Monday Presser 9-4-17: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 9-4-17: Jim Harbaugh

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

36805808046_0a86e1099f_z

[Chris Cook]

Coach, could you talk about how Patrick Kugler did in his first start?

“Yeah, he did outstanding. He graded out the highest of all offensive linemen. Just very effective. Really, really happy with the way the offensive line played. Pat played his best game.”

In addition to the offensive line, what were the things on the offensive side of the ball that jumped out on video that you liked?

“The run game. Liked our pass protections. Liked in the passing game we hit big plays. We executed at times very well. The play action was extremely good. And we moved the ball. We were able to move and score points. Feel like we turned some of those red-zone field goals into touchdowns and you score 40, 45+ points.” 

Obviously every game plays out differently but with the way Isaac succeeded, do you try to get the ball in his hands more going forward?

“Well, we were. I mean, that was the plan going into the game as well. He had a terrific game. He’s going to be our offensive player of the week. Really got us going on some off-schedule third-down runs. He played brilliantly and really happy for him.

“Chris [Evans] as well had good runs and so did Karan Higdon. We really felt good about those three backs in the ball game and we continue to feel good about them coming out of the ball game and going forward.”

Chase said on Saturday that forced fumble for him was a culmination of a lifetime of work. What’s impressed you most about him and his progression there after bouncing around from position to position earlier in his career?

“The motor. His energy, his effort…fast. It’s the speed at which he does it and he’s a strong player. Speed and strength, those are huge in football, as a team and as an individual player. Combine that with his get-up-and-go, his motor, his gung-ho attitude: all is a great combination for a football player.”

[After THE JUMP: running off-schedule, the starting QB, and offensive line…hype?]

Wednesday Presser 8-30-17: Tim Drevno

Wednesday Presser 8-30-17: Tim Drevno

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 31st, 2017 at 8:00 AM

34086541995_907de23c0d_z (1)

[Barron]

Where are you guys offensively heading into this game?

“Feel really good about it. Guys have really prepared well, got a great gameplan, the focus is there, everything you’re looking for to be successful, so we’re really excited about it.”

Outside a lot of people have questioned you as a young team, what are you guys going to look like. Do you have a little bit of curiosity or anxiousness about what these guys are going to look like in an actual game?

“No. I mean, we feel very confident about the guys that we have. You always kind of wonder how’s the game going to take place, what’s the situation that’s going to come up, the calls that need to be made in critical situations and things but in terms of confidence behind this team, I’m 100% confident in what we have in locker room and the core group of guys that we have. It’s an exciting time.”

Who’s starting on the right side of the line?

“We’re not going to talk about the depth chart today. It’s a good try. Nice job. Keep grinding on that one.”

Are you all settled?

“Yeah, we’re settled.”

You know what you’re going to—

“Yeah, we know. We know, absolutely. You get to this point and this time in camp and you’re ready to kick it off.”

When we talked a few weeks back you said you’d like to have about eight or nine guys in the core rotation. Do you feel good about where those guys are and do you have that?

“Yeah, feel very good about it. These guys have done a great job developing. The coaching staff has done a great job. Feel good about the core guys that we do have, and there’s other guys progressing.”

[After THE JUMP: the line’s lack of levity, Welch’s Light, Ulizio bulks back up, and more receiver buzz]

Wednesday Presser 8-30-17: Don Brown

Wednesday Presser 8-30-17: Don Brown

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 30th, 2017 at 6:00 PM

31993740285_a09a3fcc78_z

[Fuller]

Coach Zordich expressed some concern with the corners. Have you continued to see them progress?

“Oh yeah. They’re doing just fine. Obviously I don’t know—we’re about a month in now and we had a little…I don’t know what you’d call it—moment, whatever—but about four or five days ago I’ve just seen us pick up the level of practice tempo. Mentally, we really took a huge step and things have started to click since then. It’s hard when you’re a young player, especially in the secondary, and you have a lot of things going on, but we’ve certainly cleared that hurdle and guys are communicating well back there and I feel good about the way we’re adjusting to stacks, bunches, etc. There’s some clarity there.”

What got the team over the hump four or five days ago?

“I don’t know. It just…a moment or whatever, things kind of started to click. You could just see a complete elevation in our energy and we haven’t really stepped back at all since then. I feel good about where we’re at.”

What are the challenges when you have to prepare for the possibility of three different quarterbacks?

“Well, you know, I prepared for Zaire back a couple years ago and he was sharing time with—I lost his name but he’s in the NFL now…Kizer. And so, he can run the ball. He’s a good spread run guy. He can get on the perimeter and hurt you with some throws. He can go back and huck it.

“Feleipe Franks, obviously he’s more of a drop-back guy, wing it around, which I don’t think they would change their scheme dramatically for him because drop-back is part of their game.

“Del Rio, he can run the nakeds. He’s got some ability to run. He throws the ball—  probably can do most things for them. Does he satisfy the equation of being able to make them the most multiple? Maybe that’s the answer, I don’t know. We’re prepared for all three guys.”

Your backup defensive line, are you pleased with their progress?

“Yeah. Really happy with Rashan, Mo Hurst, Bryan Mone, Winovich. Carlo Kemp has vastly improved. Lo Marshall has vastly improved. You feel good about what Aubrey Solomon’s bringing to the table. We’re getting some solid play out of Reuben [Jones] and also Kwity Paye; young freshman’s being doing some good things and has taken a number of reps in camp that we feel he has tremendous upside.”

[After THE JUMP: it’s a Don Brown presser, just click already]

Monday Presser 8-28-17: Mike McCray and Mason Cole

Monday Presser 8-28-17: Mike McCray and Mason Cole

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 30th, 2017 at 9:28 AM

31961149836_cd7d2b5ffa_z33906397972_9a86091293_z

[Fuller]

Focus-wise, how is camp going? How different is it? Jim mentioned he was appreciative of you guys basically taking charge more so this year. Can you describe that a little bit?

McCray: “From a defensive standpoint, we’ve got a lot of new faces that’ll be starting, in the starting lineup and things like that. Lot of new guys, freshmen coming in and just stepping up and being more vocal on and off the field. Building that camaraderie between each other and learning things about each other to help us while we’re on the field as well, so that’s the biggest thing defensively.”

Cole: “Offensively, just like the defense, the same offense is coming in back in terms of schematically so just really pinpointing that offense really mastering it for everyone. So many young guys, and getting them ready in the offense and pushing them forward every day. As we get ready for Florida, just keep pushing them every day and as we get closer and closer guys get more and more prepared.”

Mason, how’s the right side of the offensive line progressed and how do you see it shaking out?

“Really good. I mean, we had so much competition this fall camp and the guys handled it really well. They competed their butts off every single day and so many guys got so much better, and just to see that happen through camp and going into Florida week, it’s really exciting.”

Who are some of those young guys that you’ve seen a really big jump?

“Yeah, I think just about everyone. Everyone got significantly better: guys like Mike Onwenu, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Jon Runyan, Nolan Ulizio and all those freshmen, too. Guys came out every single day to compete and they did that.”

[After THE JUMP: linebackers who’ve stepped up, the moment they became captains, and Cole making too much sense about rosters]

Monday Presser 8-28-17: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 8-28-17: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 28th, 2017 at 6:00 PM

33928537241_ed1faf6b90_z

[Upchurch]

“Hello. Thanks for coming out to Schembechler Hall.”

Can you talk about the two guys that were selected as captains and what you think their teammates saw in them that put them there?

“Yeah, first of all, it was a really good group. We looked at the seniors and the fifth-year players who could be elected captain and put it up there on the wall, on the screen. Really good leaders in that group so felt like we’d get two really good captains. We voted and we did: Mason Cole on offense, Mike McCray on defense. Both “Go Blue” guys, both poised to have big years, both starting players, both very good players at the highest level, so excited about both of our captains.

“And, as I said before, all of our seniors, our leaders, the way the leadership group is coming together.”

Are you ready to announce who is starting at quarterback?

“Have not heard Florida announce who their starting quarterback will be and we would love to have that information.”

Is that a no?

“So, uh, no, we’re not announcing our starting quarterback. As I said before, people make a big deal about our roster or not announcing a starting quarterback; I’m not seeing a starting quarterback—I haven’t seen the starting quarterback come out at Florida but never any mention of that. Very interesting. But yes, we would like to have that information from them. I’m sure they’d like to have it from us and right now neither is giving that information.”

This is typical [in that] you normally don’t name a quarterback early. Do you have a certain philosophy as to why that’s the case?

“Well, it’s been that the philosophy is it’s a meritocracy and competition is healthy and fair and productive. It’s been very good. As I said, it’s been a good camp for our quarterbacks and we feel confident in our guys. We believe in them.”

Obviously you don’t want to tell us but do you have a plan in mind? Do those guys know who’s going to be in at quarterback heading into game week at this point?

“We’re, uh, working on it, yes. It’s been formulated and we’ve communicated it.”

[After THE JUMP: a more focused offensive line, one surefire starter at corner, Florida standouts, and the deputization of leadership]

Fall Camp Presser 8-21-17: Jay Harbaugh

Fall Camp Presser 8-21-17: Jay Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 22nd, 2017 at 11:01 AM

16413906764_171b687a0a_z

[Fuller]

How’s your position group look?

“Doing good. Everyone looks good. Competing, getting better. A lot of the guys just had such strong springs and summers it’s elevated the guys at the top of the depth chart, the guys at the bottom of the depth chart, the younger guys are starting to come along, so everyone’s making everyone better just through competition, like it is at all positions.”

Ty Isaac’s slimmed down and is looking better. Talk about him a little bit.

“Yeah, he’s just doing everything right. Running the ball well, been great in protection, reliable hands, taking care of the ball. He’s a little bit trimmer so he’s moving a little bit more swiftly so really excited about him.”

We’ve heard a lot about, and Chris Evans specifically mentioned, the big back-small back aspect. He said Tyrone [Wheatley] kind of looked at it through the lens of a big back whereas you are more geared toward a small running back. Can you detail that a little bit and explain it?

“I don’t know if I can explain the difference or anything because I don’t know that I would agree that I see things like a small back or anything. I just try to look at each guy and what they bring to the table, what their skill set is, and you have to understand that they’re all different.

“Whether or not that’s different than before I really couldn’t tell you, but we do have a good group of guys that they all bring a little something different to the table so just when you’re calling plays and substituting, that’s something that you keep in mind.”

Chris said last week that a year ago he would run the ball or release and now he has to actually block people also. How have you seen that aspect of his game developing?

“He’s gotten so much more comfortable just trusting his eyes and reading defenses and knowing his responsibility and on top of that knowing what the offensive line is doing, what the quarterback’s thinking just in terms of where the protection is going and where the weaknesses are. So he’s shown a ton of growth in that regard and just very, very trustworthy to have him there in all kinds of different protections.”

[After THE JUMP: A little on where each back has improved. Also Ben Mason, because always ask a Harbaugh about fullbacks]

Fall Camp Presser 8-21-17: Mike Zordich

Fall Camp Presser 8-21-17: Mike Zordich

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 21st, 2017 at 4:30 PM

30351069220_eb95efa93c_z

[Fuller]

How are those young corners coming along?

“Not fast enough.” [/laughs] “Not fast enough. They show flashes. I’ll say this: Lavert has, since his injury, he’s been pretty consistent and you can see him increasing every day and getting better. The other guys, they’ve shown flashes. They just need to grab it. Somebody’s got to grab it and run with it and take it. It’s just not happening. Hopefully somebody will in the next five to seven days because we’ve got to get ready for a game in less than two weeks.”

So Lavert’s responded to whatever challenge you—

“He has. He absolutely has. He came back. He didn’t practice much in the spring. We were very disappointed about that and we expressed that with him. This summer he really worked hard, then unfortunately he gets injured. But he came back and just picked up and the arrow’s going up. The arrow’s going up. Can’t say that about the rest of the guys. Again, you see some flashes. You know they can do it, but they’ve got to do it every single day.”

How often have you gotten to a point in camp where you feel like that and in other years have seen a group, a secondary, come along and do what you want?

“Well, I’ll go back to when I was in Philadelphia coaching with the Eagles. My second year there we had some new faces but they came together and played well. Certainly we’ve got new faces—I guess I can say young faces—and they’re not coming together. I don’t know if they’re just afraid to make plays because, again, they have the ability and they’ve shown the ability and they’ve done it in live situations out here. It’s just for them to understand that it has to be on a consistent basis and that is just not happening right now.”

Is it just a matter of experience?

“Possibly. It could be. It could be experience. It may be. It may just be that they don’t know how to dig a little deeper and to find it. That could be part of the problem, too.”

Is anyone closer? Do you feel like anyone’s making more flashes than someone else?

“No.”

Are you sure this isn’t coachspeak?

“No. No. I’m not—I’m not gonna tell a story that isn’t true. That fair enough?”

That’s fair.

“I mean, we got a game to play in, what, twelve days? They’re working hard, they just gotta work hard more consistently and do the right things more consistently.”

[More honesty (and WR and JKP and Brad Hawkins hype) after THE JUMP]

Fall Camp Presser 8-14-17: Brian Smith

Fall Camp Presser 8-14-17: Brian Smith

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 15th, 2017 at 9:59 AM

34063094005_1e7dabe82a_z

[Fuller]

So how do you like your position group so far?

“I’m pleased with the position group right now. We’ve got some talented young players and it’s coming together well so far. It’s a good safety unit and I’m happy with their progress so far.”

How is Woods looking?

“Woods is looking good. He’s a young guy who came in mid-year. He’s picked up the system well. He’s a guy that studies hard off the field and puts in the time in the classroom and he’s progressed well so far.”
The news came out yesterday that Florida suspended seven players, including their top wide receiver. Does that affect how you prepare in any way to face Florida’s receivers?

“Well, right now we’re just focusing on trying to get better. We’re at a point where that’s a few weeks in the future and we’re just trying to get better from the standpoint of our assignments, getting guys lined up—you know, we’ve got a lot of new guys in there—and focused on getting better.”

How much has Tyree Kinnel been able to really embrace that leadership role?

“He’s embraced it. It’s something that we’ve been talking to him about, stepping up and being a leader in the group, and he’s done a good job of that so far. He’s a guy that communicates well back there. He knows the system well. He’s been in it for a year and he’s the most experienced guy, so he’s done a nice job taking some of the younger guys under his wing and showing them the right way in how we do things and how we practice. He’s a good example for them.”

[More after THE JUMP]

Fall Camp Presser 8-14-17: Greg Frey

Fall Camp Presser 8-14-17: Greg Frey

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 14th, 2017 at 3:06 PM

33220347424_f9c7fd4cc3_z

[Fuller]

Talk about the progress you’re seeing in the first few weeks.

“You know, it’s been really good. The guys have been working hard. Had a great summer. There’s a really good vibe. They’re fighting. It’s been really just a pleasure watching them grow, excel, learn, and then become a team.”

Tim [Drevno] talked a couple weeks ago about the division of responsibilities, [how] you taking the tackles kind of frees him up as an offensive coordinator to do a little bit more that way. How have you seen that division work for you guys?

“When coach Harbaugh and I talked a long time ago and then when I met coach Drevno, whatever helps us win, I’m 100% in. My history obviously leans toward offensive line play, so if I can help coach Drevno and free him up or help coach Hamilton in some way I’m going to do it, but really we’re just a really good, close group of offensive coaches working together. No egos, and it’s been awesome.”

How’s that battle at right tackle so far?

“As far as those things go, we’re just—our focus is on us and developing these kids and correcting things. Everybody’s doing really good things and everybody’s doing some things you want to do better. At this point in camp really legs are tired, guys are fighting, and so it’s a situation where you’re really trying to bring the stress level up and individually correct and develop, and as we get through camp I think separation occurs. It’s a little too early to tell right now.”

Jim was saying that on the offensive line, nobody can block Mo Hurst. I guess Rashan Gary, Rashan’s been pretty good. What—

“Wait, wait, wait. Rashan’s been very good. No ‘pretty.’ Nothing ‘pretty’ about it.”

At that elite level, is it a cause of concern for you and the offensive line or do you look at the level of competition—

“I don’t have to play him this year. I’m on the team with him, so I’m watching him. You know the old saying ‘Iron sharpens iron.’ When you’ve got guys and they’re coming in and you’re trying to prepare them to play, who you practice against plays a big part in that. And while you can’t go every single snap every single day against Rashan or Mo, what does happen is it becomes competitive. And so when it becomes competitive it brings the level of play up for guys.

“Mason Cole may not need that; he’s a four-year starter. We’ve seen him in a lot of game reps, but when you take guys that maybe haven’t, being able to get in there and compete and get some game-level intensity reps helps. And those two guys are unbelievable and coach Mattison and the whole D-line are unbelievable. We love it and going against them, you win some, you lose some, but the biggest thing is we’re stressing ourselves to become a more cohesive unit.”

[After THE JUMP: on Mason Cole, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Jon Runyan, and getting a group (not just a starting five) ready]

Fall Camp Presser 8-11-17: Jim Harbaugh

Fall Camp Presser 8-11-17: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 12th, 2017 at 9:56 AM

30050897815_417f1dd4dd_z (1)

[Upchurch]

How’s practice been so far?

“Good. It’s been good. We had a good day. Our guys had more energy and were moving around better; [they] had a bounce in their step. This’ll be a big weekend. This is—guys are going to get done with training, get into playing positions. It’s a big weekend for it because we start making those two-deep rosters soon. Train’s already left the station and it’s picking up steam.”

Are you going to give us those two-deeps?

“Uh…no, I didn’t say that.”

You said 8-15 practices for the quarterbacks to--

“Still early.”

Has anybody stepped up? Is it still a three-horse race or a two-horse race?

“Yeah, John [O’Korn] and Wilton [Speight] have really stepped up. I think they’ve created a little bit of separation and they’re battling now. It’s going one with the ones and the next day the other’s with the ones and the other’s with the twos. We’re keeping a very close eye on it and it’s progressing well.”

Pep said the other day that one of the things he really likes [QBs to have] is command of the offense. As a former quarterback, what does that mean to you when somebody says they have command of the offense?

“Well, it’s just a process of knowing where all your players are and figuring out what the defense is trying to do to you or take away or give you or where they’re more vulnerable, being able to move the team in and out of the huddle, and make reminders is always another one.

“If a guy has good command of the offense he’ll be able to give other guys reminders, the running back or the fullback or a wide receiver or a tight end. He’s got it on the tip of his tongue and he just knows it cold; that’s having command of the offense.”

Is that the kind of thing that Brandon [Peters] has to do to get back to the same level as John and Wilton?

“Yeah, I mean, it’s just a process for him. He’s competing hard and doing good. Not to say that it’s set in stone right now. I think that the two guys have really created a little bit of separation.”

[After THE JUMP: right side of the line, the unblockables, young guys likely to contribute, and more]