- Partridge going back to New Jersey
- Quinn Nordin's confidence
- The backup kicker job
- Some great Juwann Bushell-Beatty stories
[After THE JUMP: Chris Partridge got jokes!]
Rashan (Gary) said New Jersey has a different smell, a different feel when you go back. Does it?
“Different smell, maybbe the air, used to growing up there, so the air’s a little different. Does have a different feel. Those guys, I know those guys are excited for it. So, it’s awesome to go back home and be able to play in front of your home crowd. I can only imagine how many tickets they’re gonna need.”
How about you?
“Yeah, doing good. I’m excited. Same thing. Probably have a lot of people at the game, expecting family to go and everything like that, for sure.”
So how many tickets?
“Ah, shoot. I don’t know yet. But I’m not gonna go too crazy. I know my parents are going, a bunch of friends are probably going. But they’ll just get tickets on their own, I would think, and tailgate.”
Not hard to get?
“Yeah, not hard — yeah. Maybe not. Maybe not.”
Chris, is there any concern right now with Quinn (Nordin), where he is kicking-wise?
“Yeah, I mean, there’s a concern abobut that whole unit. It’s a frustrating unit. We dropped a snap and our elft end decided not to block on the one last week. It’s a whole unit deal. Quinn starts it. He’s the head of it. But that is a concern, for sure. That’s something we’ve ben putting time in, a lot recently and a lot this week. We gotta get that thing right for the end here. So, yeah. But it is a concern, for sure.”
Unfair to put it on just him, is that what you’re saying?
“Oh yeah. It is unfair. But at the same time, he’s gotta be better. And take control of that thing. Thent here’s a bunch of different factors that go into that.”
What happened on that blocked field goal? Was it miscommunication?
“On, no, no. We just did not execute. We just decided to not use technique and just had a mental mistake at the left end spot.”
So it wasn’t anything Penn State did, like overloading that spot?
“No. No overload, no nothing. They just rushed over the gap and we didn’t — we just had a mistake that kids sometimes have. Gotta get it fixed, or get someone that’s not gonna make the mistake in there.”
What have you seen from Quinn’s mentality?
“Good. He had a heck of a day yesterday. That wind was howling and he went 5-for-5 in our live sessions. And was good. Confident. You go through peaks and valleys, but you gotta keep pushing. That’s one thing we teach them. You gotta keep pushing through. And keep figuring it out. He had a really good day yesterday. I’m encouraged by it.”
It’s frustrating, I guess, cause you said it’s something different almost every time. But would you almost rather it be that than a consistent issue. Like, you could you fix — if it’s different problems. Do you know what I’m saying?
“Yeah. I think you’d rather be good. But yeah, I don’t know. It’s like anything. You have an issue, whether it’s breakdowns in multiple spots or breakdowns in one spot, you gotta get it fixed. You gotta get everyone working together. So, that’s our challenge right now. But yeah, frustrating. And we’ve had various breakdowns in multiple spots, for sure.”
You have an unusual perspective for (Juwann) Bushell-Beatty. A college coach who’s seen him — how old was he when you saw him for the first time? What was he then and what has he evolved into?
“Oh man. Whoo. That’s a loaded question. So the first time I saw Juwann, he was dribbling a basketball for the basketball team, in the summer of his freshman year, with two hands. Trying to get down the court at about 350 pounds. ANd I said to the basketball coach, ‘Can I please just have him?’ He said, ‘Go ahead.’ So that was the first time he ever stepped on the football field, was about two days later for summer practice. And Juwann, it’s been a long road, because he had never played before. And he was shorter — a little shorter as a freshman in high school — but h=just as heavy. So we put it in. He put it in. I just remember, after his freshman year, I sat him down and was like, ‘Ok, how do I — does this kid want to keep playing?’ Cause it was a struggle for him early. And when I sat him down, I’ll never forget this, I said, ‘What do you want out of your football career? Do you want to continue this? What do you want?’ And he looked me dead in the eye and he said, ‘I want to get a college scholarship.’ And from that point on, I said, ‘Ok. Well, from that point up, it’s gonna take a hell of a lot of work. And more work than a lot of other people are gonna have to do.’ And then from that point on, I knew that I could push him as far and hard as I wanted to, I felt like he needed to be pushed. For the next two years, after practice, Juwann would get on the treadmill and walk and he would be with the O-line coach constantly, trying to improve his craft. And he got better and better and better. It’s a lot like his college career. He came in here — he was still unpolished. He played four years of high school football, started for two for us, and then came in here and was really unpolished and had to put in the work. ANd he’s gotten better and better and better. And now he’s reaping the rewards.”
What did you see in him then that kind of allowed you to put the investment in him?
“I saw a guy that, through struggles wouldn’t quit. He kept pushing. And then I saw a determination. ANd he had a strong desire. ANd just started loving the game. When someone loves the game when they have no idea what they’re doing, and they might be out of shape and things might be going on, he just showed a love of the game. I knew that this game, you just keep working and you keep pushing and you put in the time and you remain humble and all that stuff, it has a way of just fixing itself and allowing you to be a great player. And he obviously has the size. So he had that component already. It’s been awesome. I guess I’ve known him for 10 years now, almost. Nine or 10 years. So really, really good. Really proud of him.”
And you’ve seen a big jump, even this year?
“Oh yeah. I see a big jump week to week. I think he’s just consistently getting better, so I think he can just continue to do that and continue to put the work in. He’ll constantly get better throughout this season and hopefully into the future.”
Do you ever talk about that at all in the winter and spring? Cause this was like, burn the boats time for Juwann. It was now or never
“Yeah. So Juwann is on the other side of the ball at another position. So, I really try to tread lightly with anything except some motivational stuff, right. You never want to get into someone else’s deal. But I just remember, talks in the winter this year with him was — so I had gone vegan last year. Me and Jay (Harbaugh) it’s a long story, but we had a bet and kinda did that. So my talk — I felt like Juwann, that he needed to cut some weight. So I made a little wager to him that, if we wasn’t to a certain weight by this date, then he would have to go vegan from now until the end of the season. So he’s like, ‘No way.’ So he cut his weight down. Then I said, ‘Oh yeah, you’re at that weight. That’s great, but what I meant is, in two months, you have to be at this weight or you’re gonna go vegan throughout the whole season.’ And he got it. He made every goal. So just really didn’t want to go vegan.”
“Are you still doing the workout that Ben (Herbert) gave you?
“Oh yeah, I am. So I hurt constantly. But it’s been really good though. I feel good, feel in shape. Hopefully when the season ends, I’ll ramp it up even more and get all jacked up like the players are.”
With Juwann, you identified him as a football player just watching him on the basketball court?
“Well, no. I identified him as someone who can’t play basketball.”
“That was a really big guy that should not be on the basketball court. So I said, ‘Come on with us. We got a home for you.’ ”
But you saw enough athleticism?
“Yeah. Of course. No doubt. For sure.”
You’re not worried that you robbed the world of the next Jordan?
“Nope. I think he’s in the right spot, for sure.”
On both the return teams, when you see how they seem to be breaking some but then they get called back due to penalties, what do you do to fix that?
“Well, I don’t know. I don’t know how much you can fix the kick return last week. If kicking someone’s butt is a penalty nowadays, then sure. But he didn’t grab, he didn’t hold. He pancaked a guy. And they called a flag. So there is no fixing. It was, ‘Hey, you did a heck of a job. Everyone on the kick return did a hell of a job. And Ambry (Thomas) broke it. It was beautiful.’ So that was a frustrating one, cause you take a great moment away from a unit and a player, a 60-yard return. I think we’re doing a fabulous job on punt return, making the right decisions now. You see them using different techniques and not just going for killshots or not hitting people in the back. We gotta keep that rolling. I’m really encouraged. And we challenged the return teams last week, cause we all know, they had a really dynamic returner that had broken a couple and done some really good things. So we challenged them to beat those guys. TO have better return numbers. To flip the field position. And they just demolished them. They did a heck of a job. Whenever you have two over-25 yard punt returns and break a kick return, even though it got called back, I thought we did a really good job. I was really proud of the kickoff team, too. On the re-kick. I understood what they thought. Hey, we kicked the ball out of bounds. (Jake) Moody had — a freshman — he’s gonna have a couple of those. I told him that’s the last one. But I know on their side, it’s like, ‘Alright, well we have a great kick returner and they just sprinted down the field. So maybe they’ll be a little tired. Let’s try to get them to re-kick it.’ And we covered that. Ben Mason slaughtered about three people on that one. … So that was encouraging as well.”
For no other reason except wanting to know who backs him up, who is behind Quinn?
“It would be Moody. But that’s — Moody is, he’s continuing to work. And he does a great job on the kickoffs, putting it where we need that ball to be. And he’s continuing to work as a field goal kicker, and he’ll have a bright future there. We just gotta make sure, when we put him in, he’s ready to be put in the game. We’re encouraged, too, by him as the backup.