Opening statement ... "We're 20 days away from playing and we've got a lot of work to do in these next 19 days as a football team. We've had seven practices and I like what we've done in those seven practices -- I like the leadership from the seniors; I like how the competition at various spots has been very good and that's what we need to have if we want to be a championship team. I like our team still -- I haven't come to the point where I don't like them yet and I'm hoping that doesn't come. I think we're building each day. From the perspective offensively and defensively and the kicking game, I think the teaching progression that the coaches have used has been very good for us as a team. Now we're getting an opportunity for some more situational competitions with each other. I like our team, I like where we're at and we just have to get a lot better because it's going to be a quick next 19 days."
On the surprises he's seen so far in camp ... "I don't know if there have been any big surprises or even medium surprises. I like how the team itself came into camp. When you look at body types, you look at what they did in the summer. I know there was an article onTaylor Lewan and what he's done, and Joel Totoro, our nutritionist, and Aaron Wellman, how they have changed him. You see that with not just Lewan, a lot of guys have done a nice job."
On the change in the offense this year and the staff's level of comfort with it ... "That's a question we get a lot. I think they've always been comfortable with it. I think Al (Borges), probably that first two years, went back to the drawing board a little bit and really studied some of the things that would help our offensive and obviously with Denard (Robinson) as the quarterback, he did a nice job with that. The terminology and everything, back to where the offense will more shape up and look like, I think it's been real positive."
On what he's seen from Devin Gardner ... "Devin (Gardner) had five games last year and we were 3-2 in those games with him being the starting quarterback. He played down in Columbus in that environment so that was a great learning experience, good and bad. I think playing South Carolina, who is a very good defensive team and a good football team. I think he learned a lot there in the bowl game. Is he where he needs to be yet? No. Is he capable? Yes, I don't think there is any doubt -- from intelligence and football, his knowledge and how he thinks it and works it. This will be a real big telling point of where he is as a quarterback."
On the battle at center and how Jack Miller is fitting in ... "Jack (Miller) has done a really good job. I think him and Graham Glasgow, and Joey Burzynski being the third element in there, I think they both have competed well. I think both of them, and really all three of them, have really good intelligence and that helps because they can play guard. We've worked them at all three. Jack (Miller) has mainly stayed at the center position, but he knows the guard position. I think it's a good competition. This week is a big week for all those things to see how they play out."
On how the linebackers have looked and whether he plans to be situational at the Sam ... "I think we'll get to a point.Brennen Beyer is a guy who we moved from rush back to Sam and has played both positions. I think him and Cam (Gordon) both bring a physicalness that I probably would not have said about Cam a year ago; from his stature and getting used to being down at the line of scrimmage. I think both of those guys are doing a nice job. Allen Gant is going through a progression, moving down from safety. His size is probably where Cam (Gordon) was about two and a half years ago, so he's learning a little more. We'll have a rotation and then we'll see when Jake (Ryan) gets back. Inside, Desmond (Morgan) has done a really good job, Joe Bolden has done a good job, (James) Ross and I think Royce Jenkins-Stone, probably at the Will, has had a good camp so far and I'm encouraged."
On the interior offensive line and when he plans to lock in depth chart ... "I think by the time we're 13 days out we ought to have them figured out a little more. Obviously you don't just hand it to a guy -- he's going to have to earn it every day."
On Derrick Green and Brennen Beyer's status ... "They both didn't do a whole lot of game time stuff, hitting or anything. They got to run and do those types of things. I wouldn't say their injuries will keep them out."
On what he's seen from De'Veon Smith ... "De'Veon has done a nice job. With all those freshmen, they're still finishing classes and doing all that, so they miss some things. But De'Veon is kind of the forgotten sole when you talk about those two guys Derrick Green), and we like what we've seen to this point."
On how Fitzgerald Toussaint is doing ... "Great. He's done everything. We hit each other pretty good yesterday in both practices. He's done everything. He's been great."
On the depth at safety ... "I think we have a lot of guys at safety. Jeremy Clark and Thomas (Gordon) and Jarrod (Wilson) and Delano Hill. There are some guys back there, and I'm forgetting three or four of them, but we have some good depth there."
On the unassigned legacy jerseys ... "We don't have to assign them, but we're still going through the process."
On Devin Funchess' potential in his second year ... "Potential is not really a good word because if someone says you have potential and that's all they say, that's not very positive. I think Devin has grown and I think that's an important piece to it. He'll be more dangerous. I can remember when we had three tight ends here within the offense, so maybe we started that evolution with three tight ends to the NFL level, but I think Devin is athletic and I think he's better at the line of scrimmage. The better that he can be at the line of scrimmage, the better we'll be as a team, because then people aren't going to say 'Funchess is in; they're going to throw the football'. That's where the challenge for him falls. He's bigger, he's stronger, he's a better technician. He never had to block a nine technique in high school, so I think he's learned a lot through last spring and this fall. He's got a lot of talent."
On Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson making an impact on the passing game ... "I think they've done a really good job, both of them. I think (Amara) Darboh, he was a guy a year ago when we had this conversation that Roy Roundtree talked about, and ended up with no catches. He's done a great job committing himself. Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo have done a tremendous job of coaching those guys. He's made some nice catches and shown good concentration so far during camp. Jehu (Chesson) probably hasn't had as many opportunities, but he can stretch the field vertically so well, we're excited about him."
On Michigan not winning the Big Ten in nine years and Ohio State being a favorite this year ... "Our goal is to win the championship, and we haven't done it. We've failed in the last nine years because that's an expectation. I think you're always motivated when you talk about Ohio, no matter what's being said, you're motivated so that the last Saturday in November you play your best football."
On Chris Wormley coming back from injury ... "Chris (Wormley) number one is huge -- he's big guy. He's done a nice job coming back from the rehab, and really the better job probably from the mental side of that. That's one thing I'm proud of Fitz (Toussaint) for -- he's come back from it because mentally he really worked that side of it. I think Chris (Wormley) has that potential, and that's a dangerous word, to be an awfully good football player for us. We like where he's at and how he's progressed."
On other guys making progress at the running back position ... "Justice Hayes had a really strong spring, if you remember, he had a really good summer and he's had a really good fall camp. Drake Johnson, same thing. I think his work ethic -- how he's built his body, how he's learned, has been great. I think (Thomas) Rawls would be the same way. We've got some tough decision here in about two weeks because they're all competing. Will somebody separate themselves? You'd like for that to happen, but at the same time, they're all competing."
On how they will split playing time at the running back position ... "I would probably lean a little more that there will be more than just one guy. I think we have the personnel. I'm not going to get into first-down backs, second-down backs, third-down backs, because I think there is some of that built into any system, but I think whoever will be that main guy nine days before, we'll probably have that figured out."
On the depth of the defensive ends keeping everyone fresh ... "There is no question, when you're fresh and feel fresh, it's more mental than physical at times, you can play with more focus, more intensity, you play faster, your effort is unbelievable. Depth wise, Keith (Heitzman) has done a really good job and had a really good camp so far. Chris Wormley, Matt Godin, all those guys at the strong-end position have done well. Frank (Clark) has had a really good fall camp, as much as on the field and his leadership on the field. Mario (Ojemudia), is a guy who played some snaps as a true freshman, I think that's huge for him. And then Taco (Charlton), since he got here in January, has done well. Frank probably, as much as anybody, when you look at the depth totally up front, you have Jibreel (Black) and Quinton (Washington) and then it's Frank (Clark). It's a young group, probably a bit immature, but that's our job."
On why Michigan has not played as well on the road as they have at home ... "When you look at playing on the road, we emphasized that pretty big, especially a year ago, probably emphasized it too much to be honest. The field is still 100 years long, 53 1/3 wide, so it really doesn't matter. I think when you look at it in depth, how many turnovers did we have at Notre Dame, how many turnovers did we have did we have at Ohio, and how many turnovers in the bowl game -- is that an away game? I don't know, you're not playing at Michigan Stadium. But I think that was a big part of us not taking care of the ball. Some of it was inexperience. Some of it was trying to make a play when sometimes from an offensive perspective, really a team perspective, throwing the ball away or taking a two-yard gain instead of a five-yard gain and punting the football can be good for you."
On what he's seen from the defensive tackles ... "The seniors will be playing a lot if they earn the right to play. There is no entitlement and so far to this point I think Quinton (Washington) has done a really nice job -- leadership wise, production wise, fundamentally. I think Jibreel (Black) I could say the same thing about. I think Willie Henry is understanding how fast you need to play and that's a daily grind. The same with Ondre (Pipkins), because Ondre has to learn that part of it and be more fundamentally sound. Tommy Strobel is a guy who is playing well, and I'm excited about Tom and what he's done so far. I think Richard Ash has improved. I think down the road Maurice (Hurst Jr.) is a guy who, he was a 260-pound tailback and now he's playing defensive line -- I kind of like that. They're progressing."
On the depth at the defensive back position being what he has been looking for ... "There is no doubt, that's more how we want to go about it. Coaching with Greg (Mattison) a long time ago, we've always like to have guys on the field where they can peak-perform and peak-compete. We think we're going to be able to do that."
On what's involved in seniors becoming a team captain ... "When we vote for mayor, do you think there is politicking involved? It's society. There are guys who maybe go about it the wrong way. There have been some unbelievable captains that we've had on various team, various places, who have done it just by how they do it every day, and have been consistent. There are guys who maybe try a little too hard. But the thing is, the team votes on it, and only the older guys, none of the freshmen -- they haven't been around them enough. Usually those guys know who should be it and shouldn't be it."
On one element he needs to see from his team before he knows they're ready ... "Playing fast and playing physical. I had this conversation with Laura Hoke last night -- I don't think we're playing as fast as we need to play to be a championship football team. Every championship team that I've had the privilege of being a part of, they play unbelievably fast and physical on both sides of the ball, and we're not there yet. I'm not just talking about tempo, I'm talking about when that ball is snapped, how that left guard comes off the ball; how that center takes that step up through the one shade; I'm talking about the safety and his read; I'm talking about the defensive linemen and how fast they throw their hands -- that's playing fast. And then from an offensive prospective, watching those guys on the offensive line get down the field to garner that next block and pick the running back up. Or defensively, getting 11 winged helmets to the ball because there are 11 spots on a human body for a helmet and we need to put 11 helmets on that body."