Spring Practice Presser 4-22-18: Pep Hamilton Comment Count

Adam Schnepp April 23rd, 2018 at 10:01 AM



[Ed. A—Thanks to Orion Sang and The Michigan Daily crew for passing along audio]

“Well, I think we’re a tough group. I think we’re a tough group. Without a doubt, we’re still a work in progress. I think when you look at the group as a whole, we have some guys that actually have some game experience, and I feel good, really good about just the overall continuity of our staff and all the experience that we have and all the different ideas and how we were able to input the things that we feel like are going to be necessary for us to be a good offense next year.”

Tough how? More physical?

“I mea, physically tough, but a coach Harbaugh team, a Jim Harbaugh team, is always mentally tough as well. He likes to grind on guys. He likes to challenge guys to push past their threshold of comfort, and so we will be a tough group.”

With no designated offensive coordinator, how is the playcalling going to work?

“Coach Harbaugh, it’s his offense. Everything goes through Coach and it starts and ends with coach Harbaugh.”

Has your role in the offense changed? Are you taking on more responsibilities than last year?

“No. No, not at all.”

How do you and Jim McElwain process things together? Do you get some input from him?

“Yeah, we all work hard together. We all process things together, so to say coach McElwain, coach Warinner, Ron Prince, Ben McDaniels, along with Jay Harbaugh and Sherrone Moore, we work well together and it’s all a collaborative effort to present coach Harbaugh with some ideas of things that we like and he gives us the yes or no.”

So on gameday will there be somebody or will there be more than one person? Have you talked about that yet, who’s going to be talking to Coach?

“It’s always been that way.”

[Hit THE JUMP for impressions of each QB]

The documentary kind of showed that collaborative effort. It showed at times you would be suggesting calls, at times Tim would be suggesting calls or say ‘Let’s go with this.’ So that’s kind of still how it’s going to be, then?

“I haven’t seen the documentary, but it’s—”

You may be the only one around here then.

“Yeah, it’s always been that way, though. Just, you know, we make suggestions to coach Harbaugh and he gives it the thumps up or thumbs down.”

From an offseason standpoint, how big a difference have you noticed going from NFL to college where NFL you kind of know who your personnel are pretty early?

“Um, I don’t know that that’s the case in the NFL. I think that you have just as much turnover at that level as you do here in some cases. I think even moreso in college football, you know who your personnel’s going to be; you know who your graduates are and your underclassmen that are coming back. But, you know, I’m acclimated.”

Jim said at the beginning of spring that all the quarterbacks were getting equal reps. Has that been the case throughout?


Do you guys hope to identify someone going into fall camp or do you feel that there will be a competition throughout the camp?

“We haven’t discussed that.”

So there’s no pecking order at this point?


What areas have you seen Brandon Peters improve in from the end of the regular season through spring practices?

“Just taking command of the huddle and making quicker, faster decisions, and that’s all a result of having played in games and getting a true sense of how bad the defensive players and their intentions are with regard to hitting the quarterback.”

Your early impressions of Patterson?

“He’s a playmaker.”

Does he change the offense or the approach or what you guys are able to do at all if he’s in the game?

“No. We’re going to always adjust to accommodate the players that are playing.”

I mean, what does he do I guess that you would try to adjust to highlight?

“Well, if you watched any of his film it’s obvious he can extend plays with his legs and he can make all the throws.”

Has Joe [Milton] been picking things up pretty quickly?


What have you seen from him? What stands out about him?

“He has an extremely strong arm and he’s very athletic.”

His teammates call him a gunslinger.

[Pep chuckles]

He’s got that swag. Is that what makes a kid a gunslinger?

“Swag, huh?”


“I would say yes.”

With all the coaching turnover, specifically offensively, what’s it been like for you trying to get everyone on the same page even though it’s just your second year?

“We work well together. We’ve had our open lines of communication throughout and coach Harbaugh, of course he dictates what it is that we do and what we’re working on.”

When Jim McElwain was talking to us a couple weeks ago it seemed that his perception at least was kind of you were running the show on offense and they were helping out. Is that a little different than the way you see it?

“Um…just a little, yeah.”


“Yeah, we all work together. You know how we do it here. We collaborate our thoughts and once the ink dries, coach Harbaugh gives us the thumbs up or the thumbs down.”

At the start of spring ball mentioned a process of self-evaluation to kind of see where things were going wrong. Where are you guys at with that? How comfortable are you with where the offense is at right now?

“Well, we started that process a couple weeks after last season ended and we decided to look at what it is we do well and try and do it more.”

What did you find when you did that?

“That with the players that we had coming back, we felt good about having enough playmakers to do a few different things just going into this seasons different than what we did last season.”

How has Dylan’s [McCaffrey] spring been?

“Really good.”

What are his strengths? What did he learn from really running the scout team so much last year?

“I think Dylan is an underrated athlete. I think Dylan is a guy that can make all the throws and make plays with his legs.”

With the struggles in the passing game last year, have you drastically changed things would you say or just some tweaks that needed to be made?

“I think the players that had an opportunity to play last year, they have more experience and they’ll make more plays, as well as we’ll put them in positions to make more plays.”

You said it’s even right now in the quarterback pecking order but when do you prefer a quarterback to take that lead?

“Uh, yesterday. Ideally we would like to have that guy and identify the guy that will lead our offense but we haven’t discussed it yet.”

In high school and at Ole Miss, leadership was something people kind of talked about with Shea. Have you noticed players gravitating toward his personality?

“At times.”

How so?

“He’s a playmaker. Everybody gets excited when he’s out there and if he makes a special play you can feel the energy throughout our team. You can just feel a positive energy, and he is a playmaker.”

With that position group, has it been like a competition feel throughout spring practice or are you just trying to let them get as many reps as possible?


Okay. So they are sort of pitted against each other fighting for the job at this point?

“Oh, that’s at all positions on our offense.”

How unique is this situation though for you, Pep? You’ve got a quarterback who hasn’t been cleared yet to be eligible this fall and you’re dealing with that. How is it unique for you and how is it for Shea?

“Well, all the guys are getting equal reps, so if in fact he’s cleared, then he’ll be up to speed as far as being able to manage the offense.”

How quickly did he pick up the playbook?

“He spent a lot of time studying the playbook on his own before we started spring ball.”

What do you mean exactly by total reps? Is it equal reps with the first team or reps overall?

“They rotate throughout. Equal reps overall. We alternate who gets reps with the first team.”

How is Shea handling the mental aspect of not knowing whether he’s going to be eligible in the fall?

“Uh, I don’t know, you’d have to ask Shea.”

How are you? That’s got to be a little frustrating for a coach.

“Well, no. It’s spring ball, so, you know, you coach ‘em all up right now and evaluate the guys that are practicing and keep improving from that standpoint.”

From running the offense, just overseeing it and doing the collaborative part, how does the offensive line factor in to this? Where have you seen them grow from last year?

“Um, well, back to what you just said, we’ve collaborated and coming up with ways to feature playmakers on the perimeter as well as guys up front, and we feel like in Cesar Ruiz and Ben Bredeson, those two guys in particular, we have great leadership and the rest of the guys will follow their lead and they’re working hard.”

[Inaudible] the guys are a year older. Was inexperience the main thing that held back there in the past a little bit?

“No, I think it’s a combination of things. I think just lack of continuity at the quarterback position; you’ve got to stabilize that position first. When you look at the guys that took all of the reps during spring ball and most of the reps during training camp and compare that to who actually played in games, you would think that there would be a disparity just in consistency and continuity as a result.”

Does that affect the way you’re handling reps in spring this time around?

“Uh, no. Right now we don’t have a guy, so we’ve got a lot of different guys getting reps and it’s always important that they all get the equal reps and continue to grow and give us a chance to evaluate their progress.”

How important if the offensive line going to be in your success?

“That’s the most important cog in the big scheme of things.”


“It all starts with being able to run the football and control the line of scrimmage, protect the quarterback, and as we’ve always talked about, impose our will on opponents.”



April 23rd, 2018 at 10:11 AM ^

Translation:  Either he's relieved he still has a job, or we're dead because our passing game guy is COMPLETELY BLIND as to not notice being in the middle of as big an offensive staff shake-up as you'll get short of the HC himself getting fired.


April 23rd, 2018 at 12:06 PM ^

Jaybaugh made a cryptic comment earlier in the spring that was easily inferred as a shot at Drevno being unwilling to entertain other viewpoints. Pep's comments about collaboration and open communication could be interpreted the same way.

It's always easy to criticize/blame the guy who's gone, but if the depiction of Drevno as an arrogant, my-way-or-the-highway kind of guy is accurate, it might explain some of the apparent dysfunction in the offense.

Ultimately it's Harbaugh's responsibility, and maybe he took the right steps. We'll see.

The rehabilitation of Hamilton's reputation around these parts is pretty remarkable.


April 23rd, 2018 at 12:27 PM ^

I don't know what went on, but OL was Drevno's job and the OL is a mess, so he had to go just for that.

Pep gets a mulligan for last year because we had problems everywhere on offense, which wreaked havoc on the playbook.  He was working with a bad OL, bad receivers and bad QBs.  The one thing Pep was officially responsible for -- QB play -- Harbaugh fessed up to running too much against Brown's man coverage.  I don't know if Pep's any good, but if last year was a crime, he's still around because he had an alibi.

Well, Harbaugh resolved to fix his mistakes, literally fired his friend to upgrade OL coaching, hired a shark-humper to coach the WRs, and brought in a 5-star QB.  We still don't have any promising tackles but Pep had better do more with this year's parts because no coach can ask more from an HC than what Harbaugh did this offseason.

Blue in PA

April 23rd, 2018 at 10:18 AM ^

not much meat on the bone here...... 

In a nutshell:

everyone is getting equal reps

every one is doing good, very good

Jim is in charge, we all give input and he has final say



April 23rd, 2018 at 10:19 AM ^

I'll go out on a (minor) limb and say he is by far the worst presser at Michigan. Guy just doesn't want to answer questions, which is fine. As long as we have good QB play I don't care if he chooses to remain quiet. 


April 23rd, 2018 at 10:33 AM ^

Possibly now that Drevno is gone..but for both of those guys it is/was a much tougher spot than he guys on the other side of the ball. They are working directly under JH and they are not going to take chances of saying something that might be out of line with his thinking. So, I wouldn't expect him or anyone on the O side  to say much.


April 23rd, 2018 at 11:44 AM ^

Offensive coaches generally hold their cards close.  Pep ain't the exception, and good, because the exception gets the ship torpedoed.

I prefer Tyrone Wheatley's grumpy pressers, of all things, because he was blunt about what he wasn't going to reveal.  Probably not as fun for Gasbag Sports but I couldn't care less about the sensibilities of a "reporter" wasting everyone's time quote-fishing for a pre-written article.  Feel more for MGoQuestions because those would hit Wheatley like a wall of carved bedrock, but again, not like we get many in-depth answers from offensive coaches anyway.

Wolverine In Iowa 68

April 23rd, 2018 at 12:56 PM ^

what does he have to say?

They had a rough year last year....and I'm being kind when I say rough.  The offense was basically a moving train wreck all season long.  It's not like he's Don Brown with the ability to salivate over what he had and what he has coming back.

I'm willing to give him a pass until things get going.  I'd prefer he focus on working with the players to help them improve.  If we don't see results, then he's going to be in for a world of hurt, until then, meh.


April 23rd, 2018 at 2:09 PM ^

there is really much more specific answers he can give. We have three very good QB's that are all making plays and doing a good job. No one has seperated themselves, which is fine, as we have a long ways to go until September.

Competition is still playing out and until someone becomes #1 let them compete. A lot can happen this summer with all three and the work they put in with WR's and getting better.


April 23rd, 2018 at 10:34 AM ^

With the struggles in the passing game last year, have you drastically changed things would you say or just some tweaks that needed to be made?

“I think the players that had an opportunity to play last year, they have more experience and they’ll make more plays, as well as we’ll put them in positions to make more plays.”


Basically saying, nah, nothing's going to change, the players were at fault not the coaches.

Which is complete BS. 

It still rankles me that they had so few passing plays for RBs, even though they talked up Evans all spring as a great receiver. 


April 23rd, 2018 at 10:45 AM ^

#1 wide receiver went down in the third game of the year and his starting QB went down in the first game of conference play.  He was working with a backup transfer QB for most of the year, the offensive line was a revolving door, and his number one target was a true freshman wide receiver who was still learning the offense.

Obviously the offensive staff did not do a phenomenal job last year but let's not act like there weren't some contributing factors that made it considerably more difficult.

sports fan

April 23rd, 2018 at 12:03 PM ^

I don't think you comprehended the last phrase in his response.  To me "... we'll put them in positions to make more plays" is the coaching staff accepting responsibility for not putting players in position to make more plays last year.  That means designing plays the players can succeed at; not passing in the rain; simplifying offensive scheme; designing routes for receivers that will get them open; coaching better, etc.  That's all on the coaches.

sports fan

April 23rd, 2018 at 11:59 AM ^

I don't think you comprehended the last phrase in his response.  To me "... we'll put them in positions to make more plays" is the coaching staff accepting responsibility for not putting players in position to make more plays last year.  That means designing plays the players can succeed at; not passing in the rain; simplifying offensive scheme; designing routes for receivers that will get them open; coaching better, etc.  That's all on the coaches.


April 23rd, 2018 at 10:42 AM ^

Media:  How did the offense preform overall in Spring Practice?

Pep: Good

Media: Do you like stuff?

Pep: Yes

Media: Are you looking forward to going to Europe?

Pep: Where?

Media:  How did you think the Press Conference went?

Pep: Good


April 23rd, 2018 at 11:11 AM ^

Man, it feels like years since we went into an offseason with a returning starter at Qb, and had no worries about that position. I realize we were kinda in that position last year, but that was still a battle between Speight and Okorn. It would be nice to be able to sleep easy about that position. 

Shop Smart Sho…

April 23rd, 2018 at 11:36 AM ^

For the life of me I can't figure out why none of the offensive coaches can offer a decent explanation of how play calling on this team works. I also don't understand why they don't want to answer the question. Explaining that, after there have been a couple seasons of valid concerns about the speed and source of playcalls, isn't going to give the opponent some sort of strategic advantage. It's not like the opposing team is going to jam their communications because they know which specific guy is making play calls.


April 23rd, 2018 at 12:15 PM ^

It's not an intel thing; it's everyone refusing to drop a preconception.  When we say "calling plays" we're really trying to find out who the field commander is, i.e. the pecking order.  But everything I've read indicates there really isn't a pecking order.  Harbaugh's maintained a "scheme by committee" approach from his first day here, handing out "coordinator" only as an honorific to guys who want to avoid a paper demotion, yet people are STILL trying to figure out who his right-hand man is.  It's getting stupid.

I mean, I get it.  There have been breakdowns (*cough*TE handoff*gag*) and when there's playcalling-by-committee it gets hard to know where to point the finger, and since no one seems to be in charge at those moments it looks disorganized, so we want to hear that they've fixed that.  But the fact is that when things are going well it's the exact same system; during those times no one's asking questions and Harbaugh's a genius.  Some faces have changed but Harbaugh's "giant amoeba" org chart is the same one that Rudock & Co. thrived in.  Not to mention, what people are really asking for -- a fall guy for last season -- was never a sound management concept to begin with so I'm OK with the muddy waters Harbaugh chooses to stand in provided he holds himself accountable.  And on that note, if Pep's saying it's the HC at the top, he clearly has Harbaugh's blessing to give that answer.

The coaches keep saying the same things about how it's very simply a scheme-by-committee and people just can't accept that for some reason.  Harbaugh's system keeps baffling people who expect everyone to have a name, rank and number.  As long as people keep asking about Harbaugh's org chart they're going to keep getting non-answers until they finally realize they're asking a stupid question, but I'm not holding my breath.

Shop Smart Sho…

April 23rd, 2018 at 12:25 PM ^

"it looks disorganized"
It is disorganized. Even in his first year, there were multiple instances of plays getting in so late that there was no time for adjustments or reads. There is a reason that no winning program uses a system like this, and it should be blindingly obvious why.

I don't care why reporters are asking about it, because I don't blame assistant coaches for failures. Every single coaching failure is Harbaugh's fault. He's the head coach, he hires everyone, he's responsible for everyone. I guarantee you that he feels the exact same way.


Sten Carlson

April 23rd, 2018 at 4:59 PM ^

This is completely false. In fact, it’s been discussed many times that OSU uses a very similar system. I think you’re remembering Hoke’s disorganized shit show, not Harbaugh’s system. Every program has times when the play isn’t in ontime — even the New England Patriots have to call time out on occasion.

If presnap adjustments are not made it’s because the QB is incapable or not yet allowed that much freedom. We repeatedly saw Rudock late in ‘15 audible, and Wilt was getting good at it before he got hurt.

So, you’re totally off base!

Go Blue in MN

April 23rd, 2018 at 12:42 PM ^

when Pep said there is no leader and he would have liked one to have stepped up "yesterday."   Especially when contrasted with the many short answers and non-answers, this shot across the bow stood out to me. 

Go Blue in MN

April 23rd, 2018 at 1:26 PM ^

Pep easily could have said something much less quotable, like "we're just real happy to have so many capable QBs who can step up and make plays," "it's just too early to tell," just about anything instead of a quote that seems to imply that he's been waiting for someone to step up and no one has.


April 23rd, 2018 at 1:20 PM ^

They say this every year.  It's obviously a Harbaugh policy at this point.  More than any other position, outside the no-duh redshirts or incumbents, the QBs are all "dead even" until they're not.  Given the way the last few QB battles went, they could bring back Tom effin' Brady and run him out alongside Shane Morris and the entire coaching staff would insist they were neck-and-neck until the first game.

I'll concede the gamemanship can get silly at times, but there are no lines to read between here.  There's no clear leader because that's the story they're going with long after one QB's taken over all the fall camp first team reps, right up until kickoff.


April 23rd, 2018 at 2:58 PM ^

think this reaches a point of diminishing returns though.  Players want a clear leader.  Other positional players want a clear leader.  So far in this thread, it has been discussed that 1) there is no "one person" calling players and that there isn't really a vertical power structure when it comes to playcalling, and 2) no QB is every going to be THE GUY until the game starts and even then it is going to be subject to additional competition throughout the year.  This combination of factors just does not create an environment condusive to coherence and consistency.

I have little doubt that experienced professional football players can adapt to a system like that described and be fine, but I question whether this approach can bring consistent success in college.  Players want to know who they are answering to.  They want to look to the coaches first, and not too far behind that is the QB.  If an offense has no clear leader at QB and no one person who is responsible for the scheme at large, where exactly is the accountability?

A lof of this contingent of the Patterson ruling, I get it.  But generally, I think teams fair much better when there is a lot that is very clearly defined for them.  Things such as who is my offensive coordinator and who is my QB.


April 23rd, 2018 at 9:36 PM ^

I think it’s all just “inside the sub” talk that coaches use, and that the players emulate, at least with respect to QBs. Inside the sub, I think it’s known through metrics and qualitative judgement and who’s “making plays”. I think the players know well before we do and to them the final choice isn’t a surprise.


April 24th, 2018 at 6:28 AM ^

We know that during fall camp, one QB gets the majority of snaps with the ones.  All QBs get equal time in spring, but there's a clear leader early in fall camp.  I'm sure there's an announcement (that doesn't leave the sub) but even by that point the players have figured it out just by who they're getting reps with.

Otherwise, yeah.  They're not actually in a battle.  But the story fed to the public is the same every time -- unless there's a solid incumbent, all the QBs are "dead even" until kickoff when the starter was probably decided on a month prior.


April 23rd, 2018 at 10:54 PM ^

Harbaugh sticks with the QB (See Jake R).

Why not have the most important position abide by the same rules as every other position?

I think other position groups would respect that more than the classic starting qb just sliding until games because he is the upperclassmen


April 23rd, 2018 at 1:56 PM ^

"What areas have  you seen Brandon Peters improve in from the end of the regular season through spring practices?"


"Just taking command of the huddle and making quicker, faster decisions, and that's all a result of having played in games and getting a true sense of how bad the defensive players and their intentions are with regard to hitting the quarterback"


That is my favorite part of the interview.