- Jake Ryan is practicing!
- There may be a change on the offensive line!
- DaMario Jones might contribute on offense!
- Derrick Green might get more snaps!
“First thing I want to talk about a little bit is this weekend you saw a lot of the ‘Cure MD’ patches that all the coaches [wore]. The organization has been at the forefront with the cure. We obviously didn't play, so we'll have our patches this weekend, and we certainly want to raise awareness of MD. It affects a lot of children all across the country.
“On the Football side we had a very good week. We got a lot accomplished as a team. I know we as a staff felt that way. I know the players felt that way. In the practices that we had and the fundamental work that we had in all areas at every position. The intensity and the competitiveness was very good. We’re excited to start the Big Ten season. We’re excited to play in the oldest trophy game there is in the Brown Jug with Minnesota. We have a lot of work to do, as you all know. We’ll continue to do that throughout the week.”
It’s been almost a decade since Michigan has won a Big Ten title. How important is that to you and how can Saturday put you one step closer?
“Well I think you said the answer is to take it one step [at a time]. I think that first step is a big step. At home here for homecoming, the Brown Jug being a big part of it. We'll take it one week at a time. We understand what the expectations are and should be for this program, so we'll have a good week of practice and put our best foot forward.”
Have you made any decisions about the offensive line and personnel?
“No. And we've talked a lot and done a lot during the bye week. We've got two real good work days with Tuesday and Wednesday, and I think really probably after Tuesday, we'll have a little better indication which way we want to go.”
Looking at Minnesota, can you tell us one thing on both sides of the ball that you’re preparing for?
“Number one, I have as much respect for Jerry Kill as anybody in this conference because of how he coaches and what he's done. The program -- he's done a tremendous job with as he works through it. They're going to be a physical football team because that's the way Jerry wants his teams on both sides of the ball. Up front, they're very good defensively when you look at guys making plays, tackles for loss, negative plays. The linebackers are very active. The safety [Brock] Vereen has been playing for it seems like 10 years. From a defensive perspective, I think they're pretty daggone salty. Offensively they want to run the football, and they want to run it -- they have two quarterbacks who have both played, both had good performances, probably not as good as they'd like, totally, like all of us. We'd all like to be great every time we go out there. And they've got three backs that roll through there. Offensive line, it's a big offensive line. They're a well coached offensive line.”
Are you inclined to make changes to the offensive line?
“I think we'd be inclined to evaluate from the four games, from practices, from individual and fundamentals and all those things. Yeah, we wouldn't have a problem making a change if that's what we deem we ought to do.”
Can you talk about the level that Jake Ryan has reached in practice?
“He does some individual stuff. Most of that. He does some team stuff more and more every day. I think from talking to him, and I don't want to speak for Jake, but talking to him and talking to the doctors and trainers, he feels good. I think we'll get him a little bit more involved these next three days and see what next week brings.”
After the UConn game, you said Devin was a little banged up or sore. Do you think he’ll be a little fresher this week with the week off?
“You know, we went out tuesday last week and Thursday. He didn't look sore. He may be doing a good job acting, because he knows there's a lot of guys sore out there. It's just part of it. Part of playing. I thought he did a nice job.”
You’ve been a better team out of the spread than under center. Do you agree with that, and will you try to evolve back towards the spread?
“No. And I would tend to agree and disagree with you on that, because I think when you see some of the downhill runs and some of the play action runs off of them, the outside stretch play, I thought we've done a good job with those things. Too many negative yards, and a couple of them at the point of attack, but the downhill runs are something we need to be more cognizant of.”
We’ve seen a lot more Joe Bolden the past few weeks. He was at the WILL with James Ross. (?) Is there competition there?
“Really, no. We're just rotating those three guys through, so they both probably -- I don't have the information, but if you count the number of plays, I'll be they're even. Or close to it.”
At cornerback, is the competition open between Courtney Avery and Raymon Taylor?
"Courtney coming off the knee, I think they'll both compete. And that doesn't mean Blake's not competing. I think they all are. Courtney coming off the knee we thought looked pretty sharp, so him and Ray, and we played so much nickel, which kicked Blake inside."
How do you balance making a change on the offensive line with keeping chemistry intact?
“Well so is production. And that might be more critical than chemistry. We've got to put the guys in there that give us the best opportunity to be successful.”
What have you been doing up front on defense to have success against the run?
“You know, I think the guys are just getting better. We're playing a lot of guys. I think Quinton [Washington] and Jibreel [Black] and the three five-technique / strong ends with [Chris] Wormley, [Matt] Godin, and [Keith] Heitzman is really a good combination. At the rush, Mario [Ojemudia] with his improvement, and Frank [Clark]'s a better football player than he was a year ago. We've tried to get Taco [Charlton] into the mix a little bit, probably not as much as we'd like to. Those guys are doing a good job. We have to be tested, and we will. I don't know how much UConn tested us two weeks ago. I think we'll find out more as we get in the league with what people like to do. The linebackers, the three of them in the rotation that they have, have been pretty good. I think the outside position with Brennen [Beyer] and Cam [Gordon] kind of sharing the duties. Brennen Beyer probably is as important piece to our football team as anybody because he can do so many different things for you.”
You’ve faced 162 passes in four games. Considering that, how have you liked the ability of the secondary to hold up?
“I think we need to get a little better from a run support standpoint first. And then we've got to get a little better when you look at some of the coverage aspects, the concepts a little bit at times. I think some real ground we can gain, and I think we did. Last week was great for us, and then some of the fundamental stuff.”
How are the running backs behind Fitz doing in practice?
“Good. I think Derrick [Green] got a lot of work. [Thomas] Rawls and DeVeon got a lot of work, which was good. Fitz has played a lot of plays. I don't know if he needs to take 20 snaps in practice that are pretty live. So we'll get the other guys in.”
Would you like to lessen Fitz’s work load during games?
“Yeah. We would. Would love to give Derrick some more work, DeVeon some work.”
What does that give you?
"I think it gives [Fitz a chance] to be fresh. And it gives another guy an opportunity, who is a little different than what Fitz is."
“Bigger body. I would say [Derrick] -- Rawls is a pretty physical runner -- but him and DeVeon are big, physical big guys.”
If you were going to make changes to the offensive line, why did you wait so long? Why didn't you do it already?
“Well I think we're at the point where we want to make sure, so one more day isn't going to hurt us. And to be honest, Darryl rotates those guys through pretty good during practice. You see a lot of the same groupings.”
Is there one area in the interior you're looking at?
"I think we need a little better play from the center, whether it's Jack [Miller] or it's Graham [Glasgow] or Chris [Bryant] or Joe Burzynski at the guard."
What can you as coaches do to help Devin cut down on turnovers?
“It's like anything else. Like a guy false stepping from a defensive perspective. It's fundamentals, and you have to keep talking about the fundamentals. Devin isn't the sole responsible [person] for some of the turnovers. There's a lot of people that goes around to. Him getting back to fundamentals and techniques, footwork, is a big part of it. How you throw through the ball is something that helps. We talk about decisions all the time, and he's shown at times that he's made good decisions. I think that's a part of it. And us running the football. That's a part of it. Taking some of the pressure off of him to do everything.”
Who benefitted most from the week off in terms of healing?
“To be honest with you, everybody participated. I've been around teams where guys can tell the trainer that they have a hamstring pull, and it's hard to test hamstrings and backs. And so we didn't have any of that.”
MGoQuestion: Is there a disconnect between how you do in practice vs. how you perform in games, especially from an offensive perspective?
“No. I don't think so. We go against each other an awful lot. For the speed of the game, the competition level and all that. There's days and whatever drills we're doing where the offense is on fire. If you coach defense, you're not happy. There's days when the defense is on fire and the offense isn't very happy.”
MGoFollowup: Do the same issues that we see in games crop up in practice?
“No, I think the only thing is ball security and doing a better job with that.”
It seems like option teams aren't optioning the backside defenders much anymore. They're optioning the frontside guy --
"Well they'll get the frontside or -- Minnesota will option your 2-technique or your 3."
"Oh yeah. It's true midline. It's option football. It's truly option midline football.
History of the Jug?
“We talk about it. We bring that trophy in. Yesterday -- yesterday was Sunday, right? We brought the jug in. Talked about it again. Kind of went through the history of it and what it means from that history.”
What’s the one thing you want to impress upon your players?
“You don't want them to come over to your sideline and take it back.”
Where is the Jug right now?
“It's safely secure with Jon Falk.”
This is Jon’s last game. A lot of people associate him with the Jug. Did you do anything special?
“No, but Tuesday we'll have Jon come down and talk to them. We practice tomorrow. That's how we'll start the team meeting.”
How important is it to preserve rivalry games like this in a college football landscape that’s constantly changing with respect to money, realignment, etc.?
“Well, you know, and I don't know if it's all changing for the good. But I do believe that those games that you have the privilege to play in because of the history and tradition that's been there, and this is a personal opinion. I think it's very important. I think the kids knowing -- and we have kids all over the country. I'm sure when Taylor Lewan came here never knew what the Little Brown Jug was. We educate them on the significance of it. Since 1909. I think it's important.”
What was the reaction of your team when you brought the Jug in?
“Well the guys who've been around understand what you're playing for.”
Has Devin come in and watched more film the last couple weeks?
“I'm sure he is, but he may be somewhere watching the film, where I may be watching film somewhere else. This is a big day because he has class from 9 to 4 because he's [working on] his master's [degree]. He'll be in after four o'clock and spend an hour with Al looking at Minnesota and also looking at things we need to improve upon.”
Did anyone else stand out during practice?
“There's some guys who played a little more. I think Ondre Pipkins, Willie Henry, Ryan Glasgow -- I'm a litlte more in tune with those guys because I coach them. HOw they've started to learn and started to grow and grow up, I guess, is the biggest thing. because that's part of it when there's young guys. In the back end there's Stribling. You like the way he and Dymonte Thomas, Delano Hill, from a defensive standpoint, and then offensively DaMario Jones is a guy we're going to play. And he's playing on special teams already. I mentioned the backs. And then Kyle Bosch. He's been playing better at left guard. So he can be in that mix.”
What’s the capacity of your team to improve over the course of the season?
“I think a lot of that is when you have youth on your team. We are young, which is not an excuse. There are no excuses. We just have to keep moving those guys in the right direction, and the guys who are the veterans keep doing a good job of being veterans and examples. And that's the thing that I've liked the most and how they've gone out. The seniors are really doing a good job.”
You mentioned DaMario Jones. Are you comfortable with a vertical threat in your passing game yet?
“Oh yeah. No question. You have certain shots you're going to take during the course of the game, depending on how you plan it out. Sometimes when your possessions don't equal up you don't get to use all the shots you'd like to use. So the verticalness, I think Jehu [Chesson] continues to be a guy who can really take the top off the secondary. DaMario can do that.”
Is DaMario going to get more chances with the offense?
“As he keeps coming along, yeah.”
The incident on DaMario Jones vs. UConn?
“That's our fault as much as it is anybody. You get what you call a peter call and all that kind of stuff in a normal situation. but in a pooch situation, Drew's trying to do a good job of faking them out. So he doesn't know that the ball's short or the ball's bouncing on the ground. That's not his fault. The good thing is he's blocking the heck out of his guy and being aggressive.”
So you'd rather him be aggressive.
"You're daggone right. But we've changed that, too. I mean for us not to [change] would be really poor."