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 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]

Wednesday Presser 10-25-17: Chris Partridge

Wednesday Presser 10-25-17: Chris Partridge

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 26th, 2017 at 8:05 AM

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[Barron]

[Ed. A- I was too sick to make the trip in yesterday, but thanks to 247’s Isaiah Hole I had video from which to transcribe.]

“I thought after the first big run that he has we did a decent job of containing there. They hit some big plays. Quarterback’s phenomenal. Hit some big plays on us in the pass game and kind of flustered us a little bit and then we couldn’t get re-settled down in terms of that. I don’t think we paid too much attention, though.”

What happened to Quinn on the missed extra point? Crowd was booing him pretty heavily but did that affect him?

“No, I mean, that’s unacceptable. That can’t happen. He knows that. He just let his emotions get carried away and kind of kicked the ground a little bit and pushed it and that’s got to be fixed immediately from a mental standpoint. Can’t have that ever happen again.”

Ambry [Thomas] seems to really be progressing in kick return. Talk about what you’ve seen from him.

“He’s explosive, fearless. He’s what you want back there. It’s a really good combination we have now. We got Ben Mason, Brad Hawkins, Ambry, three true freshmen working together, getting to know each other, feeling each other out, because all three of those guys could get the ball and two of them have to be a blocker on every kick. Really, really happy with that unit’s progression and how those guys are really coming together and feeling each other out and stuff like that. Really happy with that group.”

[After THE JUMP: Rashan don’t read this, he wants you to keep the chip on your shoulder]

Wednesday Presser 10-11-17: Chris Partridge

Wednesday Presser 10-11-17: Chris Partridge

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 11th, 2017 at 6:00 PM

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[Fuller]

What do you say to Devin Bush when he gets caught retaliating after something that happened? Just you still can’t do that?

“Yeah, control your emotions. I mean, that’s unacceptable no matter what happens prior or what your frustrations are. You can’t do that. You can’t hurt the team like that, and he’s going to have to deal with that. He’s a phenomenal player and teams are going to try to do stuff to antagonize him. It’s a growing process in maturity. It’s unacceptable.”

Going up against Patrick Ramsey, the new quarterback at Indiana, what challenges do you see from Indiana’s offense?

“They’re very well coached. They do some good things to put you in binds. The quarterback can run, he can throw it. You’ve got big receivers on the outside. The running backs run hard. The line, they get after it. They obviously have a tempo to their offense where they’re going to hurry-hurry you. I mean, there’s a lot of challenges there.”

I guess Michigan State sent film in of Devin. Is that a concern? Do you talk to him about things like that?

“No, we just play football. Not going to get into them sending film. The officials are going to officiate the game. We’re going to play football and tackle like we tackle and it’s to keep our head out of it, that’s what we teach. But I’m not going to get into what they’re going to decide to do after the game.”

Your thoughts on how your group played in that game?

“You’re talking linebackers?”

Yeah.

“Um… I mean, we didn’t so… I don’t know. I mean, we were okay. Not our best performance, but, again, didn’t do things to win the game either. Think we’ve got to continue to get better week in and week out.”

[After THE JUMP: linebackers coming on recently, DPJ’s development, and hang time oh glorious hang time]

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 ]

Fall Camp Presser 8-9-17: Chris Partridge

Fall Camp Presser 8-9-17: Chris Partridge

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 11th, 2017 at 10:09 AM

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[Patrick Barron]

You just snuck in here.

“I snuck in. Sly. It’s camp. Go under the radar.”

Your early impressions of the three freshman linebackers you have?

“Yeah, they’re all competing, they’re all athletic, they like to hit. They’re what we expected.”

Where have you seen a lot of improvement from Devin Bush given the year of experience now?

“Just a year of maturity. That’s a big, big thing. Just a year of development in the weight room [and] athletically. He’s a guy that works just as hard in the weight room as on the field. Really enjoys the game and all aspects of it so his ceiling is high and he just keeps getting better and better, and he’s obviously a very savvy football player from his background with his father playing and everything like that. We’re excited about what he’s going to be able to do.”

He said in the spring that he was working at both Mike and Will. Is he focusing more on one of those spots now?

“He’s still able to do both. He’s been playing a lot of Mike lately but he’s able to do both—Will.”

Mike McCray’s been getting a lot of praise for his leadership and what he’s done. Can you talk about that aspect as well as how he’s come along as a player?

“Yeah, Mike, like I mentioned—so Mike came in last year and won the starting spot but if you know his background the prior two years he had been coming off some injuries and stuff. I think last year he was kind of feeling it out early, started gaining confidence, and became a tremendous football player for us. This year he’s coming in having that background and he kind of imposes himself on the other guys and the young guys. There’s an aura about him that’s different than it was last year, and that’s important because will look up to him and he’s a hard worker and tough. He’s a Big Ten linebacker, and now with that aura about him and sense of leadership he’s stepped his game up.”

[After THE JUMP: First word used to describe Khaleke Hudson is “violence” and no you can’t stop the MGoHypeTrain, you can only hope to contain it]

Spring Practice Presser 3-31-17: Chris Partridge

Spring Practice Presser 3-31-17: Chris Partridge

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on April 3rd, 2017 at 10:09 AM

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[Barron]

What’s the talent like at your position?

“Great. I mean, we have great talent. We have a chip on our shoulder when we come to practice every day. We’ve got a lot of opportunity ahead. But yeah, feel really good about it.”

How much has Devin [Bush Jr.] progressed from last year to this year?

“Devin progresses on a daily basis, you know. He’s starting to understand what it takes to be a Big Ten linebacker. He’s having a heck of a spring so far. He had a heck of an end of the season and got better and better. And he’s the kind of guy who comes to work every day, so he gets better every day. You really see it. He’s working on some things. We’re very excited about him.”

Do you feel confident he’s one of your top three guys right now with Mike McCray and Wroblewski?

“No, I can’t say that. I think every linebacker is one of my top guys, you know. I think that they all have to come to work and they have an opportunity. It’s all about opportunities in the spring and if they show up, whether it’s one rep or a hundred reps, they’re got to take advantage of it and work their butts off. I’m not ready to say—at least personally, I’m not ready to say who the top guys are. I think they all have to earn and do their part.”

The ferocity that Devin plays with on special teams; does he play that way at linebacker as well?

“Oh yeah, oh yeah. He’s not allowed not to. He’s really good. He’s the kind of guy who shows up and just…he’s the kind of guy who shows up every single day and every drill, whether it’s special teams or linebacker stuff, he gets it and that’s important.”

[Hit THE JUMP for Partridge’s recruiting philosophy and the strengths of the LBs]

Neck Sharpies: Solving the Spread Punt

Neck Sharpies: Solving the Spread Punt

Submitted by Seth on December 7th, 2016 at 4:00 PM

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A few years ago it was de rigueur on this site to talk about how college rules allowed NCAA teams to use a different style of punting, and that this style (called spread or shield) of punting was demonstrably superior to NFL-style (tornado). Michigan has swung between them in recent years. Carr tested out something like shield punting in 2003 then scrapped it when it cost him a game against Iowa. Rodriguez took us to spread punting along with spread offense, and Hoke returned the program to pro-style as was his wont.

In 2015 Harbaugh brought in special teams guru John Baxter and the spread was once again installed, presumably for good. Then Baxter left, and this year Michigan used both. At first we wondered if this was, like under Hoke, some relic of a coaching staff that strove to be pro-like in everything. But as the punt blocks, and near punt blocks, and running-intos that by all rights should have been punt blocks piled up, a new thought emerged: maybe Michigan thinks they’ve solved the spread punt.

Shield punting refresher

For a full explanation of spread punting and a comparison to NFL-style see my 2014 article or watch the Joe Daniel Youtube. Here’s a graphic:

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The splits are huge: two yards between the snapper and the guards, and two more yards until the next guy. You don’t care who comes up the A gaps—the only thing the guys on the line of scrimmage have to do is redirect the man lined up outside of them then get downfield (you don’t want your snapper involved in blocking).

The three guys standing about 7 yards back are the “shield”. You want big burly dudes for your shield, and you tell them the Grand Canyon is just behind their heels so they’d better not give an inch. By not giving an inch, they create an eye in the middle of the storm for the punter to safely get the punt off.

Everyone else just has to force the attackers to widen to the point where they can’t get back inside in time to affect the punt. That’s why the guards split so far apart: anyone going outside of them should presumably be too far outside to affect the punt. Anyone coming up the middle will get stuck behind an immovable wall of beef.

In the linked video, Daniel mentions the way to attack it is put four guys into those big “A” gaps, because that could overwhelm the shield. The way the shield would deal with this is block out man-to-man, and let the guys in the A gaps try to get around the shield. As long as your three-man shield can still stop four A-gap rushers, you’ve got a sound punt blocking strategy with two to four more guys releasing downfield than you would in an NFL-style punt.

So…

[After the JUMP we get around the shield]

Wednesday Presser 10-19-16: Chris Partridge

Wednesday Presser 10-19-16: Chris Partridge

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 19th, 2016 at 3:02 PM

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[Barron/MGoBlog]

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]

Wednesday Presser 9-21-16: Chris Partridge

Wednesday Presser 9-21-16: Chris Partridge

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 22nd, 2016 at 11:17 AM

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[Fuller/MGoBlog]

The linebackers on Saturday said they were getting sucked up sometimes in play action. On some of those slants, is that one of those cases where they were just a little too aggressive?

“Yeah, I mean, I think so. The bottom line is we want to stop the run first and foremost. That’s just kind of a learning thing, a seeing thing. I think we’re going to get better at that. But yeah, they did, they got sucked up a little bit in trying to stop the run. We’ve got to work on it and get a better feel.”

Talk about the impact of special teams and how it helped turn that thing around Saturday.

“Yeah, special teams is a huge facet of every game and we want to always make an impact. Our team, we talk about attacking and putting the opponent on their heels in all special teams categories. I think we were able to have an impact. It’s funny, because to everyone else it’s like ‘Oh, what tremendous game’ and then to me it’s like we left so much out there. We can get a lot better and make more impact plays on teams, and we’re working at that and working to build off of the game to do some more stuff. Yeah, we felt good and felt that we were able to contribute. That’s all we want to do is get out there and if the team needs a big-time special teams play, we want to be able to make it and switch the momentum.”
With the punt game and the amount of kicks you guys are effecting, are you doing something different schematically or is that just having the right guys in the right places?

“You know, it’s a lot of different things right. What I’m going to say is that the kids have bought in, they’re going hard, they’re understanding it, they love it, they take pride in it, and we’re doing whatever we see to try to effect it. We got a weapon back there, so it’s kind of fun calling that game because you kind of can do some different things and try to figure out what they’re trying to do. And then these guys have really bought into it. It’s cool.”

Jabrill being in the back gives you more options with the other ten guys on the field?

“Oh, absolutely, yeah. I mean, it’s a matter of are they coming with a block, are they coming with a hold up, are they coming with a block and a hold up, are they setting a wall—it’s just different things in different areas of the field what we’re able to do. He makes us more dynamic, I think, as any returner does.”

[After THE JUMP: why teams might still kick to Jabrill, more on the linebackers, fixing field goal issues, and how many plays Jabrill would play if he had his way]