What are you stressing in practice this week?
“Well, getting ready for Indiana and getting ready for the rest of our season. It’s playing fast. Teams we play send a lot of tempo at you, and sometimes the next play is in 7 seven. It’s guys getting back to the huddle, it’s guys getting the signal on the fly, all those things. The good thing is we’ve been working on the rotation all along. If a guy has to play five plays rather than three plays, fine, we’ll get them in and out that way.”
Some teams prepare for a high tempo offense by having two entire scout offenses rotate in and out. Do you do that at all?
“Well Brady does a great job with that. We’ve played against this kind of offense before. Brady does a great job getting the tempo as fast as it can be.”
How did Jake Ryan grade out, and what was his impact?
“Jake ended up giving us another rotating guy. It was his first game since the spring. I thought he played his heart out. I thought the defense played their heart out. They played extremely hard.”
Can you take us through the last drive in regulation?
“Well when you don’t stop them. When you want to be a great defense, that’s what you play for. And both those plays, the two plays – you’re sitting there on the sideline thinking it’s intercepted. The young man that was on both of those has more interceptions and more knockdown balls in camp than any corner we have. It’s just a situation where we didn’t get the football. As far as the kid’s playing and execution, I couldn’t be more proud.”
Will you be playing tighter coverage?
“We’ve seen it all along. Like I said, in the last two plays, you can’t be much tighter. There’s three guys around the football when he catches the ball on our sideline, and the other one, you can’t be anymore on the guy. God allows one guy to be 6-4 and jump real real high, and that’s what ended up happening on that play.”
Brady said Channing Stribling could play more moving forward.
“We love what he’s been doing. He truly has been a guy in ever practice, you see him get to the football. You see him intercepting footballs, breaking passes. I think now he knows the defense, he understands everything he has to do, I expect him to be a big plus.”
Looked like the pass rush made another step forward. You had a lot of sacks.
“I don’t worry about stats. We have great pass rush sometimes when you don’t have any sacks and you don’t have great pass rush when you have four. The thing about that game is there were a lot of times where you were almost on a sack. You just about have a sack. That’s what happens all the time in those games.”
Not why Michigan lost.
Can you talk about your philosophy at the end of the game?
“Well we have the best kicker in the league. At least, we think. Especially inside of 40 yards. We were just trying to position it so we could finish, and we didn’t. The biggest thing is if you aggressively try to score and turn the ball over, you wouldn’t give him a chance. Then everybody’s going to second guess you. That was our approach. We threw the ball, what six times? Eight times? So it wasn’t like we reined ourselves totally in.”
MGoQuestion: Brady said that a lot of the blocking problems were because one guy made an error. How easy is it to identify those errors from the coordinator box?
“You can spot them. But what you have to do, what we have to do at this point is we have to obviously make it more competitive. Again, I’ve told you guys since day one that depth chart is in pencil. This week we’re auditioning more players. We’re going to see how they turn out. We’re going to iron these mistakes out one way or another and we’ll find the five guys that can do it. That doesn’t mean that the guys that are in there aren’t going to be in there. We’re going to give them a chance, too.”
But at some point you have to stop switching guys, right?
“I would have hoped that would have happened a while back, but it didn’t, so we are where we are. It’s like tailbacks my first season here. We didn’t really find Fitz [Toussaint] until six or seven games in.”
You can’t do this every two weeks, though, right?
“No, you don’t want to do this ever, but you have to find the best five. Whatever it takes to get the best five.”
Changing the offensive approach during the game?
“We did that. Because the power game wasn’t as good, you can’t just say, “We’re not going to do it anymore.’ You still have to sprinkle it in. What we did in the second half was we threw the ball more, created a few big plays, and did a pretty good job. The thing I was really impressed with was Devin Gardner. Devin’s footwork has jumped a quantum leap in two weeks. After getting a couple balls intercepted in the first half and having a fumble that really wasn’t his fault at all – he got blindsided – he recovered and showed composure throughout the football game. At no time was I in any doubt that he could not bring us back, and he proved me right.”
How much thought has been given to giving Derrick Green an entire series?
“We’re going to approach that – everything’s competitive. If we feel at one point that Derrick Green can do that, we’ll have Derrick Green in there.”
MGoQuestion: A couple delay of game penalties hurt you late in the game. What can you do to help Devin get to the line of scrimmage faster?
“That’s not all Devin, now. Some of it’s miscommunication, but it’s not all the quarterback when there’s a delay of game. They say it on the [PA], ‘Delay of game on number 98.’ But it’s not his fault. We have to do a better job of getting him in and out of the huddle, everybody in and out of the huddle, and get the play right.”
MGoIDon’tThinkYouUnderstoodMyQuestion: Is there anything systematic you can do to change how you communicate plays?
“No. This has not been a problem. How many delay of games have we had this year? It cropped up in this game. We played in a real noisy stadium. There’s some elements that could lead to that. Again, I’m not sure exactly what they were. If this were a chronic problem, I would be a lot more concerned about that.”
Devin’s your best running threat, but like Brady said, he’s one hit away from being knocked out of the game –
“Oh you hate it. I don’t like it. But you do what you have to do to win the game. End of discussion. Every week. How come your tailbacks aren’t getting anything? If no one’s getting any yards, you have a problem. I would prefer the tailback. But if the quarterback’s the guy that beats you, I don’t particularly like it, but we’ll do what we have to do to win the football game.”
Does that mean moving forward you’ll spread it out with Devin legs?
“No. I don’t want him carrying the ball 25 times. Nobody does. Because he ain’t gonna make it. Denard didn’t make it. We should have learned something from that situation. You guys have been Michigan fans for a while right? You saw what happened before we got here. It’s hard for a quarterback to carry the ball that many times and stay in one piece. But there’s going to be times in the heat of the battle, if those are the things that work and those are the things that help you win, you have to go do them. It’s that simple. And our power running game wasn’t that good, so we had to find a way. Put some pistol runs in, do some things to mix it up, quarterback draws.”
When you get less than a carry from your running back, is it more blocking problems?
“Oh yeah. We did a poor job blocking the line of scrimmage. End of discussion. Sometimes we targeted it well and still didn’t move the line of scrimmage.”
Have you lost confidence in running up the middle in third and short situations?
“No. No. We haven’t lost confidence in anything.”
MGoQuestion: Part of your problems in the run game seemed to be because Penn State loaded the box and played off your receivers. Did you ever consider doing something like, you know, throw a bubble screen?
“That’s your solution? A bubble screen?”
MGo: Just something to get the defense to play you more honestly, right?
“We threw three balls over their heads, did we not?”
“Well there you go. The answer is yes, we did.”