What Jay Harbaugh said about Michigan football before Indiana

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — While there is still some looking back at what happened this past Saturday, inside Schembechler Hall, all focus is now on Indiana.

Jay Harbaugh oversees two elements of the Michigan football team, as the team’s tight ends coach as well as special teams coordinator. While the program may be looking forward and to get back on track, in his Wednesday media availability, Harbaugh fielded questions about the tight end production against Michigan State, how the special teams fared (including whether or not Brad Robbins was faking the punt or if there were other miscues) and much more.

Here is everything he had to say.

List

What Ron Bellamy said about Michigan football before Indiana

Did Erick All practice on Tuesday?

“Erick was — yesterday was a walkthrough, so he was out there. But the guys weren’t doing a whole lot in terms of intense stuff.”

Will he practice Wednesday?

“I think he will, we’ll see. Monday was the walkthrough. Yesterday, he was out there, but he didn’t do everything. I think he’ll be back at some point in the week.”

How has he emerged this year?

“He’s such a hard worker. He’s the kind of guy that, if you observe him, really his whole career here, you’d say that guy is gonna be really good. Because his habits are so good in terms of he runs routes, the speed in which he practices, the extra work that he puts in, the desire to be really good. It’s really just — with guys like that, it’s just a matter of time because their habits are such that you just know that they’re gonna break through when the opportunity arises. I think everyone was excited to see him have those balls come his way — which doesn’t always happen at the tight end position, especially not at that volume. So it was cool to see both the balls come their way and it was an outstanding day for him, so it was very cool to see. He deserves to have that kind of success.”

What happened on the Brad Robbins play?

“Yeah, as he was dropping the ball to be able to punt it, releasing it to punt it, he lost his grip on it and felt like the defensive linemen that were in there, where the defensive stay, were relatively close to him, which they were. He was aware of the situation like he always is in terms of where the sticks are, was able to try to make an effort to try and get a first down. Just kind of an unusual play that was kind of unfortunate. I’ve known him for a long time, a really long time — I can think of like very, very small amount of times where something like that has happened. Unfortunate miscue by a guy that’s just really trustworthy. Don’t see stuff like that from him very often.”

What went through his mind when MSU kept trying to ice Jake Moody?

“I didn’t say anything to him. Nothing at all, I don’t think. He’s not the guy you want to ice because it’s not gonna affect him. He’s so composed, very confident in both Wags and Brad in terms of the snap and the hold. Yeah, he’s so composed, he’s not really a guy you need to calm down or anything like that. He’s really special, he’s playing at a high level.”

How has Erick All grown from a technical standpoint?

“That’s a tough question. Not as a cop out answer, but the way he approaches things, because of his intensity, he gets better at everything incrementally. When you see the way that he catches the ball, that obviously jumps out because he’s catching it really well. He’s sustaining blocks better than he ever has before. He’s a guy that produces such great force on contact because he bends so well, he gets great leverage and he strikes people like a hammer. Sometimes, he falls off the contact and he doesn’t necessarily finish off the whistle on the same guy. When you watch him closely, you’ll notice this year he’s done a much better job of, OK, making great initial contact, knocking a guy back and then finishing on the man as the play finishes. That’s been cool to see. But really, it’s been hard to pinpoint any one area because the growth has been pretty well-rounded.”

How much is the officiating talked about internally and how much is it scouted beforehand?

“Going into a game, we are aware of who the officials are and if there are any type of noteworthy trends. Typically, there’s nothing that jumps out that much in terms of one crew to the next. But if there is something, that’ll be something our players are aware of. Aside from doing that, we don’t spend a whole lot of time in here talking about good calls or potential bad calls by the officials.”

Do they talk about it after the game?

“I can’t speak for everyone in the building, but it’s not a topic that’s addressed in any type of weekly routine, like, ‘Hey, now we need to talk about what went right and what went wrong.’ We don’t do that. If there’s other conversations, I couldn’t speak to that.”

What he remembers from Hassan Haskins' recruitment

“He was just really good at everything he did. I remember the way that people talked about him was the most special thing because the tape said a lot in terms of his power, his vision, his balance, the strength, the physicality — that was all there. But then you start piecing together the puzzle of, ‘OK, what do his teammates think? What do his coaches think? What do coaches from other teams think? What do teachers. . .?’ As you gather all that, you start to gather that everybody loves the guy, everybody thinks that he’s the best teammate ever. You hear these stories about him running and getting water for other guys. You hear enough and you’re like, ‘Man, this isn’t phony at all. This guy is really loved by everyone.’ You go watch him practice and you see why.

“Those things kind of jumped out to me aside from his physical talent.”

Trente Jones played some tight end on Saturday, does he want to keep him?

“Good look, right? I’m not sure what jersey he’ll wear this week, but he’s probably a potential option. It was a good look for him. He’s done a nice job, he’s practiced really well. His role is increased pretty much weekly in terms of what he’s able to bring. It’s really a credit to what he’s done week-in and week-out kind of out of the public eye, just in Glick and on the practice fields. He’s a guy that when you watch him, you’re like, ‘He’s getting a lot better, he’s doing really good.’ He could probably help us in the game. And when he’s gotten his opportunity, he’s done pretty well, too. Another guy you’re happy for to see have success.”

Would he like to see the tight ends more involved in the red zone?

“I don’t know. We’re just trying to score touchdowns. Red zone offense, yeah, you’d always like to do better. If you can score seven instead of three, you’re gonna have a lot better chance of winning games. In terms of how and who, as a tight end group, it doesn’t make much difference to us if it’s running the ball 100% of the time, throwing the ball 100%, or receivers, tight ends, quarterback runs — whatever it might be. It doesn’t make much difference to us. As a whole, you’re looking at any way you can to be efficient in those areas, especially against a team like Michigan State who is stellar in that phase.”

Are kickers and punters instructed to try to get the first down on a bad snap?

“On a field goal? So, a punt is different than a field goal. A punt, you want to punt the ball if you can still. Which you see, but you don’t see it a ton. You want the punter to know the situation and know the sticks so that if something does go wrong with the snap, he can try to get a first down. In terms of a field goal, you typically do not want the holder to do anything with the ball. Generally speaking, more bad things happen than good on a field goal when the snap is not handled, there is no kick. That’s where you see a lot of holders running, getting hit, they’re fumbling or they’re throwing interceptions. At that point on a play, on a field goal, it’s very unlikely that anything productive is going to happen. So you’d rather just cap the downside and just eat the loss of yardage and give the other team the ball. You don’t see that very much.”

How he's seen players respond

“This year’s team compared to last year’s team? Yeah, I don’t really remember last year quite as well. This year is so different than last year, I’d say they’ve responded extremely well just when you look at last year’s practice, the energy, the enthusiasm to go and go and practice and get back to working hard. I would say, without comparing it to a previous team, this year’s guys on Monday, Tuesday, and hopefully, today, have responded great. Great juice and really the same as they were before. I think that gives a team a chance to be really great if you can approach things the same when you’re having success or when you’re not having as much success, or if you’re playing a great team or a team that’s not quite as well-accomplished. That consistency and preparation and approach is something you’re looking to achieve if you want to be a great team. It’s a long way of saying, yes, it’s pretty good.”

Does he talk to Jake Moody during a game?

“Yeah, I talk to him in a game a lot, but it’s not what people think it is. I don’t have a wealth of experience in terms of being a mental coach for specialists. We’re very fortunate to have two guys that are experienced, they’re knowledgeable about their own craft and everything, so it’s not like, ‘Hey buddy, you’re gonna do great on this,’ whatever — it’s more, if we’re talking about kickoffs, if we’re talking about situation, something like that. We might be talking about the wind, about what might be next, thinking about kicking the ball this way or that way, that type of stuff. More football or schematic or situational stuff more with those two guys than it is with any other things that people might think goes into coaching those two guys. Those two guys might be a little bit of anomalies because of where they’re at in their career with us. Not certain about that, but they’re pretty locked in on game day.”

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