[I bet you’ve never appreciated Upchurch and Fuller more than you do today]
Drevno will be responsible for play calling
Offensive gameplans will be a joint effort between all of the offensive coaches and Harbaugh
Four of the five starters on last year’s OL losing weight is a coincidence; Drevno’s still looking into it and said he’ll get the weights where they need to be
The quarterback competition is “wide open,” and their progress is primarily being tracked by Harbaugh and Fisch
Drevno said Harbaugh’s the smartest man he’s ever been around and unique in a great way
Winning has cured more ills than penicillin
“It feels good, this cold, doesn’t it?”
- We’re used to it.
“I like it.”
What are some of the characteristics that are going to help kids see the field early for you? Toughness, mobility- is there one thing above any others?
“I think, number one, it’s just how they take the information from the classroom [and] take it out on the field. Understand their assignments and have a want-to and a physicality and being a teammate, a great teammate.
“Is that it? Okay, great!”
On the roster four of the five starting offensive linemen from last year lost weight. Was that something that was kind of a plan as far as you guys were concerned or is it just a coincidence?
“No, I think it’s just a coincidence. I’m still looking at their weights and evaluating them now and we’ll get those weights where they need to be and be able to move in a very good fashion up front.”
You’re starting with a clean slate. How much does experience count for the guys who’ve played?
“You know, it’s- it really is a clean slate. I just turn on the film and see who’s doing it at a high level and doing it at the top of their craft. At USC last year I started three true freshmen, so I’m just trying to find the best players out there and that’s the best thing about it; guys get out there and compete to be the best.”
Can you kind of tell the guys who’ve played already?
“Yeah, at times I can. You can just because they’re a little bit more grooved in their technique and things, but kind of day to day at times. Yeah, you can.”
[After THE JUMP: the quickest way to an offensive lineman’s heart is through a barbeque]
How quickly do guys start setting themselves apart in that fashion?
“That’s a good question. Every time it just takes different times and that happens throughout spring ball, and people start to pull away and that’s a neat time as a coach because you’ve gotten everything taught and you’re still trying to get better at things and you’re on your way, so that’s a fun time.”
How important is it, especially at your position, offensive line, for those guys to get in pads before you want to reach any conclusions?
“There’s some things, you know. Putting pads on, that tells a lot. Just the toughness and physicality of somebody, that does. But there is things you can do out of pads that are really good, but pads do say a lot. They really do.”
You talked about the clean slate, but has there been a guy who maybe didn’t play much that has caught your eye?
“No, not really. It’s just day two so I’m still trying to figure out the ground work and where we are. We’ll have more information on that as we go.”
In terms of guys who haven’t played, Ty Isaac didn’t get on the field last year and Drake Harris was injured. When you see those guys on the field can you tell that they didn’t have game action?
“No. Any time you’re a football player and you go out there and make plays they just stand out. You can tell somebody’s technique and craft. You’re like, ‘Wow, that guy pops out.’ You can kind of see some separation at times.”
Are those guys two guys who-
“They’re both doing a great job. Everybody’s doing a great job. The want-to of everybody and the work ethic, you couldn’t ask for better guys. We have a good corps of guys here and we’re really excited about it.”
Talent-wise how are they? About what you expected?
“Yeah! There’s talent. Absolutely there’s talent here, and that’s what’s neat about it. There’s talent here and I’m excited about working with them. It’s fun.”
What are the priorities for the spring or what are the things that you guys think you have to figure out here in the next month?
“The biggest thing is just getting a great knowledge of the offense and where we want to go with it and getting it and creating it and finding out our personality on offense and who we’re going to be, and what schemes we’re going to run.”
How limited are you because your quarterback will have very little experience, whoever it is?
“We’re not going to be. We’ll play to that person’s strengths, and I think Jim Harbaugh does a great job with that. You can see his track record and we’ve got a great coach, so I’m very fortunate to be able to work alongside Jim.”
So much of playing offensive line is about toughness. How do you coach toughness?
“I think you just- you demand it from them. Not that you’re…you love ‘em up, you get them to trust you. You invite them over to your house for a barbeque. You tell them that you love ‘em, and you get ‘em to play for you. It’s pretty cool when it happens. And you get that group inside there to believe in one another and the brotherhood, about the want-to and how we lead this football team. That’s pretty cool.”
Do they have it now? After two days can you see it?
“There’s something special in there. It’s something special. And we’re getting our way. Are we there yet? No. I mean, this is day two and I just got here January 5th, so I’m trying to feel out my bearings but there’s something special there and I’m excited about it.”
That group has been criticized pretty heavily the last two years. Are they playing with an edge because of that?
“I don’t- everybody’s got a clean slate. We’ve all been criticized. [Inaudible] It’s about what did you do today to be great. I don’t worry about the past. I’ve made mistakes as coaches, players make mistakes, but the great competitors I’ve been around at the highest level like Joe Staley, some of those NFL guys I’ve coached, they have short-term memory in what they do. They make a mistake, they forget about it, and they push on. That is a true competitor, and that’s anything in life, right? You can’t hold on to something that brings you down, right? We do that. You do that, right? You write something [and you’re] like, ‘Oh gosh, my editor’s gonna get after me,’ right?
Well, I am the editor, so…
“Oh, okay, well I’m sorry!”
“You feel good about yourself, don’t you!? /Drevno puts his arm around the guy
“But you know what I’m saying.”
What’s a Tim Drevno O-line look like?
“They’re going to come off the football. They’re going to know where to go. They’re going to have a want-to, a brotherhood. They’re going to take control in the room and lead us. They’re going to lead us, and that’s a really good question because there’s different ones I’ve been with. You just- they play with confidence, you know? That’s a very good question.”
It obviously took a few years with Stanford to get that program rolling, and obviously with the 49ers a little bit different [because] you guys won right away. Do you have a feel for how quickly you can win at Michigan?
“No, I just take it day by day and get them in the right positions to be successful. That’s the key thing.”
You’d like to win right now, though?
“Because winning’s cured more ills than penicillin. It’s a true statement, isn’t it? But yeah, absolutely. I wouldn’t be in this profession not to win and I know we’re going to win, but we’ve got work ahead of us. We’re just in day two of spring ball, but it’s a slow burn, man. I’m feeling it.”
We talked about these guys being criticized earlier. Do you see them as being particularly open and willing to do whatever you throw at them because of that?
“Yeah. These kids are great kids. They’ve got a want-to. They want to be taught and they want to be coached and they want to be demanded on. You couldn’t ask for anything better. There’s nobody resisting what we’re doing.”
For someone like Shane Morris, it’s his third offensive coordinator. How difficult is it making that transition to another guy, with new terminology-
“I think football’s football. Just maybe you call something different than how someone else called it, but you run a speed out, you run the alleys, you run four wides, you hand the ball off in a tight zone to the right. You just kind of- there’s different ways that people do and teach fundamentals and there’s a lot of different ways to skin a cat, but the way we teach our fundamentals we completely believe in.”
Following up on that, how much of the whole offense when you’re installing have you seen guys where they hear something and you can tell it’s significantly different from what they’re used to?
“Any time we install we’re very interactive in the room, so we try to clean that up by people talking back and asking questions and leading. So there’s a lot- it’s real interactive. It’s not like there’s a person sitting in the room and we’re talking to them. You’re talking to us, so I think some of those things kind of get cleared up.”
You haven’t been an offensive coordinator in a couple of years, so-
“Yeah, since 2004. Or yeah, I think…is it 2004? My gosh, all these years run together. Whenever Jim left San Diego.”
“Yeah, 2006 I left because in 2007 we went to Stanford.”
So what are you doing differently and what did you learn from that experience that you’re doing different this time?
“I mean, I’m older in the profession. I’ve been with some really good coaches. Like, really good coaches: the Greg Romans, the Vic Fangios, the Ed Donatells, the Brad Seelys, the Jim Harbaughs, the Jack Harbaughs and you just collect a bunch of information and you learn from them, but you be yourself and what you believe in. You have strong convictions in what you believe in. But I’ve been fortunate to be around good coaches, and I learn every day to try to get better. And we’re in this thing together. It’s a group effort. It really is. We’re in this thing together, man. It’s shoulder to shoulder. We’re tight, and we’re going to do this thing together.”
Do you feel like you’re better equipped to be an offensive coordinator than you were?
“Yeah, absolutely! With more years of getting it under your belt your lens starts to open. As a player, a young player, as a freshman comes in your lens is like this (makes tiny binoculars over eyes) and then it starts to open and open (makes circle around face) and I think as you get longer in this profession your lens opens, but there’s a lot more stuff I need to learn. That’s why we’ve got these guys around me, Jedd Fisch and Tyrone Wheatley and Jay Harbaugh and Al Netter and you name them on and on. Everybody’s [not?] got blinders. Everybody’s got to help each other. I don’t have all the answers.”
How much different is it for the line compared to last year with what you’re asking them to do?
“I don’t know that. You’d have to ask one of those players. I don’t know that.”
Coach Durkin was just talking about feeling like it was 2007 again with building the toughness of the team and the way coach Harbaugh does that. You’ve been with him longer than any of the staff: what does he do that makes him good at that? What are some of the small things that make him so capable of doing that?
“He demands a lot from you, but in a good way. He’s never demeaning to you but he brings the best out of you and you compete at the highest level. We walk in this building to be the best at your craft. You want people to emulate what you do, and he’s competitive and he always things out side the box. Very creative. He is the smartest man I’ve ever been around. He’s unique in a great way. He’s got some unbelievable DNA. I’ve never been around a guy like this.”
Any outside the box thing you can think of that you’ve do so far here at Michigan that you’re allowed to tell us?
“Outside the box? Everything’s outside the box, I think but there’s a lot of different things that we do.”
When it comes to gameplans will you and Jim work side by side with that?
“Yeah, Jim, Jedd, Tyrone, all of us will do that together. Yep, we’ll all do that together.”
And then play calling during a game, that’s your responsibility?
“Yeah, my responsibility and then as we work it out through the deal we’re working it together.”
You’ve been with Jim at every stop. How important do you think you’ve been to his success?
“Gosh, you’d have to ask him but that’s a good question. How important? I don’t know. He’s had a lot of good coaches. We work well together. He’s a good friend.”
How important is your relationship with him so he has someone at every stop that he knows he can trust?
“Any time you’re building the foundation of what you’re trying to do here as a team you’re trying to get everybody’s trust together, and the quicker you get trust the better off you are as you press forward to be really good. I think it’s nice to be familiar and he’s sitting there and I’ve worked with him for 11 years and there’s other guys that have worked on the staff. It’s nice having guys [you know] because you can stare at each other and you know you’re thinking the same thing, which makes it nice. I think I can convey that and probably convey to the staff what he’s thinking to get what he wants, but he does a great job of communicating what he wants, too.”
How are you dividing the quarterback reps? Are we wrong to think it’s a three-man battle right now?
“I think the thing’s wide open, and Jim and Jedd are really handling that and how they’re feeling it throughout the practice so I think just to refer to Jim or Jedd about that, they’d have a better answer.”