Monday Presser 9-29-14: Doug Nussmeier Comment Count

Adam Schnepp September 30th, 2014 at 8:53 AM

nuss 9-15


In hindsight, and this has nothing to do with an injury, should Devin Gardner have played earlier in the game on Saturday based on how Shane was playing?


And why not?

“Well, I think you’ve got to give a guy an opportunity to play. Shane prepared very well. We talked about it for several weeks, you know, his preparation leading up to the game. He deserved that opportunity to play and we were going to let him play.”


Doug, what was your perspective on the Shane Morris hit that’s kind of been a question after he had the hit to the head? It looked like you kind of saw him struggling on the field. What were you saying to him and what was your take on this?

“Well, I didn’t see the hit. You can’t see- everything was lost in the field of play and the guys upstairs, you know, it was third down and it was an incompletion so I was thinking- well, they say, ‘We got a roughing penalty. We’re up.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay.’ So the first thing is okay, what are we doing now? It’s first-and-10 from a playcaller’s standpoint, and then I look up and I see Shane limping. ‘Are you okay? Are you okay?’ and he waved me off, [saying] ‘I’m fine.’ Okay. I didn’t know at that extent what had happened, really. You don’t really know because you couldn’t see from our vision on the field and Shane’s a tough, tough guy, man.”

Did you talk to him when he came off the field, and what was sort of his state of mind and clarity at that point?

“I don’t really recall having a conversation other than ‘Are you okay?’ and then you’ve got the flow of the game and everything else that was going on.”


Coach, is it going to be difficult for either quarterback or whatever quarterback you have in there until this offensive takes a few more steps forward in terms of pass protection and things like that?

“We’re all disappointed in our performance. We needed to perform better. We needed to play better. We needed to coach better. That’s across the board, not one position. Like I said, we’ve got to coach better and we’ve got to play better. We’ve got a lot of work to do, obviously. The only thing we can do is go back to the practice field. We went and put some pads on yesterday and worked on some things, worked on some fundamental things to try and get better at every position.”


Do you know who will be the starter next weekend?

“We’ll go through the week and we’ll evaluate it.”

Is it a question of- if Shane were 100% and nothing had happened injury-wise would that still be the case this week, or…?

“We’re going to challenge and compete at every position, like we say every week and see where we’re at and evaluate every guy. We’ve talked about it numerous times, [we] want to create competition at every position. Both Shane and Devin have done some really good things and we look forward to watching them compete and allow each other to be pushed and get better.”

With how, from our perspective- with how long it took for the final decision to made going into last week’s game…first of all, when was that decision made that Shane was going to be the starter?

“Well, I don’t think that when that decision’s made is really relevant. What’s relevant is that our players are pushing each other every day to get better and that we’re putting the best players at each position out there every Saturday.”

[More on Shane Morris and the hit after THE JUMP]


Doug, two parts: is the quarterback, is that exclusive to Shane and Devin? The quarterback battle.

“I don’t think any position on our team is exclusive. That would be- that wouldn’t be what we preach to our players, which is everybody compete. Get better each and every day. We want to challenge. We want to compete. We want to get better at every position.”

The second part of it is how closely have you looked at the offensive line? Are there any major personnel changes that you’re looking to make? Is there any that you feel would be better for the line?

“Yeah, sure. I mean, every week it’s evaluation. Obviously, like I said, we’ve got to get better, so we evaluate everything. We evaluate who’s playing where; what are we doing with them; is the scheme right; do we have the players in the right position to have success; are the players doing the things they’re supposed to be doing correctly? So there’s a lot of this that plays into it, and each and every week you can’t pinpoint one thing. And that’s what we’re trying to do now. We’ve talked about it. Find consistency. Be able to week in and week out do things well.”


Coach talked about Shane deserving a chance to play.


But can you talk about at what point you have to make a decision that we have to try and win the game, and what’s our best chance to win the game when it factors into who’s playing quarterback, and was he your best choice into the second half to win that game?

“Well, I think that every game we play to win the game, and we put the best players out there we feel at the time. Where you get into the point of saying, ‘Well, is another player better than another player at that point in the game?’, that’s all subjective and that’s- if you’ve got a hitter and he strikes out the first two times up and you out take him out you don’t know if he’s going to hit a home run in his third at-bat, so that’s hard to say and that’s a difficult question to ask, obviously. You look at everything, and like I said, proud of what Shane went out and the way he competed.”


Doug, when Shane was down after the hit, did you try and encourage him to stay down to get checked out?
“I couldn’t see what happened. When I saw- it’s hard because everything happens so fast down there. We had sprinted to the other side. Saw the ball. I’m trying to follow the ball, trying to see the routes, trying to see what happens and all of a sudden I see incompletion. First thought is, ‘We’re off’ and then the guys upstairs say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a penalty. We’ve got a roughing. We’re going to get back out there.’ So that, that was…”

After that when Devin lost his helmet, what was the confusion with Bellomy on the sideline?

“Well, the biggest thing was trying to get the time out and get Devin to be able to put his helmet back on.”


In the spirit of, ‘We have to get better and we have to figure better ways to do things,’ just as an outsider it seems to me maybe that one of the things you have to do better is figuring out how injured a player is or figure out when there is an injury possibility like this [how to have] better communication. Do you agree with that, and is that something you guys are assessing?

“Well, obviously player safety is of the utmost [importance] to us.”

And so is there any possibility of changing how the word gets from one person in your team to another?

“You know, it’s protocol and we have one of the finest medical staffs in the country. Doctors, trainers, and that’s their department. That’s not for me, as a football coach, to really get involved in.”


DeVeon Smith: comments on his effort and through that any potential change in his depth chart status?

“Played extremely hard. Was effective. Played physical. Played fast. Very- was very happy with what DeVeon did. Like we said before, we’d like to have both guys play and both guys contributing but it just happened at the point in time where he went in, he ran very hard and ran well so obviously, we talked about it a little bit last week, but having both of those guys productive is very important to our success.”


Were you made aware of a concussion test protocol administered to Shane Morris or did someone say to you that he was cleared or that he was checked for a concussion?

“No, we just follow the- as a coach you just go through the procedure of waiting to be told whether a player plays or not. We assume a player’s available to play until I’m told from the medical staff that he’s not available to play.”

And were you told that he was cleared to play, that he was able to play?

“We didn’t have the discussion. We don’t have the discussion unless a player’s unable to play.”


MGoQuestion: You just mentioned the medical staff. Do you know if they have a standard concussion protocol or if there’s a protocol for when there’s a helmet-to-helmet hit?

“Well, I’m not going to get into all those specifics and all those things. I think that’s better directed to our medical staff and to coach Hoke and that and I’ll let those guys handle that.”


Are you concerned with the lack of production the wide receivers- looked like it was going to be a strength of the team…I mean, other than Devin Funchess, I think he had a few catches Saturday but no one’s really standing out. Are you concerned with that?

“Well, we’ve got a lot of things we’ve got to do better and anytime you’re not producing points is number one. We’ve got to find a way to score points and we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the guys in the right spots and we’re giving them opportunities, and then we’ve got to make plays.

Are you surprised at how many points you aren’t scoring?

“Disappointed. I think that you’ve got to look at where you’re at; where you’re headed; why not; why are we not scoring? That’s the biggest thing. What’s hindering us? There’s a lot of things. We’ve got to do some things differently and we’ve got to play better.”

Why are you guys not scoring?

“Well, there’s lots of reasons. We’ve got to coach better and we’ve got to play better.”


If Shane Morris is injured ankle-wise or whatever so he can’t play I assume it will be Devin Gardner. How do you think he will react to having been benched in a game and then put back in, and was a little bit productive at the end and going forward how do you think Gardner will react?

“I think, number one, Devin’s a great person. And you take football out of the equation and you talk about all this kid’s accomplished and the type of human being he is, first off. He’s a great competitor. He’s a great leader. He’s a great person. Now, I don’t think that anybody, if you saw the week before against Utah when Shane did go in the game later in the game for Devin how he was the fist guy up in front encouraging his teammate, encouraging all the guys on the team but [I’m] expecting nothing but the best from Devin.”


Doug, you sort of touched on every position. Can you talk about the offensive line? Still looking like this is an issue for this team.

“Well, I think offensively right now we’ve got to look at every position and what we’re doing. We’re not getting the productivity we need and I think it would be unfair to pinpoint one position. We need to play better, like I said, and we need to coach better across the board. And some of it comes from you kind of get the effect of too much is not good enough. You try to press, and I think maybe we’re pressing a little bit, trying to reach a little bit and we’ve just got to get back to the basics. That’s why we spent a lot of time on fundamentals yesterday, and you look at the erosion of our fundamentals across the board and any time you have that and you play good football teams you’re going to get beat.”


MGoQuestion: On the few drives that Devin Gardner did play, did you see anything different from him mechanically on Saturday?

“Uh, I don’t know that I would say mechanically there was a whole lot different. I thought Devin came in with a great sense of energy and provided a big boost for us from an energy standpoint.”


Back to DeVeon: he barely had an carries in the second half and he had been productive in the first half. What was the reason for that?

“Well, I just think you look at the flow of the game. It’s kind of a punch-counterpunch game there going back and forth, and we’re trying to establish field position. We were unable to do so. We were backed up several times to start the second half and couldn’t quite get the ball out of there. Then we have the turnover going for a touchdown, so I think it was more a matter of circumstance and then you get behind and you’re playing catch-up and the passing game becomes obviously more prevalent.”


Brown Bear

September 30th, 2014 at 9:04 AM ^

When asked about Devin losing his helmet he says the biggest thing was trying to get the timeout. Is he basically saying that Hoke should've called a timeout and he(Nuss) wanted one and Hoke didn't or am I reading that wrong?

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Mr. Yost

September 30th, 2014 at 9:16 AM ^

That is the DUMBEST rule in college football.

Hey your helmet came off, you may have a concussion, sit out a play...but if you want to penalize the team and call a timeout, I'll let you stay on the field and we'll just keep rolling like nothing ever happened.

It makes no sense. If you take the timeout, it's not like the kid goes through a quick concession test. He puts his helmet back on and waits until the playclock starts again like everyone else on the offense.

Either sit everyone when his helmet comes off - or be smart about it and know that sometimes helmets just pop off because that's how they're designed.

Also, why can't the officials call a timeout? They can in every other sport. You can stop basketball, baseball, soccer, etc. - why can't you stop football and sort the situation out? If someone has blood on the jersey in football the officials can call a timeout to get him off the field...why can you do that for a helmet situation? 

Why even put it in the coaches hands? And what if he doesn't have a timeout?

It's just stupid all the way around.


September 30th, 2014 at 9:35 AM ^

Not that I'm trying to divert blame to the officials, the refs not call an injury time out unless the person is laying on the ground?  Did Shane's getting up, despite his stumbling around, essentially nullify the possibility of the refs pausing the game for him to be looked at?  Is that why, as reported, Nuss was trying to tell Shane to stay down?



September 30th, 2014 at 10:36 AM ^

The refs are also not doctors, and so there really isn't a good way to put responsibility for determining whether a player is injured in the refs' hands. "Did the guy get up, yes or no?" is a clear cut, black and white question that doesn't require a medical judgment call from the refs, so that's what the refs make a decision based on. In a sense, the refs in this game did the best they could by asking Hoke whether he wanted to call a timeout for a situation in which the refs could not themselves call an injury timeout (because Shane got up) but in which it seemed clear to them that he was in fact injured. This is probably also part of the miscommunication between the umpire and line judge, who reportedly disagreed as to whether Hoke could ask for an injury timeout in this situation.


September 30th, 2014 at 9:51 AM ^

I believe if a helmet is ripped off a ref can allow him to stay in the game.  Its when it flies off on a normal that you have to leave.  It is trying to make sure players strap their helmets on tight but of course it has unintended consequences... although not for a team with a halfway competent head coach, but i digress


September 30th, 2014 at 10:08 AM ^

a few years ago, the problem was players not buckling their shit up properly. the spirit of the rule is that if a player isnt going to properly strap up his helmet, he has to go off when it pops off. properly fitted and fastened helmets dont just come off.


September 30th, 2014 at 12:39 PM ^

Is it really to check for concussion?  I'm asking because I'm not sure.  I had thought the reason for the rule was to stop players from delaying the game by purposely losing your helmet, so they have to get off the field or burn a T.O.

Indiana Blue

September 30th, 2014 at 9:12 AM ^

every presser is exactly the same.   Did Nuss have pressers at Alabama?  Was every one of them like this?  There is NOTHING to be gained from having these .... it's PONDEROUS man, ponderous.

Go Blue!


September 30th, 2014 at 9:14 AM ^

Lets see... just how was Shane playing before he got concussed:

* Sustained high ankle sprain
* 4.9 ypa
* One touchdown drive that was one incomplete pass and five hand-offs to Smith.
* Pick 6.
* Second pick-6 that was dropped.
* Third pick-6 that was dropped.
* Safety/endzone-fumble that was only not called because the referee said holding occurred at the one-inch line.
* Fumble that Tommy Rees would have been proud of.

You gotta know when to pull your guy out to save his confidence and build up the teaching, but this was never about building up Shane Morris this was about sending god knows what message to Devin Gardner.

Mr. Yost

September 30th, 2014 at 9:22 AM ^

They were trying to send a message AND they are the most stubborn group of coaches in America (at least group that doesn't can be stubborn if you're winning). 

Morris should've played 1...MAAAAAAYBE 2 series in the 2nd half, and even that's pushing it. He definitely shouldn't have played in the 4th quarter.

Once he was hobbling, it was the PERFECT excuse to take him out of the game.

Sad thing is, I think we would've won. Gardner DID have energy like Nuss was saying. I really think if you give him 1.5 quarters, we win that football game. Morris never gets a concussion. We all know who the starter should be for the rest of the season. People are still mad that we can't blow out Minny, but you get the W and save your job for at least another week.

Think about that. All that could've went differently if they just swallowed their pride and put Devin in the game midway through the 3rd. It's bullshit on that pitcher analogy, Morris had like 6-7 drives by then. Plenty of reps to see he wasn't doing anything.


September 30th, 2014 at 9:36 AM ^

I was in favor of Morris starting and I thought it was the right decision.  But at some point in the second half, say when you have -4 yards of offense in the third quarter and it's obvious your offense is done moving the ball the for day, it's common sense to make the switch.  I just thought Gardner was hurt and wasn't going to be an option.  Nope, he was available. 


September 30th, 2014 at 10:03 AM ^

too.  The first half was played a lot like the first half of the Minnesota game last year and Gardner just eventually started finding seams through the air and with his feet.  The offensive line was actually getting some push in the first half and it looked like we had some open receivers that Morris just missed.

Our coaching staff has this all or nothing mentality, and I don't know why the collectively have it.  It is this group think that either you DO something or you DON'T, and there is no grey.  We DON'T talk about injuries.  We DO give a kid his chance to play.  We DO try to win the football game, even down 30 with four minutes to play.  They don't seem to understand that starting Morris and spelling him in the middle of the third could have both been correct decisions.

It really goes beyond stubborn, it is a very confusing and somewhat of a troubling mindset.  And there does not seem to be a check on it, they appear to all think the same way and be in lock step with it.  The Morris hit, in and of itself, was not the most horrifying example of coaching malpractice you will ever see, it was just the number of very strange decisions that were made to even get to that point that is more troubling.  It was the football equivalent of insanity.  Our coaches seem to believe that being uniform and sure of their decision IS the equivalent of a correct decision.  I don't even know what to say about these pressers at this point.


September 30th, 2014 at 9:20 AM ^

I'm absolutely sick of this preparation=qualified to play. You know what? I think I'm going to start tossing a football around every day and learn Michigan's playbook so I can show up to Schembechler Hall and announce myself as the new starting QB. Yes, I'm fully aware that much more goes into preparing for a game, but do you see the absurdity? Coachspeak has finally gotten to me. I loathe reading these pressers now. I used to read them to catch some sort of hope/information on upcoming games/seasons, but they're just maddening now. I wish there was some way for me to support the team but speak out against the staff (more Hoke and DB than anyone). Alas, I'm just a lowly fan who has yet to ever attend a game, and has never donated to any school department, and therefore my voice is irrelevant. *sigh*


/end rant


September 30th, 2014 at 10:32 AM ^

After Hoke said what he said, Nussmeier either reiterates what Hoke said - no matter how idiotic - or is contradicting his boss in the most public way possible.  Perhaps this also explains why Hoke does not seem to make effective halftime adjustments.  He is too stubborn to change in midstream even if it is obviously not working.


September 30th, 2014 at 9:24 AM ^

Question: does anyone know the reasoning for the 1 play rule when a player loses his helmet? Is it about potential concussions occurred, or is to make sure his helmet isn't damaged, leading to greater risk of head/brain injury? Or is it both?


September 30th, 2014 at 9:29 AM ^

I think it's just a disincentive for the excuse that there's no time.  Prior to the rule a lot of kids were caught not properly securing their helmets.  The coach can't do inspections between plays and there's a risk in not having a properly adjusted helmet, so they had to implement something to get kids to take it seriously.  Concussions are a concern but it's not like they're buying time to assess.  It's to make sure the kids secure their damned helmets.


September 30th, 2014 at 9:25 AM ^

Of all things, Nuss' account is the most probable.  After the incompletion he thinks they're off the field when he gets the call (somehow Nuss' communication is better) and his first priority is to decide the next play.  He does notice Morris limping but looking downfield didn't see the hit, thinks it's the ankle, Morris waves him off, OK then -- next play.  He's got 25 seconds and that's not just to assess the situation but to get the next set of plays ready.  Things are crazy on the sideline and the coordinators are probably used to making snap decisions.  Unless the HC calls a timeout that is, which he didn't because Hoke is a goddamn miser.

I'm less forgiving of Hoke because the decisions to pull a player or call a timeout rest with him.  He can't claim there's too much going on when he refuses to wear a headset.  I was willing to forgive this peculiar habit as long as he demonstrated the capacity to stay on top of everything, but now he's using ignorance as an excuse.  That means the ONLY reason he didn't wear a headset is idiotic stubbornness.

The other thing that disgusts me is this insistence that safety is the utmost importance when they weren't even willing to burn a timeout to check up on a player.  I mean, at that point who the hell cares that the refs screwed you?  "Utmost importance" does not mean "less valuable than a timeout".


September 30th, 2014 at 9:27 AM ^

the players seems to be competing more against each other than opponents. I mean all you hear is we want to create competition at every position and I feel like that has players mentally focused on a teammate taking their spot as opposed to beating the man they are competing against.


September 30th, 2014 at 10:40 AM ^

How much of Shane waving off the coaches and trying to stay in is Shane trying to compete with Gardner's having played half the OSU game on a broken foot? Anything you can do, I can do better. And if the coaches don't intervene here, Morris kind of HAS to do this, or he loses the respect of his teammates. This is why the decision to play through injury or not MUST be made by the coaches, not the players.


September 30th, 2014 at 9:47 AM ^

The playcalling was beyong atrocious, it was just like the bowl game when Shane started. The playcalling was so simple and basic any DC in the country would have dominated. If Shane is the QB let him play, dumbing down the offense doesn't help Shane or the team. Nuss is supposed to be an offensive guru, I certainly do not see it. No innovation, no imagination. Bland and vanilla playcalling. If he doesn't feel like Shane can handle more than a 5 yard pass he should not be in the game. Nuss = Al Borges 2.0.


September 30th, 2014 at 10:05 AM ^

We don't have a QB that can throw the ball without throwing up picks at a scary rate and all but 1 of our WRs is usually blanketed in man coverage, the other one is basically a trap with an extra guy usually covering him underneath because DCs know our QBs' propensity to throw up the ball for grabs when they get pressured. 

No coach in the world could've fixed our offense in one year. I'm on board with blaming Hoke, Brandon, ect, but Nussmeier gets an incomplete. In any case, I hope he's renting....


September 30th, 2014 at 12:51 PM ^

What a good coach does is use what he has to his advantage, until he gets the ideal players he wants. Devin does throw a lot of picks, but he CAN run and he can scramble. To not use those abilities because of your pre-concieved notions of running a "pro-style" offense indicates the "stubborness" of this staff mentioned earlier which borders on stupidity.

Good coaches can, and do, adapt and can almost instantly improve a team's performance -- even if it's only a little. We have seen nothing but regression from this team and staff.


September 30th, 2014 at 10:48 AM ^

I think so far the playcalling has shown Nuss will take the easy yards.  He doesn't have Borges' creativity but he's also shown the capacity to understand constraint theory.

The advantage to Nuss' approach is that it's sustainable.  Borges' offense is fundamentally unsustainable because those gimmick plays with screamingly obvious keys only work for a week at most.  Constraint theory relies on a base play that forces the defense to overplay it, then take the easy yards.  The defense can know everything you're going to do but if defending the whole playbook means being everywhere at once they wind up having to pick their poison.  In this case the base play is inside zone.  When it's clicking it's very hard for a defense to limit it to 4-5 yards, which is all the offense needs to move the chains.  You have to stop the run, which means stacking the box, which opens up other things.  Rock, Paper, Scissors.

The problem is that, for now, there are no easy yards -- at least without Funchess' playmaking ability.  Borges' gimmicks can work on even a good defense for a week if he catches them off-guard (as opposed to running month-old gimmicks against the best defense in the nation), but if you can't reliably move the chains with your base play, the defense can sit in its base package, play sound defense and shut everything down.  Nuss is trying to build something but it takes a couple years to develop, and the program is falling apart all around him.

At this point Nuss is working with an injured QB, a broken and possibly injured QB, a true freshman LT, his best playmaker injured as well, and trying to install a scheme that takes years to learn.  He HAS to keep it simple; they're struggling to execute the base play!  I'm sure he's working his tail off and his only crime will be running out of time.  Of all the people responsible for this clusterfuck, I hold Nuss the least responsible.  No, I don't want Borges back.  His Cheesecake Factory offense worked at SDSU but everyone brings their A-game to the Big House.  They'll study the game film all night if they have to, and amazingly Borges didn't count on that.  Once they keyed on stupidly simply things like "Norfleet in = jet sweep" that offense became ridiculously easy to stop.


September 30th, 2014 at 11:35 AM ^

First of all I don't want Borges back either, but when everyone from AA to the UP knows exactly what play is coming defense isn't very hard to play. Shane has been playing QB for the better part of a decade, I'm sure he could handle a little play action or a screen pass, or God forbid something other than running into the line on first down. Great coaches elevate players and people around them, they don't dumb down their system. Just as no one saw Shane get hit, I guess they never saw the 10-12 yard cushion Funchess had on 90% of the plays. The playcalling at my sons jr high game last week had more imagination than our playcalling in Sat.


September 30th, 2014 at 9:56 AM ^

Well after this weeks fiasco I at least learned one thing. I now know why Michigan football has gotten so bad. None of the coaches or athletic director watch the games. Ask any of them and they will all tell you "I didn't see it" really??????? Not  one god damn one of you saw this kid get pummeled????


September 30th, 2014 at 10:09 AM ^

As a subordinate, if you make a habit out of throwing your boss under the bus you'll find yourself quickly without a job and no one willing to hire you. Specially if said under-the-bus throwing happens on a televised presser. 

What did you expect him to do? If I were him, I'd watch Hoke's presser and repeat his version word for word, he's obviously going to be looking for a job next season. At least he can say he's loyal when he gets interviewed. His presser combined with the on-field evidence is all you need to know the guy isn't incompetent but doesn't want to say his boss is lying. 


September 30th, 2014 at 12:54 PM ^

It doesn't help that your coach stubbornly refuses to wear a headset so is basically incommunicato -- at least in real time -- with the training staff, the press box, the coordinators, etc.

Again, stubborness bordering on stupidity.


September 30th, 2014 at 9:57 AM ^

In hindsight, and this has nothing to do with an injury, should Devin Gardner have played earlier in the game on Saturday based on how Shane was playing?


And why not?

“Well, I think you’ve got to give a guy an opportunity to play. Shane prepared very well. We talked about it for several weeks, you know, his preparation leading up to the game. He deserved that opportunity to play and we were going to let him play.” 

That's absolute insanity.  A 7th grader could see that Morris was hobbled (before "the hit") and ineffective.  He should have been taken out well before the 4th quarter. 

Do the coaches realize that their job is to win games?  Devin Gardner, for all of his faults, gives Michigan a better chance to win games.  I don't know if the coaches are stubborn or stupid....but neither one is a good trait.  I can't wait until the house is cleaned (and they have to know it's coming).