Jim Harbaugh is unhappy about this situation
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Monday Presser 10-22-18: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Ethan Sears October 23rd, 2018 at 8:16 AM

Things Discussed

  • Rashan Gary sort of injury update, Juwann Bushell-Beatty and Tarik Black injury non-updates
  • Shea Patterson as a runner
  • The receivers making progress
  • James Hudson transfer foreshadowing
  • The pregame incident

[After THE JUMP: By now, you already know]

 

Jim, just talk about how Josh Uche has been playing the last couple weeks and how he’s stepped up with Rashan (Gary’s) injury

 

“Yeah, Josh Uche’s playing really good ball. Two big sacks in the game. Really coming off the edge with speed and power, and impacting the games. He’s doing a great job. Guys are stepping up, guys are making plays defensively. Josh, Kwity Paye, Chase Winovich continues to — he continues the great year that he’s having. … Secondary was lights-out. Could mention everybody on the defense. That was a great performance.”

 

Apologize if you don’t want to talk about this, but Juwann Bushell-Beatty seemed to walk out of the tunnel and said he was ok. Do you have an update on him?

 

“No. No update right now. As you know, players on Monday are in class. We’ll see them this afternoon.”

 

Coach, aside from healing up the bumps and bruises this week, what’s the biggest thing to get accomplished without a game this week?

 

“We call it improvement week. So we’ll set out to do that. We still got a lonng way to go. And a lot of ibg games ahead. Also want to practice some of our younger players. The ones that have really been on the verge of getting playing time, or have had some playing time, and put that over the top. With the work they’re doing throughout this week and next.”

 

Do you have any update on Jalen Mayfield?

 

“Yeah, he’s doing great. Really having a good freshman year. Practicing well, getting stronger. He’s in the depth chart as the number two. Doing a great job. Love Jalen Mayfield.”

 

Is he still banged up?

 

“I don’t know who you’re talking to, Adam.”

 

I asked you a couple weeks ago

 

“Yeah, he’s practicing. Still practicing.”

 

I was just following —

 

“How long ago?

 

Two weeks ago

 

“Yeah, he’s doing good. Update: Jalen Mayfield’s doing a great job.”

 

Jim, do you allow yourself or your players to look at the path that’s ahead of them in terms of controlling their own destiny to reach their goals this season?

 

“Yeah. You want to start with today. Get as much out of this Monday as we can. The team did a good job this past weekend, and still a long way to go. So, time to go. Up and at it. Get back to work.”

 

Jim, Rashan didn’t make the trip. Is this something that’s lingering, or how do you see this? What is the progress he’s making? Do you see him coming back?

 

“Yeah, he’s made progress. He practiced last week, but he didn’t feel like he could play in games. So, that was a decision made, not to play in the game.”

 

Was it your decision not to travel him?

 

“Well, we get to travel 74 guys.”

 

Yeah, no, I know. He could’ve — cause I think Wilton (Speight) last year, and his father (traveled) so I was just wondering if that was an option for Rashan

 

“We take the 74, in uniform that can play in the game.”

 

Coach, Jared Wangler, looked like he had a nice lead block on the touchdown. Just talk about his progress, how far has he come?

 

“Come a long way. Really turned into a fine fullback. He’s continued stellar play on special teams. And contributing a lot to the offense. He has a thorough understanding of everything that we’re doing schematically, and that’s a lot. He’s got a lot of talent, can block, catch. He can adjust to defenders on the move. So, really good.”

 

Jim, do you anticipate Rashan’s being a season-ender, or do you anticipate him to be back?

 

“I don’t know.”

 

(Andrew) Stueber came in, I thought, there had been some talk that (James) Hudson is maybe the next guy up at right tackle. What has Steuber done to get that?

 

“He’s done a good job. He’s progressing well. And probably just — I mean, went a little bit ahead, James had dislocated a finger in a previous ballgame. And, so Andrew had more reps and went ahead on the depth chart for this week.”

 

Quinn (Nordin) missed a field goal, is he — what did you say to him? He’s missed — I think it’s three, the last six attempts, is it something that — are you seeing something in practice that he’s having issues with?

 

“Just keep working at it. One extra point, the ball was laying on the ground, sideways. He did a good job getting that through the uprights. So, just keep going.”

 

Just to clarify, Rashan … was that his decision (not to play) or was it the trainer’s decision? Who made that call?

 

“As I said, Rashan didn’t feel like he could play in the game.”

 

Has he indicated to you that he may decide to sit the rest of the season?

 

“No.”

 

Jim, when you talked to a bunch of guys … (Mike) Zordich said he thought this was, in terms of true team — offense, defense, special teams, everybody’s got each other’s back. Devin (Bush) said that, lot of guys said that, in terms of a team that, coaches have players’ backs, players have coaches’ backs. Does it feel like that to you?

 

“Yeah, I’ve been saying that for a long time. Just a real joy to coach these guys. They enjoy practicing, enjoy each other's’ company. I see it every day. And it’s great to be around. As much as I’ve ever enjoyed a group of ballplayers, coaching a group. They play hard, they play smart. And they play good. It’s a tough team. And, back to work.”

 

You want it to be like that every year. You’ve been around a lot. Is there a uniqueness to that, with this group, in terms of being closer than most?

 

“That’s just good. It’s just a good ball-team. I say the best ball-teams are from the neighborhood. It’s like, guys from the neighborhood. Friends and, it makes up a ball-team. That, this team reminds me of those kind of great teams that you were on, whether it was high school, or grade school, or college or pro. They’re for each other. They’re happy for each other’s success. Another thing that really speaks loudly to me, that I notice, how they talk about each other. Rarely do they take on the credit for something, even when somebody's trying to give it to them, they disperse it to a teammate. It’s genuine. They are happy for the other guys’ success. It’s so many good things.”

 

Jim, I know that Michigan State, 0-for-12 on third down, it was mentioned, believe it was probably a season-low, or a team-low for rushing yards in the (Mark) Dantonio era. Is there anything specifically that you’re pulling from this game, as far as building block material for the rest of the season?

 

“Yeah, still trying to build. And as we said, there’s a long way to go. But there’s some credible things that came out of this game. Defense holding them to under 100 yards. The third down production by our defense, getting off the field. Another game with 11 punts in it. Things that — I think it’s the lowest total, or one of the lowest totals of the year. There’s a lot of statistics in that way. As I said, right after the game, (dream win) as far as statistics. And I thought our guys played really, really good. Of course we’re always gonna try to strive to play better. And not to take anything away from our defense, because they played a magnificent game. But Michigan State had some injuries. And Brian Lewerke, who I really think is a heck of a quarterback — my eye with no evidence, any MRIs or anything — I don’t think his shoulder’s right. He’s throwing the ball as if he’s got a torn labrum. It just doesn’t have the pop on it. So, that was in that regard. I think we can still go in and keep improving.”

 

We talk about progress with the offensive line. Second game in a row against — Michigan State had the number one rush defense. You guys ran the ball well, offensive line was a good part of that. Where do you see this progression continually going with the O-line?

 

“More of the same. Keep getting better, keep improving. I thought we did a really good job being patient in the game. Especially in the first half. Kept coming back to the running game, kept tweaking the run game, kept going back to it. And eventually, that worked really good for us in the second half and the fourth quarter of the game. But the run game was really good. Against a very good defensive run game.”

 

Coach, you mention specifically the way this team responded to everything that happened on Saturday. Is that the kind of thing that propel them with even more confidence and resilience into November than you’ve seen to this point?

 

“Yes. As I said, we did good, now let’s get back to work and there’s still a long way to go. But there was some real — some really good things in the game, as far as taking care of the team early on in the ballgame. But the tipped ball on the sideline where Nico (Collins) came back and got that ball, did not let it get intercepted, didn’t stand and watch. Came back and actually got a completion, I thought that was great. Later in the game (Zach) Gentry, similar type of play. I think that kind of hustle, that kind of determination is really good. Yes, we’ll point out all those things to the squad, because it’s a great example for other guys on the team as well. Saw a lot of really good things. Thought they — it comes down to guys making plays, always does. Shea Patterson, another really good game. Kina why he’s here. Tough opponent, or crowd noise. The elements. I thought that he played a superb game, none bigger than on the fourth-and-2, in the fourth quarter, when he comes up with 10 or 12 or 13 yards. That was a huge play. Guys making plays, guys making blocks. Line blocking, backs running hard. Receivers making tough catching. Donovan (Peoples-Jones), Nico — back of the end zone — Grant Perry, Sean McKeon, Gentry.”

 

Jim, as your team climbs in the rankings now, jumping up to No. 5, the Big Ten race wide open, Ohio State losing, do you find your team more and more embracing what actually can be right in front of them there? Not that they weren’t embracing it earlier, but now as the pathway seems to be opening a little bit, do you talk about that with your team? Do they embrace it?

 

“Yes. I mean, it’s good. Let’s get back to work, cause there’s still a long way to go, but I think they have been embracing it. For months now. They see the hard work paying off. They see themselves getting better, playing well, putting — striving for, to be the best that they possibly can be. They’re working hard, it’s paying off. That’s a good thing. Let’s get back to work.”

 

Jim, you guys have really — you mention the fourth-and-2 — you guys have really expanded the packages of plays. I know Shea’s a capable runner. How important in that is just his ball-handling?

 

“Well, he came in really good at that part of the game. But it takes a lot of work. Takes a lot of ball-handling and timing in practice. And I think when you get more time on task, getting better at it, but that’s been a real weapon for us.”

 

How big of an emphasis has that been for all the quarterbacks? Working on that, the ball-handling, reads and all that stuff. Cause you guys got — you guys have guys that can run

 

“Yeah, they see that it’s effective. And, plus when you see another good player doing something, it always, I think players like to emulate and see how good they can get it. And fundamental, or technique. You’re right, players are coming in. Going quick to do that, in high school. Dylan (McCaffery’s) really good at it, so is Joe (Milton) and Brandon (Peters) is good at it, too. We’re working on it. Don’t mind people knowing that.”

 

Jim, Donovan has really developed a big-play element. Obviously he had it when he was in high school and this year, he’s playing that way again. Talk about that, and also his overall game, how he’s developed

 

“He’s really developed this year. That’s been so great to see with all our receivers, just the improvement that they — they’ve worked extremely hard. Each guy has. Jim McElwain has done an incredible job coaching them, but you just see every week. Creating space, like the touchdown. And then increasing that and gaining separation, finally making the tough catch, and then finishing it in the end zone. Yards after the catch, and it’s everything you want a receiver to do. Plus he blocks. He always lines up in the right spot, always runs the route to the right spot. There’s no mental error in his game, it’s great to see.”

 

We saw Tarik Black come on the field for one play before the timeout and then didn’t come back on after the timeout. Do you anticipate him being a full go (after the bye)?

 

“Don’t know exactly. He was cleared by the doctors to play, he practiced. Limited during the week and was cleared to play in the game, so, wanted to get him back out there.”

 

You mention the Northwestern comeback as maybe one of those defining moments you look back on. Do you think —?

 

“Did I say that?”

 

Yeah, you said something like, it’s — when you came back from 17 points, it’s kind of one of those things, that helps defines the season. More or less, you said that.

 

“Paraphrasing?”

 

Yes. I’ll go back to the tape on that. But what happened pregame with Michigan State and how your team responded, do you think that can be something that propels this team to another level that it didn’t know it had in terms of emotion, results?

 

“I don’t know, that was — you want to just ask me about that situation, or?

 

Sure. Can you carry over anything good that can happen beyond what happened with that game in that pregame, and what happened during this game, to propel this team to another level?

 

“I don’t think it’s gonna have a unique effect moving forward. But yeah, I’ll give you my thoughts on it. I had no idea right after the game, but when you host a team, both teams, you share the field. Each has a sideline, each gets half of the field to warm up on, and Michigan State locked arms and used every inch of the field in their walk to attempt going through or over our guys in a physical manner. So, to call that unsportsmanlike or to call that bush league is putting it mildly. That could’ve been a real unfortunate incident. And as I said, it’s the opposite of BS. Coach (Dantonio) said it was BS, but that’s not BS. That’s fact. And I think it’s something now the two atheltic directors really need to get together to talk about. I’ll go one step further and use coach Dantonio’s words from a few years back. It’s not a product of the team, but their program. And that’s using his words. That could’ve been an unfortunate deal. But I’m proud of our guys, for keeping their cool. And waiting until the game.”

 

What was your opinion of what Devin (Bush) did at midfield? Is that something you address? Do you have any thoughts on that?

 

“That’s — I mean, I don’t blame Devin. I liked the way our guys handled it. That’d be like going back and saying, ‘Oh, look at Devin Bush! Look at him out there! He’s out at midfield scraping up the logo!’ After what just took place, that’s straight out of the Pistons’ playbook. Do something to them, say something to them. Elbow them. And then when somebody else does something back, then flop. So, that’s how I think about that, as well. It’s a game — it’s unsportsmanlike, it’s bush league, and that is putting it very mildly.”

 

Jim, I was just kinda curious about any conversation that you had with (Don Brown), I was wondering what the postgame conversation with Don was like, in terms of defensive performance

 

“It was great. As Bob Ufer would say, the Michigan locker room is going bananas. That’s what it was like. That’s what it was. It was great. It was a tremendous celebration, and one for Don Brown. There’s nobody better. What a phenomenal coach. Really, there is none better that I’ve been around. Really proud of all our coaches. I think they’re doing a phenomenal job. Each and every one of them, good job and get back to work.”

 

I just wanted to follow on Devin. Not as much that incident, but is he playing at a different level this year? I know you talk about, he’s one of the best linebackers you’ve seen, but it seems like he’s taking it up a notch, more fiery?

 

“Oh yeah, he’s playing at the very highest level in college football. Had another great game this game, multiple tackles, sack. He’s playing with great emotion and talent and playing hard. He’s playing really smart. He’s doing everything you can do. The instinct is coming out each and every week. He finds another rung to go to every single week.”

 

And on this situation that you talked about, he called it BS. Would you call — do you want to talk to Dantonio about this, or are you done with this at this stage?

 

“Well, I think that the two athletic directors really need to talk about it. Because leading up to the game, we were aware that they did a traditional walk. And we contacted them, because they send us a book of pregame operations that is the most detailed, finest I’ve ever seen. Has everything in it, in writing. But that part is not. And we call them and say, ‘What time are you guys doing the walk? Cause we don’t want to put our players out to warm up until after you guys do your traditional walk.’ And they gave us a time, it would be at 9:45. Said, ‘Ok, great.’ And, ‘Well, it might be at 9:55. No, now it is gonna be 9:55.’ A day later. So, ok, well, they walk out another 10 minutes after that. At no point was there any kind of heads up or, ‘Hey, could you guys please leave the field?’ And that’s — he called it, using the word, ‘juvenile.’ I think that’s trying to brush it under the carpet. Because their strength coaches were out there. Their assistant coaches were out there. Coach Dantonio was right behind it. That had all the earmarkings and evidence of an orchestrated stormtrooper march. But I’ll let — I think that’s something Warde (Manuel) will address.”

 

I know you hadn’t seen the — when they were on the field, you heard what Dave (Ablauf) had said. When you saw the video of it, you see Dantonio back there, what was your reaction, seeing him five feet or whatever it was behind the guys?

 

“That that was bush league.”

 

He should’ve stepped in at that point?

 

“That it has all the evidence of being orchestrated, yes.”

 

Jim, can I ask you real quick, were you guys supposed to have the field at 10 am? Is that what was on the schedule? Exactly what time were you guys supposed to be on the field and they were supposed to be off?

 

“We can go out on the field, 9:30, 9:00, 10:00. It comes open to us when it comes open, but as I said, we were trying to not be out there when they were doing their traditional walk. And that’s when the back-and-forth, was a vagueness. They even told us, ‘Oh, sometimes we don’t do it.’ So, it came to a certain point where, ‘Maybe they’re not doing it. You guys can go out and start getting loosened up. For the game that starts at 12:00.’ ”

Jim, just talk about how Josh Uche has been playing the last couple weeks and how he’s stepped up with Rashan (Gary’s) injury

 

“Yeah, Josh Uche’s playing really good ball. Two big sacks in the game. Really coming off the edge with speed and power, and impacting the games. He’s doing a great job. Guys are stepping up, guys are making plays defensively. Josh, Kwity Paye, Chase Winovich continues to — he continues the great year that he’s having. … Secondary was lights-out. Could mention everybody on the defense. That was a great performance.”

 

Apologize if you don’t want to talk about this, but Juwann Bushell-Beatty seemed to walk out of the tunnel and said he was ok. Do you have an update on him?

 

“No. No update right now. As you know, players on Monday are in class. We’ll see them this afternoon.”

 

Coach, aside from healing up the bumps and bruises this week, what’s the biggest thing to get accomplished without a game this week?

 

“We call it improvement week. So we’ll set out to do that. We still got a lonng way to go. And a lot of ibg games ahead. Also want to practice some of our younger players. The ones that have really been on the verge of getting playing time, or have had some playing time, and put that over the top. With the work they’re doing throughout this week and next.”

 

Do you have any update on Jalen Mayfield?

 

“Yeah, he’s doing great. Really having a good freshman year. Practicing well, getting stronger. He’s in the depth chart as the number two. Doing a great job. Love Jalen Mayfield.”

 

Is he still banged up?

 

“I don’t know who you’re talking to, Adam.”

 

I asked you a couple weeks ago

 

“Yeah, he’s practicing. Still practicing.”

 

I was just following —

 

“How long ago?

 

Two weeks ago

 

“Yeah, he’s doing good. Update: Jalen Mayfield’s doing a great job.”

 

Jim, do you allow yourself or your players to look at the path that’s ahead of them in terms of controlling their own destiny to reach their goals this season?

 

“Yeah. You want to start with today. Get as much out of this Monday as we can. The team did a good job this past weekend, and still a long way to go. So, time to go. Up and at it. Get back to work.”

 

Jim, Rashan didn’t make the trip. Is this something that’s lingering, or how do you see this? What is the progress he’s making? Do you see him coming back?

 

“Yeah, he’s made progress. He practiced last week, but he didn’t feel like he could play in games. So, that was a decision made, not to play in the game.”

 

Was it your decision not to travel him?

 

“Well, we get to travel 74 guys.”

 

Yeah, no, I know. He could’ve — cause I think Wilton (Speight) last year, and his father (traveled) so I was just wondering if that was an option for Rashan

 

“We take the 74, in uniform that can play in the game.”

 

Coach, Jared Wangler, looked like he had a nice lead block on the touchdown. Just talk about his progress, how far has he come?

 

“Come a long way. Really turned into a fine fullback. He’s continued stellar play on special teams. And contributing a lot to the offense. He has a thorough understanding of everything that we’re doing schematically, and that’s a lot. He’s got a lot of talent, can block, catch. He can adjust to defenders on the move. So, really good.”

 

Jim, do you anticipate Rashan’s being a season-ender, or do you anticipate him to be back?

 

“I don’t know.”

 

(Andrew) Stueber came in, I thought, there had been some talk that (James) Hudson is maybe the next guy up at right tackle. What has Steuber done to get that?

 

“He’s done a good job. He’s progressing well. And probably just — I mean, went a little bit ahead, James had dislocated a finger in a previous ballgame. And, so Andrew had more reps and went ahead on the depth chart for this week.”

 

Quinn (Nordin) missed a field goal, is he — what did you say to him? He’s missed — I think it’s three, the last six attempts, is it something that — are you seeing something in practice that he’s having issues with?

 

“Just keep working at it. One extra point, the ball was laying on the ground, sideways. He did a good job getting that through the uprights. So, just keep going.”

 

Just to clarify, Rashan … was that his decision (not to play) or was it the trainer’s decision? Who made that call?

 

“As I said, Rashan didn’t feel like he could play in the game.”

 

Has he indicated to you that he may decide to sit the rest of the season?

 

“No.”

 

Jim, when you talked to a bunch of guys … (Mike) Zordich said he thought this was, in terms of true team — offense, defense, special teams, everybody’s got each other’s back. Devin (Bush) said that, lot of guys said that, in terms of a team that, coaches have players’ backs, players have coaches’ backs. Does it feel like that to you?

 

“Yeah, I’ve been saying that for a long time. Just a real joy to coach these guys. They enjoy practicing, enjoy each other's’ company. I see it every day. And it’s great to be around. As much as I’ve ever enjoyed a group of ballplayers, coaching a group. They play hard, they play smart. And they play good. It’s a tough team. And, back to work.”

 

You want it to be like that every year. You’ve been around a lot. Is there a uniqueness to that, with this group, in terms of being closer than most?

 

“That’s just good. It’s just a good ball-team. I say the best ball-teams are from the neighborhood. It’s like, guys from the neighborhood. Friends and, it makes up a ball-team. That, this team reminds me of those kind of great teams that you were on, whether it was high school, or grade school, or college or pro. They’re for each other. They’re happy for each other’s success. Another thing that really speaks loudly to me, that I notice, how they talk about each other. Rarely do they take on the credit for something, even when somebody's trying to give it to them, they disperse it to a teammate. It’s genuine. They are happy for the other guys’ success. It’s so many good things.”

 

Jim, I know that Michigan State, 0-for-12 on third down, it was mentioned, believe it was probably a season-low, or a team-low for rushing yards in the (Mark) Dantonio era. Is there anything specifically that you’re pulling from this game, as far as building block material for the rest of the season?

 

“Yeah, still trying to build. And as we said, there’s a long way to go. But there’s some credible things that came out of this game. Defense holding them to under 100 yards. The third down production by our defense, getting off the field. Another game with 11 punts in it. Things that — I think it’s the lowest total, or one of the lowest totals of the year. There’s a lot of statistics in that way. As I said, right after the game, (dream win) as far as statistics. And I thought our guys played really, really good. Of course we’re always gonna try to strive to play better. And not to take anything away from our defense, because they played a magnificent game. But Michigan State had some injuries. And Brian Lewerke, who I really think is a heck of a quarterback — my eye with no evidence, any MRIs or anything — I don’t think his shoulder’s right. He’s throwing the ball as if he’s got a torn labrum. It just doesn’t have the pop on it. So, that was in that regard. I think we can still go in and keep improving.”

 

We talk about progress with the offensive line. Second game in a row against — Michigan State had the number one rush defense. You guys ran the ball well, offensive line was a good part of that. Where do you see this progression continually going with the O-line?

 

“More of the same. Keep getting better, keep improving. I thought we did a really good job being patient in the game. Especially in the first half. Kept coming back to the running game, kept tweaking the run game, kept going back to it. And eventually, that worked really good for us in the second half and the fourth quarter of the game. But the run game was really good. Against a very good defensive run game.”

 

Coach, you mention specifically the way this team responded to everything that happened on Saturday. Is that the kind of thing that propel them with even more confidence and resilience into November than you’ve seen to this point?

 

“Yes. As I said, we did good, now let’s get back to work and there’s still a long way to go. But there was some real — some really good things in the game, as far as taking care of the team early on in the ballgame. But the tipped ball on the sideline where Nico (Collins) came back and got that ball, did not let it get intercepted, didn’t stand and watch. Came back and actually got a completion, I thought that was great. Later in the game (Zach) Gentry, similar type of play. I think that kind of hustle, that kind of determination is really good. Yes, we’ll point out all those things to the squad, because it’s a great example for other guys on the team as well. Saw a lot of really good things. Thought they — it comes down to guys making plays, always does. Shea Patterson, another really good game. Kina why he’s here. Tough opponent, or crowd noise. The elements. I thought that he played a superb game, none bigger than on the fourth-and-2, in the fourth quarter, when he comes up with 10 or 12 or 13 yards. That was a huge play. Guys making plays, guys making blocks. Line blocking, backs running hard. Receivers making tough catching. Donovan (Peoples-Jones), Nico — back of the end zone — Grant Perry, Sean McKeon, Gentry.”

 

Jim, as your team climbs in the rankings now, jumping up to No. 5, the Big Ten race wide open, Ohio State losing, do you find your team more and more embracing what actually can be right in front of them there? Not that they weren’t embracing it earlier, but now as the pathway seems to be opening a little bit, do you talk about that with your team? Do they embrace it?

 

“Yes. I mean, it’s good. Let’s get back to work, cause there’s still a long way to go, but I think they have been embracing it. For months now. They see the hard work paying off. They see themselves getting better, playing well, putting — striving for, to be the best that they possibly can be. They’re working hard, it’s paying off. That’s a good thing. Let’s get back to work.”

 

Jim, you guys have really — you mention the fourth-and-2 — you guys have really expanded the packages of plays. I know Shea’s a capable runner. How important in that is just his ball-handling?

 

“Well, he came in really good at that part of the game. But it takes a lot of work. Takes a lot of ball-handling and timing in practice. And I think when you get more time on task, getting better at it, but that’s been a real weapon for us.”

 

How big of an emphasis has that been for all the quarterbacks? Working on that, the ball-handling, reads and all that stuff. Cause you guys got — you guys have guys that can run

 

“Yeah, they see that it’s effective. And, plus when you see another good player doing something, it always, I think players like to emulate and see how good they can get it. And fundamental, or technique. You’re right, players are coming in. Going quick to do that, in high school. Dylan (McCaffery’s) really good at it, so is Joe (Milton) and Brandon (Peters) is good at it, too. We’re working on it. Don’t mind people knowing that.”

 

Jim, Donovan has really developed a big-play element. Obviously he had it when he was in high school and this year, he’s playing that way again. Talk about that, and also his overall game, how he’s developed

 

“He’s really developed this year. That’s been so great to see with all our receivers, just the improvement that they — they’ve worked extremely hard. Each guy has. Jim McElwain has done an incredible job coaching them, but you just see every week. Creating space, like the touchdown. And then increasing that and gaining separation, finally making the tough catch, and then finishing it in the end zone. Yards after the catch, and it’s everything you want a receiver to do. Plus he blocks. He always lines up in the right spot, always runs the route to the right spot. There’s no mental error in his game, it’s great to see.”

 

We saw Tarik Black come on the field for one play before the timeout and then didn’t come back on after the timeout. Do you anticipate him being a full go (after the bye)?

 

“Don’t know exactly. He was cleared by the doctors to play, he practiced. Limited during the week and was cleared to play in the game, so, wanted to get him back out there.”

 

You mention the Northwestern comeback as maybe one of those defining moments you look back on. Do you think —?

 

“Did I say that?”

 

Yeah, you said something like, it’s — when you came back from 17 points, it’s kind of one of those things, that helps defines the season. More or less, you said that.

 

“Paraphrasing?”

 

Yes. I’ll go back to the tape on that. But what happened pregame with Michigan State and how your team responded, do you think that can be something that propels this team to another level that it didn’t know it had in terms of emotion, results?

 

“I don’t know, that was — you want to just ask me about that situation, or?

 

Sure. Can you carry over anything good that can happen beyond what happened with that game in that pregame, and what happened during this game, to propel this team to another level?

 

“I don’t think it’s gonna have a unique effect moving forward. But yeah, I’ll give you my thoughts on it. I had no idea right after the game, but when you host a team, both teams, you share the field. Each has a sideline, each gets half of the field to warm up on, and Michigan State locked arms and used every inch of the field in their walk to attempt going through or over our guys in a physical manner. So, to call that unsportsmanlike or to call that bush league is putting it mildly. That could’ve been a real unfortunate incident. And as I said, it’s the opposite of BS. Coach (Dantonio) said it was BS, but that’s not BS. That’s fact. And I think it’s something now the two atheltic directors really need to get together to talk about. I’ll go one step further and use coach Dantonio’s words from a few years back. It’s not a product of the team, but their program. And that’s using his words. That could’ve been an unfortunate deal. But I’m proud of our guys, for keeping their cool. And waiting until the game.”

 

What was your opinion of what Devin (Bush) did at midfield? Is that something you address? Do you have any thoughts on that?

 

“That’s — I mean, I don’t blame Devin. I liked the way our guys handled it. That’d be like going back and saying, ‘Oh, look at Devin Bush! Look at him out there! He’s out at midfield scraping up the logo!’ After what just took place, that’s straight out of the Pistons’ playbook. Do something to them, say something to them. Elbow them. And then when somebody else does something back, then flop. So, that’s how I think about that, as well. It’s a game — it’s unsportsmanlike, it’s bush league, and that is putting it very mildly.”

 

Jim, I was just kinda curious about any conversation that you had with (Don Brown), I was wondering what the postgame conversation with Don was like, in terms of defensive performance

 

“It was great. As Bob Ufer would say, the Michigan locker room is going bananas. That’s what it was like. That’s what it was. It was great. It was a tremendous celebration, and one for Don Brown. There’s nobody better. What a phenomenal coach. Really, there is none better that I’ve been around. Really proud of all our coaches. I think they’re doing a phenomenal job. Each and every one of them, good job and get back to work.”

 

I just wanted to follow on Devin. Not as much that incident, but is he playing at a different level this year? I know you talk about, he’s one of the best linebackers you’ve seen, but it seems like he’s taking it up a notch, more fiery?

 

“Oh yeah, he’s playing at the very highest level in college football. Had another great game this game, multiple tackles, sack. He’s playing with great emotion and talent and playing hard. He’s playing really smart. He’s doing everything you can do. The instinct is coming out each and every week. He finds another rung to go to every single week.”

 

And on this situation that you talked about, he called it BS. Would you call — do you want to talk to Dantonio about this, or are you done with this at this stage?

 

“Well, I think that the two athletic directors really need to talk about it. Because leading up to the game, we were aware that they did a traditional walk. And we contacted them, because they send us a book of pregame operations that is the most detailed, finest I’ve ever seen. Has everything in it, in writing. But that part is not. And we call them and say, ‘What time are you guys doing the walk? Cause we don’t want to put our players out to warm up until after you guys do your traditional walk.’ And they gave us a time, it would be at 9:45. Said, ‘Ok, great.’ And, ‘Well, it might be at 9:55. No, now it is gonna be 9:55.’ A day later. So, ok, well, they walk out another 10 minutes after that. At no point was there any kind of heads up or, ‘Hey, could you guys please leave the field?’ And that’s — he called it, using the word, ‘juvenile.’ I think that’s trying to brush it under the carpet. Because their strength coaches were out there. Their assistant coaches were out there. Coach Dantonio was right behind it. That had all the earmarkings and evidence of an orchestrated stormtrooper march. But I’ll let — I think that’s something Warde (Manuel) will address.”

 

I know you hadn’t seen the — when they were on the field, you heard what Dave (Ablauf) had said. When you saw the video of it, you see Dantonio back there, what was your reaction, seeing him five feet or whatever it was behind the guys?

 

“That that was bush league.”

 

He should’ve stepped in at that point?

 

“That it has all the evidence of being orchestrated, yes.”

 

Jim, can I ask you real quick, were you guys supposed to have the field at 10 am? Is that what was on the schedule? Exactly what time were you guys supposed to be on the field and they were supposed to be off?

 

“We can go out on the field, 9:30, 9:00, 10:00. It comes open to us when it comes open, but as I said, we were trying to not be out there when they were doing their traditional walk. And that’s when the back-and-forth, was a vagueness. They even told us, ‘Oh, sometimes we don’t do it.’ So, it came to a certain point where, ‘Maybe they’re not doing it. You guys can go out and start getting loosened up. For the game that starts at 12:00.’ ”

Comments

Salinger

October 23rd, 2018 at 9:02 AM ^

Regarding Don Brown:

There’s nobody better. What a phenomenal coach. Really, there is none better that I’ve been around. 

That should be the story. Instead, there's all this pageantry and fluff going on around the off-the-field stuff, and sure it shouldn't have happened, MSU was being priggish about it all, but in the end, it doesn't really matter. Move on. We dominated them on the field. That's what matters.

 

charblue.

October 23rd, 2018 at 9:42 AM ^

While I think it's an overblown story, it really has put everyone on edge, reopening old verbal wounds that drive this rivalry and push the envelope on it. Now we have the coaches at odds with each other over the circumstances and MSU issuing a formal statement which only extends the controversy and the news cycle on it.

But let's be clear, two things stand out about this incident, one is that MSU set a protocol and schedule for their walk that Michigan was clearly aware of and understood. The timing was off and there were no instructions given by any state officials asking Michigan to clear the field. Even the Sparty official statement acknowledges the walk was late by at least two minutes and probably more. There was also ample opportunity for MSU to clear the field, and do it with a PA announcement if necessary. Not of that was done.

Secondly, the team came out in helmets. That was deliberately confrontational and designed to obscure identtiies. The walk itself is supposed to demonstrate team solidarity, one for all, all for one mentality in this case, it was a tactic of intimidation and designed to clear anyone off the field, especially Michigan players who were warming up on their side of the 50 at the appropriate time to be out there for pregame warmups. So, MSU was in violation of a known and accepted pregrame standard, their ritual was late and confrontational, deliberately so, because their players wore helmets with street clothes, which might explain the lateness of the walk in order for everyone to have their helmet on when the walk occurred. In any case, their head coach was behind the moving line as it approached Michigan players and he did nothing to disperse them or alter the confrontation. Hence, Michigan's reaction.

There is both video and timing evidence along with a pregame schedule and indications of conversations between the schools about the pregame ritual that belies any question of confusion about whether Michigan players were acting appropriately.

So, at this point, I think it does become a school-related issue to be worked out by the rival ADs. No doubt, however, this has just led to a new chapter in the growing division of passionate emotion in this rivalry.

triangle_M

October 23rd, 2018 at 10:17 AM ^

If he's injured and playing is going to prolong his injury and cause him to not be 100% for the combine or his first NFL start he should take care of it and get healthy.  It's literally millions of dollars he's putting at risk if he doesn't.  Leaving the program (a la Bosa) makes it look like the program won't support its players so I think Harbaugh is doing his best to keep the media off of the story.  The stories speculating about Gary being done have already started but I'm not sure he's made that decision for himself yet. 

Give him time, keep the pressure off and let him make his own decision.  This isn't an easy choice for him.

Brhino

October 23rd, 2018 at 12:52 PM ^

If Gary is really done for the season, what do you suppose his draft stock is?  Has he really played his way into the first round with his resume so far? He's mostly been good but not truly dominant, which is completely understandable if he's been playing through injury.

Does it even make sense for him to leave for the draft this year if he can't put anything else on tape before then?

Magnum P.I.

October 23rd, 2018 at 10:21 AM ^

Sooo, Gary held himself out, and Harbaugh didn't let him travel with the team and isn't sure if he'll be back this season...

Do we really need to read between the lines here?