The latest bit of Harbaugh bravado?
Michigan lined up in a 10-man I formation against Wisconsin on Saturday. It’s called ``Trains.’’ And it sure looked wacky.
``I was like, `Really? What’s going on here?’ ’’ Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis said. ``It was unbelievable.’’
Harbaugh’s tribute to the Rockettes was neither trainwreck, nor prelude to The Picket Fence. Breaking from their single wing into a more traditional formation, the Wolverines sent De’Veon Smith up the middle for five yards to set up a one-yard touchdown.
``Just something that my son Jay found and came up with,’’ Harbaugh said, crediting his son and tight-ends coach, Jay, 27, with the odd look. ``But it was good. The guys had fun with it. We put it in this week and executed it well.’’
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In the crazy world of Harbaugh-watching, the new Trains offensive wrinkle got the attention.
But the truth is, Michigan’s head-banging 14-7 grind past Wisconsin wasn’t really about offensive sleight of hand.
It was about a stout defense that held Wisconsin to a season-low 159 yards, including just 71 rushing yards. The Michigan defense also came up with three interceptions. Wisconsin forced only one turnover.
For all of his eye-catching Twitter wars and telethon-like Signing Day celebrations, Harbaugh has not shaken his smash-mouth roots.
``I appreciate the style of football today, no question about it,’’ he said. ``It’s a good style of football. It’s been a winning style of football for us through five games and it’s been a winning style of football for Wisconsin. Today was too fun.’’
MIchigan is allowing just 12.4 points a game, sixth in the nation. It is among the nation’s top-five in team sacks and tackles for loss. And it leads the nation with a 15.4 percent third-down conversion defense.
No question, Harbaugh’s defense is loaded with talent that’s led by all-purpose whiz Jabrill Peppers, who’s taking advantage of opportunities on offense and in the return game as well as on defense.
Clearly, as an athlete, he’s special,’’ Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. ``But I think the football part of him, the understanding—he’s got to be the best player in college football right now.’’
Another plus is the old-school off-season move Harbaugh, hiring 61-year-old Don Brown as defensive coordinator. Brown has built a reputation as a defensive genius with a variety of under-nourished East Coast schools, most recently Boston College.
With Brown in charge of Michigan’s seriously muscular defense, the Wolverines are stopping people seriously.
`Trains' and Twitter get the headlines. But defense still wins championships[/membership]