UM coach Al Golden spoke with reporters for nearly 20 minutes Tuesday on a tele conference. Here's what he talked about:
> Do you plan to take the quarterback competition beyond this week and into the Ohio State week or will it be decided before then?
"We'll take a look at it here in this off week and go from there. We'll determine that as we see fit. We'll allow those guys to compete here Thursday, Friday, Saturday and then figure it out."
> Will the Maryland game also be taken into consideration when you pick a starting quarterback or do you start fresh?
"We're evaluating everything. We need to improve our team here the next three days before we can even start thinking about Ohio State. Clearly we'll have a different team this week than we did last week. We have to get some guys that have been getting reps some reps and go back from there."
> The defense appeared to settle in after a rough first quarter and played well in the red zone. Was it guys simply adjusting?
"I think it's a function of we had 12 guys in the game that really hadn't played for us or ever had a start. And we had two guys in JoJo and Marcus Robinson playing a position they hadn't played all camp. There was a lot of moving parts there. There was a lot of fires we were trying to put out. And clearly the pace got us early in terms of just not reacting and settling in. Once we settled in... If you had said to me that they were only going to score one touchdown against our defense I would say that's great. I mean that's what we needed in this game given the amount of guys we were missing on that side of the ball. Clearly some of the distractions on that side of the ball. But we didn't play well as a team, didn't protect the ball well enough on offense to do that. And clearly we didn't get off the field well enough on defense. On third down we didn't make them punt. That's clearly on the defensive side."
> Can you explained what happened on the illegal formation that wiped out Lamar Miller's run to the three-yard line in the fourth quarter?
"We had a player that misaligned. It's as simple as that. Just a critical, critical error in a part of the game where that could win the game. You're talking about a 16-play, nine minute drive. Let's say it takes two or three more downs to get in from where that run ended up, you're talking about not much more time left on the clock and a six or seven point lead at that point."
> How do you think Stephen Morris played?
"The positives were that he made a lot of good throws. He stepped and threw, made a lot of good throws. He was 19 for 28. From that standpoint you can see what he's capable of doing. The negatives were a bad interception [returned for a touchdown], which wasn't all his fault. We didn't run the route the way we needed to run it at a critical time. We fumbled the ball within field goal range, that's three points there which could be the difference in the game. Just too many operational things that the quarterback is responsible for that we need to improve. Clearly, a lot of those situations we got in either from an operational standpoint or confusion coming out of the huddle we have to get cleared up. That has got to come from the quarterback position. There's no other way to do that. We need to improve as a team, and certainly Stephen does in that area as well."
> What are you hoping to see Thursday through Saturday from your quarterbacks to determine who starts that maybe you didn't see in camp?
"It wasn't my choice that the quarterback competition ended two weeks ago, even before our second scrimmage. We had to completely go a different direction than we wanted to, had to remove Jacory [Harris] from it prematurely. I wanted them to at least get a chance to compete and win [the job] on the field. Certainly Spencer [Whipple] then got all the second reps. That's a lot of time invested in one of the two guys you think is going to be a starter and you have to actually throw it out the window. We'll evaluate it here tonight some more. We didn't get back till 5:30 [in the morning]. I haven't even sat down and talked to the staff yet. I've watched it with both sides, but in terms of sitting down with the staff and choosing personnel, that's something we have yet to do today."
> Lamar Miller got 18 carries. Is that more or less what he's capable of or do you want him to touch the ball more?
"We wanted to get him more carries. When you have penalties you're in a lot more second and longs and third and longs than you want to be in. So by virtue of that you can't run the ball or stay with the plan that you had. He had four returns for 100 yards. He had two catches out of the backfield for minimal yards and 18 carries. We're trying to get his plays from scrimmage, touches up to 25 between receiving and rushing. We got that at 20. We would like to get that a little bit more, but you have to stay on schedule to do that. And clearly turnovers and penalties are a big part of that."
> How did the defensive line perform and how much does it help to get Marcus Foston and Adewale Ojomo back this week?
"It's going to help a lot. Clearly Olsen Pierre is playing his first game, [Anthony] Chickillo is playing his first game, Darius Smith is playing his first game. [Jalen] Grimble is playing his first game. There's a lot of guys there that didn't have any college experience that we were playing with at those positions. That was going to be a difficult chore prior to the suspensions. We knew what we were up against, didn't get the push we needed to get. We didn't get the get-off that we needed to get. Any criticism in that realm of the game is absolutely accurate. We missed some opportunities to get the quarterback on the ground. We have to do a better job with that. So we need to learn a lot. We need to improve this week before we start getting ready for Ohio State."
> Besides Jacory Harris, if other players had won a starting job before the suspensions do they have to win the starting job all over again?
"Each one of those is going to be determined individually over the next several days. We're just trying to wrap up this game before we move on. We're not even practicing tomorrow so we have a chance to sort that all out as a staff."
> What were some other good things you saw from the team?
"I thought our special teams, Jake (Wieclaw) had a pressure kick there with three minutes to go in the game that gave us the lead which was real good. We returned our kicks out to the 33 and held them to the 21-yard line which was a good exchange for us on special teams. That was Dalton Botts' first experience - he ended up netting 38 [yards]. He didn't crush the ball but had good height on it which is what we needed against a good returner. And we protected well there. From that standpoint that was good. Clearly we built depth. We're in really good condition. We faced a lot of plays on defense without having to sub as much as we would normally want to. The kids kept competing. And on offense we had a nine-minute drive there in the fourth quarter. Obviously we're in better condition, a nine-minute, 16-play drive. And on defense we only gave up one touchdown. There's going to be some positives here, but clearly too many negatives to overcome as a team. We knew what we had to do in terms of as a team to win this game. We had too many penalties and turnovers to overcome."
> Did you escape the Maryland game injury free?
"I think so. We'll see. It sounds at this point that we are."
> Did any of the freshmen stand out to you?
"I think Denzel [Perryman] and Anthony Chickillo showed that the moment wasn't too big for them. They both did a real good job. That was really their first [game]. We're playing a lot of freshmen. Those two look like they were fine with the moment as was Phillip Dorsett. Phillip was ready for his opportunity. Hopefully that's something they won't be overwhelmed in terms of the settings. Clearly we built some depth with some of the young guys."
> Can you critique the cornerback play?
"I think it got better as the game went on. Too many quick screens out there that we didn't really tackle well, defeat blocks well - both Brandon [McGee] and Mike Williams and Lee Chambers, we can do a better job there. Other than the deep one Brandon gave up I thought our coverage was okay. As a unit we just gave up too many yards. We were good in the red zone, just didn't get off the field on third down."
> How did the offensive line perform?
"Not up to our standards. Figs [Joel Figueroa] is over at left tackle now. From our standpoint with the experience we have it didn't equate. Some of that was the penalties and just getting out of whack. What I mean by that: If you're not staying on schedule you're easier to hunt from the other team's standpoint. We got off schedule quite a bit because of our penalties and our operation. We just made too many errors up front at tight end and offensive line. Hopefully we can settle in and learn from this. But not what we needed from our offensive line at this point."
> Can you assess how Joel Figueroa played at left tackle?
"He's just not filling in. Figs is a good player. Like all the offensive lineman he made some mental errors. We have to address it as an offensive unit, offensive line group. We had way too many mental errors. Figs was certainly part of that as well. We need to really improve going into this next game."
> Maurice Hagens had a pick fourth down conversion. Can you speak on that and his overall performance?
"Maurice, he did a really good job blocking for us and a really unselfish player. He made some really good plays for us, did a good job with the short yardage conversions, most particularly the fourth and one basically with the game on the line. We were just trying to keep the ball there and convert because clearly we weren't stopping them like we would want to on defense. We thought it was better to go for it there and Maurice fortunately made us right in that situation."
> With all the scrambling you had to do in a week or so with the suspensions how hard is it to hang on to that no excuses mentality?
"We're going to hang onto it. Bottom line, we had enough talent at the game to win. We weren't going to win that game by one-third or two-thirds of the operation hitting. The only way we were going to win that game was if all three [offense, defense and special teams] hit. The offenses needed to help the defense. To be honest, special teams was the only one of the three that executed the way we needed to win. That's the bottom line. It wasn't a great team effort. There were ebbs and flows in the game where we played well, where we settled down. I mentioned the red zone defense before. I mentioned the special teams before. Clearly there were some big plays on offense, some good throws and some big runs. But we just didn't operate well enough. The thing that's bothering me the most is the penalties and turnovers. We have got to get those corrected if we want to run the type of offense we want to run."
> The 499 yards allowed on defense, how does that get corrected?
"It gets fixed clearly with six guys returning and then two other guys [back] from injuries. You're talking a minimum of eight guys returning to the defense that have played a considerable amount of football for us. That will be part of it. The other part is continuing to improve. We still have a lot of guys that played for us that either had not started or had not played. Mike Williams, Brandon McGee, Jimmy Gaines, Lee Chambers, Darius Smith, AJ Highsmith. So, there were a lot of guys on the field that had not started at their position or had not played. What we need to do is settle in over the next three days, improve our defense, improve our team. We can't make excuses, but at the end of the day we let up too many yards and didn't get off the field enough on third down and that's something we have to get fixed period."