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UNIVERSITY PARK, Penn. — It had appeared that Michigan football was on the verge of squandering another game in a similar way to how it had against Michigan State a few weeks ago. No, the lead wasn’t nearly as large, but the Wolverines were in control, thanks in large part to the defensive pressure on Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, while the offense struggled to find its rhythm.
Then, just as momentum appeared to have fully shifted to the Nittany Lions, the Wolverines took the game back, as the offense drove to midfield while tight end Erick All did the rest with a 48-yard touchdown catch-and-run.
After Michigan’s 21-17 win over Penn State, Jim Harbaugh was fired up unlike what we had seen all season, exclaiming after the game, ‘How ’bout them Wolverines?!’
“How ‘bout those Wolverines?!” pic.twitter.com/Bkfo0Cs2Kt
— Isaiah Hole (@isaiahhole) November 13, 2021
Here is everything he had to say about his Michigan football team improving to 9-1 on the season.
Was he adamant Hassan Haskins would run the ball on the last drive?
“The whole game. He’s just got a quality about him where he wants to and will take the team on his back. That’s his mindset. That’s what he did. Over 100 yards rushing in the second half and 150 or so for the day. Obviously, they’re keying on Hassan. A few other guys. Forgot about Erick All, who came up with the big play! Yeah, you know how much I love Hassan. He’s incredible so I just enjoy the incredible of what he can do.”
On the offense's poise late
“Yeah, I was real confident they would. This team doesn’t flinch. Talked about that — they don’t even bat an eye when stuff happens. You can see it with our defense when the turnover occurred and they got the ball on the 16-yard line. They just went out there and held them again in the red zone. It was really good all day for our defense. And then, offensively, I could just see the demeanor. I could see the offensive line — no flinching. You knew Hassan wouldn’t, Cornelius isn’t, Mike Sainristil’s not going to. Neither is Andrel or Roman. You know Cade’s not. I just say, ‘Hey Cade, you were born for this. Born for drives like this!’ And then he went out and did what he does. So yeah, very cold-blooded. After that — made a good play, guy made a good play with the sack-fumble. But didn’t bat an eye. Just came back and took the team down the field for the wining drive.”
On the defense getting pressure on Penn State's offense
“Those were havoc plays by the defense! 12 of them — six or seven of them were sacks. I know Aidan got three, David Ojabo got two, Mike B. got one, Junior got one. Might have been some others. Got hits, got hurries. We’re creating havoc back there in the pass rush. And great game, great game, great game by the pass rushers. Inside pass rush was really good, too. Mazi, Chris Hinton — they made a lot of plays, we made a lot of plays. We made more. Great stop at the end, four downs, really big. Special teams — fakes were coming out — that was a big fake. Stopped them three times in the red zone — twice they got field goals, once they fakes and once they missed a field goal. Again, I think that red zone defense was big. Made a huge empha–and the offense was really good in the red zone, too!
“How about those Wolverines?! If that’s not great, I don’t know what is!”
Did he expect the TD pass to Erick All to be open?
“Yeah, that’s a play we work a lot. Haven’t called it much. When we got the man coverage, we were excited as heck to call that one. Erick took a really perfect pass on the crossing route, circled the entire defense. They were out of leverage. That was good for us. Erick took it and went the distance. Coming back from a high ankle and put that one to bed. He was rolling!”
Why did they call timeout before Penn State's fake punt?
“Why did I call the timeout before the fake punt? Because we had 13 guys on the field! I didn’t want it to go from fourth-and-6 to fourth-and-1. We’re always expecting (fake punts), you’re always got eyes on the eligibles. We did on all the field goals and were able to stop it. We missed — we came inside and lost leverage on one of their eligibles on the fake punt.
“Just another example: the guys don’t flinch. They get them stopped, fake punt, they converted. They still didn’t let them in the end zone. Really — that’s huge all day, all game for our defense to not let them in the end zone except for the one drive. It took, I think three or four fourth downs to fourth-and-4, two fourth-and-2s and there might have been one other one on that drive as well. Would have liked to have one of those calls back, but I know Mike did. But, you know, really good. Great performance.”
How did the secondary do vs. Jahan Dotson and how much of an emphasis was he?
“Quite a bit — not every down, but a lot of the downs we were doubling hi and he’s just a really good player. I thought DJ had a heckuva game, I thought Vince did as well. Press coverage and throwing deep balls, they weren’t able to get him. You’re not gonna totally shut a guy like that down. I thought it was outstanding play by Vince and DJ.”
Is this the type of team he expected this year?
“We were just going about it every day, every day to have good days. At the beginning of the season, middle of the season, now. That’s — we’re just trying to have good days. Good meetings, good practices. And then go play the games. It’s great. I love the team — it’s really a team in its beginning when you think about all of the young players. Dave Ablauf was doing some stats — I didn’t catch them all, but the amount of guys that had their best or their first. Games, catches, interceptions, forced fumbles, sacks, yards gained, touchdown catches. Roman Wilson got two today. It’s certainly the type of team that — you don’t know who it’s gonna be. ‘Is it gonna be you that makes the big play, is it gonna be you that steps up this week?’ We talked about that on Friday, right Roman? Is it gonna be you, Roman? You don’t know who it is, but it’s the kind of ball team, when you’re on the ball team, you just know somebody is. You’re confident that it’s gonna be you that steps up when it’s your time to do that. What if it comes down to Josh Gattis making the winning call? What if it comes down to Mike Macdonald having to make — are they gonna be ready? ‘Yeah, yeah, we’re really confident,’ that they’re gonna be ready. If it’s Erick All that gets — we know what’s gonna happen. He’s gonna make it. These guys, they’ve really trained for this and they belive in each other. They believe in their ball team.”
What does it say about Aidan Hutchinson that he makes big plays when there's chaos around him?
“Because he’s a great player. We’re all really happy for that Lombardi semi-finalist nomination. We’re gonna be biased on this one. Can there be better guy, a better player than him out there? I don’t know, I haven’t seen it. Again, I’m probably biased. He’s that kind of player, great player. And the three sacks — plus he got a holding. It was a big holding in there, too, where if they wouldn’t have held him, he would’ve gotten a fourth.”
This is the kind of game Michigan used to lose. Is that coach-instilled?
“I think it’s just — it happens. It’s a ball team. But I don’t know about all that stuff. This is a great win. No doubt this team is full of all the championship qualities in guys, football players — they were born to do this. They approach like, ‘Yeah, we were born for these kind of days. Let’s go have at it! Go have good days and then go play the game.’ They enjoy it. They’re having a lot of fun, the energy’s high, it’s time to go! That’s the stuff that I see and I hear and then they go and have at it. It’s great to be a part of.”