News bullets and other important things:
Brennen Beyer is the only major injury the team is dealing with. He hurt his leg.
Barnum is practicing, will get consideration to start.
From file, just to spice things up. Still can't believe this game happened.
“This is a great week to follow college football. Obviously with this game, I thought we had a very good practice yesterday. Hopefully we can follow that up today with our preparation. Our seniors have done a tremendous job with really the focus and the things that we need to do as a team and being the leaders out there, so it’s been good so far this week, and we just have a lot of work ahead of us.”
You say the focus was up. Has the focus gone to another level this week?
“You know, I think there’s been a lot of consistency, which is what we want to have a on weekly basis. I can’t tell you if it’s up more, but I think they understand how fun this game is.”
Do you feel like they’re focused on the fun and opportunity rather than the pressure and stakes?
“I think the consistency that we’ve had week to week, I think that the intensity of it and doing all those things has been good. I think they’ve been pretty focused on it.”
“This group doesn’t get tight very often.”
(more after the jump)
Injury-wise, how are Vincent Smith and Brennen Beyer?
“Beyer’s the only guy we’re dealing with, to be honest with you. Where he’s at, he probably won’t play”
What about Barnum?
“He’s better than he’s been.”
Do you remember any conversations with Bo Schembechler about this game?
“Just probably the normal stuff, and then when he would talk to the team, it was pretty special”
Are you going to have anybody talk to the team Thursday or Friday?
What about you?
“Well I’ll talk to them. I talk to them everyday. They get tired of that, probably. We pretty much handle everything as normal”
What stands out the most about Braxton Miller?
“Well he can make plays. He’s just flat-out a playmaker, if he’s going back in play-action or whatever it might be. Drop back out of the gun, or if he’s running out of the speed option or the quarterback draw or the quarterback iso. He’s a tremendous athlete. He’s a rather big guy and has great feet.”
Al talked yesterday about Denard being more willing to scrambling. Have you seen that more from him?
“I think he’s taken some of the pressure off himself a little bit. I think Al’s done a good job of … if option one or two aren’t there, that third option -- those feet you have and your speed, it’s a good thing to use those instead of throwing the ball up or making a poor decision.”
There’s been a lot of talk about the improvement of the defense.
“To be honest with you, I really don’t look at the numbers too much. I always look at opponent numbers. We didn’t come in with expectations but playing Michigan defense, whether you put a number on that or anything else, and really teaching and the fundamentals, the mentality that we want to play defense with. That’s kind of the expectations that we had.”
What do you think of Ohio State’s defensive numbers? Borges said they’re the best defense.
“Yeah. I think they are. If you see how active they are. Simon, and Hankins is the second leading tackler on their team, and he plays nose tackle. That’s a guy making plays. Simon, I love watching him. We followed them so much with like opponents that it’s been fun watching their defense and how hard they play. They play as a group. I think they will be in my opinion the stiffest test we’ve had.”
People talk about the team's performance peaking. Is your team peaking right now or is it just a matter of playing consistently for all four quarters?
“I think all three phases consistently playing together for four quarters. If it’s peaking, I don’t know. I just say last week we played in all three phases together and really complemented each other.”
Can you talk about the offensive line’s growth since the emergence of Fitz?
“Well I think David Molk has done a tremendous job as a senior in there. And Huyge -- both those guys, and our expectations, when we really have the six guys that we’ve kind of counted on and leaned on a little bit, they’ve done a nice job together, working together. I think there’s a good familiarity for each other.”
Are they grading out better on film?
“I think you may have four guys grade out better and one guy not as well as we like. We need to be more consistent there.”
What exactly is Beyer’s issue?
Will he be done for the year?
“Um, not sure yet. Not sure yet.”
Do you expect Schofield to start at left guard?
“Well he’s practicing, so I think he and Rick together. Either one. We’ll start somebody there. Thank goodness.”
You’ve said you’re not a sound sleeper. How well do you sleep before this game, and is there anything you do differently on the morning of this game?
“No. But to answer the first question, it’s about the normal, as far as that goes. No I do the same thing I always do on Saturday morning at home.”
Is this week any different as a head coach vs. assistant coach?
“It’s not any different. You’re trying to develop kids and you guys probably think I’m full of it, but the life lessons that they learned from this great game weekly -- I probably have more meetings with guys than you did as an assistant coach when you look at something happens to a guy’s friend or whatever might be … with 115 guys, there’s a lot of that. That’s the biggest difference. I get to coach nose tackles in there and meet with them everyday and watch film and do that stuff. I have fun.”
Denard said he gets pretty excitable before games. Sometimes too excited. How do you calm him down?
“Well, you know you’d rather tame a bucking bronco than to motivate a lame mare. He’s excited, he loves to play, loves to compete, and you just kind of talk to him. And make sure he understands that he doesn’t have to do it all. Do everything within the framework what the offense is asking you.”
Why do you always wear short sleeves? Would you wear short sleeves if it snows?
“Oh I’m sure. I always have. Practice, games, I like to wear shorts if they let me. I have a lot of insulation, so I don’t get cold.”
Do you not believe in heaters on the sidelines?
“Um … I don’t know. I mean, if they had heaters on the sideline, they’d build them into the sideline, right?”
How meaningful is this Saturday to cap the seniors’ careers?
“Well, it really is -- I’m proud of them. Proud of how they’ve -- the whole new staff and doing this at two other schools, this group has done a really nice job of number one them staying together as a class. There’s a great deal of respect they have for each other. So the question is, is this a special class? Yeah. It is. Because they’ve done a tremendous job on a daily basis. There’s been a lot of consistency with how they’ve approached everything that we’ve done.”
For this class specifically, are you feeling a little bit more for those guys?
“I probably am, but … yeah, probably. I mean, they’re a group of great kids who have been through a lot.”
What does this game mean for a Michigan player’s legacy?
“Well I think it’s always an important one because that’s the first thing when you go to a reunion or something: What year did you graduate, and did you beat Ohio?”
What does it say to you that even before you got here, the seniors told everyone to stay together?
“Well I think it was the direction they wanted to go, and I think them choosing that option together just tells you about that was a close-knit group.”
So are you trying to show toughness with the shorts and short sleeves?
“Look, I have a hard time putting a coat and tie on. I don’t really enjoy doing that. It has nothing to do with anything, but I’m comfortable in what I’m coaching in.”
You’ve been away from the rivalry for some time. Now that you’re back in the thick of it, is it how you remembered it to be?
“Yeah. I mean, it’s fun. This is a fun week. Because you wish Saturday was here. Because it’s fun.”
Is it strange playing after Thanksgiving?
“You know, it’s different. The one thing I don’t like about it is your kids don’t have a chance to go home and be with their loved ones, especially when you’re playing away on that 12th game. We’ll have a good amount of people here for Thanksgiving.”
Because it comes at the end of the season, would you say you know more about this opponent going in than any other throughout the year?
“Probably. I would think that’s right. You have more film. You have more information that’s out there that you look into. So I would say it’s true.”
Do you think this game will be won on the ground?
“Always. Always. How you play up front on both sides of the ball.I told the kids, and they get tired of listening to me about it, but it’s like that in every game, to be honest with you. When you have the opportunities, there’s 6-8 times in that game where you have to make a game. Well you have to be prepared, number one, to make the play.”
Do you think this is your or your staff’s best coaching job?
“Oh I don’t know. I don’t know. We’re just coaching. I don’t judge it like that.”
Bo said he did something to prepare for Ohio State everyday. Do you do that too?
“To some degree we do because they’re always in our thoughts and we talk about them everyday ... Bo, because he mimicked them offensively and defensively, they were doing something everyday.”
Do you have any comment on Bo Pelini implying your defensive players were faking injuries to slow them down?
“That’s ridiculous. We wouldn’t do that. Kovacs? Come on. Us?”
What did you want your players to take from the Navy Seals last week during the team meeting?
“What I wanted them to take from that was the lessons that we’ve talked about: team, accountability, competing, competition. And it was also a way for us, what we’ve done, to honor them for their service and everything they do. It was special.”