Monday Presser Highlights: Week Nine

arr discusses the victory over Iowa, the upcoming game against Northwestern, Jake Long's talent, teh controversial fumble call on Antonio Bass, DB coach Ron English, and more.

Opening statement:

"We're going to face I think the best offensive football team we have seen this season. I don't think there is any question about that. I think Brett Basanez is having an All-American type year. I don't think there is a better quarterback out there than Basanez. When you look at statistically what they have done offensively, the balance they have is exceptional; 311 yards throwing the football and 225 running it. So you are spread out all over the field. Their receivers are experienced, and this (Tyrell) Sutton is having an exceptional year. He has got great quickness, great vision, and he is a lot like Mike Hart…a guy that catches the football well. So it's going to be a great challenge for our defense, but what we have got to try to do is find a way to score some points because I don't think anybody is going to shut this offense down."

On the key to being successful in OT:

"Score more points than the other team (laughing). I think, any time you get into overtime, you can't make mistakes…and in terms of penalties, you can't turn the football over. And you can't miss kicks. I think in overtime you have to be focused so that you don't get penalties and put yourself out of field goal range. Certainly you can't turn the football over and you better make kicks. So we have been able to find a way to hold the other team to field goals. Defensively, if you can hold them to a field goal, you have got a chance. I don't think there is any secret to it. We haven't made mistakes and somebody has made some plays, so I think it comes down to that."

On if the spread attacks of MSU and PSU prepares helps prepare for Northwestern:

"I don't think there is any question. We have had a lot of exposure to the spread offense this year. And of course Penn State did a great job putting that offense in one year. What you are dealing with Basanez is a guy that started, I think, 34 consecutive games. A guy with great leadership. He has got every intangible you want and he has been there. He knows that offense inside and out. And you know, it's an amazing thing to…I can remember when he was a freshman, and you know, even then he was not physically strong. He has grown up. He is mature. But at that time there were things you could see. He was tough. I mean he could take a punch and get back up. I think even four years ago it was obvious that some day he was going to be an outstanding quarterback, and today that's exactly what he is."

On how time of possession sill factor into the Northwestern game:

"I think that's an interesting question. But the question we have got to answer is how we're going to play this game or how we're going to try to play it because I think you start with a premise nobody is going to shut Northwestern down. So there are some ways that you can approach it. You can try to control the clock. That's certainly, I think, important in terms of keeping them off the field. The thing that's most impressive, in watching the Penn State game, Penn State is an outstanding defensive football team. The first series of the game Northwestern had the ball for 16 plays. So that means that if they're going to keep the ball every time they get it, the more they get it, the more your defense is going to wear down. Now you can also go in with the idea that you are going to try to out score them. That's really what we have got to decide. We have got to look at who is going to be healthy and all those issues, and then decide how you are going to play the game."

On what he is worried about more; outscoring Northwestern or shutting them down:

"I think I was clear. I don't think anybody is going to shut this offense down, so my concern is trying to win. That's the deal."

On Michigan's chances if the game is played in the 40s:

"We're tying to win here by playing good defense, having a great kicking game, being able to be good in the turnover margin, and have the fewest penalties. Because in the long run, those teams that turn the football over the fewest times generally have the best chance to win. By the same token, I have always believed this; we have always tried to have an offense here that can score in a hurry either at the end of the half or the end of the game. If we get behind and the circumstances dictate that we have to score a lot of points, then we try to have an offense that can do that. You need an offense that when you have got a lead you can lineup and control the clock. That's something this season that we have not been very good at. In the last two games, we have had opportunities to put the game away and we could not possess the ball. We ended up punting it. But that's we're trying to do is have an offense that can do two things and have a defense that can keep people out of the end zone."

On Jake Long:

"I will say this about him, I think at some point he will be considered with the very, very best offense linemen to have ever played here, and that's high praise. He is so talented athletically and he is so tough mentally, so he is a different dimension. And you know, anybody who going to start a football team, Jake Long would be a great place to start."

On if Henne checked to a running play on 3rd down in the last offensive series in regulation:

"The truth is that is one of the disappointing plays because if there are seven men in the box, which there was there, we feel like we can make five yards running the football. One of the things that we didn't do a very good job of in this game is we left a lot of yards on the field. We missed some cuts and that really is going to hamper any offense and certainly it hampered ours on Saturday."

On the status of Mike Hart, Lamarr Woodley and Chris Graham:

" Well, I don't know. I have not had a report. I can say this; they have all got a good chance to play, but we will have to see how they respond in practice because if you don't practice, you are not going to play well. You can go play, but you are not going to play well. So we will have to see how they respond."

On the status of equipment manager Jon Falk:

"I talked to Jon. Jon's wife Cheri called me this morning and that is a very, very serious injury. He is under surgery as we speak, I think, unless he is out. But there are a lot of really big problems in there. This is not just a normal broken leg. It's not good. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jon. I went into the training room after the game on Saturday and Jon had tears in his eyes as I talked to him. And the thought came to my mind that he must be in unbelievable pain, and he was. But I said, 'you must be in unbelievable pain.' He says, 'no, I was just thinking next Saturday is going to be the first Michigan football game I have missed in I would say 30 some years.' This football is awful important to Jon."

On the job Ron English has done:

"I think Ron English is a great football coach. I told him this morning, I can't imagine a coach doing a better job with a group of kids than Ron English has done. He is just a magnificent individual. He is going to have great success in this profession. To take a true freshman like Brandon Harrison and teach him enough…but I think it goes much deeper than that. When you take (Willis) Barringer and (Brandent) Englemon…Grant Mason is having a wonderful year. Grant was absolutely outstanding in that game. And of course I have said this, I think Leon Hall has had a great year. But it's a lot more than just individuals. It takes getting them to play as a unit. The thing I have been most pleased with on our defense is that we haven't given up near as many big plays in an era where big plays are pretty common. I give a lot of that credit to certainly our players. They have done a great job. They have done a good job keeping the ball leveraged and inside for the most part, but I think it also speaks to the job that Ron has done."

On English's strengths:

"I think being a great coach is like being a great anything, you have to have passion for what you do. He has that. He has got a great work ethic and he has got an outstanding knowledge of the game. I think in terms of coaching, he is a great teacher. He can break it down and make the complicated things simple so that a guy that is 18 years old can understand what he is talking about. That's not easy some times. I think those are the things that separate him. He is a guy that has a wonderful personality. I think he is a charismatic guy that can relate to anybody."

On his safeties versus Northwetern's spread attack:

"They're going to play a lot of four wide receivers, so we've got to play more defense backs. Certainly, this is going to be their biggest challenge because all of these receivers at Northwestern, or most of them…they're experienced. They have been around. One of the things that is important, and it's not the most obvious thing, but if you can force the quarterback to not know the coverage until the ball is snapped, then that creates some advantage for you defensively. But Basanez is so smart. He has been around for so long that he has a great ability to change the play and get into the option when he sees certain things or run the football at certain spots when he sees certain things. But a lot of that disguising comes down to what the secondary is doing. If the safety, instead of lining up on the hash, if he is in the middle of the field, then he knows right now it's going to be some kind of three-deep coverage and that makes it very, very easy to attack a defense. That's part of the big work that they've got cut out for them."

On the play Jamar Adams' made on the shovel pass Iowa ran:

"I don't think there was a more important play in the game. That was a third down and two. I think it was a great play call on their part and I think Jim Herrmann called the perfect defense. That play for a two-yard gain is very, very difficult to stop. But we were in man coverage and Jamar was on the tight end who motioned across. A lot of times, when you are in man coverage and the man you have blocks you, don't take your eyes off him. What you need to do is, if he is blocking him, is immediately look to the inside and that frees you to become a run defender. That's exactly what Jamar did. I have seen seniors that busted that, but he had great concentration and the discipline that when his man blocked, then he immediately looked inside. Here came the ball carrier, and he went up and made the tackle for no gain. Had they converted that third down, now they still have time outs and plenty of time to take three shots at the end zone. So that was a major play in that game. And for a young guy to make that play, speaks highly of his ability to concentrate and under pressure execute in a disciplined way."

On Adams' play this season:

"I think you probably got a feel for the type of kid he is. He is just a solid guy and a fun guy to be around. But our system, I don't think any system defensively today is simple because there are too many formations and there are too many different types of offenses that you are facing on a weekly basis. So there is a learning curve there. But it's amazing, because we only talk about the light comes on, and for Jamar early in the season he didn't have a very good training camp. In the first two or three weeks, he just seemed tentative. Somewhere along the line, it all became clear for him, the clutter was gone, and he was able to go in and play within the system. He has done a wonderful job and he is a very physical guy. He is a big guy. I mean he is the kind of safety, physically, that you like because he is big and he can run and he made another great play in there on a play late in the third quarter that hit through there, that found a crease and he made a tackle for a five-yard gain. Had he not made the tackle it's going to go for 10 or 15, so he did a lot of good things in there."

On the defense giving up a score to tie or win on the last possession in four of the last five games:

"I think they did a pretty good job on Saturday keeping Iowa out of the end zone. When you get to the end of the game and the team has four downs…and that's why I think a lot of it goes back offensively that what you would like to do is be able to control the clock because these offense teams are difficult to stop in three downs, and when they have four, they're very, very difficult. I think if you studied the whole thing, you would find that there are a lot of teams marching down the field at the end of the game because it's easier to call plays because you know you have got four downs. If you have got time outs, that's where timeouts are so critical. But yeah, we'd like to play better at the end. We didn't purposely let them drive down there in those games that you are speaking of."

On not using timeouts at the end of the Iowa game to try and get the ball back:

"I kept waiting for him to call time out. When you have the lead, the use of time outs is…I think most coaches have a philosophy on how they're going to do it, and sometimes it's clear, and sometimes it isn't. But when you have the lead, for the most part, particularly in that situation, where he had plenty of time, he had his time outs, and I wasn't going to help his offense by using the timeouts. Hhad they made that first down, I was then at a point where I would have used one of them. There is no situation there you can't be criticized for if it goes wrong. I guess that's the bottom line."

On Antonio Bass' fumble:

"I don't need another look because I saw it on the field. I saw the same thing the linesman saw. And I am amazed. I am going to try to get copies this afternoon because I think there is an important issue there, and the issue is, that it's not supposed to be overturned unless it meets certain criteria, and I don't…unless there is some other angle that I didn't see, I don't know how they could turn it over."

On Jerome Jackson:

"I will tell you one thing, that 19-yard run made it pretty hard to take him out of there because what he did on that play there was not much space there. What he displayed in that game, even on the first-down run from the five where he got it down to the one, and then the touchdown run, he showed great patience and that was one of the problems we had, if you cut the ball…if you make up your mind when you get the football that you are going to cut back or that you are going to straight ahead, either one, you are wrong. You are going to be right a few times. And so you have to take the ball up in there and let it happen, and that's instinctive. I think that Kevin Grady is learning every day. But Jerome, I think because of his experience was able to give us a big lift there, and certainly, when a guy makes a run like that, you are saying, hey, that's what we need."

On if Tyrell Sutton doesn't get much recognition because he was lightly recruited:

"I don't know what you mean lightly recruited. I mea,n some people have the idea if you don't get 50 scholarship offers, you are a question mark. The truth is there are a lot of good players out there and certainly he is one of them. I think he would be an outstanding back in any system because he has got great vision and instincts. And athletically, when you see a guy that young, because there aren't a lot of high schools up until recently that throw a lot to their backs, but he can hurt you as a receiver. He has got very natural hands. I think they have got a guy there that can do it all and that's what you are looking for."

On Matt Gutierrez:

"His health is good. You know one of the difficult things in athletics is being the backup quarterback, that's a hard job. I think it tests everything from a mental standpoint, from an emotional standpoint. I think his teammates really appreciate the fact that every day he brings a great work ethic and a great attitude and enthusiasm, and I think that's going to enable him to be successful when his opportunity comes."

On Jason Avant's leadership:

"I think the first characteristic you look for in athletics from a leadership standpoint is a guy that plays with great intensity and has a great will to win because ultimately in a team game your best players have to perform. It all comes down to performing. And it's hard to be an outstanding leader if you are not performing your part in the play. Jason has been an exceptional leader. I think that's one the reasons, one the primary reasons, he was selected was because he brings his work ethic every single day. And his will to compete is exceptional. It has been that way since the day he got here."

On Rueben Riley's role now that Long is back:

"I think Rueben is going to play an important part in this football team because we have got some guys on that line that is banged up in some way, shape or form, and so he is going to play. I think his teammates respect the way he did change positions. We have talked about how difficult his challenge was in moving after being a starter and having considerable experience as a guard. I think the beautiful thing about Rueben is that he is a team guy, and I think he understood when he moved there, it might not be something permanent."

On if Riley will move back to guard:

"I think he could. It's not like he would step in and pick right up because it is a different position, but he works on their practice and that's certainly something that, as we go forward, he'll get more work there."

On if Adrian Arringon will redshirt:

"I think we will know more about that after the bye week. I am going to sit down with Adrian, and more than anything else, I think it comes down to, what he wants to do. I think that's what will probably dictate that decision."

On what makes Jake Long special:

""He has got great physical gifts. I mean he is big, he is strong, he is agile. He was an outstanding basketball player in high school except he didn't jump as high as I thought he would have. I always tease him about that. He is a great athlete and possesses the same type of temperament I think that Jon Jansen played with at Michigan. I mean when he goes out to block you, he is going out there with a purpose. And so he has got all the ability, plus he is blessed with a competitiveness and a desire to be the best. I think he knows what his potential is and he is willing to work to realize that potential."

On if Long showed any rust:

"There was a couple of plays in there where he showed some rustiness, but considering how long it has been, I think we all feel like he played better than we have could have expected him to play."

On Henne's interception versus Iowa:

"Mario Manningham, as is typical of freshman, I think he saw something and reacted to what he saw as opposed to what he was supposed to do. Any time you do that, you leave the quarterback. The quarterback doesn't have time. Let me back up a minute. We have a route that is designed where the receiver reads the safety, and if the safety is inside, he breaks outside; if the safety is outside, he breaks inside. And that play, the protection is designed so that the quarterback has a little bit more time because it takes time for that play to develop. On the play Saturday, that option was not in there, and so when Mario decided to go behind the safety, then it led to an inception. So you know, that's a mistake that he will learn from."

On when he expects Willis Barringer back:

"Barringer? I asked him yesterday what his name was (laughing). I think he ran well last week. But now we will have to see if he can make the cuts that you have to make in a game situation. He has made a lot of progress, but we should know more this afternoon, because Paul Schmidt is going to work him out and give me a call."

On Rondell Biggs:

"I think Rondell, we expect him back which will be a great thing for us."

On Northwestern's defense:

"I think that they have improved defensively in a lot of areas that you don't necessarily see on film. I think they have been very good at intercepting passes and they have played against some outstanding offensive teams. I mean there are some great offensive teams in this league, and one of them is the team they beat last Saturday. I mean that's all you have to know. And I thought they did a very good job against Penn State. You know they had a chance. Penn State made a couple of miraculous plays. And you talk about the question you had, that's a perfect example. I mean they have got Penn State into a fourth and 15 at the short end of the field there and they made a great play to the tight end on fourth down to get a first down and then they go down and on the last play of the game (Michael) Robinson hit the 25-yarder. I think they played very hard and I think they're very well coached in terms of what they're trying to do."

On Northwestern's spread offense:

"Well, let me say this. The most impressive thing is, outside of the fact all the statistics and the 67 percent accuracy, the most impressive thing offensively for me is the fact that he has thrown one interception and he has been sacked five times. Now, when you are hitting 67 percent of your passes and you have only thrown one interception and you only have been sacked five times in eight games, another impressive thing is they have only punted the ball 28 times in eight games. There are a lot of things there, and I don't know if that answers your question."

On Northwestern's spread:

"Well, I think you have to be patient, and you have to be disciplined from the standpoint of where you are supposed to be because the heart of the offense is being able to check against certain looks that are going to stop a lot of your plays, but now they don't have an answer for the option or the quarterback running the football. So they out number you in other words. If you are supposed to have two guys over here, you better have two. If you got one and he runs the option, it's a big play. You better be disciplined and be where you are supposed to be so that you don't give up big plays. I think the best thing about our defense in terms of that very thing is that for the most part we have had people where they're supposed to be so they're not -- in that game on Saturday, the big wide receiver, you know, has been averaging 21 yards a catch. I think it was somewhere around 10 against us. Now you are taking a guy out of his regular routine in terms of doing some good things even though he may be catching some passes on you."

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