Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh is finally back as the head coach of the Wolverines after the conclusion of his three-game suspension.
As he spoke to the media on Monday, Harbaugh had a lot to say about what he learned in his absence from the team, his thoughts on the coaches and players stepping up, injury updates, and new policies he wants to implement going forward.
- Harbaugh spent the first 10 minutes describing what it was like watching the games from home: “Watching it on TV, you can see the things (differently). When I’m there, I’m in it, and you’re doing everything in real-time and telling people what to do and how you see it.”
- Harbaugh also discussed his newfound appreciation for the little things in the game like trying to take pressure off his players: “You watch the game, and (there are) so many feelings of ‘Hey, just win. Just win the game. By one point.’ One point is what we’re really after. And I don’t know if maybe there’s been too much pressure on the players that they have to win by 40 points or 30 points or 25 points. That’s a lot. Making sure our team knows that the goal is to win the game.”
- Harbaugh was very pleased with how the defense played against Bowling Green, and how they have built on their success every week: “Talk about being happy for the guys' success. The shining light that our defense was in this game was tremendous, a tremendous performance. Some of the numbers, (we have) the No. 1 scoring defense in the country right now. We’re giving up 15 points in three games.”
- Harbaugh also gave a long shoutout to a veteran defensive back: “Quinten Johnson was the guardian of victory. Just squashed the momentum right before the half there and it really set us up well. He got a game ball and a guardian of victory sticker for defense. But also, he got a game ball for (being) player of the game on special teams. He had a rep against (Bowling Green’s) best player. Remarkable. One of the best defensive reps that we have ever seen. He had a tackle and crushed it.”
- He then switched gears to the offense. With the explosive start to the season by Cornelius Johnson and Roman WIlson, Harbaugh had only nice things to say about his top two receivers: “ (Cornelius Johnson) put together three really good games, catching the ball and making big plays. We challenged him last week to be a better blocker on the perimeter, and he was, as were all of our wide receivers. Roman Wilson again. The way he’s blocking, all three games, and the production of getting open. Everything has been great.”
- Harbaugh said he doesn’t want data analysts to override coaching decisions. Sitting at home, he said he wants to make sure, “There’s just absolutely no coaching whatsoever (by data analysts). They gotta protect us. They want to protect them and want to protect me and we’ve done an incredible job. I mean, gone to the nth degree to follow every rule, but just actually watching the game and not being on the sideline, I saw it from a different perspective.”
- On J.J. McCarthy’s three interceptions: “Where were we just at? We were comparing touchdowns to incompletions ratio. Now we’re talking touchdowns to interceptions. There’s no way that’s going to continue. I mean, it’s not going to happen. As a player, you want confidence, you want (to be an) aggressor, optimistic. Everything’s gonna work out. And sometimes, as a football player, optimistic bias can get you in trouble.”
- He added on his confidence in J.J.: “Specifically, let it rip. But see the throw, see the completion, and be in a good base. One (interception) came with eye discipline, threw another one like a fadeaway jumper that he didn’t have to fade away on. That one did not get intercepted, but could have, threw it right over a defensive tackle. That one got tipped and was actually a completion, but there’s no question that (doesn’t need to happen).”
- Finally, Harbaugh declined to comment on Sherrone Moore pulling right tackle Myles Hinton from the game. When asked a few times about it, he responded, “I don’t know exactly. I don’t know exactly.” Moore turned to LaDarius Henderson at left tackle and put Karsen Barnhart at right tackle after making that move on Saturday.
The Wolverines will get to work this week as they prepare for Big Ten play on Saturday against Rutgers at noon.