ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan fifth-year senior Taylor Lewan addressed the media today on many after the Wolverines’ disappointing 29-6 loss to Michigan State on Saturday. Below are key quotes from today’s press conference.
On his individual development as an offensive lineman: "I think what it really comes down to is just going 100 percent every single play. When you are young and you think about the whole game, 60 minutes of football, when in reality you need to focus on one play at a time. If you focus on one play at a time and do that play to the best of your ability, you'll be just fine. I think those guys need to learn that, and they will. They're progressing. Obviously, we didn't have a good day on Saturday. We'll get better, and we'll learn from it."
On facing a possible sanction for his facemask penalty: "I can't control that anymore. I know at the time I was trying to protect my teammates, trying to protect Devin [Gardner]. Obviously, I could have gone about it way different, and if I could go back and do it differently I absolutely would."
On his conversation with Coach Hoke about the penalty: "He talked to me and told me that I'm representing 133 years of Michigan football, being the 134th captain on this team. It's a big deal. At the time my thought process wasn't to try and play dirty or try to do this because they are our rivals. It came down to me trying to protect Devin Gardner and being sacked seven times. His head was exposed at the time. I'm not trying to make any excuses for it, absolutely not. What I did was wrong. But I was just trying to protect my guys. Like I said, there is always a different way to go about it. I should have completely gone about it a different way, but I can't take it back now."
On the importance of leadership after a loss : "I think that Coach Hoke has obviously done a phenomenal job with us. He's said it a bunch of times, if he has to lead this team then we are going to be in trouble. I think that us as seniors have to let the younger players know that we believe in them. And we need to keep believing. Obviously, we don't control our fate anymore in the Big Ten. We need to play four more games and win four more games. That's what we need to focus on. As long as players know that we all believe in each other, we're a family, we're best friends. If we keep believing, we'll be all right."
On watching film of the Michigan State blitz packages: "It's kind of what I said at the end of the game. They ran a lot of blitzes that could have been picked up in certain ways. A lot of max protections. I can go over the blitzes again if you want. But we have to pay more attention to the details. Like I've said, you've got to take it one play at a time. If you focus on this third-and-eight, how many third-and-eights will you have? That will just cloud your mind. If it's third-and-eight, you get in your stance, it's a 30 front, and they're usually in a 30 front when it's more than third and four. It's the little things. You have to go through the steps in your mind. Should I do this? Should I do that? It's what you have to focus on every single play. I don't know if we were overpowered; it was more missing our blocks, not changing direction quick enough, not realizing what was going on quick enough, and that happens. It happens with an inexperienced offensive line. We can't let this team beat us again twice. So we need to go back to the fundamentals and techniques. Like I said, fundamentals and techniques -- work on those blitzes, work on those things, and we'll be more successful."
On how long it takes for an offensive lineman to develop: "It's tough to say. When I was freshman I was super blessed to have Steve Schilling as a left guard who really helped me out. And then the next year I had Dave Molk, who also really helped me out. Then my junior year I kind of came into my own. I think it really depends on the player and on who the person is. If the person really wants to be successful and really wants to be great at their craft and come to a place like the University of Michigan and be that good of a player, that's on you. We are all here to help. The coaches are here to help. Players are here to help. I'm always willing to help and watch film with the other guys. But you have to get in there, watch the film, learn and keep learning. It's like school. You can have 2.0 (GPA) guys who really could be 3.5 guys. It's how hard you want to work."
On controlling emotions on the field: "It's tough at times when you are in a huge rivalry game like Michigan State. It's a state championship game. If you are referring to the things that I was doing during the game; there are different ways that I could have went about it. I lost my composure for a second, and that's not okay to do. That's not representative of the University of Michigan. That's not taking pride in the rivalry with Michigan State. You have to give it to them. They won. They beat us fair and square. Was I upset about that? Absolutely. It was my last shot against Michigan State, and for the rest of my life my senior year I would have lost to State. That's tough. I have definitely learned from this. I am moving on and trying to get this team better."
On Devin Gardner's soreness at practice: "He's pretty sore, and that's on us. The whole game, all of those hits, weren't all on the offense line, but most of them were, and we have to take responsibility for that and take pride in our craft."
On apologizing after the game : "I didn't really see Isaiah Lewis to apologize to him. When the game's over, I'm off the field in my own mind. They won, they beat us. I shook their hands. It stung, like it should. But you have to give them credit. I was looking around here and there. I ran into Darqueze Dennard, No. 31, and shook his hand and told him good luck with the rest of the season and the rest of his career. I talked to a couple guys here and there. I don't really know them. The only person that I've talked to throughout the years is Marcus Rush, but I didn't even see him. I would have absolutely apologized to him. I think he would agree with me that it's the heat of the rivalry. Like I said, it's not who I am off the field."
On looking forward to Nebraska : "You've got to move past it. It's at home. I have two more opportunities to play at home as a senior, and then it's all over. It's great. I can't wait for that opportunity on Saturday."