ORLANDO, FL — The Michigan Wolverines were unable to grab their 10th win of the season on Wednesday, losing the Vrbo Citrus Bowl by a score of 35-16 to Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide. Michigan was competitive and the game was right there for three quarters, but the offense could not muster enough of a consistent attack and the defense was doomed by a handful of big plays despite getting off the field in some big moments.
Here is the full transcript of head coach Jim Harbaugh and linebacker Jordan Glasgow’s press conference courtesy of Florida Citrus Sports.
THE MODERATOR: We’re going to get started with the University of Michigan. We’re joined by Coach Harbaugh. Coach, we’ll begin with an opening statement whenever you’re ready.
COACH HARBAUGH: It’s a hard-fought game. Congratulations to Alabama. I thought both teams played extremely hard, and congratulate them on their victory.
Q. Coach, obviously, losing is never fun, but at one point you had -- as kind of a bright spot for your squad, you had Alabama with more punts on the day than they had third-down conversions made. What do you feel like worked for the defense today?
COACH HARBAUGH: We were doing a good job containing the run and then we created some pressures and got some, first downs and three and outs, had a good stretch in the first half that helped us. Second -- you know, and then we had some big plays and weren’t able to get the turnovers. Ultimately, you know, they – they made some really big plays, made some really good plays, some outstanding catches and throws.
Q. Coach, can you talk about some of the senior leadership? Obviously a loss is devastating to these guys. They want to go out and win. But can you maybe share a story with us about how these guys matured, not only on the field but off the field as well, and what they meant to your program?
COACH HARBAUGH: Yeah. It’s a tremendous group of seniors. And that’s something we talked about in the locker room. You know, they’re the kind of guys that have always represented the program extremely well, always played football the way it should be played, with great effort and passion. And what they’ve done, you know, I have great admiration for and appreciation for. And I want them to come back. This is the kind of senior group that, as they go off and do their life’s work, you want to see them again. You want to keep in touch. You want them to come back and visit and know them, you know. It’s that kind of group.
Q. Jim, Quinn Nordine hit a 57-yarder that tied a school record and hit three field goals for
you. Talk about his effort particularly on that kick.
COACH HARBAUGH: Yeah. It was a tremendous kick. He had been kicking the ball really well leading up to the game, hit three from that same spot in pregame and got a great snap and a great hold and had real good spin on the ball. He hit it perfect.
Q. Coach -- kind of talk about the biggest improvement that you’ve seen in your team collectively and then for you, kind of talk about your personal improvement that you’ve seen overall in the season.
COACH HARBAUGH: Yeah. Our team has improved in just about every area: offensively, defensively, special teams, in many areas. But the leadership out of the group, I think, I would pinpoint at is the best thing, along with the effort. It’s been a group of seniors that have given great effort and leadership throughout their careers and especially this year.
Q. Jim, you guys really had the run game going in the first half. What did Alabama do in the second to try and keep it stopped?
COACH HARBAUGH: They started cutting our edge. That jammed up a few of the outside running plays. But I thought Hassan Haskins and Zach Charbonnet really ran well the whole game. We just -- you know, we didn’t make enough plays, keep enough drives going. We were backed up. The 1- yard line, I think we came out, got the ball out -- we ended up getting a field goal. The time we were on the 4, drove it all the way to the 40. So there was some field position but, I thought our guys moved the ball well in the running game throughout the game.
Q. Jim, obviously you knew about Alabama’s receivers and their speed and everything else. When you’re out on the field with them, does it jump out even more how hard it is to keep up with that receiving corps and maybe their speed in general?
COACH HARBAUGH: It’s an impressive group. Yeah, I would have to say that is as impressive group as you’re going to ever see. They’re fast but they also made the contested catches, made some great catches, ran some tremendous routes and they were able to get behind us two or three times.
Q. Coach Harbaugh, can you just talk about Alabama’s level of excellence over the past decade and what Coach Saban has done? And have you studied that and why do you think they have been able to maintain what they have?
COACH HARBAUGH: Yeah. I think their level of excellence has been at the highest level. I think Coach Saban deserves a great share of that credit, along with the program that they’ve built. It’s at the highest level.
Q. Hi, Jim. Can you talk about Giles Jackson’s evolution this season and how he’s evolved
and what type of elements he brings to your guys’ offense?
COACH HARBAUGH: Yeah. Giles is a real ascending player. Kick returns, had some good ones today. He’s a true freshman. So I didn’t know exactly what you’re going to have in a true freshman, but he has really produced and had a heck of a year. I thought he had a good game today. He made a real tough catch that got us a first down in the game. Can’t say enough good things about him.
Q. Jordan, what has Coach Harbaugh meant to you? What has he taught you in your time
here at Michigan?
JORDAN GLASGOW: I mean, it’s difficult to say right now. I haven’t really, you know, thought about it. I haven’t really reflected that much, as the season ended 10 minutes ago.
But, I mean, my experience at the University of Michigan and Coach Harbaugh-led teams, my brothers have been on them and I was on them for my entire five years. It’s been an honor to be coached by Coach Harbaugh -- by a person who, you know, wants to develop a person’s character as well as their football skills. And it’s difficult to put into words, but it’s just been a pleasure playing for him and for the people that he’s brought in.
Q. Coach, this game, the final score didn’t reflect how close this game really was all the way through. What was the turning point where Alabama was able to create some separation?
COACH HARBAUGH: It was a very competitive game through the half, into the fourth quarter, until, really, until about six minutes left in the game. Their ability to create the big play was critical in the game and their ability to keep us out of the end zone and through the drives. We had long drives and settled for field goals.
I think at the end, you know, stopping us when we had a chance out on the interception and then came back and drove the length of the field for 80 yards or so. You know, that was -- that was a huge difference in the game.
Q. Jim, did you feel like there was an opportunity to hit some bigger plays down the field? We saw Shea take some shots and what did you see from Shea just in terms of not quite being able to connect on some of those?
COACH HARBAUGH: Yeah. There was -- I thought there was some really good coverage. And some of the shot plays, I don’t know that -- I don’t know if he missed any open receivers. I thought Shea had a good game. I thought he did as much as he could in the game.
Q. Jim, with Giles, Hassan, Zach all having these, you know, solid games that they had today, just what does that say about the future of the program and how you feel about the future of the program heading into next year?
COACH HARBAUGH: Well, I feel good about that. I feel good about some of the young players that got great experiences this season and, you know, them getting their opportunity, going to work on that. I mean, as Jordan said this season just ended ten minutes ago, so -- but I know I’m going to be excited about it.