Monday Presser 9-28-15: Jabrill Peppers

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 30th, 2015 at 9:11 AM



Note: Jabrill was on his way from class and missed the time they do the two-player panels, so we got extra time with him in a scrum. I jumped in mid-answer here.

“…in terms of punt returning, we’re almost on the brink of taking one back. Just minor corrections and me making full-speed decisions and trusting the blocks and the way it sets up. I think I’m right on the brink of breaking one.”

Your thoughts on how the secondary’s coming together right now after four games?

“You know, it all starts with the coaches. They do a great job of gameplan and coming up with schemes that best fit us and our best attributes and they put us in the right positions to make plays and it’s been working so far. It’s just all in the schematics.”

Talk about the coaches as technicians. What have you learned technically from them?

“It’s almost too much to name in terms of techniques and different things they teach us, different pointers what to watch in terms of route recognition, formation recognition, what they like to do out of said personnel or said formations so it all helps us out there on the field. We rep it so much in practice it just becomes second nature.

“In the games it actually slows down because we were prepared for tempo. In practice we kind of killed ourselves all week thinking they were going to go tempo, and if they did I didn’t notice it. You know, it definitely all starts with the preparation.”

How comfortable do you feel in this hybrid role that you’re playing?

“It’s…I’m always comfortable with the guys around me. They do a great job of preparing and helping me. I just do whatever I’m asked to do. You know, put the time in the film room, put the time in the playbook, learn the position as if I played it all year and just try to go out and compete each and every day.”

What do you like about the position that you’re playing and what you can do every week?

“I just like how I’m around the ball a lot. They put me in spots where I can excel, and then it’s up to me to play. That’s how I look at it. They can’t go out there and play for us, so they put us in the right spots at the right moments. Coach Durkin does a great job with knowing the personnel and what they like to do on each down and what’s their tendencies and while I’m out there I remember that. I can kind of get a jump on a route or get a jump on what play or what kind of run I expect them to run, so it just all goes back to schematics.”

[After THE JUMP: The best way to talk trash it to let your pads do it for you]

It doesn’t seem to be enough for you to bring guys down, you seem to have to do it with emphasis. Do you think coach Harbaugh likes that?

“Coach Harbaugh’s a fiery guy. When I’m out there I’m fired up all the time, especially when guys get to jawing at me. He preaches we play between the whistle so I’m going to hurt you as much as I can between the whistles, especially if you’re jawing at me so that’s how I look at it. That’s my approach.”

Was there a lot of jawing?

“Well, in the BYU game there has [been] but not much with other teams we’ve played.”

What’d they say?

“Things I can’t repeat on camera.”

Stuff where they’re saying you’re not good or overrated?

“Things like that, things like that. But, you know, they just get more vulgar and in depth with it. I just let my pads speak for me. That’s how I counteract that.”

You don’t respond?

“No, I don’t respond. Coach Harbaugh doesn’t like that. I almost did one time. I had to catch myself, but…”

You told you guys not to respond? Is that something he made clear at some point?

“Oh yeah. He made that clear from back in camp. If he sees any of that the whole team is going to pay for it, because in the game the whole team pays for it. You get a 15[-yard penatly] we all suffer, so that’s how I look at it.”

For you, what’s the best part of being back on the field on a full-time basis and what’s the most challenging part of it?

“I think the most challenging part is just finding my rhythm and trusting things I used to do if my knee’s going to hold up where, you know, just not worrying about if I’m cut blocked again will something trigger or happen to my knee or my ankle? But the best part is just being back into the swing of things and just doing what I love to do and having fun doing it.”

Did it take you long to get back into the flow or was it a quick return?

“You know, I wouldn’t say it took me a long time but coming off an injury, a season-ending injury, psychologically it took me a while to get over it psychologically because nobody wants that to happen again. But while I’m out there for the most part I forget about it and just try to have fun and help the team.”

How would you evaluate your own personal performance through four games?

“There’s always room for improvement. Up until this point I do feel like I’m progressing but I’m definitely not playing the way that I think I should be playing, and especially the way the coaches expect me to play. All it is is just keep getting better and better every week, keep progressing, keep staying on it, keep the battle rhythm going and try to keep making plays.”

Are you more comfortable closer to the line of scrimmage right now than when you have to cover somebody?

“It doesn’t really matter to me. You know, in terms of coverage there’s new techniques I’m learning that’ll benefit me if I enforce them how I should when I’m out there in the game. Sometimes we tend to do our own thing. You know, it’s human tendency, but if we stick to the technique and what we’ve been practicing all week good things happen.”

What do you like about being able to contribute on special teams?

“Oh, that’s one of the big things. Me personally, I just like having the ball in my hands [and to] try and be a threat back there like, okay, you not only have to worry about our offense scoring but maybe I can try and get us a touchdown or even better, set the offense up with the shortest field possible.”

Did you do anything to develop your hands? You seem very sure with the ball.

“It’s Jugs [machine]. Coach Bax[ter] makes us stay after practice, catch 15 punts and 15 kicks.”

Out of the Jugs machine?

“Yeah. And then with our kickers we have a lot of extremely talented kickers from the Aussie style and then with Kenny just kicks the line drives up there in the air, so I kind of get a feel of the way the ball spins and just how to judge the ball in the air, so that definitely helps me know how to judge the ball.”

And their two different styles probably help you.

“Yeah, absolutely. Yep.”

How close are we to seeing you on offense?

“I can’t really answer that right now. I’m trying to just get the defensive side down pat and then whatever they’re ask me to do, moving positions-“

Have you practiced there at all in the last couple weeks?

“No, I haven’t.”

How much responsibility do you have on defense really? Coach Harbaugh says you’re on the field more than anybody else, and playing multiple spots…

“I wouldn’t say I have more responsibility than the other guys out there on the field, but I would say that in terms of learning different spots that’s responsibility that I have to have in terms of can the guys trust me out there to be able to play those different packages when called on and not get mentally tired and that I’m at one position when I’m not and in turn hurt the team. So, in that instance I’d say yes.”

Is it tweaked week to week? Do they add different stuff in there?

“It’s just gameplan, so when I go into meetings today I’ll find out where I’ll be.


“Other than that I just do what I’m asked to do, try to be as versatile as possible, and play my tail off.”

There’s a buzz around the program with you guys back to winning. Can you kind of sense it a little bit?

“A win is a win, and we worked extremely hard. We felt real comfortable with the gameplan. We saw their tendencies and what they like to do, and coach Durkin just orchestrated a gameplan that kind of took away what they like to do. We knew Tanner [Mangum] was a freshman, so we knew if we gave him different looks up front and we just did our job on the back end we’d get home and maybe frustrate him a little bit. But we definitely played way better than anybody expected. Right now we’re just trying to keep the momentum going and get better week to week because, you know, there’s still a lot of room for improvement after watching the tape. We played great but there’s only room to get better and we’ve got to keep getting better.”

Jarrod [Wilson] mentioned stamping the secondary with a physical personality. Jourdan’s been very aggressive, James Ross, Channing Stribling- what have you noticed about your guys’ aggressive tendencies?

“We take a lot of pride in it. In terms of aggressive, Coach likes to play man-to-man and mix some zone in. When we get a chance to get in somebody’s face we make sure that our presence is felt whether it’s a hit, a tackle, or breaking up a pass, interceptions. We just want to make them think twice before they think about putting that ball in the air.”

How confident is this defense?

“We are extremely confident because we know how we prepare and we know how hard the coaches prepare and help prepare us. So, when it all comes together the correlation is great. Then you go out there and they’re showing you everything you went over with the scout team and it’s like ‘Wow.’ It’s almost kind of crazy how in depth they break the film down, because when you get out there it’s like they said this was going to happen. It’s playing within yourself and doing what your coaches ask you to do.”

When you’re a cornerback and a team doesn’t want to throw at you it’s pretty simple. they just throw to the other side of the field. But when you’re a safety, how have you sensed teams trying to stay away from you as a safety? Is it possible, even?

“I don’t know how to really answer this question. A lot of teams try to go tit for tat and maybe get a couple rhythm throws underneath and then a long shot, but we have great cover guys on the outside in Channing and Jourdan and Jeremy, so those guys put in tremendous work and effort just to improve on their technique and improve on things they need to improve on.

“As far as us being back there, we’re just the field generals making sure everybody’s lined up in the right spot, making sure where deep is the deepest. So, we’re making that long ball very questionable if you want to throw it because we’re back there. And the way we look at it is if you’re going to go long it has to be a great ball because we’re going to have fantastic coverage and our safeties are going to be back there to cap it off.”

That’s one of the benefits of having you at safety.

“Yes. Yes.”

How much has it helped everybody to play multiple positions? Almost everybody is.

“It helps a lot in terms of learning the defense. When you play multiple spots you basically are learning the defense that much faster, so for all of us to just know what each other’s doing…you might have a brain lag on somebody and just tap ‘em, ‘Hey, you got coverage on three’ or ‘You’re in the hook,’ just things like that. You just learn the defense and play that much faster.”

Talk a little bit about Jehu as a blocker. Has he gone up against you at all? Has he gotten you at all?

“We don’t really have that much physicality in terms of during the game week, but when we were in camp and spring ball, definitely. All our guys are tremendous blockers, so we knew they were going to help in the run game. They come off the ball the same way as if they’re running a route when they’re blocking, and as a DB it kind of gets you off balance because when you’re in man-to-man coverage he’s coming off the ball you’re not really worrying about anything else other than your man. Then he starts blocking you then the ball squirts right past you and there’s nothing really you can do.”

This is something probably every wide receivers coach coaches his players to do, but how often do you actually see that, guys running-

“Oh, every day. Every day in practice.”

I mean from an opposing team.

“Oh, from an opposing team? That’s something we pick out on film. Some guys do it, some guys don’t. You know, if you know your matchup comes out a little harder when it’s a pass or he tries to just take the play off when it’s a run you can use that against him.”

Is blocking as a receiver, is that more an effort thing or a technique thing?

“I think it’s both. You know, you have to have great technique on everything, but it’s up to you if you want to put in that effort to block. Some guys that we play, they don’t really- they just try to get in front of you a little bit. Don’t really try to really get that physical with you. But some guys, they really get physical with you so technique. The guys with the longer arms try to lock you out. It just varies team to team.”

Do you notice Jehu on film?

“Absolutely. Absolutely, yeah. Jehu plays 100% every time, all out. Probably the fastest guy on the team, though it kills me to say that. No, I have my opportunities to prove otherwise, but he goes 100% every day.”

Defense is getting there. Your guys’ level of confidence with the offense, especially after Saturday putting up 31 points- how confident are you guys in your offense?

“We tell the offense that, and I tell the offense, once we get a three and out I try my best to get you guys to work on the shortest field as possible. We have a veteran quarterback in Jake Rudock, guys on the outside are coming along nice, De’Veon Smith is having a year- all of our backs- and when you can run the ball that opens up the pass game. Those guys on that side of the ball have worked extremely hard in practice. We see that every day, and they see us working hard every day. When that just comes together, man, you got something special. We just try to force the three and outs and we let them try to put up as many points as they possibly can. We try to put up some points as well; our opportunities will come.”

De’Veon’s run: what was it like on the sidelines when you guys see him go in that pile, then he comes out…?

“Well, I think we were actually having a little discussion with coach Durkin. When we’re on the sideline we’re just talking about corrections, what we see on the field, what are they doing differently and that, and incidentally that was happening at that time. We caught it on the jumbotron. It was still pretty sick.”

The noise tip you guys off?


“Yep, yep. Absolutely.”

MGoQuestion: You mentioned that you prepared for some things with BYU that they didn’t end up doing. How different was what you saw on film from what you saw on the field on Saturday?

“Not really that much different. When I say that, we prepare for any case scenario so when it happens we’re not surprised, so that’s basically what I meant. Coaches did a great job breaking the film down, their tendencies, even going back to last year and those game. So basically, everything we rep in practice we basically have a good idea of in a game and that’s what they showed us.”



September 30th, 2015 at 9:19 AM ^

*On jawing with the BYU players*

"What did they say?"

"Things I can't repeat on camera..."


Not exactly the Mormon way!  Love that our DBs talked and used that to their advantage.  I think it definitely got into their heads.  Loved when Lewis started applauding after that one incompletion.


September 30th, 2015 at 10:01 AM ^

I can see where you're coming from.  I would argue that talk becomes more potent when it's backed up with discipline and performance.  I think in this game you saw a very disciplined and talented team annihilate a lesser opponent, so when they talked, the other team was even more thrown off.  That's when it gets under your skin.

SoDak Blues

September 30th, 2015 at 9:36 AM ^

"He preaches we play between the whistle so I’m going to hurt you as much as I can between the whistles"

Fantastic quote. Glad I am not playing against him between the whistles.


September 30th, 2015 at 9:43 AM ^

I just fell in love with this kid all over again.

1. He gave out clear, well thought out answers to just about ever question. Not too much coach speak or clichés.

2. I really like how he showed deference and gave credit to his coaches and teammates. My favorite parts were when actually made it sound like he'd prefer to set the offense up for the glory of the 6 rather than score himself, and when he begrudgingly named Jehu as the fastest player on the team.

3. I wish reporters would stop asking certain questions and pressing when it's obvious a coach or player doesn't want to, or shouldn't want to divulge that information for opponents to capitalize off of or prepare for. i.e. When they asked about him on offense. I have a sneaking suspicion that we will most certainly see him on offense in the MSU and OSU showdowns, or possibly if any other games get too close for comfort... But he obviously doesn't or wouldn't want to put that out there so the rest of the Big Ten can start preparing for it.


September 30th, 2015 at 10:04 AM ^



Then again I should have more faith in Harbaugh/Drevno to be creative and not telegraph things in all caps.


September 30th, 2015 at 12:53 PM ^

The first time he lines up on offense will be a positive no matter how the defense reacts. Either he garners too much attention, thus becoming a decoy and allowing our QB to get the ball to our now likely more open other weapons... Or the D tries to overcompensate to not get beat on some type of decoy driven trickeration, and they go ahead and give him the ball and he does his thing. Then I have every confidence in the world that this staff will build wrinkles off of that, in game and moving forward.

I remember what you were referring to with Borges... Denard and the OSU game that we should have won when he basically held up "run" or "pass" anytime he came onto the field in the 2nd half. It was extremely frustrating to watch because all they needed to do was at 2-3 passing plays to mix in and it would've kept the D off balance. I know Denard may not have been able to throw the ball down field, but if he could take contact, then he was plenty capable of throwing slants, bubbles, tunnels & RB screen passes. That was the day I gave up on Al.


September 30th, 2015 at 11:52 AM ^

I've been trying to curtail my expectations.  Keep in mind that even Charles Woodson didn't get on the field for offense until his junior year, and even then he didn't play many snaps.  We just tend to remember the ones where he did play. :-)

Let Peppers continue to learn the defense before he starts using his practice time to learn the offense.  If he ever does get into a game on offense, it's not likely to be a surprise for the opponent, given the amount of offseason chatter there was.  Heck, it's possible that the whole point of all of that offseason talk was to get opponents to prepare for #5, "just in case."  Every minute another team spends preparing for something that's not going to happen in the game is an advantage for Michigan.


September 30th, 2015 at 9:51 AM ^

I really think this Saturday we will see either an INT for a TD or a punt return for a TD. Sooner or later, he's gonna make a big play that will change a game. Everything he's doing so far has taken our defense to another level, along with great D-Line play (nobody can block Glasgow), and ball-hawking DB's. This is such a pleasant turn around from the RR days of just hoping we can outscore the other team. I couldn't be happier with how this is all going for Michigan. It's great - to be - a Michigan Wolverine!


September 30th, 2015 at 10:26 AM ^

I agree. You don't think he heard Harbaugh saying how great Maryland's special teams return game is? I bet he uses that for motivation to "hate-run" like Smith did.

hate-running is like hate-fucking, kinda. It's that look he had on his face when he saw the poor soul from BYU in his way.

hate runnin

get. the. fuck. off. me.



September 30th, 2015 at 9:52 AM ^

This coaching staff is on another level. I know we all know that but we finally saw the difference on the field. I'm not even talking about the play of the team I'm talking about the prep and the schemes. From all the interviews it has come to light that BYU had no answer to how vastly different UM played compared to their tape and our defense was designed to shut down their strengths and it actually worked, which doesn't happen most of the time. I fully believe this coaching staff will game prep to the best of their ability all season and it will really only come down to if we can just keep the chaos plays (turnovers, missed tackles, SP. Teams) from hurting us.


September 30th, 2015 at 9:54 AM ^

I think we were actually having a little discussion with coach Durkin. When we’re on the sideline we’re just talking about corrections, what we see on the field, what are they doing differently and that, and incidentally that was happening at that time.

This is something I noticed in their play.  Oregon State and BYU had a little success early but their gameplan had stopped working before even the first quarter was over.  Durkin does not wait for halftime to make adjustments; he starts with the next offensive series.


September 30th, 2015 at 10:03 AM ^

I love the attitude of the players about taking the coaching tips that they are given and rep all week during practice. I also appreciate that Jabrill admits to straying occasionally from the coaching but recognizes that good things happen when he doesn't. Jabrill and the other players clearly want to get better and that combines with the skill of the coaching staff to lead to visible improvement each week. It is a joy to watch this team as they march to their battle rhythm. Go Blue!


September 30th, 2015 at 11:44 AM ^

I'm OK with these guys being way more athletic, smarter and good-looking than I've been at any point in my life.  But man, at least maturity is something that's supposed to come with age (to the point that it's synonymous) and here's a RS freshman giving interviews like he's Patrick effin' Stewart.  Dude's a pretty good rap composer, too.

Some guys just cheat on their ability score rolls, I guess.


September 30th, 2015 at 10:47 AM ^

I would like to hear some players answer, "has the crowd noise and energy been any different at the Big House this year compared to previous years you've been here?


September 30th, 2015 at 10:56 AM ^

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September 30th, 2015 at 11:02 AM ^

"Very well spoken kid - I definitely could not have given an interview like that at 19."

That was the same reaction I had with the Jehu Chesson (though he is older) interview on this week's Inside Michigan Football. Thoughtful and articulate.


September 30th, 2015 at 11:10 AM ^

It isn't showing up on the stat sheet yet, but he is getting more and more consistent at doing his job within the defense.  He isn't making the play all the time, but he is blowing up the play or forcing the play back to the strength of the defense.  That will be the next step for him is getting just that one twitch faster and making the play himself.  Considering how much better he has gotten since the Utah game, I have no doubt he will get there before this year is over.  Teams aren't even attempting to run that speed/tempo trash to his side because he is getting better and better at IDing the play.  He has been an absolute wrecking ball the last couple weeks


September 30th, 2015 at 12:22 PM ^

After reading the player interviews through 4 games, what really jumps out is the excitement the players convey at actually learning technique, understanding how to prepare for games, and the confidence gained from seeing things unfold with no surprises. I contrast that with last season's comments on the excellent week of practice before each game only to look lost during the game. While I am surprised at how quickly the development and progression has occurred, it shows what high quality coaching can do when you have talented student athletes. I am typing this as I sit in Lansing on a business trip and I am looking forward to October 17th!


September 30th, 2015 at 12:35 PM ^

"Just want to stay in our battle rhythm for the next game coming up" - Kalis yesterday

"You know, just bashing some skulls a little bit" - Poggi yesterday.

Love the quotes coming from these guys.

Sounds like the "battle rhythm" is a theme that is regularly used. Wonder if it's just a defense thing or if Harbaugh has the whole team going into battle.