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Daily Brews: Jim Harbaugh ‘thrives under pressure,’ other notes from BTN appearance

Harbaugh says he lives for the pressure.

2021 Big Ten Football Media Day Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images
Daniel Plocher Dan Plocher contributes to Maize n’ Brew in several areas including podcasts, game previews/recaps, and various YouTube videos.

The Big Ten Network is moving through the conference going to practices and talking with players and coaches about their preparation for the 2021 season. On Friday, they stopped by Ann Arbor and spoke with Jim Harbaugh, Aidan Hutchinson, A.J. Henning, and Josh Gattis.

Here are some notes of what they said in the preview of the Michigan Wolverines upcoming season:

Jim Harbaugh:

  • Praised the energy from the players and coaches in practice.
  • Said that Aidan Hutchinson, Josh Ross and Brad Hawkins are leading by example with their experience.
  • What defines a successful season for the Wolverines? Harbaugh takes that as the team getting better every day. The formula to getting there, according to Harbaugh, is improvement leading to success. That leads to championships and all the goals they want to have at the end of the season.
  • The pressure this season is what Harbaugh is feeding on. He explains that this isn’t the first time he is in a pressure situation and that it is “life-giving energy” to him. He boasts that he “kind of thrive(s) in that environment.”

Aidan Hutchinson

  • Projected to be one of the best defensive ends in the country, Hutchinson said the switch to standing up on the outside “brings out the best in me”. He continued saying he could play “a lot of different places on that defensive line.” He’s confident defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald will put him in the right situation to succeed.
  • Praised Harbaugh and the strength and conditioning coaches led by Ben Herbert, for getting the team prepped for the season and for leading by example with their energy.
  • Hutchinson said that “all the guys are bought-in” to Macdonald’s defense. Said he is a great teacher and has been hands-on with all the position groups.

A.J. Henning

  • Said there was a transition for him in the second year of Josh Gattis’ system. He felt he didn’t have a defined role as a freshman and was taking his time learning the system. This year, Henning said he’s more comfortable with the playcalling and is ready to make an impact.
  • Speaking on the quarterback, Henning said Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy are “setting the bar really high.” He called both competitors and leaders, saying both have had really strong camps.
  • The wide receiver room is one of the stronger units of this team. Henning touched on the closeness of the group, led by Ronnie Bell. Said they have a lot of “speed and playmaking ability”, something that has been echoed out of camp several times over the past few seasons.
  • Henning said the defense is coming together and is “giving it to (the offense) every day.”

Josh Gattis

  • Wants leadership from the quarterback spot, first. Explained that is the person who rallies the team and makes everyone better. The team needs a guy who the whole team believes in, both on offense and defense. He’s noticed all the quarterbacks have stepped up and have become leaders on the team, both on and off the field.
  • Gattis commended McNamara for his leadership starting in the second half of the 2020 season and never stopped fighting after losing the starting gig to Joe Milton to open the year. Thought the team rallied around McNamara when he took over a season ago because of his energy and leadership. Even with his athletic prowess, Gattis thinks the trust he has built with his teammates is what has gotten the team behind him.
  • Called McCarthy, who will backup McNamara in 2021, a “natural born leader”. Said the winning he has had at every level is indicative of that. Garris admired his drive, demeanor, and approach saying he “carries himself as a savvy veteran” even though he is a true freshman. McCarthy is pushing the quarterback room and is setting the bar even higher for McNamara.
  • On Alan Bowman: he’s been around the block (previously as the starter at Texas Tech). But said the whole room has a long way to go still. Said that bringing the quarterback room along will bring the team along.
  • Said the offensive coaches (with changes to titles and new guys coming in) have to “build the identity (of the offense) together.” Explained that it’s not about what they have all done in the past, but how they can help the players they currently have now on the roster. Wants the chemistry and love of the coaching staff to run off on the players.
  • Touched on the offensive line, saying they have great chemistry, lots of experience (8 guys who have started before), and new coaching in Sherrone Moore that will help them continue to get better.

You can watch the whole show focused around the team here:

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