Monday Presser 9-17-18: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Ethan Sears September 18th, 2018 at 12:03 PM


Things discussed:

  • Harbaugh has thoughts on the penalties. Especially the targeting. Don't get him started on the targeting.
  • Shea Patterson continues to be good
  • Hassan Haskins is working with the LBs
  • Injury updates on Karan Higdon, Chris Evans, Aubrey Solomon and Jacob West

[After THE JUMP: Harbaugh was kinda personable!]



Jim, what’s the status of Karan Higdon and what’s the status of Chris Evans?


“Both have been — Chris is working through something new now. Karan had been working through something. So, no real status to give. As they come in today we’ll see where they’re at. Day by day.”


Jim, going back to Shea’s efficiency thing, with DPJ, he’s 14 of 15, four touchdowns. With Gentry I believe he’s like 11 for 17. Have you ever had that — have you ever seen that type of quick start, that type of consistency in your coaching career?


“Yeah, seen that kind of consistency. It’s a good thing. I think overall, Shea has been seeing the field really well, making accurate throws, on time, getting good protection for the most part. And the receivers across the board have been catching the football, getting separation, getting open and finishing plays. That’s been a positive.”


Have you ever had a quarterback (crosstalk) — yeah, but in his first three games?


“I’m not sure. I’ve had quarterbacks complete 70 percent of their passes though.”


Did you?


“I don’t think so.”


Coach, can’t win a Big Ten title in the opener of course, but how much do you talk about striving for a Big Ten championship, how motivated and hungry are you and this program to win one?


“To win a game?”


Big Ten championship


“Very motivated.”


Is that a daily, weekly —


“Daily, weekly. And yearly.”


Jim, when you made a decision on Michael Onwenu — where to play him, which side of the ball, what was it that determined, for him, that he would play on the offensive side of the line?


“Well, we played him at both. We tried him out at both and it felt like his best position now and long-term for his career would be to play on the offensive line. He has done very well, continues to be an outstanding player. Still working though, still in the process of becoming as good as he can be, but doing an excellent job.”


Coach, are you approaching this game preparing for either of their quarterbacks, and what have you seen from Nebraska on film?


“Yeah, I think you have to prepare for both (Adrian Martinez and Andrew Bunch). Seen a really good, physical team. Lotta team speed. Lot of athleticism. And right now, going through all their schemes, they have a lot already put in. And you watch what they did at UCF as well, expect that to be (integrated) into the Nebraska schemes as well, so there’s a lot to be working on right now.”


We’ve, I guess, monitored Chris and Karan, we know Tru (Wilson) has got a lot of time after him. What’s up with the rest of the rotation there?


“O’Maury Samuels after Tru, who really played well in this game, protected well. Had one holding penalty. Caught the ball in the backfield well. Ran good. He continues to grow and grow as a player. O’Maury Samuels, Christian Turner will be working in there as well. Both done a fine job. And Hassan Haskins, (would be) next.”


Did you guys have Haskins working with the linebackers?


“Yeah, we’ve had — he’s been, he’s done both. And it’s still yet to be determined what his best position is. He was a very good defensive player in high school, he was a very good offensive player in high school, he’s playing special teams right now and his best position could be defense. It could be offense, but right now, he’s higher on the depth chart on offense, more offensive-ready. So right now, he’s coming back to offense. Maybe he ends up doing well. … He’s a talented player and could show up in both places going forward, including special teams.”


Zach Gentry had a big game catching the ball for you Saturday. How has he graded out blocking and doing the other things that you want out of a tight end?


“Really blocking well. Really becoming a complete player. Really becoming that. False start, need to be better at that. He had a couple other ones that were really in the gray area as well, so, but physically, really exceling. The only times where you can say there’s an exception to that is where he blocked the wrong assignment. But very, very, very close to being a complete player.”


You mentioned Christian Turner as one of the guys in the running back rotation. Was he held up by injuries in the fall camp, and has he been able to show you something? And can you also give us an update on Aubrey Solomon?


“He’s still day to day — Aubrey — with his rehab. Christian, really opened a lot of eyes in the very first practice. Doing good. Doing really well. Excited to see him play. He’s right there in the mix.”


Cesar Ruiz, can you talk about how he’s developing as a center and give us a sense of what his personality is like off the field?


“Developing well as a center. Personality-wise he’s a well-liked guy. Very smart player. … Players gravitate to him, coaches like him. He’s got a lot of energy and good to be around.”


Jim, have you ever played — did you ever play against Scott Frost when you were in the NFL? And what are your personal impressions of him if you guys have ever talked?


“Really have a lot of respect for Scott. Have a lot of mutual friends. Through our Stanford connection. Really impressed with what he’s done as a coach, what he did as a coordinator at Oregon. Had a chance to compete against him there, when he was at UCF. (One of the) bright coaches in our profession.”


And what’s the status of Jacob West?


“Jacob West is gonna need a surgery. He did tear his ACL. Very unfortunate, somebody who had really come on this season, was contributing and just ascending each day and week. But it was an injury that’s gonna need a surgery and projected it will be a successful surgery, he’ll be back to playing hopefully by spring.”


Was the Tru Wilson a hold actually a hold? You weren’t sure after the game whether he held him or not?


“Oh, he held him. He did. Oh sure.”


And then how would you assess the run game after three games?


“Been good, been productive. Still have some timing issues there, there’s still some — we’re successful when we’re around the right guy, and that’s encouraging, but not where we want it to be yet. It continues to chase the perfection. But improved? Yes. Any standard or way you could measure, it’s improved and improving.”


Jim, you went back and looked at the penalties, obviously, how many were legit in your mind?




How many were legit?


“Oh. Not really keeping score. And right now we’re in the process of asking (the Big Ten) for clarification, so I couldn’t give you the exact number that were legit and weren’t. But definitely we had things we gotta clean up and talk about a little bit. False start, the holding, special teams penalties. When we hit out of bounds — gotta know where the white is. Glasgow made that mistake. There was others. Waiting for clarification on the targeting. Still not with that one. So, want an explanation — we’d all like an explanation.”


What’s your issue?


“When you compare it to other plays in the game where, you’re saying that hitting a ball-carrier with the crown of your helmet, that’s happening — the runner, in fact, is leading with the crown of their helmet when they’re running a play. Didn’t think Khaleke (Hudson’s) was with the crown of his helmet. And I thought he led with his shoulder. So that’s interesting, be interesting to follow how that’s called going forward. There’s many issues in that. In that case, the ball-carrier was fully leading with the crown of his helmet, through the hole, fully leading with the crown of his helmet. So yeah. How that’s interpreted will be good for clarification.”


Is part of the issue the booth — that the call came from the booth?


“No, I think that’s — the issue is when you’re talking about crown of the helmet, ball-carrier leading with the crown of their helmet —”


No, I know


“What’s the — and the target moves. If somebody’s coming through a hole, running through a hole, the ball-carrier’s moving and the standard of, whether you just happen to hit helmets — is that what we’re, cause that’s gonna happen a lot. People, they’re gonna touch helmets. And the individual may not be targeting somebody, but they could be hit, a glance with the helmet, that happens a lot in football.”


Could Karan have played last week?


“No, he didn’t feel like he could.”


Jim, you’ve had three games now with the new staff, I know you liked what you saw in the offseason, you liked how they were vibing, all those things. You guys went through three games, three weeks, three gameplans. In-game especially, how is it — how is your judgement of how it’s gone?


“Good, yeah. Just everybody doing a good job. Really good at what they do, and collectively getting really good. … Productive.”


Jim, Josh Ross has gotten some good playing time. Can you kinda assess what you’ve seen out of Josh lately?


“Oh, Ross? Yeah, he’s improving. There’s another — that was — he got a penalty in the game. Thought that was — he got called for pass interference — that’s another where we’re asking for clarification. Thought he just redirected the receiver when the ball was in the air. But he’s playing well. I know he’s got a great example in Devin Bush to watch. Devin’s super high-level, in all regards, so Josh — Devin Gil also — turned in a solid game. So, can’t have a greater example than Devin Bush. … Gotta be impressed with Josh Ross, his ability to play and execute so early in his career.


Lotta other guys are getting mentioned — Brandon Watson. Brandon’s had a solid first three weeks, he hasn’t got a ton of mention. What have you seen out of Brandon?


“Yeah, well, he was our player of the game last week. Defensive player of the game. He had tackles last week, he had PBUs, three of them. He’s been consistently playing well for our team, including the first game, he had an interception.”


You got a pretty nice field goal out of Quinn (Nordin) there on Saturday, he’s starting to build a lot of confidence in his leg. I know he’s always had the power, but the accuracy seemed to have been a concern so far this year


“Yeah, just working on the timing of the process — it’s a battery. Snapper, holder, kicker. And great to see that unit, and also the protection come through for us when we needed it. That was a big field goal at the end of that game. Three-score game. 35-yard field goal. Nice to see the fellas knock that one home.”



September 18th, 2018 at 12:50 PM ^

I have nothing to support this, just a feeling. This presser reads a lot more like Harbaugh circa '15 than the more awkward, word-fumbling Harbaugh we've seen over the last year and a half. Seems like he's done walking on eggshells and has his unique swagger back.

Maybe I'm just being wishful, but I got that feeling.


September 18th, 2018 at 3:15 PM ^

 " motivated and hungry are you and this program to win one?"


"not too much. everything in moderation, you know? not like this i the only year we play football. and most of the players, i hope, will be coming back so, i can live with not winning one."


September 18th, 2018 at 3:27 PM ^

I really feel like we are close.  That being said, close could still be 8-4 or even 7-5.  I know that seems insane but I think we end up being a much better football team than last year.  I just hope the record reflects it.  I feel like if we were in the West we would probably be 10 - 2 not that it matters at all.  OSU seems like a playoff caliber team and I can't figure out the rest of the Big 10.  I think Wisconsin, PSU and MSU will be nail biters.


September 18th, 2018 at 4:53 PM ^

This team has a very competent QB and the WRs have been coached up (finally).  Just need to get the OL timing better in the run game and Higdon / Evans healthy.  Keep installing more to the offense, work on pass pro and shore up the defensive blips (penalties and blown coverage). 

This team has way more potential than the 2017 squad and ultimately more than the 2015 team.  The issue has always been the 2018 schedule, but the competition is struggling compared to expectations so maybe the schedule is not as daunting as previously feared.  I mean even OSU's defense is ranked 9th among B1G teams which is mind-boggling given their opponents.  Of course, Haskins has been on fire so maybe they have been playing backups or soft on defense.

But as far as the season goes, there is a plan and good opponents to test team progress.  Nebraska, Northwestern and Maryland should provide another level of competition to get better from before we face the gauntlet of Wisconsin, MSU and PSU.  That stretch will really test the 2018 ceiling.   


September 18th, 2018 at 4:00 PM ^

"How motivated are you to win a Big Ten Championship?"

JFC FFS WTF kind of question is that?


"Oh, not really motivated by that at all. We don't really care about winning the conference, we'd be pretty happy with 3rd or 4th as long as the players are satisfied. It's really about bonding and teamwork and getting that free education, you know? Big Ten Championships aren't that important."

sheesh, you get a chance to ask a question and that's the best you can do?  How about Jim, why do you give up so many big plays on third down, should you play more zone coverage? Jim, will the offense shift more toward passing in conference play? Jim, what's that status of the starting battle at left and right offensive tackle? Jim, do you worry your offensive scheme can't score enough points against an OSU or PSU? Jim, sounds like there's an injury issue at running back, how are changing your game plan for Nebraska, because it didn't look like much changed around Evans when Higdon couldn't play. Jim, since Shea was so efficient in his passing, does that mean he's not taking enough risks? Jim, what's the status of the project to lead the conference in making sure facilities are adequate? Jim, is the S&C staff changing anything to reduce cramping during the games? Is it more because of the weather or is there something in the S&C program leading to more cramping?

so many good questions that could be asked, and you ask how much do you want to win the conference?  sheesh


September 19th, 2018 at 9:16 AM ^

you're probably right.  in this job I guess you just hope to get lucky and hit on something that coach is willing to talk about or piques his interest.  Generic coach speak responses are on the coaches, but at least asking a decent question is on the reporters.  Not "how motivated are you to win?" what is even the point of that one?

The only thing i can think is for a clickbait story "Harbaugh says Michigan is hungry and motivated to win the conference"