Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh spoke to the media on Monday afternoon to preview Saturday’s game vs. Michigan State. Here’s a quick recap of everything that was said.
- Opens by saying he was excited for the first week of the conference play and the players that were able to have the chance to get on the field.
- Says offensive and defensive battles in practice “are really, really good” and competitive on both sides of the ball. Said there were a lot of things they saw in practice that showed up in the games. Loved to see “havoc” plays created on defense and was happy with the strong passer rating quarterback Joe Milton displayed. “A lot of good. A lot of great play. A lot of hustle with all of our units. The physicality was excellent.”
- Harbaugh says he has just started watching Michigan State. All he knows is that he is confident they will not have seven turnovers again.
- On true freshmen Blake Corum, AJ Henning, Roman Wilson: Really impressed with catching and ball skills to go along with speed. “Tremendous group...a lot of different directions we can go with talent and speed at receiver.” Harbaugh also shouts out wide receivers for strong perimeter blocking from entire group.
- Also liked what he saw from true freshman offensive lineman Zak Zinter on offensive line when pressedinto action. Says he is going to be a special player.
- Harbaugh says they will find out more about tight end Nick Eubanks today and tomorrow. Calls Erick All “the unheralded player of the entire offense” from Saturday night. “I love him. Hes’ a great competitor and a real football player.”
- Fullback Ben Mason “was tremendous.” Harbaugh said he was their player of the game. Said he was probably rightfully penalized on Saturday, but that the block and physicality was exactly what he likes to see out of him. Harbaugh said Mason made a speech to the team before the game with the message being: “Joe, this is your night. We’re going to block, we’re going to catch, we’re going to do everything in our power to make you successful.”
- Harbaugh said that right tackle Jalen Mayfield was good and moving people all night. Said he and center Andrew Vastardis were the offensive linemen of the game. “So motivated to play and so emotionally involved in the game.” All starting linemen graded out high.
- On defensive lineman Taylor Upshaw’s effort play that saved a touchdown: “Unheralded defensive play of the game for me.” That kind of hustle and effort saved them four points. “Taylor is one of my favorites on the team.” Also praised the punt fake stop from Hassan Haskins and Michael Barrett’s kickoff return.
- On Milton and Rocky Lombardi’s first starts in the rivalry: “They’ve been seen it up close and have an understanding of it. I’m pretty sure both of them have an understanding of the magnitude of this game.”
- On cornerback Vincent Gray: “Played really well and graded out really well.” Both he and Gemon Green graded out in “the high 80s/low 90s.”
- Harbaugh said the tempo was “very good” and that his team had a good understanding of the gameplan. “Josh (Gattis) did a coach job of coaching it and implementing it.” Said his guys were “really in shape, too” and that players were emotionally invested in the game.
- Harbaugh on his entire offensive staff returning from last year: “That is definitely an advantage” in a crazy offseason. Said with coaches off the road and not recruiting during a pandemic, there were nearly daily Zoom meetings to prepare and evaluate. “Cohesive group.”
- “It’s different” on the MSU/U-M game being played without fans. Says the blood will still be bumping and it is still for the “state championship” between the two programs. “It’s a really big deal.”
- Harbaugh says that they anticipate safety Daxton Hill will be back practicing mid-week and that he will be “fine.” Same with kicker Quinn Nordin.
- Harbaugh says he believes in his team and respects them with all they have been through and how they have come together.
- Michael Barrett was “lights out” on defense and special teams. “First time I can remember going back to Jabrill Peppers” that a player was both the defensive and special teams player of the game. Then ran through almost the entire defense as players he was impressed by. “Now we know where we’re at and what we can build on and get better at.”
We’ll have more from Harbaugh and players throughout the rest of the day and week here at Maize n Brew.