ANN ARBOR - Michigan coach Lloyd Carr was a bit defensive about his defense, but he certainly wasn't rankled about the preseason rankings.
Carr addressed the Wolverines' defensive collapse last season, the early praise that's been heaped on his team this year and a myriad of other topics at media day on Monday.
Although Michigan went 9-3 and claimed a share of the Big Ten championship last season, the defense allowed a school-record 279 points. It gave up 37 points to both Ohio State and Texas in season-ending losses. Both teams' quarterbacks ran roughshod over the defense.
"We'd like to tackle the quarterback," Carr said, following a long pause after being asked how the defense could improve. "Traditionally here, we've taken great pride in the way we play defense. Where we have failed is that we have given up too many big plays. When you give up big plays, it makes it difficult to win. Our major focus is to make people earn it and do a great job against the running game. From there, we've got a chance to win.
"The spread offense creates problems," he said. "When you use the quarterback, really in many instances like a tailback, and yet you have four wide receivers and you spread the defense out, you're going to give up some yardage, you're going to give up some points."
Many believe Michigan will not struggle to score points this season despite the loss of All-American wideout Braylon Edwards. The Wolverines, who return sophomore quarterback Chad Henne and sophomore running back Mike Hart, are ranked anywhere from third to eighth in the country in seven preseason polls. They were ranked fourth in Friday's USA Today coaches poll.
"Anytime you are ranked high, it is a compliment to your players and your program," Carr said. "It is challenging. But we have our goals and they can't be any higher than anyone else's goals."
Carr said he tells his players not to worry about the expectations and to focus on their individual roles.
"As you can see from the past few years, it doesn't matter what you are ranked in the beginning," said senior offensive lineman Matt Lentz. "It is nice to be considered like that, but what you do at the end is what really matters."
POSITION MOVES: Carr said two players have changed positions. Sophomore Will Paul, a 260-pounder who played on the defensive line, has moved to fullback. Redshirt freshman Morgan Trent, who Carr said may be the fastest player on the team, has moved from wide receiver to cornerback.
Carr said guard Rueben Riley could be moved to center to replace departed All-American David Baas.
"There is one thing that would help me sleep better than anything else and that would be to know who our center is going to be," Carr said.
Fan Day: The team will hold its annual preseason autograph session on Saturday, Aug. 27, at Michigan Stadium from 10:30 until noon. The Fan Day event is separate from the media event due to construction at the stadium.