Wednesday Presser 11-22-17: Pep Hamilton Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 22nd, 2017 at 5:11 PM



How we doin’?

“Working at it. [/looks at SID] Give me the updates. What do I need to know? What’s my man’s name? No. 1 from our defense, he spilled some—Ambry. See, I didn’t even remember his name, so you know he’s not in the gameplan.”

Is this a double fake kind of thing?

“Alright, here we go.”

Is Brandon cleared for any kind of activity yet?

“He’s progressively getting better. He’s still in the protocol and we’ll know—it’s on an hour-to-hour and day-to-day basis where he stands, but, you know, he seems to be a lot better than what he was after Saturday.”

Is there a cutoff time where if he’s not cleared by a certain point then he won’t play Saturday?

“That’s coach Harbaugh’s decision.”

Any update on Wilton?

“Wilton, he’s been back out on the practice field and he’s looked good. Once again, that’s the head coach’s decision.”

Is it still a red jersey [non-contact] thing for Wilton?


If it is John that has to play on Saturday, how do you feel that he’s—do you feel that he’ll be ready for that challenge?

“Yeah, I think he’ll be ready. It’s not like this is his first time playing. We’ve still got a lot of practice in front of us and it’s important that we go out and we have a few good days of practice and we’ll see where we stand.”

[After THE JUMP: the tea leaves, they are read]

What kind of challenges does that Ohio State defensive front present for you on the offense?

“Yeah, easily one of the best defensive fronts in all of college football. They can rotate as many as eight guys in and affect your quarterback and shed blocks and disrupt your running game. They’re a very good football team.”
You talked a lot about the young players on the radio the other day. Having so many young players and going up against such a highly rated defense, how do you teach guys like Donovan to be able to get off those jams and get through and play up to this big game?

“Well, since day one we’ve worked on the fundamental and technical things that we feel like our players are going to need to do to be successful. But you can’t teach experience, and I think Donovan specifically, he’s accumulated a lot of reps and experience to get to the point where we feel like he’ll go out and make big plays for us against a good opponent.

“You’ve got potentially a young quarterback playing in Brandon, but one thing that I know about Brandon is that he’s one of the smartest football players I’ve ever coached. He’s cerebral. He has a great memory. I would compare his memory to a quarterback that I coached once in Indy. Just a guy that can retain a lot of information and process a lot of information on the fly, so we have players that are tough and smart and even though they’re young they’ll go out and make plays for us.”

You said on the radio that it took a while to adjust to Brandon’s personality or demeanor or whatever. Did that really click for you once he got into a game or was there a moment before that where you started to understand where he comes from?

“Well, I think just the dynamics of the quarterback room and quarterback group, you know, a lot of times when you’re not the guy you sit back and wait and you’re not as assertive, but since he’s had an opportunity to play and be the starter, he’s always into it. He’s an astute listener and he’s a guy that, once again, he’ll remember things that I said back in training camp and that’s really just a testament to how bright and how smart and how cerebral he is.”

Coach Harbaugh mentioned that there are different steps to that concussion protocol. There’s getting cleared the first time, then having to go through cardio and weights and that kind of thing. Has Brandon passed the first half of that and moved onto doing some light activity in practice?

“Yeah, that’s for—coach Harbaugh would have to tell you where he is as far as the protocol. I just… when he’s ready to come out and play, I’ll have him ready to play.”

Heard a lot of the offensive players talk about how it’s been just little things that have held the offense back. What are some of those little things and what can you do to overcome those small hurdles coming into this game?

“A lot of our players have been learning on the job and we’ve made progress, but at times it’s hard to find consistency without continuity. We’ve had attrition, we’ve had guys that have been in and out of the lineup, and unfortunately we’ve had to replace young guys with more young guys so you hit reset in a lot of cases where you go into a game or you go into a situation where it’s the first time. Even though they’ve practiced a lot of the different things we ask them to do, it’s just a different feeling, a different level of speed, and it’s a different environment for them on game day. But we have guys that are extremely talented. Just the more they play, the better that they will play.”

With a lot of these guys, as you said, learning on the job. You just got here in January or February, in the winter; you didn’t have previous relationships with them, didn’t recruit them—how tough has this year been for you?

“It hasn’t been tough at all. These guys are into it. They want to do well, you know. They want to do well. I think the toughest part is having to accept we’re not able to go out all the time and play as consistently as we should, and that’s our job as coaches to continue to develop these guys and teach them and challenge them to go out and do the things that we know that they’re going to have to do to be successful on game day.”

If Brandon and Wilton are both not able to go, would Alex Malzone be your backup quarterback on Saturday?

“Haven’t thought about it yet.”

What do you need to see out of your receivers at this point?

“Just go out and make plays. Make plays with the play and make plays without the ball. It’s important for us as an offense to be efficient on first and second down, so if that’s running the football it’s running the football and the receivers have to get blocks downfield. If it’s throwing the football, they have to win their one-on-one matchups and make plays.”

How has Brandon handled this whole week?

“Um, he is still in the protocol.”

You said Monday night you want to win these next two games and go into the offseason with an established quarterback. If I’m reading between the lines, is that Brandon?

“Only time will tell. Still have a game to play on Saturday and then we’ll see what happens after that.”

I’m asking because John O’Korn, he’s not going to be here, so you were talking about the future going into the offseason—

“Yes, ma’am.”

Is that a problem?

“No problem, just lost track of what you asked me and you saying…”

I was just quoting you from Monday night. You had said—

“I said a lot Monday night.”

You said a lot. You said you wanted a quar—

“You know, that was iced tea. That wasn’t a Jack and Coke. Go ahead.”

Reading between the lines, it can’t be O’Korn because he won’t be here, we don’t know what Wilton’s status is, and I was wondering when you said you want to win these next two games and go into the offseason with an established—

“I was saying that would be ideal, yeah.”

I read it as the only person possible to be that person was Brandon.

“There you go. Alright. Or Wilton. You never know.”

If he’s cleared.

“If he’s cleared, yeah. Or Alex Malzone.”



November 22nd, 2017 at 5:29 PM ^

Can't see Speight or BP being ready to go on Sat. What if JOK gets murdered?

Do they burn the shirt on McCaffrey for half a game where they will just T it up and come after to take him out and possibly get him killed?   Or do they put Malzone up as a sacrificial offering?

Complete BS that they haven't thought about it.   They have 3 days, and they absolutely know they would use as back up.


November 22nd, 2017 at 10:04 PM ^

Get real.   The real concern here on my part is about McCaffrey.   I'd hate to burn his shirt for 1/2 a game where he's likely running for his proverbial life.  I'd also be really concerned that in just such an effort that he'd get hurt also.  I'm born , raised, and attended blue.  Certainly not some 'troll' and seriously offended at the appearance of the suggestion.   Honest question, I do not believe for a second they haven't thought of the potential that WS & BP can't go? So now you're working with JOK, ok, you have what you have, but what the hell is next option?  No plan?  No way.  They have a plan. No tip to school down south? So be it, I'm just calling BS.


November 23rd, 2017 at 8:18 AM ^

Are you just being obstinant, or do you really not understand?  Because, for the life of me, I don't know how you couldn't understand this...

Speight & Peters are (most likely) out.

JOK will start (again, most likely).

Malzone has been #4 for about 7 years now.  He's #4.

There are a number of walk-ons, and non-QB players, that have QB experience in HS.  Some of them have played QB in practices, scrimmage, and intramurals.  There will be somebody available to take snaps as a break glass option.

The coaches have never - NEVER - answered this question.  Why would they start now?


November 22nd, 2017 at 5:49 PM ^

I understand the appeal of procrastination, but the game is in three days, Pep.  Our goals are a little higher than 1-15 here.  Can't control injuries, but can control how we respond.  See how Baylor coaches responded in 2015 when they were out their top 3 QBs in their game against Texas (and the amazing game plan they put in place for the bowl game, with five different players taking snaps as "QB").  


November 22nd, 2017 at 6:39 PM ^

It's possible he is just a bad interviewee (Frey is also a bad interviewee, though a good coach from what I understand), but nothing I have seen or heard from or about Pep in my very limited experience gives me comfort that he is ready for this challenge.  To me, the difference between a Don Brown or Zordich presser and a Hamilton presser is obvious, and after I read a Brown/Zordich presser transcript I get the clear take-away that the person speaking knows what he is talking about, knows how to coach up college-age kids, and will be able to fix the situation.  Was not being able to remember Ambry's name also a subtle ploy to avoid tipping his genius plan?  Coaches are not infallible.  Hoke/Borges sure were not ready when Morris went down in a game.  I hope I'm wrong, but it irks me that the approach Harbaugh took to the defensive coordinator spot (find out who is putting together the best defenses in college, and then seek to hire that person) is so different from the approach that led to Hamilton's hiring.  


November 23rd, 2017 at 2:22 PM ^

I also have the ability to read a person's resume.  See my post below.  Why do you think Pep Hamilton is an excellent coach?  Do you have anything to add to this conversation?

If I'm wrong about everything, that is great news, because I think we are going to get taken to the woodshed by Ohio State.  By your impeccable logic, that means we will win.  This has been fun.  Thank you for posting.



November 23rd, 2017 at 9:49 PM ^

Talked to a single player he has coached? Ever played or coached? Religious experience watching a Baylor game, a press conference, and hours at home surfing the internet are no basis for criticizing people in the profession. Couch jockey's like yourself used to be embarrassed to criticize people who actually do the job.

And do you actually think Jim Harbaugh hires coaches carelessly?

"I've heard nothing to suggest..." blah, blah, blah. Read enough, thanks. You think you're adding something? 


November 23rd, 2017 at 10:13 PM ^

You seem to think that all coaches are beyond reproach (except perhaps by other coaches).  That sounds like a wonderful way to avoid accountability, and one that every other profession should adopt.  If you have personal knowledge or anything relevant to add regarding this particular coach (e.g., you have heard his presentations on X, which were innovative; a number of other respected coaches travel here to pick his brain in the offseason; his offenses at Howard in 1999-2001 were Z), I am more than happy to listen.  Do you think that literally every coach in college is as good as every other coach -- no better and no worse?  Assuming you do not, how do you suggest we evaluate coaches?  Are their resumes not a good way of doing so?  

Finally, I will simply post what you wrote three years ago regarding Jim Harbaugh.  Amazing how comfortable you felt expounding from the sidelines about Harbaugh:

"The Jim Harbaugh obsession is amazing...

He's obviously a great coach but let's just say, and I don't necessarily blame him for this, a "volatile situation" is created wherever he goes. Why would it be any different at Michigan? What's been his longest stay at any head coaching job? Four years? How long would he be at Michigan before he pisses everyone off? Again, I'm not blaming him for this, but his intensity, his best quality and the reason he wins, wears on people. He doesn't care if you like him or not, and he won't give the warm and fuzzy press conferences fans here seem to need.

Has he said he even wants to coach college football again? And what happens in three years when the Colts or the Bears or whoever offers him their "head coaching and GM" job? Everything about him suggests he goes for the new challenge. People have some knight-in-shining-armor fantasy for this guy, like if we only get Harbaugh we've solved our football problems forever, but there's nothing to suggest that's the case."

And here is what you had to say about Hoke in 2014, which now that I found it, explains why we are having this discussion and why it is pointless.  (And to be clear, since you seem to conflate criticism of a coach regarding coaching with criticism of a coach as a person, my questions about our offensive coaches are about their performance as coaches.)

"Agree. I think Hoke is great

and people need to be patient. He's bringing in a bunch of good players, and it'll take a little time. He's only into his fourth year. That's not very long to build up a football program. He's a good man and he does things the right way. That's what matters the most at Michigan."


November 22nd, 2017 at 6:47 PM ^

Yep, Baylor put up 645 yards rushing (and 756 yards total) in the bowl game against No. 10 UNC.  It was a remarkable work of coaching:…

I didn't watch the last regular season game of the year, but in it, Baylor lost their third-string QB in the first quarter to an injury, so they had to put in a WR as QB.  They still managed to gain 29 first downs (to 15 for Texas), 479 yards (to 307 for Texas), and almost managed to win despite that WR putting up a 10-for-22, 64 yards, 2 INT performance.  


November 22nd, 2017 at 8:14 PM ^

As was said they don't want to tip their hand, OSU had 2 weeks to prepare for this, they don't want to make it too easy when they have a good reason to "not know". But if this was one of the many interviews I've conducted I'd say he knows a lot more than he's allowed to say about who's going to play(notice though he keeps saying its up to Harbaugh). However he was asked specifically if the young guys like (Donovan) will be able to play up to this big game. 

He responds essentially that even though (Peters) is young he’ll go out and make plays for us.

Nobody's that bad at answering questions. He said what he meant. I just hope he's right. 



November 22nd, 2017 at 8:25 PM ^

I have seen your take on the losses of Fisch and Wheatley this off-season.  What do you think of the addition of Frey?  I've generally heard very good things about as a coach, but I haven't heard anything about how he is doing this year, how he is meshing with Drevno/Harbaugh, etc.  Thanks.


November 23rd, 2017 at 3:28 AM ^

Why have you concluded that he is a phenomenal coach (especially as it relates to being a passing coordinator in college)? 

During his two year stint as OC at Stanford, his results were worse than Al Borges's at Michigan.  (2011: S&P+: Stanford No. 8, Michigan No. 11; 2012: S&P+: Stanford No. 29, Michigan No. 9)  He benefitted during his first year as OC (2011) by having a generational NFL talent at QB (Andrew Luck) playing as a RS Junior; Borges achieved nearly the same ranking without NFL-level QBs.  In his second year, the Stanford offense fell over 20 spots.  The year after Pep left, the offense improved to No. 17.

His other relevant college coaching experience occurred at Howard, where he was offensive coordinator from 1999 to 2001.  (He was also the QB coach.)  I couldn't find much about their offense based on a little digging, but Howard's record those three years was: 5-6 (1999), 3-8 (2000), 2-9 (2001).  (One Washington Post article from 2000 mentions the offense firing blanks most of the year.)

I didn't follow his stints with the Colts (terminated mid-season in 2015) or the Browns (1-15 in 2016) -- I'm sure fans of those teams can weigh in on how he did at those places, although I do not think there is a perfect correlation between college and pro ball.

So, what is it in his past that makes you conclude he is a phenomenal coach?  (I'm not saying that he definitely is not, but I haven't seen anything yet to conclude that he is.)





November 25th, 2017 at 4:31 AM ^

Not that it matters because I'm several days late. But, you can not look at his Stanford tenure and assume his second year was 20 spots worse because luck left and luck was the only reason he has good in year one.
They had turn over all over that offense and broke in a bunch of new starters on the line after replacing NFL guys.


November 22nd, 2017 at 9:42 PM ^

I keep saying Jay Harbaugh is toxic to the team. Think about it that since he is RB coach, and the play calls are mostly on run, and in the meantime, how could they balance the pass and run calls? Because Jay Harbaugh is the son of Jim Harbaugh, he owns the privilege of the preference and that becomes a negative factor to the coaching staffers and send a terrible signal to the players.


November 23rd, 2017 at 9:21 AM ^

Everything with this team, and you concluded that Running Backs coach Jay Harbaugh is the problem?




Edit: Since a lot of folks like to reference Wisconsin as the OL and running game to which UM should aspire, let's take a look.


Wisconsin's top 3 rushers in attempts (Taylor, Shaw, Groshek) have combined for 382 carries, 2273 yards, and 5.95 (5.950) yards per carry.


Michigan's top 3 (Higdon, Evans, Isaac) have combined for 339 carries for 2016 yards and 5.95 (5.946) yards per carry.


I know we can pick this apart and talk about who has how much experience, who can't pass block, etc. etc. etc.


But to conclude that Jay Harbaugh has been the problem this season is laughable. This fan base has too many people freely admitting to the shit they throw at the wall hoping it sticks. 


November 23rd, 2017 at 8:51 AM ^

Have a little fun.  O Korn under center first offensive play with Speight and Peters lined up somewhere.  Run the ball inside.  Football is supposed to be fun.