Harbaugh Post-Scrimmage Q&A

Sunday presented us the first live scrimmage of 2007, and thus the first opportunity to parse the feedback given by Jim Harbaugh on his team in game situations. He may be known for his "enthusiasm unknown to mankind," but Harbaugh offered as much criticism as praise on Sunday. The offense passed, ran and blocked well, but a core failing by the defense sorely disappointed the Cardinal head coach.

I know you have to review the film, but what were your impressions over from this first extended live scrimmage action by your team?

"Some good, some bad.  We need to be a better conditioned football team.  That's popping out to me.  Way too much penalty error offensively.  We need to tackle better.  We just need to be a better tackling football team - there were too many missed tackles.  There were too many guys breaking tackles and getting yards after the first contact for our team right now.  We just need to come together, trusting in their scheme and just playing football.  I was very disappointed with the number of times that wide receivers jumped off-sides.  That's just ridiculous.  That was painfully obvious."

What job did you think T.C. Ostrander did leading the first team offense up and down the field?

"He really did very well.  I thought so for the most part for all of the quarterbacks.  There were no mental errors out of the quarterbacks.  They were very dialed in to what they were doing.  The only time we stopped really was when we stopped ourselves - jumping off-sides, a fumble, a missed assignment.  The quarterbacks played well - all three of them."

I know that you, Scott Shafer and the rest of the defensive coaches want to get in a meeting room on this, but what surprised you that the defense didn't do today that you maybe had seen them do in earlier practices?

"They didn't tackle as well as I wanted and thought they would.  Guys are there.  A two-yard gain isn't a six-yard gain.  We need to tackle better; that's as fundamental as anything I know.  Plays that should be a one- or two-yard gain are going for four, five and sometimes six."

Is it hard then to judge the running backs?  With some of the tackles they broke and then picked up yardage, maybe that is a discredit to the defense, or do you think that Anthony Kimble, Jason Evans and Tyrone McGraw ran particularly well today?

"Yeah, I was pleased with Anthony and Jason.  Tyrone has a lot... I don't know if he's thinking too much, but he's not thinking the right way right now.  He's missing assignments and not picking up blocks in protection.  I don't know if he can block - I really don't right now.  He just might be too little to block."

He did look like he squirted around for some gains when he touched the ball...

"Yeah, he can run the ball, though he had maybe too many moves in the hole.  He has to prove that he can block in pass protection, or we can't have him out there.  He has some things... I was pleased with Anthony and Jason."

It looked like Anthony was only out there the first two or three first team series...

"Yeah, he hurt his elbow.  I haven't gotten a report, just that he was out with elbow."

The offensive line is thin, particularly with three tackles rotating the entire scrimmage for the combined first and second team offenses.  How do you think those guys did in protecting the quarterback?

"I thought the protection was good.  The only time we got pressure, when I saw a guy run through untouched, was a missed assignment.  I can think of three of those.  Back to Tyrone, he hasn't really been out here playing.  He missed six practices.  Standing back there is different when you have live bullets.  I'm not discouraged because I know it was his first day out there.  He will definitely have some things to improve assignment-wise and his physical level.  The tackles - they fought their tails off.  I was really pleased with them."

It looked like your tight ends today were very productive, in particular Ben Ladner and James Dray.  Are they doing a really exemplary job, or are you and David Shaw working really hard to work the tight end into the passing offense?

"For all five eligibles, we are going to spread the ball around.  I think that's [inaudible] we do in this offense.  But I've been very pleased with the tight ends.  Ben Ladner has really stepped up big time, and I'm pleased with him.  Jimmy Dray has been fighting through whatever he's got - I think something with his quad.  And then the other guys, Austin Gunder and Pat Bowe."

The special teams operation you were working on today - what was the goal?

"Punt block and punt protection.  We haven't really been going live with the punt.  It was atrocious.  Brutal.  It was the first time we have done it, but it was atrocious.  Long way to go."

More PATs and field goals for Derek Belch.  Is he starting to show you some consistency?

"Yeah.  Yeah, Derek had a really good day.  We were about to call him up after practice for some wise words before he missed that last one.  He had a good day.  I was about to give him the mythical 'practice ball.' [laughs]"

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