Wednesday Presser 10-4-17: Brian Smith

Wednesday Presser 10-4-17: Brian Smith

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 5th, 2017 at 9:20 AM

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[Fuller]

Pretty pleased with the progress of your group?

“Yeah, I’m pretty pleased with the progress so far. I think the guys have played well. Gotten off to a good start. Look forward to continuing that this week.”

What kind of a challenge do the MSU receivers pose to your guys?

“Well, they face a good challenge. They’re good, solid receivers. They’re young. Felton’s [Davis] coming off a big game against Iowa and he’s a threat down the field. He’s a tall guy so they can throw him the ball and he can come down and get it so he poses a problem and they’ll spread it around a good bit, so we’ve got our hands full.”

Do you sense a different energy in the building this week or is it business as usual?

“Obviously we had the extra week of practice last week and were focusing on getting better that week. Call it improvement week. We’ve had two weeks waiting for this game to come so everybody’s ready to go.”

[Hit THE JUMP for a bit on improving communication in the backfield]

Wednesday Presser 10-4-17: Greg Frey

Wednesday Presser 10-4-17: Greg Frey

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 4th, 2017 at 6:00 PM

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[Fuller]

As far as preparation, you’ve been through Michigan State weeks before. Pretty similar?

“Yeah, you know, obviously it’s a rival game. They’re a great team, great program. You’re really focused on improving you as you go through the season so the best version of who we are shows up on Saturday. Guys have been focused and working hard.”

You look at Zach Gentry and how has he developed into a great tight end, what’s it like coaching him?

“Like anything else, you want to see players develop and attack his problems and then not only attack it but bottle up and continue to do the things he’s doing well. Zach’s been really focused, been working really hard, came off a very good summer, has started a way that we felt good and so we’re going to see how it goes the rest of the way and if he continues that journey.”

MGoQuestion: What stands out to you on film about Michigan State’s defensive line?

“Oh, very good. Active. There’s a mold to what they develop and what they do and these guys certainly fit. They’re strong inside, fast on the outside. It’s a tough, great scheme. Ranked very highly and so that stands out the most.”

Where did your tackles improve during the improvement week? What did you guys work on?

“Really the biggest thing as we went with the front, the offensive line and the tight ends, is continuing to identify potential issues. These are great coaches that we face week in and week out in the best football conference in America and so they dissect you. Whether it be a stance or leaning here or slow hands or whatever it may be and so what we try to do is identify some of those things and correct them, and if they don’t need to be corrected just continue doing them.

“But really just focusing on each individual and the role they play and how they do it and seeing if we can tweak something here, get a little more efficient there, maybe take a false step out, something like that and that’s what we’re looking for as we move through improvement week, watching film, getting ready for the game.”

[After THE JUMP: Growing Pains (non-sitcom edition)]

Monday Presser 10-2-17: Players

Monday Presser 10-2-17: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 3rd, 2017 at 8:01 AM

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[Barron]

Khalid Hill

When did the team find out that John’s going to be starting this week?

“I mean, kind of just the way he performed last game and just waiting for Wilt to get back healthy. John performed at a level where that gives you confidence when your quarterback comes and performs, especially a second-string guy, the way he did. It gives you confidence. John’s going to hopefully do the same thing this week. I know he’s preparing to have the best game of his life.”

Does anything change with him under center, not going into specifics?

“No, not really. I think they both bring great stuff to the table. They’re similar quarterbacks. I think you can expect the same or expect better. I think he’s going to do just fine.”

As one of the team’s leaders, what do you tell the younger kids that have only played in this game once or never before?

“Just don’t get caught up in the bull. It’s a rivalry game so there’s a lot of trash talking gonna happen. A lot of stuff after the play’s gonna happen—I’m sure it will—but we’ve got to be mature and understand that, okay, somebody’s sitting on you, let it happen. Let them get the penalty, not you, so that’s one thing we kind of emphasize as leaders is if something happens and you don’t like it, coach Harbaugh always says you grab ‘em and just grab ‘em. Keep it there.”

[After THE JUMP: Lavert Hill, Mike McCray, and Mo Hurst]

Monday Presser 10-2-17: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 10-2-17: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 2nd, 2017 at 5:51 PM

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[Fuller]

Talk about the season Mike McCray’s having and really the career after having to bounce back from an injury-riddled start and really be one of your key players. Just talk about what he means to this team and this program.

“Elected captain by his teammates. Playing good ball. Been a sure tackler and been the quarterback of the defense—I hear it sometimes referred to a linebacker that way, signal-caller, et cetera. Just been steady. Been a real good football player.”

Opponents are averaging 3.5 points per games in the second halves of games against your defense. Talk about your staff in terms of the adjustments that they’re making in terms of what’s being thrown at them.

“Yeah, our defensive staff, led by Don Brown, they’re at the highest level in all phases, not just making adjustments at halftime. Game planning, teaching, all areas of coaching.”

What is Wilton’s status this week?

“He won’t be able to compete this week or for multiple weeks.”

Can you divulge what the nature of the injury is?

“Um…I think you can talk to Wilton about that or the doctors but yeah, he’s going to be out. John O’Korn will be the starter.”

[Hit THE JUMP to see which of Jim Harbaugh’s lists he forgot to bring to the presser]

Monday Presser 9-25-17: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 9-25-17: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 25th, 2017 at 6:00 PM

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[Fuller]

Do you have an update on Wilton [Speight] and his condition?

“If we were playing a game this week he wouldn’t be able to play and we’ll assess it as we go.

“Somebody asked me—Angelique?—what I thought of the play. After having seen it now, I thought it was egregious. If I had a stronger word to use I would use it. With all the emphasis on protecting defenseless players, it appeared that the player knew what he was doing, targeted the head and neck area when the player was on the ground, and accelerated into it. Surprised they had two officials standing back there that were both looking at it, plus a review in the press box, that that wasn’t a targeting, that wasn’t a personal foul.”

Is that something that you contact the Big Ten about? There were other hits in that game, too.

“Yeah, yeah. We will contact them.”

What do you get when you do contact them?

“You get a piece of paper back that says they agree or disagree and has a short explanation.”

So it doesn’t really solve anything.

“With all the emphasis that’s been placed on the safety of the game, et cetera, I think it needs to be addressed. Needs to be answered.

“And the other thing, in a very good spirited way, we are gonna look at everything we can do for the visiting team here at the University of Michigan as it relates to a standard of care for the visitors on multiple levels. It’s become apparent after going around to all the visiting schools over the last couple years that [there is] a conscious effort of gamesmanship that is unsportsmanlike. You have locker rooms that are too small; they’re not heated or cooled properly—in this case there’s no air conditioning; such a tight, cramped environment; you’ve got to open the doors to get some kind of ventilation going in a very small area; people are walking by, they’re watching you dress; a number of urinals or bathrooms for the players and staff, I think there was two; there’s not even a private door around it; and then mainly the health and safety of the players. Very small space for a training room to have nothing in it. This is no different than the facility I think I saw when I was there in 1986.

“And not putting this on Purdue, this is league-wide. It needs to be addressed by the league, by the commissioner, and we’re going to lead the way. We’re going to look at what we have, but there needs to be a way to x-ray a player at the stadium. There needs to be a minimum standard of care for the players. Again, we put a lot of emphasis into health and safety of the players, but it doesn’t even seem sanitary. You were all in there. We’ve already talked about the heat, and it seems to be a conscious effort to gamesmanship, to get an advantage over the opponent.

“And I wish I had taken a picture of the actual table that it given to the visitors to put the players on when they’re injured. I mean, it looks like it’s from the ‘20s. It was ripped, it was—it’s just not good. I think that’s a pattern in the Big Ten. I asked Don Brown, ‘Did you see the same thing in the ACC?’ ‘Not to this extent.’ Did not see it to this extent in the Pac 12 when we coached there, and you could keep going on. Injured players who can’t get an x-ray, taken to a student health center in a van, we needed a brace for a player and there wasn’t one at the facility we were taken to. There’s a lot of things that needs to be addressed.

“Talked to Warde [Maneul] about it and I would ask that the rest of the Big Ten coaches look into this as well and make this a priority. We’re talking about all of our players here, and we’ll start first with us and make sure that you have guests, you have visitors that are coming in, that their health and safety needs are being addressed.”

[After THE JUMP: “Gamesmanship should cease at… the point of health and safety for the players.”]

Purdue Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Purdue Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 24th, 2017 at 12:06 PM

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[Fuller]

“No air conditioning in this locker room.”

[Ed. A- This presser took place in the back corner of a room adjacent to the sweltering visitor’s locker room]

Was that done on purpose or—

[Smirks] “There just wasn’t.”

How’s Wilton [Speight] doing?

“I think it’s—I don’t think it’s anything structural. I think it’s soft tissue. We’ll find out more.”

Where?

“Yeah, he’s just working through something. Yeah.”

Can you tell us where?

“Nah, nah. I’ll let you know when I have more information.”

Wilton going down was unfortunate but then John O’Korn came in. This was the biggest crowd Purdue’s had in over a decade. Hostile environment with a lot of pressure in his face today, he made a lot of third-down conversions, throws on the money. What did you think about his performance physically and mentally today?

“I thought John was really playing great. He was seeing things really good right from the time that he came into the ballgame. Ran the offense well. Made big plays. Throw that he hit Gentry on the seam route down the middle, that was a big-time throw. And he had others. I thought he played great. I’m really proud of him. Proud of the whole team. As you say, when you go beat another man, gotta do that in a football game. Then you’ve got to go against the crowd, as you mentioned, and you’ve got to beat the elements. Nothing can make you feel more like a man than that, all three of those things.”

[After THE JUMP: halftime adjustments, O’Korn’s day, and what Harbaugh learned about his team in the crucible of Ross-Ade]

Wednesday Presser 9-20-17: Chris Partridge

Wednesday Presser 9-20-17: Chris Partridge

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 21st, 2017 at 8:31 AM

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[Fuller]

Talk about Devin’s play through the first three games and how well he’s played.

“He’s played great. He’s really locked in mentally. He’s explosive, he’s running around the field, he’s becoming a leader. He’s [doing] exactly what we asked from him and what we expected. We saw it in him in the spring and in camp and everything like that.”

On kickoffs, obviously you want more in the kick return game. What can you do there to kind of make that better?

“Kick return?”

Yeah.

“Kick return’s a very difficult thing to do, to block guys that are running full speed. I feel pretty confident about it. I know you haven’t seen the product, but we’ve gotten guys that are gaining valuable experience. It takes a while to get the knack of it and I think we’ve got the guys in place now that will be able to open some stuff up. I feel pretty confident that you’ll see some explosive plays out of that phase coming up here soon.”

Is Kekoa still going to be the guy or have you opened that up a little bit?

“Um. it’s always open. It’s always open. If he’s not returning for touchdowns then it’s an open competition, it’s an open battle. He’s still back there, as are others.”

Donovan, I assume, could get a look?

“Yep, he’s in the battle too. Yes.”

We saw in the Cincinnati game every time Donovan would come off the field it was like you were right there with him having conversations. How big of a leap did he take from that week? Obviously we saw him score the touchdown, but mentally how did he respond?

“Yeah, it’s enormous. To me, I think that catching a punt outside in an open environment like that is the hardest thing to do because the wind takes it, the ball takes it. For a freshman to have to do that, those game reps are invaluable. We can do everything we want in practice, but when all the pressure’s there and people are humping down and in college football everybody’s releasing everybody, those reps are invaluable.

“He just continues to lock it in and get better at it. It’s funny: you don’t want that stuff to happen, but that happening is going to make him so much better moving forward here. I have 100% confidence, coach Harbaugh has 100% confidence in him. He’s going to be an explosive playmaker back there. He’s just got to work through some things. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”

[Hit THE JUMP for some boggling Nordin numbers, more on DPJ, and confirmation of Don Brown's precognitive powers ]

Wednesday Presser 9-20-17: Don Brown

Wednesday Presser 9-20-17: Don Brown

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 20th, 2017 at 6:00 PM

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[Fuller]

You’ve got to be pretty pleased through three games with the way your guys are playing.

“Three really unique challenges. Obviously Florida with their ability, and despite them having two top-notch players out they still have a lot of firepower and I thought we did a good job going into that environment for our first trip on the road. That was kind of the piece that I was most concerned about was young guys on the road for the first time, how were we gonna respond? Obviously things didn’t quite go our way in the beginning but stayed really even-keeled. Just kind of kept playing the game, stayed in the moment, and kept executing at what I thought was a very, very high level. We really kept the pressure on the quarterback, so that was week one.

“Cincinnati really did a good job with their rub routes. I don’t know if that’s the legal term but I think that’s what the offensive guys call it, rub routes. They did a good job with the screen game. I was unhappy with a couple of the blocks but the reality is those tunnel screens are tough and I gotta do a better job in making sure we’re ready to play those.

“And then flip your hat, and I really tip my hat to my guys: Tuesday and Wednesday we took 230 snaps of option football. The gameplan was called on the line of scrimmage because they’re a team that has certain formations where they’re going to run the triple and other formations where they’re not gonna run option football, so everything’s all on the line of scrimmage getting called and I think we had one error. That was pretty good.

“But three different, unique challenges. The piece that’s really stuck out to me through the first three games is we can run, now. We’re pretty fast, and we get off blocks and run to the football as well as any group I’ve been around. That’s kind of a good thing. Forget the scheme and all that nonsense. It’s when guys can get off blocks, run to the football, and one of the things that doesn’t go unnoticed, at least from my perspective, is I think we’ve tackled really, really well. Sometimes early in the year that’s not always the case, but it has been the case for us for the first three weeks.”

[There’s so much good stuff after THE JUMP, just click already]

Monday Presser 9-18-17: Players

Monday Presser 9-18-17: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 20th, 2017 at 10:00 AM

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[Upchurch]

Rashan Gary

How much do you go against Mason Cole in practice?

“Every day. Every day. Not a day I don’t see Mason.”

How much does that help you prepare for Saturday?

“Oh man, I feel like going into Big Ten play now, I’m not going to see a tackle like Mason. We’ve been going after it since spring ball; he’s been sharpening me and I’ve been sharpening him, so it’s just iron sharpening iron. I love going against him.”

What makes him so good?

“I don’t know, it’s weird. You’ve just got to see it for yourself. Sometimes on pass rush he’s patient. He’s not the aggressive type of offensive lineman that likes to put hands on you so sometimes you’ve got to wait and see what he’ll do but you can’t wait too long, so basically you’ve got to take the fight to him and his hands, he’s able to get your hands off of you and things like that. He’s just a great guy to go against. I can’t explain it, you’ve just got to watch his game.”

How often do you win those fights?

“I don’t know, you’ve got to ask him. He’ll get me, I get him a couple times, but it’s a great battle.”

[After THE JUMP: Gary on Devin Bush and what’s next for him, Mason Cole on communication, and McDoom on Quinn Nordin]

Monday Presser 9-18-17: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 9-18-17: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 18th, 2017 at 5:00 PM

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[Upchurch]

Can you talk about what you get from Eddie McDoom on special teams and on offense?

“He’s been a contributor this year, last year. Fast, smart, fundamentally-sound football player.”

Purdue’s off to a good start. Can you talk about what you see out of them that has your attention?

“Yeah, the team’s done a tremendous job. Coaching staff would be an early favorite for coach of the year. They’re doing a nice job. The entire team is.”

With Mason Cole, to know that you’ve got a dependable left tackle with a starting streak and production, what kind of comfort does that give you as a coach?

“I would say he’s our most valuable offensive lineman.”

Does Quinn Nordin have sort of an unusual mentality for a kicker? Seems like a pretty confident and outspoken kid.

“Uh, no. I find nothing unusual about Quinn.”

WIth Rashan and Chase and those guys up front, did you see their presence and with Rashan especially, did you see him making impact plays in his first couple weeks here?

“Yes.”

What about him has stood out to you?

“Running to the football, playing physical, tackling very well. High effort, high talent.”

[Injury updates after THE JUMP]