“Hello. Got any questions?”
Can you talk about Lavert Hill and his first half of the season, how he’s come along in his confidence and getting better?
“Uh, yeah, he’s been very good. We see where he’s addressed his inappropriate gesture and discussed it and feels bad about it. Positive it won’t happen again. On the field, he’s been very good.”
Can you assess John O’Korn’s play Saturday and if I could piggyback, where is Brandon Peters right now with getting backup snaps since Wilton’s injury?
“Yeah, Brandon’s getting backup snaps.”
How has he progressed? Have you seen a lot of improvement out of him since he started getting more snaps?
“Yeah, he’s readying himself to play. He’s one play away right now and every day readying himself to be out there playing.”
And O’Korn Saturday, his play?
“Yeah. Won’t go into everything, but managed the game very well. Got us—everything communicated. Ran the offense very well. There was some duress and some plays that we could have made, et cetera. Go back and look at it, that’s what we’re in the process of doing. He’s—yeah, some good—kind of the theme for our offense—and there’s some things we missed, some opportunities out there, as well.”
You mentioned Brandon’s one play away. Do you want to try and get him some snaps in? He hasn’t gotten snaps really. Are you guys trying to make an effort to get him in or is that not really a priority at this point?
“Just go along the process of readying him to play. Backup quarterback always needs to be ready to play.”
[After THE JUMP: the message from here on and why a cliché is a cliché]
Dylan McCaffrey: how’s he been doing? What have you seen from him?
“He’s progressing. He’s number three and getting less reps with the ones and twos, but doing fine.”
What did you think of the defense? They gave up eight really big plays of 20 yards or more. This defense has done a nice job of limiting those. Was there a theme that you saw to why there were chunks or why it got away from them?
“Um, yeah. They got a couple of big running plays early and we’ve done a great job of taking away the run. Then dealing with taking away the run and the quarterback made some big throws down the field and they were able to get some big plays. First series, 62-yarder by Saquan and then the quarterback got out on some running plays as well, so yeah. Go back and attack it and get better.”
Juwann Bushell-Beatty started the last few games. Can you evaluate his performance and what you’ve seen from him?
“Yeah, I thought the line—if you’re watching the tape, the line played very physical. Their performance, same; some really good, some things we’d like to have done better. But Juwann’s a part of that line. Really thought they matched up physically and played flat hard. Played… I’m not gonna use the word “well” because we lost the game but yeah, there were some good things there.”
The passing game offense obviously still looking for consistency, but looking at Grant Perry, how important is he in helping jumpstart plays not just from the quarterback but how important is Grant Perry maybe kickstarting something with the wide receivers?
“Yeah, he’s been a guy that’s gotten open, and we’re very close on a couple balls to him in this game. Just out of the reach. Could he have gotten it? Could he have not? He’s been a consistently good performer.”
Have you noticed anything with Grant and discussions with wide receivers and maybe the quarterback in terms of sharper route-running? I think route-running’s been a problem here and there this season. Have you noticed anything like that with discussions and him taking it on himself?
“Yeah, taking it on together. He’s part of it. I wouldn’t say taking it on himself but we’ve been within the wide receiver, quarterback room and coaches, et cetera, he’s very attentive, very active in seeing this thing improve.”
You’ve been around football a long time. Player, coach, lot of different teams, lot of different situations. Young teams, veteran teams. When a young team like this gets humbled, what’s the best approach in your experience and how do you approach moving forward now?
“The team that goes through this understands it can have a great opportunity in understanding where it needs to be and a response, the response that comes, as coaches, as players. Coaches gotta keep coaching. Players find out what they’re made of from a competitive standpoint. There’s a great phrase: when the going gets tough, the tough get going. It’s a cliché, maybe call it a cliché, but clichés are usually clichés because they’re true.
“We control a lot, and that’s the other thing I want them to find out. Understand that you control what you control, and we control a lot. We control a lot as a ball club. Where we want this to be, then work back from that. Yes, there’s a standard. There’s a standard that we have to play to and need to to be at—but opportunity to learn that and go through that, that’s a tremendous opportunity to get the team to where it needs to be.”
At times like this where there’s criticism outside the building, how important is it for captains and vocal leaders to keep the negativity outside and not let it get in the locker room?
“Well, I just addressed that. I mean, the lesson of you control what you control, and that’s a lot. That’s mainly what I would hope our team will coach and will learn.”
I wonder if once you looked at the tape on defense whether you thought the problems were essentially execution problems or whether perhaps structurally Michigan should have been in more zone or if you’re not second-guessing yourself on that at all.
“Uh, no. No. We understand what the issues are and we’re addressing them. They’re plays we had defended and defended well and for a reason we weren’t in the proper gap, got out of the proper gap, and then that ball hit right back into that gap. Yeah, those are things we’ll address to the team and coach. Keep coaching. That’s what we do as coaches. Players learning, that’s the process. Going through it.”
Looked like Chase Winovich went out of the game, looked like he bumped knees or something. Is he okay?
“Yeah, he’s working through something. We’ll see better today what the extend of it is.”
I know you mentioned that cliché “the tough get going…”—
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
To some extent it’s a young group. Are you still looking to see how many of those tough guys you’ve got? In other years you find them faster? Still looking to see if you’ve got enough of the tough to get going?
“I believe we do. I believe that our team will respond.”
Past the halfway point in the season, I know that you said you have the final say in play-calling, correct?
“Yes, that’s what we said.”
Are you guys planning on changing anything for the rest of the year as far as the delegation of who’s doing what and more or maybe someone doing less or is it still the same plan the rest of the season?
“Yeah, we continue to look—I mean, every week we look at what we’re doing. You really study that: what we’re doing, who’s doing it, how they’re doing it. Those are the three things that you look at and look at what we’re doing, what we’re doing well, and continue to build on that. And things that we’re not doing well, we’ll do less of that and more of what we do well. That’s how I go about looking at the schematic part of it. Yeah, who’s doing it, how they’re doing it, the kind of effort they’re giving, and the standard of play. Those are the three things you look at.”
Can you assess Rashan Gary’s year and how is he different from a year ago?
“That’s a big question. He’s continued to be an ascending player. Tough, tough guy. Gritty teammate. Somebody that we’re counting on to respond right now that will respond.”
Can you talk about Juwann Bushell-Beatty and the progress you’ve seen him make this year, what he’s doing well, and what he needs to do better?
“Yeah, I think in there playing, being available, being durable, and improve. Play has improved. He’s striving to be even better, like we all are.”
You spent a good chunk of a season injured and on the sidelines here once. With Wilton, how does a guy like that keep his spirits up [and] stay into it mentally and do all the things he needs to do?
“Well, first and foremost, get healthy. That’s where you concentrate most of your efforts. That’s where most of his efforts are being concentrated. Every spare minute of the day he’s getting treatment, they tell me, the doctors and trainers. He’s at practice. I know he’s chomping at the bit. There’s bones healing back together. That takes time. So yeah, just the amount of time that that takes. So, he’s been a good teammate. I know he’s chomping at the bit.”
I just wanted to follow up. When I was asking about Peters, I was just wondering would you like to see him get some good game-time snaps, get him some experience? Not surrendering the season and looking to the next, but just to get him into the flow of the game.
“As we said, been getting him the practice snaps and there is improvement being made there. Yeah, that’s taking place, Angelique. Crystal ball?”
“Don’t have one.”
Did you consider bringing him in late in the game against Penn State?
Harbaugh left the podium and came back a minute later to say that they were going to put Peters in the game after Tommy Stevens fumbled with about three minutes left in the game, but obviously Stevens was down before the ball came out and Michigan didn’t get another offensive position.