For a number of assistant coaches who were added to Harbaugh's staff during the off season, Saturday night marked their first experience inside of the Big House during a primetime matchup in front of a sellout crowd. While Michigan stadium is a special place regardless of the time of day, it becomes somewhat of a magical experience under the lights - particularly when it's a Maize-out and the pom poms are flying.
One of the coaches to experience Michigan Stadium under the lights for the first time was defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. In just his second game as DC in Ann Arbor, Macdonald said the environment inside of the Big House on Saturday night was unlike anything he'd ever seen before.
"First of all, they were feeding off the energy of the crowd," Macdonald said during media availability this week. "That was…I’ve never seen anything like that. That was crazy. That was just an unbelievable atmosphere, so shout out to our fans. That was incredible.
Beyond the incredible energy provided from the fans, Macdonald said the Michigan defense is full of guys who bring plenty of energy themselves.
"We’ve got a lot of guys that bring a lot of energy, and I think it’s more collective than just Aidan. The one thing we preach is that, it’s not easy to make plays, so when you make plays, go celebrate with your teammates, get a picture on the sideline, have fun, man. We work too hard at this to just make a play and be all bummed out about it. Have some fun."
Speaking of having fun, senior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson appears to be having a blast on the football field. Though the first two weeks, Hutchinson leads the Wolverines with 3.5 sacks and 7 solo tackles. Beyond the numbers, Hutchinson's technique, attention to detail and athleticism is starting to gain the attention of NFL scouts.
Earlier this week, CBS released it's latest 2022 NFL Mock Draft - placing Hutchinson as the No. 2 overall pick to the Detroit Lions.
With such a tremendous talent to work with, Macdonald says the most important thing he can do as a coach is to stay out of his way.
"Don’t get in his way. When you have great players, you try to put them in positions to succeed, and the expectation is that he plays at the level that he’s playing at," Macdonald said. "We’ll have wrinkles, and we want to move him around, but we don’t want to overthink it either. We don’t want to get in the way of that, but Aidan’s doing a great job.
"If you want to look at how to play football for Michigan, he’s the first guy you look at."
It's still early and Michigan has yet to face a legitimate offensive threat, but the early returns on Mike Macdonald as defensive coordinator look good. However, something tells me that most Michigan fans will be reserving judgment until that final week in November.