ANN ARBOR — Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh took part in his weekly Monday press conference today to provide some updates on his football team and look ahead to Saturday’s game at Ohio State. He answered a number of questions about what’s on deck for his Wolverine squad. Also speaking to reporters were left tackle Ryan Hayes, defensive tackle Mazi Smith, and nickel back Mike Sainristil. The highlights of everything that was said can be found below.
- They keep track of Ohio State all year long because they know it will be the toughest test to date.
- How key is it to establish the run game and both teams having injuries? It will be important to establish and stop it.
- What does he tell the guys who haven’t been to Columbus. “It’s gonna be great.” Grateful for the experience.
- The Ohio State defense is really good. 17 takeaways. Three defensive touchdowns. It’s a pretty strong defense.
- Any update on Blake Corum or Donovan Edwards? “No, no update.”
- On Blake Corum the person: he’s amazing. Larger than life. So many things he does are an example of why this team is so tight together.
- Ohio State is an improved team. “We’re very grateful to be in this position, to be playing in this game. Winner takes the East. Winner takes all.” It’s the kind of situation that gives you the opportunity to display how strong this team is. No need to hate. Two strong opponents. Like superheroes, but you get to find out how strong you are. They have great players with Heisman habits just like Michigan. “Congratulations, but be grateful.”
- What did last year’s win do for the program? It’s just a real honor to be in this position. You get to test yourself at the end of the year and you’ll find out if you’re made of the right stuff.
- How quickly did you turn to OSU after the Illinois game? Just a couple of hours before he started watching the Maryland game.
- Thoughts on JJ McCarthy’s heading into his first start in this game? He played well last week and took Michigan on a game-winning drive. He can turn water into wine. “He’s got it.” He has great presence in tough situations. “He’s got it, man. I’m just so glad he’s on our team.” He’s got that grit and determination. What will he tell JJ: “Go have at it.”
- Anything you’re curious to see on Saturday? Always searching to understand where Michigan is at and where “our opponent is.”
- “I think you’re going to find that we’re made of the right stuff.”
- After thinking about the NFL during the offseason, are you happy you stayed? “So pleased with this team. I just want to congratulate them for them putting them in the position they’re in.” It is a tremendous honor to play against this kind of an opponent in these circumstances in Ohio Stadium.
- Being “happy warriors”: There’s no need to hate or have anxiety.
- He absolutely sees a tougher team in Ohio Stadium. Two superheroes going at each other.
- Why is he sure they have the right stuff? This is a group of happy warriors who have paid the price. They have taken on every challenge.
- Rivalry talk between head coaches is irrelevent.
- “If they can’t practice, they can’t play in the game.”
- CJ Stroud and Marvin Harrison have Heisman habits.
- Is there any danger in making this too big for the players? When you have both teams at 11-0, that doesn’t mean anything now. It’s about going 1-0 this week.
Left Tackle Ryan Hayes
- Winning the line of scrimmage is going to be big for both teams.
- The Ohio State defense has gotten better. They fly to the ball.
- Is there really no hate in the game? “No, I agree with what coach said.” All we’re trying to do is win.
- This will probably be the best front seven they have played this year. They prepare the same every week.
- This game is always in the back of your mind. They think about it every day.
- Most of the players have never played in this game at Ohio Stadium.
- What gives him confidence that the offense can move the ball without Blake Corum if he can’t go? Everybody else will have to step up more.
- JJ McCarthy is an extremely calm player.
- How important is it to be happy warriors? “We’re going to be happy on Saturday.” It’s all about business. It’s all about winning the game.
- They have complete confidence in the passing game. If they have to throw it around, the offensive line will protect.
- If Blake Corum can’t go, how much will the run/pass ratio shift? He doesn’t think they would change their identity because they’re missing one guy.
Defensive Tackle Mazi Smith
- How much does the defense take a game like this on their shoulders? They take every game the same and it’s on the defense to win it.
- They know Ohio State has every motivation to come into this game and win it but Michigan has every intention to keep that from happening.
- What’s the key to not playing too tight? Understanding that everybody is going to hit and be hit.
- They’ve given everything to get to 11-0. They have a week to give everything they’ve got to get to 12-0. This is why you come to Michigan.
- He hasn’t told his teammates what it’s like at Ohio Stadium. “I’m just excited to be in another hostile environment.”
- What has this team learned from past road games? They are good against adversity and “stick to the plan.” Understand that you can take control of the game. “Can’t let nothing really get to you.”
- What makes CJ Stroud so good and what did you do last year to slow him down? He’s efficient. They need constant effort to stop him.
- How does thinking about Ohio State every day manifest itself? Coaches mention it. They put stuff throughout the building. The plant seeds in their heads about being prepared for it, but they also tell them to be where their feet are and stay focused on the moment.
- If these two teams are superheroes, who is who? He likes Batman. Ohio State can be Ironman because they’ve got some cool stuff too.
- Winning last year doesn’t mean anything for this game. That was last year’s team. He definitely wants to win another, but winning multiple games in a row is more for the fans than the team because each team is different.
Defensive Back Mike Sainristil
- Marvin Harrison is a good all-around receiver. They are looking forward to the challenge.
- Describe the current state of the rivalry: “It’s currently the most important thing in the world.”
- How much does OSU’s RB injuries matter to the defense? It shouldn’t matter at all because whoever plays will be good.
- What gives you confidence in JJ McCarthy? He went out and won the game for them last week. “That’s just who he is and what he does.”
- Does last year’s win over OSU give you confidence for this week? It’s not like that. They are both different teams and it’s about this matchup.
- How do you keep from being too tight? You don’t think about the pressure. You continue to be yourselves. They need to be locked in, but be who you are and be yourself.
- What’s missing with the downfield passing game with the offense? They hit them in practice. They’re not far away. Sometimes there are some disconnects. Not sure why there have been issues. He knows they’ll be okay.
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