We'll have a brief scouting report on Michigan on this space Friday, Sept. 24 at 3 p.m. For now, here is a transcript that includes highlights of BG football coach Dave Clawson’s press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 22 …
On the win over Marshall at Doyt Perry Stadium: “It was a great atmosphere. … I especially want to thank our fans – especially our students – for a great turnout. When we took the field and saw that many people in the stands who were that loud and that engaged in the game for four quarters, it was a tremendous boost to our football team.
“We can now talk about Michigan. I remember one of the television stations asked me during a pre-season practice if we were getting ready for Michigan. I guess we’re getting ready for every game at that point.
“I told the team we’re going to take the approach that this is a once-a-year shot on a very, very big stage. We need to make the most of our opportunity.
“With any great opportunity there usually is a challenge, and Michigan is an excellent football team. They’re undefeated, and I think coach [Rich] Rodriguez has a quarterback who can run his offense the way he wants it to be run.
“Michigan now has a quarterback [Denard Robinson] that is extremely elusive, appears to be very tough and physical, and has the ability to make people miss. What’s most impressive is the throws he’s making; he’s completing 70 percent of his passes, he’s very accurate – he has only one interception – and his arm strength is very impressive. He makes the NFL throw – the throw from the one hash to the other sideline.
“They are difficult to defend. It’s like defending a two-back run game out of one-back sets. That creates a lot of defensive dilemmas.
"Defensively, I know they struggled last week, but against Notre Dame if they don’t give up some long plays that’s a more comfortable game. They have some big, strong, physical guys. It starts with [nose tackle Mark] Martin, a guy who really sets the point for many of their sets. They have linebackers who can run and who make them a good football team.”
On the quarterback situation: “Matt Schilz will not play
this week against Michigan, and [beyond this week] we’re wait and see. I’m not
sure when we’re going to get him back. We’d love to get him back for Buffalo,
but at this point we’re not sure.”
On whether Trent Hurley will redshirt: “Here’s exactly where we are, and it’s a situation similar to last year: Last year Tyler Sheehan was our clear No. 1 quarterback, and Matt Schilz clearly won the back-up quarterback job. But we didn’t want Matt Schilz to play the last five or six snaps of a game and lose a whole year of eligibility. So we got Aaron Pankratz ready as the short-term No. 2 and Matt was the long-term No. 2. If Tyler had been hurt early in the year, we probably would have played Matt.
“This year a clear No. 2 never emerged. At the end of camp the issue wasn’t who was our starter, it was who was our back-up. The issue [at No. 2] was between Trent and Aaron. At times I thought Trent was ahead, and at times I thought Aaron was ahead.
“We’ve been giving both of them reps with the offense this week, and I’ve told both of them that they are competing to be the starting quarterback this week. The nature of Matt’s injury is that I don’t know if [he will be out] one week, two weeks or three weeks. But trying to save a guy’s red-shirt year isn’t as important as winning football games.
“You have to adjust the offense a little bit, but it’s not as if we have one quarterback who’s a drop-back passer and another who’s a sprint option quarterback. Our quarterbacks were recruited to run the offense we run, so philosophically there doesn’t need to be a major change in what we want to do. And it’s not like you’re benching a senior to play a freshman. If you look at us on film, we’re not doing nearly the amount of stuff we were doing a year ago with Tyler [Sheehan] and Freddie [Barnes]. Is there an adjustment? Yes, but it’s not major.”
When will BG decide on a quarterback? “I don’t know if it’s fair to the quarterbacks to tell them Friday night. But I’ve always said that you don’t make a decision just for the convenience of having the decision made.
“We’ll let them practice, and we’ll evaluate all of the
practices. If it’s clear, we’ll make a decision. But if it’s not, we’re not in
a rush to make a bad decision.”
How do you simulate the play of Michigan QB Denard Robinson in practice: “Yeah, I’ve been playing scout team quarterback. I’ve been giving [the defense] the look. [Laughs] Caleb Watkins played ‘look team’ quarterback for us. He’s a running quarterback and he gave us a good look. But that is hard to duplicate because of the speed [Robinson] is doing it at.
"Michigan fans won’t appreciate this, but when I was the coach at Richmond in 2007, we played Appalachian State in the semifinals of the I-AA playoffs. Appalachian State had a quarterback by the name of Armanti Edwards. You can look it up, but it wasn’t a great night for the Richmond Spiders.”
Note: Edwards ran for 313 yards and four TDs while throwing
for 182 yards and three more scores to lead the Mountaineers to a 55-35 win
over Richmond. Why would Michigan fans not appreciate this? Edwards threw for
227 yards and three scores while running for 62 yards and another TD in
Appalachian State’s opener, a 34-32 win at Michigan.
Should the Falcons gain confidence from Massachusetts playing Michigan close? “I told our guys that our confidence can’t be based on what another team did. It has to be based on what we can do. People want to say, “UMass,” but I coached in their league for several years. It’s not an accident that that league won the national title the last few years in a row.”
Will the environment be a factor? “Our guys get excited to play in front of any crowd. Now, I can’t tell you our guys are more excited to play in front of 110,000 as opposed to 20,000 here (at Doyt Perry Stadium). When we have those 20,000 wearing orange and with their noisemakers, that’s a huge, huge positive.
“Now our players are very excited about the challenge. How
many people in life get to perform in front of 110,000 people? This is the only
opportunity our guys will get to do that. If they’re not excited about it – or ready
to take advantage of the opportunity they have – nothing is going to wake them
How surprised have you been at the play of Kamar Jorden? “Our expectation was that he would do this. What was frustrating was that he wasn’t able to do this in the spring. In the spring I think Kamar took a little of what Freddie did for granted. To Kamar’s credit, he had a great summer and a great camp, and he put himself in a position to do this.
“Right now he’s getting a chance to make plays, and for the most part he has made them. He is very skilled and very talented.
“His challenge is going to be to sustain it. The cat’s out of the bag now: people see the film, and they see how many catches he has. The amazing thing about Freddie last year was that everybody saw that and Freddie still produced; that’s Kamar’s challenge. He needs to elevate his game to have the same production against more difficult coverages.”
How can you limit the bulletin board material or “wow” factor of playing in Michigan Stadium? “If you can [tell me how to] control 110 18-to-22 year olds, I’m all ears. Games like this are a great challenge, but you have to have fun. We’re going to play in the biggest stadium in the country against a great team, but we want this to be a positive experience for our program.
“It’s no different than playing music during practice. I’m in shock that I allow music to be played in practice. If you would have done that 20 years ago you would have been kicked out of the coaching fraternity. We’re in fall camp and practice is dragging, and when we turn on some music we start practicing better.
“You want your players to enjoy this – you want it to be
fun. There’s a lot of work involved, and our players know that. They’re in here
lifting, getting treatment and watching film, but if it’s not fun they stop
getting better. We want them to enjoy the experience.”
Here are quotes from senior LB Eugene “Champ” Fells
What’s the team’s feeling coming into the Michigan game? “It’s
through the roof. A lot of people have been talking about this game, and it has
been in the back of everybody’s mind. Everybody lives for an opportunity like
“I had a dream about playing at Michigan Stadium – and it turned out very well. I hope it turns out that well on Saturday.”
How do you stop Denard Robinson? “We have to do what we do. The biggest thing is to tackle [well]. If we can keep him from getting into the open field [we’ll be OK]. I’m not one to talk trash, but he is hyped up. We hope we can shock the world.
“We know a lot of people don’t think we’re going to do well in this game, but we think the coaches have a good game plan. We’re going to execute, fly around and try to make plays.”