Rutgers Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 29th, 2017 at 12:00 PM



Can you assess Brandon Peters’ game and did he do enough to earn another start?

“He really acquitted himself well. Moved the football team. Played very, very well. Yeah, he did a lot and from the first time he went in there, just feeling the deep zone and feeling the linebackers drop and taking that extra half second to take a breath and hit the checkdown just was good ball. He was good.”

Brandon himself said his biggest advancement since fall camp was communication. How much has he addressed the things you talked about before the season?

“He’s made big strides. Really good in that area. It’s been—and was good out there today.”

What did you see on the touchdown pass to Chris Evans and—

“I thought Chris made a heck of a catch on it. Thought Brandon saw it well. Good protection, and Brandon put it… you know, a little short, but Chris adjusted well to the ball and made a nice catch.”

And then the next time out he had a two-minute drill. What impressed you most about Brandon’s game today?

“Today? Well, the things I talked about earlier. I mean, just that he was playing the position. He was playing good ball. Two-minute drill, I think that’s definitely… that’s a real bright spot to go in there—what was it, his second drive, I think, and get organized and get our team organized in the two-minute drill on the field. That’s something a quarterback doesn’t usually have happen to him on his second drive of playing football but I think it went really well for him, and that was great to see.”

[After THE JUMP: questions about special teahaha just kidding it’s more stuff about Peters]

Obviously the quarterback position has been one of high contention all season long among the fanbase. At what moment did you decide it was right to make the switch to Peters and why?

“We had made that decision… well before the game that he was going to play. It was time. It was time for him to play.”

Outside of a few plays that the defense gave up today, how happy were you in their performance today compared to last week at Penn State?

“Just keep admiring how hard they play. Our guys are really competing, really working, straining when they’re out there. I think that showed up defensively. Forty-some plays and they give up fifty-some yards. Three plays where we gave up over 100, but hard-working unit. Played very well today.”

I’m curious, when Brandon does go in the game, for you, you guys obviously prepared him as best you thought you could but at some point he has to go in the game. What are you thinking as a coach when it’s like, Okay, you’re in the seat? Were you nervous for him? Did you expect him to go out and play well? I’m curious what’s going on in your head at that point.

“I thought he was ready. You base a lot of things on practice. Good in practice, good good in the games. Now, that’s not always the case, especially with young players that… sometime they’re not good in the games and they’re good in practice. It was great to see him be good in the game, too. That was good. That—young players, when they’re good in the games, that helps their confidence. That builds their confidence.

“We all felt good. Nobody was more nervous about what was going to happen. We thought he’d be—we thought he’d do good. I think he did better than everybody thought, too.”

That was my question. Did he exceed what you thought from where he’s at right now?

“Yeah, yeah. I mean, that was—yes, yes. Yeah, you’re going in, consistent. Every drive he was moving the team and touchdown drive on the two-minute drill and eighty-yard drive or seventy-five yard drive to start his first series in football, starting quarterback in college. I would think that it’d be very good for his confidence and build on it. We look to build on it.”

You had two 100-yard rushers and the pass blocking looked better. Can you assess both sides of the blocking, the run blocking and the pass blocking?

“Yeah, thought our running backs played extremely well but you have to start and give the credit to the offensive line, a lot of credit to the offensive line. There were some nice big holes. Coach Drevno, nice job with the run scheme. We had some nice schemed-up runs and they were executed extremely well: tight ends, fullbacks, receivers, and especially the offensive line.

“And pass-pro was very good as well. Played good up front. Played physical. I mean, it wasn’t going to be—well, didn’t think it was going to be real nice out there. It was going to be physical. Our guys responded.”
You mentioned Brandon had been getting better and better at communication in practice. I assume that goes to the loudness thing you were looking for. Was there a breakthrough moment in a practice where he busted through his shell to a certain degree? Did you see a particular moment?

“Yeah, I think probably late in training camp it was like, wow, he’s a lot louder. He’s really doing the job. That sounds good. That sounds real. He’s been good. I think we talked about it last week. You guys were asking me where things were, and always look at it as a process and now for a couple weeks, for a couple weeks now we’ve felt that he was ready and it’s time to… [pushing cupped hands over upward] like a bird leaving the nest. [laughs] Kids leaving the house and going off on their own. I mean, it was time. It was time. Right, dad? Me and my dad talked about that last week and this week. It was just time.”

You mentioned the plan to put Brandon in the game today. Is the plan going forward to use both of them in games or is Brandon your starting quarterback?

“We’ll see. Right now I feel really good about the way he played and feel good about him now taking the next step and being the starting quarterback and getting a great week of—now knowing he’s the starting quarterback in practice. As I sit here now, that’s the way I feel about it.”

You talked about the defensive intensity from the get-go. How much of that was due to Mo Hurst? Very first play from scrimmage he drops a sack. How much does he mean to that defensive intensity?

“Um… a lot. There’s times in the practice where he’s unblockable. I mean, he just wrecks everything, and then he does that in the games, too. It’s very impressive.

“I thought our whole front was impressive. Again, I just go back to… they play so hard. The hard work, the strain, really shows up in the games the way Mo plays, Rashan, Mone. Great to see Aubrey Solomon get his first start today. Thought he acquitted himself very well as well. Chase Winovich, the same. Same with the backers, same with the secondary. They compete. Young, but they compete.”

Seems like when you go with a quarterback you put all your confidence in them. Did it with Wilton. Did it with John. Just wondering, how difficult was it when you made the decision to maybe move toward Brandon and give him shots? How difficult was it for you personally? Throughout your career, have you ever had to juggle a decision like that for this amount of time? Was it difficult for you to do?

“Um, no. That’s just what we felt was the right thing to do. We felt when we made the decision that he was going to play that was the plan and we stuck to the plan.

“Are decisions difficult there? I… and, you know, we’ve got our coaches there, too. Nobody looks at it or thinks about it more than I do and our coaches do, and they’ve done a great job and he’s done a great job getting himself ready.”

With John, did you guys lay it out to him like ‘John, something’s got to happen or we’re going to go with Brandon?’ What was your guys’ talk with John and did he know this was coming?

“We told the whole team that this was going to happen in our Monday meeting, that they would play and that Brandon would play in the game.”


yossarians tree

October 29th, 2017 at 2:14 PM ^

No, it was a lack of balls, because "Amutnal" said so. And as we all know, despite Jim's deep credentials as a player in college and the pros, and as a head coach in college and the pros, and despite the fact that he has spent thousands of hours evaluating the quarterbacks over the last 18 months since Peters arrived, as we all know, still, that "Amutnal" really has a much better grasp on the situation. Thank God we have him on our side.


October 29th, 2017 at 4:06 PM ^

Who the hell does JH think he is? Under what authority does he have to make this decision unilaterally? He acts as if he is the head coach. Can you believe the arrogance of that guy? Ignoring MgoTrolls and their PRICELESS advice.
He needs to answer for his transgressions of not playing Peters in the MSU game. Congress probably needs to have Muller take a look at this. Did the SEC use twitter to influence Jim on this? I am not saying anything either way, but we should look into it. What did Jim know when? Why ignore our collective MGoBrilliance if not for outside influence. Has Jim ever been to SEC country. OMG, you guys, chill bumps, who did he talk to during the satellite camps? The move drew a lot of unwanted media attention. Did Saban back channel for Dantonio, his MSU predecessor? Just too many stones left unturned. Don't even get me started with the clear Papal plot against Peters. That might have to be its own thread.
But the biased commercial interests have already gotten to Brian and Ace. They are carrying the water for the commercial interests of the Pope, Saban, the Warren commission. I'm sure no one will lead the charge to uncover the truth. That is alone proof that the bs in this post is true. Think about it? Is RedRum a coincidence?

Lots of /s and a subtle jab at our current news environment.

Sten Carlson

October 29th, 2017 at 12:56 PM ^

Why do fans insist upon torturing themselves? It’s clear (at least to me) that Harbaugh and Pep did everything within their power to get Peters ready for the 2017 season. It also clear to me that Harbaugh is acutely aware that a QB’s psyche and confidence is something to take seriously and throwing a kid in before he’s ready can be dangerous both mentally and physically. It’s clear that Harbaugh has a well thought out and very detailed plan for every player and especially for his QB’s. He has incremental improvement goals that basically amount to a “metric of readiness” and (barring necessity) players don’t play until that metric is met.

Imagine the uproar if Peters is put in versus Purdue and its clear he’s not ready. Or if he’s thrown in versus MSU or PSU and he looks completely lost — guys would be going ballistic. Can’t we give Harbaugh credit for Peters’ development instead of wringing our hands and trying to paint the kid’s positive performance as some kind of deficiency? Or is that too much to ask?


October 29th, 2017 at 3:57 PM ^

What makes it difficult to blindly trust the coach's plan is the lack of transparency. Harbaugh never indicated he was going to play Peters. I don't expect him or other coaches to tell us what's really going on behind the scenes. I don't expect him to say, yeah O'Korn's struggling and we're getting Peters ready, but want to wait until Rutgers to play him. I said although I agree we need to play Peter's we need to wait until after Rutgers to complain about it because that's the logical time to play him. So, we probably just jumped the gun collectively on our complaining about not playing Peters, but hey, that's why we have the speculate on shit we don't know.


October 29th, 2017 at 4:19 PM ^

....Way too much second guessing of Harbaugh here.  As if the "critics" oversaw 100+ hours of practice.  Or led a team to the Super Bowl.  Or even played organized football.  Frankly, I am not sure if many of these critics could cogently explain the difference between a Cover 1 and Cover 2 much less manage a roster.


Anointing BP as our new savior is also premature.  I am very encouraged by what I saw, but this was only Rutgers and BP is a red shirt freshman who probably was far enough down in the rotation for most of the year to not get many snaps with the 1st team offense this year. 


Go back and watch what happened to PSU's excellent QB in the 4rth quarter vs OSU.  Just relentless pressure from OSU's front 7.  Are we going to say that BP is ready for that type of test?  Rutgers apples to OSU oranges.   

Communist Football

October 29th, 2017 at 1:39 PM ^

As Brian has long noted, Harbaugh worries about the confidence of a young QB. Wants him to go in in a game where he can get comfortable, before going up against tougher defenses. MSU and PSU are tough defenses. This way, by playing against Rutgers, he gets a feel for the game, gets some confidence, and has some game tape to use to improve.

Is it unfortunate that we had to lose two games in the process? Yes, but thinking about it in a 2.5-season timeframe, it was the best available decision.

Basically, our schedule was unfriendly to any other approach. Were you going to put Peters in against Florida, another strong defense? And how do you not have the fifth-year senior in JOK as the backup in that game? These decisions are not as easy as they look. We should feel lucky that our third-string QB starting the year is as talented as Brandon Peters, and lucky that he can play out the rest of the season for us.


October 29th, 2017 at 1:55 PM ^

Is it unfortunate that we had to lose two games in the process?

While the Green legions perhaps could have been had (especially if weather conditions had allowed our troops to more properly use their speed), I think the Revolution was unlikely to prevail over the White Army in last week's campaign, even with Peters promoted to major general.  


October 29th, 2017 at 1:43 PM ^

"...You guys were asking me where things were, and always look at it as a process and now for a couple weeks, for a couple weeks now we’ve felt that he was ready and it’s time to…"

WTF about this particular quote do you not understand?  A couple of weeks ago was the IU game.  He wasn't ready to be the starter when MSU came to town.  IU was a close gmae, and it didn't happen, maybe the coaches didn't think he was quite ready enough?  PSU - no thanks...  Perfect game against Rutgers to get him in.  He was ready to go when coach put him, and that is the only thing we can expect as fans - that players are ready to go when the game starts.

People will bitch about anything, whether things are good or bad!


October 29th, 2017 at 3:37 PM ^

Because O'Korn had just come off a torching of Purdue that was every bit as impressive as Peter's game against Rutgers. Maybe there's an argument for playing him after all the picks but then you're inserting a RS FR late in the game, down just one score and in miserable conditions. Play your fifth year guy despite his struggles is the wrong call only in hindsight.


October 29th, 2017 at 8:38 PM ^

Of course, first start against a rival with known weather incoming. Followed by tough Indiana team (always) on the road and an almost guaranteed beat down by PSU. Yea, that'd have been neat-o for the first 3 games of a RS freshman. Real confidence builder for a kid.

Don't anoint Peters savior yet either. He'll need to advance and develop over the coming weeks to avoid stompings at the hands of Wisky or OSU.


October 29th, 2017 at 9:05 PM ^

I expected QB to be the strongest position at UofM given Harbaugh's history and experience.  When Jake Rudock played as well as he did in Harbaugh's 1st season, my expectations were more than met.  However, QB play during the next two years has been very disappointing.  It seems like Speight, unlike Rudock, did not get better with time.  And JOK just hasn't gotten it done.  On top of that, JH has had three recruitng classes, but none of the QBs from those had seen the light of day.  To me, JOK's play was so bad that JH was forced to bring in Peters.  It didn't seem to be part of a 'plan' but rather an act of desperation. I think that's why the reeporters don't have the guts to query JH on this.  In his 3rd year, JH doesn't have a QB he can count on and he knows he's the person responsible for it - whether it's a failure to coach up veterans, an inability to ID the best QB, or bring along the young guys.  it's on him.  He knows it, he's not happy about it, and he doesn't want any reporters to point it out.


October 30th, 2017 at 9:54 AM ^

from what Harbaugh said. It was time. Probably didn't feel comfortable about playing him until Saturday and it paid off as he played very well. Let's hope he learned some on Saturday and from watching tape and will continue to play well as it was obvious the offense had a lot more energy with him out there.

Mr. Owl

October 29th, 2017 at 12:25 PM ^

Had to love the Evans TD catch call on TV, where the guy said it was "placed perfectly.  A little short, but Evans came back & made a great catch."

Perfect.  Short though.  :)



October 29th, 2017 at 12:30 PM ^

It's pretty clear from Harbaugh's comments that Peters' high level of performance was a little bit of a surprise.  He didin't show that in practice for whatever reason.

It's not like he's been a star behind closed doors and they were just sitting on him.  

He was not looking like a starter in practice . . . so he was not a starter.

But O'Korn's performance over the last few games forced his hand, he had to get Peters ready and see what happned.

Fortunately it worked out better than he expected.

Time to build on it from here in earnest.  Peters is the future.

As Harbaugh says himself: "You get better at football by playing football."



October 29th, 2017 at 3:41 PM ^

WOTS was Peters would win the drills but once they threw the whole defense against him, his performance dropped off. I don't know if that's just Rutgers caveats, or that Peter's is a guy that hits another gear when it's a real game (his High School tape certainly suggests that). We've got another couple fairly mediocre defenses for him to settle in with coming up, so hopefully he can sustain the success.


October 29th, 2017 at 12:35 PM ^

O'Korn played so well against Purdue, he was obviously going to start against MSU.  Throwing Peters in mid game against MSU and in poor weather might not have been the best idea.  Then the night game against PSU wasn't a great place to begin.

All that said, looking back with 20/20 hindsight, I would have pulled O'Korn for Peters during the MSU game.  I also would have invested in Microsoft, Amazon and Apple when they were dirt cheap stocks...and played the winning lottery numbers when the jockpot broke $500MM.



October 29th, 2017 at 1:02 PM ^

True story: I had an investment class in college in '80 or '81, I forget which.  The professor tells us "There is this little company that is about to go public.  You should all invest in it."  He was adamant about it. 

The company was Apple.

Had I taken his advice and bought Apple when it went public, I would have been watching the Rutgers game from one of the suites.  Hell, i would have been watching the Superbowl from one of the suites.

Unfortuately, back then it was not easy to buy stock.  You had to go to a broker and set up an account and invest in a minimum trading lot.  And I had no money anyway.

But, damn, if I could have just bought a few shares . . .  


October 29th, 2017 at 12:36 PM ^

pick the right time, a high confidence time to give him game reps. Rutgers is not MSU or PSU, so don't throw him to the wolves in those games. Might kill his development. Plus, when Wilton went down he was not the backup. Coaches had decided that was O'Korn. So John was taking all the backup reps. In college you only get 20 hours of field practice each week. You can't have two backups taking snaps, you have to chose and John got that nod. Once Peters started getting the backup snaps, it became evident he was going to pass O'Korn at some point. Coaches decided this stretch of games was the right time to make the switch.