Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh joined Jon Jansen on the Inside Michigan Football radio show on Tuesday, where he routinely has spoken highly of running back, Blake Corum. But this time it came with a slightly different tune — a confidence that his star player could win the greatest individual achievement in college football.
“There was a time there maybe four, five games ago where I would have thought, ‘Yeah, he deserves to be in New York for the Heisman Trophy,’ Harbaugh said, “Now, I think he is the frontrunner for it.”
Harbaugh contributes it to Corum’s overall body of work by picking up first downs and yards after contact.
“I don’t think there is a better back in the country right now than Blake Corum,” Harbaugh reiterated. “He is having an MVP-type of year. He’s having a Heisman Trophy kind of year.”
Corum is up to 1,349 rushing yards and 18 total touchdowns this season. His numbers are even better than some of the most recent running backs to win the Heisman Trophy like Derrick Henry, Mark Ingram and Reggie Bush after nine games:
But he isn’t the only player Harbaugh gave credit to on Monday night, as he has been pleased with this offense overall.
“They’re doing so many things that is winning football.” Harbaugh said. “Time of possession drives, no turnovers, scoring points. It’s really good. I’m happy with where we are at offensively.”
Leading the charge is sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy, and Harbaugh praised the mindset of the first-year starter.
“You never know until they are out there playing every game, playing every snap. We knew he was very talented, but his poise has been remarkable,” Harbaugh said. “Whether it’s on the road, at home, behind, ahead. People chanting ‘J.J., J.J., J.J. We love J.J.’ Or whether he is getting booed, hit, it’s just been great.”
A point of emphasis was turning the good of the units on all phases of the game into great units. On the offensive end, Harbaugh said he would like to see better pass protection from the offensive line and said there were some “free runners” from Nebraska this past week.
But the defense has already reached that “great” status, according to Harbaugh.
“Last two games have been really, really good. Amount of first downs they are giving up — I think they are doing great, they are really playing well. As I told the team today, ‘just keep doing you.’ Anything we want to get a little bit better at, let’s just work a little harder at it. We had one or two in this past game where we just weren’t playing the right defense. We had a guy that didn’t hear the call, didn’t know the call. We had the perfect call on, but there has been very little of that. Guys are playing hard. It just keep showing up how hard they’re playing. To me they are great, they’re playing great. It is a great defense.”
In the past three games, Michigan has outscored opponents 117-3 in the second half. Harbaugh called the second-half defense “outstanding,” and, “it’s kinda scary good how good they are playing.”
A good challenge is ahead with the Illinois Fighting Illini and Harbaugh pointed out they play tough and physical football.
“(They are) a darn good football team,” he said. “They are playing for a championship down the stretch here just like we are. A lot on the line. Big challenge. Big task ahead of us this weekend.”
But Saturday also brings Senior Day, as we will see some players don the maize and blue for the final time in the Big House. Harbaugh knows of the importance of Senior Day.
“It could be a very emotional thing. It usually hits you after, after the game is over, that you played your last game in the Big House. Sure want that to be a good, memorable, winning experience,” he said.
To wrap things up, Harbaugh spoke on some of the senior difference makers that could be playing their final games in Ann Arbor. Here’s what he had to say about some of those guys.
On Mike Barrett:
Just so happy that Mike has found a real true position at inside linebacker. Tremendous special teams contributor. Just to see him having success playing football. I think he is going to play football for a long time. He may come back next year, or he may take his services to the NFL, we’ll see. But, I think there is going to be more football for him after this season.
On Gemon and German Green
Two incredible brothers. My memory always goes back to when they were freshmen and they were on the scout team. The first day it snowed, I look over, and they’re doing snow angels on the turf. I stopped practice: ‘What are you doing? We have a huge game coming up this weekend, and you two are doing (snow angels)’. (They replied) ‘Coach we’ve never seen snow before!’ So much contribution from both of them, and they could come back. One, or two, or both, you don’t know. They’ve got another year of eligibility and we’d love for them to come back.”
On Ryan Hayes:
“Ryan’s one of those seniors last year, leaders, that I really felt was just a really strong leader on that team. Now he is again this year. He’s kind of a quiet, stoic, by example, tremendous player. He’s been doing that again this year. Big soft spot in my heart for Ryan Hayes. I love him.”
On Ronnie Bell:
“He’s been great. It’s also a tip of the cap to the ‘21 offense that they were as good as they were without Ronnie Bell. He’s been tremendous. Yeah, he is going to go into the NFL next year. He already has a Senior Bowl invite. But he is having a tremendous, tremendous season.”