Penn State and Rutgers were able to get you on those big plays. What is it that’s missing when you’re defending that direct snap?
“We just fit our gaps wrong. Nothing too big. Our mistake, really. I feel like it was just on us. We’ll get it right.”
What’s it like when you lose the Jug? I think players and coaches and fans assume you’re just always going to have it. Was it weird or awkward or more disappointing?
“It was kind of weird. That whole year  was just awkward and weird but when you lose a rivalry game and especially a trophy game, everybody—as a kid you always wanted a trophy. I feel like it’s the same thing when you come to college. You win that game to keep the trophy. That game was just one of those awkward things that sits in your mind for a while.”
What impresses you the most about Mike Onwenu at right guard?
“He’s so big. To be that big and be able to move that well at that size is a good asset for him. [/swats a fly away] Like I said, he’s really big, and for him to be able to move like that helps our offensive line create space. Strong, big, powerful guy.”
How do you deal with getting past a blocker like that when he’s coming at you, pulling across the line?
“It’s kind of hard to get around him. You’ve just got to be stout, really. Don’t let him push you back, but it’s kind of hard. 350 pound lineman who can move, it’s pretty hard to beat.”
[After THE JUMP: Kugler and Higdon]
Brandon played well, no question about that, but you guys gave him plenty of time. I don’t think he got touched. Obviously season high rushing yards on 51 attempts. What was working for the O-line Saturday?
“There’s been a lot of backlash or talk about the O-line lately and we took it upon ourselves that we were going to win this game, and I think we did a pretty good job; no sacks, season high in rushing yards. Just trying to keep that going.”
When you see Higdon in particular on film, besides just running hard, what jumps out at you?
“He’s just mean. I mean, he’s smaller, but it’s going to take more than one guy to take him down every time. He can make you look good sometimes when you don’t do something great and that’s something that makes a back special. He’s a very physical back and just the way he runs, it’s mean, so that’s what you like to see.”
Khalid [Hill], is he almost like an honorary member of the offensive line?
“Oh yeah, all our fullbacks are, him and Poggi. They both like to eat like us, too, so they’re definitely honorary linemen. They’re in there in the trenches just as much as we are.”
With the Power run game specifically, the last couple weeks did you feel like it was coming along? Despite the total numbers being down, it looked like you were getting movement.
“Yeah, definitely. I mean, we’ve been harping on the Power game the whole year. We think that’s our strong suit as an offensive line. We consider ourselves a big, physical front, and Rutgers was a big, physical front, too. They were packing the box but we wanted to make a little statement that we can run the ball on anyone.”
You mentioned Poggi and Hill, but what about Ben Mason? Did you enjoy watching him on film?
“Yeah, Ben’s an interesting guy, as you guys probably know. He’s a little meatball, meathead-type guy, so interesting guy. But yeah, we love all our fullbacks. We treat ‘em just like O-linemen.”
But what he was able to do…
“Yeah, he goes 100% every play and he’s just looking to take off heads. That’s what you’re looking for in your fullback. That’s kind of what their job is. They’re kind of like the O-line; don’t really get a lot of appreciation or anything, no one really notices them, but we probably have the best fullbacks in the country. I believe that.”
What do you mean he’s a meathead?
“Oh, I mean, he likes benching and eating raw meat. That’s about it. He’s the biggest meathead on our team, probably.”
This team is pretty young but what do you guys know as a collective about the Little Brown Jug game and the history of that going into this game?
“It’s a big game. It means a lot to the Michigan team. We have the Brown Jug here and we want to keep it here. We know that it’s our duty to follow our alumni who brought it here and keep it here in Schembechler Hall.”
How would you describe yourself and your running style? Do you think you run mean?
“Yeah, I know I run mean. [laughs] I’m angry when I play because I’m running for more than just myself. There’s other people that look up to me and that I’ve got to carry, a legacy for, so it’s more than just me when I play this game.”
You said you’re playing for certain people and trying to create a legacy and such. Who are you playing for?
“Everybody in my community, my family, kids that I grew up with that didn’t continue their career playing football, and younger kids who maybe want to be me or be someone like me one day.”
When you say that you run for more than just you, when did that become a conscious thing in your head?
“When I was five years old and I decided to play, after I quit my first day of football. After I quit that day and my mom dragged me back out on the football field, I knew I had to do it for more than just myself.”
Why’d you quit?
“It was too hot.”
“It’s Florida. Like, I’m five years old. You got me running laps. It’s way too hot. I’m done.”
How often do you thank your mom for dragging you back to practice?
“I thank her all the time. We laugh about it, we joke about it, we talk about it and we use it to keep going.”