alternate headline: man does job
Can you just share what your message to the team was after this tough loss?
“That was for the team, not for public consumption.”
Obviously they’re a big read-option team. What were they doing, and why did you think your defense struggled so much to stop the run today?
“Yeah, they’re very good and they got after us running the football and I think the number one thing was we weren’t tackling well enough.”
Any thoughts on Jake Rudock having to end the regular season on the sidelines?
“Uh, it’s what happened. Went down on his shoulder. I don’t know how serious it is. AC to the left shoulder.”
Could you just talk about some of the improvements throughout the season from when you took over in fall camp to this point now? Obviously this isn’t the result you were looking for, but 9-3 on your first year.
“Well, yeah. We’ve talked about it many times. Very proud of the team: the way they’ve worked, the way they’ve progressed, and we’ll just stay at that. Closed quite a bit of ground. Still more ground to close on, but knowing our team they’ll stay with it.”
You talked about putting steel in your spine from previous losses. Is that what this is more of, especially against a rival like Ohio State?
“Well, we got beat. Didn’t play well enough in the game to win it, but we’re gonna regroup, come back with the same drive and aspirations that we’ve had: win the next game.”
You said earlier in the week that you thought Jabrill was a really good running back, and obviously we saw more of him. Were we going to see more of him used in the second half if the game had been a little bit tighter?
“Uh, yeah, he was in the second half.”
[Hit THE JUMP to see my question go over as successfully as the rest]
In a game that’s had a couple big-time special teams plays, how important is John [Baxter] in a game like this? What has he done for the program special teams-wise?
“Yeah, I think obviously every game special teams is a huge part of it. Not just the big momentum plays that anyone can see, but there are a lot of hidden plays in a game that change field position and those sorts of things that are always big.”
Talk about their offense and the challenges it presents.
“They’ve got great athletes at all positions. They’re a cohesive unit. The same starters have really been playing all year long; they’ve been able to stay healthy. There are dangerous guys with the ball in their hand and they do a great job as coaches of getting those guys the ball in their hands and trying to get it to them in space, so it’s a really tough team to prepare for.”
Are you able to use the film against Michigan State or was the weather such a changing factor that you throw that tape out?
“Yeah I mean, we evaluate all the games. Try and get a handle on what they did throughout the season including the Michigan State game, understanding that weather obviously probably affected or played a part in that somehow. It’s just- as most teams do, you sit there and you evaluate the whole season and look at things situationally and what they’re trying to do.”
There were some reports this morning that you interviewed for the Maryland job. Is that a job you’re interested in?
“It’s- this week is so important to our guys. My 100% focus is on this game and our players. That’s what this profession is all about. You’ve got to make sure that you’re taking care of your job and the job you have week in and week out because it’s a tough task, especially with this team this week.”
[After THE JUMP: Urban planning]
Looking at what John Baxter’s done on special teams this year, obviously you guys opened against Northwestern with that kickoff. What has he brought to special teams for you guys?
“John’s done a great job. He’s a really detail oriented coach and puts guys in great position. Everywhere he’s been he’s always been top quality on special teams. There’s three phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams so you’ve got to be clicking on all three to have a good football team.”
Jim says the approach is going to be the same as any other game in terms of preparation and how you go about things, but is there a little extra energy in the building this week?
“I mean, anytime you’re getting ready to play any game you’re excited. I think there’s a lot of things going on. Everybody’s thankful for Thanksgiving; their families are coming to town. We’re going to get a loaded stadium. But in terms of preparation, this is just a normal week for us. We’ve got our next opponent and we’re trying to get these guys read to go and perform at a high level.”
Does having gone against a really good pass rush last week help you in any way in preparation in being able to look at what you did against them?
“Yeah, that’s- I think the last couple weeks we’ve had good pass rushers. That helps us quite a bit, just helps us in preparation for that. And being in those hostile environments like Penn State’s a loud place, very good rushers- I think they led the nation in sacks. So, I think confidence level will be up because of that. When you’re performing at a high level it makes you feel good, makes you feel that you’re doing a good job at it.”
[After THE JUMP: How to make your offense dimensional]
Joe Bolden, Kyle Kalis,and Willie Henry
When Michigan State won on Saturday, how did that change your feelings toward The Game and what this matchup might mean?
WH: “Personally for me it didn’t because this is the biggest rivalry in college football, in my opinion. They’re going to go out there and give it their all. We’re going to control what we can control, so we’re going to go out there and play Michigan football Saturday.”
KK: “Yeah, I have to agree. You know, the whole year it’s really just been us controlling our own destiny. It’s going to be up to us having a great week of practice preparing for the game. They’re going to come out hard like they always do. Yeah, doesn’t affect anything for me.”
Joe, you’re a senior. You’re from Ohio. Is there really anything else to say this week?
“Not really, no.”
Is this a game you’ve been waiting for?
“Yeah, [for] four years, you could say. Since I committed.”
Considering you’re all from Ohio, what does this mean for your family and your friends having to deal with both sides of the rivalry?
KK: “There’s definitely some conflict, but it’s all good. This is the best rivalry game in college football. No doubt in my mind, and I know I’m not the only one who thinks that. It’s going to be fun. We’ve all been waiting for it. Team’s been waiting for it. Both teams are going to come out hard, guns blazing, not holding anything back, and it’s going to be a good one.”
Willie, you guys made a slight schematic change going into the game with Penn State on Saturday: you put four traditional down linemen in the game. When did you make that decision, and how do you think that approach worked this weekend?
“That was all coach Durkin and the coaching staff. They come in every week and they’re scheming up something different to help the defense and the team to put us in a better situation to win games. They thought going down to a traditional 4-3 look was better for the team; I’m all for it. It was more what was best for the team and a schematic advantage for Penn State.”
How do you think you guys did with it?
“I think we did well. I congratulate the D-line. I felt like we put a lot of pressure on Hackenberg during the game and tried to keep pressure and get to him with a four-man rush.”
[More after THE JUMP]
News Bullets and Other Items:
Jehu Chesson is working through something. Harbaugh expects him to play, but his medical status will be evaluated again today.
Derrick Green is also working through something and will be evaluated today.
Bryan Mone hasn’t been ruled out for Saturday, but Harbaugh wouldn’t say whether he’s been practicing, instead saying he’s been running, working, and healing.
Peppers at RB is something they might use more in year two. He said next season might “get a little crazy.”
Grant Newsome is the backup tackle and David Dawson is the backup guard/center
The snow reminds Harbaugh of 1969, when Bo called the players in on Monday morning to shovel the practice field. A similarly snowy practice field is the only reason he’s thinking of the ‘69 team, though.
First opportunity you get to coach in this big game, this big rivalry. How much are you looking forward to Saturday?
“Very much looking forward especially to today, gathering with the team and starting our preparations.”
Can I ask you about Jake Rudock? When you were in San Francisco, was he on the board as a potential NFL prospect and are you hearing from NFL teams from scouts and what not asking more about him?
“You don’t call that ‘the board’ until somebody’s in their last year of eligibility.”
What about the second part?
“I would think he would be.”
Have NFL scouts talked to you about him this year?
“I really haven’t talked to many NFL scouts this season.”
In Bo’s last press conference with us he said he did something to prepare for Ohio State every day. Is that something that you’ve been following as well?
“You know exactly how we’ve been trying to go about things. We’ve been trying to be better today than we were yesterday, [and] we’re trying to be better tomorrow than we were today. That’s our approach.”
As a player, it seemed like you guys, Michigan players, treated the Ohio State game differently. Do you not anticipate treating it differently as a coach?
“Uh…I have no frame of reference for what you’re referring to. We treated it differently when I was a player?”
Yeah, just circled it, the game, the rivalry game, doing something each week for it, your guarantee and stuff like that.
“Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t really know where you’re coming from. Sorry.”
[After THE JUMP: Jake Rudock gets upgraded from tough as a two-dollar steak to hard as hen’s teeth]
Chris Wormley, James Ross, and Taco Charlton
Harbaugh was just talking about how you guys played so well, especially on the defensive line. Was it a personal challenge after last week? Did he say something to you? Did you talk about it internally about wanting to prove something this week?
TC: “Personally, our defensive line always feels like we have something to prove when we go that way every week with that mindset. We know a lot of the game depends on how we play, and we felt like the past couple weeks we’ve been slacking, so it was something that we internally knew we had to pick up and something coach Mattison preaches to us every day.”
Could you guys tell that Hackenberg was pretty beat up at the end? Seems like you guys got to him quite a bit.
CW: “Yeah, you could tell he was, towards the end of the fourth quarter, he was flinching at the end of his throws, kind of trying to duck out of the way. That was the goal all along was to get to the quarterback and apply pressure to him.”
James, if you could talk about the toughness this team has shown on the road. It’s tough to come through the whole Big Ten season and not lose on the road.
“This team is tremendously tough. We rely on each other and we’re a band of brothers when we go on the road, and we know if you give us an inch like you’ve seen in the Minnesota game we’re going to put the game on the defense’s shoulders. We’re going to do everything we can do to hold it out, and that’s everything we can do and I trust these boys to a T and they prove it every time we get on the field.”
If Taco and Chris could weigh in also.
CW: “What was the question again?”
Why you guys have been so successful on the road, not losing a conference road game.
CW: “I think it’s a mindset, especially when you’re not at home and you don’t have the crowd cheering you on every play. It’s just a mindset, and like Biggs said, we’re a tough team. We have that mentality each and every week, especially when we go on the road.”
TC: “The biggest thing I can attest to is what Biggs said also: we’re a band of brothers. We stick together. We go to a place like this, especially Penn State, it’s a hostile environment but we know together if we play like a team it doesn’t matter what the environment is. Every football field’s the same and that’s all that counts. Nothing changes about that.”
[Hit THE JUMP for more from Wormley, Ross, and Charlton]