ANN ARBOR, Mich. — This is certainly not where Michigan football offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore thought he would be a few weeks ago. Instead of his usual duties overseeing the offense and offensive line, you can add acting head coach to his title.
He’s done admirably the past two weeks but this week is a different animal with Ohio State coming to town.
On Monday, Moore met with the media to discuss the matchup, how Jim Harbaugh has empowered him in his interim role, the mistakes made against Maryland, and much more.
Here’s everything he had to say on Monday to the media.
The Ohio State offense
Yeah, they’re electric. They’re balanced. TreVeyon obviously gives them the ability to run the football very effectively. O-line’s doing a really good job of jelling at the right time. And then, obviously, skill-player wise, Marvin, and Emeka, Cade Stover, and those guys, guys make plays on the outside, and feel like the quarterback’s playing his best football. So definitely a challenge that our defense is gonna be up for.
Does he expect Michigan to dominate?
I think defensively they’re really good. I think offensively, really good. I think for us it’s just focusing on what we can control right now, which is the preparation into this game — mentally, physically, and see what the outcome is after that.
Balancing his own credo with what Jim Harbaugh would want done on game day
I think the preparation that we’ve had up to this point — in training camp, in spring ball all through the season — has really prepped us for these moments to think like coach does. And at the same time, make the decisions that we think he would, he’d want and obviously situationally being aware of what’s going on in the game. So we lean on each other all heavily in all those situations to make the right call.
Does he feel empowered by Jim Harbaugh?
Yeah, I mean, I probably might, probably be the one. I mean, he trusts us and has prepared us for these moments. So it’ll be probably more so me than anything but him coming to me. But I think our team is all about the players and how they prepare this week and how they mentally attack it and looking forward to it.
How has his life changed the past few weeks?
Yeah, a lot more text messages. More Facebook messages, which I don’t really get on Facebook. So I see them pop up on my phone, and just like, OK. Probably that more than anything, but other than that, same person, I’m doing the same things. When I go home, I still get yelled at. So it’s all good. And my kids still run the house. So for me, it’s seeing more interviews, more things, that’s the biggest thing for me. Then managing the game situations during the game. But other than that, everything’s been the same.
Roman Wilson, LaDarius Henderson, and Myles Hinton's injury status
Should be good to go. We’ll see further and we’ll check the doctors as we go as far as all three.
How has his time management changed?
Probably just thinking more so the situations and as I plan obviously, when you’re calling plays, you’re thinking about that as well anyway. So that helps versus being on defense side of the ball. But just thinking about all the situations more so if we’re on defense and when the end and half or things like that. So just putting those situations in my head more, more sometimes than if was coach was on the field.
How is J.J.'s leg injury and has it impacted how he's been utilized?
Yeah, he’s feeling good. I actually talked to him today. And yesterday, felt the best he’s felt so just excited to get to work.
Plan for J.J. vs. Ohio State
Yeah, just get him in rhythm and put a good plan together for him. So just excited for the plan to continue to get installed and executed.
How do you get him in rhythm?
We just got to do a really good job of the plan and executing the plan in all phases — protection, route running, completions, all that. So we’ll get there for sure.
How much does the 'Michigan vs. Everybody' mentality propel the team?
I think the kids just, they just do it anyway — they all have a chip on their shoulder, sometimes a boulder. And nothing we talk about internally, constantly — we don’t harp on. We’re just trying to focus on beating the team we’re about to play.
What have the last few weeks proven?
They’re 11-0, No. 3 team in the country. And they’re just out to prove that they’re the best team in the country.
Is it championship or bust?
We’re just gonna focus on this game, we’re not going to try to talk about what’s going on in the future or anything like that, and just attack today. That’s how our kids have gone about their business every week. We don’t look forward to anything else. And we’re gonna try to make this the best Monday we’ve had.
What needs to be cleaned up from Maryland?
Yeah, just more detail, which I think it’s crazy. All the guys were already in yesterday. So they’ve already started putting that stuff up, just detail in little things and finishing. The first half was really good, except for the last drive, and we drove down the field and had an unfortunate play that he hadn’t had since Bowling Green. So just sustaining that same consistency that we had in the first half in the second half, and we’re excited, ready to do that.
What's been most surprising about being a head coach?
A lot more interviews? And then, I mean, probably that was — the interviews, post, pre — having Dave around as much as you can. I learned that Dave was, he’s phenomenal. I already knew that he was good at his job. Let me talk about a guy that’s on point at every second. But besides that, the general feel for me, I’m just trying to do my part to help the team win as the game goes on.
What's been different on game day?
Biggest thing is probably the game management stuff. And then talking to the refs where I usually don’t talk to the refs at all. And coach wants me to make sure that I’m doing it. So that’s the that’s probably the biggest thing for me. Usually, I have no association with the refs at all. Besides pregame. I might know somebody or anything like that. But that’s probably the biggest adjustment right here
What would a win vs. Ohio State mean for the team this year?
We all know what it means. It’s The Game, it’s the one you practice, you play for, you work for all year. So we all know the stakes, and it will give us a chance to go three-peat on the Big Ten title. So the words, the prep, that’ll come out a little bit more later on down the week, try to keep it on a low boil this week, because it can get pretty high, really fast. So the kids are as prepared mentally and physically as they’ll ever be to get ready for this week. So we’re just excited to get with them today.
Karsen Barnhart's recent struggles
I think it just in general, in football, you’re going to have bad plays, you play against really good players. So we always talked about FIDO — forget it and drive on. And if you don’t do that, as a football player, it’ll harp you, regardless of your position — quarterback, running back, O-line, tight end, defense, all those things happen. So you got to make sure you push on forward, because that’s gonna happen. So now you got to refocus and get ready to go.
Will he be aggressive in his playcalling vs. OSU?
I guess we’ll see as we get into the flow of the game, and as we prepare through the week, so we’ll see what happens.
How far can James Turner hit a field goal from?
Yeah, I think that all depends on — also the wind and different aspects of the weather and what’s going on. So just trust our special teams unit and trust coach Jay and all decisions. So whenever those situations occur, we’ll definitely refer back to that.
Did Jim Harbaugh give any advice about talking to the refs?
No, and I’m not going to talk to them like how he talks to them. Oh, he’s earned it. He can say whatever he wants to the refs. I just try to communicate and just get an understanding for what’s going on and what they’re calling, what they’re seeing, and do what’s best for our team and help our team as much as they can.
Is it difficult to figure that out live as its happening?
No, no, it’s not. Found myself trying to pull back a little bit and not be too aggressive. Because you want to want them to like you. You want to be on your side. So but it’s just all about communication.
Is there a balance between handcuffing J.J. during mistake times and letting him make plays?
Just let him be him. And you got a really good player, can’t put the handcuffs on, you got to let him play. He made the mistake. He learned from it and he won’t make it again. So that’ll be huge for us as we go down the stretch.
Is OSU the best defense they've faced? How have Penn State and Purdue prepared him for it?
Yeah, I mean, besides our defense, I think the best one obviously, I think Penn State was up there and then Purdue’s up there. But the stats speak for themselves. And you see it on film. They’re good at every position. They’re deep at every position. So it’s gonna be something we got to prepare for mentally and physically. So we’re excited for it.