- The run game picking up in the second half
- Shea Patterson's rushing ability
- Michigan's run defense
- Michigan's pass defense
- Michigan State. Michigan plays them in a week.
[After THE JUMP: Harbaugh talks about stuff]
Coach, you had two quarterbacks that were a big part of things as far as running the ball. Was that element added to this game?
“Yeah, it was big. Shea (Patterson) really got things going in the first quarter with the long run. And the touchdown run he had, he was — allowed us to stretch their defense, get all their gaps, make them cover — make them account for as many gaps as we could. So that was a gameplan well-executed.”
Coach, what were the second-half adjustments in the run game that allowed you to get Karan (Higdon) (going)?
“Well, we just — we went to as many C-gap plays as we could, and took six. Our six best at halftime and ran those pretty much the whole second half. Our guys were doing a great job up front. They were — I can’t think of any missed assignments, penalties, nothing. Guys really did a job up front today.”
What made your pass defense effective? (Alex) Hornibrook went 12 passes without a completion at one point
“Played really good in the secondary, getting our hands on balls. Coverage was tight and needed a big play, it was Lavert (Hill), couple PBUs, nice to see us get our hands on the ball. We’re really in good position throughout the game in our coverages.”
Jim, could you talk about Shea’s ball-handling ability, he just sells those play-fakes so well. And second part, if you could talk about what Karan gave you in the second half
“Yeah. Well, yeah, Shea’s really good, really effective. He’s really seeing things well, looking at all the — in terms of all the reads. Did a great job in his preparation, and he was running good. He was really throwing it good tonight, too. Right from pregame on. But the running game was so effective that we kept coming back to it. And Karan was really, went over 90-something yards in the second half, and just did a great job. Got some cracks, and fit through them and finished effective runs. So he did a great job, Tru (Wilson) did a really good job when he came in as well. And again, back to the guys up front, they were really on their assignments the entire night. Played very physical.”
Coach, when you were with the 49ers, when you were with Stanford, now with Michigan, you’ve always tried to imbibe toughness. Now, after this game, would you say this team is tough at every level?
“Yeah, in terms of being a physical team, I think we are that. And some guys did a heck of a job defensively, can’t talk about that enough as well. And, that’s a heck of a good back we faced tonight, and yeah, really played — really good offensive line, too. Heck of a good team, and they’re just, everything they’ve done, I think their record is 15-1 on the road or 14-1 on the road since Paul (Chryst) has been there. They just do a tremendous job coaching. They — defensively, they give up 14 points, on average when they’re on the road. Again, they do a tremendous job, so, and they’re a tough, physical team, and I thought our guys responded well tonight.”
Jim, we’ve talked about the offensive line a lot, for a long time. You guys went over 300 yards, I think Ben (Bredeson) said something about, they really wanted to make a culture change in the offensive line room this season. What have you seen from that group that has led to this?
“Just everything we’ve been talking about since — improvement, just getting better and better. Confident group that’s really trained themselves this offseason. There’s a lotta — each player, you could point to that, first of all. (Jon) Runyan, Bredeson, Cesar (Ruiz), Mike Onwenu, Juwann Bushell-Beatty — they’re all playing their best football. And they playing really well together.”
Shea, when he busted that run in the first quarter — first play of the second quarter, I’m sorry — what kind of tone did that set for the offense, to have a quarterback who can bust a big run like that?
“It set a good tone. I mean, it was a big play. Guys making plays, it always comes down to that. Guys making plays, and that certainly was a big one. And just his — he can run. Showed that. So did Dylan (McCaffrey). They had an angle on Dylan and, when he was off it felt like he wasn’t gonna be caught. And what it does for your team, it opens up a lot in the offense, that the defense has to defend. I thought he did a heck of a job all night, with … his ball-handling, with his running ability, with his — all facets.”
Coach (Bo) Schembechler’s line, I believe was, those who stay will be champions, and I think that’s something you’ve endorsed the sentiment of. How much is being a champion figurative and how much of it is literally, it’s time to go win a championship?
“Well, we were focused on this game, just like we will be next game. We’ve espoused to the theory that improvement will lead to success, will lead to championships.”
Coach, you held Jonathan Taylor tonight to 101 rushing yards and coming into this game, he averaged nearly 170 on the ground. What was the key for the defense in containing him throughout the game?
“He’s a heck of a good back. I mean, it’s getting off of blocks, and I thought our guys did that well up front. Our linebackers were swarming. It was that kind of mentality. It was gonna take multiple guys getting to the ball to contain a back like Jonathan. And did well. He’s really tough to shut somebody completely out when they’re that good, but I thought we did a heck of a good job tonight.”
Jim, we saw Michael (Dwumfour) come back this week, we saw Chris (Evans), I’m curious your assessment how they both played
“Well, I think they did good. I think — I mean, I know Michael was key. One of those guys, I saw some knockback plays, I saw some plays where he was getting off the blocks. He’s just — America loves a tough guy. And he fits that mold, so really, really proud of him. And I think Chris is still coming along. And maybe not quite into top gear yet, but great to see him out there. He contributed. I don’t think he was at his absolute best tonight, but greatly contributed. Picked up some good 3rd-and-1 — we’ve had a lot of 3rd-and-1s. We’re getting to the point where we’ve had — never had a season like this with this many 3rd-and-1s as we’ve had already, about half the season. And Chris was great tonight. He really found the holes, he was part of picking those up, which really helped us. I can’t remember us getting stopped on a 3rd-and-short tonight. Again, another tip of the cap to the offensive line. Chris really contributed in that way.”
Coach, looking ahead, next week you have an opponent who tends to treat their matchup with you like the Super Bowl, Game 7 of the World Series and overtime of the Stanley Cup playoffs all into one. After you savor tonight’s win, what do you think you can do to help your team get up and match that level of intensity?
“We’ll be really intense for it.”
Jim, we always talk about big games, and this three game gauntlet that you guys are going through now — I know you guys take it one game at a time — do you feel like your team has been either hardened or toughened by the talk of, when are they gonna get over a gauntlet like this, when are they gonna beat — Karan Higdon was talking about how they’re really driven by that. Do you feel like they’re hardened by that?
“I can’t say. Hardened by it? I don’t know. It’s irrelevant to me, so we’ll do what we’ve been doing, and that is focus on — enjoy this win tonight and then get onto our preparation for our next opponent, which is Michigan State.”
I was just gonna ask you about Rashan (Gary). Will he be available next week?
“I don’t know.”