Coach O’Brien does not want to talk about Indiana. Or sanctions. Or scholarships. His refusal to answer certain questions was very JoePa-esque, i.e. "I really appreciate that question, but do you really think I'm going to tell you what we do in practice to prepare for Devin Gardner?"
According to Coach O’Brien, the team has moved on from last week’s loss, and I thought I had too, until I saw someone wearing a Hoosiers shirt on the sidewalk this afternoon. Sigh.
After the reading of this transcript, at the request of BO’B, I have officially moved on. It’s homecoming week, Michigan is coming into a White House on Saturday night, and I am keeping the faith.
COACH O'BRIEN: Injury update: Ryan Keiser is still questionable for the game. We're hoping to have him, but we'll know more probably by the end of the day tomorrow. We feel good about it, but I would say he's still questionable. Right now, Brandon Felder is full go for the game. Allen Robinson will be ready for the game. And as far as that goes, that's it and obviously Mike Hull will be ready for the game, and that's pretty much an update.
COACH O'BRIEN: Ben Kline was because of injury. It happened on Thursday. His shoulder...he popped his shoulder out. So, he didn't play because of that. Adam Breneman, we're going to play him against Michigan. And Alex Kenney just didn't play in the game.
Q. Could you talk about the Michigan defense a little bit, tell me what you see out of those guys? Everyone talks about the offense, but the defense has played pretty well this year.
COACH O'BRIEN: Sure, the Michigan defense, when you look at their defense, just from my knowledge of Michigan, it's a typical Michigan team. I think Coach (Brady) Hoke is a fantastic coach and he's done a great job. I think he's in his third or fourth year there of putting together the type of team he wants, and on defense they're very stout up front, very stout. The linebacker corps, they play a lot of guys there. The secondary is very disciplined. Greg Mattison is the defensive coordinator; obviously have gone up against him when he was with the Baltimore Ravens. He's an excellent football coach. It's going to be a great challenge. These guys are a very good football team, but we're going to do our very best to put together a good gameplan and coach our guys up to go out there and execute the gameplan.
Q. This is easily the most hyped home game of the year. Do you guys during weeks like this feel as coaches that you need to hammer the idea that this is just another game more to the team or not more than a regular week?
COACH O'BRIEN: No, we tell them, "look, this is an exciting opportunity." I mean, Penn State, Michigan, ESPN, 5 o’clock, 108,000. We've got Nittanyville going crazy over here. I think it would be crazy to think this is just another game. I think this is a great opportunity for our team. Our kids are really excited. I love this time of year personally because the weather changes, it gets a little colder. It just reminds you of football, Big Ten football. This is a Big Ten game. It's a big game, and our kids are very excited about it. So we know it's a big rivalry and a big game.
Q. Do coaches worry at the beginning of games that emotions can be too high with an atmosphere like this, or not really?
COACH O'BRIEN: No, to me the old emotion thing, once there's contact and you block the other guy and the other guys tackles you or whatever, the emotion, now it's just execution and who plays the best football game.
Q. You guys are kind of near the bottom of the Big Ten in turnover margin. Is that something you could work on in the course of a season?
COACH O'BRIEN: Yeah, we definitely work on that, we really do. We do a lot of drills on that and coach it up, and whether it's ball drills, interception drills, strip drills, fumble recovery drills, blocked punt drills, we drill it, and we need to do a better job in that area, no doubt about it. So we've just got to keep working on it, emphasize it on film. When we see a good play, somebody that's caught an interception or recovered a fumble in practice, "hey, great job," and emphasize it and hopefully we'll start getting that turned around a little bit.
Q. Allen (Robinson) obviously had a good year last year, but he's still continuing to thwart defenses even though they know about him now, so he must have improved. Where has he improved the most?
COACH O'BRIEN: He got stronger, he's faster, he improved his speed, which is really hard to do. I think in our scheme, we've moved him around so he's become smarter in our scheme. Last year he played mostly on the outside but now he plays everywhere. He plays No. 3, No. 2, he plays No. 1 weak, No. 1 strong, put him in the backfield a little bit. He just has a lot better knowledge of our scheme, and all the credit goes to him. He's done a heck of a job.
Q. Allen Robinson has had a great year up to this point, but he's accounting for about 45 percent of the passing offense's yards. At some point is that kind of a concern almost that it doesn't seem like there's a No. 2 guy who's maybe stepped up to ease that load a little bit?
COACH O'BRIEN: I don't know. It depends on how you guys define No. 2 guys. Geno (Lewis) had six catches (at Indiana). Do you want the No. 2 guy to have if Allen has 12, should the No. 2 guy have 11? I don't know. The No. 2 guy had six, Felder has had some catches in games. I think we've spread the ball around pretty well. This past game probably not as much as we had, but again, we always try to spread the ball around. There's very few plays where we say, "this ball is going to Allen no matter what." It's the read of the play. Offensively we're always looking to improve, but I think for the most part we've been a productive offense, and we just need to continue to try to move the ball. We ran 93 plays in last week's game, so something was right, so we try to build on that and put together a good gameplan for Michigan.
Fight on State:
Q. Are you concerned at all that the team's confidence might be shaken a little bit by last week?
COACH O'BRIEN: The team's confidence isn't shaken.
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