Spring Game Presser 4-4-15: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Adam Schnepp April 5th, 2015 at 11:59 AM


He tries to sic these guys on you if you ask a dumb question [Eric Upchurch]

News bullets and other items:

  • Shane Morris is ahead of the other quarterbacks, though Harbaugh said the competition will “rage on”
  • Harbaugh liked the way the defense performed, singling out the secondary and inside pass rush. He also thought Shane Morris and Amara Darboh did a nice job.
  • He said there’s room for improvement in receivers learning to catch contested balls, the running game as a whole, and outside pass rushing.
  • Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr had a large part in designing the trick plays; Harbaugh said he was hands-off in that process
  • Harbaugh said the legal system has as much hanging over Graham Glasgow’s head as is possible, noting that it’s more than what the football program could do; it sounds like he won’t be suspended if there are no further incidents.
  • Players with long-term injuries noted were Joe Hewlett (unspecified), Mike McCray (surgery, not sure for what), and Michael Wroblewski (ACL).
  • Dennis Norfleet may play on offense, defense, and special teams in the fall

Your general takeaways from today? What did you like, what maybe obviously needs work still?

“Liked a lot of things. Mainly [the] thing I liked the most is we played a 40-minute game and there was no injuries that I could tell, none at least that aren’t the you-don’t-come-back-from-soon type, so I’m most pleased with that.

“There’s, uh, there’s- obviously the defense played extremely well. There’s been a lot of improvement in our secondary; that showed up again today. And pass rush, uh, pass rush is improving. Got some rush and push from our inside guys and we’ll continue to try and get the outside pass rush. That’s an area that we want to improve, especially when it’s a four-man rush, to be able to get pressure on the quarterback just with the four.

“I thought Shane Morris did a nice job. Amara Darboh made some nice catches and that’s an area that we need to keep working on, receivers that can make the catch when it’s contested, make the tough catch.

“Running game at times was okay. You know it’s not going to be real good in a spring game especially with the format that we had which was a draft, so offensive linemen are playing in different combinations than they’re used to. But overall we had the one fumble, we had the two turnovers, and with the interceptions but quarterback play I thought was good. Multiple errors [but] I thought it was good.

“To sum it all up I’m most pleased there weren’t any serious injuries today. Come out healthy, and that’ll propel us into April and May.”

I know it was just a spring game but for you to be back inside the Big House, what was it like for you personally?

“It was good. It was a great turnout, I thought. I mean, that’s a hundred-thousand-and-ten people seat stadium and to see that many seats filled was great. It really means a lot. Much appreciated. I know our players appreciate that, the turnout for the 2015 spring game. Added to it, you know. Really added to the atmosphere. Made it like a game. [I] don’t think of it just as a spring game, think of it as a game, and I know that our players had those feelings, those emotions of it being a game before the game and until they took their first hits so that’s something that’ll bode well for us.”

You had several players that were missing from the game: Taco Charlton, Mario Ojemudia, [Ondre] Pipkins. Are any of those long-term concerns or were they just players that were banged up?

“Yeah, we had multiple players that are working through something right now.”

Are any of them long-term, though?

“I’m not a doctor.”


“I did not get my medical degree at the University of Michigan.”

[After THE JUMP: Talkin’ about the ol’ depth chart]

What did you see out of your quarterbacks today? What did you like from them?

“I thought Shane played well. Played with real good courage in the pocket. I thought he stood in there and made some good throws. I thought- I said it earlier, but catching more contested balls; I think our receivers can continue to improve in that area. Make the tougher catches. Make the catches when they’re contested. Shane had the one interception but that was off of a throw that was really on-target and should have been caught and then deflected up into the secondary, so I was pleased with the way he played. I think he’ll feel good, will come out of this feeling good about the way he played and that’ll build some confidence.”

And Malzone?

“Yeah, the same. Anything’s good for him. He’s so young. He should be in high school right now and he’s out there competing [in] 11-on-11 football in a game environment situation. That is [a] valuable, valuable type of experience. He did good things. He managed the game, controlled the huddle, made some plays, and great experience for him. Anything he gets right now and to play in an entire, full spring game as a true freshman, that’s money in the bank. He has a place to go from, to improve from. It’s a start for him. So yeah, pleased with his effort and the way he acquitted himself well.”

What do you get out of a spring game? Do you learn more about your guys in this setting than you would in a normal spring practice?

“Uh…yeah. Yeah.”

What are the things you hope to see from them, or what do you hope to accomplish in a spring game when you go into it?

“Competition; playing at a game type of speed; that they execute, which there was good execution; and that nobody got injured. I was really pleased with that. I’m walking away right now with a really good feeling about the spring game.”

Your impression of Chris Wormley after spring ball?

“One of our most impressive players, I think. He’s a real football player and today provided some real good pass rush on the inside, which any way we can get pass rush from a four-man line is what we need to do. We need that improvement. The edge will come, but I thought we had some good interior pass rush today that showed up.”

You yourself noted that you played with mixed offensive lines today. How much would you say the running game has come along since maybe day one of spring practice to now?

“It’s been improving. It’s the thing that always takes the most time. For example, pass protection has been good. It’s been- it was good today. I know we got good players up front and that shows up in the pass protection. Now, run game takes a little more time. Blockers are working in combination and that takes- that’s a process. That takes some time. And you add that in to a spring game, where you shuffle the deck; now the 1s that had been playing together, two of ‘em are on one team, three are on the other. Two of the 2s are on one team, three are on the other, and so forth so that adds to it so…and the play of the running backs needs to- it’s a process there as well as they learn to run behind the line and we continue to improve that process.”

You talked about the quarterbacks earlier. You said Shane should be pleased [and] it was good to have Alex get some time. Overall, in spring was there enough to make an evaluation of someone pulling away from another guy or are the quarterbacks still in a pack?

“If I looked at it overall, the spring ball, Shane would be ahead. And the competition will rage on, though starting tomorrow and into April and into May and certainly into June and July and August.”

Were there any specific things Shane did to pull ahead or was it more general?

“Uh, yeah, that’s a general impression.”

Are you guys trying to come up with, even within the coaches, some kind of two-deep so that you go into the summer with some idea and then they can fight again in the fall, or are you just not even going to look at that again until the fall?

“No, we do. We look at that, depth chart-wise.”

And do-

“The ol’ depth chart! Is that what you’re referring to?”


“Yeah. We’ve been doing that.”

Going into the fall, do guys- I mean, they know their reps, but do they have an idea of what it is?

“Yeah, I show ‘em the depth chart. Periodically. Periodically you throw up the ol’ depth chart on the ol’ wall. It’s part of football.”

You talked ab-

“Lets people know where they stand.”

-out the starting five on the line. Do you have an idea who those are? Can you share?

“Yeah, got a pretty good idea.”

Can you share?


/Silence. People start laughing. Harbaugh looks incredibly confused.

Coach, what would you say you’re most pleased with this spring overall?

“I was pleased with the way the team competed. Pleased with the way they worked. Pleased with the way they did it without complaint, without excuse, without- just kind of head down, grinding. That’s what I was most pleased with, and it’s starting to surface, you know, who the guys are you can count on, who needs to do more to be counted on, and who needs to do a lot more to be counted on, so it’s happening. The process is well underway.”

Can you talk about the trick plays and the fun in that, getting to bring them out in the spring?

“Yeah, I talked to Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr about that. They were- they said there’d be a rule of one trick play a quarter and it’s my understanding that coach Moeller and coach Carr had a lot to do with that. They got multiple fingerprints on those trick plays, and I didn’t know what they were going into the game. I didn’t want to have any fingerprints on it or be accused of favoring one side over the other.”

With Shane there was one play where he really took a shot but he hung in there and delivered the ball.

“Yeah, that was a good throw.”

How big is it that you wanted to see him get knocked down but get back up and stand in there and make the throw?

“Yeah, that was good. I remember going over and patting him on the back on that one. That was an impressive play. Good courage throw.”

Talking about Shane again, Jedd [Fisch] had talked in earlier in spring about teaching him that the fastball isn’t the only throw. Do you feel that he embraced that? Did he learn how to throw [with] a little more touch this spring, and I have a second question about the offensive line if I could?

“Yes, I do. I think there’s been improvement there. I think you could ask him what he would say about that, but I see improvement in that way and just understanding completions and throwing the ball that’s going to be caught, so I think there has been improvement there.

“And I think we can make improvement in our receiving corps too of those guys making the contested catch, you know. Making it when it’s tighter coverage and being stronger, plucking the ball. We’ve got room for improvement there and I think we’ll get it.

“There’s so much that can be done now that the players can do over the next months in the weight room, not only in their conditioning but as it relates to football-specific ways they can get better, so we’ll factor that in and you can do that at the quarterback position, the receiver position a lot of ways the most of any positions and I think our guys will embrace that over the next three [or] four months.”

My second question about the offensive line: just to clarify, you do have a starting five in mind, and I just wondered also will Graham [Glasgow] face any further punishment going into next season? A game suspension, anything like that?

“Well, Graham is…the legal system has got as much hanging over his head as anybody could possibly put. There’s nothing more that I could or the football program or the university could have on Graham right now than what they have. You’re talking about somebody who’s taking a breathalyzer in the morning, one at night, and he’s got to be clean. 100% clean, not a drop of alcohol. That’s- either he’ll do it or he won’t, and I believe in him. I believe he will, but we’ll all know. There’ll be no secrets on that, whether he does it or whether he doesn’t will all be for the public consumption.”

Did you guys lose anybody to any significant injuries this spring that will be out for a while?

“Uh…I don’t think that there’s anybody that really is out for a long, long while. Well, we’ve had a couple, yeah. Joe Hewlett and Mike McCray had a surgery as well and Wroblewski had an ACL, so there’s three right there.”

Can you talk about Dennis Norfleet and whether we’re likely to see him on two sides of the ball in the season?

“Yeah, so that was probably about three-quarters through the spring we started playing Dennis as a nickel corner and he took right to it. From the first day he was pretty darn good. I think you’re going to look at the possibility of Dennis being a three-way player: offense, defense, and special teams, so [I’m] excited about that.”

With Alex Malzone, talk about your observations of him today as well as your observations of how he’s improved through the spring.

“Well, he’s gotten a lot of reps, a lot of football in. Today he got an entire 40-minute game as a starting quarterback and that is really valuable. That is a starting point. That is a place to improve from, to get better from, and really valuable. He’s had some real good moments in the spring and today is a real valuable point in his career. I think he’ll learn and get better from this, and it’s a starting point. He’s now in the water swimming at full speed, and I think he acquitted himself well, not only today but all spring.”

Jabrill Peppers: your impressions of him all spring and today? [For a]lot of people this is the first time they got to really see him do something [and] it looks like he has that ‘it’ factor. 


“That ‘it’ being that he’s a good football player? He is a good football player. He’s been A-plus, he really has, all spring. He was just out there taking reps. Sometimes I’d see a play go and then he’d come back- just a drill. Put it that way, a drill. A lot of times a guy’ll get in the front of a drill, which he would do, but he would go through the repition of the drill and I’d see him back in the front again and then again. It’s like, ‘Hey, come on. Jabrill Peppers isn’t taking every rep in these drills.’ But that’s the kind of youngster he is, and he’s brought great energy and enthusiasm for the game and his play’s been really good. It means a lot to him. He wants to keep getting better and better. He only missed one day of spring practice. He had to get a tooth out and he did everything he possibly could to practice that day, so you just start to fall in love with guys like that.”



April 5th, 2015 at 12:17 PM ^

And some Michigan fans will still refuse to believe Shane separated himself from Malzone.


For the record, at Practice on Wednesday this was the starting O-Line with only one substitution.

LT: Cole

LG: Braden

C: Glasgow

RG: Kalis

RT: Mags

LTT came in for Mags for a short period.  

Smith got the bulk of the carries.

Darboh Chesson and Canteen were the first team WR.  

Shane took all of the snaps with this group for a solid hour.

If I had to guess, Harbaugh has moved-on from getting all the QB's reps to focusing on Shane for this Season until Ruddock gets here, then let those two go head to head for the job.


April 6th, 2015 at 12:05 PM ^

Reports on him have been good. But if that line up above is correct, he's behind two guys who are a year older than him, one who was a 5 star and one who is a monster. Dawson will push both of those guys this year. And if he never takes down either of them, he'll have his senior year to show NFL scouts he deserved to be there.


April 5th, 2015 at 2:34 PM ^

I thought Malzone was only drafted a few (3 spots I believe) ahead of Morris. Can't recall where, but I thought that's what I heard.

At any rate, it's possible that Malzone was drafted higher based on who drafted him. Durkin made the pick, so it's possible that Malzone fit what Durkin wanted to do. If you noticed, most of Malzone's passes were very short and simple. Which fits a conservative style that a defensive coordinator would likely prefer. Morris, while his offense was pretty conservative as well, took more shots downfield. Morris, with his fastball, isn't as good in the short game as he is passing downfield.

In the end, I trust Drevno and Harbaugh on QB evaluation more than I would trust our defensive coordinator. I don't think a draft of any kind necessarily should say what the depth chart is going to look like.


April 5th, 2015 at 3:13 PM ^

That this conversation continues, that freshman Malzone remains in the conversation with junior Morris doesn't exactly speak highly of Morris.  From where I sit QB remains a huge problem for Michigan and if the best we have now is a Junior that is only now starting to separate himself from a Freshman, wins will be mighty rare next fall.


April 5th, 2015 at 12:20 PM ^

I liked Brady hoke a lot but it's refreshing to listen to Harbaugh talk. He just appears so laser focused and adds an element of clarity... despite not necessarily being able to say a whole lot.

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April 5th, 2015 at 9:21 PM ^

I agree Hoke's public speaking was tough to watch at times, but if you watch the video for this presser, I'm not sure Harbaugh is that big of an improvement. His style seems to be a lot of short sentence fragments that leave the reader/listener to sort of fill in the blanks to understand what he's trying to say.


April 5th, 2015 at 2:58 PM ^

This is something I'd expect word-for-word from Hoke:

"I was pleased with the way the team competed. Pleased with the way they worked. Pleased with the way they did it without complaint, without excuse, without- just kind of head down, grinding. That’s what I was most pleased with, and it’s starting to surface, you know, who the guys are you can count on, who needs to do more to be counted on, and who needs to do a lot more to be counted on, so it’s happening."

Harbaugh seems to have a much better handle on the program, but I say that from info gleaned from all kinds of sources EXCEPT Harbaugh.  His pressers are every bit as Ft. Schembechler as Hoke's, maybe even more so.  It's clear both coaches would rather to anything other than answer inane questions by the press.  Which, you know, OK.  But point is, they're on the exact same wavelength here.


April 5th, 2015 at 3:27 PM ^

Not even close to the same wavelength. Him gleans way more info at least subtly into his pressers and just how he carries himself, how he speaks, his tone and clarity and his control..... All things Home lacked in pressers harbaugh has.

I'll be one to say fine and agree with you that perhaps both got the same amount of info into the public(while I'll let go of that argument I still feel like I learn more from Harbaugh) but Harbaugh does so without sounding incompetent and without appearing ignorant or overwhelmed. I'll take a coach that does this over a coach that sounded like he didn't remember what happened earlier that day.

Hoke's a great guy don't get me wrong. But harbaughs lack if info as you put it is EXTREMELY more bearable than hokes...

Adam Schnepp

April 5th, 2015 at 1:33 PM ^

I think it's on the table. Durkin said he'd do whatever's best for the team when asked about Peppers playing on offense, and Peppers didn't say no when asked about it yesterday.

I don't have enough of substance for a whole post, but I'll go through my recordings and tweet some of the interesting quotes from players tonight or tomorrow; I'll make sure I include Peppers' reaction to the offense/defense question.


April 5th, 2015 at 12:48 PM ^

On Glasgow:  

You’re talking about somebody who’s taking a breathalyzer in the morning, one at night, and he’s got to be clean. 100% clean, not a drop of alcohol. That’s- either he’ll do it or he won’t, and I believe in him. I believe he will, but we’ll all know. There’ll be no secrets on that, whether he does it or whether he doesn’t will all be for the public consumption.

I love it.  Great approach.  Refreshing.

And whatever we find out, probably won't be a 1:00 AM either.



Prince Lover

April 5th, 2015 at 7:09 PM ^

More about the legal trouble he's in and not the trouble he's in with the team. If you violate your terms of probation, doesn't that become public knowledge if you're looking for it?

I'm pretty sure he didn't mean he will be publicly airing all his disciplinary actions.
But then again, he could have meant he will.


April 6th, 2015 at 7:48 AM ^

If you want to look up the records, they'll be there, and you know the media will be. On the other side, the university would have to make a decision if he fails a second time. Plus there's some weird amount of days you have to spend in jail for it. I want to say 98? 38?


April 5th, 2015 at 12:45 PM ^

that Speight couldn't work himself into a position to see the field for even one second. What's that say about the fall, when three NEW quarterbacks will be in camp?


April 5th, 2015 at 4:15 PM ^

Seeing Speight throw in practice last year compared to Malzone this year.  Speight has better mechanics, more velocity and throws a nicer ball.   

Personal Opinion, I think neither Speight or Malzone ever start a football game at Michigan.  I don't think either have the type of ceiling Harbaugh is looking for.


April 5th, 2015 at 1:01 PM ^

One looked like a junior and the other one like a freshman (or high school senior). I feel confident that the staff will have either or both ready to start by September. Talent + coaching = success.


April 5th, 2015 at 1:47 PM ^

Wonder how long it will be before Jabrill gets in on the offense? Just not enough speed it seems...or even Dymonte...one of the better athletes in our team who seems to be buried...just throwing those two options out there.

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April 5th, 2015 at 2:27 PM ^

yeah they desperately need more team speed, particularly RB.  i would not be shocked to see the true frosh get serious snaps this fall if he picks everything up - and hes not a blazer, but the current group of RBs need like 15 strides to hit full speed.  

thats what we obviously enjoyed about drake johnsons game at end of last year - hes not the fastest back around and has some glaring holes in his game but its like night and day when he actually hits a hole vs smith / green / issac, etc. 

actually shallman looked like the quickest RB on the field most of yesterday.  heres hoping drake johnson comes back healthy or the frosh contributes or they move a defender to RB - but bottom line, they need more speed (or at least the threat of throwing some variety and change ups at defenses)


April 5th, 2015 at 3:19 PM ^

Greens problem isn't speed for one.... He's no Chris Johnson but he is pretty fast especially for how big he is.

Two you've never really seen Isaac take a snap and he's also quite fast from his highlights and one season at USC. Smith is the slow RB but I mean his running style suits him. Do our running backs have a legit burner? No but saying they are all slow as molasses and then saying Shallman? Oh my goodness lol. I happen to disagree with just about everything you said. The only thing I agree with is that dymonte could be nice on O and obviously peppers would. But saying that Green and Isaac are slow... Just lol.

Actually drake is only a straight line back he has track speed, not quickness. Green looks way quicker in his cuts but doesn't have the top end speed. Anyways almost everything you said lacked evidence and it seems you're just salty about the two frosh RBs from 2013 and Isaac which the Isaac part makes no sense at all.


April 5th, 2015 at 6:27 PM ^

If he can get healthy Drake Johnson is our best option. He seemed to have a much better feel for the game than any of the other backs. He was the only reason we played with Ohio State for three quarters. I don't understand why everyone still thinks Green is the favorite when he hasn't done anything to deserve the job.


April 5th, 2015 at 10:42 PM ^

To your last sentence...a trading metaphor (from Curtis Faith's Way of the Turtle):

"Loss aversion makes it extremely painful for the trader to consider exiting the [stock] position because that would make the loss permanent. As long as he does not exit, he believes there is a chance that the market will come back and turn the loss into a win. The sunk cost effect makes the decision...one of finding ways to avoid wasting the $1,000 that already has been spent on the trade. So, the new trader continues to hold the position...because he does not want to take a loss and waste that $1,000."


  • trader = fan
  • stock position = desire for Green to start
  • $1,000 = emotional capital invested in the perceived superiority of Green over lesser ranked RBs.




April 5th, 2015 at 3:13 PM ^


“I’m not a doctor.”


“I did not get my medical degree at the University of Michigan.”

I take it this is the new "he got a boo-boo / we don't talk about injuries".