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What John Madden texted Jim Harbaugh after Michigan defeated Ohio State

Earlier today Pro Football Focus released their game grades for yesterday’s Michigan-Ohio State tilt and I noted that, after a performance in which Michigan averaged 7.2 yards per carry and gained 297 rushing yards, their low run blocking grades seemed off. After hearing what Jim Harbaugh had to say during his pre-Big Ten Championship Game media availability, it seems fair to count John Madden as a fellow skeptic.

Harbaugh relayed a story about receiving a text from Madden, whose grandson, Jesse, is a freshman quarterback at Michigan. Madden had watched the game and was keeping a close eye on the the team’s offensive line. “As he said in the text, as a former offensive lineman, I really appreciate offensive line play and that performance in that game was as good as he’s ever seen,” Harbaugh said. He was asked whether other notable people reached out after the game and only said that they had; Madden was the only person he mentioned by name, even going so far as to offer to read the text to the assembled media if only he could find his phone.

It was clear that the sentiment meant something to Harbaugh. He sent the text to offensive line coach Sherrone Moore and told him to keep it on his phone forever. The work Moore has done this season, his first as the team's offensive line coach, has shown marked dividends. Michigan averaged 4.6 yards per carry and 131.5 rushing yards per game in 2020; in 2021, those averages have risen to 5.3 yards per carry and 224.9 rushing yards per game. Moore helped the offensive line embrace physical play this season, and Andrew Stueber explained after the game yesterday how this line has developed their newfound nastiness.

"I think after what happened in the 2020 season we took it upon ourselves to kind of start identifying this offensive line and building an identity that we wanted to be. It started in spring, it started in training camp, just building that intensity, that ability to move people off the ball, and that ability to kind of become nasty, as you said, and so we’ve been building that all year," Stueber said. "We’ve been able to run the ball on a lot of teams that other teams haven’t been able to. I think it showed. Kind of came to a pinnacle in this game."

Considering yesterday's performance and the text Madden sent, it seems safe to say that if he was choosing a Turkey Leg Award recipient this season, it would go to Michigan's offensive line.


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