News bullets and other items:
Wilton Speight is “day-to-day”
Asked whether he will practice next week, Harbaugh said, “We’ll see.”
Can you talk about what De’Veon Smith and your offensive line gave you when you really needed it there in the third quarter?
“Yeah, I mean, grinding out first downs, grinding meat. De’Veon, he played with great motivation. And some great play from the offensive line. It felt like old fashioned, slobber-knocker football.
“Tim Drevno made some great calls. The touchdown, the long touchdown by De’Veon was a heck of a call. We’d been running to the strongside. Come back, pull, have the pullers to the weakside, it was just enough. Just enough space, and De’Veon, breaking tackles. The yard runs, the yards after contact, pushing for the first down was critical. I think it’s the most yards of his career. Heck of an effort by De’Veon.”
No disrespect to Indiana, but is it possible your guys were thinking ahead a little to next week. How was the focus, do you think?
[laughs] “I’ll tell you what, to win this game, it feels like one of the best wins I’ve ever been involved with because it was a playoff game, and it was beating a tough Indiana team. We have a lot of respect for them. They’re a heck of a football team. And the elements, too. That was…you know, feel good about our football team.”
Can you reflect on the run that O’Korn h.ad to set up De’Veon’s first touchdown, and how would you assess his play overall?
“Yeah, that was huge. We were struggling making third-down conversions and there was not just one but two defenders pressuring John, and [he] stepped out of it with good ball security. Got the first down and was being threatened there at the sticks and didn’t dive, didn’t slide. Kick through, kicked through an arm tackle and kept right on running, so that was a big play. That was a signature play for a quarterback in a big game, so I feel really good. Amara [Darboh] was also outstanding to extend our last drive. He did a lot of good things.”
[After THE JUMP: special teams, smashing the narrative, and waxing philosophical about Michigan Stadium]
How big was the play of your special teams today as whole?
“Huge. The field position battle, the net yards that come from punting and being able to back a team up, Kenny did a great job. I think four of the six punts that he punted down there, one at the five, the seven, that was huge.
“We got punted down there inside of our ten-yard line there on the last drive, and that’s when our guys mounted that time-consuming drive there at the end of the game.
“Coverage units were fantastic. Blocked punt. Kenny made both of the field goals. Thought we won very well, decisively, in the kicking game today. That was huge.”
You say every game’s a championship game for you guys and now after this one we’re nearing the final stretch of championship games. Do you like where you’re at right now going into the final stretch?
“Yes. We’ll be playing for the championship next week. As I said, this was a championship game because it keeps our team in it. Feels like a playoff game. Felt like it and still does feel like it. Felt like a playoff win. It’s great.”
This is the 30th anniversary of your guarantee against Ohio State. Now as the head coach, how would you react if one of your players made a guarantee today?
“I think I’ve been asked that before, and I don’t know. Our guys can speak their mind. So…probably similar to the way my coach reacted.
“But, you know, typical hypotheticals. I’ll just say I’m not into hypotheticals, so…thanks for asking the hypothetical question, though.”
Wilton [Speight] was out there throwing a little bit. Is he still day-to-day? What’s his status right now?
So there’s the potential that he might play next week?
Do you expect Wilton to practice this week early?
“We’ll see. It’s day-to-day.”
John’s entire game: how do you think he handled himself overall?
“Very well. Winning in a tough, tough environment. Indiana’s got a heck of an offense, too; they put up a lot of points. Give credit to both defenses, but also it was tough conditions to operate, especially in the passing game.
“I thought he did extremely well. Ball security was good all day. Operated, managed the team and did what he needed to do, so feel like he did well.”
That was sort of my question, but just a follow-up to it: when you factor in the weather and the wind, does that factor into how well you think O’Korn did or didn’t do? Is that a major factor in judging him?
“Yeah.” [laughs] “Yes. As I said, you’ve got understand, it’s a great feeling when you win a football game. Two opposing wills against each other, and you have to beat that other team and also the elements and our team did both of those things today.”
It’s always a big game, Michigan and Ohio State, but for the Big Ten to have this game with both teams in the playoff race, what do you think that means for the league and where it sits nationally?
“Is that the obvious question? Was I missing something there?”
I think you were supposed to say it’s great for the league or something like that.
[chuckles] “You guys write! You got pens!”
When you said you feel good about where your team is now, is it because this was really November Big Ten-kind of football and you got through, persevered through running the ball? Is that what makes you feel good heading forward?
“Winning a football game is a great feeling. When you’re a team and you come together and you go out and win a football game, that’s good feeling enough.
“And everything’s a test. Every week is a test. Every game that you line up is a test. There’s a lot of tests in life. Comes in many forms and fashions. Our team was playing a really good Indiana football team. That was a huge test for us today. Coming off a loss, that was a huge test for us. Playing in big, playoff-type games and responding, coming together as a team, gives us a great feeling. Feel good about it.”
You talked on Monday about how much the seniors have meant. For them to play their last game here today, knowing all they’ve been through and watching them finish this one off in the last few minutes, did you feel especially good for them knowing how it could have ended their careers here?
“Yeah, especially. I know how that feels to play at Michigan and not win your last game at home, and it’s not a good feeling at all. Glad our guys played eight home games and won ‘em all.
“The constant being a Michigan football player through the ages is that you play in the Michigan Stadium, you play in that venue, that Big House. Always has been that way, is, and always will be. That’s the one constant. All the time, the facilities, the changes in society and everything else, you play in that stadium. To have that feeling of winning your last game and have it be a big game, it’s a great feeling. Feel especially good for them, yes.”
How would you assess your chances for next week?
“Gonna enjoy this one and then get right onto preparation for Ohio State.