News bullets and other items:
It’s all in the statement
We don’t talk about injuries
Devin Gardner will be the starting quarterback against Rutgers
“Number one, thanks for coming as always. We appreciate you being here. Secondly, it was good for us as a team to get back on the field yesterday. It's always nice to get back to work, I think, coaching football and our guys getting together. They enjoyed the practice and what we got done. I think there is very much a competitive spirit and they’re excited about the opportunity to go to Rutgers and play. This is the two oldest FBS teams who play football, so I think that's an added plus.
“Rutgers [is a] very well coached football team, I think. They’re hard-nosed. You watch The tape, you watch them run around and they are 4-1. They had a close loss at home to Penn State early in the year. Led by a quarterback in Gary Nova who has broken the school record for touchdowns. Leads a very talented offense, very explosive. They have five returning starters on the offensive line back, so the experience level there. It's a physical team. Averaging 160 yards – 176 yards a carry [Ed: He meant per game. You’d think it’s been a long week or something] right now rushing and 30 points a game. Very active defense. They lead the Big Ten in sacks. They have some guys who really do a great job of chasing the ball. I think their quickness at the line of scrimmage is something that we’ll have to contend with and will present some challenges, but we’re excited about the opportunity. Playing at night is going to be a lot of fun and a great atmosphere.
Listen, there have been several apologies and statements that have been issued from the University, pledges to do better in certain areas including communication. To what extent do you feel you share in the responsibility and can help improve sideline communication?
“Well, I think from the start when you're a leader you’ve got to take responsibility, and I take responsibility for our student-athletes and I take it for their health and welfare. But I'll also make it clear that I don't make decisions when injuries [occur], and that shouldn't be a coach’s decision. That's why we have some of the best trainers, some of the best doctors in the country. We are fortunate here at Michigan because those are the type of people we attract and they will unchallenged have the authority to make those decisions.”
Hey coach, were you caught off by Dave Brandon's statement? It just seems like some of the information he released totally conflicted with some of the stuff you said on Monday.
“I don't think so. I think they worked very hard on getting it right in the statement. I think when you talk about evaluating the different things that we need to evaluate, I think that was all handled in the statement.”
[After THE JUMP: Statements about The Statement]
Coach, I know you answered this on Monday but there's been the statement since by the University about the fact that there will be certain areas looked at, ways to improve communication. Will you wear a headset more regularly starting this weekend?
“No, I won't. I really- that’s something that I've explained a lot. It allows me to coach guys on the sideline. I've got a guy right behind me who is telling me everything that I need to know as far as that's concerned but I think it helps when you want to be hands-on, a hands-on coach. Both coordinators are on the field. I have great respect for both of those guys and how they prepare our defense and our offense and also in the information that we talk about on the sidelines.”
Brady, you mentioned the statement earlier from Dave. Did you at all feel, given what it seemed like you knew or expected was happening on Monday, sort of hung out to dry there by him at all in the way he handled that the rest of the day?
“You know, someone else asked me that. Not at all. I believe this: number one, the statement covers what we all have done to go through this. Secondly, Dave Brandon and I have a great relationship. A relationship that's built on trust, that's been built on integrity, that's been built on character. We also understand the leadership roles that we both have. I think Dave being a former player here and playing for Coach Schembechler, I think obviously he understands those expectations that we all have and that is that we want to win football games, we want to mentor kids so that they learn great life lessons, and we want to do it representing Michigan with high integrity and high character.”
So when you came and talked with us on Monday you said that to your knowledge Shane had no concussion and you said you hadn’t spoken with Dave on Sunday or Saturday or prior on Monday. Is that, in fact, the case?
“Well, it's all in the statement. I believe it’s all in there.”
So you stand by what you told us on Monday at 12:30?
“Well, I'm telling you it's all in the statement.”
Coach, can you just talk about your biggest concern about pass protection so far with the offensive line? Is there one thing that concerns you the most about it?
“Well, and I touched on this a little bit the other day [but] we’ve got to do a better job as eleven playing together; eleven playing as one. We cut some guy loose because we were a little over-aggressive, and we cut some guys loose because we hadn’t picked it up the right way from a backfield standpoint, and we cut some guys loose because our quarterback hasn’t stepped up in the pocket and really used the pocket, and then there’s also a route that’s not run, a hot that’s not read. So we’ve got fundamentally those things are what we’ve been really concentrating on when you look at the football end of it.”
Obviously there’s been a lot of negativity, as you know, around this program. A) how are you dealing with it and then I guess the second thing is what’s your message to Michigan fans that this is still salvageable, that things are going to be different, that you are the right guy for this job?
“Well, that’s a question that I’m sure always has to be answered, but the one thing I can tell you [is] our attitude in this building, our attitude as players- I think the way their work ethic is and how they’ve gone about every day that they’ve been in here, it’s been unbelievably positive. We all understand we’ve got to be better. We all understand frustration, because we all have frustration but at the same time there’s 115 young men who’re busting their butt to represent this program just like the coaches are.”
Do you think it’s been fair, though; some of the reaction?
“I don’t look at that stuff. You can tell me that stuff. I don’t look at that. I never have, win or lose. You’ve got a job to do, and that’s with 115 young kids.”
A lot has been said about communication or lack thereof. What specific actions have been made to correct those problems [and] improve communications?
“Well, the protocol has been looked at and I know it’s in the statement. Obviously those are ongoing, they’ve evaluated and that’s one thing I think is special about Michigan; they haven’t shied away from it.”
Jabrill wasn’t on the sideline last week, or at least I didn’t see him during the game. What was so sever that he can’t stand there even if he’s injured, and do you expect that to change this weekend?
“You know I’m not going to talk about injuries.”
A lot of other injured guys were on the field, on the sideline.
“But we’ve had other guys who haven’t.”
Do you expect Jabrill to play on Saturday?
“We’re not going to talk about injuries. Is he hurt? Yes.”
Do you know yet if Devin will be your quarterback on Saturday?
“He will be our quarterback, and we have great belief in Devin. We have great belief in what he has done. I think the leadership that he has demonstrated with a lot of adversity, I think he’s done a tremendous job and I think his teammates and we all have belief in him.
I know you want to stand by the statement but there are some indiscrepancies between- or discrepancies, sorry, between what the statement said and what you said. Do you know that those will ever be cleared up, and do you think it’s fair that you and your players are the ones answering those questions as opposed to Dave and other people in the athletic department?
“Well, this is a big family, this university is. And that’s the way we look at it. The statement itself is what we stand by.”
If Devin’s going to be the quarterback then who’ going to be the backup?
“Well, right now Russell and Wilton have been competing and challenging and it’ll be one of those two. I would say it’d be Russell first.”
Coach, can you talk about with the controversy that has been swirling have your players rallied to that? Do you sense that-
“I think that’s a great question for them, because they will let you know. Believe me, I’m not in the locker room. The only thing I can tell you is how they came out to practice yesterday, how they’ve been in today with their lifting and the energy that they have and the excitement they have about getting another opportunity to play.”
Brady, as far as transparency and honesty goes there’s a lot of people questioning how honest everyone has been in the process. Do you guys feel like you have been completely honest throughout the process?
“Yeah, I mean, the statement itself- look, that wasn’t something that was just done. There was a lot of time, a lot of effort put into all of it so that we could cover everything that had to do with the incident.”
As far as accountability goes, people are expecting some kind of action usually in these situations. Do you think any punishment should be handed out?
“I’m not going to answer a hypothetical because that’s not something I want to deal with.”
Coach, obviously have two deals here. One, on-field struggles and two, another circumstance that has been in the news. So combining those things, what have you come up with as your specific message this week to your players? What have you asked them to do? What have you told them to do? What have you reminded them of this week?
“Well, number one, I think this: I think there isn’t any doubt that our guys, and people can take everything they want but they can’t take your attitude and our guys have a tremendous attitude about being a teammate and caring about each other, and how they practice and how they play. The effort and the competitiveness and the spirit that they went out yesterday with was second to none and I’m excited about where they’re at and they know that we all are in it together. It’s not players/coaches, coaches/players, it’s all of us and we all have a part to take of it and it starts with me, and I like where our football mindset is and where our team’s at.”