Michigan’s brutal 62-39 loss to Ohio State to end the 2018 regular season has served as a big-time motivator for the Wolverines this spring.
And to add to the motivation, the UM coaching staff saw two of its own defect to the rival Buckeyes. It’s only April 11, but Michigan safeties and special teams coach Chris Partridge is already revved up for their next shot at the Buckeyes.
“I got blood in my mouth,” Partridge told reporters Thursday. “There’s no qualms about it. So, yeah. For me, the motivation is last year. I don’t wake up a day and not think about it.”
Partridge is in his fifth season in Ann Arbor. He coached the previous four with Greg Mattison and last year with Al Washington, both of whom have traded in their maize and blue Michigan gear for the scarlet and grey of the Buckeyes on the staff of first-year head coach Ryan Day.
It has been three months since those two left, but it’s still fresh on Partridge’s mind.
“Those guys left and it was another shot,” Partridge said. "It wasn’t OK. That’s how I feel. I’m not speaking for anyone else. I’m ultra-motivated and I make sure my guys that I get in front of, they hear it and they know that every single day I wake up and I’m motivated. I’m going to coach harder than I ever imagined I could coach. We’re going to try to make sure that scoreboard never looks like it did last year.”
Partridge: Mattison ‘made his bed, has to lie in it’
The departure of Mattison was a surprise to those in the Michigan program. He spent 13 seasons with the Wolverines, including Harbaugh’s entire tenure as head coach. The fact that Mattison moved on to Ohio State of all places was tough for Partridge to understand.
"I have never seen it happen before. I’m not going to pretend to understand the reasons,” Partridge said. “All I know is we’re here and the people here are locked arms, ready to go, walk down that alley and do what’s needed to win. That’s all I really care about. That’s his decision. He made his bed, so he’s got to lie in it. That’s it.”
Partridge said he hasn’t talked to either of the coaches who left and has “no desire” to reach out.
The loss to Ohio State cost the Wolverines a chance to play for the Big Ten title and go to the College Football Playoff. The loss also knocked the Wolverines down to the Peach Bowl, where they were embarrassed 41-15 by Florida.
The disappointing finish to the season sent Harbaugh back to the drawing board, looking to shake up how his program does things offensively. He hired Josh Gattis from Alabama to oversee the offense and has promised things will be different in 2019.
The Wolverines have gone 10-3 in three of Harbaugh’s four seasons and have yet to capture a Big Ten East title. UM hasn’t defeated Ohio State during Harbaugh’s tenure either. In fact, the losing streak in the series is up to seven.
Perhaps 2019 will be the year.
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