The Michigan Wolverines have a lot of work to do as a football team before the Nov. 27 showdown with Ohio State. A 2-0 start has done wonders for a program trying to get off on the right foot this year, but the elephant in the room continues to be how they stack up against the Buckeyes.
The Wolverines feel their best shot at that is matching up with them physically. In fact, they have renamed one of their drills “Beat Ohio” in practices.
“The 9-on-7 drill. It’s an inside run type of drill where you’re not running any trick plays, defenses aren’t,” Harbaugh said this week. “It’s who can block a man, who can get off a block. You’re basically running three types of running plays. Play in one or two defensive fronts. It’s something that our offensive line and defensive line have really embraced.
“When that period comes up, whether it was a practice in the spring or fall camp, we did it every day we had pads on, and we do it every Tuesday and we do it Monday during the season. That has become a drill of emphasis. Look forward to it. Excitement. They wanted music, so we play music during that drill. That game felt like a 9-on-7 drill. Both teams were trying to turn it into that type of game and our guys have embraced it and had a lot of practice at it.”
The 9-on-7 drill is a physical, downhill running session that many teams use to get the temperature up in practices. Guard Trevor Keegan says the team has embraced it.
“Years prior, we’d call it a 9-on-7, which is what the drill is, but this year, we changed it to the ‘Beat Ohio’ drill,” Keegan said. “Now we’re blasting music, smelling salts, everything. It’s a pretty physical period. We love it!”
Offensive tackle Andrew Stueber said the renaming of the drill has helped it to carry more meaning with the players in the Michigan locker room.
“Yeah, it’s always been a focus on us. It’s always been a period we take a lot of pride in,” Stueber said. “I’m not really sure when it got changed. But it kinda came along with the whole tradition of, ‘What are you doing to beat Ohio State every day?’ Kinda taking that rivalry into focus every day is a big focus for us.
“I’m not sure when it got named, but I’m happy it did and it’s definitely brought a lot of energy and passion into that period.”