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