“Nice to see everybody. I just spent a nice 45 minutes over at the Weber’s with the M Club of Ann Arbor. Now I get to be here with you to follow that up. It doesn’t get any better!”
What have you seen from your offense so far, and what do you like about the competition?
“What I love about the competition is that…oh, where you talking about offense?”
“It’s been good. Intense competition, which it always is on a football team. There’s a great deal of honor and satisfaction to be one of the 11- a starter. Competition for those roles has been intense, as you would expect. Offensively, defensively, and on special teams.”
Any updates on the quarterbacks?
“I was informed that our competition for Thursday night’s ball game, Utah, would be sending us their official depth chart Monday, and in the interest of fair and healthy competition we will also send our official depth chart on Monday as well.”
Does that mean you’ll have made up your mind by Monday, or are you still hashing it out?
“Like a lot of positions there are some that are very close, some are closer than others, some are still being competed for, and some positions there’s individuals that are ahead. To give you an example, the kicking position is very tight right now and still playing out. At some positions it might continue into the ball game itself. Yeah. I think we’re getting a good idea of things, whether it’s even, close, or someone’s ahead at this point.”
Is it important for you to tell your QBs or team who that is so they can rally behind that one guy?
“To the team? Yeah, I think that’s something that’s been ongoing and that takes place.”
I don’t know if you-
“And they do. They do. It’s been a tight, close competition. Especially at that position.”
[After THE JUMP: “You can also say we really enjoyed each other’s company in a football fashion”]
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s been a lot of hype about this game and you and everything else. When you went into the “submarine” for a couple weeks did you accomplish what you wanted to accomplish? Was avoiding some of the hulabaloo part of your strategy, and do you think you accomplished it?
“I think it’s something that’s really particular to college football. Maybe in all sports in college, [but] maybe more so particular to college football in that coaches, players, staff being together, there’s a 20-hour-a-week rule that you can all be together. And in college football, August is not that time. You can be together all day, every day. Hourly, daily, weekly. It’s a time to forge a football team, and we wanted to and I think we did maximize every hour and every minute. You’re getting to know your team, and you’re doing that daily. We asked our team to work very hard this training camp, this fall camp, and I can tell you that they did that and that their focus was tremendous throughout the camp. You can also say we really enjoyed each other’s company in a football fashion. And I’m pleased with where we’re at.”
Have you determined which of your assistant coaches will be in the press box and which ones will be on the sidelines?
“For the most part. Again, still maybe deciding that, but for the most part I have a very good feel and understanding for what’s going to take place in the first game.”
But you don’t want to reveal which is which yet?
“I think we’re still…making it official…a certain layout…You’ll see Thursday.”
Can you just talk about your emotions leading up to the first game at your alma mater? Second part is, the responsibility and pressure you might feel to get this program turned around?
“It’s what we all signed up for. I hope that’s what everybody signed up for, because it’s here. This game has been on the schedule a long time. We knew it was coming. Big game Thursday night.
“It’s going to be watched by a lot of people. It’s the first game in college football that I’m aware of and the only other games that’ll be going on are NFL preseason games. Having had some experience playing and coaching in those games I understand people will probably tune in and then switch over to our game pretty quick.
“So it’s a big stage, and it’s a really good football team that has winning on their side. They’re a confident team, and they should be. Is it overwhelming? Ask our team the same thing and the answer is ‘no.’ You want to be at that table. You want to be at the big boy table…big persons table, better to say. There is another table. It’s over there in the kitchen. Hard to see from the big persons table. If somebody wants to go over there, nobody’s going to sit with them, but if they do…this is what we signed up for.
“This is what I signed up for and I know a lot of our players did. The way to answer that questions is that’s what you want. When we go into this game I think we’ll be very well prepared to play.”
Can you talk about the anxiety heading into your first game?
“Yeah, I always felt it’s better to have the anxiety now and the worry. It’s better to have it now than during the game, so you do everything possible to have your team prepared for the ball game. It wouldn’t feel like a game if you weren’t at that stage right now. Combing through everything. Just combing through every part of the game plan, planning it and getting the bugs out and making sure that way when you get into the ball game you can play fast without the worry. I think that’s the best way to approach it.”
Can you update us on the status of Bryan Mone and any other long-term injuries?
“Yeah, Bryan will be the long-term one. He’ll be out of this ball game and [there’s a] good chance he’ll miss the season.”
“He broke a bone in his lower leg. Freak play. Never seen it before in practice or games. Jabrill blocked a field goal attempt, and the ball came onto the defensive side, which shouldn’t be returned at all. Unfortunately that teachable moment came when one of our players ran around the edge and Bryan was trying to lead block for him and they got their feet tangled up, and then when Bryan went to the ground his toe came down at an inopportune angle and unfortunately a bone broke.”
Any other long-term injuries?
What has impressed you-
“Nick Benda and Anthony Dalimonte.”
“For the season, yes.”
What has impressed you about Jake [Rudock] and what has impressed you about Shane [Morris]?
“Both have been very, very impressive. Very competitive. Competitive demeanor. Every day is important to them, and I’d say that’s the thing that’s been most impressive about both of those youngsters is how important it is to them.”
You’ve been at a high academic institution, but how do you put into words what it means to be here at your alma mater? Can you compare the two jobs?
“I don’t like to compare things. I’ve always kind of thought that when you compare things- one job to another, one person to another- somebody gets diminished so I avoid that.”
This team has struggled to win on the road. What kind of approach do you take into road games to help them overcome some of those past issues?
“Number one, pack your defense. I think in any road situation…the other is just play well. Play good football [and] the same things lead to wins at home.”
As for when the depth chart, when that comes out will it definitively say who your quarterback is?
“I haven’t decided yet. But it will definitely say- [it will] rank the number one.”
So it will be ranked? In the past there’s been ‘ORs’ so you never know for sure.
“It’s a possibility.”
Has Drake Johnson been cleared?
“Hey, good question. Drake has been cleared and practicing. Haven’t decided whether he’s going to play in this ballgame, but he’s done a fantastic job. Getting bumped around in practice. Looks like a football, as you know maybe better than I do from watching him. We’re excited about him.”
Anybody missing this game due to discipline, suspension, anything like that?
“I don’t think we ever really talk about that. I’ll check and see if we do.”
Captains are [voted on] today, you said?
“They are. 1:30.”
Going to running backs, was there anything specifically you saw from Derrick Green or DeVeon Smith or Ty Isaac that- I know you aren’t naming people who are ahead, but was there anything that one of them did that prompted optimism on your part, specifically?
What was that specifically?
“Well, specific[ally], I think all three have done a good job. All three are in the rotation right now and getting carries. To me there’s probably one who’s doing the best job and all will play.”
When you look at Derek and DeVeon or Ty, I know you said you wanted to run a three-back system: are you closer to defining roles with them?
“Yes, we are. And again, that goes to the question of I’d really like to know what the other team’s roles are and how they’re defining them. That’d be useful information, especially since today is Thursday. Then you’ve got Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday to really know what somebody’s role is going to be on the other side. I think you can probably understand why I’d like that information, so I’d rather not give that information.”
But it is definite on your part?
“I didn’t say that. I said that it’s-”
But they’re defined?
“They’re all doing a good job and they’ll play.”
Drake Harris has been a guy who’s struggled with injuries. Can you talk bout how he’s progressed?
“Yeah, he has, Drake Harris has, done a really fine job. You’ll see Drake Harris on Thursday night, God willing and the creek don’t rise. He’s doing a nice job. He’s been really, really sharp. Really good. It’s important to him. He’s been healthy and he’s competing. Strong and good all camp, and we’re excited about him every day. He’s somebody that really from where we were in spring ball to where we now are…he’s one of those youngsters who’s going to make our football team better.”
Was the bunker-down mentality in camp for the element of surprise, or was it to help you come together?
“As I explained earlier, that’s the time that you have- the most time that you have with your football team the entire year. So the important thing was be together. Be around each other. We enjoyed that. We enjoyed each other’s company and got a lot of work done. We asked our team to do a lot of work and focus in on a lot of meeting time and they did it. They did it well. They did it real well, so it was a very productive time for our football team.”
With all the attention and discussion about the program over the past six months or so, how eager are you to actually go out there and actually play football?
“Well, unfortunately at the age I am and the eligibility remaining I’ll be standing over there on the sideline like you! Stepping in between the white lines, that’s reserved for the fighters, and it’s their time to do that. But getting them prepared for that, that’s the part we play as coaches…and very excited about that, contributing. You’re contributing in the competition.”
How has Jabrill distinguished himself this camp on defense, and how much has he worked on offense?
“Yeah, we said that was a possibility and that remains a possibility. Nothing wrong with the competition. That’s a possibility.”
How has he distinguished himself in camp?
“He’s been good. He’s been all the things that have been advertised about him. He’s a tremendous football player. A foot-ball player! He is that.”
Can I ask you to clarify something? There was a report that Michael Jordan reached out to you about this Jumpman/Nike deal. Is that true, and can you talk about that conversation?
“Yeah, my phone rang and it was a number I didn’t know and I said, ‘Hello?’ and I didn’t catch the whole name because just- you know, sometimes cell phones cut out or in half sometimes, so I got part of it. I said, ‘Excuse me? I didn’t get- the phone cut out. Who is this?’ And he said, ‘This is Michael Jordan.’ I said, ‘Come onnnn. Come onnnnn. Who is this really?’
“He said, ‘This is Michael Jordan.’ I said, ‘The real Michael Jordan?’ So yeah, that’s kind of how it went. But it was very cool. Sarah was very, very, very impressed that Michael Jordan called me.”
Is it going to be weird that that logo’s on a football uniform?
“It’s gonna be awesome.”
How will the quarterback decision be made? Will it be you, Tim, and Jedd? Who has the most input? Are they providing you with information and you’re making the decision, or how does that work?
“Who has the most input is the players, they themselves.”
Does Jedd have a certain level of input? Does he bring things to you and they you say this is what I want to do or is it collaborative between the three of you?
“Yeah, it would be that from here on, you know. The people I talk to is my coaching staff. I lean heavily on them and we do it as a team.”