“We had two practices last weekend on Friday and Sunday. We’ll have seven practices starting tonight. Trying to juggle the times around finals and all those academic issues that guys have to work through, being a student athlete, so our hours are off the charts a little bit, but we’ll go tonight and we’ll go tomorrow morning, then we’ll go Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Thursday, then Friday morning the guys will practice and then have a short break. We’ll meet down on the 28th in New Orleans. We’ll practice shortly after we arrive and get used to the facilities, the sites as far as practice-wise and start really game-planning full throttle on Monday, because coaches have been out. They’ve been running, lifting, doing all those things to try and stay in as much football shape as you can. I think last week the two practices had high energy, high tempo. Got to do a couple things with the young guys in scrimmage situations, do some tackling and blocking and those things.”
Any of the young guys catch your attention that you maybe haven’t talked about yet?
“You know, I think Chris Bryant is becoming a better guard, blocking and some of the power pulls and those kind of things. You know, those guys have been going on cards all year, so it’s a very scaled down defense and offense, so hopefully their reactions take over and their fundamentals and techniques that they’ve got take over.”
How physical is practice in terms of pads?
“It will be pretty physical Monday and Tuesday. Probably back it down a little down on Wednesday. We’ll be physical. We’ll be in pads of some sort either just shoulder pads and helmets or full pads. We’ll go shoulder pads and helmets tonight, full pads tomorrow, and then on Monday will be full. Tuesday will be full, and then Wednesday we’ll start backing it down. When we get into New Orleans, we’ll [have a] quick practice on whatever day it is, the 28th. We’ll go about 10 good periods and just really get them familiar with the locker room and the practice facilities and do some conditioning and run them a little bit, do some skelly, do a couple switch periods so we can refresh their memories on some of the things in the game plan.”
(more after the jump)
Any new wrinkles you add that you haven’t used yet?
“There might be. You look at things, and some of the coaches have been in a little more, so they have a little more of a head start breaking down the opponent. Others were out for a good amount of the recruiting, so they haven’t seen as much, but you always look at something that you may be able to take advantage of.”
Will your offensive line look any different from what it looked like in the last game?
“I don’t think so. I think pretty much hopefully the same (knock knock).”
Can you see yourself coaching for as long as Frank Beamer has at one place?
“Oh I don’t know. Never thought about it to be honest with you. We don’t want to leave Michigan, I know that, so hopefully we can stay here a long time.”
Do you feel like that’s getting increasingly rare?
“Probably. Probably is. Media, 24-hour news cycle, you know, the whole money that’s involved in the sport now.”
What does this bowl game mean for your recruiting?
“That’s a really good question. I think it always helps. It’s out there in front a little bit. I think when you’re playing in a BCS bowl, that probably validates a little bit of what you’re doing as a program and as a university and what your university is doing. I’m sure there’ll be a great crowd of Michigan people in that stadium on the third. I think it all probably helps in those ways.”
Playing a game a month after your last game, what are your specific concerns in terms of complacency and rustiness?
“I think you can get what you need to get back from a physical standpoint. I think the mental attitude and how you approach it every day. You just don’t show up down there. There’s obviously a lot of distractions in New Orleans on Bourbon Street and all those things. We’ve got 18 to 23 year olds, and how they handle themselves as a team, starting with the leadership of our seniors, is always an important factor when you take 114 or however many we’re taking on the trip. And then it’s the focus and not being distracted by all the pats on the back and the stuff that really is immaterial to how you play in the game and how you prepare.”
Does anything change because it’s an indoor game?
“I don’t think so. No. We practice indoors. In here, I mean, it’s different. The lighting will be different and obviously the environment. I don’t think so. I mean, we’re going to go in there twice just so you’re catching balls and you’re doing that stuff and see how that affects and doesn’t affect. The more you make of it, the more it affects it.”
Do you anticipate everyone making the trip?
“Yeah I think so.”
How are you on the injury front?
Have you thought about what a good showing in the Sugar Bowl can do for the program and what you want to accomplish?
“Well you want to win every game. So, good showing, bad showing, you want to win. You’re going to prepare against a football team that’s a doggone good football team. They have a great tradition and coach Beamer’s done a tremendous job obviously over many years. Playing an opponent that has had a lot of success in Virginia Tech, it’s going to be a challenge and it’s going to be fun.”
Is the sixth year for Marell Evans going to be possible?
“I don’t think it is.”
When do you start installing the game plan for Virginia Tech?
“Some of it today, but most of it we’ll start, especially from the offensive side, on Monday a little more.”
You’ve talked about out-coaching yourself when given too much time. Is there an ideal time frame for you to prepare against an opponent?
“I’ve done it a lot of different ways. I’ve been around it a lot of different ways. We just like the format that we’ve used, what we used at San Diego State. Kind of blueprint that a little bit when you look at what you do and how much you do.”
What’s the best bowl prep you’ve ever been involved with and what stuck out about it?
“I think what we did last year and how our kids -- I think we kept them fresh and at the same time challenged and competed enough with them. As you look at game planning, I think we got that to them early enough where they could really have a great understanding of it. Got enough reps at the different looks from one side of the ball or the kicking game. Got enough looks to handle it. I thought what we did out there was pretty good.”
Does playing indoors affect the kickers more than anybody?
“I don’t think so. What do you think?”
I think it does.
“You think it’s good or bad?”
I think it’s better for them. What do you think?
“Probably better for them. I’d have to agree with you.”
Have you talked with Will Hagerup much about his punting struggles?
“Yeah I talk to him every day. When we’re practicing. You know, it’s just consistency, how you set the ball, where your hand is, the mental imagery when you do it the right way when you’re keeping the fundamentals and techniques.” Golfing analogy.
Has Matt Wile been pushing him in practice?
“Yeah. No question. No question. We’ll see who punts in the bowl game. I mean, Matt’s done a nice job. We’ve got to get more field position returns off the punting game.”
Is that competition realistically open?
“Yeah. I wouldn’t have said it if it weren’t.”
Can you evaluate what Schofield has done for you this season? Nobody’s really talked about him, but that may be a good thing.
“Right. That probably is a good thing to be honest with you. I think he’s grown. I think he’s improved. I think he’s really obviously better than he was at the beginning. But I think Michael has just really scratched the surface of how he can play offensive line at Michigan and that standard."