News bullets and other items:
Devin Bush Jr. is acclimating himself well at LB. Sounds like he could step in with little drop off right now.
Kenny Allen would have kicked FGs at Rutgers, but the competition is still ongoing. No decision has been made this week since it’s just Wednesday.
Partridge added that the issues Allen has had have been mechanical, as it’s difficult to adjust your swing plan when you’re doing three different things.
Quinn Nordin’s healthy enough to participate in the kicking competition
I highly recommend reading what Partirdge had to say about Peppers’ attention to detail and drive, as well as his summation of the program’s culture.
Your thoughts on Jabrill’s [punt] return? There was an awful late flag that came in there. What did you see on that play?
“Phenomenal play by Jabrill, obviously. Kind of jumped in the air and then spun and ducked somebody at the same time, so phenomenal play. Questionable. Questionable. But, you know what, it happens. We’ve got to be real careful. I tell those guys all the time, let’s just get him to the dance. Get on your blocks as long as possible and just know if it’s ever questionable peel off and go find somebody else and let him make a move. We’ve got a phenomenal player back there, so we’ve got to get him the ability to make a play. Frustrating that we didn’t finish it, but we’ve got to learn from it and move on.”
Several of the veterans had some downtime last week. What did the kickers do? Were they going right along?
“Yeah, they continued to work, but we had to be smart and give them some downtime, too. We scheduled their kicking early in the week and then the young guys continued to work throughout the week, improvement week, just like the rest of the players.”
Coach said the competition’s always ongoing, but is it maybe a little bit more settled than it was coming out of the game before Rutgers?
“No, I don’t think it’s ever going to be settled here. I think we’re always going to compete and challenge those guys, and they know they have to perform at a high level or there’s going to be someone ready to perform. We’re still competing. About equal reps and keep working. About equal reps for the next few weeks.”
You can evaluate it in practice, but if they’re not kicking in a game, even the Rutgers game, is it hard to simulate what that experience is like?
“Yeah. I mean, of course I’d like to get a try there in a game to have that pressure, but we’ve got to just try to do our best in practice to be ready for the game when it comes. But yeah, of course. There’s nothing like game reps.”
[After THE JUMP: Partridge evaluates Peppers, JBB, what it’s like to work for Harbaugh, and his own coaching]
With Kenny, he’s kicked in so many games, you didn’t think that was attributable to being in a live game, those problems?
So it’s more technical?
“Yes. Yeah. It’s extremely difficult to do all three. You don’t see it often. You don’t see someone do it excellent often. It’s something that he’s learning. Even though he’s a fifth-year senior, he’s never done that before. He’s learning just like any other player has to learn to adjust his swing to what type of kick he’s doing.
“That’s the learning curve we’re hitting. We’re not down on Kenny. He’s just got to continue to improve and realize how to do all three in a game setting where he’s switching his swing plane.”
Is there a stamina element?
“There is, of course, and that’s where we’ve got to be smart in practice and make sure we don’t wear him down and know what he needs to work on.”
So is he still the guy, the place kicker? The next field goal you guys take in a game, it’s going to be Kenny?
“As of going into the Rutgers game, yes, but right now we’re still midweek so I can’t make that determination. They’re still competing in practice.”
Is Nordin healthy enough at this point to kick?
“Yeah, Nordin is kicking and kicking well. Excited about him.”
Linebacker play at this point: what do you like, what needs to take a step up in the second half?
“I like the physicality of the guys. I like the constant—you know, I don’t know if you realize but we might have a really good defense right now, but it’s the first year in the defense, and there’s so much more to keep learning about it. We need to continue to be cued in. I love—Don Brown always says blitz every time like it’s the first time you ever ran that blitz, and that’s something that we’ve got to keep in mind as we keep going through and start running the schemes over and over is continue to stay focused, continue to learn the defense. There’s so much more to it, as well.
“I like how physical they are. I like how keyed in they are. I like how hard they’re practicing, how much they care about themselves and the team. I do like what I’ve seen, but we’ve got to continue to get better.”
Jabrill said last night he’s not really thinking about the NFL Draft but people send him stuff. What do you say to him about things like that?
“With Jabrill, you don’t have to say much. He’s focused on his team. Always has been his whole life, any team he’s been a part of, and he knows he’s got goals this year. Not really worried or concerned about him thinking ahead.”
He’s dealt with the attention and the hype of being a heralded player for a long time, so I’m sure he’s fine dealing with the Heisman stuff, but how does he compartmentalize it?
“Yeah, I mean, Jabrill was an All-American as a freshman in high school, so he’s had, on a smaller scale, the same kind of hype around him and the same things that come to it. He’s able to handle it and focus.
“The thing that Jabrill does best is he focuses on every play or every minute of a meeting like it’s the most important thing, and that’s what makes him who he is. You know, he doesn’t look ahead. He just focuses on what he needs to do and what he needs to improve on on every rep or whatever it might be. He’s able to do it.”
Is that something he learned while you were with him in high school?
“I mean, it’s a natural thing. You continue to learn things and adapt and become smarter people and a smarter young man. I think as he’s moving forward it’s something that he’s able to focus and lock in to what’s important at that present time.”
His teammates never speak about him with envy or jealousy or anything. Has that always been the case? What is it about him that allows his teammates to admire and appreciate him?
“Jabrill is a team player. He’s a guy who sacrifices for his team if need be. He’s not a guy who’s always me-me-me. He embraces them, he embraces the young guys. He tries to teach them. Like, if he makes a mistake, for example, Jabrill is unbelievable because if he makes a mistake, it’s probably only going to happen once in his whole life. He fixes it. I’m talking Xs and Os, scheme-wise.
“Well, he also tries to make sure his teammates don’t make that same mistake. That’s the type of player he is. You know, we use him on offense as a decoy and he might be dead tired because he just ran an 18-play drive and then he goes in and he has to run a fake jet sweep or something. He’s not getting the ball and he’s running it at 100 miles per hour. Your team sees that and that’s the type of kid he is, so I think they embrace that.”
Do you agree with the C- grade he gave himself yesterday?
“Um… yeah, he fell down against Penn State and didn’t score a touchdown on the punt return. Um, you know, he’s going to be a harsh grader. That’s what makes him who he is, and I think that Jabrill, because he does so many different things, it’s like the sky is the limit. He constantly can get better and better, so if he feels like he’s a C- I’m going to agree to him and we’ll talk and see what I can do and what we can do to help him get up to an A.”
Did you test limits at Paramus with him? As you got him and saw he could do more things, did you keep pushing to see how far you could push him?
“Absolutely. When you have a young man like that that can take on more and more, you just continue to push. That’s what he is. That’s what he thrives off of. So if you limit him, you’re limiting who he is as a person. I think we did there and we’re doing it now.”
Was there ever a limit where you got to and he said to back off?
“No. Not at all. Never seen it.”
You’ve coached him for so long, obviously. When he makes the plays that he does now, do you think, ‘Oh, I’ve seen him do that before’ or is he still evolving and adding new things?
“Oh, he’s evolving and adding new things every single day. It’s funny, like just yesterday he’s sitting there and he wasn’t in on a particular rep and Rashan Gary comes off the edge and makes an unbelievable pass rush move and gets to the quarterback and he comes off and I’m standing in front and he goes, ‘Hey, you’ve got to show me that move in practice. I’ve got to use that thing off the edge.’ Just thinking like that and stuff—and it was real!
“It was genuine. He really wanted to learn that pass-rush move. Jabrill’s not a D-end, but he wants to learn as much as possible, so I think he’s always going to continue to move up.”
What’s it like for you to see a few years ago you were coaching both those guys in high school and to now be here and have both those guys again interacting like that? Did you think about that in that moment?
“Yeah, no, I did not think about that in that particular moment but it is awesome. It’s really cool. It’s a good thing to know that you said and did the right things to help guide those guys to the right places and help do what they’re doing now. And to see their work ethic and what they do off the field, it’s a good feeling, for sure.”
Speaking of guys you’ve coached, how much has Juwann [Bushell-Beatty] changed in the last year to get this opportunity?
“Juwann’s a guy that we knew would have to develop coming out of high school. He didn’t play much football growing up or anything, and it’s pretty good to see him continue to work at it and develop and work his way onto the field. It’s a great feeling and just love how Juwann is very work-oriented and wants to be really good and work every single day at it.”
Linebacker-wise, beyond the guys we see on the field for the most part every game, who’s stepped up in practice and come along for you?
“Oh, I think Devin Bush Jr. is ready to go. I think he’s done a phenomenal job for us on special teams and gotten a ton of reps in practice. I think he’s ready to step in there for sure. He’s the one that really comes to mind.”
Jabrill said yesterday that he thought he was better offensively than defensively, maybe more natural there. Does he like defense because of the aggressiveness [inaudible]?
“Um, yeah. He’s naturally gifted, for sure. You know, he’s really hard to contain when he has the ball in his hand. I think he does have a passion for defense. He does like adjusting on the fly in terms of when he’s making calls and doing different things to different formations. He kind of takes pride in knowing stuff, so that’s where he likes defense. And he likes to hit people. He’s very physical.
“But he’s a phenomenal offensive player as well. He enjoys that. He’s in this kind of thing where he doesn’t have to choose. He’s able, because of his ability, to play both, and because of his mind to play both. He’ll be able to do that until someone tells him he can’t.”
Do you agree with Jim’s assessment of him as a Heisman guy?
“Oh, absolutely. I mean, I just…you’ve got to understand how much he’s able to do. If you get into the details of it, he lines up as our wing on punt and blocks and covers on a punt. You know, he’s the safety or a cover guy on kickoff this year. He’s a guy you just plug in anywhere, that can do anything, and he does it at such a high level that I just don’t know if there’s many people who can do what he does at multiple positions constantly.”
The danger of that is if you have one guy that plays six spots and he gets hurt you need six replacements for him. How do you balance making sure he stays healthy?
“You just—it’s just like any other player. He’s got make sure he’s taking care of his body. He’s got to make sure he’s eating right and sleeping and understand that his body is what is making him right now, and he does a good job with it. He takes care of himself. You know, you can’t really think about that. You’ve just got to keep pushing forward and know that he and our training staff and everyone’s doing the right thing to keep him going.”
This has been kind of a transition year for you, too. How much has it helped having Don Brown there?
“Oh, it’s like…I feel like I’m becoming a better coach. You go into the bye week and you reflect on all the players and individuals and schemes and everything, but also I was able to reflect on where I’ve come from. I just feel like on a constant basis I’m becoming better. Coaches are allowed to improve, too, you know. Having Don Brown—I mean, you’ve got to understand the mindset of this place.
“You can learn every single second of every single day, and I try to take on as much as possible. I try to hang on every word that Don says or Coach Harbaugh says and try to learn and improve and it’s like, you’ve got Greg Mattison coaching the D-line. Who knows more than him? It’s the culture that’s set here. It’s a culture set of just learning from each other. It’s all around. I learn from Jay Harbaugh. Jay Harbaugh learns from me. We have different perspective, different experiences, and that’s what Coach Harbaugh kind of sets in the tone. I feel like if you want to become a better football coach, find your way on Jim Harbaugh’s staff. That’s really what the culture’s set [as].
“It’s the same thing with the players. You want to become a better young man, play for Jim Harbaugh. I honestly believe that, because that’s the entire culture set here at all times.”
You’re totally locked in on the game on Saturday, but are there things about a football Saturday in this setting that you’ve learned to appreciate in the time you’ve been here?
“At Michigan, you’re saying? Shoot, phenomenal. It’s a very traditional setting where the fans all come out and they’re here early and they’re excited. When you walk down the tunnel and you realize the tradition here and the people that have played here and you kind of see the stadium… it’s a phenomenal place. There’s not many like it. Even with driving from the team hotel through campus, you see everyone out, packed, enjoying it. It’s just—it’s a great setting. You definitely learn to appreciate it, for sure.”
You mentioned coaching with Jim. How demanding is he on you guys? What are your hours? What time do you show up?
“Heh. We’re here early, we’re out late.”
How early is early? Five?
“It’s really—it varies. But yeah, some coaches come in early. It’s… I’m not—Jim is not demanding in terms of what he’s setting the hours. He’s demanding in that the people he hires love what they do and they work hard at it. There is no ‘Oh, I’m gonna sleep in today.’ I’m gonna pop up and get in that office. I’m gonna work late and make sure these kids are prepared for the game or prepared for life, whether it’s doing class checks or calling recruits. Whatever it might be, it’s an atmosphere of just loving to work.
“And then when you have a guy that’s leading you put in as much work as he does and continue to push, you’re not going to slack off. It’s—so is it demanding? Yes. Does it feel demanding? No. Do you get tired? No, I don’t, personally. I don’t think you do because we just love what we do. You just kind of pop up and have an energy to you.”
For players, he has a scoreboard and kind of keeps track of competing for everything. Do the assistant coaches have a scoreboard where you guys keep track of stuff?
“Oh yeah, oh yeah. Of course. I think we compete with each other, but it’s a good, healthy competition. These coaches, in competition, it’s something that I’ve learned really is the competition will happen but then at some point someone’s willing to help the other person as it’s happening, if that makes sense. But we like to compete. We like to compete at all things and make ourselves better. It’s like, you know, shoot, Jay’s coaching the field goal and I’m coaching the field goal block, [and] I’m trying to block that field goal. It’s a healthy thing.”
So what happens in practice is kind of how you keep score against each other?
“Yeah, yeah. Of course, of course. It’s with everything. It’s the guy that you’re coaching, the guy that you’re recruiting, your work ethic. It’s everything.”
A number of years ago, Greg Mattison and Brady Hoke used to wrestle when they were assistant coaches. You guys don’t do any of that?
“No, there’s no physicality. We don’t want to hurt anybody. I don’t want to take anyone down or anything. But nah, there’s no wrestling or anything. I’d like to see that, though.”
You talked about loving what you do. The Glasgow brothers, have you seen a trio of guys like that? You were around Graham last year, and obviously now these two.
“They’re just—it’s an awesome, awesome family to be around and to see. Graham started it an Ryan, he’s just, he’s great. He’s a motivator. He motivates his brother, and Jordan kind of coming up and now being a lineman, kind of being this little guy that comes in and walks on here and you’re like, how the heck is this guy related to these two, and then you see the kid play! You see how much he cares and you see that they have the same values where Jordan—all of them, it’s like every rep is a game rep for these guys that they take. Every meeting they’re sitting there with their pad. They love football and they love the competition and they love being out there.
“Jordan got his shot this year and as you know, he’s killing it on special teams. He started as a backup guy on kickoff, got onto kickoff, started making plays. Well, now, heck, we’re going to play him on kick return. Well, now he’s going to be on punt return. He just keeps getting better and better. He’s just a redshirt freshman, so the sky’s the limit for him. You’re going to see him playing a lot of football here.”
What does he need to do get onto defense?
“Just continue to do what he’s doing. Kill it on punt return and get himself on punt, and do a great job on punt and all of a sudden it’s going to be like, we can’t keep this guy off the field.”
He doesn’t look like he belongs to that family, really.
“No, he doesn’t. But I’ll tell you what, he has the toughness they have. He may not have the size, but he’s just as tough as those guys. Love to see that and I’ll probably go inside and talk to Ryan about how I’m going to take Jordan in a fight, in a wrestling match with Ryan and see what he says. He’ll scrap. He’ll try to win that one, I promise you that.”
Can you shoot video of that?
“Uh… no video.”