What Jim Harbaugh said after Michigan football beat Northwestern

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — It wasn’t exactly how Michigan football would have drawn it up against a not great Northwestern team, but the Wolverines came out and dominated the second half to secure a 33-7 win.

The defense was lights out save for a handful of plays and the offense came alive in the second half. There was both a lot to like and a lot to correct — especially with Michigan State coming up next.

Still, the Wolverines are 7-0, setting up a top 10 showdown with the rival Spartans.

With that in mind, Jim Harbaugh addressed the media after the game, sharing what went right, what didn’t, and how much the team is already looking forward to next week. Here is everything he said.

List

Twitter reactions to Michigan football defeating Northwestern

How the defense played

“Yeah, start with — DJ Turner, that’s one of the best interceptions I’ve seen all season and in recent memory. I thought he played great. Coverage was really good. Was really happy for DJ. One of my favorite guys. See him out there playing well and get that interception, change momentum for the team was huge.

“Defensively, overall, I thought they played great. Take out the three big plays, the long touchdown run before the half — they got us on that slide wheel on the first play of the game — and the screen, besides that, it was about two yards per play. I thought it was, I thought we played extremely well defensively and on special teams.

“Special teams — the kickoff coverage was outstanding. Also had momentum at that point and kept it on those kickoff coverages. And the huge punt block — that was great. Really — Jay did a great job scheming that one up, Jay Harbaugh. Felt like we’d only get one shot at it, take advantage of what they were doing in their punt scheme. Also, Cornelius Johnson, that’s the first time he’s been put in that position. You’ve got one shot at it, and he comes through like he did. He just ran the perfect course, perfect amount of steps, great vision on the ball and ball skills to get that punt blocked. Everybody did their job and that was also a huge play in the game.

“Offensively, the same. I thought we really played extremely well. And obviously left some meat on the bone, shot ourselves in the foot a few times, especially when we got inside the five-yard line. Both backs over 100 yards. I thought the line was extremely good. I thought Cade played extremely well, J.J. as well, for the amount of receivers that were targeted. Great to see Erick All and the tight ends really get into the game planning. I think six targets for Erick, six for C.J., six for the other guys. That was good. I thought Cade threw the ball really accurately, saw the field really well. It was a lot of good.”

Early thoughts on Michigan State

“Yeah, all focus is there! They walk through that door, gotta answer some questions about this game, but it’s onto that game right now.”

On Hassan Haskins' rugby-style run

“You could just imagine — Hassan, you know our love for Hassan. The respect we have for him as a football player, a physical football player — it’s every week where we go, ‘Can’t have a more physical run than that.’ Next week, there’s another one. ‘Wow, that’s even better!’ Then the next week, ‘Can’t possibly have another one,’ and then he does. This week, the same thing. That really, that play really got our team going. Tremendous momentum-type of shift that way. He’s phenomenal.

“I think it was J. Tress, one of our strength coaches, came up with the — (Hassan’s) nickname is H2 around the guys and on the team and everything, and (Tress) came up with the slogan of ‘third-and-H2!’ I think there was a thrid-and-2 again today that I think Hassan got a three or four on it, picked up the first down. He’s something, he’s really special. And so is Blake and a couple of these guys.”

On Blake Corum

“Yeah, he just — the two of them, they’re both great running backs. There’s something about the dynamic of Hassan one play, Blake the next. The difference. They’re both great, but there’s some slight differences that make them both really special — and hard to defend, I would think. At least, that’s what I see.”

On going back to Donovan Edwards right after his fumble

“I’ll just come right out and say it: Donovan is one of my favorites. Nobody I love more than Donovan Edwards. It’s a good learning experience for him, that’s what I told him. He was swinging the ball this way, and when he got into traffic there, he needs to get that secured, no more swinging. Get it seatbelted and put away. Good learning experience for him, but we think the world of Donovan.”

Does he need to see more from the deep passing game?

“I think the deep passing game, probably forced that a little bit today. Their safeties were playing back. And 16 is a really good safety. I think that was the case. There should’ve — forced that a little too much with how they were playing. But, coming down, hitting the checkdowns, hitting some of the out-routes, dispersing the ball all over the field, really, in the passing game. We didn’t connect on a deep one, but I don’t think the deep ones were there.”

Is he getting what he wants from Cade and J.J.?

“It’s just a matter of, really everybody, everybody on this team, they’re all in for Michigan. Whatever helps us win, whether that’s on offense moving the football, scoring points, or defensively, or on special teams. That is the way these, our players, think. That’s the way we’re approaching it. Winning where we believe one player or multiple players at the position can help, and they’re doing it unselfishly. That’s what it’s gonna take.”

Will Michigan need a more dynamic passing game against tougher teams?

“I thought we did some good things in the passing game. How many third downs did we have, 20? And we picked up 12. A lot of them through the air. Some through the air, some through the ground. Moving the ball, we did that. I think our only — I don’t think there’s anything wrong other than we forced a few deep balls. But I was pleased with the way we played, we left some meat on the bone offensively.

“Just to answer your question, you know, straightforward, yes: I thought Cade had a very good game. I thought the receivers played extremely well. Protection was very good. So yeah, pleased with our passing game.”

On Aidan Hutchinson's impact on the game

“Making the ball come out quick it’s — that’s even more valuable than sacks a lot of the time. You can’t just go by sacks, though he did have a sack. Had a fumble recovery. He’s making the ball come out fast. Imagine what that does for the secondary.”

On the team going uptempo

“Mix them in at the appropriate time. A lot of time, you’re trying to keep the defense from being able to substitute.”

How important it was for the team to respond as it did in the second half with MSU coming up

“Yeah, really good. They were determined to do that. I think somewhere around four out of five drives to start the second half. Offense put points on the board and three of the four were touchdowns.”

Does he appreciate how far the program has come in the past year?

“Yeah, in the way of just — I thought our guys did another great job of focusing on the next game. You have to do that. You have to practice that and you have to do it — keep the focus on the game in front of you, lest a team will be painfully humbled. I think our team did a great job of that.

“And now start that process of preparation for the next opponent.”

What did he see from Northwestern that implied a blocked punt would work?

“They were trying to roll away from the left side and directional punt back to the field. They just didn’t have enough blockers over there, that’s what we saw. They had a tendency to do that. Like I said, it was well-schemed, and figured we’d only have one shot of overloading that side and getting a chance to block the punt, punting it back to the field and from right-to-left. Not enough blockers and thought it was a high chance that they’d try to punt it back to the field. Like I said, it was a really big thing, it was a well-schemed play. Also, Cornelius Johnson, first time he’s really been in that role and did it perfect. As did the other three guys over there, as well. Right angles, perfect steps. Everyone had to go to the inside of their man that was trying to block them. Figured we’d have a lane for C.J. Worked just how we’d drawn it up, Jay had drawn it up.”

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