News bullets and other items:
- Chris Evans was concussed, and it’s too early in the week to tell his status for the game
- Not sure whether Braden at LT and Bredeson at LG will be the starting left side Saturday as Bushell-Beatty is very much in the competition
- You’re doing yourself a great disservice if you don’t read the whole thing for the discussion of where the refs spotted the ball after a play that left Michigan two yards short of the sticks on third down up 41-8; Harbaugh challenged, and the subsequent call was the worst he said he’s ever seen.
After watching the film, how’d that left side of the line hold up with the two Bens?
“Good. Real good. Yeah. Both played two of their best games. Yeah, good in protection, good in the run game, made the right calls.”
Is that something you think you’ll stick with this week probably?
“Yeah, we’ll see. Juwann Bushell-Beatty also is a huge factor.”
Talk about what Wormley gives you both as a leader and as a player. I think it was Chase Winovich who referred to him as ‘papa.’
“Really consummate…consummate…great football character, great human character. Really good leadership skills. Strong and makes well thought-out decisions. He’s equally as good on the football field. Just always been a rock-solid guy you like being around and somebody that you try to emulate his qualities. He’s a thinker and makes good decisions.”
Reading some of the players’ postgame comments from Saturday, they talked about last year how you kind of let the finish of the game sink in a little bit, but since then you guys have gone 11-1 over two seasons. Is that something where that kind of has fueled them since, or this week is it really going to come out in an aggressive form?
“This is a big game for us. Championship type of ballgame. Our preparations will need to be at their best. I don’t know much more to say about it than that. That says it all.”
[We need a rules expert after THE JUMP]
A play from Saturday that didn’t get talked about in here: Vaughn breaks out, Peppers runs him down and knocks him out, they don’t score on that. Is that kind of a play that you can teach from on effort and the ability it takes to make that play?
“Yeah, it was a great individual play by Jabrill. Really showed his speed. Yeah, there’ll definitely be things to teach off it from.
“I thought you were gonna bring up the spot on third down. I thought that was a play that wasn’t talked about much that…I don’t know if I’ve ever seen—I’ve never seen a worse call in the game of football. That just—after the replay to where you could spot it, that that play could stand. Wasn’t spotted a yard and a half further after it was replayed, I don’t understand. Somebody mentioned something about it after—”
“I mentioned it? Oh, I mentioned it. Yeah. [laughs] I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more strange replay. I don’t know. Maybe there has been. But somebody said something about that if it doesn’t make the line to gain then—who said that? Wojo said that? Okay. Then they don’t re-spot it? Really. It’d be interesting if—so, you know, if a spot doesn’t make a first down then it stands wherever it was spotted. That doesn’t make sense to me because, okay, what if the official gets the yard lines confused? Maybe he misses it by five yards, or maybe he misses it by ten?”
Plus, obviously you might want to go for it if it’s fourth and inches instead of fourth and--
“Yeah, obviously, I mean just getting the right spot, that is reviewable. So he misses it by five yards but it’s not a first down then they would change and get the correct—? Or two yards? Or one?”
The challenge is is it a first down, not if it’s the proper spot.
“No, we’re challenging the spot. Yeah, it was there. I said, ‘It’s misspotted.’”
That’s the rule.
“That is the rule?”
I think, yeah.
[U-M SID] I’ll check it.
“Official gets confused, thought he went out on the sideline at the 35 but he really went out at the 30 and then you review that, even though it doesn’t make a first down, is that something that can be challenged? Yeah, my understanding of the rules and the review system is that it’s the spot, to get the correct spot. It’ll be interesting to see what the explanation is.”
I think they probably played it based off the score of the game at that point, don’t you think? That they just let it go because of the score of the game?
“Is that in the rulebook?”
Well, no, but that’s what they did.
“I haven’t come across that rule either. Maybe Wojo’s aware of it.”
You said in the spring that Amara Darboh was the best receiver, that he had elevated his game because Jehu gave him that incentive. Where do you think they stand right now, how do they play off each other, and how have you liked Amara’s play specifically so far this season?
“Amara’s been outstanding. He’s been…he’s been top of his game, ever improving, always improving. Just a real football player. Tremendous worker in practice. Jehu’s been the same. Both have been great players for Michigan Football, and is good the way they in a genuine, good-for-the-team way elevate each other’s games.”
Just curious, what are your thoughts on the job Mark [Dantonio] has done in East Lansing, specifically the six years, and then kind of connecting that to where you guys are going, it’s like two programs this season going in opposite directions: they’re struggling, you guys are at your highest point in about ten years. Just kind of curious your thoughts on what Mark’s done and the year that they’re having.
“Was there a question in there? Seemed like you were making a statement.”
What do you think of the job that Mark has done, and when you look at the struggles, it’s uncharacteristic.
“He’s done a great job. One of the best college football coaching jobs in the history of the game. It’s been at the highest level.”
What do you make of the struggles this year that they’re having?
“It doesn’t matter what’s happened before this week for us or for an opponent. It never does. It matters what happens on the gameday. We know the task in front of us. We know the challenge, and it’s up to us to get prepared for that game so we can go out there confident and execute and have a chance to be successful.
“They’re a very good football team. We know we’ll be tough to beat. We know they’ll be tough to beat. But in the meantime, we’ll get prepared for the game.”
Do you guys expect Chris [Evans] to be back this week?
“We’ll see. It’s a little early to know yet.”
Did he have a concussion?
“Yeah, anything like that is ruled a concussion. I think he’s doing good.”
Last year’s last play: you’ve said before you never want to be involved in a game where something crazy like that happens. Do you think about that play at all, that punt thing at the end of the game, or have you moved on completely?
You do think about it now and again?
“As you said, I was hoping to never be a part of a play at the end of the game, whether it was a Hail Mary or one of those lateralled ten times to beat you on a kickoff or a blocked punt, all those ways where defeat snatches a victory away at the very end. As I said, I was hoping to go my whole career without having that happen. Obviously that didn’t happen. I don’t know what the second part of your question was.”
Have you moved on from it?
“Yeah, I have. So yes to both.”
What makes Jourdan Lewis such a special player and how has he played since he returned from injury?
“So many things make him good. He’s just so on the details. He’s so on his preparation. It’s really important to him. Tremendous athlete. I mean, ridiculous instincts. He’s got speed, he’s got quickness, he’s got great hand-eye coordination, ball skills, physicality, he’s an excellent tackler, just…all those things are at the top of the list.”
And what level is he at since the return?
“He’s at the highest level. He’s continued to be an improving great player.”
You talk a lot about getting better every day and improving. Your defense has been so good. Where can they get better as you move on throughout the season?
“I think—I mean, that’s a great question. They’re playing so good. They’re…I mean, you just really have to give them a pat on the back right now. But it’s not time to take a victory lap. I guess that’d be the [message], just to keep going at the same relentless, intense pace that they have and approach that they’ve had to every game because we’re a little over halfway, at the halfway point. You don’t want to take a victory lap, but you do have to recognize that this defense is playing great football.”
What did you learn from that last-play scenario last year? I don’t know if it’s possible to prepare for every single scenario, like if your punter bobbles, fall on it, but what did you learn, if anything, from that?
“Several things, Larry. Several things.”
“Have the punter at the right depth, not be in a spread punt in that situation would be the two that come to mind.”
Maybe this is from when you were playing, but did you notice something different with guys who were in-state? You were coming from California but you had been here before. In this rivalry game, did the guys who were in-state guys approach it differently than guys who came from out of state?
“I mean, I used to think that. I used to think that when I was an in-state guy playing in this game, but then you realized that you approach all big games—or you learn, or you train yourself to approach all big games not differently.”
What’s the status of Grant Perry and the other guys who were suspended?
“They’ll be back practicing today.”
You say treat every game the same, don’t treat them differently. Does that have to be almost a special point of emphasis this week because it is such a rivalry game and such a big game, to not let your players get caught up in it as the week unfolds?
“It’s been an ongoing strategy for our football team to treat every opponent with respect, to treat every game as a big game, as a championship game. Just learned that that’s the best approach, in our opinion. Then when you’re in those tight games, when you’re in those pressure situations, you’ve already been there. You’ve already done it, because you’ve treated every snap that way through the course of the season. Just found it to be the best way to be focused and be loose at the same time in an attempt to have the most success.”
Matt Godin had a play where he got to the quarterback and hit him. Was that the correct interpretation of that rule, and as a quarterback, do you like that rule?
“I thought he was blocked into the player from where I was standing. So no, I didn’t think it was the correct interpretation of the rule.”
We got to see Kareem Walker dressed for the first time this season. Is there still a chance he’s going to play this year?
“Um, no. I think we’ll save the year. He’s practicing, doing a really nice job. You never know for sure. You don’t know what’ll happen with the depth at a certain position. Our intent would be to save the year for Kareem.”
Going back to not necessarily the punt, but Michigan State has and Dantonio has found all kinds of ways to win on the last play of the game. He’s had all kinds of mousetrap stuff, kind of trick plays. When you do prepare for that, how much of an emphasis is that knowing literally one play can decide it?
“Yeah, he’s one of the best. I’ve known him for years. You have to make your preparations accordingly.”