Monday Presser 10-23-17: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 23rd, 2017 at 6:00 PM



“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?”

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.



October 23rd, 2017 at 6:52 PM ^

the awful playcalling and gameplanning.  It's probably a more direct way to get at the playcalling issues rather than ask the passive-aggressive one about whether they look at that each week.

But yeah, you're not gonna get a good answer (or best one you'd get is that "it wasn't a good call and it was on me" type of thing), so not worth getting the death stare and put on the shit list for it. It'd be nothing but salt in the wound.


October 23rd, 2017 at 8:52 PM ^

The play calling to open the game was probably too conservative in hindsight, but after watching Higdon go off on Indiana's stout run defense, I was fine with it. The defense getting caved early really threw the game script off. It's pretty much damned if you do, damned if you don't with fans like you. If the plan was to come out with O'Korn launching downfield passes to open the game and we went three and out or threw a pick, you would have been calling that horrible as well. If it works: genius, if not: the coaches are idiots.

I was also fine with the play calling to start the second half. The drive was progressing, then you get a drop from Perry and DPJ drops a screen that would have been a chunk play. Sucks, but shit happens. By the time the PA 4th down pass happened the game was out of reach, who cares.


October 24th, 2017 at 6:22 PM ^

You can't have a winning team if you trust your QB to throw the ball and he fucks it up or gets instantly squished by DL or the WRs mess up somehow.


Complaining about the playcalling is short-sighted. What exactly do you call when your QB, OL, and WRs are mediocre to bad?


October 23rd, 2017 at 10:48 PM ^

everyone wants the mythical perfect series of playcalls to save the game- like beating someone in "rock paper scissors" 20 times in a row.

But no amount of genius play calls can save a team that just isn't that good right now (considering their recruiting rankings)

We lack fundamentals in blocking and tackling

We drop balls like its New Year's Eve

We make one stupid penalty after another

We don't see holes to run to

We throw lots of bad passes

You can't save these problems with genius plays- nobody has that batting average. I am not saying the playcalling was good- I'm saying it didn't matter and we have major problems that overshadow playcalling.


October 23rd, 2017 at 7:54 PM ^

Sometimes you'll see playaction in obvious passing situations just to see if you can get an undisciplined linebacker to bite for a split second out of reflex and set up a slant. The problem is it also takes the qbs eyes off the receivers for a second as well.

I was just as perplexed that they ran 21 personnel as I was with the playaction. I assumed they would've spread everyone out, or at least put another tight end in and looked for a mismatch.

San Diego Mick

October 23rd, 2017 at 8:14 PM ^

but he has been way too stubborn about his QB's, McSorley played great and O'Korn played decently for about 25-30% of the time, that was the difference in the game IMO.

One guy got it done while the other guy was hesitant and not deciding to run when there was an opportunity and ended up getting sacked or throwing it away.

On the 2 drives we scored on he was decisive and sure of himself, the rest of the time was a clusterfuck.

Also, I don't understand why we were under the center on a 4th and 11 and in a shotgun on 4th and 1, mystifying.


October 23rd, 2017 at 8:57 PM ^

i have posted that joke about three times in the last six months in the same context, yes it does make fun of a guy who used to say that but whatever, it's still humorous. Besides, what does anyone want him to say "yeah, we stunk it up on Saturday". We all saw it, a bad day at the officce, happens. I'm personally over it and here to look for some positive news.


October 23rd, 2017 at 6:55 PM ^

but they're in their 4th and 3rd seasons respectively, and it's not a technique issue with them.  It's an athletic limitation.  They're just getting blown by.  They're too slow.  Need one of the true frosh to step up as a RS frosh next year.


October 23rd, 2017 at 10:50 PM ^

I don't see the agility, strength and toughness from any of the o- lineman other than Cole.  I was concerned when I learned that a true freshman, Ben Mason, is the 2nd strongest man on the team after Mo Hurst Jr.  Against good Front 7s (Penn State and MSU) they seem to get their asses beat more often than not. Bo would have never put up with Owenu and JBB's lack of agility and toughness and stamina.

Hopefully the underclassman:  Runyan, Ruiz, Filaga coupled with Newsome coming back will help straighten things around.  I think Frey and Drevno know what they are doing...just need better athletes to work with.

I've said from the jump that this team will only go as far as the OL takes them.  OL has miles to go.

8-9 win team Max.


October 23rd, 2017 at 7:09 PM ^

I don't know what to expect from the offense going forward, but I firmly believe that the defensive performance was an anomaly. Joe Moorhead is arguably the best OC in CFB. I just hope he learned that McCray can't cover a RB when planning for OSU.

I fully expect Don Brown to take out his frustrations on poor Rutgers.


October 23rd, 2017 at 8:57 PM ^

The throw to the 6'7" guy was his worst, but didn't matter because Gesecki made a great turn and catch.  The other throws to WRs were dimes, and infuriating.  And, grudgingly , very impressive.  Impossible to defend most of them.  

Someday M will have a bomber, a Heisman candidate at RB, WRs and a better OL.  When meeting teams that can play like PSU Saturday night, we'll see some epic battles.  Maybe even next year.  It will come.