- Chase Winovich, good football player
- The run game and Karan Higdon's effectiveness
- Injury non-updates on Rashan Gary, Tarik Black and Juwann Bushell-BBeatty
- Ben Mason's contact craving
[After THE JUMP: Jim Harbaugh wore baggy shorts in the '90s]
Coach, can you just talk about how far your safeties have come over the last year?
“They’re playing really good ball. Josh Metellus, playing really well. Coverage and getting his hands on balls. His tackling. Really improved in all areas. Doing a fantastic job.”
Talk about Chase Winovich. He’s had quite a season, there’s a lot to impress you. Talk about what’s impressed you most about Chase.
“He sure has been having an impressive season. Always, a defensive end can affect the game. He’s found ways to do that, whether it’s getting pressure on a quarterback, or tackling, playing from the backside or the frontside. Hustle plays constantly. Tipped balls. Sideline to sideline. Every way a defensive end can affect a game.”
How motivated is this team to play this week against Penn State after what happened last year?
“I think the team will be motivated to play this week. And every week.”
Jim, do you have an update on Rashan (Gary’s) status? Is he expected to play this week?
“Don’t know. Don’t have an update for you.”
How did Tarik (Black) pursue the bye week?
Is he expected to be a full-go here?
How did you use the bye week to prepare for Penn State and what jumps out at you about their team right now?
“We practiced, we had meetings, we had weight workouts during the bye week. Penn State is an excellent football team, they are once again this year, in all phases. Very good team.
Jim, you once said Ben Mason was born to play fullback. What traits of his led you to think that and how have you seen him develop since then?
“He’s just a very, very physical, aggressive football player who has great contact courage and really craves it. He loves it. He loves football and he loves contact. He loves running and hitting.”
What led you to move him to fullback when he got here?
“He was playing linebacker when we first started in the spring. He was just so good at going forward. I think that’s his personality. It’s an attacking type of football personality. Really felt like he was so good as a downhill type of linebacker, to be able to do that all the time, be a downhill, aggressive football player, fullback would be a great position for him.”
You said you wanted to give some of the younger guys reps last week, is there anybody who has stood out in your mind?
“Oh yeah, there’s been a bunch of good work going on, whether it’s the Monday scrimmages or the opportunities and practices we had last week. Several guys.
Can you name some of those, or would you rather not?
“Oh, name somebody, leave somebody out. Lot of really good work going on in those practices. I think our players really look forward to them to.”
How difficult is it to try to keep up momentum when you have a winning streak after the bye week?
“We’re just attacking this week. Everybody coming in, we practiced yesterday as a matter of fact, so it’s already begun. We practiced last week during the week. Can’t really say it stopped. Continuous. It’s been continuous. We strive for continuous improvement, so it fits them well.”
How has Karan Higdon’s maturity helped him?
“Well, he’s been — how’s his maturity? Yeah, he’s a very mature guy. It helps as a football player, very goal-oriented. Think that’s a very mature trait. He understands the benefit of hard work, and a very good example to the entire team. He’s a leader and he’s played tough, in practices and in games.”
In what ways does Chase and his unique personality lead this team off the field or emotionally, and do you enjoy that he lets people see what he’s like?
“He is definitely a great example and always has been. … What he does as an example playing football, on the field. Just does everything at such an intense level. Hard working level. He’s gung-ho, too, as he’s doing it. Seems to be a rarer trait in individuals these days. I think sometimes you see younger people thinking it’s more cool to have an approach that they’re too cool for school as opposed to gung-ho. Chase is definitely a throwback in my mind in the area of attacking each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind, which I have great respect for.”
Jim, do you anticipate to Chris Webber in town this weekend?
“Anticipate him being the honorary captain for this Saturday’s ballgame.”
What’s that gonna be like for you?
“Very excited about it.”
Did you pay attention to the Fab Five when they were here?
“Of course. Like most everybody. Was a big fan.”
Just talk about Andrew Stueber’s improvement and what you’ve seen from him as the year has progressed
“Andrew’s doing a nice job. Just shoulder to the grindstone and patiently getting better and understanding that it’s a process. But he attacks it every day. I like Andrew a lot.”
Talk about Will Hart. His punting average, inside the 20, kicks, and what he’s meant for field position, what he’s accomplished this season
“He’s done a great job. See it in practice and in games. he’s just been lights out. It’s great. He’s made huge improvements in his game, the punting position is one that we’re really confident in. He’s performed consistently well, punt after punt.”
Do you have any update on Juwann Bushell-Beatty? Did he practice last week?
“No update on Juwann so far.”
Talk a little bit about Trace McSorley and the challenges he presents
“Terrific player. Consistently plays really well. Always is a threat in the passing game, defending the passing. He’s running the ball a lot more this year, really effectively. He’s quite a quarterback. Their win-it factor shows up over and over. Big challenge for our team this week.”
What’s allowed Karan Higdon and the running game to be so effective this year?
“Lot of factors. Improvement and sustaining blocks. Getting on the right guy. Less mental error in our blocking assignments. Patience by our team and trust in the run and going back to the run. Constantly having that as a weapon in our attack. Karan deserves a lot of credit. He’s gotten tough yards and yards after contact, yards more than what the play is blocked for. Karan has also shown a real penchant for the big play. He can break out of a pile of players as good as anybody. Knowing that’s always a possibility, that’s a huge factor in staying with the run like we do. Talking about the plus-50 (yard) type of runs that he’s got a real knack for.”
Your team is one of the best in the country at time of possession. Is that something that you were thinking about at the beginning of the year, or is that just a product of the running game being what it is?
“I think that’s a team product when the defense is really good and the offense is good at making first downs, moving the football and scoring points. And the special teams is doing their job.”
Would you care to comment on the Big Ten’s reprimand of you and Devin Bush?
“No, I don’t think I have anything to add to that. At this time.”