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September 12, 2005

Carr: Red zone woes cost Michigan

Lloyd Carr didn't bring it up first, but he didn't hesitate when asked about Chad Henne's apparent -- well, obvious -- touchdown in the fourth quarter on the play before he fumbled into the end zone.

"I thought the plays they reviewed were correct. On the first down play Chad Henne was in the end zone," said Carr, who is unable to challenge calls. "The problem that we're going to have when we go forward is I certainly would have asked for that play to be reviewed. I think the longer we go here the more we'll have coaches who want to decide what the review is.

"The truth is, that as an official you can't be thinking 'They'll get it right in the box.' You have to make that call."

That's one thing the officials didn't do Saturday, and it cost the Wolverines seven points.

""I can tell you that if you're waiting for someone else to decide what is being reviewed, and some plays are and some aren't, then I think you have controversy and the whole purpose of this thing was to avoid controversy," said Carr.

Carr touched on a number of other topics Saturday. Here's the recap:

On Michigan's many injuries: "I think we're a very, very unlucky team in that regard. We're certainly not at full strength. We have lost some great football players, but that's part of this game.

"We understand that we're not at full strength, but it's something we're not going to dwell on. We're going to go forward here and hope that some of those guys can come back. But it is what it is and we have to understand that every guy on that field has a job to do and he has to do it as well as he can. If he does it as hard as he can, with every bit of his heart and mind, then whatever happens we can accept that."

On Mike Hart's status:

"[Hart] came in on Sunday [Sept. 11] and his spirit was willing. Mike Hart is one great football player. He wants to play, but we have to see how he comes along, because the flesh is not always able."

On Ryan Mundy:

"I just don't feel good about where Ryan is. He's not been able to practice like he needs to practice, so I am not optimistic there."

On the Notre Dame game:

"It's obvious that the problem we had was in the red zone. We got down there four times and we got one touchdown. We turned the football over twice. That's really the story of the game.

"Defensively, I thought we played hard. I thought we played physically. I thought as the game went on, we got better and better. We really came out of that game feeling like we can have a good defense, and with a lot of confidence. We've got a lot of improvements to make on both sides of the football, but I do like the way we played defensively.

"Offensively, obviously it was a poor performance. In the first half, our inability to run the football put us into too many long-yardage down-and-distance situations. In the second half, I thought we played much better. I thought we ran the football.

"We had an opportunity for some big plays in that game, but we didn't get them. We broke a run out of there where we should have been a big play, and we don't execute it. We had a couple of passes where we had chances to make big plays.

"In the final analysis, we just didn't execute. Chad Henne, uncharacteristically, did not play like we've come to expect him to play. But certainly, he did not have the help he needed to get. Certainly, when Mike Hart goes out, we become a different offensive football team. We're much younger.

"What we've got to do is regroup here and put an offense out there that will execute, run the football and do some things to help us get some points on the board."

On Michigan's injuries:

"I'm not going to comment on length and when people are coming back, because I don't know. I'm certainly, during the course of the week, not going to tell you about injuries, because that puts our team at a disadvantage. I hope you understand that, and if you don't, you should. If a team knows ahead of time who is not going to play, that helps them."

On substitutions at center:

"When we went to the shotgun offense, [Mark Bihl] has just had a lot more experience there. Of course, when [Matt] Lentz went out, we moved Adam Kraus to guard. Kraus has played both positions."

On the need to look ahead and not back:

"That's the challenge no matter what happens. You've got to get ready to go again. You've got to assume that everybody you play is going to be looking forward to playing you.

"Certainly, that's always the case at Michigan, and that's true for anybody in any sport or any business. You'd better be trying to figure out what happened and find some solutions to the issues that you face. You'd better be zeroed in on the next deal. That's what we've got to do."

On the disruptions in the offensive line:

"When you don't have continuity, and you're putting people in other positions, new people, there is no question that it affects your communication. There are a lot of things that go on at the line of scrimmage.

"For example, Rueben Riley played very, very hard, but he is at a new position. He's working with a new guy over there at right guard in Matt Lentz. There are all kinds of things that go on there. There is a comfort level in playing beside a guy all the time. That's part of our challenge. That's part of the deal."

On making the transition from guard to center:

"I think it depends. A year ago, David Baas moved over there, but David Baas was a fifth-year guy, and David Baas had worked on it in the spring. He made an incredible transition. Most of the time it does not go as well as it did with David Baas. He was an exceptional athlete.

"Moving from guard to center is an extremely difficult thing to do. You've got to snap the football before you do anything else. The communication, the protections … you're doing something different. You're aligned against different personnel. It's a challenging position to play anyway in the offensive line. Next to quarterback, I think it's the most difficult place to play on the football field."

On Henne's struggles:

"Our offense is predicated on the quarterback making progression reads. He's got to first guy to look at, the check, and then he's got to come off and go to two, and then down to three. In that game, there were some times he didn't do that. That is very, very unlike him.
"He's a sophomore. We're all surprised. I was surprised. And yet, I shouldn't be. He's a young kid.

"We are a different football team without Michael Hart in there. Michael Hart is really special. Chad had some people in different positions in there, and he didn't have Massaquoi. There is an inexperience factor that impacted him.

"He made some great plays. He will settle down. He will learn from this. This is all about trying to learn from every game, and that's the wonderful thing about this game. This game will humble you. This game will teach you a lot of things, if you are just tough enough to stay focused on what you are trying to do.

"I guarantee you, Chad Henne is tough enough and smart enough. He'll be back and he'll be better for this. It's not easy."

On whether he was tempted to insert Matt Gutierrez at quarterback:

"I wasn't tempted to take Chad out at all. That has nothing to do with Matt. You have to fight your way through some adversity. You have to fight your way through some ups and downs."

On developing a deep passing game:

"Well, that's what we're trying to do."

On working with Henne regarding what he did wrong:

"He knows exactly what he did wrong. The interception to start the third quarter - his first read was the tight end. The tight end was almost immediately a no.

"Had he said no and gone to his second read, Jason Avant was wide open. But he forced the ball. The best will do that - the best. That's what he did.

"On the fourth-and-five, the same thing happened. He'll learn from it."

On Kevin Grady:

"I've said this 100 times - experience is a wonderful thing. But it's hard to get without suffering. That's a young player in a big game. He played over 50 plays. You start with that.

"He had a lot of things coming at him. He did some good things, but he made some mistakes he's going to have to learn from, and I think he will."

On whether this is the most banged-up he can remember a team of his being:

"The main thing for our team is that we understand we're not at full strength. It's something we're not going to dwell on. We're going to go forward here and hope that some of those guys can come back.

"The truth is, it is what it is. We've got to understand that every guy on that field has got a job to do. He's got to do it as well as he can. If he does it as hard as he can, if he plays as hard as he can, with every bit of his heart and his mind, then whatever happens, we can accept that. It's about doing the very best we can, and that's what we'll do.

"We've got people who have good character. They care deeply. Nobody is more disappointed than they are. We are not going to dwell on any of the things we don't have control over. We've just got to go to work and become the best team we can be, and that's what we're going to do."

On whether Carson Butler could become a factor at tight end:

"Carson Butler is absolutely a factor, depending upon how long Tim is going to be out. I don't want to have to do that, but I've got to figure out how long we can go without using him. We'll just have to see how that goes."

On the difference in the defense from week one to week two:

"We played very hard. We played very physically. That was a hard-hitting football game. Everybody on that field laid it out. People can say, 'Well, the offenses didn't do certain things.' That was a hard-hitting football game.

"I thought we played collectively much better. Guys were where they were supposed to be. You're going to always have things where you look at the film and say, 'Well, this shouldn't have happened.' Well, no. But the other guy is pretty good. The other guy made that happen.

"David Harris made a world of difference in there. Harris is capable of being an outstanding linebacker. Chris Graham played well. We were much better up front - much better."

On whether Jerome Jackson is pushing for playing time:

"Jerome has experience. Fred [Jackson] has a lot of confidence in him. I want to see what Max Martin can do. The toughest thing for young backs is pass protection. That's the amazing thing about Mike Hart. Mike Hart is so smart and walked in here … what he did a year ago is just amazing.

"Now we've got to find a way to be able to throw the football, and that means protecting. I want to get a look at Max Martin, because Max can do some things. We'll see how that goes."

On whether he advised Leo Henige after his last injury:

"I encouraged him to come back, because I talked to him about how I understood all the things he'd been through. But he had made an unbelievable investment here. He'd been through more than the average guy goes through as far as injuries. I think he was very, very frustrated.

"Leo doesn't talk much, but he plays the game like you want him to play it. I just told him, 'you won the starting job - you've got to go after this. Because if you don't, you're going to look back 10 years from now and say I wish I would have stuck it out. I wish I would have come back for that fifth year.'" I think right now he's awfully glad he did, because he's doing a good job and he's having a lot of fun, and he's playing a lot."

On Grant Mason's 16 tackles vs. the Irish:

"Grant is a smart guy. Early in the game he let the ball out once … but I think what I liked about him, he had a couple of bad plays in the first series, but from then on he played very well. He's tough, he's smart, and he competes. Those are the things I like about him."

On Pierre Woods handling the scouting report on Michigan Replay:

"He'd better get his degree, because based on what he did on Michigan Replay the other night, I wouldn't hire him (laughs). I'm just kidding. Pierre … I love you, I would hire you to take (Jim) Brandstatter's place next week (laughs)."

On why it's tough for running backs to learn pass protection - if it's because they don't do much of it in high school:

"That's an excellent point. Most high school backs are recruited for the way they carry the football. By and large, if you look at high school football players today, there are a lot of one-back teams, a lot of spread teams, and we are a drop-back football team where the back must first know what the protections are, and those protections can change at the line of scrimmage. That changes what your assignment is.

"There may be three linebackers in there on one defense, and you've got to know which of the three you've got to take. The next down there are only two. There are times nobody comes, then you've got to check out and get into the passing game. It's not an easy thing to pick up. The number of repetitions a young player has … that's why I say what Hart did was absolutely astounding. But they get better as they do it, but it happens fast.

"That's the other thing that happens to a young player. Things happen awfully fast out there. It's impossible in practice to get a lot of simulations where it's game speed. We have a part of each practice where we're going against our defense, but you can't do that a lot when you're into the season because you're trying to get prepared for the offense or the defense you're playing that week."

On Eastern Michigan:

"Obviously, the spread offense - they've done a great job there. Bohnet, the quarterback, and Deslauriers is an outstanding receiver. It starts offensively for them, because I think they can put points on the board. I've been very impressed with their special teams. They're doing some things special teams wise that gives them a chance, makes it very difficult to prepare because they are not just an orthodox kicking team. They are going to spread the ball around, you don't know where the ball is going to be kicked off, and they've got an interesting punt, so they're going to make it difficult to return kicks simply because of the way they punt the football.

"Defensively they've improved from where they were a year ago. They had a chance to beat a good Cincinnati team, and of course won last weekend. That's an improving football program."

On David Harris:

"Harris is big and he's strong and he's tough. He likes to play the game, and he's a competitive guy. And he's smart. I like everything about him. He really had a tough year a season ago coming off that injury. He was never back to where he had been. But he had a very good spring, he had a great training camp up until he had somebody roll on his ankle and missed a lot of time.

"Last Tuesday I would never have guessed he would play in the game, because he was limping around. But Harris came to play. He made some very, very good plays in there."

On his memories of EMU:

"I was coaching at John Glenn High School. I had three kids, just bought a new car, making $20,000. That's in 1976 … I was a head coach, had a great job … was offered a job for $10,700, which I immediately took. The first season we went 1-9-1, and I was regretting ever leaving that job.

"I was a secondary coach over there - the next year we had a great year, went 8-2-1 … I was only there about 18 months, nearly starved to death, but it worked out okay. I like Eastern Michigan. I like the people there. They are good people."

On Pierre Woods being in his 'doghouse' last year:

"First of all, I think I've made that very clear, and I don't like that term. I don't have a doghouse. We are dealing with people here. I've never had one, and I don't like the term. I've always said this … the player-coach relationship with you. It's ongoing. Some days it's great, some days it's not so great.

"What you're trying to do as a coach, sometimes you've got to let a guy know what you don't like. And you've got to let him know that what he's doing, he's capable of better. The coach-player relationship changes, and it changes after they leave, because that's when you go from being a coach-player relationship to friends in almost every case. That's why someday we'll all be friends in here."

On whether Woods' comments after the Ohio State game last year were upsetting to him:

"Let me say this - there's a way of dealing with things when they don't go your way. One of the things that I believe strongly in is I don't care what happens, let's don't make excuses. Let's give the other team credit, go back and decide what we could do better, because if you're an organization that makes excuses, you've always got an answer. That answer will prevent you from getting you where you need to be.

"From that standpoint, I didn't like what he said there. But was I mad at him? No. I didn't like what he said."

On what concerns him about Bohnet's ability to pass and run:

"That's what bothers me. He can do both. He's a big guy, he's strong, he's got a good arm and he's in an offense that allows the quarterback to do both. That stresses a defense. He's done a great job there - 21 touchdowns in a season is a lot of good work. That's an offense that always gives you a chance to score points, and anytime you score points, you have a chance to win."

"When I watch him I see a very confident guy. He's been around, he's been through some experiences that absolutely prepare him to come into this stadium."

On Michigan's receivers:

"The thing that happened Saturday - they always defensively have a chance to take someone out of the game. They double a guy, and now you've got to be able to go somewhere else with the ball. That's why the quarterback is the key in progression reading, knowing what his progression is, getting to the guy that's open, getting to the guy that's single covered. We've had a chance for some big plays that we haven't made, but that's always a fine line.

"The play to Steve [Breaston] in the end zone - I thought the defender made a great play. I hear people say that should have been a touchdown, but I think the defender made a great play. Obviously, we can all get better. I can sure do a better job, and every guy on our team can do a better job."

On Tyler Ecker:

"Tyler had some real fluid problems after that game because he left everything. Because Tim was out, he played a lot more than he would have normally played and probably more than we would like for him to play, but I thought he played really hard. I thought he caught the ball well and I think he did some things to get open. Tyler Ecker is a heck of a football player.

"He was dehydrated. He left everything out there. They had to give him some fluids."










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