Monday Presser 9-11-17: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 12th, 2017 at 8:05 AM



They didn’t have players take the podium today, so I took a little bit of audio from the different scrums around the Towsley Museum and transcribed it. If you’re wondering why other sites might have certain quotes not seen here or vice versa, keep in mind that I have one recorder and one me to gather audio.

Maurice Hurst

Will you guys be required to wear knee braces this week?

“I don’t know. That’s a great question. I’m not sure. That’s probably a better question for coach Harbaugh.”

He doesn’t like our questions.

“He’s dead inside.”

Burnt wood.

“Burnt wood.”


In Rome Chase [Winovich] said you guys had already been practicing so much for Air Force you know their offense better than they do. Do you feel confident at this stage?

“I wouldn’t say all that, but—”

That was Chase.

“Yeah, I know. I’ve talked about a Chase ban from media. Yeah, I think we have prepared a lot in spring and we used some of those practices to get ready for what we’re going to face this week so it’s not a complete shock to us, and I think we’ll have our scout team ready to give us the look that we need that they’ve been practicing and have done before, so I think that’s all kind of what helps you understand the offense better.”

[More Hurst plus Khalid Hill and Patrick Kugler after THE JUMP]

How would you explain Air Force’s offense to someone who’s not familiar with it?

“I play with it sometimes in NCAA Football so I have a little familiarity with it. There’s a lot of things that go into it and a lot of people you have to account for in the option game. It’s just really tough for any defense to have to sort of witch your entire what you’re doing on defense just to play this one week and then go back to a normal team. It’s just really tough for the adjustments that we have to make and just making sure that everyone’s really into it this week and understanding what we need to do.”

What’s your favorite triple option play in NCAA?

“I don’t know. It’s probably the triple option read, just the fullback and the quarterback run and the pitch option.”

Have you played against the option?

“No, I’ve never played against a Wing T offense except in high school.”



Khalid Hill

You’re all social media guys. I imagine you see some of the criticism that’s directed at Wilton. How do you respond to it and how do you think he responds to it?

“Wilton has like—if you see Wilton around campus, like I said, Wilton never lets anything [bother him]. We’ve all kind of just got that, because coach Harbaugh got it to us. I forgot what he said the other day to you guys.”

Burnt wood.

“Yeah, burnt wood inside, you know what I’m saying? All the criticism that we get, we just take it and we roll with it. We just put it as like a thing that builds us up for the game and we remember it. We just want to attack every day with enthusiasm to prove everybody wrong. People are going to talk no matter what. You’ve got to understand that. You’ve just got to have a hard mind and just keep working every day and you can prove them wrong.”

So you never have to tell Wilton—

“Nah, Wilton polices himself. You never really have to say anything. Like you said, when you guys see us on the field and we were getting all the flags and stuff he was just like, ‘What’s the next play? What’s the next call?’”

You guys obviously have a lot of confidence in him but is it kind of maddening to see social media attack him en masse?

“It infuriates us as a group because that’s our QB but at the same time what we’re gonna do is go out and play. And then when we’ll be ballin’ people will say, Oh, Wilton was doing this and that. Don’t jump on the bandwagon then, you know what I’m saying? If you want to be a criticizer now, stay a criticizer. Don’t jump on the bandwagon


Does it feel like this offense is getting close to the point where it just breaks out?

“Like I said, I mean, you see the plays. They popped open. It was crazy. We got most of the [?] and just no big plays, so you just kind of shoot yourself in the foot all the time. We had Ty [Isaac] with the big run up the sideline. We had a little play were we got down to the red zone—fumbled. It’s all stuff that’s like shooting us in the foot. We’re making the plays, we’re just one step from being where we need to be.”

You were one step away from having one of those big plays yourself, just one step away. What was your reaction in that moment and what do you do to correct that?

“Kind of was a play we practiced in practice or whatever. They kind of gave us a different look. As I was running to the Will the backer overplayed me and I cut inside—which I’m not supposed to do—but I did it just because I know just being a player I knew I could get back around him. I get on top of him and Wilt threw up a ball for me to make a play and the DB, he kind of shocked me that he was able to get up that high because I didn’t think he was going to be able to get up. I was gonna fall back and catch it but he made a hell of a play and I applaud him for that. That’s kind of what happens in the game. You’re not going to get every play. You just got to keep working and we’re going to keep working and next time that play will be complete.”



Patrick Kugler

Khalid said you have to eliminate some of the mistakes you’re making before you get into bigger games—

“Yeah, definitely.”

But he feels like you’re just that close to breaking out.

“Yeah, what we’ve got to do is just start scoring in the red zone. We’ve gotten there the last couple games, we just haven’t put it in the end zone. It’s little mistakes, little errors that everyone’s making, myself included. If we eliminate those, we’ve got something special.”

Did you ever consider not coming back for this fifth season?

“Yeah. It was definitely talked about but I wanted to establish a legacy here at the University of Michigan and help lead this team this year.”

Did you happen to look at the rankings and notice that you guys are ranked ahead of Ohio State?

“I did. I mean, it’s a good feeling but nothing matters until we play them. Hopefully we’re undefeated and they’re 10-1 so it’s a great game. Yeah, worry about that then.”

Did you guys hear when things were a little bit rough this past Saturday the crowd booed a little bit? Clearly some frustration. Did you guys hear that or feel that?

“Yeah, I mean, we were frustrated too. We knew we should have put more points on the board. Never like to see your fans turn on you but they didn’t and they stuck with us and we know we can play better than that.”

How does Wilton respond to something like that?

“He’s very poised. Nothing phases him. He’s very even-keeled and he’s our leader, so he does that.”


Have you learned a lot from Mason [Cole]? Do you guys talk about it?

“Oh yeah. He played center last year and I’ll bounce ideas off him or talk about technique with him. We bounce ideas off each other all the time. Off the field, we watch extra film all the time so we definitely bounce ideas off each other and try to get better.”


Harbaugh talked about you driving the ship on that offensive line, making the calls and such. Was that difficult early or did you take it on right away?

“No. I’m very good with calls. I’m very good at knowing the offense, and that’s what you need to do as a center. Cincinnati brought some stuff we weren’t prepared for that they haven’t shown, a little bit of hot front, but we handled it well and adjusted well so it went really well.”



September 12th, 2017 at 8:25 AM ^

Notice how Speight's teammates defend him as their QB and have confidence in him, while JT Barrett's teammates are on social media pining for Haskins. We have some good character dudes here at Michigan.


September 12th, 2017 at 10:21 AM ^

I just can't stand the media assholes constantly asking the leading questions about Speight. They're trying to manufacture a fucking story, and there is real potential there for their "story" to start to get into WS's head. Fucking assholes. I hate it so much, I want to punch someone. 

Mr Miggle

September 12th, 2017 at 11:05 AM ^

Those leading questions gave the players a forum to not only publicly defend Speight, but to give some insight into what kind of a teammate he is. I can't see how that's bad. If those questions came from reporters who follow the team, I'd bet they got the type of answers they were expecting. Those were 5th year seniors, not freshmen.

There was a story already there. About the fans booing and the garbage on social media.

Blue in PA

September 12th, 2017 at 8:39 AM ^

I think all the piling on Wilt is bullshit.   He can certainly improve, he needs to and he very likely will.   We're 2-0, he's 28-54 with 3 td's and 2 ints... one of which should have been a completion.  He has a 125 QB rating thru two games.  He did miss some painfully wide open receivers, he also made some great passes.  

Trust in JH....  and Go Blue!




September 12th, 2017 at 9:29 AM ^

Speight has a serious problem with making mistakes that can set the whole team's efforts on fire, so the grumbling isn't without cause.  That said, I think the incompletions are unfortunately amplifying the noise to drown out real progress.  First off, I didn't see much frippery against Cincy; I'm sure they had a bag of tricks ready but they weren't going to waste plays if they didn't need them.  I mean, we played Cincy.  'Twas closer for comfort than fans would've liked, but Harbaugh doesn't care about Vegas so this game didn't need a Super Bowl gameplan.  So Speight sits in max protect and tries to pick which bracketed receiver to throw to while Ulizio learns how to handle a stunt.  Second, I sense Speight's feeling out HOW to make mistakes.  He's overthrowing receivers but one major difference from last week, he didn't overthrow to a deep safety.  Got away with a couple dangerous throws (DPJ's spike comes to mind), but otherwise he made sure that if the receiver couldn't bring down the ball, the opposition wasn't going to either.

Which is what we want, right?  I mean it'd be nice if he hit every throw but literally no one can do that, so mitigating damage is a real QB skill.  Last week I grumbled about Speight taking reckless risks in a game his defense had firm control over; since he got briefly benched he's been more conservative with his misses.  As long as he's not Tom Brady, I'll take it.  Part of Speight's progress is minimizing the cost of his mistakes, because we know that's a problem.  It's weird to say it this way but I sense the coaches were teaching him how to miss, which does just that.  Now we just gotta fix that damn handoff crap, but that's easier to fix.


September 12th, 2017 at 5:20 PM ^

That's kind of the point. The coaches aren't asking him to be a superstar. They're asking him to do the things he was supposed to have learned last year. I thought his progression last year was fine, especially taking into account his injury. (Also, for some reason @Iowa is always a tough game for us). Now, with a season of experience as the starter, I was expecting him to make fewer mistakes - or at least different mistakes as he was given new, more difficult assignments. Instead, he seems to be making the same mistakes he made last year while running vanilla plays. Cincinnati isn't close to the competition he'll see when the Big Ten season rolls around, they are worse than many of the teams he faced last year. He should have been able to handle them better. I confess, watching him against Cincinnati, I thought the same thing several posters have written, he seems to have regressed.


September 12th, 2017 at 8:42 AM ^

Sp8 is our man. We need to cheer him on better today than yesterday. Better tomorrow than today. Working together as a team, fans, university. He is our boy and we cheer him on for better or worse. This is MICHIGAN! If not, don't jump on the bandwagon.


September 12th, 2017 at 9:32 AM ^

No kidding. There are rumblings that the younger players in OSU locker room is pushing for jt barrets replacement by haskins.

I'd hate to read that kind of crap here. Let us rip on the team we love all day, but the team must stick together in spite of our musings and rants.

Very proud of our guys. This team will come together.

Hail Harbo

September 12th, 2017 at 8:51 AM ^

Speight can at least take solace in the fact that as of now, 2018 recruits aren't publicly demanding he be benched.  Unlike what is happening in a certain state capital 160 miles nearly do south of Ann Arbor.


September 12th, 2017 at 8:59 AM ^

better than JT whose perceived starting position is on a guillotine as we speak. A QB's most important thing is his brain, and Speight seems to read defenses nicely. We, as a fan base, should stand beside him and give him all the encouragement he needs because he is the starter after an intense QB battle.


September 12th, 2017 at 9:32 AM ^

It seems like a higher risk of injury to all your D-linemen with those cut blocks, and you have to spend way more time than normal to prep for their weird offense. I just don't see a benefit. If you want a decent, easy-ish non-con team then just pick some other Mountain West team and call it good.


September 12th, 2017 at 9:39 AM ^

There is zero upside for us, unless we were to meet Georgia Tech in the playoffs or something random like that.

The service academies deserve the exposure, but we've done our part.  We've played them a number of times over the last few years.  Let someone else take up the torch.

Maybe the NCAA should require that every P5 team play a service academy once every five years or something like that out of patriotic duty.  Sort of like a special case "Hawaii rule."




September 12th, 2017 at 9:32 AM ^

"Don’t jump on the bandwagon then, you know what I’m saying? If you want to be a criticizer now, stay a criticizer. Don’t jump on the bandwagon."

Wise beyond his years.



September 12th, 2017 at 11:09 AM ^

Please stop insinuating that the fans were booing the players? They were clearly booing the playcalling. There is no need to put these guys on the defensive about booing towards them that wasn't directed at them.


September 12th, 2017 at 2:18 PM ^

1. all the player reactions that interpret that booing as directed at them...not just this week, but during the Hoke times as well.

2. all the spittle-flecked vitriol in the PSA thread about booing from fans that WERE actually booing the players and defend their actions as justified b/c "they paid for their ticket and can act however they want!"

Read my lips: booing anything but a bad ref call at that very moment, is pointing an asshole cannon at the players....whether you intend it or not. They hear it and do not make any distinction about where it is intended. When you add to it, you participate in it.

Also, player reactions are NEVER "Oh, I should try harder", more like "oh...those fans are assholes, note to self...M fans don't give two shits about me unless I'm perfect." 


September 12th, 2017 at 12:43 PM ^

Please stop insinuating that the fans were booing the players? They were clearly booing the playcalling.

It's not quite that simple. If we had been ahead 35-0, no one would have booed. The ostensible reason may have been a coaching decision but if we're being honest, it's due to people being mad over the first half in general.


September 12th, 2017 at 11:31 AM ^

Surprised cut blocks haven't gone the way of the horse collar yet.  
In other news, I'd say part of the UM and OSU QB beef was watching the stark contrast last Saturday between Barrett and Speight one one side, and Baker Mayfield on the other.  Mayfield, was mobile, accurate and explosive, and looked about as good as a college QB can possibly look.  He looked so good he made Wilton and JT look pedestrian.


September 12th, 2017 at 12:18 PM ^

I like this format a lot better than the press conference format. The players seem looser and more of their personalities reflect in their answers.