After two weeks on the road, the Michigan Wolverines return to Ann Arbor for perhaps the biggest test of the season thus far in Penn State.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh took questions about the upcoming contest, the status of run game coordinator Mike Hart after his medical scare on the field on Saturday, and other topics at his press conference Monday afternoon.
On Mike Hart’s status and who will fill in for his absence - “So Mike, I think he issued a statement today, but he’s back in Ann Arbor, feeling better, hopes to rejoin the team soon. We’ll make Fred Jackson — we’ve got a waiver to allow Fred Jackson to coach until Mike gets back.
“I don’t know (if Mike Hart will return by Saturday), doctors will determine that as you’d expect. I don’t have the wherewithal to comment on (the cause of Hart’s collapse).”
On the challenge Penn State presents - “They’re just always good. Always prepared, always ready, always win a lot of games. Tough, physical, sound football team and exceptional in many areas.”
On the second half of Indiana - “If you are going to reach the promised land, you need games where the team shows what it’s capable of — defining moments in the second half of a game. There’s a lot to keep us humble, but it did give us a glimpse of what we can do.”
On the emergence of some players so far this season- “Yeah (Mike Morris) has been really good. Just doing anything that helps the team, including blocking a field goal in the last game, that was huge. In a lot of ways there was some coming out parties — Luke Schoonmaker, the pass rush and some others.”
On his relationship with new university president Santa J. Ono and how NIL plays a role in it - “So I haven’t met him in person yet, we’ve texted back and forth. Just everything you hear from everybody is what a great guy he is, how enthusiastic he is, how engaged he is with really everybody, including the students. Just the enjoyment he has being on a college campus and having tremendous leadership skills.
“Yeah I think (NIL is) important. Things are progressing, and to be progressive I think is important.”
On if Penn State has a big game feel - “Big, big, big game. If anybody was watching football yesterday on television, the pro games, seems like every commercial break there was an advertisement for the Michigan-Penn State game, so if anybody wasn’t realizing this was a big game, there was constant reminders yesterday.”
On his relationship with Fred Jackson - “Yeah, he’s super cool. I think my first game as a high school varsity player was Pioneer vs. Flint Southwestern, so I go way back with Fred Jackson. He’s great, always has great insights and knows the whole game, too. All facets of the game, but especially quarterback play, offensive coordinator kind of mind.”
On the turnover buffs - “Don’t know what you’re talking about...buffs? The pictures? Oh, I love them. It’s very much ruled we can’t do anything in terms of having fun or celebrating on the field — especially on defense it seems it’s even more so that way — but on the sideline you can do whatever you want. Let the guys have fun and celebrate that, have a picture and put on sunglasses.”