What Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said in his Monday news conference

By Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News
Jim Harbaugh

Topics covered by Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh during his Monday news conference:

On the process of getting Shea Patterson to come to UM

"It was just conversations, really, to see if it'd be a fit for him and for us."

On the reversal of Saturday's targeting call on Donovan Peoples-Jones

"It looked like a launch to the head and neck area."

"When the rule was first put it in that was what they were most trying to get out of the game."

"I don't know if we'll have consistency with that call." 

On Patterson's toughness

"I think all quarterbacks are tough," Harbaugh says. "It's a physically demanding position."

Harbaugh says he brings a level of mental focus that few other players do.

"He always finds energy, over and over, again."

Were you surprised at how well Patterson has taken a leadership role?

"First thing I noticed was how intense he was in practice, how focused he was." 

Harbaugh says it's an every day mentality.

"Was not surprised" to see how well he's progressed. "Been all good since the first day he got here."

Says that his play on third down has "really given the team a big lift." Conversions set up another set of downs and is "throwing the ball really accurately."

Notes that Patterson is seeing the field really well and getting better.

On Josh Uche's pass-rushing success

"He's got a real knack to create speed off the edge and convert that to power when he needs it."

"He's highly determined and motivated and he's a really special player as well."

How did Rashan Gary play Saturday?

"It was really good for the morale of the team and Rashan as well."

"He's somebody that everyone has great respect for. He played really well, too."

What do you say to players to avoid looking ahead to OSU?

"One game at a time."

On the return of Tarik Black

"He's looking good. Everybody's happy to have him back and playing. It's been great for his morale."

On the special-teams effort

"I think our special teams has been doing well." Ben Mason and Tyler Cochran, particularly, have done well... Harbaugh noted Mason's ability to wedge defenders.

Nods to Rutgers' kickoff coverage. "Ridiculous statistics in that department," Harbaugh says. Will Hart has been doing well, also. "It'll be a good challenge this week."

On Devin Bush's leadership

"Tremendous work ethic, great passion for what he's doing" that resonates with people. 

On having a premier running back in Karan Higdon

Both just him being a really good player and Chris Evans injuries have contributed to Higdon seizing the No. 1 role. "Tru Wilson's also played extremely well."

Says he's happy with the backs, "Karan the most." Ball-security is the most impressive thing, along with yards after contact and fighting for extra yards, plus his "ability to break the long one." 

On where the credit goes for the improvement of the offensive line

"They're being very well-coached and they're improving well individually."

Now that you've had time to look back, what's the growth been with the O-line?

"I think we're the only team in the country who's had a back rush for over 100 yards seven straight games," Harbaugh says. "Karan's (Higdon) running the ball hard and well. He's getting hit, too, and not fumbling the ball."

"I can think of five (times) in the last ball game" where Higdon's been hit hard, and held onto the ball.

Offensive line has missed a few assignments, but not many. Considers how rare they've received holding/procedure penalties.

"No illegal chop blocks, no high-lows..." playing very good in that regard, Harbaugh says.

Who's the No. 2 quarterback?

"Definitely Brandon (Peters) and Joe (Milton) will be competing for that spot." 

Harbaugh adds that the issue with Milton's redshirt eligibility will be considered, as well as looking ahead to potential post-season play when considering how many games he plays in this season.

Cesar Ruiz's contribution in the offensive line

"Cesar's personality is one that everyone enjoys being around." Very professional, enthusiastic, "down to earth good person."

Harbaugh notes the offensive line's play against Penn State, who leads the country in tackles-for-loss, was very good.

"It was outstanding that we were able to stay on schedule and avoid the negative plays."

Discipline it takes to play cornerback; Brandon Watson's play

It takes a lot of discipline and athleticism to play man-to-man coverage, Harbaugh says. When they recognize it's a run, they have to get involved in the run. Comparing a wide receiver to defensive back in terms of athleticism, it's comparable, and that also applies to the linebacker position, Harbaugh adds. It's much more difficult to do man-to-man than zone.

Watson has played "outstanding."

"I think we're tied right now in the country with four pick-sixes."


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