Air Force Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Air Force Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 17th, 2017 at 11:50 AM

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[Upchurch]

Red zone: how much of a concern is that that you aren’t getting more touchdowns in those opportunities?

“I thought both teams played really good red zone defense today. Good. We had the right calls on at the right time, pushed them back out of the opportunities to score touchdowns and they held the line as well. Hats off to both teams for really good red zone defense.”

Talk about the challenge of having to switch gears on defense for a team like this and how your guys responded defensively.

“I thought we responded really well. For the most part, with the exception of a few drives. I thought we shut them down well and I thought we won all three phases. They play a brand of football I really like, which is you just keep jabbing away and you don’t make mistakes, you don’t turn the ball over, few penalties, and you get first downs… push the opponent back in field position. They make you go beatcha. They don’t beat themselves and it’s a good brand of football. Our team was able to make plays offensively, defensively, special teams was a huge factor in today’s ball game.

“Donovan’s punt return was fabulous. Our kickoff coverage was excellent all day, and right on down the line. Punt protection was really good as they were bringing 10; we got the all-out rush and we were able to block it up. Each phase. And the standout was Quinn Nordin and the snapper, Cheeseman, Garret Moores, the holder—that whole battery. And the field goal protection was outstanding. Tied a record, Michigan record, for most field goals in a game. Really proud of the way our special teams played. Offensively, defensively, special teams: thought we won all three phases.”

Rhythmically, where do you see the offense going and specifically with Wilton and Donovan, looked like that could be a connection. How do you assess that?

“Yeah, it was good to see Donovan go and make a big play offensively. Made the big play special teams-wise, so great to see him a factor in the third game of his freshman year. Just terrific. Like Tarik has done, one of those freshmen that are playing in their third ballgame and are huge factors in where we are, 3-0, and the ballgame we had today.”

[After THE JUMP: getting RPS’d, the kicking battery, jamming it in in the red zone, and how to use DPJ]

Wednesday Presser 9-13-17: Tim Drevno

Wednesday Presser 9-13-17: Tim Drevno

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 14th, 2017 at 8:28 AM

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[Barron]

Some of the defensive players were saying that Joe Hewlett was really helping out with the scout team in emulating Air Force’s offense. Have you seen that as well?

“Yeah, I’ve been busy with the offense. I really haven’t paid much attention to the defense, but I know that Joe Hewlett’s in there.”

Have you ever run a triple option at any stop in your career?

“Uh…no. I’ve kind of messed with it here and there.”

What does that mean?

“I’ve put in some different plays but never saturate yourself into it, so I don’t know the ins and outs of it. You try to maybe put a play in here or there in the form of a triple option but not live in it, no.”

What have you seen from Air Force’s defense?

“Great question. Very fast, well disciplined. They play an odd scheme. They love the pressure. They’re very good tacklers in the back end. Play extremely hard. Just technically sound. They know how to get off blocks, know how to pass rush. Secondary’s very good at reading route concepts, know how to break on the ball. They’re very well coached. They do a great job at Air Force.”

Do you think Jon Runyan’s a better fit at guard? He was in the mix at tackle and then seems like he’s coming in a little bit—

“Yeah, Jon’s a very athletic guy. He could play all five positions. It’s just right now he could be a guard, he could be a tackle, but he does a good job just initial quickness off the ball, with his hand placement, really athletic, feet move well,  when something moves he can cover it up. Jon’s doing a nice job and progressing well.”

[After THE JUMP: correcting little mistakes, O-line development, and Grant Newsome as coach/president. Oh, and what it means to be human]

Wednesday Presser 9-13-17: Mike Zordich

Wednesday Presser 9-13-17: Mike Zordich

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 13th, 2017 at 6:05 PM

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[Fuller]

How far has your group come since you told us that you were a little concerned?

“You know what, I gotta give credit where credit is due. They’ve definitely stepped up and been playing… playing okay. Yep.”

Okay but not great?

“It’s the third game of the season. We’ve got a long way to go. They know it, I know it, I think our whole team knows it. Each week we’ve got to just keep getting better, so nobody’s arrived for sure.”

Your rotation hasn’t been very deep. For the most part you’ve been going with three; maybe Ambry [Thomas] is getting a little bit of playing time at corner.

“Exactly.”

Is that part of you just waiting for other guys to show that they can get on the field?

“Same deal, yeah. Competition’s wide open. It’s really been those four: Vert and then Ambry’s been in the mix and then Brandon Watson and David Long. Those are the four that are kind of getting into all of the action now. But, you know, the door’s always open and the competition has been open.”

What unique challenges doe the Air Force offense pose for the secondary?

“Well, for us, certainly all the misdirection on almost a down basis. The offenses that we play, the misdirection isn’t—it’s here and there. Now you have to be ready for it on just about every down, and the fact that they’re gonna run the ball, we think, the majority of the time, so the run game comes into play for our guys big time, too. Those two things are the areas that we’ve got to concentrate on this week.”

[After THE JUMP: Lavert’s UFR grade, where the corners need to improve, and Don Brown’s lessening angst]

Monday Presser 9-11-17: Players

Monday Presser 9-11-17: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 12th, 2017 at 8:05 AM

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[Upchurch]

They didn’t have players take the podium today, so I took a little bit of audio from the different scrums around the Towsley Museum and transcribed it. If you’re wondering why other sites might have certain quotes not seen here or vice versa, keep in mind that I have one recorder and one me to gather audio.

Maurice Hurst

Will you guys be required to wear knee braces this week?

“I don’t know. That’s a great question. I’m not sure. That’s probably a better question for coach Harbaugh.”

He doesn’t like our questions.

“He’s dead inside.”

Burnt wood.

“Burnt wood.”

------------

In Rome Chase [Winovich] said you guys had already been practicing so much for Air Force you know their offense better than they do. Do you feel confident at this stage?

“I wouldn’t say all that, but—”

That was Chase.

“Yeah, I know. I’ve talked about a Chase ban from media. Yeah, I think we have prepared a lot in spring and we used some of those practices to get ready for what we’re going to face this week so it’s not a complete shock to us, and I think we’ll have our scout team ready to give us the look that we need that they’ve been practicing and have done before, so I think that’s all kind of what helps you understand the offense better.”

[More Hurst plus Khalid Hill and Patrick Kugler after THE JUMP]

Monday Presser 9-11-17: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 9-11-17: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 11th, 2017 at 5:00 PM

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[Fuller]

We often hear about service academy offenses. How difficult is it of a challenge to prepare for them?

“Defending option football and conventional football at the same time. That’s what we’ve been studying. Air Force has been very successful. Seven, eight, nine game winning streak. They go back and forth between conventional and option football.”

Your defense is scoring a lot, more than they’re giving up. Is that something that has been emphasized? Is that just guys making plays? How do you account for that?

“It’s a good thing. Very good players and a good scheme and they work very hard at being good on defense.”

Talk about your impressions about Lavert Hill. I know you’ve been happy with him.

“Yeah, been happy with Lavert. He’s asserted himself and played very well. Made the big play for us in the ball game this past week.

“Tyree Kinnel would be another person that I’d spotlight; defensive player of the game; sacks, two I believe; tackles for loss; interception for touchdown; seven tackles total, I believe. Well done. Brandon Watson also had a couple PBUs and played very well. Josh Metellus did good. Up front, I thought Rashan had one of his best games. Devin Bush again, another very good game for him; sack, tackle for loss, PBU. Outstanding game by him. Chase Winovich. Noah Furbush was better. Mo Hurst probably played the best of all of our upfront defensive players.

“So, there was a lot of good. Dodged a couple bullets. As was pointed out, scored two touchdowns on defense, so we’re doing well. We’re good. Attribute that to hard work and good scheme and good players.”

How has Lavert—how have you seen him digest all the information that a young starter has to digest?

“Yeah, doing well. Seeing him digest information very well. Comes from good stock. You’d love to be Lavert Hill Sr., to have Delano Hill playing professional football and now here you see Lavert in there starting at corner, making plays, helping his team win. Lavert Hill Sr.’s probably boring the heck out of the neighbors with how well his sons are doing.”

[Learn how to avoid emotionally hijacking Jim Harbaugh after THE JUMP]

Cincinnati Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Cincinnati Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 10th, 2017 at 11:59 AM

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[Upchurch]

First Evans last week, now Isaac today. How big is it for you guys to gain more depth at the running back position with all the guys you lost from last season?

“I thought Ty had a heck of a game. Career high for him and he keeps ascending, so feel good. Fullbacks are doing a nice job. I think most of our veteran players are playing good and kind of the theme is we’ve got to get experience. We’ve got to get experience playing. It’s guys’ first time playing here in the Big House, first time going through a week of school, and got to be patient. We’re going to coach ‘em up and long road ahead but can’t get experience without playing, so that’s kind of the theme.”

If you could talk about two plays: the first one the 36-yard reception by Zach Gentry that kind of got things going for the offense and then the decision to go for it on fourth-and-eight.

“Yeah, that was a nice job by Zach. Wilt threw a good ball on the crossing route. Yeah, we needed that to flip some field position where we had a couple previous punts, so that was good.

“The decision to go for it on fourth-and-eight, we were around the 33-yard line, would have been a 50-yard, 51-yard field goal. Punting it could have gained you only eight yards, so decided to take the chance there. I think, I believe—who made that catch? Was it Grant? Kekoa.

“There was a lot of good. There was a lot of good and a lot of times where the screen’s going a little fuzzy and we’re not doing our assignments. Then the fumbles, those hurt. And the ball handling. We’ll just keep going. Wins are tough to come by and we’re glad to have this one.”

Started strong in terms of the score and the final score was lopsided but what happened in between to maybe make it closer than expected?

“You saw the game.”

[After THE JUMP: “I’m dead in here. It’s like burnt wood in terms of nervousness and butterflies and emotions that way.”]

Wednesday Presser 9-6-17: Jay Harbaugh

Wednesday Presser 9-6-17: Jay Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 7th, 2017 at 8:00 AM

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[Upchurch]

Did Ty [Isaac] earn a start with his play Saturday?

“We’ll see.”

Thank you.

“Nice try.”

A couple of the running backs said this week that you take a really interactive approach to coaching: a lot of dialogue, a lot of back and forth, the Socratic method, if you will. How does that help you as a first-year coach? How does that help your players?

“Well, it sounds like you asked them how it would help already. For me, they’re an extension of me on the field so it’s invaluable to hear what they’re seeing and what they feel and then try and use that to make corrections or adjustments over the course of a practice or the course of a game. So, good information from veteran guys that you can trust is really, really crucial.”

Can you think of a particular moment where there was a dialogue like that or you were like, Oh, a light bulb went on?

“Yeah, there’s parts of the game where a few series in [it’s] ‘Hey, what do you see? What do you feel about this run?’ ‘Oh yeah, I think that’ and then we can bring that and then talk about hey, maybe let’s call this because that’s what the guys are seeing out there. Sometimes they’ll feel certain things on the field that you can’t really discern from the sideline quite as well or sometimes hey, you think you have a thought and they say, ‘Yeah, that sounds really good.’ Just that back and forth, open lines of communication is always a good thing.”

[After THE JUMP: a good deal of RB coaching philosophy]

Wednesday Presser 9-6-17: Brian Smith

Wednesday Presser 9-6-17: Brian Smith

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 6th, 2017 at 5:00 PM

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[Fuller]

Your guys played pretty well. Talk about how they played.

“Yeah, I thought Josh [Metellus] and Tyree [Kinnel] both did a solid job just overall. Just running to the football, they were aggressive, and I thought we tackled well, so I was happy with the way they played.”

Assignment-wise did you think they pretty good, too?

“Yeah. Assignment-wise I thought we were pretty clean. Communication, didn’t have a lot of issues that way so we’ve just got to keep it going going forward and maintain that same level.”

Tyree yesterday was talking about some plays where him and Khaleke [Hudson] were able to switch spots. What does that add when you’re able to do that?

“I think it helps out a lot. Having Khaleke, he has some experience playing safety. That versatility, being able to move to different places, kind of helps out the defense as a corps when you can get guys lined up and give the offense different looks. I think that helps out.”

What are the looks that change when they switch?

“Well, it depends. I’m not sure exactly what you’re talking about in that case but there are different situations where we can end up in different positions.”

[After THE JUMP: communication clicking, Josh Metellus’ ceiling, and the bygone era in which Don Brown brought… more pressure?]

One-Play One-on-One: Noah Furbush

One-Play One-on-One: Noah Furbush

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 5th, 2017 at 4:00 PM

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[Upchurch]

A Florida team intent on beating the brakes off of Michigan found themselves bracing for impact again and again Saturday. Don Brown made a strong case for inclusion in the next Nefarious Mustachioed Character Hall of Fame class by putting together what once seemed oxymoronic: a suffocating 3-3-5. Deploying the 3-3-5 in turn led to more playing time for redshirt junior linebacker Noah Furbush, who recorded two tackles and a fumble recovery. I spoke with Furbush about the play that led to his fumble recovery touchdown and subsequently sealed Michigan’s opening-game victory.

On that play, it was the second time you had them backed up inside their own 10-yard line the entire game. Did you have a good feel for what they might run, and how tough is that when you don’t get those looks very often?

“We knew that they were moving the pocket a lot of the game. When we get them down inside our own 5, inside our own 10, we really want to put the pressure on. We really want to make them feel uncomfortable. We wanted to get after them and we wanted to make a big play like something that happened. Chase stepped up and made a huge play for us.”

As far as what their offense was doing, was it what you expected when they were backed up?

“Yeah, I suppose.”

How important then is gap integrity against a guy like Zaire?

“Yeah, a guy like Zaire can spread a defense out, really change a play, and change how a defense can operate. It’s important to be assignment-perfect, do everything you’re supposed to do, and not lose contain on the play.”

It looked like you had to slide over a gap but first it looked like you looked inside before you did that. Is that related to Zaire and his running ability? Is that trying to stay gap-sound?

“Yeah. I just wanted to make sure that he didn’t get out of the pocket. I wanted to keep him in there and keep him inside so Chase could finish him off.”

You obviously had to shed a block to get there. What are some of the fundamentals of stacking and shedding, and what happened on that block?

“Every day we practice shedding blocks, working the hands, and that’s basically just instinctual stuff. You do it without even thinking about it.”

And that’s what happened on that block.

“Yep, yep.”

At what point do you see that Chase has gotten to the quarterback and at what point do you see the ball come out?

“Right when I got off the block I saw Chase hit the quarterback and then as I was running to him I just saw the ball. Another instinctual reaction, something we work every day. We have a fumble circuit and we work that every day: hopping on balls, fetal position, secure the football.”

So it’s just second nature at that point? You just know to dive and go?

“Yep, all reaction.”

And keeping it in bounds is the same thing?

“All muscle memory, yep.”

[gif courtesy of Ace]

Monday Presser 9-4-17: Players

Monday Presser 9-4-17: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 5th, 2017 at 10:00 AM

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[Fuller]

They didn’t have players take the podium today, so instead I took a little bit of audio from the different scrums around the Towsley Museum and transcribed it for you, dear reader. If you’re wondering why other sites might have certain quotes not seen here or vice versa, keep in mind that I have one recorder and one me to gather audio.

Tyree Kinnel

I jumped in the scrum late but the question seems pretty obvious.

“Who’s the hardest hitter? Chase thinks he’s the biggest hitter, Josh [Metellus] thinks he’s the biggest hitter, I think I’m the biggest hitter. We always have that argument but as long as we’re all getting there at the same time and laying the big hit then it should be fine.”

Do you feel like you did well?

“I felt like I was communicating well with my teammates. I felt I did good. I felt like I got to the ball pretty fast and [was] making all my checks.”

Totally comfortable now guiding all the younger guys back there?

“Yeah, I did feel comfortable. We were all talking after the game about the game and the coaches work us so hard in practice we were like, ‘Man, this is pretty easy.’ Because of the way they work us in practice, we felt really good.”

Did Josh Metellus play well Saturday?

“He did everything well. He was talking to me the whole time. He was making checks as I was making checks. He covered a lot. He covered a lot more than me just because of their offense and I feel like he covered really well. He was on the tight end; there was one time he was covering a receiver and the quarterback checked down and ran it and he got off the block and forced that fumble; that was a good play by him. Any time you come out of coverage and make a tackle like that is good.”

You mentioned speed quite a bit. Has there been more of an emphasis on that this year, on being faster than last year?

“I don’t think they really coach the speed, I think that’s just naturally how we are. I think they want us running for the ball but speed-wise, I think that’s just all of us as a group together trying to get to the ball as fast as we can.”

[After THE JUMP: Nolan Ulizio and Lawrence Marshall]