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Jim Harbaugh breaks down Michigan’s ‘defensive masterpiece’ against Iowa

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Michigan’s defense had a dominating effort from start to finish against Iowa

Rutgers v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines won a tightly contested, low scoring affair over the Iowa Hawkeyes 10-3. Michigan’s victory wouldn’t have happened without a lights out performance by their defense.

“That was a defensive masterpiece. Our defense, (defensive coordinator) Don Brown, the coaching staff, our players,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said at his press conference. “Don called a great game, very well prepared. Player-wise, it was just obvious from play one to the last play of the game that everybody was hustlin’, and runnin’, and playing with great effort.”

The Michigan defense amassed 8 sacks, forced four turnovers, including three interceptions and one forced fumble. Going into the game Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley had a 8:0 TD:INT ratio, but threw three picks in this one.

Simply, the gameplan for Michigan’s D worked.

“It was a great plan defensively. Don during the week, he said he might jump off a tall building if some of those isolation plays work because they really thought they had ‘em. And really felt the players had a great week of practice and knew exactly what to do, how to do it, and did it with great intensity and great effort and to hold a team to one yard rushing, that’s a masterpiece.”

The unit needed great intensity and great effort from whistle to whistle, as the Hawkeyes had a shot at tying the game with under a minute to go. But just like they did all day long, the defense got the job done and the Hawkeyes turned the ball over on downs.

The defensive line was especially fearsome throughout the day, accounting for 4.5 of Michigan’s 8 sacks. “They were just relentless up front,” Harbaugh said. “Tip of the cap to (defensive line coach) Shaun Nua, too. He’s got them coming off the ball and playing relentless up front.”

It wasn’t just the play from Michigan’s front seven that impressed Harbaugh, the effort from the Wolverines secondary stood out also. “The corner play really stood out, I thought Ambry (Thomas) and Lavert (Hill), Vince Gray, they played great. That’s as good of corner play as you’re gonna see. The safeties, Brad Hawkins had another really good game. Josh Metellus, really good, big interception.”

Harbaugh noted that the defense wasn’t put in good situations throughout the day due to bad starting field position for a lot of the day, which made their performance all the more impressive. “That’s why I really call it a masterpiece ‘cause they were put in tough situations and in tough situations they responded.”