Nick Eubanks: do you have an update on his status?
“Yeah, he’s healing.”
Expect him back this year?
“Don’t know for sure.”
Grant Newsome as well and Tarik [Black], can you talk about how they’re progressing in their rehab?
“Um, well, both Nick and Tarik, bones healing. It takes some time to do that. Grant seems to be progressing weekly. Thanks for asking.”
You sort of said and kind of said but is Brandon [Peters] your starter this week? I know last Saturday you said you’d like to see how he handles a week of practice as the starter. Are you going into this week with him being the starting quarterback?
“We’re going in the way we have: preparing both quarterbacks. Not naming a starter today. We’ll see how the week progresses. Our system is a meritocracy where the best players play. It was time for Brandon to play. Went in, acquitted himself very well, and he will play again. He will play again this week.”
What do you like best about Karan Higdon’s running style?
“Well, it’s low. He drops his pads. At the line of scrimmage, his vision keeps getting better as well as his balance. Been a hard runner. Did a great job picking up the 4th-and-1, 4th-and-half-yard early in the ball game. By the narrowest margin, but found a way to get it done. So yeah, he’s popping—he’s making big runs. Pass protecting well. Yeah, I think that balance, the low center of gravity, the way he can drop his pads, physical nature of the way he plays.”
With Brandon’s performance on Saturday, what can he do to build off that and improve and how good can Brandon Peters be?
“Well, he can do a lot to build on it. Getting your first action and the things that you did well and how that felt when it happened, and then things that could have done better. Now he’s been in game action, so I think that helps a lot.”
[After THE JUMP: it’s like somebody went down to the presser cellar and brought up a nice 2016 for the table]
We haven’t seen a lot of Stephen Spanellis at that sort of sixth lineman position. Can you talk aboeut what he’s done in practice to earn that and how you thought he performed?
“Yeah. He’s really done a great job in all areas. The mental part of the game, he’s maybe our smartest guy on the team grade-wise, and has those same book smarts when it comes to football smarts. Changed his body. He’s really looking like—on his way to being a real physical specimen. Strong. He’s got passion. He’s got a passion for playing. He wants to be out there, and that’s a real talent. We keep seeing it over and over with your football team. I mean, the guys that really want it, the want-to factor, that want to be out there, want to play, want to practice, and want to train to be good, they get out there and they get themselves on the field. They get opportunities and then they do well with it. The guys that don’t just kind of ooze through their four years. Stephen Spanellis, I mean, he is a go-getter. The passion for playing and wanting to be good, seeing it. Seeing him get better and better and therefore he’s out there. And if he gets his opportunity, plays well, you’ll see more Stephen Spanellis as we go forward.
“Ben Mason, it’s there at the highest level. Just passion for the game and wanting to be good. The touchdown block that he made on Karan Higdon’s shorter run was spectacular. I’m gonna give him a helmet sticker just like he scored a touchdown because not only did he block his man from the seven- or eight-yard line, he actually scored with his man. He blocked his man into the end zone and scored and then Karan scored right behind him, and you see that.
“Kareem Walker is another one. Got the want-to, got the passion for being out there and playing, and that showed up in the ball game when he carried the football. So, you’ll see more of #6 as we go here. So, all those things are going really well for our team.”
Rashan said Mo sometimes can call opposing plays out at the line. What is his football intelligence like and how much has that helped on that D-line?
“Who did you say does that?”
Rashan said Mo does that.
“Uh-huh, yeah. Can’t say enough good things about Mo. He’s our defensive lineman of the week, he’s our defensive player of the week. Thought he had a tremendous game. Rashan was another highly notable guy in the ball game. The defense: the sacks, the tackles for loss, the three-and-outs—real gem of a game defensively. Mo Hurst, there’s the output of a guy who’s an experience, mature player; talented player; in his fifth year and he’s gotten to the point where he’s not one of the best players on our team, one of the best players in the Big Ten, he’s one of the best players in the country. Wish we had more Mo Hursts.
“One of the veteran players who’ve really shown with some of the younger players we just talked about—Kareem and Ben Mason and Brandon and Stephen Spanellis—he’s been doing that and has been an ascending player over the entire course of his career. That’s great for our football team. He sets a great example. You just have to look and say Hey, that’s Mo Hurst, that’s how he does it; look how he works every day. Look at the way some of these younger players are getting into ball games and having success and that’s a great example for the rest of the football team.”
Khalid Hill: what gives you so much confidence in him on the goal line and in short-yardage situations, and at the next level, do you think he could go back to tight end or be an H-back?
“Yeah, I do. I think he could. He gives our club versatility that way. He would give a team at the next level versatility that way as a fullback, as another tight end. You get really two, two-for-one, two positions from Khalid. Yeah, he’s got a knack of scoring the ball in those, you know, tight goal-line type of plays. That’s special when you can convert those type of plays. But he’s also good—you know, he can catch the ball out of the backfield. Runs well.”
Do you think we could see Drake Harris on the field at some point? Is he going to get any action?
“It’s a meritocracy, so those that compete the best, have the most talent, give the most effort are the ones that play in the games.”
MGoQuestion: What happened on the missed field goal in the third quarter?
“Uh, just mechanically what went wrong?”
MGoUhOh: Well, you’ve said in the past that it takes three things—snap, hold, kick—and you have to get two out of three for it to be successful, so I was just curious what happened.
“Yeah, well, uh… I thought that we just missed the kick. Didn’t have his usual solid, flush hit on the kick.”
Going back to Brandon, what are you looking for out of him this week in practice and does he need to do [inaudible]?
“Exactly what we just talked about with Rachel. Build on the successes that he had in the ball game and a real good full week of practice. As we said, nothing’s going to change in terms of we want to prepare both quarterbacks. It’s likely that—as I said, Brandon will play. It’s likely he’ll start.”
You touched on Kareem Walker. Is it—
“What’s wrong, Angelique?”
No, no, it’s just I’m confused because Saturday I thought you were saying he was going to start, now you’re saying it’s likely, but I just—
“I never said Saturday—I didn’t say definitively.”
No, you didn’t say definitively but it just sounds like it so—
“I’m sorry. Sometimes I’m not clear. We’re going to try to really build on what Brandon did in the ball game. Going into this game we’re going to prepare both quarterbacks. Brandon’s definitely going to play.”
I got all that but—
“The 51% would be on the side of him starting.”
“Not—if there was—“
Yeah, just when you say ‘likely’ that throws me off.
SID: He’ll get more reps in practice.
Baumgardner: I love this. This is great.
“Glad you like it, Nick.”
Back to Kareem Walker for a minute—
“Just… I’ll try to be more clear. Put a stamp on what he did in the game in practice this week.”
No, I totally got it but when you threw the ‘likely’ in it’s just like, okay—
“I’ve been criticized for saying a lot of things. This is the first time I’ve been criticized for saying ‘likely.’”
I’m not trying to criticize you.
“Threw you off.”
With Walker, is it how hard he’s running or is there a particular skill jumping out to you that’s leading to more snaps?
“Yeah, he’s demonstrated a good, hard running style. Just the way he runs, his feet are turning over fast, he’s picking the right hole, and he finishes with a nice lean forward and kind of attacking. He’s the aggressor, not the aggressee. I like that, that he’s ocming through piles and even on contact he’ll pick a soft shoulder and go through it and come out the other end often times.”
PJ Fleck: how well do you know him, what are your impressions of him, and so far his team?
“I like him. Met him just a couple times: football clinics, Big Ten meetings, etc. But he’s a very good coach. The team, we’re getting to know them right now, just started yesterday and today. They’ve got them playing hard. It’s a good group.”
Sticking with younger guys, Mike Onwenu the last couple weeks, seems like he’s started coming on for you guys.
“Am I bleeding?”
I don’t think so.
“Cut myself shaving. I do that a lot. Partly genetics. I’ve got this protruding nose. Tough to always get the razor right on there.”
Looked like Onwenu played well again Saturday. Is he okay? We saw him go off the field and just describe his overall growth as kind of a road grader there for you.
“Yeah, he’s been really good. Really good. He’s been one of our top linemen. He’s—Mason’s [Cole] been probably our best guy, had his best game this past week. Graded out the highest. Mike’s been right there with him. We’ll see where he is health-wise, but he’s been-sure want him in there.”
And Ty Isaac?
“Yeah, we’re going to get all the reports today when we see the players.”