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Jim Harbaugh: ‘We’re not gonna fall in love’ with first game performance

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Harbaugh likes the start, but knows there’s a ton of work.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Michigan Wolverines took care of their business on Saturday afternoon in a 47-14 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos. It was about as good a start as they could hope for as they continue to work to put 2020 behind them.

Michigan had contributions from all phases of the game, which had to make Jim Harbaugh feel good about the work that was put in this offseason. Everyone in the building knows they are on notice this year and Saturday was a good first step.

Harbaugh discussed the performance from both sides of the ball after the Michigan victory:

“Some great play. Let’s just start with Dax Hill — he was all over the field, making plays in the secondary, pass breakups, physical tackles, playing behind the line of scrimmage on the screen passes and the bubbles. I just thought he had a tremendous game. Aidan Hutchinson — tremendous. Both the lines, I thought, played really physical. They were in shape, they were well-prepared. I thought the whole team, players, the coaches — everyone together had the team well-prepared for this game. Cade McNamara — thought he played a very efficient — seeing the field well, making the right throws. All the right decisions. He moves our team. All the drives he’s been in, I think he’s about 66% — we score points when he’s out there. 14-to-21. “Blake Corum, tremendous game. Total yards over 200. Over 100 rushing and 80 on the kickoff return. Special teams — a tremendous performance on special teams. The way they were running and blocking and tackling. Tackle inside the 10. A punt return. A blocked field goal. Real solid play the entire day. “We were all great — great effort. Loved how our guys played, played a lot of guys. 73 players played in the game. Just worried about Ronnie Bell right now. As we come out of this game, that’s the biggest concern. He’ll get an MRI tonight and we’ll find out the severity of the injury.”

Despite the things that went well, Harbaugh told his team after the game that they should not be reading their press clippings. There is still work to do.

“I really thought they executed well,” he said. “And we can get better. I told the team in the locker room after the game, ‘We’re not gonna fall in love with our stuff because we could get better.’ But I thought in terms of first game, making adjustments, playing with poise. Sometimes we had too many guys on the field — I had to call two timeouts with 12 out there. We sometimes were taking a little too long making the adjustments. There’s things we’ll improve on. But overall, I thought it was, as I said, to execute the amount of things that were in defensively, adjustments, there were disguises, there were some blitzes that really timed up well and hit good. There’s just little things. All these things to improve on. But I thought they really executed at a high level today. And adjusted well.”

Michigan had what looked like a complete performance, but Harbaugh was not satisfied. But he did feel like his team was prepared and complimented their commitment to the process this offseason.

“I guess I wouldn’t characterize it as a complete game — I’d be in love with it. We’re not gonna quite do that. I really thought the team was prepared. I thought the players themselves — they’ve been doing this since back in February when it was cold. They were there in the spring, they were there in the summer, they were there in the hot days in August. In love with the coaches and the players — preparation, their determination, their focus I think was really good. Saw it pay off in the level of execution today. A lot of things to build on, especially when you’re a physical football team, you play physically. A lot of good things to build on from there.”

The work that still needs to be put in this week will continue over the next seven days as Michigan prepares for a primetime showdown with Washington in Ann Arbor on Sept. 11.