Why an 'energized' Jim Harbaugh still has faith in Michigan football amid 3-game losing streak

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Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press
·3 min read
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Jim Harbaugh said after Saturday's 49-11 loss to Wisconsin that a large-scale assessment of Michigan football was needed, with the Wolverines 1-3..

And that's how Harbaugh, recovering from a third straight loss, spent the rest of his weekend: re-evaluating everything about his program.

"Been doing a lot," Harbaugh said Monday. "Just working on football, some sleep but just working on our team."

As he returns to work with his players — and he's hoping to make it the "best Monday we've had all season."

Here are more takeaways from Harbaugh's weekly press conference.

An 'energized' Harbaugh

When asked about the current adversity facing the team, Harbaugh says his players are old enough to have faced previous obstacles. He believes they have what it takes to overcome their current situation.

"They’ve had adversity in their lives and they’ve overcome it," Harbaugh said. "Having faith in themselves that they can find a way and, collectively as a team, faith in each other that they’re going to find a way. It hurts. Losing, the reaction with the guys that is — you could tell, they felt it. I felt it, we felt it. Come back, shake it off and you go forward and you push through and with enthusiasm. With a bounce in your step. That’s the objective.”

As for himself, Harbaugh seemed relatively upbeat despite the current situation.

"I’m energized as a coach," Harbaugh said. "Hopefully you can tell, with the glasses but I got — it’s in my eyes. I’m cheerful, excited to go coach today, and as I said before, never gonna stop, never gonna quit, never gonna slow down, we’re just gonna keep attacking and coaching guys. Don’t think I could live without that so that’s darn sure what I’m gonna do.”

Michigan's got a quarterback battle

Harbaugh says the quarterback competition between Joe Milton and Cade McNamara has officially been re-opened.

“We’re gonna open it up," Harbaugh said. "Both will see action with the (starters)throughout the week.”

Milton started the first four games of the season. He completed 9-of-19 passes for 98 yards and two interceptions against Wisconsin before he was replaced in the third quarter by McNamara. McNamara completed 4-of-7 passes for 74 yards and one touchdown, leading the Wolverines to a touchdown on his first possession.

Milton has completed 74-of-126 passes for 967 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions and has a quarterback rating of 127.3. He has thrown four interceptions in the past seven quarters.

It would be the second time in Harbaugh's tenure that he has replaced an uninjured starter. The first occurred in 2017, when Michigan replaced John O'Korn with Brandon Peters.

Milton earned praise this offseason from those throughout the programs as he won the starting job, beating out Dylan McCaffrey (who later left the program) and McNamara.

No injury updates

Michigan was without three key contributors in defensive end Kwity Paye, right tackle Jalen Mayfield and left tackle Ryan Hayes during Saturday's loss, and their status remains unknown.

“I don’t have any injury updates today," Harbaugh said.

Paye is the team's top pass-rusher and a key piece of an already thin defensive line that is without defensive end Aidan Hutchinson for the rest of the season. Mayfield was the sole returning starter on the offensive line and has now missed two games with a high right ankle sprain. Hayes, who started two games in 2019, has missed two games with an undisclosed injury.

Contact Orion Sang at osang@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang. Read more on the Michigan Wolverines and sign up for our Wolverines newsletter. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here's how you can gain access to our most exclusive Michigan Wolverines content.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Jim Harbaugh energized despite Michigan Wolverines 3-game losing skid