"I thought it was a very good opener. I was particularly pleased with
our special teams. I think Ross Ryan did an outstanding job. I think he's one
of those guys, in terms of kickoffs, that really is a weapon. When you can save
your kickoff team and kick the ball out of the endzone, or at least where it
is not returnable, that is a big plus. I think he did a great job on the fumbled
punt. Darnell Hood got down, knocked the ball loose, and made a great play.
And imagine a punter running down the field forty yards or so and recovering
a fumble. Ross Ryan is a competitive guy. In high school he was in outstanding
player, not just a guy that did nothing but kick. I thought we made a mistake
when we had an extra point blocked and we missed a field goal. I thought our
coverage on the kickoffs was very good. So I think from a special teams standpoint,
we got a lot of very very positive things today. "
"I think defensively there was one big play. Basically we didn't get a
guy outside. We were bouncing the ball outside to one of our safeties who was
supposed to be out there. He hesitated, and of course with a back like that
when you do that, you don't get to where you're supposed to be, they get outside
the defense, and you give up a big play. But when I look at what we did, there
are a lot of positives. We are, today, a very banged up defensive football team.
Ryan Mundy missed most of the fall. David Harris, who would have been a starting
linebacker, missed the last ten days. We played a lot of young guys in there
today. John Thompson got an opportunity to play. Chris Graham, of course, was
playing. But I think we did a lot of good things. We did a lot of positive things.
The most positive thing defensively was the pressure we put on the quarterbacks.
I thought we really forced them to throw the ball quickly. I thought we knocked
him down a few times. That's something that we need to be able to do. At the
end of the game when you're ahead by 20 twenty points with seven or eight minutes
to go and they continue to run the football, it's not an easy situation to call
defenses in because in most cases in those situations people are throwing the
football in their two-minute offense. I thought we had a lot of positives. We
got a lot of chances to play young kids. "
"The negative from an offensive standpoint is Adrian Arrington is going
to miss some time. That's another key guy because Adrian had a great fall. We're
going to miss him, but we'll move forward. I think offensively we played as
well in the first half as any team since I've been at Michigan. I thought the
execution was outstanding. I thought we protected the quarterback. I thought
we mixed the run and the pass. I thought we caught the ball extremely well with
the exception of one drop of a ball that I thought should have been caught.
In the second half we had great opportunities to really put the game away. We
were in control of the game, but we could have put it away much earlier. And
give Northern Illinois credit. On 4th and 1 they had a good call, and their
linebacker made a great play to stop us. Then we fumbled down inside the five
yard line. Kevin Grady, who I thought ran very well today, will learn from that.
You've got to protect the ball. So I think we got a lot of good things done.
I think Northern Illinois, when you look at what kind of team they were in terms
of turnovers, we forced four turnovers. Anytime you're getting those kinds of
turnovers, you're getting people hustling to the ball because if they aren't
hustling the other team gets the ball back. We know that there are better teams
ahead, and one of them will come this week."
On the offensive execution in the passing game:
"I think it starts with the offensive line. If you're going to have a
good passing attack, you've got to protect the quarterback. That's where it
starts. It's obviously a team game. Jason made three or four 'Avant-type' catches.
When the ball thrown behind Jason Avant…a lot of times guys aren't going
to make those plays because they are the most difficult catches in football.
But he's able to get his body turned around and his concentration and ability
to maintain eye contact with the ball is really what is special about him. I
thought he was outstanding today. I thought Chad made some very good plays moving
in the pocket. We kept him on a roll. That creates problems for defense because
when you're moving a quarterback outside of the pocket it makes it more difficult
On if Hart and Grady will be the 1-2 punch:
"We got Max Martin some snaps there at the end. Max had a little bit of
a nagging injury and missed a couple days of practice this week. But he got
back in there and he should be ready to go. Jerome Jackson got some snaps. Obviously
we've got some depth at that position and I think that is one of the real solid
strengths of this team. In this league you're going to get some guys dinged
up. Hart, I thought, ran extremely well. Those are tough yards in there. Northern
Illinois brought some guys down in the box, and it was not easy in there. But
Mike got such great vision that a lot of times he is making a four or five yard
gain out of what would be a yard or two for a lot of people."
On Adam Kraus:
"I can't imagine what he has been through. He lost contact with his dad
and mom when they evacuated to Jackson Mississippi. His dad did tell me they
had an incredible experience in a little town called Utica Mississippi. They
had some problems. I'll let you talk to them if you're interested in that story.
These people in Utica Mississippi, a very small town outside of Jackson, opened
their arms to the Kraus family. It was a heartwarming thing to hear. I'm sure
all of us have watched TV. We've seen all of the horrible things that went on
and are going on…the tragedies that so many people are going through.
Adam Kraus comes from a great family. His dad is pathologist. His mother is
in the medical field as well. His sister is a student at Tulane. I think probably
most of Steve Kraus' business is gone. I don't know that for sure, but I surmised
that in listening to him. Tulane is not going to have school, at least this
fall, and maybe for the year. It's a horrible thing…and how he did it,
I don't know."
On the decision to start Kraus:
"I think it was a very very difficult decision because Mark Bihl has competed
well. Early on we were working three guys at the center position. I felt going
into spring practice that Rueben Riley would probably win the center position,
but he hurt his wrist early in training camp and he missed a lot of the spring.
So his development at that position was slowed by injuries. When we came back
this fall, with his hand, we decided we couldn't continue to go there. We moved
him. He was playing guard, and he and Leo Henige were competing for the guard
position. Leo Henige is maybe the most powerful guy in our program. He has got
great power and leverage. Leo had a great fall, so with Jake Long down now we're
trying to prepare Rueben to back up both at guard and tackle."
On how key the turnovers were:
"Do you know that if you win the turnover battle, the statistics say you
win 79% of the time? So I'd say they are pretty doggone important. I think our
guys did a great job causing those turnovers. So are they important? Absolutely.
Because if the turnovers were one to one, the score would be much different.
You can go down any game you want to watch and most of the time that is the
way it is."
On if he is concerned about where the defense is right now:
"I'm not concerned about the kind of guys we have. We've got inexperience.
Every team in the country has inexperience, and every team in the country is
hoping to avoid injury. When you have injury you aren't as good. That's the
deal. In many cases it's experience. It may be that athletically you're replacing
a guy, but the experience factor at this level is critical. I'm watching a game
today and I watched 16 minutes against a team that's supposed to be an outstanding
defensive football team, and there's 34 points scored in the first 16 minutes.
Look around the country. That's the era we're in. People are scoring forty and
fifty points every week. That's the way it is. So if you're one of those people
that expect to win giving up seven points, it's not going to happen. If you're
one of those people that expect that, then you've really lost touch with the
On how satisfying it was to see Matt Gutierrez on the field:
"It was very satisfying. What Matt Gutierrez has gone through here is
a much different deal than most guys go through. Scott Dreisbach would have
been, in my judgment, one of the great quarterback we had here at Michigan had
he not tore his hand up. He got off to an incredible beginning in his redshirt
freshman year. People forget that. Of course what Matt has gone through…a
year ago he missed the entire season (at quarterback) and hung around to hold
for extra points and field goals. That's why he didn't have surgery. He fought
his way back. He is tough mentally because he's disappointed. He had earned
the starting position at Michigan, and now he is in a different role. It was
extremely satisfying to play him. I know his teammates have great respect for
him. Everybody in our program does. Our situation at quarterback is awfully
good. I believe that."
On how long Jake Long will be out:
"It will be a while. That's all I can tell you."
On what he expects from Notre Dame:
"I think we expect the same thing we always expect out of Notre Dame.
They have wonderful athletes. They have recruited extremely well. There is a
lot of talent at Notre dame. I expect them to be ready to play an outstanding
game. That's what we always get. It's one of the greatest rivalries in college
sports. It's one of the reasons guys like to come here…playing games like
this. It's a special game and I'm sure everyone is looking forward to it."
On putting Kevin Grady back in the game the series after he fumbled:
"That's probably the first time that ever happened, and Fred (Jackson)
did it without me knowing. (Laughing) Fred…I have such great confidence
in him. He put him back in, and it was the right decision. He didn't ask me,
but if he would've, I would've said yes. Kevin…since he has been here
we've been in a lot of scrimmage/full game type situations, and he has been
very very good at protecting the football. I think you have to learn that as
you get closer to the goal line, normally, there are a lot more people closer
to the ball. I'm sure he'll learn from that, and this was a good day to learn
it. Now, he'll feel bad, but the main thing is to pay attention and learn from
your mistakes. I thought he did some good things out there."