After Michigan pummeled Northern Illinois by 53 points, Jim Harbaugh was a pretty happy camper at the podium. He praised just about every player on his team and really seemed pleased with how things have played out through three weeks. Here are some of the best things he said following U-M's blowout win.
"Blake Corum, special player. He just continues to stand out. I've just been watching him for the year and a half he’s been here. It’s been like that. To watch it show up on Saturdays is something to behold."
Corum has now proved week after week after week that he's an elite running back. His ability to cut, stop and start, accelerate and pull away in space and run with power makes him the most complete and best looking running back Michigan has had, maybe since Corum's position coach was in the backfield. He's tied for the national lead with eight rushing touchdowns and he's leading the entire country in all-purpose yards per game with 221.5. To put it simply, he's a star.
"We wanted to rush for 200 yards, we wanted to pass for 200 yards."
Done and done.
I don't think Jim Harbaugh has ever said anything this specific before when it comes to statistical goals, but I love that he did. Coming into the Northern Illinois game, running the ball had been easy, but passing the ball just hadn't happened, for whatever reason. People were talking about it, so Harbaugh and Co. decided to shut everyone up. Cade McNamara still didn't throw it a lot, but shot plays were dialed up at the right time and 233 yards and a touchdown later, this offense now feels pretty complete.
"The other big thrill, too, is 106 players played in the game."
That is a crazy number. Obviously when you're up by 60, you have a chance to get some guys in the game, but 106?! A whopping six quarterbacks played in the game!
College football isn't really about making people feel good or participation trophies, but I dig this. Those walk-on guys and young freshmen are out there sweating and bleeding during practice just like the stars are so getting them into the game when you can is cool. Parents in the stands, friends and classmates and proud coaches can all smile a little bigger after getting more than 100 players onto the field.
"[AJ Henning] is very dynamic with the ball in his hand. You can see when it comes to speed and elusiveness. He’s one of the best on the team."
I agree with what Harbaugh is saying, but I am a little hung up here. Henning only played five snaps yesterday. He simply needs to be on the field more than that.
He did get his hands on five punts, and also had a catch and a carry, but even in a 60-point blowout win, Henning should not play less than Will Rolapp, Matthew Harrison and Sam Staruch. It's nitpicking in a completely dominant win, but Henning should not be watching from the sidelines for 32 of 37 snaps, which is how many the starters played.
"I wouldn’t say [the players] haven’t done anything. They’ve done some stuff. Things that are good, you want to build on."
Everyone is fine with guys like Aidan Hutchinson and Cade McNamara saying that they haven't done a damn thing or that they're not content, but there's nothing wrong with hanging your hat on what you've done well, so I'm glad Harbaugh pointed that out.
This team has physically dominated opponents in the run game and adjusted and adapted almost perfectly on defense. Throw in the shake ups on the punt return unit that now looks like a strength of the team and you have a really nice three-game foundation to build on as you enter Big Ten play.