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The Most Interesting Things Jim Harbaugh Said After Beating Northwestern

Michigan is 7-0, which keeps Jim Harbaugh in good spirits.

Michigan is now 7-0 after dismantling Northwestern with relative ease. The game was close at halftime, but U-M pulled away over the course of the final 30 minutes winning 33-7. After the impressive performance, Jim Harbaugh had many positive things to say about his team.

"They got three big plays — that long touchdown run before the half, they got us on the slide wheel on the first play of the game and a screen. I thought we played extremely well defensively."

Jim Harbaugh is right.

This defense continues to impress under Mike Macdonald and has all but perfected the "bend don't break" approach. The Wildcats only ran 55 plays, converted on just 4-of-14 third down tries and mustered just 233 yards of total offense, 75 of which came on the lone touchdown score. Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo continue to improve and have truly become a two-headed monster as pass rushers and the secondary has picked off a pass of for the third game in a row. Northwestern isn't very good, but it's really hard to keep offenses out of the end zone and Michigan just about did that today.

"I think the deep passing game, we probably forced that a little bit today. Their safeties were playing back. Maybe forced that a little bit too much with how they were playing. I thought coming down and hitting the check downs, hitting some of the out routes, dispersing the ball, really, all over the field in the passing game. We didn’t connect on a deep one but I don’t think the deep ones were there."

As disappointed as I was watching the pass game today, I can get on board with this explanation.

I don't think McNamara threw the deep ball very accurately, but hearing Harbaugh talk about Northwestern's defense makes me think that McNamara was erring on the side of caution, maybe to a fault. Still, I do think he missed pretty badly a few times. 

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Early in the game McNamara threw up a prayer to Mike Sainristil who was double covered. The ball probably never should've been thrown there. He also missed Cornelius Johnson, who had a step and position, but didn't get much of a chance at the ball due to the placement of the throw. Instead, he had to turn into a defensive back again and keep the Northwestern defender from intercepting the ball. And finally, McNamara missed Luke Schoonmaker up the seam badly on a throw that might've been a touchdown. At the end of the day, McNamara finished 20-of-27 for only 129 yards. The percentage looks good, but they were almost all layups. The yardage total however, is not.   

"It’s just a matter of everybody on this team, they’re all in for Michigan. Whatever helps us win, whether that’s on offense moving the football and scoring points or defensively or on special teams. That’s the way our players think. That’s the way we’re approaching it. They’re doing it unselfishly and that’s what it’s going to take."

This answer is a lot of coach-speaky words without saying anything at all, especially when you consider that he was specifically asked about how he's using JJ McCarthy.

Huh?

He didn't mention McCarthy at all, didn't address why his star freshman is barely seeing the field, didn't explain why the gun slinger is rarely allowed to throw the ball and didn't mention why the former five star is pulled when he's got the offense moving better than it has all day.

If McNamara's play doesn't improve, it's going to cost Michigan the game next week. If that happens, Harbaugh is going to have to answer a lot more questions about McCarthy, which are completely warranted already. McCarthy is clearly the better athlete, clearly has a stronger arm and is clearly more comfortable taking risks and making plays. So what gives? Harbaugh was asked about that and he dodged the question. 

On to Michigan State.