- Sione Houma had a procedure done and will be recovering over the spring. He’s expected to be back for summer conditioning and fall camp.
- Khalid Hill and Drake Johnson are also injured and not participating in spring practices.
- The first practice went well; Harbaugh thought the whole day was great “with a capital G.”
- The coaching staff is still in the process of asking questions themselves; how to get better, what scheme fits the personnel, what players fit what position, etc.
- Harbaugh said nothing has been determined as far as players switching positions, so take the initial depth chart with a massive grain of salt.
- Harbaugh declined to comment on freshman ineligibility
“I have no opening statement. I wasn’t expecting a press conference. If anybody has any questions I’d be glad to attempt to answer them.”
How’d it go?
“Good. You know, it’s good to start. Feel like when you start you have- you can lay down a benchmark of where you are and it gives you a place to go forward from. It gives you a place to improve from [and] things to get better at.”
Talk about how you go about building competition in practice with some of the things you implement.
“Uh…some of the things we do to build competition? I mean, it’s football. It’s a very competitive sport.”
Are there things you do to encourage guys to…
“I’m sure there are. I’m sure there are. I don’t really have that list in front of me right now.”
You said you wanted to find out what their intent was in winter conditioning. Were you pleased with some of the results?
“Yes. Team’s in very good shape. Kevin Tolbert and his staff did a very nice job and the fellas did a nice job. You could see that throughout practice that the team’s in good condition and that gives us a fighting chance.”
Do you know how much of an install you want to do this spring versus just evaluating the guys and getting a feel for the team? Do you know how you’re going to balance that at this point?
“We’ll do both.”
How long is the evaluation process going to be?
“Daily. Every day there’ll be an evaluation process on every player in every drill. That’s on-going. That’s always.”
[After THE JUMP: the first day of spring practice, or New ThanksBirthMas]
Aside from Drake Johnson and Khalid Hill, are there any players that won’t be full-go in spring?
“Yes, Sione. Sione Houma had a procedure done. He’ll be working through something all spring.”
Can you say what that is? Upper body? Lower body?
“Yeah. It’s just…he’ll be out for the spring and he’ll be working through something, and he’ll be back. It’s not a long-term thing, we don’t think. He’ll be back for summer conditioning and fall camp.”
I’m assuming you’re not going to name a starting quarterback until sometime in August. What can these quarterbacks earn this spring in terms of your trust, in terms of positioning, that sort of thing?
“We’re not putting a timetable on that. I mean, that’ll be the one position that I’m sure we’ll talk about. Don’t have one to name today. But I don’t know, at some point you’d like to think that that’s clear cut and somebody earns that and it’s not close. That’s what we’ll be hoping for, but they were all good to start and there’s going to be good competition at that position.”
You guys have seven quarterbacks in camp right now, is that right?
How do you handle the rotation? How much time are you spending with them individually, or what’s the plan for that?
“Keeping everybody involved. Got multiple individual periods and opportunities for the quarterbacks to get reps.”
Is it just you working with them? Does Jedd [Fisch] work with them individually?
“Yeah, we do. Jedd does. I do. Tim Drevno has input. Our coaches…running backs coach will have something to say to them at a certain time. Jay Harbaugh will have something to say to them at times. It’s a group effort.”
Have you experienced any lag/transition going back to the college ranks from the NFL? Has it been any different or is coaching coaching.
“I think that coaching’s coaching.”
Brady Pallante moving to fullback [and] Ross Douglas moving to cornerback: can you talk about what they bring to those positions and why those moves were made?
“I wouldn’t say any moves have been made. I mean, there’s people trying to…we don’t mandate what position a player plays. Some guys are trying out at multiple positions on both sides of the ball. It’s too early to say what’s going to take place. Nothing’s set in stone that way. We’re still trying to figure out who the best players are. We’ve just had one practice so far.”
[Two men attempt to talk over each other. Both have microphones. Only one will emerge the victor. But who?]
Working with the quarterbacks, can you talk about the-
“And their best position. Don’t know exactly-”
…the labor of love it appears to be?
“Don’t know exactly, just to finish the thought there, we don’t know what everybody’s best position is or who the best players are at those positions after one practice, so it’s going to be a process. So nothing’s been done.”
Working with the quarterbacks, can you just talk about the labor of love that it appears to be and how you just really enjoy getting in there?
“I do! I just- it’s the fun part about being the head coach. You can coach any position. You can coach them all at any time. That’s the fun thing about the job of head coach. So I like coaching all the positions at some point.”
When do you want to have a tentative depth chart? At the end of spring or later?
“Uh…do you need one at some point? When would you like to have one?”
We’d like to have one today if you have that ready.
“We don’t have that list in front of us right now.”
Is that the goal though, by the end of spring to have a two-deep? At least a rough one?
“Uh…hadn’t thought about that, at what point [there is] a deadline or a goal of a depth chart. Haven’t thought about that.”
You’ve put trust in Tim Drevno over the years with your offensive lines. What is it that he does that’s good with these guys, and how much can they come along in a spring?
“Fantastic coach, Tim Drevno. It’s day one. We’re not really answering questions as much as we are asking questions. What can we do? How can we get better? Where can we improve? Where can we get a mile an hour faster? Where can we get a percent better? And we’re all in that process right now. Day one.”
Obviously there’s a lot of snow out there [and] it’s really cold. How important was it to get an early start and just to get the team together and see what you had on the field?
“Well, we were inside. We have an indoor building.”
But just to get an early start with spring practice.
“I thought that was important. We haven’t really had football since last November. Didn’t have a bowl or bowl practices. It felt like the time to do it, as early as we could. Wanted to make sure we got seven [or] eight weeks of conditioning before we did it.”
Are there specific goals or priorities you want to accomplish over the next few weeks?
“Yeah, we’re really just trying to get better every day. Trying to be better today than we were yesterday. Trying to be better tomorrow than we were today. I know that sounds very simplistic, but it’s just so simple it might work.”
Is there a point where there’s too many [quarterbacks] and you have to pare that down?
“I don’t know that there’s an exact number. Right now we’re throwing the balls out there and letting the fellas compete, and the more good ones you have the better.”
After seeing your team go through some things today for the first time since winter conditioning was there anything that surprised you coming out of conditioning?
“No, I felt they were in good shape. We worked with them last week for two days and you could tell their conditioning was at a high level. The only thing that surprised me was that it was a four hour practice and it flew by. Time flies by when you’re having fun.”
Sticking with that, how much of it right now is them getting used to how you run a practice [and] you getting used to how they are in practice? How much of it right now is just one foot in front of the other in terms of that?
“Um…I would just say it was good from that standpoint. Everybody- you’re in uncharted waters, somewhat to your point, but sometimes that can be a really good thing. Some people thrive on that and it’s life giving you energy.”
You said Sione’s going to miss camp. Is he the only one?
“I said he’s going to miss spring. He’ll be back for camp.”
Who else is out?
“I think we mentioned two other names.”
So those two guys, Khalid and Drake, are not in?
What kind of grade would you give today just on the effort and energy and what you saw out there today?
“I thought it was very good.”
I’m hoping for those that don’t have access to you often, myself among them, can you take a second to reflect on the day? You only get one first practice at Michigan. I’m also interested as you look forward in the East, in particular Ohio State and Michigan State…some say we may be entering a golden age of football in the Big Ten. Reflect, if you would, on your day and as you move forward the fall and rivalry games and what you might see.
“It was a great day. It’s like the new year. I’ve said this before but a lot people think January 1st is the start of the new year, and those that believe in Christianity and espouse Catholicism believe that correlates with the birth of Christ but we in football treat the first day of spring practice as the new year. It’s like your birthday, it’s New Year’s [Day], it’s Thanksgiving. You’re thankful you can participate in football. It’s like Christmas- you have this gift. It’s a family reunion. It’s all those things all rolled into one. It’s a happening. It’s like the first day of school. You lay your clothes out the night before and pack your lunch box tight and you head off to school. Everybody knows that feeling.
“In football you get two New Year’s Days: the first day of spring practice and the first day of fall practice. Very enthusiastic, very energetic day. I’d like to bottle it; the kind of enthusiasm where people show up early and are excited to get to work. At some point we’ll have to open that bottle up and use it to get better. Yeah, that’s how I would describe it.”
No full circle moments? I know you’re focused on what you’re doing, but as far as the position being yours- was it just another day?
“It was great with a capital G.”
SID: did you want to touch on the rivalries in the division?
I’ve heard from a lot of people that in rivalries teams go up and down, Michigan obviously more up than down maybe, but we have a chance, a lot of fans feel, over the next few years to have an incredible division. The competition could really be unique in terms of the lifetime of football that I’ve been watching.
“Yeah, our expectations are really high. They were high for a great practice today and they’ll be high for a great practice on Thursday and great meetings on Wednesday, tomorrow. Try to make those the best of the year if we can and try to make Thursday’s drills the best of the spring. Our expectations are very high for that.”
You said you’re going to have more questions than answers, but at what point do you want to figure out what some of these answers are, and do you need to have answers by the end of spring going into summer workouts? My second question is about freshman ineligibility; what would be your opinion on that?
“I don’t know if you need somebody else weighing in on that. I’m sure there are other people that are weighing in on that, so count me as one that’s not weighing in on that, not one more person adding their opinion to that.
“To your other question, I think it’s fair. I think it’s right. It’s the first day and we just had one practice, so we’re going to be…how can we get better? What can we do to…what is it that will work? We’ll just keep grinding on it. You have our vow that we’ll do that.”