Michigan Wolverines Football: Jim Harbaugh Says This Team ‘Feels Different’
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Michigan Wolverines Football: Harbaugh Says This Team ‘Feels Different’

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh plans to treat August 6 like a ‘back to normal’ day, excited to be a regular football coach again rather than a ‘COVID’ coach. He could tell from the first day of spring ball his players were more than ready to proceed without the threat of a pandemic-related stoppage looming, and they played like it.

They hit harder, trained harder and responded well, Harbaugh said of his seventh Michigan team.

“I noticed it after the first day of spring ball. Maybe it was that they hadn’t had football, or didn’t have spring practice the year before,” he surmised. “Maybe it was the pressure or whatever you say. Maybe they want to get to the top, or maybe they’ve got that deep desire to be the best. All those things, maybe.

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Michigan Wolverines football coach Jim Harbaugh is ready to get back to normal football this fall
Michigan Wolverines football coach Jim Harbaugh is ready to get back to normal football this fall (USA Today Sports Images)

“But when that practice was over and I was standing there in front of the team, I said, ‘you guys noticed that, right? That was different. That felt different. That was awesome … right? That energy. You know you did, right?’”

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They all agreed, and they responded with an outstanding summer. Sources in the building say there’s a lot of energy and guys taking it seriously, evident on the bodies of the Wolverines’ Media Day representatives. Defensive end/ outside linebacker Aidan Hutchison, linebacker Josh Ross (down to 225 pounds and ripped) and running back Hassan Haskins showed up in incredible shape.

All of them led the way with big springs, and many of the young guys followed, exciting Harbaugh.

“It was, ‘okay, let’s bottle that, put that in the copier machine and come back two days from now in our next practices and do it again,’” he said. “Then we had 15 of those type of practices, and that continued into the offseason into the summer cycle.

“Now, the offseason is half the battle. I realize that. But I think we’ve done that. Next, take your best, healthiest team you can to training camp, starting August 6, then you have at it. See how good you can get and go about winning the last half of the battle.”

But he walked into Schembechler Hall recently and was impressed at what he saw.

“I walked in and said, ‘man you’re big. You guys are big,’” he continued. “I see Aidan … David Ojabo has had a heck of an offseason. Taylor Upshaw, Mike Morris, Gabe Newburg, Mike Barrett. Brad Hawkins has got that going in his fifth year. A lot of guys, you feel it. I’ve heard other guys talk about energy, what it’s been like.

“Like everything, it’s something that you were used to and you miss it. Sometimes as a player, like when you get hurt and can’t play, it just makes you want to play that much more. You can’t wait to get back out there. Something is taken away that you really appreciated and enjoyed, and to not have that opportunity …”

As former Michigan linebacker and coach James Ross noted, playing in an empty Michigan Stadium also affected last year’s team. Harbaugh admitted feeling it, too.

“Something about running out the tunnel at any stadium, but the Big House, maybe I’m just partial that way … but to come out of there, touch that banner, feel the roar … it’s a physical, thing,” he said. “Must be soundwaves, but they’re hitting you reverberating. It’s there. The adrenalin is going that way.

“The next thing is you’ve just got to look at the crowd and see it because you’re hearing it. You know that’s not pumped in music. It’s au naturel, happening because there are 110,000, 115,000 in there. The visual of the colors … there’s no laser show. It’s au naturel. It’s just something. It’s a big stage, a spectacle, something you appreciate each and every time you go through it.

“It’s just awesome. Let’s have it back.”

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