|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 6, 2004
COACH CARR: Now, can we and should we be better in terms of our punt coverage? There's no question. There's some things there that we didn't do as well as we need to. So, we've got a lot of things to work on this week. We look forward to playing in one of the three great rivals, rivalries that we have in Michigan. This is certainly one of them. It always comes early in the season. Notre Dame Stadium is a great venue, an exciting place to play, and we know those guys down there like they know us. I know them because I tried to recruit almost all of them. So, we know each other. We understand, I think, that we're both part of two of the great, the greatest traditions in college football. So it's always a great game. We have always had great games down there, but it's been too long since we've won down there. So we look forward to it.
Q. Can you talk about how you will establish the running game -- inaudible?
COACH CARR: There's not a lot of things I want to talk about. There's a lot of things that go into establishing a running game. I think first and foremost Ohio is a good defensive football team. They brought their safeties down, their safety made some plays right on the line of scrimmage for those games. So part of it was the fact that they had a very good defense and that they played well. But, but there were also some things, typical, some of them. Missed assignments, we had some of those and missed the hole at times. So there's a combination of things and I think collectively we have to get better there.
Q. You talked about defensively an emphasis on trying to create turnovers and that was something there was more of an emphasis in the preseason. Is that something that you can continue throughout the season?
COACH CARR: I don't think it's going to continue at that rate. I mean, seven turnovers, that's -- and Miami a year ago was not a team that just gives the football up. Some of those we cause. Sometimes the opponent makes a mistake. But I think as we get into the rest of this season, we're going to play teams that take care of the football. Now, if we can continue to hustle and be around the football and cause pressure on the quarterback, certainly we're going to have a chance to cause more turnovers than we did a year ago, and that's certainly been an emphasis. I think it's always an emphasis. But I do think that we had very good pressure. And of course I've said this from the beginning, Markus Curry is one of those guys that during the course of his career has had some interceptions where he's caught the ball away from his body. He's made interceptions where the ball was not thrown to him; where he went and got the football. So I think you have to credit him. I think the fact that we had three safeties, Ryan Mundy is getting his first start, that was certainly big play because they have to start it, and Ernest Shazor was where he was supposed to be. He was executing his assignment and we had good pressure on that. I think the ball came out a little bit faster than they wanted it to but Ernest made, in my judgment, the biggest play of the game.
Q. Have you talked to Matt about him getting back to practice?
COACH CARR: No, I haven't. We'll practice today and I have not seen Paul Schmidt today, so we'll just have to see how that goes.
Q. Knowing full well the circumstances surrounding the Notre Dame situation, struggled last week, how difficult of a challenge or how dangerous of a team might this be?
COACH CARR: Well, I don't know that I agree with anything, the way you've phrased some of your questions. But I think Michigan/Notre Dame, the rivalry that it is, the only thing that's important is what you do today, what you do this week. The preparation, I think our players, I think our kids, I think the people in this program take great pride in representing this institution, and I know the same is true of Notre Dame. So, you know, at times, somebody loses a game and everybody wants to think the house is burning down. Well, we're in an era in college football when you play on the road, it's very, very difficult to win. And we understand that. We know we're going into, you know, a great venue to play, and yet their fans, they are like it is for somebody when they come in here; they make it tough. So we've got to find out how we handle the pressure of going on the road in an environment where everybody is cheering against you instead of for you.
Q. Watching the tape and studying them on the road, how much more difficult will be with two freshmen?
COACH CARR: Well, you only get to start your first college game one time, and he's done that. Now you've got to start your first road game, but the fact that he was able to start in his first game here at Michigan Stadium I think gives him and everybody around him a lot more confidence. I think the experience he had there will stand him in good stead. I don't worry about Chad Henne from the standpoint of being able to handle it because I think he's been there. Once you've been there, it's easier to do it again. But does that mean it's going to be easy? No. Does that mean anything other than he has some experience? No.
Q. Do you have any sort of policy that an injured guy will get his job back?
COACH CARR: You know, I can remember in the last couple of years, somebody wrote an article that said part of my policy was that an injured player never loses his position. I've said nothing of the sort. I've always said, you're always competing. You're always competing. And it's difficult; you face as an injured player, you face the challenge that when you're not there, somebody is practicing and playing in your stead. And so, you know, you have to make determinations as a coach. So there's great competition there and that's just the way that I look at it.
Q. Will Chad start this week, four on the depth chart -- will that come out?
COACH CARR: I want to see what happens this afternoon. If nothing changes, nothing will change. How's that? (Laughter).
Q. Is there any extra pressure there -- can you talk about the similarities between the two programs? How hard would it be to go through a battle like this every year?
COACH CARR: Well, you're getting into all kinds of speculations and, you know, the only thing I'm thinking about right now is trying to take all of the things that we need to put together in terms of the things we can tell our kids this week and prepare. We've got a lot of guys that have never been down there. That's a different feeling. We've got enough things to worry about. I think that's a question for another time.
Q. Is there anything unique or dangerous in playing at Notre Dame, as opposed to playing in Ohio Stadium or Michigan Stadium?
COACH CARR: Well, I think all of those are great places to play. I think it's a great place to play football because the student body down there is always enthusiastic, they are always loud. The colors, you've got the green, the bands. Our band will be there, I hope they will be there, they are always there. So in terms of all of the path entry that makes college football so speciall, you get it all down there. Of course, I think it's a little bit louder since they have added the -- I don't know what you call it, but they added seats there. It is definitely louder than it used to be and it's always been loud. So, I don't think there's -- you know, when you're on the field, I don't know that you're going to be aware of anything except what you see on the other side of line of scrimmage. Now as you walk in there and as you warm up for the game, you get an opportunity to really sense the excitement that all of those people bring to that game, and those jerseys and the color and those elements. It's a special time.
Q. Many have mentioned the fact they were impressed with Chad's composure in his first game and also his attitude and his swagger this summer. He was here most of the summer; how much does that play into his early development, that he spent so much time early and impressing his teammates?
COACH CARR: Well, he came in in the spring just as Matt Gutierrez did when he was in his senior year in high school. He came out in the summertime. I think it was invaluable. I don't think he could have done what he did on Saturday if he had not made the sacrifices to come in in the spring, to be here in the summertime. With that said, going on the road is a different deal because it's much more difficult because of the noise. All of the things that go with going on the road. So his development has just begun. We are just beginning here.
Q. What did you see in Quinn that made you -- just in general?
COACH CARR: Well, Brady Quinn was in my office and we recruited him as hard as you could recruit a guy. We wanted him very much to come to Michigan. I think he got an opportunity to play a year ago, and now he's been in all of the big situations. He's been under pressure. He knows how to prepare for a game and I think, again, I think Quinn will be a great quarterback before he's through.
Q. Are you concerned about any injuries --
COACH CARR: You know, I can tell you what I think, and I will. I think there's only one of them, I'm more concerned about Sarantos because he has been an outstanding special teams guy and played a very significant role in that game on Saturday. I don't know how that ankle is going to be, we'll see. But the others I expect will be ready to go. Again, you don't know how they are going to respond to practice. That's what I know now.
Q. You mentioned how impressed you were with Chad, is that the most difficult part of a young guy having to perform like that in his first game?
COACH CARR: I think in our offense, I think the influence that professional football has had on college football, the spread offenses, the one-back offenses, has been a substantial. And with that comes, you know, a lot of verbiage. That's why a lot of the plays are so long, there are so many words in them that we put them in our wristband so that the quarterback will read certain plays from his wristband. However, what makes it even more difficult for a college quarterback than a professional quarterback is the professional quarterback has a headset and he has somebody giving him the play from the press box right into his helmet. In college football, you don't have that. So, particularly for a young quarterback, it's a tremendous challenge from a standpoint of all of the signals of all of the things that you have to do to get the play to him and then he's got to repeat it. If he leaves one word out, then somebody doesn't know what to do. And so, you know, it has -- you can't run the offenses without very good communication.
Q. Does that make the opener even more impressive?
COACH CARR: I think obviously, we were very pleased with that. Normally in a first game, you're going to have some motion penalties. The one thing that I wouldn't have been surprised by would have been some delay in game penalties or where you had to take a time-out because you've got the wrong personnel in the game or the wrong signal, and all of the sudden you break the huddle and you have two or three guys standing there like there this; so you have to call time out or take a delay. Yeah, I think that was really a positive, no question.
Q. Were you at all surprised after a week of no practice how Jerome played?
COACH CARR: I was concerned that Jerome after missing as much practice as he did could come in and he looked very much at home. He looked very comfortable. We didn't have any exchange problems with him. I thought he ran very effective. I was worried about the contact because normally in training camp, the backs, you get a lot of contact; he missed most of that. So, yeah would I give him a very positive grade because he did not show the ill effects of missing practice.
Q. Any memories of games down there?
COACH CARR: I remember Harry Oliver kicking a field goal in the first game that I was down there as parted of the staff in 1980, a great football game; one of the best football games I've ever been a part of. I remember Remy Hamilton's field goal to win the game down there. I remember missing a field goal by inches to lose down there. I can remember, I think it was Lou Holtz's first year, Notre Dame missed a field goal in the last play of the game, I think it was the last play of the game; they missed it wide left. So, what I can remember, the tie when Notre Dame got the ball 17-17, I think, and I can remember I was the defensive coordinator at the time and those last 50 seconds seemed like an eternity. But, you know it seemed like my memories are that every time you get out there, you know, the game is impacted by the kicking game. And of course now we'll look at the last time we were down there. I looked at that this morning. That's not a good memory but there's some lessons there.
Q. It's a rivalry you would like to see perpetuated but not played every year, played every two years or three?
COACH CARR: Well, I don't mean to answer that question yes. I think the future -- this is a great rivalry, and I don't have any idea about the future. But I do think that the BCS will have an impact. Or, I mean, at least that's a consideration in the future, at least as I think as far as Michigan goes. So, we'll see. Nobody knows where that's heading. I think eventually, there's going to be a 12th team in the big ten. When or where, we don't know obviously, but I think that could factor in. So there's a lot of unknowns at this point. But if you only played it once every ten years, that doesn't change the fact that it's a great rivalry. If you play it every year, obviously that's, you know, the ideal for, I think the fans, because it is a great -- it's a great game.
Q. You can you talk about the secondary and what they did well?
COACH CARR: Well, I think they played together well. I think that's where it all begins. What I was most impressed defensively, and we are going to get a lot more challenged this week with the receivers that Notre Dame has And when I look back at two years ago, what killed us was turnovers and big plays, big plays particularly. So what I like most about this opening game is that we did not give up any plays over 25 yards. We gave up one there I think 23 yards. But I think any time you're not giving up big plays, then your secondary is doing some good things, because that's really what you're entrusting them with, the responsibility of staying home or covering their man and not giving up big plays. And that's always impacted by the pass-rush. It's a lot easier. You know, it's easy to blame secondaries sometimes, but when you look at the film and see that the quarterback stands back there all day long, there's other things to look at sometimes. But by and large, if you have a great secondary you're not going to give up a lot of big plays; and that means you're not going to give up a lot of big points.
Q. Given position on the offense, how tough is it to have a David Baas out there to settle things down and take charge?
COACH CARR: You not only have David Baas. You have Matt Lentz. Stenavich has been there. Kolodziej has paid his dues; he's been around here awhile. I think obviously, that is a major issue. And knowing that either as a tailback or as a quarterback that you've got some really quality people, people that are going to fight and people that are going to play as hard as they can, people that are going to give everything they have on every down, I think that plays an important part in the morale of your football team. That's what leadership is, it's about morale.
Q. Is it almost a matter of fact or a foregone conclusion that there will be 12 teams, that that will probably happen?
COACH CARR: Well, maybe I'm wrong. I never stopped to consider I might be wrong. Well, I just think that if you look out there, the 12th team -- what is going to happen is at some point, there will be 12 teams in the Big Ten because the money generated by a playoff game will get it done.
Q. Too much to turn down?
COACH CARR: Sure. I don't know if I want to see that -- well, maybe I do. (Laughter).
Q. If there were a 12th team, would you want it to be Notre Dame?
COACH CARR: Yeah, I think that makes the Big Ten without any question, it's a great conference. But when you look at the rest of the country, this realignment has changed things. Yeah, I think it would be -- I think that would really make it something. And it's already something. It's already tough enough.
Q. Can you elaborate on what you saw in Massey?
COACH CARR: Well, I think he's much stronger and pat's one of those guys that finally grew into his body and he's a hard worker. He's got great character. Massey is a smart guy and a good leader on our team because of his work ethic. He came from a great program, St. Ignacious in Cleveland, and his brother is here. I think his brother is going to be a very good football player. But I think, you know, Massey is on our punt team. He made a great tackle there on Saturday because he can run. He's a good athlete. He was an outstanding basketball player at St. Ignacious. When I made my visit to the school, I got to watch him practice one day, and he's a tough competitor. He likes to win and he has -- he's had to play a year ago when he did not have the strength to get off the blockers. Now he has the ability to do that and I think he's improved as a pass rusher.
Q. Do you worry at all about too much, too soon, pressure and all that stuff or is Chad different?
COACH CARR: Well, I don't think -- you know, I don't think anybody knows the answer to that as far as how he will handle it. Now, our job, my job is to make sure that he understands that this thing, this is a process. He's just beginning. And there's a euphoria, obviously, for any kid who goes into that stadium like that and starts a game and his team wins and he played pretty well. But it's going to get a lot harder and he's going to have, like every quarterback, like every athlete, he's going to have some days where it's not so much fun. He's going to learn some lessons that are not going to be fun to go through. I mean, he can ask Tom Brady and Brian Griese and all of the rest of them. Our job is to try to keep his feet on the ground. And I think what helps in his particular situation is he comes from a great family. He comes from a good program where he had an excellent coach. But dealing with all of the hype and all of the distractions, when you're 18 years old and now he's going to walk on that campus tomorrow to begin classes and everybody's going to know who he is, and that has a way of making you think that you're something or somebody that you're not. So he's got some real challenges ahead of him in terms of the way he handle it is. Now, hopefully his teammates will remind him that he didn't really win that game by himself. He's a smart guy, and smart guys, it's like we had Greg Staisel (ph) who is in charge of the FBI office here in Ann Arbor. He always comes over and has been speaking to the team for 22 years, and he always reminds them of what John wane said, "Life is tough. But it's really tough if you're stupid." (Laughter). So the whole point is, he's got to keep his feet on the ground and I think we all do.
Q. From what you know of the nature of past injuries, do you think it's strictly a rest issue or is there more to it?
COACH CARR: You know, I've been in that situation, and there will be all kinds of like any other thing here, there will be all kinds of conjecture and opinions. But the truth is that is an injury wherefore those people who have had that kind of an injury, they are the only ones who really understand what it's like. And so Matt is the only guy that really knows, I think I know, but I can assure you of this; it's a miserable injury. Now, the degree I can't speak to, but I assure you, as soon as he feels comfortable in throwing the football without pain and without discomfort, he'll be back in there competing. But I don't know when that will be and I don't know that anybody does. It's not like a broken finger where you look at his X-ray and you say -- okay, you can look at the X-ray and look at the wound and say, okay, he's going to be out six weeks and he'll be back. This is not that kind of deal.
Q. Can you be more specific?
COACH CARR: It's soreness that he experiences when he throws the football. Now, I'm not going to be more specific than that.
Q. You said "shoulder" on the TV show.
COACH CARR: Well, if you've got soreness when you throw the football, he might have soreness in his shoulder and what do you call it -- the elbow. I told you everything I can tell you.
Q. Before the game, did you know the change, did you see him in any pain?
COACH CARR: When we left here last Monday, this press conference, we practiced Monday evening, and he wasn't as sharp. I just watched him in the Notre Dame game a year ago, he had a chance to get in at the end of the game. What I know that he's capable of doing, he didn't do last Monday or Tuesday. So, that's what I saw.
COACH CARR: Well, I don't know what they are going to do. You have some choices in there. You can decide that you don't block them at all and maybe you can have your back miss him, make him miss. But I think Gabe Watson is the kind of middle guard who has the kind of presence that he's hard to block. Now, you know, how you decide to do it, I don't know. But he's big and he's strong and he plays hard. I think regardless of what defense you're playing, but particularly if you're playing the 34 defense, an outstanding nose guard presents a lot of problems. So hopefully Gabe will continue to play and get better and do the things that he has shown that he can do.
Q. After watching -- do you think about reviewing the plays?
COACH CARR: Well, I think it's too early to -- you know, I think there's going to be tremendous controversy. There's going to be a lot of people hard going to say regardless of how it works it's a step in the right direction. I think there are going to be other people that say, look, if you don't make certain changes -- so, look, I think awful the conversations will be good. But I think -- the thing I tried to say before we got into this is that there's going to be some things that as coaches and as spectators, obviously, that we don't understand. And I think the No. 1 thing we -- I had to remind myself of, was that the guy up there in the box up in the press box, he doesn't necessarily see what I see on the field. I could see a play right in front of me where there's a fumble and the official doesn't see it; so he doesn't give us possession. And the guy on the box, even though I've seen it with my own eyes, the camera may not see it. It doesn't matter what I see or that official sees. If he doesn't -- he's not going to be able to review a play if he doesn't see it off the camera. You know, he's not watching the game with the naked eye. He's watching that monitor the whole time. So, I think that's where some things will happen that we don't understand, and I'm sure there's going to have to be some changes and modifications as we look into it after the season's over. I think we've got to give it a season and see how it goes.
End of FastScripts...