Michigan Wolverines head coach joined Jon Jansen for his weekly appearance on Inside Michigan Football and raved about the culture, several players, and the team’s pursuit of excellence.
“Well, such a great team victory. I really learned that the team cares about — they like playing for each other. They like winning for each other. It’s a team that really cares about the other guys on the team, and they play like that. They enjoy winning together,” Harbaugh said proudly when discussing Michigan’s win against Iowa last Saturday.
When discussing the defensive performance, Harbaugh began with the front seven and the return of the pass rush.
“It was good to see the pressure come back. It feels like it went away for about a quarter or so,” Harbaugh said. “Mike Morris and Eyabi (Okie) both single-handedly for four plays — either they were sacking the quarterback or pressuring the quarterback to make an incompletion or an early throw. It was good to have that back, and the coverage got tighter when it needed to. It was good to see. It was like that the first part of the game and there in the end when we really needed it.”
Harbaugh continued on the defense, shifting his attention to the secondary.
“We missed a couple zone drops and left some seam openings,” Harbaugh said. “We won the game, we feel great about that, and we also feel great about all the opportunities to improve. Nobody is taking a deep, long bow or patting each other on the back because we see it. All areas the the team can improve in. And we are genuinely excited about that.”
And perhaps the best quote of the interview came as Harbaugh continued to discuss the team’s pursuit of perfection and desire to improve.
“As good as we feel, I just convey that we won and its a great win for our team. But also that you are in a race to chase perfection that you’ll never get, but you want to find excellence.”
When discussing the offense, Harabugh could not run out of good things to say about the unit as a whole, specifically quarterback J.J. McCarthy, running backs Donovan Edwards and Blake Corum, the entire offensive line and tight end Luke Schoonmaker.
“I thought (McCarthy) did really good. We thought he was one of the top performers on the offensive side of the ball and on the team. I thought he did a great job of taking what they gave him, and he really only missed one throw, the deep throw to Roman (Wilson),” Harbaugh said before doting on Edwards like a proud father.
“(Edwards) saved our bacon on the one for sure when he jumped on the fumble. He added some real good runs in the running game and made a nice couple catches out of the backfield. He’s only a sophomore, but very much a leadership presence on and off the field. You feel optimistic when he’s around. I feel optimistic when he’s around — he’s got that deep voice, that loud voice. And he just affects a lot of people, including me, in a positive way.
“I like guys who like football and Donovan loves football and I love Donovan. Just in the way he attacks everything and the way he approaches the game.”
One of the concerns for some fans following the Iowa game was the amount of touches Corum was receiving (30 against Maryland, 29 against Iowa), but Harbaugh does not sound the slightest bit concerned:l.
“He looks better to me with the more reps, the more touches he gets,” Harbaugh said. “He shows no signs of any fatigue or anything.”
And it is certainly nice when playing behind perhaps an even better offensive line than last year’s Joe Moore Award-winning unit.
Harbaugh addressed each player and the unit as a whole: “I think it was their best game collectively as a unit. Individually, there was some really outstanding play. (Zak) Zinter and Olu (Oluwatimi), the way they worked together. Trente (Jones) I thought he had his best game, and that’s the third week in a row I have thought that. Great to have Trevor Keegan back. I think he makes a big difference. We were talking about how good Gio (El Hadi) has been doing, and really pleased with Gio, but it’s even better with Trevor in there. And Ryan Hayes has just been as steady as can be. And collectively, them all playing together is starting to gel.”
Not to be forgotten, Schoonmaker has become the favorite target of Michigan’s young quarterback, and Harbaugh had high praise for the veteran tight end, saying, “He’ll be a really good pro tight end.”
This praise, coming from a former successful NFL head coach famous for his use of tight ends, stretches beyond standard coach-speak.
Lastly, Harbaugh briefly touched on the upcoming matchup with the Indiana Hoosiers:
“They’ve been throwing the ball a lot. Quarterback (Connor Bazelak), they have got a lot of trust in him. Really good arm, can throw it to all parts of the field. The running back’s (Shaun Shivers) got 300 and some yards and they are not running him very much, so he’s got to have a good average. Defensively, they are really good, they mix things up a lot. Different than Iowa, but its a tough-minded defense, a hard-hitting defense. The preparation is going to have to be on point to identify the snaps pre-snap and then also be able to read once the ball has been snapped. Really good challenge in all three phases this week.”
Michigan and Indiana kickoff this Saturday at noon in Bloomington.