- Partridge going back to New Jersey
- Quinn Nordin's confidence
- The backup kicker job
- Some great Juwann Bushell-Beatty stories
[After THE JUMP: Chris Partridge got jokes!]
[After THE JUMP: Chris Partridge got jokes!]
[After THE JUMP: A transcript]
[After THE JUMP: So many special teams questions]
[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]
[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]
[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]
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?”
“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]
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’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 ]
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]
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]