Spring Practice Presser 4-22-18: Chris Partridge

Spring Practice Presser 4-22-18: Chris Partridge

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on April 24th, 2018 at 10:03 AM

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[Fuller]

[Ed. A—Thanks to Orion Sang and The Michigan Daily crew for passing along audio]

“Yeah, great. Lot of good work in. It’s been a good spring, productive. Seen good improvement so very good and very positive.”

Your first year with safeties. What do you like about those guys?

“Yeah, it’s awesome. I like—for me personally, it’s a different perspective. You know, looking at spacing, route combinations. Got a really good group. Guys that are hungry, that are competing. There’s eight guys that are all working back there, so really excited about all of ‘em.”

Was it a big adjustment for you in moving back and coaching the safeties?

“No, not really. You know, I didn’t know what it was going to be like the first day on the field, obviously, because you’re looking—when you’re coaching linebackers it’s all protections and run game to start. When you’re coaching safeties it’s all route combinations to start, so different perspective but no, I think it’s been smooth.

“I got coach Devin Bush with me, so it’s easy to lean on him if I need to, so he’s awesome and been great with it too. He’s played at the highest level at the position, so that always helps. But no, it’s been good. I think the transition’s been really good. I enjoy it.”

Josh Metellus took a lot of heat last year but sounds like he’s had a really good spring. He’s even played some corner at times in the scrimmages?

“He did for a day, yeah. We had to move him out there for a day. He did a hell of a job. I don’t know about the heat he took, but he’s had a really good spring for us. I really appreciate him. He comes to work every day. He’s an athlete that can play at a high level, and that’s what we expect out of him, and that’s—I talked to them moving forward, got to get him playing at a high, high level, and I expect that this year.”

What specific areas of improvement have you seen the safeties make over spring practices?

“It’s funny because I come from linebackers but one of the ways I wanted to really improve those guys was in physicality. We do a lot of things to improve their physicality in terms of getting off blocks and not allowing receivers to block us and things and that’s been a vast improvement I think.

“It’s easy for me because linebackers, that’s what you do, so that’s been really good. I wanted to really get detailed with their footwork. You know, every break means something, the way you break on a route. Every step means something. The angles you take—we’ve really honed down on the basics of that stuff.

“In the winter we really went to speed school, essentially. When we’re breaking on a route or breaking on the ball, it’s all about your directional step, gaining ground, and pointing in the right direction with your first two steps. I think they’ve gotten faster in that stuff throughout the winter and the spring, which is good as well.”

[Hit THE JUMP to learn why you should never, ever Flintstone]

Spring Football Bits Defense: Thorns and Storms

Spring Football Bits Defense: Thorns and Storms

Submitted by Seth on April 18th, 2018 at 3:45 PM

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chomp chomp chomp chomp. [Fuller]

This is the defense section: I had to split these up for length which means the offense bits are here.

So Let’s Start With More on the Offense

Yeah so the McElwain presser on Monday opened up a bunch of questions about who’s in charge of the offense. Let’s clear that up with a bit of Bo knowledge and some CK2 references, because everybody who covers Michigan football must understand those at least.

I think Harbaugh told us how he’s going to do it when he said Bo didn’t have an OC, and everybody—or at least everybody who didn’t buy HTTV 2015—missed the reference. Indeed, when Harbaugh was playing here, Bo had a defensive coordinator (Gary Moeller) and more or less allowed Mo to run his duchy. But there was no like position on offense. Instead Bo had a “quarterbacks coach,” Jerry Hanlon, Bo’s right hand man going back to their Miami days. Hanlon coordinated the offensive staff, and called the plays from the box, but never got the title. They also had two offensive-minded former head coaches on staff in Alex Agase and Elliot Uzelac, not to mention Bo was an offensive (line) coach at heart. With all of those vassals with kingship claims, hierarchy was less important than council positions.

That’s how I think it’s going to work now. Pep is your Hanlon—he’s got his job and if he cares what you call it he won’t say so publicly. McElwain is Uzelac—he’ll contribute his thoughts while getting back to position coaching and waiting for an OC job. Warinner is Agase, the guy we know all too well from a long career on opposite sidelines, here because he became available and we need him. They’re not Pep’s vassals because Harbaugh holds the Duke of O title himself, but Pep is the Marshall, and leads the armies.

There. Now the offensive staff makes sense, or if it doesn’t make sense at least now you know it’s only because you don’t know enough about Bo and CK2, and you need to rectify that.

Oh, and Sam’s apologizing to anyone he sees for not being hype enough on Joe Milton, with the why at the link($).

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Defense in General

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Really would like to know how solving your problems with aggression works in baseball [Patrick Barron]

The thing about Michigan’s defense is they return all but two starters from an excellent unit, and the coordinator has put out three top five defenses in three years—one with Boston College talent—so sunshine is to be expected. At places used to such riches they’ve learned to ask more about strategies for using the varied abilities they’ve collected. We haven’t learned to do this yet, so this is going to be mostly chatter about backup battles.

What we want to hear: Now that some of Dr. Blitz’s weapons are coming into their second and third years, how are they being incorporated into the defense?

What we’re hearing: This week new linebackers coach Al Washington met with the press. Washington played at BC and later coached (running backs and special teams) with Don Brown there. He was part of Fickell’s staff at Cincy that gave Michigan fits by going to a 3-4/4-3 under front and gap-switching a ton. He has been put in charge of Brown’s Swiss army knife position: the Vipers, SAMs, Edges, and whatnot, right when third year Brown hybrids like Josh Uche and Khaleke Hudson are coming into their own. Adam, our presser guy, has a one-week-old so he wasn’t there to ask our questions, and now I’ve got a beef with the Michigan press corps for wasting this opportunity for knife talk to instead lob questions about Mt. Rushmore. But we got one thing out of it:

He said this might be his fastest defense ever. What have you seen of the talent level out there?

“Man, I’ll tell you what, I made the comparison of somebody dropping a steak in a tank of piranhas. You see the quarterback drop back and it’s like…man, it’s overwhelming. So, speed is lightning quick, they’re physical, and they’re smart. That, to me, is probably the biggest thing.

“These guys get it. This is a lot of—I think he had two new starters last year. Ten new starters, excuse me. So, a lot of these kids are coming back and they know it. They have a mastery of it and so that just makes them even faster. They’re tough. They take pride in what they do. It’s a great group. A special group.”

Piranhas it is.

What it means: If a Minnesota Twins fan complains ask him what state Ron Gardenhire collects a check in.

[After the JUMP: The Piranhas]

Spring Practice Presser 4-16-18: Al Washington

Spring Practice Presser 4-16-18: Al Washington

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on April 18th, 2018 at 8:01 AM

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[image via Maize & Blue News]

[Ed. A—Thanks to Orion Sang and The Michigan Daily crew for passing along audio]

How are you enjoying the experience here so far?

“It’s been good. It’s been real good. Everybody here from an administrative standpoint to a player standpoint has been great. It’s good to be—you know, I’m three hours from home, so family comes often. But it’s Michigan, you know. It’s a dream school. But it’s been really good, so I’ve enjoyed working here.”

You were a Buckeye growing up.

“I was. Well, I wasn’t, my father was, so you kind of get born into it, but yeah, I’m familiar with Ohio State. All respect to them and coach Meyer and what they’re doing, but I was excited about this for a lot of reasons. I’m trying to convert as many family members over.”

How about your dad?

“My dad—my dad was here this past weekend to come to the spring game, the spring practice, and he had a good time. He had a Michigan hat on but he had an Ohio State jersey underneath, so I was exposing him a little bit. But yeah, he’s excited. He’s proud. It’s a great program and great school.”

What did you get out last year with Fickell?

“You said how did I?”

What did you take [away]?

“Oh, well, coach Fickell’s a great person, first off. I hadn’t worked with him prior to going there but growing up in Columbus, a lot of coaches I’m close with were close with him. He’s a great human being, man. Great coach, he’s a winner, so I really enjoyed my time there.

“It was tough to leave so soon because you get relationships with these kids, but—and coach Fickell. What did I get out of it? I guess just another perspective, another high-level coach to learn from how to conduct their business, how to run a program.”

Did it catch you off guard? You were only there for one year, like you said. You’re young. Did it catch you off guard when they called you here and said we want you to coach here? Was it something you expected?

“Every year is kind of its own deal. So, I had been at Boston College for five years prior and that was kind of my—I’ve been all over the place as I’ve come up. Did I think I’d be offered a job at Michigan at the beginning of the year? No, but I didn’t think it was something out of the norm.

“And, you know, my relationship with Donnie [Brown], I’ve kept in contact with Donnie. He’s a big part of that, obviously. That’s documented. But, you know, I’m not surprised about much. Every year is kind of unique, and so it was a great situation, for sure. Appreciative of it, but I’m kind of ready for whatever.”

[After THE JUMP: Don Brown on Mount Rushmore, piranhas on a quarterback, and a child care conundrum I am intimately familiar with]

National Signing Day II Presser: Jim Harbaugh

National Signing Day II Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on February 8th, 2018 at 10:35 AM

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[Fuller]

“Hello. Good to see everybody.”

Jim, couple misses today but the new guys that you did get, what do you think about the class?

“Very excited about the class. First time we’ve had two signing days, so many that you know about and proud to announce, officially, Shea Patterson—talked about him; Ronnie Bell, can officially announce Ronnie; Casey Hughes, who’s also a graduate transfer; Vince Gray; Michael Barrett. So, welcome to the Michigan family.”

You started talking about Ronnie the last time inadvertently, but what is it that you like about Ronnie?

“Love all his athletic ability. Start off with production: 86 catches, close to 1200 yards, Simone Player of the Year in Kansas City, player of the year in football. He’s also an excellent basketball player and…love the family, love him. Production. Production being the key thing.”

MGoQuestion: What are you getting in Michael Barrett and do you envision him starting off at quarterback or running back or somewhere else?

“Envision him getting the ball in his hands. Wide receiver, slot receiver, running back: those two areas primarily for him. Spent some time with Anquan Boldin, who was also a high school quarterback. Played some quarterback in college, and eventually wide receiver. Somebody that can get the ball and make yards after the catch or yards after contact. A receiver who can run like a running back and, also, I think he’ll have the ability to be a running back. So, different areas that Michael could get the football, including quarterback.”

Now that it’s all over and you’ve had the two signing days, you’ve had the coaches moving in between, with all of it together, what did you learn about this…new world, I suppose? What did you take away from it overall?

“I don’t know what the numbers exactly will be but somewhere around 80% seemed to sign on the first signing day, and then there was 20% more that signed throughout college football. I think our numbers will be pretty close to that. There was a priority for the youngsters to sign on the first signing day. That’s the biggest thing, the biggest takeaway.”

[After THE JUMP: possible positions for Ryan Hayes and Casey Hughes, another spring abroad, and thoughts on new staff additions (including those no longer here)]

Coaching Hello: Al Washington

Coaching Hello: Al Washington

Submitted by Brian on January 4th, 2018 at 1:07 PM

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Washington background

This isn't quite official yet but Sam Webb says Cincinnati DL coach Al Washington is telling Cincinnati recruits that he's leaving, Brandon Justice tweeted about it, and Chris Vannini is confirming Justice's report, so it seems good enough for bloggin' work.

So: Washington was a three-year starter on the DL at Boston College from 2004 to 2006 and then went into coaching. He's been a DL coach for the duration of his career with the exception of one year as a LB coach at Elon and a stint from 2013 to 2015 when he was BC's running backs coach; BC RB Andre Williams won the Doak Walker and was a fourth-round pick in 2013. FWIW, he also gained "special teams coordinator" titles at his last two stops.

There's conflicting information about where Washington will end up; Justice reports that he'll be the RB spot but there's other chatter that he'll slot in at linebackers as Partridge moves to safeties. If it is RB that's a bit odd since this is more of a Don Brown hookup than a Harbaugh one. OTOH, RB is a spot that's generally regarded as a recruiting-heavy one. Washington's young, has a good reputation...

...and is well-known to Brown, so that seems like a good bet to work out. BC folks weren't happy at his departure:

This is... pretty bad. Al Washington is one of BC football’s most important coaches, in particular with his ability to sell the school and bring in some of the Eagles’ best recruits. And as @BearcatJournal pointed out, Washington was the DL coach for Harold Landry, who tallied 15 sacks and may be an NFL first round pick this season.

We'll see how the rest of the coaching staff changes shake out. Michigan has at least one more guy to add since a tenth coach has just become official, and probably a few more since there are rumors of a wholesale overhaul on the offensive side of the ball.