Spring Practice Presser 4-22-18: Chris Partridge

Spring Practice Presser 4-22-18: Chris Partridge Comment Count

Adam Schnepp 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]

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Spring Practice Presser 4-22-18: Pep Hamilton

Spring Practice Presser 4-22-18: Pep Hamilton Comment Count

Adam Schnepp April 23rd, 2018 at 10:01 AM

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[Fuller]

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

“Well, I think we’re a tough group. I think we’re a tough group. Without a doubt, we’re still a work in progress. I think when you look at the group as a whole, we have some guys that actually have some game experience, and I feel good, really good about just the overall continuity of our staff and all the experience that we have and all the different ideas and how we were able to input the things that we feel like are going to be necessary for us to be a good offense next year.”

Tough how? More physical?

“I mea, physically tough, but a coach Harbaugh team, a Jim Harbaugh team, is always mentally tough as well. He likes to grind on guys. He likes to challenge guys to push past their threshold of comfort, and so we will be a tough group.”

With no designated offensive coordinator, how is the playcalling going to work?

“Coach Harbaugh, it’s his offense. Everything goes through Coach and it starts and ends with coach Harbaugh.”

Has your role in the offense changed? Are you taking on more responsibilities than last year?

“No. No, not at all.”

How do you and Jim McElwain process things together? Do you get some input from him?

“Yeah, we all work hard together. We all process things together, so to say coach McElwain, coach Warinner, Ron Prince, Ben McDaniels, along with Jay Harbaugh and Sherrone Moore, we work well together and it’s all a collaborative effort to present coach Harbaugh with some ideas of things that we like and he gives us the yes or no.”

So on gameday will there be somebody or will there be more than one person? Have you talked about that yet, who’s going to be talking to Coach?

“It’s always been that way.”

[Hit THE JUMP for impressions of each QB]

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Spring Football Bits Defense: Thorns and Storms

Spring Football Bits Defense: Thorns and Storms Comment Count

Seth 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]

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Spring Practice Presser 4-16-18: Al Washington

Spring Practice Presser 4-16-18: Al Washington Comment Count

Adam Schnepp 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]

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Spring Practice Presser 4-16-18: Jim McElwain

Spring Practice Presser 4-16-18: Jim McElwain Comment Count

Adam Schnepp April 17th, 2018 at 4:00 PM

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[image via Maize & Blue News]

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

This is kind of interesting for us.

“Is it?”

Just last year we were on the other side—

“Oh, that’s right, on the other—”

How’s it been for you?

“Uh, this has been just a great opportunity and coach Harbaugh has been a guy that obviously I’ve followed for a long time, and the opportunity to come and learn from him and kind of see how someone else kind of does it and puts it together, it’s really been a lot of fun.”

Can you take us through how he contacted you, and how long did it take you to jump on this offer?

“Well, kind of, maybe, I don’t know if he got the wrong number and I answered. You know, I don’t really know how it came about but we got a phone call and was obviously very excited to come and, if nothing else, just getting an opportunity to kind of stand in the background and see how something’s operated, and that’s what’s been really good. He extended the offer and I was really excited about that. My wife and I are really excited about being in Ann Arbor.”

Taking over the wide receiver group, what was the first thing you wanted to teach this group of wide receivers?

“Well, I think there obviously is a lot of talent there, and good, young talent. The thing I really enjoy is being in that room with them. They’re really good people, good young men.

“For us, one of the focus areas has been ability to, number one, get open, especially against all the press coverage that you see. They’ve really worked on honing their skills and trying to do what we’re trying to teach them to do, and yet we’ve got a long ways to go, but at the same time it’s really a fun group of guys and it’s great to be around them.”

[After THE JUMP: Curr Dogg, SEC speed, and how the basketball team could fuel the WR group’s success]

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Spring Football Bits Offense: Sunshine and Roses

Spring Football Bits Offense: Sunshine and Roses Comment Count

Seth April 17th, 2018 at 1:08 PM

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[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Scheduling note: Splitting these up because we got a lot from this weekend. Here’s the offense.

Why so Positive?

I hate to write to the worst of my mentions but the biggest complaint I’ve gotten from doing these write-ups is they’re too positive. There is a very good reason for this: That is what the people with access want to share. Most of the information available to the public comes from the coaches and players made available to the press. That’s supplemented by SOURCES: former players, current players, family members, big donors, local coaches, or those hearing second-hand from them. They are partisans or ambassadors, and have all been told how to talk to the media.

Once in awhile some of this is negative, but the first rule of sourcing is don’t repeat something unless you can verify it, either by getting the same information independently or because you trust where it’s coming from entirely. Positive stuff gets repeated; negative things are usually coming from just one guy. Balancing coverage is impossible, for one, and two, a fallacious exercise.

The best I can do is present the information we have and frame it in context of spring hype. If you take biased information at face value you’re a fool; if you run from bias because it’s not what you want to hear you’re a coward. All agreed? Good. Let’s see where the smoke is blowing.

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Offense in General

What we want to hear: Just be honest, okay?

What we’re hearing: From umbig11: 

“The ‘SWAG’ is back on the offense! We have playmakers and we have studs on the OL. Shea is playing at a level not seen in A2 for several years!”

Michael Spath talked to a couple players ($) about the how the team looks this year, and got stuff like this:

"I'd put Shea up against any quarterback in the Big Ten, I think Tarik is going to be the best receiver and Ruiz ... man, he's got everything. I'd be shocked if he's not an All-American."

In an interview with Josh Henscke, Carlo Kemp said the offensive line is tough to play against:

"They're really good at every position," Kemp said. "It's a battle every time, especially inside. You've got to be ready to take on double-teams, people coming this way and that way, it's a lot faster game. The o-line is looking really good all across the board. We've all gotten stronger, we've all matured from last season and two seasons ago just with experience playing from the same position. It's been a good fight, o-line and d-line this fall."

What it means:  So that’s where the smoke is blowing. Right up in there.

[after THE JUMP: what you want to hear.]

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Spring Practice Presser 4-12-18: Mike Zordich

Spring Practice Presser 4-12-18: Mike Zordich Comment Count

Adam Schnepp April 13th, 2018 at 10:05 AM

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[Bryan Fuller]

[Ed. A- So my wife and I had a baby a week ago and since then I think of sleep like I used to think of vacations, like, “Oh, that would be nice to do someday.” Last night I caffeinated just in time for the baby to actually fall asleep, so I had a chance to transcribe this. Huge thanks to Orion Sang for passing along the audio.]

How’s your group look?

“Our group looks good. The guys that are out there are working their tails off and pleased with the progress.”

So you’re not going to come here and do what you did last camp?

[laughs] “We’re just gonna talk about the guys that are out there practicing, getting better, how about that? That fair enough to say?

“Yeah, but Ambry Thomas, B. Watson, David Long, then you got a young guy in Myles Sims who still should be in high school, he’s our here working his tail off getting better, so it’s been promising. Then Hunter Reynolds, a walk-on, really getting better, so it’s been good for ‘em.”

You mentioned Ambry Thomas. What’s the biggest difference in him from year one to year two?

“He is very comfortable now. We were just talking about it over there about maturity level. You know, last year we were so young and now all the sudden these guys have had some playing experience and it has helped them, and so that’s last year and now you’re walking into a new year and just much more confident. And things are slower for them, and he’s been really improved. [Inaudible] with the ones quite a bit, so he’s been showing up a bunch.”

If he’s been working with the ones does that mean maybe that Vert moves into the inside? Are you guys messing around with those combinations there?

“Well, yeah, you know, Vert hasn’t practiced, so he’s losing valuable time, unfortunately for him. But it allows Brandon Watson to continue to get better, Ambry THomas to get better, David Long to get better, and as I mentioned Hunter and Myles. So, it’s great for those guys. They’re just growing by leaps and bounds.”

Why hasn’t Hill practiced?

“He’s got an issue with his hips or his groin. Trying to figure that out.”

[After THE JUMP: who’s rising, who’s out, and where guys might end up]

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Spring Football Bits: Prove to Me that You’re Divine

Spring Football Bits: Prove to Me that You’re Divine Comment Count

Seth April 10th, 2018 at 4:33 PM

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you can’t throw a rock at Schembechler Hall without hitting someone talking up Bush and Dwumfour [Patrick Barron]

We got a lot of good stuff from over the weekend so let’s do another one of these. Depending on what’s leaking the rest of the week I may or may not get another out before the spring game, so I’ll try to make this one pretty comprehensive.

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Quarterback

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Do you know what people say you are? [Bryan Fuller]

What we want to hear: Hosanna, hey-sanna, sanna sanna ho, sanna hey, sanna ho, sanna!

What we’re hearing: Multiple practice observers believe Patterson is well ahead of the other two, and the gap between him and Peters/McCaffrey is about equal to the gap between those two right now and where they were last year.

First the scouting. Harbaugh on his podcast said Shea Patterson has the best release and that he really shines when going off-script. Insiders are spitting out super-foobally platitudes: He’s “a leader.” He “makes plays.” That jives with his seat-of-the-pants film at Ole Miss and the general “Tate Forcier Except Goes to Class” impression we got from that. The insiders are way more bullish. The “he’s a leader” thing got emphasized by all three of my “SOURCES”, with one saying he’s probably the best offensive juice guy Michigan’s had since Harbaugh got here.

Brandon Peters throws the best ball, which is again something we knew. The biggest mover is Dylan McCaffrey, last year’s scout team player of the year, who benefited the most from Herbert in the offseason, and who gets rave reviews about his pocket command.

As for eligibility, Brian discussed it depth earlier this afternoon. The short version is it’s no surprise that Ole Miss opposed these waivers because the only way to avoid significant sanctions is casting Ohio State* and beating the NCAA’s wisdom throw.

*image

What it means: The first episode of the Amazon thing was a good reminder that nobody outside of the quarterback room knows the real status of the quarterback battle, so this is guesswork based on lay observations. But nothing can be done to stop the shouting; if every tongue were stilled the noise would still continue—the rocks and stone themselves would start to sing. Unless the NCAA (and again, we’re talking about the NCAA, not some group of responsible, potty-trained adults) buys Ole Miss’s innocence act, Patterson is your presumptive starter. For now.

There’s another clue that this is where the coaches are leaning: one of the points insiders made about is Pep is putting more emphasis on scramble drills. We all noticed last year how, with the notable exception of Grant Perry, Michigan’s receivers would end up standing around after running their routes instead of working back to the QB. If there’s a greater emphasis for the QBs on checking down and improvisation, and a greater emphasis for the WRs on providing those outlets, that kinda sounds like they’re shaping the offense to Shea’s strengths.

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[After THE JUMP: My two offensive lines theory, did you hear about Dwumfour?]

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Spring Practice Presser 4-3-18: Greg Mattison

Spring Practice Presser 4-3-18: Greg Mattison Comment Count

Adam Schnepp April 4th, 2018 at 8:03 AM

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[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

[Ed. A—Pick your poison if you’re wondering why there aren’t any MGoQuestions: is it the GI bug that has kept me up and…uh, occupied since 4 AM, or is it that my wife could go into labor at any time? I’ll be back at Schembechler Hall as soon as I can. Thanks to MGoFriend Isaiah Hole for the video.]

Do you have the deepest position?

“Well, you know, I don’t know. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know, we haven’t looked at it. I think the linebackers got some good depth, some good talent. I think there’s some good young kids all over that defense that are working to make the depth that we need.

“But up front, you know we want to always have enough depth to be able to rotate, and really, that’s what the spring is for us. We want our first group to get better and come out every practice to get better, and guys behind them gotta earn the right so that you say, ‘Okay, when we get in games, this guy can go in right now. I think you’re getting that. I think you’re seeing that.”

Who’s starting to earn that right?

“Well, Kwity Paye is having a really, really good spring. Michael Dwumfour, I think, is having one of the best springs that I can remember. I mean, he’s really playing hard, and Aubrey’s [Solomon] playing hard, and Carlo, Carlo Kemp every day comes out an gets a little better, and he’s playing a couple positions. I think we’ve got a number of kids that are doing good to try and get that first group [to] feel like they’re there.”

What distinguishes Dwumfour?

“Dwumfour, it’s been he’s so quick off the football. He has a lot of Mo Hurst in him. There’s times when you see him come off the ball and you just go, ‘Whoa, that’s really good,’ and he’s a little bit thicker and a little bit bigger.

“The other thing, it’s probably Rashan [Gary] and Chase [Winovich] and Bryan Mone’s leadership that have really gotten him to step up. He’s always shown flashes, but now all of a sudden he’s getting more mature. Times when he’d play really good, really good, really good, and then all of a sudden try to take a play off or he wasn’t ready to take that next play. He’s not doing that now. He’s pushing himself way past where he usually would, and that’s a real good sign for us.”

[After THE JUMP, a 275-pound man is referred to as “little Phillip.” Football!]

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Spring Football Bits: Huggier Harbaugh Edition

Spring Football Bits: Huggier Harbaugh Edition Comment Count

Seth March 30th, 2018 at 4:30 PM

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Spring the 4th: a little different than Spring the 1st. [photo: Eric Upchurch]

As fans of Kansas, Villanova, and Loyola-Chicago have informed me, Michigan is the only Final Four team that fields an FBS football program, let alone a hockey program, putting us in the unique position of reading tea leaves and entrails from spring practice at the same time that two real life championships are a pair of actual real life games away.

--------THIS IS YOUR FRIENDLY MGOBLOG REMINDER THAT YOU DO IN FACT NEED TO BREATHE IN ORDER TO SURVIVE AND SHOULD PROBABLY DO SO NOW--------

The general form of this annual exercise is the fans go in hoping to hear certain things, and then pressers, videos and the odd practice insiders confirm, ignore, or dodge them with miniscule data. So I’m trying this in a new, more spring-reflective format.

New Harbaugh:

What we want to hear: Depends if you’re a Patton guy or an Eisenhower guy.

What we’ve heard: Harbaugh’s gone Eisenhower.

The players have noticed a change in their coach in large part because he sought input from them after the bowl game that capped an 8-5 season. He held a team meeting in January after the bowl game, and they shared their feelings.

“We had a sour taste in our mouth,” Higdon said. “I did, he did, everybody in this facility. He was open, (saying) ‘What do we need to do? What can I do?’ How often do you see that from a coach, asking his players? That’s stronger than anything.”

What it means: We’re picking through pabulum here. There was a sense coming from outside Schembechler Hall that Harbaugh was doing more face guy/program ambassador work, but he does all those things in the time that he’s literally not allowed to spend with his players. From the players’ responses though it does seem he’s been less aloof.

What it probably means is the coaching staff is taking last year’s failings seriously, and they’re trying to emphasize to the fans that they’re doing so.

Also Jim’s going to be a grandpa soon.

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[After THE JUMP: Stop me if you’ve heard this before but the defense sounds way more optimistic than the offense]

--------ALSO THIS IS ANOTHER FRIENDLY REMINDER THAT YOUR BLOOD DOES NEED OXYGEN AND YOU SHOULD PUT SOME OF THAT IN YOUR LUNGS RIGHT NOW--------

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