Harbaugh Weekly: Michigan outhit by UCF? Really?

Jim Harbaugh’s latest debating partner is Central Florida coach Scott Frost, who claimed the Knights ``outhit’’ Michigan on Saturday despite getting pounded on the scoreboard. 51-14.

``We came in here and outhit those guys today,” Frost said, pointing to UCF piling up 275 rushing yards to Michigan’s 119 yards on the ground. ``Standing on the sideline, there’s no doubt which team was hitting harder. Our guys came in hungry and wanted to do that. It’s rare when you can come into Michigan and rush for 300 yards on them. They had to run a fly sweep in the fourth quarter to get to 100. I give our defense a ton of credit.’’

Harbaugh conceded the point—up to a point.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]``They hit well,’’ he said Monday. ``That was a good, physical football team and I was impressed with the way they tackled, I was impressed with the way they played. I was very impressed with their speed. I agree. They played very well.’’

However, comma. . .

``My view of it after the game and after watching the film was that we got the job done,’’ Harbaugh added. ``We took care of business physically in the lines.’’

Whether UCF outhit the Wolverines—and whether anyone can claim to have been more physical after losing by 37 points—are not topics I choose to pursue.

From what I saw of that game, Michigan was doing what it wanted to do—right down to covering the 35.5-point spread for the MgoBlue faithful. Finding flaws in a team that has throttled Hawaii and UCF by a combined 114-17, would seem to be nitpicking.

Here’s a topic, though, that might relate to Frost's claim. . .

Being outrushed 275-119 would not seem to be a good trend—especially when the Midwestern winds start to howl in November.

Michigan is 90th in the nation in run defense, allowing 178 yards a game (and 4.29 yards per rush). The Wolverines are 12th in the Big Ten against the run. Hell, they’re fifth (and last) in the state of Michigan, behind Central (One More Play) Michigan, which is fourth in the nation at 47 yards a game, 1.59 yards per carry; Michigan State, and Eastern and Western Michigan.

Does this matter? Probably not—especially when you’re smacking your opponents by nearly 50 points a game.

But I’ve been listening to coaches pontificate for generations about how important it is to stop the run.

The plot really thickens when you add in new Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown, 61, a universally respected guru who guided Boston College to the nation's No. 2 rushing defense (82.8 yards a game) last year, behind Alabama. BC also was fourth in scoring defense, allowing 15.3 points a game.

Brown, who has worked wonders at places like BC, UConn, UMass and Maryland, is widely expected to produce a stout defense with the stellar talent he has at Michigan. Some analysts have questioned Brown's aggressive, attacking style as high-risk, high reward.

Brown's response? ``That's a bunch of baloney.''

Is this guy the perfect defensive assistant for Harbaugh? If he gets Harbaugh-like results, yup.

The Wolverines’ next opponent, Colorado, probably isn’t going to shed any light on their hitting or their defense. Nor is Michigan’s first Big Ten opponent, Penn State, which is 13th in Big Ten rushing and 12th in total offense.

But when Wisconsin comes to the Big House on Oct. 1 with Corey Clement & his big bad Badger offensive-line friends, we’ll have more information.


Harbaugh added another coveted life experience last week, taking a ride in a Black Hawk helicopter, courtesy of the Michigan National Guard, the day before the Wolverines observed Military Appreciation Day at the UCF game.

``It was unbelievable,’’ he said. ``A tremendous experience. ``The stadium still looked like a big house. It was great to see the town. The pilots were awesome, doing what they do. You gain a real respect for somebody when they have your life in their hands. A true professional and an amazing experience.’’[/membership]