arm, and of course with Ginn, and the ability he has to impact the game is impressive as anything that I've seen. They are a very explosive football team, both in the kicking game and from the offensive side of the ball. And defensively, I don't see any change in what they always are. They're younger because they did replace an outstanding front, but these guys are outstanding players in their own right and they're bigger. I think they're a more physical front than they've been, and of course, they've got outstanding linebackers.
Q. Similar to Breaston, quicker maybe?
COACH CARR: Well, I think Ginn, I wouldn't surprise him to be quarterback, because they're moving him around a lot, and of course in the kicking game -- I don't know that -- I would have to give that some thought.
Q. Inaudible -- talk what that means to your program and you personally, coaching program.
COACH CARR: The only goals that I'm concerned with are the ones that this team has. And certainly we understand more than anything else, and the only really important thing is that this is our greatest rival. It's our greatest rivalry. I think it is the greatest tradition in college football. You only have a few days to get ready for it and you only have one day, a few hours in that day to come up with your best effort, and that's what we're trying to do.
Q. You talk about the team (inaudible.)
COACH CARR: I don't think you can get too excited for this game.
Q. Every season has a unique challenge. What was the greatest challenge for you this year with this team, your team?
COACH CARR: Well, I think the greatest challenge we had was a quarterback. When Matt Gutierrez, a few days after the Miami game, Miami of Ohio game, came down with that shoulder, then obviously we were confronted with playing and making a decision, communicating all those things to our team, trying to get our seniors to make sure they supported Chad Henne, and indeed our whole team. We had to go into that game with confidence that he would do the things that we asked him to do. I think our coaches had to understand, we could not go in there after he had only been here for three weeks of fall practice and do things that we could have done with Matt Gutierrez, so I think it was a challenge for everybody in our program. And I think the good news is everybody on our team did embrace Chad. I think he proved to them along the way that he could handle the pressure, that he could deal with all the things that he had to do from a communications standpoint. I think he proved to them what kind of person he is, and so certainly in game competition. I think he's improved dramatically and I think that improvement has been game to game. Against Northwestern I think that certainly was one of his best games.
Q. Talking about Hart. He had eight carries in the first two games -- inaudible.
COACH CARR: They're both really unique individuals, I think, from the standpoint that they've been able to handle all this in a way that I have not seen any change. I think they both have their feet on the ground. I think they understand that they didn't do any of this alone. I think they both have confidence, that they're not intimidated by anything. So I think it's really been fun to watch them grow and mature, but it's been just as much fun to watch this team come together and handle all the things that have come their way.
Q. Ohio State with its change of quarterback?
COACH CARR: Well, I think they've changed a lot. I think they've had a significant change from the standpoint that they're doing a lot of things with Troy Smith that I think really take advantage of his ability. I think they're using him in ways that they haven't used any other quarterbacks. Certainly I think they're opening it up. And I think the reason they're doing it is not only the quarterback, but with the emergence of Ted Ginn and looking at some of the receivers. But I still expect that we'll see some of the old offense. I think they've got some excellent backs. I think Hamby is an outstanding football player. So I don't see that they're going to completely change. I think they still have an ability to do some of the things they've done in the past, and I think that's really the difficult challenge that we have defensively, because until we get there, it's very hard to judge exactly what we get, because they've had some injuries and that factors into a game plan.
Q. Going into a game like this, how important is it to have a player like Braylon? Do you expect him to make the big plays when needed?
COACH CARR: Certainly, I think he's a threat on every down to be a big play guy. Every time he touches a football, he can break tackles and run. The routes that he's been a big factor on Saturday, we tried to give him the ball deep and the wind was really a big factor there. We got him the ball in the short intermediate routes and he's got good vision, he can find the crease. He's a threat every time he touches the ball and I think that certainly helps us be a more difficult team to defend.
Q. What are some things about Michael Hart that -- by now everybody knows he's a pretty good running back, but what are the things as a coach you know about him, as a person or runner, that impresses you?
COACH CARR: Didn't I just answer that?
Q. Michael Hart.
COACH CARR: You can start with the fact that he has a big heart. I don't think there's any question about that. This guy, to walk in here into this conference and carry the football as many times as he has and still be strong at the end, I think that's the test of a great back. And certainly, Michael has had a great season. He's had a lot of help, and he knows that, but he's certainly done his part. I like him because he's not intimidated by anything. This is a confident guy. This is a guy that came out of a very small high school and a lot of people questioned whether his competition was strong enough. I can remember the first time I met him. His high school coach came in with him, spent -- I don't know how long they were here, but it was very obvious to me that his high school coach was a very passionate guy, a guy that understood the game. And after talking with him, after meeting with Mike, there wasn't any question in my mind that we wanted him. Now, I can't say to you that I thought he would be leading the Big Ten in rushing this late in the season, because I didn't, but I didn't have any question that he was the kind of kid that was going to be successful here. He's very smart. You don't play that position if you're not smart, not effectively, not in our off tense, because we're asking a guy to know protections, we're asking him to know the passing game in terms of who to block, the routes to run, when he's checking out, and he's done all those things. He's an excellent pass receiver. I think he's tapped the surface. I think he's got a special career ahead of him.
Q. Many players talk about how they enjoy that atmosphere. What about for you, running out on the field?
COACH CARR: Well, I think anybody who is competitive, and I don't think there's anybody that's not competitive that is in the Ohio State program, and certainly I hope there's certainly no one that's not competitive in our program. I think that's a joy that you experience as a competitor. This game is very, very passionate. This rivalry is very passionate. I think it's the ultimate in terms of playing in front of passionate people. There's nothing quite like it.
COACH CARR: Yeah.
COACH CARR: Not that I can repeat. I can remember talking to John Cooper, you know. They get their share when they come here. It's not a one-sided deal like sometimes people want to make it to be. We've got some of that, too.
Q. Braylon said earlier that he thought this was your coaching job --
COACH CARR: I'm so happy to hear that. (Laughter.)
Q. What do you think?
COACH CARR: Well, I don't spend any time evaluating that type of thing. I think as a coach you're trying to learn from every game, you're trying to do the best that you can to give the guys that you coach an opportunity to win. But beyond that, I don't spend a lot of time on it.
Q. Ever go back and think in those terms at all?
COACH CARR: Well, I think you go back, and there's an honesty that's required if you're going to improve. You better be honest with yourself. And if you can be honest with yourself, you don't have to worry about all the other stuff. You have to be able to say, hey, I did a poor job here. The only time -- or the best time to do that is when the season is over, because then you can look at things a little bit less emotionally, but you better be able to look at everything that is entailed in your job, whether it's to do with recruiting or coaching or your relationship with your players, your coaches, the media. I mean, I don't care what it is, you need to look at it and say, okay, I can do this better, I've got to do this better. I think that's all part of trying to be successful.
Q. (Have you talked to the trainer about McClintock?)
COACH CARR: I have not talked to our trainer, but as soon as I do, I'll call you and let you know what he says. I'm very optimistic about McClintock.
COACH CARR: I'm not as optimistic there.
Q. Sarantos on Saturday?
COACH CARR: I think very good. I think Joe Sarantos has really made a strong contribution to our special teams going back a couple of years. But what I really liked about what he did is, he went in, he did a very good job with assignments, which is where I'll start. He knew where to line up. He played aggressively. I think he played well. When you have a guy all of a sudden -- we didn't know anything about Scott until I think it was Thursday morning, or maybe Friday morning. That's part of being a good team, is having somebody that's going to step up when you need him to step up, and I think Joe did that. And the Northwestern offense gives you a lot of formations, a lot of different things, and of course Jamar Adams, I think he's going to be a fine football player here.
Q. Focus on college football in the national league, story line -- (inaudible.) -- do you long for the day when you can go back to what you're focusing on, playing your arch rival, winning the conference championship is that accurate to say, you wish to say that?
COACH CARR: I don't think it matters what I wish. I think you have to deal with reality. I don't think we're ever going to go back to those Halcion days where there was only two or three TV stations, three or four radio stations, a couple of newspapers. The technology, the media, and so people want to know, and all these games are on TV, so the guys who play and the guys who coach are in the limelight, and so there's going to be a lot more stories there. And I don't think it's ever going to change that you're not going to report them.
Q. (Do you worry about Utah?)
COACH CARR: I really have a lot to worry without worry about Utah.
Q. Does the rivalry change much over the years? Is it still as bitter and ugly as it always has been?
COACH CARR: I'll say this. From a fan standpoint, I think it's changed. I think it's much different than it was, unfortunately, but I think amongst the players and the coaches, I think it's always -- I don't think it's ever been bitter. I think it's always been exactly what it should have been, and that is two programs that are represented by guys that play as hard as they can, and when the game is over they respect each other. To me, that's what a great rivalry should be. I think we've always had that. I don't remember it any other way.
COACH CARR: That's another story.
COACH CARR: That's because he's not been in it, yet. And I think the word hate -- I guarantee you that is not part of this rivalry. And I think when he's through he would not characterize it that way. I understand that's going to be portrayed as -- and they probably have guys that say the same thing. I think anybody that uses that term -- I would use this term. I think if you're at Michigan, you hate to lose to Ohio State. And I think if you're at Ohio State, you hate to lose to Michigan. I think that's what Chad Henne meant, so print it that way. (Laughter.) That's why I don't think how we got in here. Who allowed him to come in here?
Q. You don't promote -- inaudible -- you just said Ohio State players said that?
COACH CARR: No, I did not say that.
Q. They probably do.
COACH CARR: I said they may say, yeah, we hate Michigan, but it's not in the hate in the sense of personally or institutionally. It has to do with losing, because you're representing all of those people who want passionately to have their school win.
Q. Is there any time -- can you put your finger on when the fan side got a lot rougher?
COACH CARR: You know, I can't. Somewhere along the line, it changed.
Q. Do you like it, do you think you'll play -- (inaudible.)
COACH CARR: Well, hopefully every guy we recruit is a guy that likes pressure. He likes the pressure of high expectations, and so from that standpoint, you know, I think it adds something to it. I think the final analysis, the pressure of this game, it's enough. It's something that I think we all embrace. Two programs, I think both programs, the players, that's one of the reasons they go there, because they want to play in that game, and they know that a lot of times that in addition to the game itself there's other things at stake. But ultimately the greatest thing about this game is who's playing in it.
Q. Pat Massey, when you were recruiting, did you know all along, he said he was a Michigan man all along?
COACH CARR: I didn't know that, I knew he really liked it here, because I think he came up in the spring of his junior year, he came back in the summer. He came back for a game. I knew he really liked it, but I always worried about his brother, and I worried about his father, because his father was a Notre Dame graduate. I just thankfully have enough sense not to listen to either one of them. Pat Massey has been a great leader and he's really developed this year, he's strength and his size, I think his endurance, he's always been tough, he's tough minded, he's physically tough, he's mentally tough. He really likes to play the game. And he's been a great leader for our younger players. Yeah, Pat Massey, the play he made last Saturday was a big play in the game at the time. Blocking that field goal was big. Yes, I like Pat Massey a lot?
Q. Inaudible -- three big runs in the past two weeks, have you been able to figure that out?
COACH CARR: I think part of it is the competition. I mean, I see -- there were 450 yards rushing for Michigan State on Saturday. I mean, that speaks to something. Noah Herron is an outstanding football player. There's always a combination of things. I've said this, and I don't think enough people understand it, because if they did they would view things a little bit differently. There's always another team on that field. Those guys are trying to win, too, and they're competitive people. They have abilities, and sometime in the course of a game they execute and things happen. Good for them. That means that they may be bad for you. Well, give them credit. Now, do you work against that? Yes. But because big plays, they impact the game as much as anything else, so you're always trying to prevent them. Are you going to have no big plays against you, not if you play great competition, I don't think so.
Q. Is that one of the more amazing stories you've seen, a guy coming back from that kind of an injury?
COACH CARR: It's an amazing thing, although I think if you know Ben Olstein, it's not. He's one of those guys that's going to do what he wants to do. He's not going to be distracted by what other people think. He's not going to be distracted. He's going to be focused on what he wants to do. I think if you talk to his teammates, they would tell you he's an amazing guy. From the day that he came out in there to start rehab following that injury, he was for some reason, and maybe it's physiological, I don't know, he was way ahead of where most guys are when they begin rehab for that injury.
Q. Talking about a bad attitude for the game?
COACH CARR: I didn't. I said it's different, it's changed.
Q. For the worse?
COACH CARR: I didn't say that. I believe that interpretation is up to you.
Q. Sometimes you get to see some of the professionalization of the championship process, late night television games, different things. Do you ever think a lot of momentum of college football is against you on some of those? Do you ever feel you're paddling upstream with some of those opinions?
COACH CARR: Well, I'm certainly in the minority, but that doesn't mean that those who share my views, some of them, are in the wrong. So I just look at what I can do to use this platform to say things and to take stands that I believe are in the best interest of the guys who play this game. I'm going to always do that, and it's not always the popular thing to do, but I think it's my responsibility. I think the 12th game is one of those, and I think there's a lot of other issues that some -- I'm hoping, that somebody, some group, stand up, who have the authority to make some decisions that will turn the tide, and I hope that happens. I'm not optimistic that it's going to happen, because there's too much money there, but I can hope.
Q. You coached this rivalry when you didn't have a championship on the line and they did. What led to that (inaudible.)
COACH CARR: I think some people don't like to hear the fact that, the old cliche that you can throw out the records, but I guarantee you the records, they don't mean anything in this game. That's my experience. I mean, I can remember being -- I mean, it doesn't matter. That's just the way it is.
Q. You were going to tell a good story there?
COACH CARR: Yes, I was. I bit my tongue.
Q. Impression of the quarterback. In 25 years (inaudible.)
COACH CARR: Rich Hewlett, a great Michigan man, Rich went down to Columbus, I think. Who remembers? It was 1979, I think. And of course Rich Leech would have started.
Q. Playing against Notre Dame, did that prepare him (inaudible.)
COACH CARR: I think any time you play in front of a big crowd that's hostile, and certainly that would -- yes, I think that's one of the great things about the Notre Dame/Michigan rivalry, I think playing in that game prepares you for other games down the road.
Q. Getting to the line of scrimmage and making the proper checks in such a loud environment, is he able to do that as much (inaudible.)
COACH CARR: Well, I hope you'll understand why I wouldn't answer that question.
Q. Pierre, one of the guys that you recruited out of Ohio?
COACH CARR: Pierre has done a great job. He has done a great job academically. From the day he's got here, he's shown a very, very strong maturity off the field, as well as on. I think if you ask our younger players -- Pierre is a very outgoing guy that reaches out to everybody, which is remarkable, I think, for a young guy. He came in here and has done -- he's going to get his degree, there's no question about that, and there's some other -- there are some things that have made his life not the easiest, but he's got a strength of character I think that is really special.
Q. Your team controls its destiny and doesn't have to have other things happen to win the championship?
COACH CARR: Well, it's the difference between having to hope for something and being able to know that what you do is going to decide it. I think anybody in athletics or anybody in any situation would always prefer to have things that depended upon what they do.
Q. Have you watched them during warm-ups to see how they're reacting?
COACH CARR: I'm just trying to control my own, so I don't worry about them.
Q. Do you think --
COACH CARR: I always tell them I'll be done there on the 50. If you're scared, come on down, I'll hold their hand. Yes, I tell them that all the time.
Q. The quarterback? (Inaudible.)
COACH CARR: Well, to really make that determination, the fair thing would be if you evaluated every quarterback in every game, you know. Nobody does that, because they don't have time. I vote for all conference teams. So many people look at statistics, well, statistics are always a part of it, performance, but they're not always all of it. The only thing that I would say is that he's had a remarkable year.
Q. Have you ever seen him rattled?
COACH CARR: I can't say that I have. He's a very even-keeled guy. He's pretty calm.
Q. You talked about he played at Notre Dame -- inaudible -- you talked about the noise, the whole environment is completely different?
COACH CARR: Well, I think it's going to be the most exciting competitive event he's ever been in, and I think he looks forward to that. I mean, why wouldn't he?
Q. Anything different in practice?
COACH CARR: In every game that we've played this fall, we've done everything we can to prepare him for places where you cannot hear, so he's had a lot -- it's not just he's got five days here to get ready. He's been preparing for this game since the day he got here. He's played in a lot of crowds where he couldn't hear, or where they couldn't hear him. I think he's done an extremely good job. I think he's doing a lot better at this stage, but the thing that I would agree with you is that this will be the loudest. There's no doubt about that.
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