Season's end, coaching exits leave Michigan's Chris Partridge with 'blood in my mouth'

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Back-to-back losses to close the season, plus the departures of coaches Greg Mattison and Al Washington to Ohio State, fuel Chris Partridge, Michigan's safeties and special-teams coach.

Ann Arbor — Chris Partridge sounds like a heavyweight boxer, his face bloodied but his will bolstered and his determination at an all-time high.

Partridge, who coaches Michigan’s safeties and is special-teams coordinator, can’t stop thinking about the way the regular-season ended last fall, a 62-39 rout at arch rival Ohio State. And if that blow wasn’t enough, the one-two punch that followed in January, when longtime defensive line coach Greg Mattison left to become Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator, and Al Washington left to coach linebackers after one season in that role with the Wolverines, elevated his fierce approach entering this upcoming season to another level.

“I’ve got blood in my mouth, there’s no qualms about it,” Partridge said Thursday afternoon. “For me the motivation is how last year … I don’t wake up a day and not think about it, that’s for sure. I know (defensive coordinator) Don (Brown) feels the same way. And I want to be candid, those guys (Mattison and Washington) left, and it was another shot, and it wasn’t OK.

“That’s how I feel. I’m not speaking for anyone else. I’m ultra-motivated. I make sure my guys that I get in front of, they hear it and they know that every single day I wake up, I’m motivated. I want to take this thing, I want to hit it in the mouth and go get it. I just think each person is motivated their own way, but I know my personal opinion. I’m going to coach harder than I ever imagined I could coach, I’m going to be more aggressive than I have ever have been before. We’re going to try to make sure that scoreboard never looks like it did last year.”

Partridge, with a glint in his eye, was asked if he has any desire to speak to either coach who left for the Buckeyes.

“No desire. No desire at all,” he said. “I’m not the kind of guy that’s going to reach out or anything like that. I’ve been here going into my fifth year, I consider myself an alumni at Michigan just like someone goes four years and graduates. I’m here, I’m Michigan, I’m Go Blue all the way, so I don’t have a desire.”

Brown earlier this spring called the way the season ended, after a 10-game winning streak and a national championship playoff berth on the line, “the most disappointing experience I’ve ever been through in my entire life.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh gave his players T-shirts at the start of spring with the scores of the three losses last season on the backs. Harbaugh also said at the start of spring practice that while he understands coaching moves — Mattison is making nearly twice at Ohio State what he made at Michigan — he has no intention of sending Mattison a Christmas card.

Jordan Glasgow, who is playing a variety of roles on defense, including viper, said the players are focused on how last season ended and not allowing that to happen again.

“We’re keeping that in the forefront of our minds in spring ball and obviously going forward into the offseason coming up,” Glasgow said. “What’s the point of winning 10 games straight if we don’t win the last one in the regular season, which determines what games we play after that and then our bowl game. The last games are the most important no matter how we did previously. It’s aggravating it turned out that way toward the end of the season. It would be safe to say that everyone is feeling pretty upset and pretty empowered by what happened.”

Glasgow said while he understands coaching departures, some moves are harder to understand than others.

“As players we see coaches leave pretty often for new or better roles that they feel might be better. It’s upsetting to see a coach leave, especially a coach leave for a university that we dislike a lot. Do I hold anything against them personally? I haven’t seen them in person, so it’s hard to tell how I would actually react in talking to them. It’s just difficult to say. There’s a lot of things that go through your head.”

Twitter: @chengelis