I've had the pleasure of being in Ann Arbor a handful of times during my twenty five years of existence. However, I must admit it's been awhile. I haven't had the opportunity to roam the streets of this wonderful town since the days of the Jim Harbaugh-Charles Woodson Golf Tournament. That all changed this weekend, as I had two dreams come true in the same day... attending a game at The Big House, and the chance to hang out on the sideline before the game.
Although I could write an entire article about the great tailgate food I had, I'm going to focus on what I witnessed on the sideline. During pre-game warm-ups, the Wolverines were on fire. The looks on all the players and coaches were that of soldiers going into battle. Confident, conditioned, prepared. There wasn't a whole lot of talk between players, they were too focused on the task at hand to have fun in conversation. I've been on sidelines of NFL teams before games, and I can truly say I've never felt this type of energy I have from a team as a whole until Saturday at Michigan.
Tough. Toughness everywhere. I watched running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley get his group prepared. Wheatley's determination was resonating profoundly well with the group. They were banging pads hard and looked to really enjoy doing so. Wheatley's demeanor, albeit strong, was that of positive enthusiasm. He continued to tell players "great job!" And he wasn't kidding, how they practiced translated into how well the group played on the field.
Then I walked over to offensive coordinator Tim Drevno, getting the offensive line prepared. Out of any coach, Drev looked the most fired up! During the drills Drevno had the o-line going through preparations at a fast pace, leading to quick bursts off the ball and the great sound of shoulder pads smacking at an earth shattering loudness. It was my favorite part of the day, because once I saw this part of the warm-ups I knew Michigan was going to bring it!
Everywhere I looked I saw nothing but optimism manifesting in different forms. I took a minute to watch Tight Ends coach Jay Harbaugh prepare his group by playing cornerback against the tight ends, helping his players go through the motions. Not only was Jay's form good, it was obvious he was having a blast prepping his players by running around with them. Jay has earned his keep, but it is apparent he knows he is living the dream, loving his job, loving football. Football should be hard work, but it should be fun too. Jay showed that. I got a huge kick out of watching him. His attitude is resoundingly positive, and that will continue to resonate well with Michigan players.
Lastly, I watched some of Coach Jim Harbaugh getting Jake Rudock prepared. Harbaugh was as serious as always, and you could tell Rudock was feeding off Harbaugh's energy before the game. Rudock looked quite sharp with his throws and footwork, and then he went out during the game and put up his best numbers as a Wolverine thus far.
On the other side of the field was BYU. I viewed how they were preparing, viewed the body language of the players, viewed the speed of how they were practicing. BYU looked slower, not as strong, not as mentally prepared. This did not look like a team of soldiers ready to go into battle. I said before the first snap. "Michigan is going to kill them." On that day, kill them they did.
All in all, what a great experience I had. A privilege it was to be down low and see one hundred thousand plus above me. I'm ready for the next home game! Until then, GO BLUE.