Sept. 22, 2012

Recap | Box Score | Photo Gallery

Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly

Brian Kelly: A great team win for our guys. Defensively what can I say, six turnovers, limited we felt is one of the most dynamic offensive players in the country to no touchdowns. Just an incredible performance by our defense. We got Kyle Brindza came big again with the field goal and special teams, and then what I was most pleased with our offense was their ability to close out the game. You’ve got to be able to close out hard fought, close games, and the two possessions we had in the fourth quarter pretty much took the ball away from Michigan when they needed it. I think we had a seven minute and 40 second drive followed up with the last drive which closed out the game. As much as we would have liked to have executed better on offense, give Michigan a lot of credit. They did a very good job defensively, and we knew we were going to be in for this kind of close, tough, hard nosed football game, and proud of the way our guys pulled it off. With that I’ll open it up to questions.

Q. Your decision to pull Everett, and where do you go with the quarterback decision from here?
Brian Kelly: Everett is our starter.

Q. You said that beating Michigan State was a signature victory. What was this?
Brian Kelly: I think it’s another step in the process of consistency that I’ve talked about. Before you can go from being a good team to a great team, you have to exhibit some form of consistency in performance, and you have to play week in and week out. Our kids have had three tough opponents early in the season as we’re trying to find ourselves offensively with Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan in consecutive weeks.

It definitely goes towards that consistent performance that we’re looking for, and this is another step towards that.

Q. Talk about your defensive game plan, the ability to get pressure on Denard but also not spring him loose for scramble plays, just evaluate the job your defense did in that regard.
Brian Kelly: I thought what you saw in this game plan, be it a little bit different from last year’s plan, is that we mixed it up a little bit more in the back end. We were in a lot of star coverage last year into the third and fourth quarter, and I know Bob wanted to mix it up a lot more. We got into a lot more zone, which we knew if we got into more zone we could be more susceptible to some of the runs, but we handled ourselves very well with some new starters back there, and in particular I thought Matthias had a great game.

Q. Can you just talk about from the big picture the identity of this team this year seemingly is going to go through the defense and how you’ve branded that the last two weeks?
Brian Kelly: Fine with me. I think anyway you can manage the football game to win it, you’ve got to get a contribution in some fashion from your offense, and obviously the big play throw to Eifert was the contributing factor. So we’re fine playing to our strength.

Again, I think we saw that that defense is such that we want to make sure that we limit turnovers, and early on we turned the ball over, and ultimately that’s why we made the change at quarterback.

Q. Kind of piggy backing off that, what do you do to make sure that Everett there is no confidence chip away here because that was obviously a more significant amount of time that he missed.
Brian Kelly: Sure. I don’t really believe it’s a matter of confidence as much as he just has to settle down. He was not as comfortable as I would have liked after playing the Michigan State game where he was in an incredible environment. He needs to just settle down a little bit, and he’s going to be fine. He’ll have the week off to evaluate all the things. He’ll have a week that he doesn’t have three exams and four papers, and I’m not building in any excuses for him, but he just has to settle down a little bit, and he’ll be fine.

Q. A win by 1 or 20 or 30 against Michigan at this point in the season, 4 0 going into the bye week, how much does that buoy confidence?
Brian Kelly: Well, I think they all know if they continue to prepare and do the things necessary and make plays players are stepping up to make plays. There’s a great deal of confidence but they know they have to play really well each and every week. I don’t think there’s going to be a false sense of confidence after four games. They know they’ve got a lot of work to do. But it’s a group that understands that they’ve got an opportunity to do something really big.

Q. Another emotional game for Manti. Just how important has his presence been these last two games, especially today?
Brian Kelly: He’s the guy in there. I mean, it all evolves around him, his personality, his strength. He’s a special guy. Take advantage of him while you’ve got him now, because I’ve never been around a kid like that.

Q. You mentioned the offensive contribution and it was Riddick in the fourth quarter, you kind of rode him on the key drive down the field.
Brian Kelly: We’re riding the guy that’s hot, and he ran physical, picked up some big first downs for us, and Cierre had a good run for us in that one drive, too. But, yeah, he was the guy. The guy that’s in the game running the ball effectively, we’re usually going to go with that guy.

Q. Can you talk about Danny Spond, obviously his best game here?
Brian Kelly: Danny Spond played very well. He played in space, which is difficult for a 250 pound linebacker, played physical, was able to set the edge. As you know, it’s so important against a guy like that to set the edge. I think there was one time on a bubble in the fourth quarter where the ball got outside him, but other than that he was on point.

Q. What is it do you think that you’re doing better defensively through these first four games?
Brian Kelly: Well, I think it’s been an emergence of our defense throughout our time here at Notre Dame. I think our defense has experienced a lot of different offenses. There’s one thing at Notre Dame: You’re not getting the same team each week. So I think it’s just been a good progress for us, and now our kids are bigger, they’re faster, they’re stronger, and I think it’s just the evolutionary process of this defense over two and a half years.

Q. Has Tommy Rees shown you anything that gives you any pause about the situation that maybe you want him integrated as a two quarterback system, anything that you’ve seen from him?
Brian Kelly: No, not really. I think we’re fairly comfortable if we need Tommy to come in and handle some of the offense for us, if we feel like it’s necessary, we will. But he’s just a great asset to have if you need him. To close out a game, we’ll continue to go that route. We’d like to continue to develop Everett so we don’t have to do that, but we’re still going to try to win football games anyway possible.

Q. The fourth quarter drive there with Theo again, that’s the second week in a row you guys have been able to kill a game running the ball like that. What leads to you taking over with running in the fourth quarter?
Brian Kelly: Well, I think first of all you’ve got an offensive line that will play physical. The backs ran hard. We’ve got two and three tight ends out there, so we’re at that level that we can compete with the very good teams that know we’re running it. There’s eight, nine guys on the line of scrimmage, we’re still running into those looks, and we didn’t want to turn the ball over in the second half. We weren’t going to risk turning it over, our defense played so well that we were going to be a little bit stubborn. So maybe we were a little bit more stubborn in terms of wanting to run the football and eat some clock. That’s the way that defense needs to be managed.

Q. Tyler had a big catch but other than that he wasn’t thrown to many times during the game?
Brian Kelly: Tyler Eifert is a tight end. You guys seem to think he’s going to get 90 balls. He’s a blocking tight end who has the unique ability at the end of the game to spread out as a wide receiver and catch a pass.

The game was such that he was required to be inside blocking and he did a heck of a job. He just continues to open everybody’s eyes about his ability to be a wide receiver and a blocking tight end.

Q. Since you’re sitting here now at 4 0 and you’ve got three, I guess you call them, grind wins, can you tell me subtly what’s the advantage to that as opposed to four sort of have the game wrapped in the fourth quarter, and how do you manage these next two weeks?
Brian Kelly: Well, I think our players see how the game unfolds and know that it’s gut check time in close games and that they’ve got to rely on each other. It builds a closeness within your locker room, both on the offensive side and the defensive side. It builds confidence that no matter what the circumstances are that they can find a way to win, so those are all great things that we’ll continue to build on. As we move into the bye week, we’re getting into a lot of exams, so we’ll try to get Tuesday and Wednesday on Miami and weight train on Thursday and give them some time off on Friday and Saturday as we roll right into Miami with some extra preparation.

Q. I know you’re confident of the D line going into the season, but 14 sacks in four games, does that surprise you a little bit?
Brian Kelly: You know, I don’t know that I was thinking much in terms of sacks. It was I think we wanted to make certain that we were going to be able to support our front in the back end of the defense, and I think after tonight, we all feel that we’ve got some young guys back there that can play at a high level. I think if I was looking for surprises, I would tell you that look at the game that Matthias Farley played, first time starter who was a wide receiver last year. I think our coaches have done a great job of getting that back end of our defense to the point where there’s a lot of confidence so those guys can just tee off and go get the quarterback.

Q. And when you’re plus 9 in the turnover department you’re a lot smarter coach?
Brian Kelly: There’s no question. My wife even talks to me when I’m plus 9, which didn’t happen much last year. (Laughter.)

Q. Your defense obviously played well before tonight, but after the last two years what does it do for them to play this well against a guy like Denard Robinson?
Brian Kelly: Yeah, I think it’s the next step in knowing that they can look, when you limit Michigan and Michigan State to no touchdowns, the significance is it’s not just about one player. It’s 11 players bought into a scheme. It’s more than 11 as you know in terms of the depth of guys that we’re playing. They have a lot of confidence in each other. They have great confidence in their teammates and their coaches, and we know that we can plug in the next man in and they’re going to get the job done.

I mean, that’s a great feeling to have when you know your defense is playing at that level.

Notre Dame Senior Linebacker Manti Te’o

Q. Are you guys starting to believe in yourselves now?
Manti Te’o: I mean, we’ve always believed that. If you don’t believe you can do something great, you’re not going to do it. We understand that we have to have confidence, but at the same time we have to back that up with hard work and practice and dedication and sacrifice. I think with this team, we understand that. We have to have a confidence about ourselves but also know ourselves enough to come to work every day and get better.

Q. Being 4 0 heading into the bye week, how does that feel?
Manti Te’o: It feels great. It feels great to be 4 0, especially going into a bye week, guys can heal up and just start to prepare for Miami. Miami is a good team, so we have a good amount of time to prepare for them.

Q. Can you describe the atmosphere and emotion tonight?
Manti Te’o: Man, I said it before: Four years ago when I decided to come here, I didn’t know why. It’s starting to unveil itself why, why I felt that I was told to come here. I can’t thank my team enough. I can’t thank the students and just the fan base around the world, Notre Dame and non Notre Dame fans. They’ve been really great.

You know, it’s just very humbling for me and my family, and I appreciate all the love and support that my family and my girlfriend’s family has been getting.

Q. What did you make of Spond tonight? One of his best performances?
Manti Te’o: It was great, another confidence booster for him. He’s always a guy that doesn’t say much, he just comes to work every day and gets better, and he’s just constantly getting better. He’s always looking to get better, and the better he gets the better our defense is going to be.

Q. (Inaudible.)
Manti Te’o: I mean, every position is important, and his position, it’s difficult. He’s out in space sometimes, sometimes he’s attached to the box. You have to be versatile and be able to do multiple jobs, and Danny is a hard worker, he’s a very smart player, and he comes to work every day trying to get better, and it showed tonight.

Q. What did you see on both interceptions?
Manti Te’o: The ball. (Laughter).

Q. Was it really that simple?
Manti Te’o: I mean, I just saw the ball. I was just trying to get to the ball. I just tried to do whatever it took to help my team win, and I’m just glad that I was able to add interceptions to our team stats. I don’t know if that helped us win, but I’m glad we won.

Q. What’s different about this team than when you got here as a freshman?
Manti Te’o: You know, I think we were we work hard. Every team is different. When I came in every team is different. This team is different from last year, and we’re just constantly getting better, and I think the strength of the team is that camaraderie we have, that brotherhood that we demonstrate out there. A lot of teams talk about it, but they don’t it isn’t displayed on the field, and I think this team does a great job in displaying that brotherhood out there on the field day in and day out.

Q. Talk about stopping Robinson out there, what was the key to that?
Manti Te’o: I think the key to stopping such a dynamic player like Denard is you just everybody has to get to him. Denard, he would start running one way, then totally cut back the other way. Everybody has to get to the ball. You have to really emphasize 11 guys to the ball, and I think our coaches have done a great job in stressing the importance of everybody getting to the ball.

Q. How good did it feel to get those?
Manti Te’o: I mean, he’s gotten me the past two years, and total Michigan’s got me three years, so I’m just glad on my last one, on my last hurrah, I was finally able to have something to celebrate about, you know?

Q. You might have already answered this, but two straight weeks without allowing a touchdown. Is this maximizing your potential right now?
Manti Te’o: We know how good we can be. The thing is, with performances like these, after last week’s performance, we saw so many mistakes, so many things we could fix, and that just goes that gives us energy. That gives us energy knowing that we played a really good game, but yet we made a lot of mistakes.

The sky’s the limit for not only this defense but for this team. We’re going to continue to get better and continue to focus on ourselves and focus on the fundamentals and just come to work every day getting better.

Q. Have you ever been part of a pass like that? Have you ever seen anything like that?
Manti Te’o: No, I don’t think so.

Q. Talk about your interceptions. Did you guys see something this year that you were able to get those interceptions?
Manti Te’o: I think our defensive line did an amazing job in getting pressure on him, and whenever you get some pressure on any kind of quarterback and rush his throw and rush his progression, we have to as a defense try and do your job and read your keys and make plays. I’m just glad that our defense came together and we worked together and everybody did their job and put our team in the best position to win.

Q. What does it mean for the defense to have a game like this against a guy like Robinson?
Manti Te’o: I think it says a lot about our defense because Denard is going to continue to be Denard. He’s going to continue to make plays and do what Denard does. We’ve just got to keep getting better, and today was just another step in the right direction.

Q. You said the sky’s the limit for this team. How much more awareness and confidence and belief in that being possible because of what you guys have been able to do?
Manti Te’o: I think for us, like I said, we’ve always believed that we could be great. Slowly but surely these little steps we’re taking, it builds our confidence. But I think the strength of this team is we don’t buy into that hype. We don’t buy into all that stuff. We just do whatever it takes to we’re 4 0 now, and last week we were 3 0, and all we were focusing on was to be 4 0 and now all we’re focusing on is to be 5 0. We approach every week the same, always trying to get better, always focusing on the next opponent. We don’t worry about opponents down the line. I think that’s where we really have helped nurture that feeling that the sky’s the limit for this team.

Q. Is it a source of pride that the defense has become the identity for this team?
Manti Te’o: I mean, I’m excited. That brings a lot of excitement for the defense to make some plays. We’re going to continue to do what it takes to help our team win and help put our offense in the best situations to put points up on the board and just do our best to keep the offense the opponent’s offense out of the end zone.

Q. (Inaudible.)
Manti Te’o: We were just running to the ball. Coach Diaco put is in the best positions to make plays, but at the end of the day everybody has got to get to the ball and combine that with the scheme that we had, it turned out very positive.

Q. Did you guys take anything from Alabama and what they did to Denard?
Manti Te’o: No, no.

Q. Even in your wildest imagination did you dream about not allowing Michigan State and Michigan not to score a touchdown?
Manti Te’o: I think for us we’re trying not to allow any kind of points. I think when your defense is disappointed that they kicked a field goal and made it, that’s when you know, like, dang, we’re going to be good. When they get a good drive in and at the end they kick a field goal and you get to the sideline and everybody is like, man, let’s go, they shouldn’t have got that far, that’s the type of defense that we have. Other guys would be like, yeah, yeah, we held them to a field goal, but this defense is like, come on, man.

Q. Coach talked about this after the game and he’s not that surprised at the pass rush of the front seven but with the progress made on the back end of this defense.
Manti Te’o: Yeah, we have– I think although Slaughter is not physically out there, he is that guy that all the guys turn to. Before the game KeiVarae went up to him and told him, Jamoris, let me know what’s going on, be my eyes out there. So Jamoris is really an intricate part of our defense.

But Zeke and Matthias and Bennett and KeiVarae and all those guys that come in, they have a sense of pride that they get a lot of pressure and they have a sense of pride in saying we’re good, and we’re going to continue to get better and we’re going to put the work in necessary to be a powerful unit of this defense.

Q. Do you know when you’re going home? Do you know that yet?
Manti Te’o: No, not yet, no yet.

Q. The kind of reception you’ve gotten here the last week and a half, how has that been?
Manti Te’o: It’s humbling, it’s really humbling. I love this school. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. He has a lei, too, and that lei for me, represents family. It doesn’t represent me. It represents family, it represents everybody sticking together and everybody realizing what’s important in life, and that’s families sticking together and all this other stuff all this worldly stuff, it’s the same things from an internal perspective, I’m very humbled and I can’t thank my fellow students enough, I can’t thank the ND fans around the world, including non ND fans. I’ve gotten a lot of support from some non ND fans, as well. I’m very humbled and I love everybody, and thank you.

Q. Do you feel like you guys are starting to get to the point where you guys can win games on your own if you have to?
Manti Te’o: I mean, we want to stop offenses from scoring, both scoring touchdowns and kicking field goals. We’ve got some work to do, but we’re heading in that direction.

Q. When you prepared for Denard Robinson this week was there something you saw on film that made you think you could get to him and rattle him?
Manti Te’o: Talking about that, I want to give a big shout out to Nick Fitzpatrick. Better write an article about Nick Fitzpatrick. He was our Denard for the week on our scout team, and he’s one of my good friends, and he did a wonderful job in trying to duplicate what Denard does. He was running all over the field, and he gave us a great look along with the rest of the scout team. Definitely we were prepared. The coaches watched that film and drew up a great scheme to help us win, and the scout team headed by Nick Fitzpatrick really prepared us for today.

Notre Dame Quarterback Tommy Rees

On the last throw to Eifert …
“We had the look we were looking for, and we trusted Eifert to get open and make a play, and he did that, and we completed it.”

On his situation on the team…
“Whatever is asked of me, I am willing to go in and help the team win. From day-to-day, just being a leader, keeping the energy high, and just being a presence on the field and at practices are kind of my goals.”

On the feasibility of a two quarterback system…
“I will let coach handle all of that. He will do what’s best for the team, and we will move forward from there.”

On this year’s win against Michigan vs. last year’s game against Michigan…
“It feels great. Anytime you can get a win during a night game here at Notre Dame Stadium, especially after how last year’s game went, we prepared just like any other game, but this year was different.”

On talking with Everett on the sideline…
“It was good. He was real supportive. He was showing me some things that he could see, and he couldn’t have been more positive.”

On his relationship with Everett…
“It’s really growing. I didn’t know him all that well before spring ball and camp, but he is a great kid, and he has high character. I really enjoy getting to know him, and I think our relationship continues to grow and get better.”

Notre Dame Cornerback Bennett Jackson

On the game in general…
“We just rallied. When the offense needed to lean on us we needed to get the job done. Everybody got amped up, and we looked to one another, and we did what we do. We’re trying to be the best defense in the nation, and we’re going to keep working at it.”

On Michigan’s six turnovers and his interception…
“It was a great defensive performance. Everybody came out focused, prepared the right way, and motivated, and we worked hard. We worked hard throughout this week of practice for this game to perform the way that we did. We looked upon one another, and each person tried to be one-eleventh for the defense, and this night we got the job done.”

On injuries in the secondary…
“It’s terrible to lose somebody for the season for sure, we rally. Our theme is ‘next man in,’ and everybody supports that next guy in. We work, and work, and work them throughout practice, and if you’re good enough to be here, then you are good enough to be on the field, you just have to work hard, and play. I am proud of all of the guys who got in and worked.”

On holding Michigan and Michigan State to no touchdowns…
“It means that we are a good defense, and we are striving to be great. We keep working each day, each week with practice. We are working on becoming the best defense in the nation, and hopefully we will get there.”

Notre Dame Linebacker Danny Spond

On the team…
“The blessings from God have just poured upon me and our team. Four, five weeks ago, however long it’s been, from where I was to where I am now and being 4-0, it’s unbelievable. I just can’t describe it.”

On being in the hospital…
“At that time I didn’t know what to think, I just wanted to be as healthy as I could and be a normal college kid again, and be a functioning human. Once things started working again, I started getting everything back step by step. I am working my position right into this role again and here we are.”

On Manti’s performance…
“He’s fun to watch. He’s our leader, he’s our inspiration and we are playing for him, there’s no doubt about that. “

Notre Dame Safety Zeke Motta

On how the defense slowed down Michigan…
“Just getting after it every play. Being on top of our business. Going about it with a confident swagger, I guess you would say. Everybody played great. The young defensive backs showed they have the capability to rise up in games like this. Bennett [Jackson] obviously had a heck of a game. Everybody played great.”

On whether they had flashbacks of last year…
“I think in the fourth quarter we did because we knew the potential for them to come down and drive. It was obviously something we had on our minds, but we learned from that. I think that gave us even more confidence to do what we do and let our preparation take care of everything on game day.”

Notre Dame Running Back Theo Riddick

On the offensive mentality during the last drive…
“Obviously we had to run the ball. They had two timeouts. We knew what our task was, and we were able to accomplish it.”

On running the ball during the last two drives…
“You have got to run to what you see. They stacked the box. I was basically boxed in… that’s a term that we use. You just got to put your foot in the ground.”

On finally beating Michigan…
“It’s a great game to win. It’s a huge rivalry. Personally, I have been 0-3 against them until tonight. I think this team showed great character, especially the last three minutes to pull it out and keep the ball in our hands.”

On the importance of finishing games…
“It’s very important cause it shows that we can control the ball and the clock, most importantly.”

On the defense’s performance…
“Our defense did phenomenal tonight. They forced Robinson into some tough throws. Tonight, our defense was just better.”

Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke

BRADY HOKE: I thought both football teams played awfully hard. I think one played better when it comes to execution and taking care of the football, and obviously we didn’t do that as a team. We brought 69 guys down here, 115 total on the football team, coaches and everything else, and we all have to do a better job. And that’s where it starts; it starts with me. I need to do a better job of coaching the game of football, and as a staff we will do that. I was proud of the effort that we played with. I thought our defense kept us in the football game. That was a positive. I thought our offensive line with Toussaint running the football some, I think we made some strides there. I think we have a long way to go to win the Big Ten Conference. But I was displeased on when you’re in positions to make plays, you have to make plays. You have to execute. We’ll learn a lot from this.

Q. Did you ever contemplate pulling Denard Robinson?

Q. What did you say to them at halftime? They survived and they were down 10 0 with the turnovers.
BRADY HOKE: Yeah, we had some opportunities in the red zone obviously in the first half to put some points on the board. We had interference penalties that keep a drive of theirs alive twice, and that’s just we’re not playing fundamentally sound enough. But we just talked about what the score was, where we’re at, things that we need to improve on.

Q. What can you take away from tonight’s game as you head into the bye week?
BRADY HOKE: Well, until you really look at the film, I think both our fronts came out and played better than we have in the first three games, and that’s a plus. I think there’s some young guys who are getting better weekly, Joe Bolden I think, and I think the competition we have going on there. There’s a couple of those guys. So I think as we analyze it and look at it and get back to work, it’s still going to come down to little things in the game of football and still going to come down to the fundamentals and how you want to play.

Q. Could you speak to the play call when you did the halfback toss on 1st and goal from the 10?
BRADY HOKE: Yeah, if we get behind the guy and throw the ball a little bit deeper, it’s a pretty good play call.

Q. With the red zone issues, how much of it was Notre Dame, what they did, and how much of it was execution?
BRADY HOKE: Oh, I think it’s always a little bit of both.

Q. Going into the half Denard had four straight picks. What do you tell him at halftime in the locker room?
BRADY HOKE: Well, we always try and go to the next play. I mean, you have to. The guy has done a pretty dog gone good job being a quarterback at Michigan and made some good throws in the first half. You know, just better decision making and move forward. What are you going to do, sit there and talk about each one of them? You’ve got to move forward.

Q. I think you got two field goals out of five trips to the red zone. What can you do this week and the next two weeks to work on red zone efficiency?
BRADY HOKE: Score touchdowns.

Q. How do you do that?
BRADY HOKE: How do you do that? You keep working your red zone offense, you keep working knocking holes in the defense, you keep running crisp routes, you keep throwing the ball on target.

Michigan Wide Receiver Roy Roundtree

On losing to Notre Dame…
“It’s a bad feeling right now and I’m pretty sure the guys feel it also. It’s just something we’ve got to learn from. We’ve got to finish games and what we showed today was not Michigan football.”

On what he thought happened in the first half…
“I’m really not sure. We just tried to stay into the game. It was the whole team – just seeing the mistakes we were showing out there. It’s something we’ve got to jump back from.”

On his perspective of Denard Robinson’s four interceptions…
“I really can’t be the quarterback. I don’t know what is going through his mind because he is the quarterback. But the defenses, they came at us all different kind of ways. We tried to tell them, ‘They’re playing this type of coverage,’ but they mix it up a lot. You’ve got to give credit to Notre Dame.”

On what the team will focus on going into their bye week…
“We’re going to learn from our mistakes tonight. We’ve got film tomorrow so we’ll be really focused on what we’ve got for Purdue. “

Michigan Quarterback Denard Robinson

On how he felt about the game…
“I forced a lot of throws, and I want to say sorry to everybody who watches football, who watches Michigan football and who follows Michigan football. I want to say sorry. It won’t happen anymore. I’m going to be accountable for the rest of the season.”

On the general performance of the team…
“We played poorly but they did play good. We’ve got to step it up.”

On his personal performance…
“This is the most disappointed I’ve ever been in myself. In my 22 years of living this is the most disappointed I’ve ever been in myself.”

On whether this was the worst game of his career…
“This was the worst game of my career and I’m trying to move forward from it.”

On the team moral in the 4th quarter…
“We are never going to give up. You’ll never see our team out there give up. We’re going to keep fighting. Every time we get the chance to step on the field we’re going to keep fighting. We never stop.”

Michigan Safety Jordan Kovacs

On how Denard’s interceptions affected the game…
“I play defense. I’m not here to talk about the offense. Denard is going to be just fine.”

On whether Tommy Rees was harder to defend…
“We just bit ourselves in the butt with penalties down the stretch. We just didn’t play well enough defensively to win.”

On defensive improvement throughout the game…
“We made some strides in some areas, but at the end of the day we didn’t play well enough to win.”

On what the defense struggled with…
“We gave up big plays at times when we needed big stops, and we didn’t get off the field when we needed to.”

Michigan Offensive Tackle Taylor Lewan

On sensing frustration in Denard Robinson…
“Absolutely not. No matter what was happening in the game he kept his composure the whole time. That’s one of the reasons why he’s our captain. He’s a leader on this team.”

On what the team was saying on the sidelines to regroup…
“There was nothing to say. We know what we have to do. We have to play Michigan football. We have to reestablish the line of scrimmage. That’s something we did in the second half and hopefully we continue to do that.”

On what he takes from this game…
“This team’s got a lot of character. I think we learned a lot. We learned in the second half. That’s how you play Michigan football. That’s how this offensive line needs to play Michigan football.”