News bullets and other important items:
Brennen Beyer should be fine for bowl practice.
Team will go back to fundamentals and technique during bowl practice and develop younger players.
Quinton Washington, Keith Heitzman, and Chris Rock are improving on the D-line. Coaches also trying to coach up Richard Ash.
Bowl practice schedule will depend on which bowl they go to. Team will be active this week.
“It’s great to go out and play well enough to win. I think there’s some things we all know we have to do a better job with when you look at the whole football game, but I think our guys responded well. As a team, I’ve said it many times, but they really complement each other offensively and defensively and in the kicking game. It’s great to win a football game. Anytime you can win that great rivalry game, it’s good.”
Borges has been saying all season that the offense is eventually going to come along. Have we been seeing that the last two weeks?
“You know, I think a couple things: number one, [Denard has] grown and matured as a Michigan quarterback throughout the course of the year. I think the decisiveness that he has run the football with when he’s made that decision, that there’s some open area or whatever has really been good the last couple weeks. I think that’s helped his confidence. I thought he ran extremely hard with the ball on Saturday. When we can rush the ball for 277 yards, it helps you obviously when you get into the throw game. And in the passing game, I thought he made three really good throw again. He was 14 of 17, so his accuracy and completion rate was pretty doggone good. I think he just keeps growing.”
What was the mood like the last 36 hours? Have you been hearing from a lot of people?
“Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of text messages that I haven’t even seen yet to be honest with you. It’s nice and it’s great that people want to congratulate you, but we’re not done with this year yet. Our goal was to win the conference championship and we didn’t do that, so we have a lot more to prove.”
What do you think about the Urban Meyer hire?
“You know, he’s not going to play a down and neither am I. To me, I’ve known Urban. He’s a good football coach. He’s a good guy, I’ll welcome him in, but this is still Michigan and Ohio. It’s still going to be that rivalry. Neither one of us is going to play a game.”
(more after the jump)
Some Ohio State players took exception to the postgame celebration. Did you have a problem with it?
“No. I don’t have any problem because it wasn’t disrespectful to anybody. It’s something they do every Friday. At the last thing when we go to victory, take a knee -- and it surprised me the first time they did it … No. It wasn’t disrespectful to anybody. It’s something those kids have done for 12 weeks.”
You had Urban Meyer come visit, and you let him behind the scenes in the spring. Any regrets about that now?
Do you think this team should get a BCS bowl bid?
“Well, you know, we’re not going to make that decision. The one thing I can tell you about this team -- this is a team in this conference, the Big Ten, that’s won 10 games. It’s a team, by that body of work, that is recognizable. I like how we’ve played at the end of the season and how our guys have gotten ready to play and how they’ve represented Michigan. Those questions will be answered, but we don’t have anything to do with it. We’ve done all that we can do. Is it deserving? Probably. A 10-win team out of the Big Ten conference, I think that speaks for itself.”
Are you taking time to review the season with the down time between now and the bowl game?
“We’ll do some of that. You try to keep up on it every week, to be honest with you, when you look at what you're doing on third downs, what you’re doing from a self-scout-wise and all that, but it really, for us -- recruiting. It’s the lifeblood of the program. We had guys on officials this weekend, so you’re working and trying to, you know, make Michigan the best, so we’ve got to continuously work in that area.”
You finally said, “We’re a pretty good football team.” You’ve been reluctant to say that all season. At what point did you feel ready to say it?
“Well … It’s a good question. I think the way they’ve handled themselves from a daily basis, you could see that they were gaining a little bit of confidence as a team together, and that’s such a big part. They’ve had good chemistry since day one. They’ve had awfully good leadership. The seniors have done a tremendous job through the course of the year. I think the confidence that they’ve shown together means an awful lot. I think they’ve gone out there and played that way.”
MGoQuestion: Throughout the season you’ve demonstrated aggressive decision making, e.g. going for it on fourth down. Where does that come from?
“Well, some of it’s instinct. During the flow of the game, you see how your defense is playing, you get an idea for that. Greg knows that, because we’ve obviously talked about that, that we’re going to take some -- I don’t know if you call them ‘chances,’ I call them ‘opportunities’ when they come. I have confidence in the offense and confidence in our defense. So it’s more of that than anything.”
MGoQuestion: If Koger hadn’t caught the TD pass in the fourth quarter on third down, would you have gone for it on fourth down?
“You know, I don’t think so. Not at that point in the game. I’d have to go back and [see] what was the situation, what was the score, what was the time in the game. All those things always make a difference … We may have faked the field goal.”
About the BCS stuff, have you taken the time to figure out rooting interests this upcoming weekend?
“I don’t have that kind of time. I really don’t. I mean, I don’t have that and I don’t worry about things that we really can’t control. The one thing that we’re going to have [is] a meeting today with our team at 4:30. We have recruits in all weekend, so I’ve kind of been busy. There’s other people who can look at all that stuff and figure it out, and when they figure it out they’ll tell me.”
There were some breakdowns in the secondary. What did you see on film?
“You can’t just put that on the secondary. Number one you’ve got to give Ohio some credit because they have always been a vertical team. Since 1995, I remember them being a vertical passing team. I think some of the difference was they max-protected a lot. They kept in six or seven so they could be more vertical. We have to do a better job of getting pressure, and that means you have to get two guys on the one-on-ones that have to hit home. Part of the problem when you play a guy who’s athletic like Braxton Miller, if you want to send people or if you want to play man coverage and you’ve got defenders with their back to the ball, he makes an athletic move scrambling or something like that. It’s really a little bit of both. We didn’t get enough pressure and we’ve got to play better throughout a whole play. And what I’m saying is we’ve had so many good pressure plays, you know, from our front in the last three weeks if you think about it, that you have to hold your coverage a little longer, you have to be a little more disciplined with our eyes, and we didn’t do that as well as we needed to.”
Looking at the safety spot, you had Thomas Gordon and Troy Woolfolk shuffle in and out throughout the game. What went into the decision making there?
“Well we were going to play them both. We both, obviously, we think they’re both competing well practice-wise. I think they both give us something as a team. Thomas, I think he was in on the goal-line stand, which really was a pivotal time in the game to get to the goal-line stand, the play J.T. Floyd made. He blitzed off the corner and Miller started scrambling and chased him all the way down and gave us the opportunity. If not, he’s in the end zone. Thomas did a nice job in that sequence. Troy did a couple good things in other sequences during the game.”
Did you feel like this program took a big step forward this season?
“We’ll find out. I don’t know until the season gets over and until we finish what we start, then I think we’ll sit back and look at it and evaluate it a little more. The one thing I can tell you, the most disappointing thing for all of us is we didn’t win the Big Ten championship. At Michigan, that’s an expectation, and so we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Is there a sense you’re on the right track?
“I think every team’s different. We’re going to lose some great leaders in this senior class. I hope the guys who are next in line learn some valuable lessons from these guys and work ethic and the way they respected each other. Maybe not always agree with each other, but there’s a respectful way of disagreeing and being on the same page.”
Van Bergen said the other day that the team’s attitude was in between confident and cocky. Is that where you wanted it?
“Probably. You want to be like that every week. I mean the kids, what’s the term now today, ‘Swag’? I don’t even know what that means. You’ve got to be confident in your abilities as a team. There’s a composure and there’s a poise that goes along with that. I think these guys, to this point, have done a nice job with it.”
Did you need the win over Ohio State to solidify the good things you’ve accomplished this season?
“That’s an important football game when you’re at the University of Michigan.”
Have you had a chance to meet with your seniors since yesterday, and what goes into having a guy like David Molk say you’ll be the first person he’ll look up when he comes back in 20 years when you’ve only coached him for such a short period of time?
“Trust. Trust. It’s all based on trust. It’s all based on honesty and being honest in your dealings with people. And then they can trust you. I think that’s it.”
Have you had a chance to meet with your seniors?
“No, we’ll meet with them today.”
Is the start of bowl practice dictated by when the game is played? Also, will you use the bowl practice to develop younger players?
“Yes, when we start will be dictated by when you leave and what day you play, all those things. That is part of it. The second part of it, we’ll as a group work fundamentals and technique once we get back on the field. So you’re doing a little bit for everybody, but some of the younger guys will get a couple reps too and some stuff that we maybe wouldn’t.”
Do you expect Brennen Beyer to be able to practice?
“Yeah. Yep. He’s doing pretty well, which is good.”
What’s your schedule this week while you’re waiting?
“They’ll be active.”
You lose a lot up front on the defensive line. Who are some younger guys who might make an impact next year?
“I think Quinton Washington is a guy that’s gotten better and better. I like how he has been practicing. I like his intensity about his work and his focus. A kid named Keith Heitzman has shown some things that you get excited about. Chris Rock, there’s some things there that he’s doing well. Richard Ash is a guy that we’ve got to bring along, but there’s some guys who have done a nice job.”
You lose a lot of leadership next year -- do you identify some of the younger guys and have the current senior leaders mentor them?
“Well I think when you force it, it doesn’t work. So it kind of has to emerge on its own, but we do second-semester leadership seminars, meetings. Nine of them, I think, eight of them with our seniors-to-be. And then there’s eight with the juniors, and it kind of goes down. We started that process when we got here. The biggest thing is they get to know themselves. Once they start to know themselves, then they get to know the guys in their class, and then it goes from there, if that makes sense.”
Are there more things to add to the offense that might cater to Denard’s abilities?
“Yeah, we will. There’s no question, when we get done with the recruiting cycle, you pretty much go back and evaluate what you can coach better on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game. Is there something different to stay ahead of the curve that you want to look at. We’ll do quite a bit of that.”
Do you mean February or dead period?
“February. During the dead period you really don’t have -- because you’re in bowl practices -- you don’t have that luxury.”
Given the stakes and the fact that there was virtually no margin of error for Denard’s pass to Drew Dileo, was that his best pass of the year?
“Oh boy. I don’t know about best pass of the year. I thought it was, number one, Drew made a tremendous -- and that’s what Drew does for us, that’s why he holds on field goals and extra goals -- he has very good hands. I’ll tell you the other throw he made was to Roy Roundtree. He put the ball, because they buzzed the linebacker out, he put it down and away from the guy buzzing out. It was a great throw.”
Do you think you got robbed on Fitz’s touchdown?
“You know, do I agree exactly with the call? The only thing I can say is I know the rule states that there’s got to be some sort of evidence to overturn it.
There’s a lot of buzz about you getting B1G coach of the year. Have you thought about that at all and evaluating what your staff has done?
“Any type of awards that are given, whether it’s the Heisman trophy or best taper, if you’re taping ankles … We have a great staff and we have a great group of kids. When you look at the seniors and look at why they’ve done. My point is it’s never one person or one guy. It’s everybody involved in the program. Jon Falk and how he gets the guys ready from the equipment standpoint to Paul Schmidt in the training room … and the people who take pride in feedng those kids and all that stuff. I’ve got the greatest job in the world! It’s fun. It’s fun being with those kids.”
Is it any different experiencing a win over Ohio State as a head coach vs. as an assistant?
“No. Not really. I mean, I’m a defensive line coach. That’s what I see myself as.”
Can you talk about the job Brendan Gibbons did on that last field goal?
“Huge. Huge. I mean, Gibbons in that kick, you know, because there were some people that really doubted him at the beginning of the year, maybe some in this room -- maybe. Didn’t say. But he did a tremendous job all year, and he’s grown and he’s learned and he’s got a good demeanor about him. He’s worked hard.”
The way that Denard plays, he’s healthy most of the year. Are you happy with Devin’s role and playing time?
“I don’t know about that. You’re going to compete. We’re not just going to anoint anybody anything. Jordan Kovacs -- he’s started for two years, I think. Maybe three? I don’t know. Two years. [Ed-Seth: three, but I can understand selective dissonance with 2009.] He isn’t marked in right now as our starting safety. He’s going to have to earn that. And you’ve got to earn it by what you do in the weight room, what you do in winter conditioning, what you do in the classroom. Everybody does. So I think Devin’s come along. I think he’s done a good job of progressing. You’re one play away from ever being that guy.”
You referred to the offense as ‘make-shift’ or ‘quasi,’ and you’ve gone away from the power running game.
“We ran some powers in there. We ran some one-back powers, too.”
Can you speak to how you’ve changed the offense based on the opponent?
“Yeah, I don’t know. Depending on the opponent, but also because, and we’ve talked about this before, everyone defends you a little differently. Everyone has their ideas on [whether to bring] both safeties down inside, and at halftime there’s things that they adjust because of that. So the lead play may be a bigger part of it. The jet sweep read may be a bigger part of it, and how you block it is the real issue.”
What did you mean by ‘make-shift’?
“Well I think there’s things from the West Coast offense that are incorporated with some of the gun, spread-read stuff.”
MGoQuestion: There’s a play that a lot of people are calling the 'inverted veer.' First of all, what do you call that play?
“That was a jet read.”
MGoQuestion: Looking at Ohio State’s defense, what made you feel like that play was going to be so effective?
“We ran it the last couple of week. We’ve run the same -- if we’re talking about the same play -- we’ve run it the last couple of weeks.”
MGoQuestion: Al Borges has talked a lot about fixing Denard’s mechanics, and his accuracy has improved a lot during the course of the season. Aside from telling him not to throw off his back foot, what else have you been coaching him on?
“The thing I’d say the best is decision making. Don’t think you have to just force the ball in there if it’s not there. I think that’s the big part of it.”
You’ve recruited Ohio pretty successfully. Does having a guy like Urban Meyer come in make the competition harder?
“If you don’t go into any job knowing that the recruiting is the lifeblood of the program, it doesn’t matter -- I don’t know. Mr. Hagelin, who coached me in ninth grade, was there. You’re going to have to compete against him. It doesn’t matter … Really I don’t think that matters. There’s a lot of respect. Two tremendous universities.”
What did you say to Luke Fickell after the game?
“I just thought he did a heck of a job all year. Tough situation.”
Do you expect Al’s going to be interested in some head coaching vacancies?
“I don’t know. I don’t know. If he does, good. If he’s interested, I mean, that’s all right.”
How do you spell Hagelin?
“I don’t know. Tom. Tom Hagelin.”
What was Saturday night like for you?
“I was recruiting at Chop House.”
Denard has looked more efficient the last two weeks. How much of that is his newfound willingness to scramble?
“I think the thing we were missing [was] Fitzgerald Toussaint running the football and the job those guys up front have done. Helps everything.”
Are you still at the 28 range for recruiting class size?
“I don’t know. Something like that.”