"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
“What’s happening today? Anything good? Who’s got a good question?”
/Siri goes off on someone’s phone; “I’m not sure what you said there.”
“Obviously Siri does not have a good question.”
MGoQuestion: You guys threw a fullback wheel route to Sione Houma, and it looked like it had some similar elements to the one Michigan State ran against you earlier this year. How often do you guys look at something an opponent ran, take similar elements, tweak it, and put it in the playbook?
“Well, I think that you are constantly looking at what other teams do. You’re looking at what defenses you’re going to see and how they compare to the defense that either you play or other teams play. Sometimes there’s just times where you’re gonna go look and you’re gonna say, ‘Hey, are they in this coverage during this time?’ or ‘Is this a team that runs similar type looks?’ Ball plays are stolen all the time from everybody and everywhere.
“You’ll see very often you can turn on plenty of games and say, ‘Boy, didn’t they just run this?’ or ‘Didn’t Michigan just run that?’ or ‘Didn’t Seattle just run that?’ or whoever it might be. It’s just constantly- you’re always looking and watching film and when good ideas or things that look like we could use, you always try to use them.”
Is Jake [Rudock] getting more freedom from you guys to make decisions in terms of plays than he had earlier in the year?
“No, I think he’s really just getting more aware of the entire system rather than half of it or three-quarters of it, so the more he’s aware of what we’re trying to do, the more he can get to certain guys faster or maybe where he can get rid of the ball quicker. He can hold the ball longer knowing that something’s picked up where maybe early on in the season he might have thought the protection scheme might not have known that it was picked up, so checked it down quick.
“There’s, I think, more just knowledge base, and as knowledge base grows you become more comfortable, and when you become more comfortable maybe it feels like you’re getting to different things but you’re really just going through and maybe early in your career as a rookie quarterback or first year in our system quarterback you can go 1-2-checkdown. Now maybe he feels good enough to 1-2-3-checkdown or 1-2-3-4-checkdown. I think you see it in the NFL with rookies to their second year. I think you [also] see it with guys throughout the season.”
Jim credited you with the screen game. Can you talk about how that’s coming along and how pleased you are with it?
“Everybody gets credit for that. It’s really- the whole screen game, I believe that you can get a lot of yards in the screen game, and if everybody is on the same page with it we can get different ways of doing it, different formations, different guys catching screens. I think you go get some gimmee yards at times, but then there’s also times when screens are called and they don’t look good [and] it’s just a ball thrown right at the dirt, so you gotta be careful about that with screens. But, nah, I mean, I know he said that but it’s everybody has everything to do with our screen game and it’s just one of those deals that we ran a lot of them at different places where I’ve been and have really enjoyed the different aspects of it. You know, you can be real creative in the screen game. It’s not always just a straight drop-back deal.”
[After THE JUMP: Jake Rudock might be 53 years old, no one really knows]
Everyone’s talking about Jabrill this week, so what’s it like for you having him on offense? What does he do for you?
“Well, he’s very explosive. You can see when he gets the ball he explodes and it’s a great option to have to be able to work him into the offense and an opportunity for a few plays on the offensive side of the ball. If he does or doesn’t, it’s nice to have that club in your bag.”
I know you don’t get a ton of time with him, but is he special in the way that he can not spend a whole lot of time with the offense and still pick things up?
“Yeah. I mean, he’s a football player, so he’s got that DNA that you can kind of tell once he fixes a problem- just special. Great football awareness.
“It’s really- dealing with him is like dealing with a pro football player. He just kind of looks you in the eye and takes what you’re telling him, understands it, and then puts it into action. He’s just got great football awareness and great football savvy. He’s a football player. I’ve said that before, so it’s exciting to have him.”
Do you customize the playcalling based on whether Drake Johnson or De’Veon Smith’s in the game?
“No, we don’t. No, we don’t. We feel like they all have strengths and weaknesses, but we just call the game as we call it and put those guys in the best opportunity up front and the receivers and the quarterback so no, we don’t like specifically say, ‘Hey, do this, do that.’”
What’s Jake’s [Rudock] status at this point?
“He was good yesterday. He threw the ball around, breaking the huddle. He looked good. Looked good to me.”
You expect him to play?
“Yeah, absolutely, yes. Really do.”
[After THE JUMP: “We’re changing this thing, and it’s going in the right direction and we’re really pleased with where we are.”]
Ryan Glasgow and James Ross
James, coach Harbaugh mentioned the second to last play when they shifted and you had to stick with the tight end. What were you looking at on that play and take us through that.
“There’s a lot of plays Minnesota did with the tight end whether he’s releasing late or things like that and I just wanted to keep my eyes on him, and it just so happened that he did try to release late.”
James, when did you start taking practice reps at the BUCK linebacker position and can you just talk about that transition this week?
“I started transitioning to BUCK as soon as Mario [Ojemudia] went down, that week after. Just consistently getting reps and trying to find ways to get on the field.”
This is the first time that you’ve played it in a game, right?
“No, I actually played it last week versus State- or the week prior to this week. But yeah, against State.”
Ryan, talk about the job you guys all did getting underneath the blockers on that last play. You seemed to get off the ball pretty well.
“Yeah. I mean, Willie [Henry] and Mo [Hurst] did a great job on that play, and the linebackers got a great push. We’ve never really practiced that live; it’s all stepping through. You don’t want to hurt anyone in practice, but I thought we did a good job executing on the field. That was probably our first live rep of that type of sneak play this season and I thought we did a good job of executing it.”
Did you know he was short?
“Uh, I had a feeling he was short. I mean, I was on the ground, not really looking at it, but I knew the guys around me were pushing back.”
[After THE JUMP: Erik Magnuson, Jehu Chesson, Jake Butt, and animal analogies for the offensive and defensive line]
Substantive injury and personnel updates? Substantive injury and personnel updates.
Rudock will be sore, is dealing with a shoulder injury, and is going to test it out in practice today
Godin is “working through something” and will hopefully be back sooner than later
Isaac’s absence from this week’s depth chart is “an internal matter”
Poggi was sick last weekend and will be fine if he follows Harbaugh’s push-ups-and-whole-milk recovery regimen
Speight is listed as the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart
“No ‘hello’ back? I say it and just crickets.”
“Good to see everybody.”
As somebody that talks about just pure, honest competition, did you enjoy watching that last play again?
“Yes. You know, always in a football game it never comes down to one play. The goal-line stand at the end was really set up by a lot of plays in the game. And if you go back, the play before James Ross does a great job staying on his man, keeping his eyes on his man, not getting fooled by the deception in the backfield. Covers down or we don’t get to that goal-line stand.
“Two plays before Channing Stribling was beat on the double move, but just the hustle to make that play competitive; ended up catching up, getting his hand in there, and we get the ball down just inside the one-yard line.
“Jabrill Peppers: quarterback keeps on a quarterback-driven run, and that was a hustle play to come back inside of a blocker, trip up the quarterback, keeping them from a real long play.
“The third-down play: Jourdan Lewis in competitive coverage keeps that inside slant from being a big, big chunk, and you just keep going on and on.
“Before that, Drake Harris- or, Drake Johnson made a really good play that probably went unnoticed in the third quarter when we were backed up. Wilton [Speight] threw a ball out to him and just a big-time hustle play to get a hand back in and break up that pass from being intercepted. Don’t know if you know the play that I’m talking about, but just numerous types of plays like that that you keep hustling, you keep battling and there remains a chance that something good can happen there.
“Then that last play was definitely a team effort there. Our guys did a heck of a job defending that quarterback sneak and we were able to win the game.”
[After THE JUMP: A Jabrilloquy, why Michigan wasn’t offside on the last play, and Harbaugh actually reminisced about his playing days]
Upon Further Review still has a sponsor. I'm late today so I'm just going to tell you that Matt's a good guy and did my loan and Seth's loan and everything was easy and professional. We are associating our name with his and that is something we are very comfortable with.
FORMATION NOTES: The director was one of those guys who fancies himself Stanley Kubrick so we never got a proper shot of what M was doing presnap on the Peppers sweep:
You'll note that M only has four OL; Cole is lined up outside of DeVeon Smith. This was "shotgun empty tight" but that's insufficient to describe it, really.
This with 3TEs and a WR in a wing spot was "Ace tight":
And M pulled out another goofy split line setup. Cole is one of the WRs to the top; Williams is the "right tackle". "Emory 3-wide," I said, and took another antacid:
PERSONNEL NOTES: The usual at most of the spots except Michigan whittled down the number of guys who played at the skill positions. Johnson and Green are on the participation list but didn't get carries; I don't remember them playing at all. Higdon and Isaac did get carries, but sparingly.
At WR it was almost all Darboh and Chesson and then they added in Harris or Perry in 3 or 4 wide sets. TE was about the usual.
[After THE JUMP: opportunities untaken]