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Key quotes from Jim Harbaugh’s pre-UNLV press conference

Harbaugh spoke about feeling the love, the pass protection, and leaders on the team stepping up in his absence.

Vrbo Fiesta Bowl - Michigan v TCU Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

In Jim Harbaugh’s first absence from the team since he started coaching Michigan, Saturday appeared to go smoothly for the Wolverines.

Harbaugh sat on Sherrone Moore’s couch and ate sandwiches with Moore’s two daughters and Harbaugh’s youngest son, Johnny. While Harbaugh couldn’t be on the field with his team, the Wolverines showed support for their coach and beat East Carolina, 30-3, in their opening game of the season.

Here is what Harbaugh had to say in his Monday press conference.

  • On his overall impressions of the game, Harbaugh said, “It was good. Excellent. I really loved what I saw out of our team. Colonel Minnich, one of my lifelong friends, sent me a message and he said that there’s a military saying that ‘the true side of your leadership is where your unit does when you aren’t there.’ For us, I thought it was really great. Our captains, our senior leadership, and our coaches were phenomenal. When we started fall camp, I told the team that Moses had 70 leaders. How many of you do you think we need? More. We need a lot more. And I think we have that, and it’s building. Talk about turning a negative into a positive. I just love where our team is at. It’s a unique opportunity to build leadership, build leaders because they have a chance to make those incredible leadership (pathways). And personally, that’s great. It’s great watching the team. play fast, physical, smart, and tough, and personally, I felt the love from our team and from the Michigan faithful. So good day.”
  • On Jay Harbaugh and Mike Hart splitting head coaching duties against UNLV: “Jay is gonna take them pregame and through the first half and Mike is gonna have the halftime adjustments and take the team from start of halftime on to the end of the game.”
  • Harbaugh on J.J. McCarthy’s performance: “J.J. was magnificent. He was 26-for-30. And that’s the highest (completion) percentage, 87.6 percent, in the history of Michigan football for anybody who’s thrown 30 or more passes. So it was tremendous, downfield, tough throws, tight window throws, could have had even more if J.J. wouldn’t have been flushed on the one (yard line) because of the protection and could have gotten the ball to (Colston Loveland), he probably would have gone for a lot more. But all that being said, it’s tremendous, really proud of him. The way he played the pass protection was outstanding, and it’s step one of the process. J.J. will reset and go back to work this week.”
  • When asked if Will Johnson and Rod Moore have a chance to play this week: “I think there’s an opportunity to play this week. We’ll see.”
  • Harbaugh on the defensive effort: “Defensively, it was fast, physical, smart, disciplined, no penalties on the defense the entire game. I don’t think we had any in the first half and we had five in the second half, one on special teams and four on offense. The pass rush was really good. They were throwing the ball quickly. And we were close on a few (sacks) especially Kenneth Grant who got two quarterback hurries, and one led to the interception with Mike Sainristil. But the run wall in the in pass coverage, I thought it was outstanding.”
  • Harbaugh also gave shoutouts on the defensive side of the ball: “The linebackers played extremely well. Junior Colson, Mike Barrett was a real tone-setter in the game. You see right off the bat. The way he was playing, two really good hits in the first two plays. Keshaun Harris, Keon Sabb, Josh Wallace. (Wallace) played a great game. Tough technicality of a rule on an incredible interception. Mason Graham had a heck of a game. Mike made the big play and he was all over the field — but overall, I thought it was a heck of a game, and we kept them under 250 yards.”
  • With two transfer offensive linemen from Stanford, center Drake Nugent, and right tackle Myles Hinton, Harbaugh gave them both a lot of praise: “I thought they played really well. Miles had a great camp. It’s great to see him go out there and play extremely well. The pass protection was as good as you could hope for. There was a blitz scheme (by ECU), some good blitz plans and they were executing them well, too, and we were picking them up. So that was a huge positive. All five who were in there protected really well. The center has a lot to do with that, making the calls and adjustments up front. So they played really well.”
  • Davis Warren backed up McCarthy this week, but Harbaugh said every quarterback will get a chance to play: “Jack Tuttle will be the first in this week for us (behind J.J.). Jayden Denegal and Alex Orji will still be considered.”

At 1-0, Harbaugh still needs to sweat through two more games. This week against UNLV, Jay Harbaugh will coach the first half, and Mike Hart will coach the second half.