Now that the 18th-ranked Wolverines are approaching their season halfway mark, injuries are starting to play a more prevalent role in Michigan’s lineup. Monday, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh told the media that cornerback Channing Stribling and runningback De’Veon Smith would be back in practice after not travelling to Maryland on Saturday.
"I think (Smith and Stribling) will be back in some form or fashion today and will progress through the week," Harbaugh said.
Added Harbaugh: "Stribling is a very good player … really felt like we needed him, we want him out there. He’s an ascending football player and our hopes are that this is a one-week type of injury."
Michigan was still able to run up the score for a 28-0 victory over Maryland, even in the absence of Smith and Stribling, but the Wolverines lost buck linebacker Mario Ojemudia in the process. The senior, who will be out for the season with an Achilles injury, is out of eligibility when the season ends. Royce Jenkins-Stone will likely take over for now.
"It’s hard to replace a guy like Mario … but the greatest thing about football, you’ve got someone just as hard, pushing right behind you to trying to take your spot and make you better" said linebacker and captain Joe Bolden. "We’ll have somebody who will get in there and get the job done."
Following No. 13 Northwestern’s 27-0 blanking of Minnesota, Saturday’s matchup against the Wildcats is shaping up to be a battle of defense. Harbaugh isn’t discounting the Northwestern offense either, though.
"(No.) 18 is as good a player we’ve faced," Harbaugh said of Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson.
On all accounts, Harbaugh believes that the Wildcats are a "heck of a good football team," with a strong leader in Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald.
"(Fitzgerald) is a great competitor," Harbaugh said. "When I was at Stanford and he was at Northwestern, we first crossed paths on the recruiting trail. I sized him up and said that this guy is a fine, fine coach and a great competitor.
"I got to know him this summer, he came to our football camp. He did a tremendous job talking with the campers and sharing football lessons and life lessons with them."