You guys didn’t punt until the fourth quarter Saturday. I’m guessing you’re pretty pleased with the way things went offensively.
“Yeah, went well. Good to get a win on the road like that. Guys played well. Always good to come back with a victory. I was pleased with the offensive performance. It’s a new week. Kind of forgotten about that. The problems that occur here with the next opponent we face, so just moving on.”
Mason seems like a very dependable guy. Talk about that side of him and what he gives you every game, every play.
“Mason, football’s very, very important to him, [and] that he’s right. He’s got great football awareness. Can really fix problems. He’s a competitor. He loves to compete. Great leader. Really gets it. Once you tell him, he’s got it. Really locks in his brain. He plays at a very, very high level and it’s just a real pleasure to have him. He’s a real great team leader, especially on the offensive line with what we’re trying to do.”
What went into the decision to have Bredeson in there and have Juwann [Bushell-Beatty] with the second team?
“We just felt like that was the best thing for us. Juwann’s doing a nice job. Ben’s done a nice job. We just felt that that was a good combination in there, best for us to be successful.”
How far has Ben Bredeson come from that first game to now?
“A long way. Just, he understands what we want to do, how we’re going to do it. Processes quickly on his feet. Just, he’s played a lot of reps in there. The maturity level, the confidence in his eyes. Anytime you go out in a game and suit up and go play another game and start, you grow more and the more practice reps you get the better off you’ll be, so he’s really made a great transition.”
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I know it’s early, but do you guys like him better as a guard or doing something else down the line?
“Yeah, I mean, anybody could play all five positions. I see him as a guard, but he could go out there and play tackle. He’s very capable. He’s very athletic, moves quick on his feet, can think on his feet. He could play the tackle position, too.”
Can you talk about the dynamic of having Peppers in that wildcat and the stress that puts on a defense?
“I mean, defenses got to prepare for it. Never know when it’s coming if we choose to use it because he can run it, he can throw it, I mean, he can do everything. He’s a very, very dynamic players that can really change a game.”
Were you surprised after everything he did in that game that he had the speed he did at the end?
“Nah. I mean, Jabrill’s a talented young man that loves to compete, plays at a very high level, and he’s the type of guy who’s like, ‘Hey, give me more, give me more, give me more.’ He could stay on the field all game long and play every snap of the game, that’s the kind of competitor he is. He loves to win for his team. He loves to win each down.”
You guys did a good job getting to third-and-short in the fourth quarter there. Was there a common theme, missed assignments or something, that you weren’t able to pick those up?
“They had some good players inside, Malik [McDowell] inside. I think they knew it was run. We have to do a better job blocking it. It was competitive situation. Sometimes in those situations you fall short. We haven’t fallen short in those situations a lot this year. It’s a teaching tool for us. It’s great for us, myself as a coach, for things we could do differently in that situation, things or calls could have taken back. That’s part of the process of growing as a coach and becoming better.”
Eddie [McDoom] was saying yesterday he wasn’t expecting to be this involved this early. At what point did you know he was going to have this kind of a role in the offense?
“I saw it in training camp. Very fast. Doesn’t say much. Unbelievable worker. You put him out there and he’ll just keep going and going and going, and he’s a playmaker. I knew it when he walked in the doors. You could see in training camp he had the speed, the skillset, that you really like in a football program.”
How much more can you do out of the package where he lines up like it’s a jet sweep, whether he takes it or catches a pass or--
“We have lots of things we can do. Not just with him, with a lot of different people. We’re always looking to broaden everything we do to be dynamic in this offense.”
It seems to become his role to sweep outside and get pressure on defenses that way. Have you seen defenses adjust to him when they see him on the field at this point?
“Yeah, you know, everybody has different adjustments. I don’t know if it’s because of Eddie or different things that we do. I’d have to go back and look at the different games to tell you that. That’s not the only thing he can do. We can throw the ball to him. We can do a lot of different things with him.”
There was a play in the fourth quarter where it looked like Karan [Higdon] got the first down. Did you guys think about challenging the spot on that?
“Uh, yeah, we thought about it but at the time we just felt like we didn’t do a good enough job blocking it up front and wanted to move on.”
You’ve got four productive running backs this season. Is that something that was done by design or just kind of evolved over the course of the season?
“It’s just our philosophy here. Like I said when we visited with you guys before, just want to keep those guys fresh, want to make sure they don’t take too heavy a load, and for us to be fresh and for them for their careers down the road in the NFL.”
Jabrill’s got a ton of snaps in the redzone. You talked about his versatility. Is it even more so dangerous for other teams when he’s in the wildcat or zone read in the redzone?
“I think it’s dangerous when he’s on the field at any position. Doesn’t have to be the redzone. Could be a base down, could be on defense, could be as a kick returner. I mean, he’s an explosive football player. He can do a lot of things.”
How many snaps did he get last week? Do you know? Did you guys count?
“Uh, no. We just call it and let it roll.”
What percentage of the plays he was used on offense were a run-pass option?
“Uh, we never talk about that. We never talk about our philosophy and what we’re doing.”
Speight had one throw Saturday that he would have liked to have back, but to have a quarterback be eight games in and with only three interceptions, how significant is that to you as an offense?
“Very significant. That’s one thing, you can lose games by turning the ball over. We always talk about preaching taking care of the football. Wilton’s doing an unbelievable job and he’s progressing and getting better every week. He was throwing the nice intermediate ball last week and he throws a beautiful deep ball, and he just keeps getting better every week. Really pleased with his progress.”
Does Jehu have another gear he can reach this year?
“Jehu and everybody can reach another gear. That’s where we’re progressing. It’s a new week. We’re trying to clean up things and keep improving our technique and play faster here down the stretch.”
I think a lot of people expected more from him, unfairly maybe. Is it just a case where Amara’s being targeted or has gotten more opportunities?
“Or just opportunity maybe where Amara’s open and Jehu’s covered or vice versa, you know. I can never tell you where the ball’s going to go. Those bodies move out there sometimes. You don’t know where it’s going to go. I wish I was a mind reader.”
Jim said Higdon hits the hole as good or better than anybody else that you guys have right now. What is it about Karan that allows him to--
“Karan hits it and once he sees something, bam, he takes the hole. He’s got very good quick twitch and very good vision, which is nice. When things are maybe closed up in there he can make that one cut, and he sees it very quickly.”
Going back to Speight, it’s not that he’s just avoiding interceptions but he seems to not shy away from making the throws that he has to make. How does a quarterback walk that fine line between being aggressive with throws and protecting the ball?
“I think he just trusts his instincts. He’s a football player, and when there’s no play to be made he can make a play, and that’s one characteristic that we look for in a quarterback here at Michigan.”
What’s been the key to Amara’s development?
“I think that Jedd Fisch does an outstanding job with him. I think he’s a person that football’s very, very important to him and once he steps in this facility that he wants to be the best at his craft. It’s important for him to be great, and he’s just got a want-to. He’s a very, very competitive person and a great person.”
MGoQuestion: What’s the most difficult aspect in moving from guard to tackle, and how do you feel Ben Braden’s done at that?
“Really good. I think the hardest probably is just getting used to playing in space. When you’re playing that guard position everything’s nice and tight and you start to get edge rushers and things so that—and Ben’s got great feet, he moves very—great initial quickness. Can really run, and he’s got great arm length and the measurables help him out there.
“That’s probably one of the toughest situations just in terms of pass [pro], being by yourself and not having a sideboard, as we call it, with a center next to you that you can pass something off or run a guy into.”
What kind of challenge is it for you to go up against DJ Durkin again, this time with him as a head coach?
“DJ, great football coach, great father, great husband. I mean, it’s a challenge. DJ’s a very, very good football coach and [we’re] excited about this opportunity. Really are.”
Is it familiar looking at the Maryland defense on film at all this week?
“Yeah, there’s some stuff. There’s some stuff that’s familiar and there’s some stuff that’s not familiar. Andy Buh’s the defensive coordinator there and I imagine he’s bringing his own flavor in, which rightfully so. Very, very well coached football team.”
Is it important for a coach and a new staff to bring their own flavor in that sense, to make sure they do things differently?
“I think you always kind of build your football team around what you have personnel-wise and what they do best to put them in successful situations.You might see something different out there that caters to them to be successful.”
With Jehu and Amara being gone next year, do you guys feel you’re in a good place with Eddie [McDoom] and Kekoa [Crawford] and the younger guys?
“Absolutely, yes. Yeah, absolutely. We’ve got some good young football players and hope for more to come.”