press conference transcripts
News bullets and other items:
Chris Evans blacked out when he was hit, which Harbaugh noted the doctors said is sometimes better for the brain in the long run, and was feeling better by halftime
Grant Perry and a few others didn’t play because of disciplinary issues
De’Veon Smith got more first-half carries than they planned; the staff liked what they saw and called the same play for him a few times
First half, you’re up huge, did you guys take your foot off the gas or was it something Illinois did to not quite rack it up like you have been?
“Yeah, first of all, I just think our team really played well today. The execution was outstanding both offensively, defensively, special teams. We were just executing well. I was really, really impressed. Those first three drives of the game, and then the entire game-- I thought Wilton Speight might have had one of the best games of his career.
“It was pretty windy out there. It was pretty tough to throw the ball whether we were going into the wind, with the wind, he was throwing the intermediate deep stuff—the 30-yard throws, the 35-yard, 40-yard throws, just on the money—it was impressive. Sometimes it’s never as good as you think until you look at the tape, but I have a feeling that was the best he’s played.”
Hank Aaron was the honorary captain today. What was that like, having him around the team and yourself?
“It was outstanding, Trevor. He’s just such a great man, such a gentleman. His granddaughter, as you know, goes to Michigan, and we’ve become friends through her. I was getting textes last night, I was at a high school game and some of the guys on the team were texting me how great Hank Aaron was. He talked to the team last night. Just A+. Can’t have it better. Got a nice autographed picture that he was gracious enough to sign so I’m gonna hang that in my office. Just being around—you know when you’re around greatness, and he’s one of the all-time greats. Really honored to share a sideline with Hank Aaron today.”
The two Bens on the left side, is that something you worked on during the bye week and you liked what you saw?
“Yeah, we’ve—Ben’s not just in the improvement week. We’ve seen what he can do at left tackle. We’ve seen that over the last 23 months. He’s a very versatile player. Felt like that was our best combination, Ben Braden and Ben Bredeson. Ben Bredeson’s a very ascending player. Thought he had a heck of a good game today. Really, everybody on the offensive line played extremely well today. It was impressive the way they executed.”
[After THE JUMP: the only time Woody Hayes, Malcolm X, and Michael Douglas as D-Fens have been mentioned in the same breath]
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]
I'm finally getting around to this now that football is taking a breather. This is from last Monday, and I'll also have a transcript of Billy Donlon's illuminating media day press scrum tomorrow before digging into the meat of the season preview.
- This was after only a couple practices, so it's light on specifics about how the team is looking right now, though there was still plenty to cover from the offseason.
- The team spent a lot more time this offseason on individual defense.
- Billy Donlon is, yes, a pseudo-defensive coordinator, and he's been very vocal in practice. Beilein notes that Donlon's defenses have been better than Michigan's, so he's listening closely to Donlon's input.
- Beilein may be rethinking autobench. (!!!)
- Xavier Simpson and Derrick Walton will play at the same time, perhaps with more frequency than we expect.
- I nearly forgot my question after Beilein said he likes my tweets.
[Joined just after the start of the opening statement.]
Excited to get back to practice again, my 42nd season, my tenth season at Michigan. It’s wonderful to coach this group of young men we have right now. The transition with our staff thus far has been terrific. Really, really love the new information, the excitement, the great parallels between Saddi [Washington] and Bill Donlon, and Val Jordan and Bacari Alexander. It’s been a really good transition thus far.
We’ve had two practices, I can’t tell you a whole lot. I think that we spent a great, probably 500% more, in the summer, on just individual defense as opposed to evaluating players, so I don’t have a lot of evaluation for you today. We haven’t scrimmaged yet. I would say we’ve probably scrimmaged for 60 minutes the entire summer, so I can’t give you much information for what I feel, who’s where, other than what I do know. We’re trying to get in a stance, we’re trying to guard people, we’re trying to do a much better job that what we did last year. I hope you’ll see a little bit, it’s going to be a very boring practice for you, it’s going to be an hour of some stretching, and there will be some shooting, and there will be a little bit more. There won’t be a dunk contest and there won’t be any type of scrimmage in there at all, but you’ll get a little idea for who the players are, what numbers they are, and that’ll be just about it.
As I said, I feel recharged and reenergized by so many things that have occurred with this class of really five new players coming, with the four freshmen and Charles Matthews. Last year we just had Moe Wagner, that was it. Reteaching things, retooling things has been really energizing for us. Listening to Saddi and to Bill has been great. You go back six years ago and having Bacari and Val walk in, and Jeff Meyer, and it’s like that time all over again where I can say, okay, this is what’s gone on the last six years, this is where the game has changed, have I changed enough, and then we just go from there. A lot of trial and error still in practice in these six weeks, and then I know we won’t have it perfect by the time of the first game. We just want to be really good by the time we get to that Big Ten schedule.
I hope you’re all excited about our football team right now being 5-0. It’s a great start. I was following the game the other day, for you Catholics out there I don’t know if I’m in trouble, but I was looking at my phone during a wedding Mass on Saturday. That probably didn’t give me absolution for that, but I was following the game on the phone. I probably shouldn’t have told the bride and the groom that just now, either, but I just did.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the transcript.]