Spring Practice Presser 3-27-18: Don Brown Comment Count

Adam Schnepp March 28th, 2018 at 9:01 AM


[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

[Ed. A- Thanks to Isaiah Hole for sending along video so I could transcribe this, as I wasn’t able to be there due to some medical issues in my family]

“How’s everybody doin’? We good? Doin’ great. I think. Forty-one years, so…still rollin’. We’re three practices in. Two good ones in no pads. Lot of learning, lot of football being digested. As you know here, that’s what we do.

“Can’t say enough good things about Herb[ert] and the strength staff. Really gave us a really solid group of guys in terms of cardiovascular and bigger, stronger, faster, and just glad to be back with my guys.

“Been doing this a long time. This might be if not the fastest then one of the fastest groups I’ve ever been around, so pretty excited about it. Obviously we’ve got a lot of things to work on but we’ll get there. There’s no question in my mind.”

With Devin and Khaleke, can you talk about some of those guys that are challenging the other guys at linebacker?

“Well, let me just say this, okay? This Devin Bush Jr.? Special guy now, okay? That’s all I’m gonna say. There’s a private story, but this guy stayed with his team. He could have easily checked out for three or four days and everybody would have understood and he didn’t. So, I think we’re talking about a guy whose character is completely off the charts.

“This Khaleke Hudson is playing at a tremendous level a year ago, and I think he’s a much better cover guy right now. He’s playing at a much faster rate. He should go kiss Ben Herbert on the lips because he’s helped him tremendously.

“This Josh Ross is gonna be a dude. He’s gonna be a really good player. Drew Singleton will be a very good player. Noah Furbush, his arrow is so far up from a year ago. I’m just very excited about where he is. Glasgow, we made the move from Viper behind Khaleke, took the slot coverage off his plate, and that’s helped him improve.

[I had to split this in the middle of an answer which tells you a lot about the quality of the responses after THE JUMP]

“Up front, Rashan Gary’s, you know, Rashan Gary, you know? He’s a good player. Tremendous player. Chase [Winovich] gives you everything he’s got every single day. This Kwity Paye came in here, I don’t know, probably 235, 236, out of nowhere in Rhode Island, Bishop Hendricken, and he’s 263 right now. He’s like a muscle from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet, so, you know, he’s really exceeded expecations. Lo Marhshall’s done a very good job. Aubrey Solomon, you know, sky’s the limit. The guy that was showing great—taking great steps a year ago during the bowl prep was Dwumfour. He hasn’t slowed. I just hope I’m not missing anybody up front, because I really feel very strongly we’ll have seven or eight guys there. I’m glad Lo Marshall’s coming back. Bryan Mone’s playing really well. I don’t know what his weight is, but it’s just so much better distributed throughout his body. Very strong, very physical guy. Let’s make no mistake about it, when he’s in there, he’s in there to do one thing: knock back whoever he’s against and play the run, and when it’s time to do the other things, we’ll figure it out and get somebody else in for him.

“Seondary-wise, if you ask me, the guys that have made the biggest jump: Ambry Thomas has practiced extremely well for three practices. I’m talking jumpers now. You know we’ve got Lavert [Hill] and David Long, Brandon Watson. Those three guys are veteran guys that are playing pretty good, but this Ambry Thomas, now? Different level. Confident. Fast. He ran through on a sweep play—now, again, we were in pajamas the other day, so it’s not a physical thing, it’s just like Wow, that was fast, so happy with him. Jaylen Kelly-Powell, we’ve got him at safety. Really smart football player. Is playing so much better, so those would be the two guys that I would say. Metellus is choooo [mimics a rocket tacking off]. You know, some people were critical of him in the fall. Not me, but some people, but the bottom line for him is he’s taken this offseason as an opportunity to get better. It’s a beautiful thing. Some guys just wallow. He’s taken it and his arrow is completely up and doing a really good job of directing traffic back there.”

Which of the linebackers are working at that Will spot to replace McCray?

“Well, this Devin Gil? Dude now. Probably if you said to me ‘Who’s benefited the most from Ben Herbert?,’ he has. He’s faster, he’s bigger, he’s stronger. Smarts was never an issue, and it’s hard to say this but Mike McCray was so damn smart and had such just a good, solid instinct about how the game’s supposed to be played and his fits and you could tell him things week to week and change it one gameplan to another and he was great. This is that kind of guy, except I didn’t know if athletically—if you had asked me a year ago athletically can this guy make it, I would have been eh, I don’t know yet. He can make it.

“It’s he, Josh Ross, and Drew Singleton right now, and obviously we got Jordan [Anthony] and Devin Bush. I’m cross-training one of the guys at Mike and Will and  obviously McGrone will join us in June, so I’m feeling like that’s six guys there. Pretty good dudes. Then you take Uche, who, he’s a package guy but now he’s becoming a linebacker. Played in high school with his hand on the ground. Now all of a sudden he’s doing a much better job in coverage and just playing at a much higher, higher level. He, Furbush, Khalkee, Glasgow, and then I’m kind of bouncing around with personnel groups like we do on third down. Obviously the most important down in college football is the get-off-the-field down, so he’s making a big impact, and we expect him to make a big impact, on third down. Now the question is can he help us on first and second down and I think he’s going that way.”

How have your two early-enrollees looked so far?

“Uh, Myles Sims? Had a big play today. Not out of place. I’m talking about you watch him make a break on the ball and I kind of went Damn, he’s big [holds hands level with the top of his head]. He’s got a ways to go but really happy with the mindset, the demeanor, the confidence level. He’s not afraid, and here he is in our deal lining up close to people and we’re expecting him to perform, which is a big deal. So, really happy with him. Tremendously happy. You asking me about Joe Milton?”

Taylor Upshaw.

“Oh, Taylor. Um, good, young, fast, athletic, and willing. We need to get him a couple cheeseburgers and some baked beans and some pizza and he’ll be just fine. We’ve gotta put some meat on his bones but outstanding athlete, quick twitched, fast learner, so we expect big things from him.

“The thing that you have to do is you have to kind of keep it in your head: he’s supposed to be getting ready for the prom this week and he’s here, so that’s a huge advantage, but my mind tells me don’t Don’t evaluate a young man who’s a midyear guy for a year. That’s basically how I try to look at it unless he just jumps off the charts and says I’m gonna make you play me. So, we’ll see, and it’s too early. It’s three days in. They’re sitting in the meeting room as we’re putting in the first install and if I looked at them this would be their expression:

don brown 1

“I mean literally. Alright, we’re gonna go baa baa baa and when they give us trips we check this, when they go to four quicks, we do that.

don brown 1

“So, you know, it’s not an easy proposition for sure, but he’s a smart guy. Dad’s a good guy too, so you can see where he gets it from the football piece. We’re excited to have him for sure.”

Last year you didn’t return a lot of starting experience. You’ve reminded all of us they did play, though. They did come in with some experience. This year you’ve got starting experience and experience. How does that change your expectations of this group?

“You know, all I can tell you is every group’s a new group. Are they going to put the work in all 15, are they gonna cut corners, or are they just gonna grind. Now, every indication that I can give you is our guys are on this plateau going this way [does what looks like airplane taking off with hand]. We’re three practices in and you know how sometimes you can tell, is the room with you or is the room— are there a lot of distractions and a lot of stuff going on? We just don’t have that, so really happy with where we are and got a long way to go, obviously.

“Health is always important in spring because it can create some tough matchups for you, but at the same time you find out if somebody’s going to step up and surprise you, which you’re constantly looking for because here’s the thing: how would you like to be a young corner and now you get bumped to the first level and now you’re playing bump coverage for the majority of the practice? That’s a heck of a challenge. So, just that piece alone is hard on guys but again, I think we’re spreading it around, we’re playing some coverage, we’re doing some things, and really happy with where we’re at, without question.”

What has it been like for your defense to go against Shea Patterson so far?

“Um, good. You know, I love Shea. Shea’s an interesting guy. He’s come in and sat with me and we’ve talked a little bit of coverage and we’ve talked some football. Just really happy he’s here. He’s a tremendous young man, great family, competition’s a beautiful thing, and I expect great things from him.”

What does that say to you when a quarterback comes in and wants to sit with you to dissect a defense?

“He’s got a couple rocks loose. We’re not that sophisticated. I don’t know if you’re supposed to be, but no, we’ve got a nice, quiet relationship on the side and I really enjoy his company.”

What does he bring on the field different than Peters and even McCaffrey?

“Yeah, I don’t really know enough yet so that would be a tough one. Seems very athletic, very mobile, steps in the pocket really well, but the guy to ask would be Pep and Coach Harb[augh]. They’ll tell you all those things. Just as a guy, love the guy.”

What kind of steps has J’Marick Woods taken?

“Ah, vast. I’m surprised I missed him. Rotating with the ones, okay, and doing a very good job in the rotation. We expect him to, like I said, even though he played some, you don’t evaluate freshmen. If you’re evaluating freshmen, you’ve got rocks loose in your head. You’ve gotta give them a chance to breathe, put their feet on the ground, get through this install and the college life and the grind of winter workouts and all those things and see what you got, and I think we’re starting to see what we got there. So, I’m very pleased.”

You mentioned Herbert multiple times. Was it obvious soon after he arrived that he was making a pretty big difference?

“Um…yeah. I mean obviously poking my nose in there a little bit and getting to know him on a regular basis and just looking at our guys. Doesn’t take much. Khaleke Hudson, you go, well, he always looks good. He’s strong. Well, now he looks like a muscle. That’s what he is. Devin Bush’s body has changed. I mean, some of the guys that you wouldn’t think—well, how much better can he get in terms of physique and stuff? Those are two examples of guys that I think, you know, they’ve maximized their conditioning and their strength improvement under Ben, and he’s got a great staff, now, too. It’s really good.”

You mentioned Devin Bush at the start. Can you explain that a little bit more? You said about his absence and his teammates—

“Ahh, you know, it’s just—he had a personal mishap and he had the chance to go home and nobody would have said a word about it, and those kinds of things, they get left sometimes when people are evaluating a young man and he’s got a strong dad and family and obviously he made the decision to stay here. I mean, I would have—either way was fine with me, but I mean, it’s just…he’s just a different cut of guy. So, it impresses me. And sometimes, everybody’s got an opinion on certain things when it comes to wins and losses. I get all that. But this is a guy that gives you everything he’s got and gives it to his teammates and I think above and beyond, so I just felt it was important to mention.”

Do you watch basketball and do you appreciate defense—

“Oh, oh!”

when a team like Michigan’s playing the kind of defense they are?

“Oof, they’re doing everything. Moe Wagner, the point guard, is it Simmons?”


“Yeah, Simpson. Boy, he’s an impressive guy. I remember watching and thinking, Oh, he’s a nice player. He’s a Dude now, you know.”

Is he going to play football this fall too?

“Ah, let’s get him out there. I’m sure Coach would love that. I’m enjoying the ride like everybody else. It’s a great deal, so it’s good.”



March 28th, 2018 at 1:52 PM ^

Yup! Now, you can just skip the other ones, see!

They're alright, they're good guys, good coaches, they'll give ya an innerview. But this Don Brown?! DUDE!!!

(Mimics rocket taking off, executing a stunt, blitzing the safety!)



March 28th, 2018 at 9:24 AM ^

I love DB interviews!  That look screams freshmen on the first install meeting!!  I can totally see it...

And WTH with Bush?  Hope things are okay...


March 28th, 2018 at 9:27 AM ^

1) Why are reporters asking Coach Brown specific questions about quarterbacks? I understand asking a brief question about Shea, but asking about McCaffery and the other QBs was strange. Some reporters and their questions mystify me across all levels of sports.

2) Thank goodness the situation that Coach Brown touched on with Devin Bush got resolved. I know that we're deep at the linebacker position, but losing an all-conference backer as an underclassman is a huge loss for any team.

3. My excitement level for Ambry Thomas grew exponentially after reading this. Adding him to Hill, Long, and Watson has to make us one of the top three to five cornerback units in the country.


It's easy to lose track of everything in football with the basketball and hockey teams doing so well. But on the defensive side of the ball, Michigan sounds like it can be an elite group. Now let's just hope for no major injuries and steady player progression from now until our opener. Thank you for the write, Adam! It's much appreciated.


March 28th, 2018 at 10:40 AM ^

Doesn't seem so crazy to me that Don Brown might have some unique insight on the QBs since his defense plays against them regularly.

Likewise, they could ask one of our 437 offensive coaches what it's like to face Gary, Hudson, and the rest of the defense.


March 28th, 2018 at 9:36 AM ^

Great interview all around. Very interesting to see how the Gil and Ross competition works out. Sounds like both will play, but I figured Gil would be left behind. Herbert sure sounds like an excellent hire so far.


March 28th, 2018 at 1:44 PM ^


But - some observations about this presser:

1) Should he say if Mone is in we're playing run, and if we need to pass protect we'll get someone else in? Some of the best plays from our W vs Fla were running on passing downs.

2) I'm kinda pissed we stuck with Tolbert for 3 bleedin years after that! He all but said this new S&C program is light years ahead of previous! I mean WTF! Loyalty is a wonderful trait - until it's NOT! I get that JH went comfort level after he couldn't get the Stanford guy, but 3 YEARS!!!

3) DB's enthusiasm is so infectious, and his willingness to name names so refreshing, I'm almost thinking make HIM the HC & let JH just concentrate on being OC!

(Obvsly NEVER happening, but just sayin...)


March 28th, 2018 at 9:44 AM ^

From what I've heard so far, which admittedly isn't much, he does seem to understand how to build up speed.  Back in my day (I'm an old guy, back off), coaches would tell you, "You can't teach speed," which we now know is BS.  But a lot of trainers are still coasting on what they taught in the 70s-80s (and was still common practice in the 90s -- I'm not THAT old, back off).

Tolbert kind of struck me as a "blue collar" guy in all the right and wrong ways, would train you like a Rocky montage.  Some folks said we would wear down in the 4th quarter but I'm rather skeptical of that -- always came off as fishing for scapegoats when big mistakes happened in the 4th quarter that could just as well have happened in the 1st.  He's what Stanford needed, and might be a good fit in the military, but he talked like he was behind the times.

Well, let me just say this, okay? This Devin Bush Jr.? Special guy now, okay? That’s all I’m gonna say.

As a Wolverine living in New England, it's weird and amusing to hear a Michigan coach use our local dialect.  Any football coach, really, considering this area isn't known for college football.  But Brown's got a talent for words that's far beyond that of your everyday schmuck around these parts.  I mean. . .

He ran through on a sweep play—now, again, we were in pajamas the other day, so it’s not a physical thing



March 28th, 2018 at 12:33 PM ^

is this upbeat regarding Herbert's impact to the OL conditioning.  Ruiz looks buff and nimble in all the twitter feeds of him dancing in the weight room.  Hope Onwenu is getting more like that as well.  JBB could get a bit lighter on his feet yet keep the same punch for the run game.  Excited to see the impact on Bredesen who should have a breakout year at RG.  Runyan looks like he grew a couple of inches over the winter or maybe he is just more "chiseled" from Herbert's program.  Guys like Hudson, Filiaga, Stueber and Honigford should now be able to compete this spring given the strength improvements and it would be great to hear they are pushing the top 6 from last year.  

Wisconsin's OLs under Herbert's program were killer strong.  Add Warriner's coaching up technique and hopefull the OL makes big strides.  That is my wish for 2018.

Don Brown?  Marvelous for Michigan.  Could not be happier in the defensive unit and its potential for 2018 & beyond. 


March 28th, 2018 at 4:44 PM ^

Insightful commentary as always.

If I remember right, the first guy Coach Harbaugh tried to bring with him to Ann Arbor was the Stanford S&C Coach....and couldn't persuade him.  I think that set us back.

Herbert appears to be the right guy.  Big beautiful things appear to be on the horizon for our Wolverine football team.

Go Blue!


March 28th, 2018 at 9:47 AM ^

I remember wathing his video thinking all that he did was great but that he was too small and it was against inferior opponents. Not too small anymore! Look forward to seeing what he can do.


March 28th, 2018 at 9:59 AM ^

Seems like every year we hear that the team is better "in terms of cardiovascular and bigger, stronger, faster," but this year I actually believe it.  If Don Brown is enthusiastic, I am even more enthusiastic and I think we'll see an improvement in our strength and endurance this year.


March 28th, 2018 at 10:53 AM ^

these are the teams that are on the way up:

1. MSU (most returning off and defensive starters, in fact #1 in nation in returning player productivity?)

2. Michigan (second most returning starters, #13 in nation, 74% of offense returning, but yeesh, dat offense! Michigan and MSU defensive rankings 2018 - que ridiculo, no?!!! )

3. Nebraska (new coach, new system, enough of an experienced nucleus)

4. Ohio State (they just reload)

5. Minnesota (good number of returning starters. Need a QB. Row that boat!)

Teams on the way down?

1. Penn State (great recruiting classes, but lost a lot of experienced productivity, #116 in the nation in returning starters)

2. Wisconsin (offense will be experienced and good, defense takes a big haircut)

3. Iowa (about 60% returning on both sides, plays lousy when they shouldn't, plays out of their heads great against Michigan. But uh...Iowa doesn't play Michigan this year, so...yeah).

Source file: https://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2018/1/31/16950222/2018-ncaa-…


March 28th, 2018 at 3:40 PM ^

Iowa kicked the crap out of Ohio State last year in a way I'm not sure Michigan has ever done. Hard to make a case that Michigan is a better football program than Iowa currently or in the last 10 years. Iowa is never on the way down, they are what they are.

If anything, Iowa is an up team being that they have a QB who can win big games.


March 28th, 2018 at 11:44 AM ^

JH the other day made a comment about when he first knew that last year's offense was going to be in trouble, and he said he knew in the first half of the Florida game when Wilton made a correct read against press coverage, but Florida was running cover-2 and it was a pick six.

JH seemed to imply that the offense never practiced against anything but press coverage all year, and he realized that they were going to have trouble against anyone that did anything else.

I had thought someone would ask DB about this, and whether they were going to vary coverages for no other reason than to prepare the QBs.