ANN ARBOR, Mich. — For the third-straight week, it was something of a romp, with a weak nonconference opponent coming to Ann Arbor and not standing a chance.
The Wolverines trounced the Connecticut Huskies at The Big House on Saturday, 59-0, with yet another game where J.J. McCarthy was electric at quarterback, while the defense was suffocating. Like the past two weeks, the maize and blue went deep into their bench in the second half, playing 101 different players throughout the game.
The Big Ten schedule is up next, and head coach Jim Harbaugh shared his thoughts on his team now that the nonconference slate has culminated. Here is everything he had to say in his postgame press conference.
The special teams effort
Jay and the staff and the whole entire unit, it’s made a big emphasis on punt return unit and wanting to improve that. It’s very rare to get a block and a return for a touchdown. I can’t remember that happened too often at any game I’ve ever watched. But just spectacular. A.J. Henning, great to see. He joins an elite list that has had a kickoff return for a touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown. Cool stuff. Really, really proud of the way the guys are playing, doing a heck of a job.
On Caden Kolesar's block
He looked like he just really ran around the edge, got into the wedge there and, knowing Caden, took the perfect amount of steps. Took the exact right angle, just skating around — there was only two blockers there for three guys and Caden was the free guy.
Caden Kolesar's development
Yeah, he means so much. You know the branch don’t fall too far from the tree, he’s exactly like his dad in every great way. It was the first time he ever got into a game at Maryland there was a kick return for a touchdown. He’s kind of got that it factor, just like his dad.
Did he learn enough about his team heading into Big Ten season
Yeah, I like the team a lot. A good friend of mine, Jay Nordlinger — who I grew up with, was always on the same baseball teams and things like that, we’ve always remained friends — he’s got a great great way with words, always has, writing for the National Review — editor, senior editor. He sent me a great text this week and it really resonated with me. He said he just can’t wait to watch Michigan football and it reminds him of the days of Rick Leach and Harlan Huckleby and Anthony Carter and that’s the way he feels about this team. And I do as well. I’ve got that same feeling about this team.
J.J. McCarthy's development
Yeah, he’s just very locked in, very, very good. Keeps getting better and better from my vantage point. Going through progressions, going through reads, making plays, really throwing the ball accurately, making really good decisions. Very good with the timing. Talking about guys that have the ‘it factor,’ he kind of wows me at walkthrough, just the way he bounces around, the enthusiasm he has for playing. Just like a kid in a candy store. It’s fun to be around.
Did Cade McNamara get injured in the game?
Yeah, Cade, unfortunately, yes, I think his foot was caught in the ground and got hit from the side of the leg and is probably going to be out for a few weeks. Not going to be a season-ending thing, I don’t think, but he’ll miss some time.
As far as — the perimeter game was really good. You could see the effort to stop the running game and as well playing to get the ball on the edge in some of the bubble screens and perimeter screens. The blocking was really good on the edge, balls were right there on the money and hitting them in stride and guys we’re running wild with it — A.J. and Roman. Roman’s showing up now in every game catching on those perimeter screens and doing a lot with it. I think he had another 50-plus reception on a perimeter screen today.
Defensive pressure from the secondary
Yeah, the edge pressure was really good. More TFLs today and sacks. Mike Sainristil just seems like he’s getting them just as quick as Dax Hill was last year in the same kind of pressure package. It’s been good. Really impressed with the run wall today. Had a feeling after playing two air raid teams and UConn was good at running the ball that they would really test us in that area. And they did, and I thought we really did a great job stopping the run and also defending the pass at the same time. There’s a real emphasis to stop the run this week. The really good play in the secondary was obvious.
J.J. McCarthy's increased accuracy
He’s always been pretty accurate. He’s got the ability to make every throw and you probably have all noticed that. But he’s had a whole year and in the system — you’re better in a system six months after, and again even more after a year. A year and a half now, you probably look up any quarterback at any level and understand that they get better. But he was really good to start with, too. Don’t take that away from him. He’s really talented, it means a lot to him and got a great bunch of receivers to throw to.
All really playing well and I’m getting texts from them and they’re lobbying. They’re all lobbying to get the ball and lobbying the quarterbacks and other coaches. It’s a hungry group. They want that they want the ball and they’re playing extremely well in the receiver group.
His relationship with Jim Mora
I have a ton of respect for Jim Mora. He’s a great coach. He’ll do a great job. UConn’s really lucky to have him. And I just always kind of been a fan of his. I think he’s a good guy, has a lot of integrity, a good person, a really good coach.
Is Michigan ready for Big Ten season?
We’ll find out, right? We definitely come out of this one with some things to work on, as well. Just the improvement you’re seeing in so many different areas of our team. Even from game one to game three, guys that are hungry to play — starters, backups, guys on the third string. Scratch and claw and fighting to get better and to play and contribute, it’s a fun thing to coach when you’ve got as many guys that have done that and really train themselves to be where they are. I think you’d probably agree it’s a good looking team. That’s come from really training and working at it. Just so many guys on the team. 101 played today and that’s fun to go every day. The day to day for me is really good when you’re around that many players that — you’ve gotta pull them back, I really do. You don’t have to ever talk them into anything, you have to pull back from time to time. It’s cool. We’re trying to keep it going, keep training.
Who is the backup QB? Davis Warren or Alan Bowman?
We’ll decide. We’ve been playing them both an even amount of time. All options will be open. And Alex Orji, too. Don’t forget about Alex. He’s right there in the mix.
Donovan, we’ll see. Whether his status will be questionable or probable for next week, one of the two. Call it questionable to be on the safe side. He’s doing good. He’s feeling better.
(On Trevor Keegan) I don’t know. We’ll find out after the game. I don’t think anything long term.
Will his team get complacent?
They attack everything they do. And there’s been zero entitlement out of this group. I know I’ve said that before. And I don’t see any on the horizon. Great bunch of guys that way. Sure they will do continue to do what they’ve been doing and move on to next week with humble hearts. Big all capitals, onward.