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Jim Harbaugh acknowledges overcoming challenges if the Wolverines are to reach the ‘promised land’

Harbaugh was proud of his team’s second half in Bloomington, and gushed about the challenge Penn State presents this weekend.

Michigan v Indiana Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines head football coach joined Jon Jansen for his weekly radio appearance on Inside Michigan Football and discussed the team’s latest victory over Indiana, the health of running backs coach Mike Hart, and a preview of Penn State.

“It was a great team win, start with that. Secondly, to have a big second half, to finish the game and have those second half moments, that truly tells you about yourself and who you can be, that’s what I took away from it. The journey to the promised land — if there’s going to be a promised land — have those kind of second half moments in them. There’s a lot of things in that game that keep us humble, that we have to work on, and a glimpse of what we can be when we really play that Michigan football,” Harbaugh said of his team’s effort against Indiana.

After being tied 10-10 at half, the Wolverines outscored the Hoosiers 21-0 and outgained them 263-29 in the second half. The offense began to click and the defense, especially the pass rush, also began figuring it out.

“It was kind of a coming out party for the pass rush. I thought that was outstanding — 34 pressures. I have never seen that in a game. Seven sacks, 10 TFLs.”

Harbaugh went on to name drop several players and recognize their efforts, including Kris Jenkins, Mazi Smith, Mason Graham, Eyabi Okie, DJ Turner, Rod Morris, Mike Morris, Will Johnson, Gemon Green, Luke Schoonmaker, J.J. McCarthy, Ronnie Bell, Cornelius Johnson, Karsen Barnhart and the offensive line protection.

But the question on everyone’s mind was, “How is Mike Hart?” Without revealing too much, Harbaugh offered words of positive assurance that Hart will be okay and will be back sooner than later.

“We talked last night. He’s feeling much better,” Harbaugh said. “He’s back in Ann Arbor and wants to return soon. Just really grateful for the outpouring of concern, support, prayers, he mentioned that. I’ve gotten so many people in the football world reach out. Mike has tremendous respect from all in the football world. So many people have reached out or showed concern. He’s much loved out there. He’s a super strong guy and I’ve always had this faith, this feeling that he will be back soon and we anticipate that.”

Offensive analyst Fred Jackson is stepping in for Hart and has now served as a running backs coach under every Michigan head coach dating back to Gary Moeller in 1992.

Turning his attention to Penn State, Harbaugh was extremely complementary in all facets of the game and recognizes the run defense might be the best they face all season.

“You got to be on point, we’re going to have to play really good because they play really good, they always do, they’re always well prepared,” Harbaugh said. “They're always good in run defense, run offense, pass defense, pass offense and in the kicking game. They’re always really, really good. We say it a lot of time — this the best unit we are going to play all year in some phases. We’re super excited about it. We’re fired up to have a great week of preparation and to get ourselves ready to play this game.”

When discussing Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, Harbaugh admired his abilities as much as his grit and toughness.

“He’s a strong runner and a strong thrower as well. Very experienced, he’s been in a lot of games. He’s just a tough, gritty competitor. We have a ton of respect for him. We played him last year and I don’t know how he was staying upright. I mean (David) Ojabo and (Aidan) Hutchinson, he was really taking some hits and making some throws, courage throws where he was just standing in there and threading the needle. We’ve got a ton of respect for Sean Clifford and how he operates and handles his business.”

Lastly, when discussing the Penn State defense, Harbaugh was appreciative of their entire unit, but especially their run defense.

“Really good run defense, maybe the best we are going to play. And the secondary is really good too. Just some big time players. They’ve got some really top notch guys on all sides of the ball.”