Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh ripped into Michigan State and Mark Dantonio during his bye week news conference on Monday in Ann Arbor.
Nick Baumgardner, Freep
Jim Harbaugh had a lot to say last week as he discussed a pregame incident between Michigan and Michigan State.
This week? Not so much.
Harbaugh and the Wolverines are preparing for Penn State, the last game of a three-game gauntlet many said was the most difficult portion of Michigan’s schedule.
Last year, the Wolverines’ 42-13 loss at Penn State knocked them out of the Big Ten title race. Harbaugh and Michigan have a healthy appreciation for the Nittany Lions, who are 6-2 this season.
“Penn State is an excellent football team,” Harbaugh said, and “they are once again this year, in all phases. Very good team.
Here is what Harbaugh said as he previewed Michigan’s game Saturday against Penn State (3:45 PM, ESPN):
Harbaugh pleased with run game
Michigan has seen gradual improvement up front all season. The Wolverines’ offensive line has given junior quarterback Shea Patterson time in the pocket and has opened up holes in the running game. Against Wisconsin, Michigan rushed for a season-high 320 yards. Against Michigan State, which had the then-No. 1 rushing defense in the nation, the Wolverines rushed for 183 yards.
According to Harbaugh, there are ‘a lot of factors’ when it comes to U-M’s improving run game.
“Improvement and sustaining blocks. Getting on the right guy. Less mental error in our blocking assignments. Patience by our team and trust in the run and going back to the run,” Harbaugh said. “Karan (Higdon) deserves a lot of credit. He’s gotten tough yards and yards after contact, yards more than what the play is blocked for. K
“Karan has also shown a real penchant for the big play. He can break out of a pile of players as good as anybody. Knowing that’s always a possibility, that’s a huge factor in staying with the run like we do.”
Metellus playing well
Harbaugh had a lot of praise for his team. He talked extensively about players such as defensive end Chase Winovich, running back Karan Higdon and punter Will Hart. And when asked about the team’s safeties, he singled out strong safety Josh Metellus.
“They’re playing really good ball,” Harbaugh said. “Josh Metellus playing really well. Coverage and getting his hands on balls. His tackling. Really improved in all areas. Doing a fantastic job.”
Remember this quote
Harbaugh on Chase Winovich:
“He is definitely a great example and always has been. Just does everything at such an intense level. Hard working level. He’s gung-ho, too, as he’s doing it. Seems to be a rarer trait in individuals these days. I think sometimes you see younger people thinking it’s more cool to have an approach that they’re too cool for school as opposed to gung-ho. Chase is definitely a throwback in my mind in the area of attacking each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind, which I have great respect for.”
On Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley:
“Terrific player. Consistently plays really well. Always is a threat in the passing game, defending the passing. He’s running the ball a lot more this year, very effectively. He’s quite a quarterback. Their win-it factor shows up over and over. Big challenge for our team this week.”
Status of Rashan Gary, Tarik Black and Juwann Bushell-Beatty unknown:
Harbaugh didn’t have much to say about the status of junior defensive end Rashan Gary, who has missed the past three games and parts of the two games before that.
“Don’t know,” Harbaugh said when asked for an update on Gary and whether he expects him to play against Penn State. “Don’t have an update for you.”
He didn’t have much to say about sophomore receiver Tarik Black, who came onto the field before a timeout was called against Michigan State. Black has been working his way back from a foot injury suffered before the season opener at Notre Dame.
“We’ll see,” Harbaugh said.
As for fifth-year senior right tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty, who left in the fourth quarter of the Michigan State game with an apparent lower-body injury: “No update on Juwann so far.”