So in improvement week, how’d the guys do?
“Really good. It was a great week. Guys really worked hard, got better fundamentally. Just, I mean, great to go out and play the game of football and get better at it, you know? Really, we’re working hard trying to get better. Really had great focus, want-to. Really pleased with the young guys.”
Do you like the future of this offensive line?
“I do. I really do. It’s only going to get better. How do you get better at football? You play football. We do that here.”
Speaking of getting better, can you talk about the jump that you’ve seen Juwann Bushell-Beatty take in the time that he’s been in here?
“He’s done a great job. It really started with Juwann in the weight room with Kevin Tolbert and his staff. He’s really changed his body, and it’s really important to him. He takes pride in his work to be good. He’s really got good foot-turnover speed. He’s playing with strength, and that comes from the weight room work that he’s had. He’s just done a really, really nice job. Progressed very nicely. Juwann is a very good person that wants to be good at whatever he puts his hands on, so he’s got a great attitude.”
What do you see players that are playing at this level for the first time and really getting thrown in there, where do they gain the most the soonest?
“Just, as I mentioned earlier before, just getting game reps and practice reps. As many reps as you can get playing the game of football and seeing different looks and being quick on your feet, you really become a better football player.”
Did you see a jump from getting thrown into the Wisconsin game to how he played in almost a full Rutgers game?
“Yeah, when he came off the bench against Wisconsin there was not a big letdown. Your concern, you know, first time stepping in in a game, but he did an outstanding job coming off the bench, and then he did better in the Rutgers game. He just keeps progressing, keeps getting better, which is really nice.”
[After THE JUMP: keeping backs fresh, the ways the offense doesn’t change when Peppers is in, and a young-guys update]
News bullets and other items:
Devin Bush Jr. is acclimating himself well at LB. Sounds like he could step in with little drop off right now.
Kenny Allen would have kicked FGs at Rutgers, but the competition is still ongoing. No decision has been made this week since it’s just Wednesday.
Partridge added that the issues Allen has had have been mechanical, as it’s difficult to adjust your swing plan when you’re doing three different things.
Quinn Nordin’s healthy enough to participate in the kicking competition
I highly recommend reading what Partirdge had to say about Peppers’ attention to detail and drive, as well as his summation of the program’s culture.
Your thoughts on Jabrill’s [punt] return? There was an awful late flag that came in there. What did you see on that play?
“Phenomenal play by Jabrill, obviously. Kind of jumped in the air and then spun and ducked somebody at the same time, so phenomenal play. Questionable. Questionable. But, you know what, it happens. We’ve got to be real careful. I tell those guys all the time, let’s just get him to the dance. Get on your blocks as long as possible and just know if it’s ever questionable peel off and go find somebody else and let him make a move. We’ve got a phenomenal player back there, so we’ve got to get him the ability to make a play. Frustrating that we didn’t finish it, but we’ve got to learn from it and move on.”
Several of the veterans had some downtime last week. What did the kickers do? Were they going right along?
“Yeah, they continued to work, but we had to be smart and give them some downtime, too. We scheduled their kicking early in the week and then the young guys continued to work throughout the week, improvement week, just like the rest of the players.”
Coach said the competition’s always ongoing, but is it maybe a little bit more settled than it was coming out of the game before Rutgers?
“No, I don’t think it’s ever going to be settled here. I think we’re always going to compete and challenge those guys, and they know they have to perform at a high level or there’s going to be someone ready to perform. We’re still competing. About equal reps and keep working. About equal reps for the next few weeks.”
You can evaluate it in practice, but if they’re not kicking in a game, even the Rutgers game, is it hard to simulate what that experience is like?
“Yeah. I mean, of course I’d like to get a try there in a game to have that pressure, but we’ve got to just try to do our best in practice to be ready for the game when it comes. But yeah, of course. There’s nothing like game reps.”
[After THE JUMP: Partridge evaluates Peppers, JBB, what it’s like to work for Harbaugh, and his own coaching]
Kyle Kalis and Mike McCray
Kyle, you guys went back to the knee braces after the Newsome thing. Was that a direct order from the coaches, and would you have done it anyway?
“Me personally, I’ve always worn knee braces but yeah, for everybody else it was kind of a mandatory thing. With Grant’s injury, it’s hard to tell if it would have made a difference, but it can’t hurt you so that’s kind of why we went back to wearing them is for precautionary reasons.”
Mike, you’ve had a pretty successful year kind of quietly. Do you feel like maybe you’re an unsung guy on the team?
“Not really. You know, it’s the whole defense. I feel like we’ve done a great job so far the first six games, and I don’t think about myself getting noticed and things like that because it’s a whole-team thing. So, I really don’t think about it at all.”
Jim had mentioned when he got here you weren’t completely healthy and that he’s seen you come through a lot. Can you walk me through that as far as this time last year and a backup role or maybe not playing to you’re at the forefront now.
“Last year, didn’t play at all. It’s just a lot different now than it was this time last year. I feel a lot better. My spirit, I’m not down about myself of anything like that, so it’s a great time right now.”
MGoQuestion: Kyle, were knee braces optional last year as well or was that something new this year?
“Yeah, they were optional last year as well. Yeah.”
[After THE JUMP: keeping an eye on OSU]
Graham Glasgow started for the Lions. Did you see that, and is there some kind of a similarity between him and Jordan [Glasgow] in terms of temperament; he was just Special Teams Player of the Week.
“Yeah, I mean, they’re brothers. Similar. Very similar, yeah. Similar parents.”
In terms of their temperament and the way they approach the game, is there something there?
“Yeah. All three brothers are really smart guys, good guys, good teammates, good football players. Breed ‘em well in the Glasgow family.”
You guys had the knee braces on the offensive line. Did you guys have a talk about that after Grant [Newsome] got injured or what led to that?
“Yeah, yeah. No longer optional. All linemen are wearing knee braces.”
What is Grant’s status now? Is he out of the hospital and what’s his prognosis at this stage?
“Um…there’s been good progress and he still has more surgeries to go.”
Without specifics, can you talk about your recruiting trips and how you got involved with the chain gain and the homecoming announcement?
“Yeah, I was asked to announce the winner at the homecoming game, and Tatiana Mendez was the winner. It was great to be a part of the activity. Then the chain gang, we needed a guy and was promised a tri-tip steak sandwich at halftime. That was all I needed to hear. That was a lot of fun.”
Can you assess the play of Kalis and the right side of the line?
“He’s really--somebody asked last week how is his intensity and that’s really what he does. That’s his forte. He’s—he brings to the whole offense a great amount of intensity and good physical play. Strength. The lost art of toughness in football. Also, the valuable talent that is toughness and strength. It’s a respected quality.”
[Hit THE JUMP for more]
Can you assess Wilton’s play through five games?
“He’s doing a nice job. He’s making really good decisions, which is obviously the first thing you look for in a guy who’s in his first year starting. Hasn’t turned the ball over very much at all, so that’s exciting. Has found ways to complete balls—he’s over 64% or so—and really good touchdown:interception ratio, and has managed the game really well. So, so far, so good.
“But the next half of the season will be another test. You know, he hasn’t been on the road yet, so that’ll be obviously different. And then we’ve just got a chance to continue to see how he improves.”
He’ll often talk about a play that you’ve dialed up that week and you can see that he likes the creativity. Talk about that side of the job, looking for something new every week or periodically that could be a good play for you.
“I think we’re just—we’re always gameplanning every week, every day. Every day we gameplan and put together the best possible pass game and run game we can, and then, you know, try to deliver it in a way they understand why the plays are in, and then maybe show them examples of plays where whether or not they’ve worked other places or whether or not they’ve worked here or whether it looks like they’ll work based on the coverages we get. Spend a lot of time just kind of explaining in our meetings—all position groups, all coaches—why plays are in and how to go out there and execute them.”
Some of the protection issues with veterans at times: are those mistakes guys shouldn’t be making at this point?
“I think that I don’t know much about whether we should or shouldn’t be making them. I don’t think there’s many being made. I think we’re still—well, we’ve only been sacked in five games eight times or nine times. I don’t know. That’s not much. We do a really good job of picking up almost everything. We get the kitchen sink thrown at us and our guys work really, really hard to pick it all up, and over the course of 17 games or so we’ve probably been as good as anyone in terms of not getting sacked and getting the ball off, so I don’t think there’s much of an issue there.”
When Jabrill’s working in the wildcat, are you hands-on with him in practice there, or who has the most input?
“Oh, with everything, it’s a group collective effort in everything that we do. You know, the wildcat stuff, we throw him in and quarterback roll, then he kind of deals with some of the ball handling with us, but really kind of everybody’s talking to him about what that job entails and what plays we’re putting in and really what he’s going to do with those plays and the footwork and the reads and all that.”
[Much more after THE JUMP]
Talk about the play last game of the corners. Those guys just seemed to be right on.
“Yeah, they’re playing well. They’re working hard in practice preparing themselves week in and week out and they just gotta continue, and it’s paying off in the games. So, we’ll keep on that same path and just try to keep building it.”
Lewis interception ranks where in the pick offs that you’ve seen?
“It’s insane. I mean, I haven’t seen anything like that from a defensive player. Seen a few guys offensively do it, but nothing like that defensively. That was a hell of a play.”
Besides that, the way that he’s closing in the run game and getting to the ball, just talk about how good he’s been.
“Yeah, he’s a complete player on the defensive side of the ball. The kid’s very competitive, very feisty, he’s very good at man-to-man coverage, very good at zone coverage when asked to drop, and he knows how to get off blocks and he knows how to make tackles. I mean, he can do it all. He’s a pretty good player.”
You’ve coached Jourdan now for a year and a half. How many times can you recall during a game where he made a technical mistake?
“Well, we all make mistakes and he has made a few. Even last week, him and Channing made a few technical mistakes that we’re trying to clear up and we will clear up. They’re few and far between with him. And the thing is, when he does it, he knows it and he gets pretty upset about it. He tries to figure it out real quick.”
Obviously not having Jeremy [Clark] you guys are kind of on thin ice with just two guys, even as good as they are. With the other two [freshmen], are they ready?
“I feel so bad for Jeremy. Really practiced so hard and played so well in the games he was in, and everybody’s talking about him and hoping the best for him. Brandon Watson had a hell of a camp. Really since spring. Played well in the spring, played well all through camp, and he’s going in, filling in just fine. Lavert Hill: extremely talented young man. He’s just got to grow and mature. He’s young. David Long, same way. His injury held him up a little bit, but now we’re starting to see some things out of him. It’s very unfortunate we lost Jeremy—you never want to lose a guy like that—but those guys, those three guys I think in time and if in need can fill in and play.”
[After THE JUMP: discussing soil conditions in the garden]