- Be an organ donor. Beat Ohio. Save lives.
- Mario Ojemudia has a "thing" and "stuff." You think I'm making this up but I'm not.
- Denard has a tingly thingamaling that has not completely resolved itself yet.
"Sun came up on Sunday" / file
“I want to thank Wolverines for Life and the transplant center for all they do. To Tucker, who you heard from earlier. We’re glad to have you here and glad to be part of it. I know we have a couple guys who are pretty involved who were part of it. Thanks for that.
“As far as where we’re at right now football-wise, we need to do a better job from the perspective of a coaching standpoint, because it starts right there. It starts with me. We need to play better football. We need to play better in the red zone from an offensive standpoint. And part of that and most of that is you have to be able to run the football in the red zone. That’s an important place because in the throw game, it shrinks down there a little bit. Your verticalness of what you can do and being able to run the football is a big part of it. We didn’t do that well obviously the other night, but that’s something that will take a front seat and center during this week as we get ready to go to Minneapolis. It’s an important game for multiple reasons. Number one, it’s in our devision. It’s an opportunity that we get back out on the field, which we need to go to, and the Brown Jug is part of that great rivalry and tradition and trophy that we’d like to keep here in Ann Arbor.”
You always talk about championships being won in November. Was yesterday a good time to re-emphasize that?
“I think I probably didn’t re-emphasize that as much as the things we did poorly, but I will. Believe me, it will be addressed. We have a heck of a lot to play for. There’s four guarantees left, and we have to play our best in each of those four.”
What’s Denard’s status?
“He should be fine. He should be ready to go on Saturday.”
Will he be able to practice?
“Well he wouldn’t play if he didn’t practice.”
Will he be able to practice the entire week?
“We think so.”
How did Denard’s injury affect him?
“I’m not a doctor. I don’t know if you knew that, but there’s a nerve that runs down your elbow down your arm -- I think it’s the ulna[r nerve]. It just takes a while to … It gets numb and tingly.”
Would you consider giving Devin more snaps at quarterback?
“Well, we will do that as a precautionary thing, giving him some more snaps. Him and Russell both, which means we’ll add a couple more plays to your script that you’re working off of for practice, but no. We’ll do that.”
Would you change the plan for Devin depending on how Denard progresses during the week?
When does that happen?
“I don’t want to speculate until it happens.”
Do you have a time frame in your head?
“No, not really.”
What does Russell need to do better, and what does the team need to do better around him?
“Well I think a couple things. I think number one we’ve got to do a better job of picking up a couple blitzes that we are -- trying to think of the right word -- able to do. It wasn’t like it was a plus-one, one more guy coming that you couldn’t block. So we need to do that from the stnadpoint of an offensive line and running backs. I think the experience that he gained going into that environment is a major help to anybody. I think it’s a great learning [experience] for him. I think him and Al, when they review the film, I know how Al will go back through it or how he does and put him in those situations.”
“You guys are awesome.”
How is Gardner physically? Is he back to 100%?
“I think so. I haven’t seen him -- he’s practiced well. He had a little bit of an ankle earlier. A little bit of a shoulder, but he hadn’t missed any time.”
How much would you say he’s thrown since the start of the season?
“Uh … how much as he thrown? That’s hard for me to calculate. I think he’s thrown enough.”
Will Devin and Russell compete at quarterback or will Devin play more wide receiver?
“Well the plan is if Denard is as well as we know he’s going to be, then Devin’s still going to play receiver.”
But if he’s not, will they compete?
How important is it to tell your team you’re still contending for the B1G championship?
“Well there’s no question, and that’s what we talked about yesterday a little bit. We’ll talk more about it when the guys drop by today and then tomorrow, but there’s no doubt that there’s a lot of season left. I think the statement that November is when you win championships in this league -- I’ve always believed that, and I think that’s an important thing for us to realize, but we have to correct the things we did poorly. We did enough of them on both sides of the ball that we’re ready from week to week in how you prepare. And we prepared pretty daggone well practice-wise. I liked that about us. Now executing? Gameday? That needs to be better.”
Impressions of Minnesota QB Philip Nelson?
“I think he’s done a very good job. I haven’t seen all their stuff yet, but from what I’ve seen, pretty poised. Throws the ball well. Can get out of trouble. Good feet. I have a lot of respect for Jerry Kill as a coach and more importantly as a man. Jerry obviously likes him, so I would say he’s a pretty good quarterback.”
Is there anything preventative that can be done with Denard?
“You know, it’s a good question. I think that’s one that we’re looking at. I know Smitty and the doctors and everything, there may be something, a sleeve of some sort, and then the guy’s got to get used to it.”
Does Denard have to start running out of bounds more?
“Uh, I don’t know. You’d have to ask him if he’ll think about doing that.”
Could Denard sit out of practice and still be fine since he’s so experienced? Guys have done that in the past.
“They don’t do that too much under how I do things.”
All right. I just remember a couple players in the past …
“Everyone has a different philosophy towards it. I think the preparation -- I think you play like you practice. I think that that position, look-wise and what you’re going to see is a little different from being a wideout or even to some degree being a running back or defensive lineman.”
Is this an injury that can’t completely heal until he takes a few weeks off?
“That’s out of my league.”
I thought you were a doctor.
“No, I pretend to be.”
Looked like Mario Ojemudia injured himself …
“He should be okay.”
What’s his predicament?
“Just, you know, things.”
Do you expect more from the defense?
Do you give them any leeway for the fact that they were out there so much and put in bad positions due to turnovers?
“No. No, because those guys are on scholarship to play defense. If that team doesn’t play defense, they don’t score, and they don’t win. I mean, it’s as simple as that, and we’ve talked to them that way all the time. They understand the expectations. No. They have a job to do, and they have to do their job.”
Two of Nebraska’s drives started inside your 40 and only resulted in field goals. Is that a positive to take away from that?
“That’s a positive. Those sudden change situations, the team gets the ball inside the 50, you’re really working and you have to hold them to field goals. We pat them on the butt when they do that, but they’re expected to do it all the time.”
What happened to the running game after Denard went out?
“I was a little disappointed. Even though we were doing okay. I think we ran 40 plays in the first half out of five possessions, three of them were 10 plays or more. We were doing okay, but I usually generally am always disappointed in the running game if the numbers aren’t there to a certain point. I think the most frustrating thing for everybody is our red zone right now offensively and not getting touchdowns. And when you can’t run the ball, that’s when it starts. You have to be able to run the football in the red zone. People have too many different ways to take the throwing game away because of the shrinkage of the field.”
Do you start looking at Rawls at tailback a little more?
“I don’t know if you watched it enough, but Fitz ran hard. I mean, Fitz, he took on ‘backers, he took on safeties. I was happy with how he played. I know one thing, we gotta block better. We didn’t block -- we didn’t finish blocks the way we had the week before, and we didn’t score touchdowns the week before, but we were finishing blocks better. That’s the disappointing thing.”
Would you say Fitz’s lack of production an offensive line issue?
“Yeah. I think that is where it always starts …”
Denard is getting so much more production than the rest of the running backs --
Do you know why?
“Well I think part of it is Denard in our offense is a quarterback-running back. And the way you set things up, if a guy doesn’t take the read, a guy hesitates, we seal the back side, I mean all those things are part of it. An opponent earlier in the year, the nose was coming too fast over the center and the backside runs were there for Denard. They’re not there for the tailback per se all the time because it’s different.”
Why do you think they’re not there for the tailbacks?
“Well it’s a whole different animal when you have Denard and some of the runs he’s been able to make. And it’s a different -- scheme-wise it changes a little bit.”
Is it missed assignments on the line or lack of execution or --
“No. We need to finish blocks. Period.”
Your turnovers are way up on the road. How important is that?
“It’s always critical. The one interception Russ was getting hit as he throws it. The one to Vince, I don’t know what that was exactly -- is it possession, non-possession? I think there’s questions on that, but he had one bad throw to be honest with you.
Receivers drop Bellomy’s balls more than they drop Denard's balls. What gives?
“I don’t think there’s a difference. I just think we have to concentrate and look the ball all the way in.”
Can Denard grip a ball right now?
Could he play today if he had to play today?
How limited is Borges’s playcalling when you can’t establish the run game on first down?
“I don’t understand your question.”
When you were having trouble running on first down …
“The first half we didn’t at all.”
In the second half though …
“Well you have to limit a little bit because your quarterback runs aren’t as effective.”
Did Frank practice on Saturday?
Will he be full go this week?
What was with the officiating on Gallon’s punt return? You seemed pretty animated talking to the refs.
“I was just trying to clear up the rule.”
Did you win…? Obviously they didn’t reverse it, but did you make your point? Did they admit they made an error?
“No. No. Just had a discussion.”
Thoughts on Minnesota in general?
“Well I think they’re vastly improved. I think Jerry Kill, and I said it up there, I think he’s a very good football coach. He’s a hard-nosed guy whose teams are going to play that way. I think from a talent standpoint, I think they’re playing faster. When you watch the tape from the skill positions but also I think they’re playing faster as a team defensively and offensively, and that’s usually a good sign of knowing the schemes, feeling more comfortable in it.”
Have you ever played at their stadium?
“Not at the new stadium, I have not.”
Do you like the noon game better?
“Yes. Yeah. We got home at 3:30 or something like that -- and that’s hard. These are student athletes. I don’t care what you say.”
How did Nebraska’s pace confuse you on defense?
“I think we had a couple communication letdowns, but we’ve played vs. tempo already, so I think it was more of us not taking care of the details.”
Is there a fine line between running a route and setting a pick? On that touchdown, it looked like there was …
“Yeah. You have to fight over it. We probably should have also been pressed on the guy on the line of scrimmage. Would have helped the other guy off.”
Lapse in communication on Nebraska’s TD drive -- was that sort of inevitable? Or would that have not happened against a team with a slower tempo?
“No. I just don’t think we communicated the call through. It happens now and then. You don’t like it to.”
Do you bring the Jug in this week?
“Oh yeah. Yup. Jug’s out.”
The Jug’s in the locker room?
“It’s where it needs to be right now.”
Team meeting room?
“It’s where it needs to be right now.”
And you’ll talk about the history?
“We’ll have a discussion.”