Michigan Football Podcast — Spring Practice Commentary 2-28-23

Phil and Clint discuss the state of Michigan football as spring practice begins. Topics include Jim Harbaugh’s criteria on whether he should remain at Michigan after every season, his response to the NCAA as well as snarking by some local media outlets, his happiness when players decide to return to the program, and his relationship with athletic director Warde Manuel. With audio from Jim Harbaugh.

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Phil Callihan 0:00
This is Phil Callihan, along with Clint Derringer and spring practice has begun for this new edition of the Michigan Wolverines well Clint Coach Jim Harbaugh had a press conference he addressed a number of topics. What did you find interesting about his statements to the media?

Clint Derringer 0:32
I think just in general, the way you know when Harbaugh has kind of any offseason, especially, you know, at the end of December the last games played the bowl game. Another tough loss obviously at the end of a really great and historically great season. Kind of a downer to end on. Just one sour note at the end of a really great season. Then a lot of crazy headaches and some drama that swirl right after and you know, the first time Harwell comes out to see everybody. He has his a comical ability to just pretend like nothing happened, even you know, standing in front of all of the newspaper writers and be writers and answering the questions. So matter of factly as if, you know, we did not just see the craziness, you know, and it’s it’s just it’s still amusing to me that kind of a picture into how he compartmentalizes things. And to him right now. This is the 23 season and his eyeballs are 100% forward. And he’s he’s nearly dismissive of almost anything that’s kind of backward looking, which is kind of just who he is. It’s frustrating to many people, fans and members alike. But that was the overtone of the overarching tone was I was kind of chuckling to myself, because I could feel the kind of the tension or frustration with folks that you know, probably thought that they were going to finally have their chance to grill hardball. And he just slides by like water water off a duck’s back.

Phil Callihan 2:16
Well, it is interesting. And you know, Clint, you have won, I’d say that we have been through enough Jim Harbaugh, Jim Harbaugh press conferences, that we kind of know what to expect at this point. Right. But it was interesting, again, as you said, how he just, you know, these questions come up, and they’re just glancing blows, he just keeps moving forward.

Jim Harbaugh 2:41
I’m here, you know, as long as Michigan wants me and wants me here. And that you would have had a story if I wasn’t here. But I’m here. And, this is where where I wanted to be.

Phil Callihan 2:55
And on one hand, you could just, you know, see the Twittersphere explode, right? Like, oh, look, he’s back. He’s always gonna be here. See, there was nothing to worry about. And then he came back with-

Jim Harbaugh 3:08
Yeah, like, yeah, like we’ve said, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s an it’s an ongoing thing. Something that we retreat is a really positive thing that NFL franchises, NFL teams have a lot of interest in all of our personnel, coaches, players, staff, if somebody in our organization feels like, you know, that’s going to benefit them professionally. And personally, then we say that we don’t, we don’t hold anybody back. I think the players it’s got to be so many, over the last eight years, it’s got to be in the 80s or 90s, over over eight years, amount of players that are in the NFL coaches, I think I’ve lost count how many coaches have gone to to the NFL from here. Staff members, same. So, right now Jesse mentors, you know, considering that and we just don’t hold him back. I like to tell you all the all the ones that I mean calls come in, calls come in calls are taking those conversations, or had I was a few coaches on our staff that those calls came in and, and and they decided to stay here in Michigan. I’m one of them. There’s, there’s another so you guys are going to people do what they think is, is best for them professionally and personally.

Phil Callihan 4:39
It’s kinda like he answers the question with a yes and a no. Right. And he doesn’t seem to grasp or I should say care about the, you know, the differences there. Right. So it’s interesting because, you know, on one hand, he says, Well, you know, I’m I’m here Are as long as they want me to be,

Jim Harbaugh 5:02
I gotta have a great relationship with Ward Manuel, and he’s been great for our athletic department and our in our university. That nothing but good. I trust word he trusts me. I mean, as far as you know, any kind of any kind of contract situation. And we’d like to talk about that we talked about, I just asked, Hey, do you just? Do you want me here at Michigan after every season after every season? anywhere I’ve ever been? I mean, that’s conversation I want to have, do you still think I’m the best person to do this job. And then I want to know what the, you know, the rest of the administration thinks I want to know what the players think. I want to know what the other coaches think. And I want to know what the fanbase thinks. And so when that season’s over I, I sit down to have that conversation with Ward and, and, and do the same with the players and assess where the where the fan base is, and has never been in. All the years I’ve been here. And that’s the feedback I got in the in the month of January was as good as it’s ever been from players, coaches, from Ward administration. President and from the fan base. And so here we go. Let’s go to 2023. and have at it.

Phil Callihan 6:30
You know, one of the surprising things that I thought is that nobody followed up with a question about well, if you get along so well with Word, why did the university president step in? Right, which has never happened before? And, you know, one of the things that I was hoping for was that somehow this offseason, Michigan could put the rest this annual dance with the NFL. Right. So, you know, at one point during the press conference on that, oh, well, maybe we’ve maybe we finally set this aside. And then at the end, he ended up with

Jim Harbaugh 7:11
That’s something you assess after every season, that’s the thing that I will, I will do after every season, just to my superiors, fan base, players get that you get that vote of confidence from from all three of those, all three of those groups. And you know, here we go again, let’s, let’s tee it up and have a have a great season and we’re attacking with enthusiasm unknown to mankind.

Question 7:47
The decision to go ahead and have those talks with the Broncos was that in any way, a sign that you hadn’t gotten the vote of confidence?

Jim Harbaugh 7:54
Now, as I said before, calls come in calls are taken with everybody. With everybody in the program and some calls, it takes some some you don’t.

Question 8:07
Why take this one this year. What was it about that opportunity?

Jim Harbaugh 8:13
Intriguing. Like I said, I think we’d have you’d have a real story if I, if I was right here, doing exactly what I told you. I predicted I would be doing.

Phil Callihan 8:23
You know, and I think it’s a very honest answer. And I liked that he put it out there that, you know, on NFL interest, you know, he’s gonna assess after every season. And, and, you know, I can live with that, because I had really kind of come to that conclusion myself with a little bit of frustration that, you know, when Harbaugh came back to Michigan, you know, I know there were NFL beat writers who and and alleged experts who said he was never going to come back here, right. And then when he came back here, it was, well, he’s only going to be here for a few years until the perfect job in the NFL, but and here we are heading into, you know, two great seasons of Michigan Football. And I think what we’ve learned in the last two off seasons is I think that there’s definite interest for Coach Harbaugh on his part to return to the NFL for the right situation. And there’s enough interest from the NFL that I think this is going to keep coming up. And I liked it. He kind of just put it out there. He’s like, listen, the players always evaluate, I’m going to evaluate. And, you know, we just we just kind of get used to it. Like, I kind of feel that January is Harbaugh NFL season. Right. And, you know, I you know, it is interesting to me that, you know, after the COVID shortened season, there were plenty of people in the Michigan camp, you know, Michigan fandom, who would have been perfectly content to run them out of town. And now it’s Wait, wait, don’t go. Right. So it’s amazing that how the, I guess the temperature of the Michigan fandom has changed. And, again, it just seems like something we’re going to need to keep dealing with as as we move forward.

Clint Derringer 10:16
And I want to reiterate something that we say it seems like, at least once per podcast, right, especially talking about Harbaugh and the way that he communicates and decisions that he makes is that he’s been plainly and brutally honest through through most of his conversations. It’s kind of a obviously a personal value of his that when he says something, he wants it to be the truth. And that he kind of massages what he says, By removing, you know, anything of interest, so that everything is still just kind of technically true. And he doesn’t, he’s not fazed by those awkward kind of standoffs when he responds to something where somebody’s clearly driving for a particular narrative, or, you know, simply doing their job as a journalist and kind of asking questions and hard follow up questions. Harbaugh’s, you know, I can’t imagine he’s ever lost a staring contest. And I’ll say that, I will say, this offseason was was more frustrating than the previous times, I think, this time last year. For me, right, there was kind of a sense of the initial seven year contract from when he first came back to harbor, even though there were extensions and pay changes and increases and decreases got the the initial term of his first contract was seven years, he kind of mentioned that that was kind of all of his plan. It was always his plan to kind of kick the tires on the NFL interest in and possibilities. At the end of that seven years and see and reevaluate. He flew to Minnesota, and then there’s this kind of strange interview with Mitch Albom, you know, now seems strange, where he says, you know, this isn’t going to be an annual thing. And then a year later, he’s back in the mix of it. I think that there are it’s the first time really that I feel there’s a direct contradiction to something that he said on the record, and what his actions did following up now I I don’t think it’s black and white. I don’t think it’s kind of cut and dry that way. Certainly. There was a lot of strange actions and activities that were happening in the offseason. Whatever the tension is, or negotiation stance, between Ward Manuel and Jim Harbaugh, certainly there’s a dynamic there that that’s in play. For the first time in at least that we know of, right, Jim Harbaugh is being represented by an agent and not representing himself in these negotiations. So I’m sure you know, he’s got somebody he’s paying good money to advising him on how he should be communicating publicly, to kind of, you know, how it affects the negotiating leverage that he’s giving his agent. I think that played a role in in how this past offseason went. And then the the drama with the NCAA and the level two allegation, allegations, and the timing of that. And really, and then Jim Harbaugh’s insistence on kind of taking a stand and fighting the NCAA, and the more major allegation that he misled or lied to investigators, right. And I think, from what we know about Jim Harbaugh as a person, from his, from his public facing comments and what he has said and done on the record, it matters pretty much to him, that the institution that he’s a part of supports him and that he feels loved and supported, especially when he’s preparing for what could be a really long drawn out battle. And I think a lot of this stuff isn’t gonna play out in the public, by the time that most of this becomes public knowledge, and it will, but but we’ll be long past talking about the January 2023 offseason in the NFL hiring cycle. So I certainly agree with what you said. I think it probably makes sense to kind of settle in and and understand that this is going to be at least a conversation annually. I do want to kind of put my hand up and say that this is the first time that there’s that contradiction that I mentioned And but still, I think that I can understand how the situation is different in what’s different in January of 23, as compared to when he made those comments in February of 22. So, all of that said, you know, I wish it wasn’t that way. I wish to, you know, I’m sure we can talk more about the the NCAA investigation and allegations, I wish that wasn’t happening. But in the grand scheme of things, I you know, I am still satisfied and happy that Jim Harbaugh is here and coaching Michigan’s Football program, and has kind of a unique ability to compartmentalize all of that, pack it away, put it on the shelf, and focus on the task at hand, which right now is spring practice.

Phil Callihan 15:52
So one of the things about Jim Harbaugh that I’ve come to appreciate, slash acknowledge, is that he’s a different kind of guy, right. And we knew that coming back from his time here when he was at Michigan, and, you know, from watching him as a player in the NFL, and as a coach in the NFL. But, and I think specifically about his time with the 40, Niners. There’s a reason why he was kind of out of sync with the 49 ownership, because he’s a different guy. Okay. And part of him being different is, you know, as you alluded to, there’s this, you know, I always I call back, you know, being a Star Wars fan, you know, to the original Star Wars? Well, you know, a lot of your truth depends on your point of view, right. And from Jim’s point of view, everything he says is completely honest and completely straightforward. And occasionally we sit back and go, Wait, what did you just say, five minutes ago, or 10 minutes ago? So it is interesting that, you know, on one hand, he talks about, Well, I’m here as long as Michigan wants me. But as you mentioned, he really, I think the thing that I learned from this press conferences, as much as he tries to stay aloof and above the fray, there is a certain amount of wanting to be wanted, right? Wanting to be the guy for everybody, from the administration, from the coaches. You know, he had a statement where he says, You know, I evaluate, you know, what the, what my coaches think what my players think, what the administration thinks, and, you know, he didn’t mention the media, which, which I would have laughed if somebody had suggested, but it’s like, he, he really wants to be popular.

Clint Derringer 17:40
You did mention the fan base in that in that phrase. Yeah.

Phil Callihan 17:44
Yeah. So it’s interesting that he acknowledged that I think he acknowledged that he does care, you know, it does matter. He wants to all be together. And, you know, specifically about the NCAA,

Jim Harbaugh 17:56
I would just say, just, you got to be a Schem, you know, you just got to be in this in this building. To just to really, to really feel it, compare us to perfect, and we’re going to come up short. In the in the major areas, comparison to any other program, I think you’re gonna see that we’re the we’re doesn’t get doesn’t get any better. When you talk about graduating players, up to perfect, but it’s I mean, it’s as close as you could possibly be, to, to graduating players over the years, talking about doing things with integrity, on the field off the field. players, coaches, staff, everybody within this, within this football program, about as close as you can get to, to perfection, winning games…not perfect. 13 was not perfect, but as we keep striving for we keep, we keep chasing that perfection.

Phil Callihan 19:00
And I appreciate that. I like that, right? It’s an acknowledgment that you’re always going to fall short. But it was also a shot at the NCAA say and you know, you’re coming at us with tic tac stuff. And I always use the analogy of speeding on the expressway right here in Michigan, going five over, you should you know, nobody’s gonna bat an eye, you go 20 30 40 You’re gonna get pulled over. And it seems as if the NCAA is really good at tic tac five miles over tickets, while ignoring programs that are just blowing by 30 or 40 miles over. So I kind of get that’s the impression I get from when Coach Harbaugh talks about it. And, again, there are a lot of rumors about what happened with the alleged NCAA violation and what Harbaugh’s role in it is and you know, I think we are going to learn more about That, I think we do know that it is not a major, you know, thing. This is not a, a ESPN front page scandal, you know, at some other programs, but I think that you know, and you know more than think we know that, in the past coach, Harbaugh has directly challenged the NCAA. And I think that that raises the awareness a little bit. That is the same way, if you ride referees, you’re not going to get calls. And we can remember the first couple of seasons. Coach, Harbaugh was real good on writing the referees, and I think he backed off a little bit. Seeing that, you know, there was not exactly a good outcome in some cases. And I think this is just a natural outcome of the hypocrisy of the NCAA. And we’re just going to have to deal with it.

Clint Derringer 20:52
I mean, we’ve seen We’ve seen Jim Harbaugh’s decisions, especially early in his tenure at Michigan, where he found unique ways to try to work within the rules, and still try to give the program a competitive advantage. We saw this with the satellite camps and hiring high school coaches that were tied to high level recruits. And those were the triggers that led the NCAA to change rules specifically to crack down on what Harbaugh was doing. So this, whatever particular loophole Harbaugh had found, in those early years, the NCAA was quick to crack down rule changes and enforcement and these these other things, as you mentioned, where we know, they’re just, you know, major violations, you know, all over the place, and, and even more so, in the Wild West, you know, of NIHL. And kind of the paper curtain between, you know, pay for play and money coming from universities, through collectives or somehow loosely affiliated organizations and eventually paying players for their name image and likeness. No standard rule, right. It’s it’s the NCAA is an enforcement body is an embarrassment. So Michigan, by playing by the rules, certainly to a greater degree than than many of the programs that operate on the same competitive level with Michigan in the in the top tier. In Football, especially recently. I think Harbaugh said it in a way that would certainly was unique. With this comparison to don’t come, we’re chasing perfect. And if you’ve made compares to perfect, certainly there are flaws, but they certainly are doing things a lot closer to the right way than many of their peers. And certainly he’s he’s still bracing to fight with the NCAA. So we’ll see how that goes. Again, I wish that it weren’t happening. But this example is another ridiculous bald faced hypocrisy with one of the lower level violations being that an analyst, not a true onfield coach, but an analyst was putting time in as a coach and actually coaching players. And it was days between the announcement of that violation for Michigan and the NCAA announcing that that’s no longer going to be a violation. But they’re adding an additional Anfield coach and analysts are going to be allowed to coach players because once they got to publicize this particular violation in Michigan’s past, you know, from two or three seasons ago, then yeah, but we’re going to change that rule because nobody else cares about our slap on the wrist, maybe Michigan well, so it was literally less than less than 72 hours separating the slap on the wrist for Michigan publicly and then but we’re going to change the rule so that we don’t have to really address it because it’s happening everywhere else. So just crazy. Just just crazy. So that problem is one big piece of it. Again, I would say that that’s kind of a major thing that Harbaugh has managed to kind of contain and compact and sit on the shelf and then there’s the you know, the coaching staff turnover and you know, more interest in the in the coaching staff but then also the change in offensive coordinator with Matt Weiss, and, you know, getting dismissed from the program. Again, something that really came out of like a lightning bolt out of left field and definitely nothing that I saw coming.

Phil Callihan 24:57
Well and you know, it regarding the NCAA, no common sense at all, and, you know, moving forward. So, you know, the matt Weiss thing was weird, right? And, you know, there’s, you know, a couple of different staff changes, there’s the return of Chris Partridge, which was a good thing, right? And cause, you know, George Hilo to leave the program. And by no fault of his own, right, unfortunately, for him, but then you have the matt Weiss thing, which is a completely different animal, right, where you had the university police get involved. There are lots of rumors about what had happened that, you know, we’ll leave in rumor land until we get something more solid, but the reality is, is, you know, Coach, Harbaugh was asked about it. And he kind of just said, Oh, I don’t know anything about that. And if I did, I couldn’t talk about it. And which is, which is pretty similar to what he said about the NCAA things, you know, he kind of dodged it, and then responded in a way right, but didn’t get it didn’t get didn’t get down in the weeds. And, again, you know, the, I think the thing that upsets me that we do you know, about the matt Weiss thing is, you know, here, you are supposed to be prepping for the college Football playoffs and there was some stupidity happening, right. And what was reported is that he didn’t respond to the university’s investigation, and the university dismissed them. So, again, you know, again, somebody who had done a really good job when he was here, and unfortunately, you know, the program will move on. Now, I do have to say that after the last several years, you know, with some of the coaching changes we’ve had, that we’ve just rolled on and hasn’t missed, haven’t missed a beat, I’m expecting the same thing to happen here. Again, unfortunate that, you know, there was a I guess, a perfect storm of of bad for Michigan, right? You had, you know, the the bad loss to TCU, you had the NCAA news, you had the matt Weiss news, you had the Harbaugh, you know, NFL drama, and, you know, Coach address that

Jim Harbaugh 27:21
This program has become like, good. Okay, we lost that game. Good. Yeah, that, that drives us, it makes us even more hungry. Something else comes up, good, cool, we’ll work on that we’ll fix that. It’s a it’s a it’s, it’s a place right now, to me and me. Only analogy I could make to it, you know, just how good in terms of, you know, a culture a family that, that this Michigan Football program is, it’s almost, it’s, in my mind, like, some of those housing markets have become recession proof, you know, they’re just, it is good, you know, no matter what’s coming from the, from the outside of here. I just see her, I just see everybody here, it’s like, almost like a superhero that, I mean, the attack comes in, it’s like, we’re able to absorb it. And, you know, just spit it back out in some kind of laser fashion. You just see the way they attacked, you know, the next day, and every day, it’s, it’s, it’s phenomenal to be around on a on a daily day to day basis. Truly, everybody’s everybody’s got to pay the price to win. That doesn’t happen and everyone pays the price of losing. And nothing comes nothing comes cheap. You know, there are no, there are no cheap victories, you know, for, for the team or anyone on it.

Phil Callihan 29:00
I like how he responded about the culture, Clint, but there is a certain amount of he asked to acknowledge that part of the perfect storm was his doing. Right. And I think that’s the thing that if there’s anything that that Michigan has been able to do as a program, and I think this is really key, okay. Is that you had that COVID season where there was so much on and off the field drama, okay. We had worldwide drama with the world stopped. You had players deciding to play some players not deciding to play. You had a very disappointing season. And from that crucible, you had the last two seasons come, right. You had the culture really just get forged in such a way that the program elevated itself and And I look at what’s happened with some other programs in the state when things have gone not well. And I think that Harbaugh’s greatest skill, as a head coach, has been shown in the last couple of seasons that he has navigated the chaos. And he’s created a culture where the players navigate the chaos, and kind of just, you know, keep going. So, you know, I’m expecting the same thing this season. And now I could do with a little less drama. Again, you know, there were, there were some pretty snarky questions from some of the media, some of the usual characters about, you know, some of the, off the field drama, and, you know, what’s this going to do? And, you know, Harbaugh responded. So it is interesting that, I think that the team has been, you know, there’s the old saying about, you know, a ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are for, I get the impression that this team is made for chaos. Okay. And I think back to, you know, the season before last, when there was that crushing loss on the road against Michigan State where, you know, they kind of got jogged on a couple of calls, and the first half, still had were still was in a position to win and didn’t win, right. And instead of the season going off the tracks, they bounced back and really elevated their game, to, you know, go to the big 10 championship win. And, and, you know, go to the college Football playoffs for the first time. So it seems like that the culture is made in such a way that a lot of the outside drama is just a glancing blow, and the team just elevates itself.

Clint Derringer 31:58
Yeah, there’s a, there’s a particular stat in tennis that that I like, and I don’t think that they track it. And the other sport that I know of, it’s unforced errors, unforced errors, and that’s what pops into my mind when when we have these offseason problems, right, these are, this is avoidable. This is these are things, there’s plenty out there, that’s not within your control, right, there’s so many other things that happen, whether it’s NCAA IV, or changes in IL, or transfer portal, or, you know, other teams, you know, improving and getting better. And so many things that you can’t control, all you can control is your players and your program. And these problems, like you said, are sometimes unforced errors. And, and at the same time, if there were a tennis player to make, you know, record numbers of unforced errors in a match, and still manage to win, you know, in the, in five sets in a tiebreaker? Well, they still win, you know, they still win, you know, but they make it so much harder on themselves than it would have to be. And that that’s kind of the feeling. So I think that there is, you know, some some quality and value and being able to kind of weather that storm, but I think that there’s something else there. You know, I don’t think I can’t imagine that it feels as chaotic inside Schembechler Hall, to the players, coaches and staff. As it feels to us on the outside. I just can’t imagine that. Because this was happening at the same time that all of these NFL prospects that play for Michigan coming off of a nearly perfect season. You know, Blake Corum is a Heisman hopeful, who, you know, has very little to gain by coming back to Michigan in terms of his NFL stock running backs. You know, traditionally, you have a much shorter shelf life than then some of the other skill positions, just the miles that you put on your body and taking all those hits as a Running Back, and especially coming off of a knee injury, right? It’s for Corum to come back and to kind of lead the charge with the the offensive linemen who all had eligibility remaining coming back. And just amazing that at the same time, all of this chaos is going on outside of the program and outside of the four walls. The players are banding together and staying and playing again and saying, saying, you know, we feel like there’s unfinished business we went, we had the best record any Michigan team has had since 1997, and the first team ever to win 13 games. But there’s still one more step to take right and amazing that the player leadership and again, the word culture that that swirls around a lot in the offseasons is absolutely it’s tangible with this program in this team right now. And I think you really have to tip your cap to the leaders in the locker room, the players, you know, upperclassmen, especially, and the coaches on the staff, who build really strong relationships, you know, position coaches, and other support staff that really builds strong relationships with these players and give them what I you know, what I would imagine is really honest advice. And, and encourage them and kind of circles back to Harbaugh’s comments about there’s always interest from the NFL, right? The one of the strengths of this program is how they prepare their players for the NFL, it’s one of their strongest recruiting pitches, I’m sure, right, and that nobody’s trying to tell these guys to forego NFL dreams, right, they have to believe that coming back to an arbor for another year, it is is still going to be beneficial to them, personally and professionally. And that they handle these conversations with with a level of integrity and trust. Because if it was not that way, then the players would not act this way in unison, right like this. These those types of problems where there’s dishonesty, and coaches and programs that are just looking out for themselves. It it spirals quickly. And we don’t always know the details of what’s going on. But you can feel bad culture very quickly the same way that you can feel right now, a very good culture. So I think that there’s some kind of

Phil Callihan 36:57
Jim’s spoke very excitedly and eloquently about how happy he is when players decide to return.

Clint Derringer 37:05
That the players and the coaches interact, that kind of shields, the Football business and the players, and the coaches, from all of the other craziness that’s happening in the outside.

Jim Harbaugh 37:18
And, you know, guys feel that it’s in their best interest to return to Michigan. Super, super happy and excited about that as well. I mean, yeah, like, selfishly really happy. It’s, you feel like the parent, you know, that how many of you have had have have a son or daughter’s choosing like high school or choosing their, their college, you know, you, you don’t want to be the one to tell them which to do, you know, because that’s some decision they have to make on their own. And then if it doesn’t work out, and they, you don’t get blamed for, for telling them what to do. So that’s kind of the position I am in and kind of feel the same way as both my son, James and, and grace as they’re choosing which college to go to. You’re, you’re helping them with the pros and cons, and you’re, you’re talking about them, I mean, secretly, you know, you’re, you’re wishing and hoping they they go to Michigan, which which those two did, but that’s really about the, you know, the thing I would, I would compare it to, but in total support of whichever decision they make, and feels best for themselves. And, and they’re really good at it. They’re really good at making, you know, the wise decision that was a smart choice for themselves.

Phil Callihan 38:47
And, you know, the thing about that, Clint, is, I think you made a great point that I’d rather have be honest and say yeah, okay. So on one hand, while I wish Jim had came out and said, You know what, word gave me the contract that I’m going to be happy with forever, right here as long as Michigan wants me, but we’re always going to assess. And you know, isn’t that whatever player does, right? I mean, and I think in the world of the transfer portal, right? Every player is evaluating Is this the right thing for me? Is this the right decision? You know, as far as the Blake Corum stuff goes and the players returning? One thing that struck me and it was really impressed upon me as I was out shopping over the last couple of weeks, is you’re seeing NFL merchandise all over the place. Okay. And I think that I wonder how much the NFL is giving players a little bit of a cushion to perhaps stay longer, right? Where there’s not the pressure to get your money or nothing, right? There’s not hey, it’s it’s stay and get nothing or get something under the table or get something on the slide, or go, right? Hey, you know, you can see that, you know, Michigan has made major strides in organizing, you know, these collectives, associating with NIHL mechanisms to benefit the players. You know, you can go to m Dan, and you see the NFL merchandise out. I’ve seen, you know, NFL merchandise at other vendors. And you’re getting the impression that for years, the critics right, would say, Well, you know, if you pay players, if there’s any kind of way to compensate players, the wheels are going to come off college Football, right? You know, what college Football seems to be going right along, obviously, as you mentioned, there, there needs to be improved, you know, it needs to be a same swim lane for everyone. But we’re seeing the players being compensated for the work that they’re putting in. And I think that it’s it’s giving them more choices, right? It’s, it’s not a well, Blake, you better go get money right now. Because it’s not, you know, that’s the only this is maybe the only time you get a contract, hey, you have an Al. Okay. And it seems like it’s working out the players speak very well of it. You know, it’s giving them different options. So, you know, I think that while there was a lot of the sky is falling for the Michigan fan base, you know, when NFL first hit, that Michigan wasn’t doing everything that they’d like to see, Michigan has caught up. And I think that they’re coming along. And I think that it’s it’s another benefit for players coming to the University of Michigan,

Clint Derringer 41:48
I think that there’s one more thing to be said and kind of in this in this realm is the strategy that Michigan employees focuses more on these kind of keeping your own players, whether it’s, you know, keeping them out of the transfer portal, or right, giving them a viable option, as opposed to having to get into the NFL draft and sign the contract before, you know that dream is snatched from you. So where the money is right now, in the NFL, Michigan Football space. I think strategically that’s being shaped and pushed more toward players that are they’re actually on the field planning and producing during the games, as opposed to packaging, huge deals for for incoming freshmen. Now. You know, there’s there’s pros and cons there, of course, and there’s only so many dollars to go around. As it stands right now, everybody’s trying to figure out what the right formula is. But I think Michigan, at least it seems, is kind of taking a different approach. And for the shortcomings in recruiting and ranking of incoming freshmen recruiting classes, kind of being laid at the feet of of not being willing to drop, you know, six or seven figures on a on a high school senior. Making these packages more accessible. And figuring out how to, to make a fourth or fifth year more attractive to players that are proven starters and have have kind of proved themselves also in the locker room amongst their peers is a slightly different strategy than I think what what is commonplace amongst everybody else. So we’ll see how it plays out in the long term. I think that the right formula probably is a little bit of a balance of both. And but we’ll see how that goes. But I think you do have to kind of highlight the positives of this strategy and certainly holding on to that much talent from a team that was, you know, in the college Football playoff, and certainly, you know, is poised to be right back at the top of the rankings in the preseason coming up for the next year. With the returning talent and experience and productions coming back. You just don’t usually see that a team that qualifies for the college Football playoff and then brings back such a large percentage of their offensive and defensive production so that there’s a direct correlation there certainly.

Phil Callihan 44:32
So we don’t know for sure. Right, because Coach Harbaugh won’t sit down or won’t address it in a way that I think we would like. But when you sit back and look at the strategy, okay. There are the programs that put the money up front for the top tier talent right the the top five star guys and my impression of teams that are successful year in and year out, are the programs that have the teams that stay together the longest. Okay, obviously, talent, but kind of gel as a team. So, you know, the point you made about Michigan kind of backloading, the NIHL toward performance and benefiting guys and their third, fourth, potentially fifth year. I wonder if it is a conscious choice, okay, like a strategy to do that, rather than to put the bulk of the money in guys who may only be on, you know, be there for two or three years. Right. So again, it’s interesting, it’ll be interesting to see where it plays out the way it plays out. You know, you know, I’ve said this before, I will say it again, that the 2022, Michigan Football team was one of the best teams we have ever seen. It’s unfortunate that they were tripped up in the Fiesta Bowl. You know, and Coach Harbaugh talked about, you know, JJ? And, you know, I thought that was really interesting. That, you know, he thought that, you know, JJ really grew from that game, he experienced a whole season in one game, right. But, again, we all want to see Michigan take that next step. But, you know, one of the ways you add is get most of your players to come back and then add more. And it seems like that’s what the current NHL strategy is doing. So you have to appreciate that. You know, and I will tell you looking back, Clint, I think you could agree, or or acknowledge that there were a lot of concerns about how great the Michigan defense was going to be with the difference in defensive coordinator and players leaving, and Gosh, darn it, they were better, right, in a lot of ways. So whatever they’re doing, you know, whatever’s in the water down there is working. And hopefully, we will continue to see it, you know, during the spring practice, and hopefully, they will set themselves up for for even greater success in this upcoming season.

Clint Derringer 47:10
Yeah, I think. I think it’s all certainly very interesting. Right. I think that it’s there’s really a fascinating kind of yin and the yang going on with the program right now. And it’s something at least gives us something to talk about here through the offseason. And certainly looking forward to seeing what comes up in the spring game and a couple of new players that that may get some opportunities. And I think the one player that I heard about in in her balls press availability, that was the most interesting and certainly one of the highest kind of profile positions of need this coming season is that second cornerback spot potentially right now having Amarion Walker in the lead to take that second cornerback spot opposite from Will Johnson right. And he’s another kind of shift, you know, from came in, recruited as a wide receiver played a little bit of wide receiver and corner last season, and Harbaugh mentioned that directly. He he may be somewhat of a unicorn of an athlete and have the ability to be that two way player. But there right now, he’s focusing on defense and may very well be penciled into the starting spot there opposite Will Johnson that that was really from a Football standpoint, probably the biggest piece of news that that came out of the press conference.

Phil Callihan 48:47
Absolutely, he raved about him. And anytime you hear Coach Harbaugh talk about a potential two way player, you know that that is a special individual, as you said, unicorn, you know, that’s, that’s, you know, you gotta love that phrase. You know, there was also talk about the old line that there’s so stacked that Where are you going to put these guys right? And, you know, when you think about the building blocks for success, it certainly seems like that Michigan is poised for yet another great run. And Clint, I will tell you that you know, when and if Michigan has success in the college Football playoffs, and you know if they are able to pull together a national championship in this upcoming season. I certainly hope that there will be a large bank truck backing up to Schembechler Hall to keep Coach Harbaugh locked in for as long as he wants to stay here. So, I think that’s that’s definitely potentially in the cards. And you know, I you know, and again, just I’m hoping that that will be the case that will be Want to keep this? This machine rolling? So? So, Clint, any final thoughts for the podcast?

Clint Derringer 50:09
No, I think that the only other thing that I was going to mention real quickly is that maybe some of the money that comes off or that bank trucks get diverted toward Sharon more. Two times back to back. Joe more award winning offensive lines. Just thinking back two seasons ago, when Ed Warner moved on, and you and I really calling out that is that the biggest wildcard for the upcoming season? Is your Sharon more ready to coach the offensive line? Can’t he just kind of hold water and fill those shoes? And man, did we set the expectations far too low for for him? And and now in the 22 season, he adds kind of an offensive co offensive coordinator role. And now with Matt Weiss moving on. He’s kind of the senior offensive coordinator role here. So another kind of a functional promotion, or at least more responsibility for for sure. Oh, more. So if we’re backing up, you know, armored trucks to Schembechler Hall for coaches. Don’t forget Sherrone Moore.

Michigan Football Podcast — TCU 51 Michigan 45 Game Commentary 1-2-23

Phil and Clint discuss Michigan’s crushing loss to TCU in the College Football Play-off semifinals. With audio from QB JJ McCarthy, RB Donovan Edwards, and Jim Harbaugh.

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Podcast Transcript

Phil Callihan 0:14
We’re going to talk about Michigan falling short, by a score of 51 to 45. Losing to TCU in the college Football playoff semi final. Well, Clint, what did you think about this one?

Clint Derringer 0:30
It was shocking. It was it was totally out of left field, in kind of all three phases, just I don’t think I wouldn’t say that Michigan looked flat, as if they didn’t, you know, weren’t ready or didn’t want to be there. You know, they played with a lot of energy. But it was a sloppy, it was a sloppy, and there was a moment in the first or maybe early second quarter, where I kind of told my family where I was watching, I said, you know, it’s crazy even on tackles where they go down, the balls keeps popping out, right? Like they’re fumbling, every, every time they get tackled and hit the ground, the balls coming out, you know, it was it was just ugly, and a bad feeling from from the start that they were not playing as sharp, or as crisp plays, as we have seen for almost the whole last two seasons. So that was a bad feeling that obviously the scoreboard was, you know, got lopsided quickly felt a lot like the Georgia game last year. And then the second half, especially the third quarter was, you know, kind of a point of pride, where they showed a ton of guts and determination to claw back into it. And to have a chance. And I really, you know, until really late in the fourth quarter, I didn’t expect the that they would be able to get back into striking distance where they’d have a reasonable chance to win. And they definitely did. They did that all the way up until the fourth quarter, and one too many big mistakes, and they couldn’t dig out from underneath the rubble. So it was it was just strange. It was just strange. But not all bad. It was it was just nothing that I expected, which, you know, goes to show what, you know, what do we know?

Phil Callihan 2:21
Well, Clint, I will tell you, this is the reason I don’t bet money. Because as sure that I was that Michigan was going to put the smackdown on Ohio State. I wasn’t sure in this game. And the frustrating thing is, for all the things that went wrong for all the mistakes and pick sixes and all kinds of other shenanigans that happened. Michigan only lost by six points. And, again, they lost the game. Okay. There’s, you know, let’s acknowledge that right out of the gate. But if there was a time machine, and someone came back and told me that, you know, the litany of everything that would go wrong, and that Michigan only lost by six, I’d be shocked. Okay. And, you know, there was some, there were some things that happened, okay. Now, if this time traveler came back and told me that JJ threw to pick sixes, believe it or not, that wouldn’t have surprised me. Okay. I’m not saying it’s okay. I’m not saying it was expected. But JJ has exhibited such confidence. And you and I have talked about this in previous podcast, there are times where he is so confident in hitting such a small window, that he’s tempted fate. Okay, and we can go back and look through the game films, but you know, and I think what happened is what you can get away with against lesser opponents, you can’t get away with in a game on this stage. Right. So okay, so JJ through to pick sixes. If you had told me that Michigan was going to be first in Gaul, short yardage and struggle in that situation. I wouldn’t be surprised because we’ve talked about that. And you know, it’s interesting because, for me, all these negative tumblers were coming up, right. So when JJ through the first pick six, I was like, yep, that’s he’s been close to that a few times. And you know, we can go back in the podcast and I’ve said, you know, I, I honestly believe that JJ thinks he can throw through defenders sometimes. Right. Okay, so you had to pick six that happened. Obviously, not a good not a good situation. But to have the short end goal now, what happened? Last steer is you had thunder and lightning, right? You had assign Haskins who really was the power. And you had Blake who was the lightning, right? And what kind of exhibited itself last season as the schedule played out is that Haskins could power through and and help the team be more successful in short yardage shortened goal situations right? This year. Blake comes back bulks up a little bit. And and has more of that power. Right? Well, what happened entering this game? Blake went out prior to the Ohio State game. So what we had was Donovan. And again, you know, a talented Running Back but not exactly the power that Blake was able to do. So, again, looking at the things that went wrong, I was like, oh, man, shorten goal that’s, it’s almost like, you know, Michigan’s first and goal the the opponent has us right where they want us. Right. So, so again, when you see that, now, with that said the thing. So there’s two things that happened that I wasn’t surprised by okay. The third thing was how our defense could not shut them down in that second half. And, you know, no disrespect to TCU. But I think out of everything that went wrong, that Michigan can control. And I’m gonna preface that because we’re going to talk about some of the things that irked me that Michigan couldn’t control. Right. But out of the things that Michigan could control, that the defense, you know, again, Michigan scored 39 points in that second half, the defense gave up 30. And you know, again, when you’re when you were outscored 21 to six in the first half. You know, that’s that’s how that works, right?

Clint Derringer 6:56
Yeah, I agree. I agree. The defense was a big surprise. But I wanted to finish the point. On the offense at halftime, Michigan’s points per scoring opportunity, right, where we call a scoring opportunity, a fresh set of downs. First down inside the other teams 40. So at the 40 or closer, you’re gonna have four scoring opportunities in the first half. And they, they had one field goal to show for it, they had the the initial drive, where they turned it over on downs. They had the last fumble after the calm and I’m sure it will talk about on the bomb to to Wilson. And then they had one where they just crossed the 40. And then had a couple of negative plays and penalties that drove them back. They actually had to punt. So for scoring opportunities in the first half, and one field goal to show for it that is, you know, really, it’s what’s bitten Michigan in almost all of their losses in the last two years for sure. And then it hadn’t been as big of a problem this year. We did see some, they weren’t very, they didn’t dominate and punch touchdowns in when you and I talked about it, but at least they scored. Right. And I think the staff has talked about how they, they kind of calculate a metric that they want drives that end in points. So they don’t, they’re not as concerned when when a field goal is the final result. But to have four opportunities and only score wants to have a field goal, their points per drive is actually less than one it was, you know, 0.8 in the first half for the whole game, right they end up with 10 opportunities, so they ended up with six more scoring opportunities and scored on five of them in the second half scored touchdowns. So of the 10. You know, they came kind of really pushing back and eventually kicked another field goals scored five touchdowns that got them up to about 4.0 points per play, but TCU to your point, switching to the defense TCU their averages over seven years or exceeded was exactly seven because they scored every time they got inside Michigan’s 40 yard line. And that ended up being a huge difference, right for every opportunity. TC and a three point advantage even though Michigan had six more opportunities. It’s just crazy that Michigan it’s crazy that Michigan was even in the game and had a chance to win with all of the all of the different and unique ways they found to shoot themselves in the foot.

Phil Callihan 9:44
Absolutely. You know another thing about those pick sixes you know, I would say in my mind the much maligned 3-3-5 Right, not my favorite defense. But one of the things that it allows the five to do right The defensive backs there is that they can take more risks because they have backups. Right? And it was interesting that, you know, I, I painfully broke down the tape again. And, you know, again, you gotta give it to TCU I think the biggest surprise I had is that their defense was better than I thought in the first half. I thought Michigan made some great adjustments. Okay. And, you know, there’s this. I’m gonna say the drive by media, right? Oh, my God, Michigan got thrashed, oh, my God, everything that went wrong. And Michigan only lost by six points. And I will tell you heading into that last couple of minutes stretch, I firmly believe Michigan was going to win. Right. And again, after everything had gone wrong, I think, you know, in final summation is you can’t make that many mistakes and win a game. Okay. You know, and again, we can talk about, you know, you know, the national media will will rave about TCU is Quarterback. And by it, it’s okay, it sounds crappy to say, JJ had to pick sixes and completely outplayed him, right? So I think sometimes, the media mistakes a great story for a great talent. And again, I don’t mean to diss the guy, the guy, you know, plays his heart out, I love the way he plays. But if I have to pick a Quarterback, I’m picking JJ, you know, 11 out of 10 times. And again, it’s unfortunate the way it worked out. Now, we talked about some of the things that Michigan can control. And, you know, I think I’m going to be breaking down this defensive film, probably till next season. And again, just, you know, painful to go back and watch it. You know, I’d really like to see that the Lebanon 11 film for the entire game, kind of be working to do that. But even just breaking down the broadcast. Lots of lots of questions. Now. Okay, so Michigan lost the game, they made too many mistakes. Okay. I want that firmly in the record. And I am going to say, as we have talked about repeatedly, or I’ve talked about repeatedly, and I think you’ve agreed, you know, is that, you know, I’m really befuddled by you know, okay, so here it is. We have Michigan playing their heart out, we have TCU playing their heart out. And you have 19 and 20 year olds facing the media post game. And you know, really heartbreaking for the Michigan side, and elation from TCU. So they will face the music and answer questions about their performance while the referees just skip out into the night. Okay. And I want to be crystal clear that I am not blaming the referees for Michigan’s loss. Okay, Michigan made enough mistakes. But it is, for me yet another example of how you have three main forces in the game. You have the two teams and you have the referees, to you know, the teams answer questions and discuss what happened. And there’s no discussion of what the referees were thinking or what they were seeing. And I’ll tell you what I was thinking, as time was running out on Michigan at the end of the game was, you know, the refs took two touchdowns off the board, okay. No discussion on what they saw on their on their video replays. Again, even the, you know, the broadcast crew thought that, you know, Roman Wilson scored a touchdown. And, again, what view are they watching that they were able to make that decision so quickly that it wasn’t a touchdown. And then later, when you had the Ronnie Bell one, you know, they they take a good amount of time. Okay. So again, when time was running out a Michigan in the game, I’m like, Well, how much time did we lose? Because you took two touchdowns down off the board and, and Michigan had to go on and run some more plays and you know, have a have not great results. So, you know, and again, I Clint, you know, we’ve watched a lot of high school games together. We’ve lot watched a lot of NCAA games, and every couple of games there are inexplicable calls, and no explanation. And when you’re on the losing side, and you mentioned it, you sound like you’re a whiner. Right that’s all your whining and If you’re on the winning side, you just shut the hell up and say, well, it was great call, right, which is exactly what TCU is coached it on that absolutely obvious by definition, targeting call right now, I again, I You gotta sound like I’m whining. Listen, just wait for the next time because there will be a next time there will be a game and listen, sometimes it’s been in Michigan’s favor, I can think of a couple of calls over the last five, six years that have gone Michigan’s way. But again, I don’t know how long we can go like this. Where there’s no like, listen, sometimes it may be Hey, I don’t understand maybe I don’t understand the rules. Okay. And I think it would be great for if the, you know, and again, I’m gonna, I’m going off on a rant here, as you can tell, listen, I completely understand there’s a human element and they make mistakes, right. But again, you have the grown men who have been doing their job for years, skating off into the night, not explaining what they saw or what they did. And you got, you know, JJ and Mike Sanders still and Donovan Edwards, up there facing the heat. And same on the TCU side. And I just, I think it’s fundamentally unfair. And I don’t like it. And you know, I’ve spoke about this before. And, again, it irks me to no end that, you know, and, you know, we’re talking about that targeting call, right? Hey, listen, I understand they probably didn’t want to kick that guy out. And next game. Hey, that’s not what the rulebook says. Okay. I am one of the biggest critics of the targeting call. Okay. You know, again, it’s, it seems to be very shaky when it’s called. That was the very frickin definition of it. Okay. And I just, you know, of course, TCU has coats as well, I thought the made the right call. Yeah, of course you did. Right? Of course, you did. So I just, you know, again, adding an extra layer of frustration here on this game, and we’ll just wait till the next time it happens, because it’ll happen again.

Clint Derringer 17:16
And then there was there was a really, really awful roughing the passer call that benefited Michigan, where there’s, what are you even looking at what there was? No, you know, there was no way that it could have appeared to be either late or overly physical. Right. So it was what that the reason that that bothers me is that it gives the impression that the referee felt that he had to have an impact on the game, right? And that, well, that guy, you know, are the one guy made a bad call. So you know, we got to even get back out and help. It makes more of a mess, it makes more of a mess, when when, when that feeling is creeping into anybody’s head, you know, and whether that’s how it’s going or not, or if they’re just if it’s subconscious, that a referee feels that, you know, with your Michigan got jogged on that call, the next close one should go their way, you know, that you can’t keep that calibration tight, you know, to the line, right? It’s gonna wobble wobble wobble, and all of a sudden, the wheels fall off. So just just call it correctly, right. And then, when you and I are old enough that we watched a lot of college Football before replay ever existed, right, and NFL games as well. And my, the best part, when they instituted replay for me, was the if it’s not conclusive, right, if there has to be inconclusive, or there has to be absolute, no conclusive video evidence to overturn a call, it has to be clear as day on the video to overturn what the referee called right. And that was the best part like, when in doubt, give it to the guy who made the call in real time, the guy that you’re paying to be the official. So any replay that you need to pause and kind of squint your eyes and kind of lean into, that’s too close, it’s too close to make a change stick with what was called, they should be making these much, much quicker. It should be clear as day. Yep, I see it right. Sometimes you might need a second or a third angle, right? I’m glad that there are different TV angles for some of these calls to get made correctly. And reversed. You know, I think replay still in theory is a good thing. But they’re going to such finite detail on slow motion replays and splitting hairs that if it takes that level of analysis, then stick with what the referee called on the field, right? That’s why you pay those guys and the delay AES in the timing and the flow of the game is also impacted by that. So just take a look, show me all three views. No, I’m sticking with what the guy said. I would rather they say that over and over and over quickly, even though it would, you know, there would be times that you get even more times that the human eye hurts our team. Right. But if it was quicker, and, you know, it had to be absolutely crystal clear, then I would, I would love for that. And I think they did that well, early in the life of video replay. And now, everything is, you know, rehashing the Zapruder film from from the JFK assassination.

Phil Callihan 20:40
You know, and you know, another point, right. So, and again, this is a point that has irked me before this game, right? These are supposed to be the best crews. Could you imagine what the bad crews do? Okay. And Clint, we don’t need to imagine. Okay. When Michigan was struggling during the, you know, the end of the brady hoke era, the rich Rodriguez era, it was very clear that we were getting the bottom of the barrel referees, okay. And I remember, you know, being at the stadium, and I’d say, Well, this is what happens when the games don’t matter, right? Because you would see things that was inexplicable. Like, what view are you looking? So again, it to me, it’s a larger issue. And I think that, you know, and we’re going to have some offseason podcasts to focus on this, you know, exclusively but, again, if there’s going to be something good that comes from the NFL money, the expanded sports betting, there’s going to be more there’s going to need to be more transparency on the performance of the referees, how they’re graded. If this is the best you got, I’m not impressed. Okay. And again, I know that there’s a human element in it, right? But the idea, hey, have a guy come out and say, Hey, I saw this view was a, it was a, you know, a game time decision, or, you know, it was a it was I had to make a call, and I made the call I can live with that. I can’t live with how inexplicable it is. Right? Like, you have to believe that, you know, the broadcast team has way more angles. What are they looking at, right? And again, just, Hey, show me the view, you looked at, hey, I thought it said this, I can live with mistakes. I can’t live with the lack of accountability. And again, it’s it’s been a long term, you know, that somehow the the referees are deified, right, like, well, we can’t say anything. Well, you know, what, when you have all these camera angles, like you said, Either use them or don’t. But when you have all these angles, you know, another thing that bugs me, is that, so here, this is a really important game, right? One of the three most important college Football games of the season, okay, college Football playoffs, you know, the two semis and then the finals, you should have every camera angle you need, you should have a camera or right down looking down on the on the goal line, right. And it’s funny, because you mentioned you know, there was a play that went against TCU. I think TC TCU got jobbed in the game, they lost, okay, there was a play in the overtime, where the refs were so worried about, you know, where the fumble went, that I think they missed, the guy scored a touchdown, and they should have won. Right? And there’s no discussion of it. It’s just Oh, well, that’s, you know, the broadcast crew mentioned it and, you know, just moving on, because it’s not, you know, we’re all part of the machine here, right, we all need to just say everything is is bright and smiley. And, again, just when you have so much riding on the game, if it is not painfully clear, then like you said, go with the human element. And I just, you know, it’s like, you know, you mentioned that it looked like the referee was, you know, gave them a makeup call, Hey, you know, get the call, right? Don’t do makeup calls. You know, this isn’t hockey, you know, come on your it’s not your job to keep the game close. And, you know, I will mention that the bulk of the money on this game was on Michigan. Okay. And you sit there and watch some of these calls. And, you know, I’m not saying it’s fixed, but boy, boy, interesting. Interesting. Right? I again, it’s just, there’s going to need to be more transparency. You know, listen, it is very it’s widely known that when Lloyd Carr was the coach at Michigan, he complained to the big 10 Because they had a referee. Who was impair had impaired sight? Who was a referee? Come on, right? Listen, I feel bad for the guy. But you can’t you can’t have that. Right? So you just wonder if this is the best you got? What are the lower tier, what’s happening at the lower tier games. And like I said, I have an idea, because we saw it for a while. So again, Michigan lost the game, I want to be very clear on that they lost the game, because they made too many mistakes. But there are a couple of things that we did see here that I think are going to need to be fixed as we move toward this larger playoff. And I think that, you know, again, everybody can get better, right? You know, and it’s interesting, because, you know, we got JJ, who was super upset in the postgame,

J.J. McCarthy 25:54
I’ll credit to them. They win the game in the 60 minutes that was played, and, you know, they’re a good Football team, no matter what it is, that they they got the win, and fought our hearts out. There’s a lot of things that we could have done better, I can’t wait to watch the tape. But we’ll be back and I promised Coach Harbaugh.

Phil Callihan 26:15
Harbugh being grilled about that, you know, trickeration play that they tried,

Jim Harbaugh 26:21
Because we thought it would work. You know, and I take full responsibility for it not working and should have should have, should have had should had something different called not working. You know, put that one. But then when I made, but they had it, they had it wired. And then they added, well defended. And I sit here now yeah, definitely would like to wish I would have called a different way.

Phil Callihan 26:50
You know, he’s up there answering questions. So you’re telling me that the refs can huddle. And, you know, here, we want to know what you were seeing on these five plays? Shoot, Clint, I could deal with it, even if it was a week from now. Okay, even if they don’t want to do it after the game. But this idea that, you know, in the big 10, you know, that the coaches need to go to the Big Ten’s office and, you know, send in a request and, you know, because I really trust the big 10 office, right, which I don’t, you know, but again, this idea that it’s all, you know, the appearance of impropriety is a problem, okay? It needs to be transparent. And, you know, we need to know how many times refs are graded down for missing a call. We need to know how many times we’re I forget the gets the rules wrong. Listen, I get the rules wrong. Okay. If if it comes out, like they’re really big to say, Man, you would not believe how many times video replay reaffirms that the refs got it. Right. Well, then explain it. Explain the rule. Okay. It’s, I think it would only help the game overall. Because, again, the casual fan don’t know, don’t always know all the rules. And again, with the way the rules teens, switching between NFL and NCAA and high school, sometimes I get the rules confused. So again, there’s, you know, a rant about that. And, you know, so, Clint, when you’re when you’re looking at this game, I think one of the bright spots is you did have moody hit that massive 59 yard field goal. And, you know, that was a bright spot in the darkness that kind of kept the embers alive for Michigan. What other things did you see that that you were happy with? Or you were encouraged by?

Clint Derringer 28:44
Well, the I agree, I thought it was a fitting kind of end for moody in his career. You know, again, I’m on the record saying I think Jake moody is that the greatest kicker in Michigan’s history. So I’m glad that he got to kind of make his mark on this game. It was He was huge for the team when things were darkest right before halftime, and to go from 21 to three to 21 to six. Right before you know on the last night for the first half is there’s not nothing right and to do to do it on a 59 yarder that breaks the Michigan record for longest ever, and sets the record for the fiesta bowl as well for the longest field goal ever. Well deserved to find another way to write Jake Moody’s name in the history books. So all of that was was certainly a positive. I thought Michigan when they decided start using JJ in the running attack. It was it was good. I think it helped kind of fuel the comeback in the third and the fourth quarters. The downside to that is that in my opinion, they waited too long to do that. I understand. You don’t want to run your quarter back, I think early with the two with the fear that you know, he gets hurt in the first or second quarter. And now you’re, you know, your whole game plan is shot. That would be obviously pretty bad. But once you were down, you know, two or three scores, you know, in the second quarter, I think that they should have kind of tweaked the running attack to try to create wider lanes and the opportunity for explosive plays that we’ve seen when JJ McCarthy is a running threat. And he has to be accounted for the other team is more likely to make mistakes. And we saw it in the third quarter where JJ McCarthy actually ran his his touchdown in from from about 2025 yards out so I think that was a positive it reinforces what we’ve been saying about what he brings to the run game. It just comes with a little bit of a sour aftertaste because I think they waited too long to go to that. I thought the the deep ball accuracy from JJ McCarthy was good. You know, he hit Ronnie bell on a touchdown over the middle, you hit Roman Wilson on what probably should have been a touchdown. deep over the middle. So the the offensive gameplan was not bad. Right? These they scored 45 points without the aid of any defensive or special teams. touchdowns. Right? So if you told me that they’re gonna score 45 points and like, yeah, that sounds about right. Sounds like they’re gonna win. Right? So I just don’t think that offense was the problem, despite the problems that we saw in the red zone. And really the mistakes that are on JJ McCarthy specifically are the two pick sixes right? I don’t know that those are gameplan or offensive coaching staff calls or problems. The on the defensive side, created three turnovers, right, that’s another big that’s the most that we saw this year for this team. That was great. Those led to some of those shot plays, you know, on those sudden changes, Michigan was able to take some of those, those deep shots down the field right after those turnovers. So that was great. And there were some questions about whether Jessie Minter really changed what he wanted to do on his game plan in this game, and I’m not I don’t know, I’ll look a little closer when I get to rewatch the film. To see if, if he was more aggressive, it’s certainly bid Michigan more in this game than we had seen it before. Right when he was aggressive and bringing pressure. We saw Michigan Miss tackles, and they went the whole way. So I’m not sure if there was a huge significant difference in how Jesse mentor called his pressures, especially on third downs. But TCU again, you gotta tip your cap to the team that won the game. They made the plays, and were able to break a tackle, and then take it the whole way. It’s kind of the reverse of what we were able to do against Ohio State when when they were aggressive. So I think that there was a there was a lot of positives, like I said, for the mountain of negatives from all directions in all three phases of this game. The fact that Michigan had the ball with a chance to win is is a huge testament to what how much they must have been doing right. And also their their mental toughness and their ability to kind of fight back through all of that adversity, because it was an avalanche of it was an avalanche of trash that they had to fight through. And they did and gave themselves a chance to win. And when you come up six points short, when you handed the other team 13 points, and interceptions and, you know, fumbled the ball away and inside the five yard line, you know, to be that close is you know, they should have won this game by multiple scores, if they could have played as clean as their second worst game, whatever their second sloppiest game was maybe Illinois, I would think if they had played to that level, they probably would beat this TCU team or would have won that game with that level of execution. But the sloppiness and in that Fiesta Bowl was just on a whole nother level.

Phil Callihan 34:39
Yeah, and I think I think this one definitely stings for me. But I think this is going to sting for the team because like you said, okay, one pick six is bad luck. Another pick six, okay, I mean, you had one pick six that you know here On one hand, it looks like Michigan was following their typical game plan. Big first possession going down to score didn’t score, right? And, you know, TCU spins out and gets a 41 yard. You know, pick six, and then Michigan’s coming back. And you know, you kind of hoped that they kind of got that out of their system. And then, you know, in the third quarter TCU manages a 28, a 29. Yard pick six. So it’s like, you know, if you’re okay, for example, and I, you know, not to always come back to betting, but can you imagine what the odds were for TCU to have to pick sixes, okay. You could have won quite a, quite a pretty penny, if you’d been able to bet on that before the game. But the point of it is that you can’t GamePlan for that, right. You can’t say, Well, we’re gonna get our to pick sixes that we normally get. Yeah, well, yeah. When that’s when that’s your main offensive weapon. Right. But you know, that’s what’s frustrating is, you know, I feel like you do, I expected Michigan to score about, you know, 45 points in this game doesn’t surprise me a bit. What shocks me is, while TCU scored 51 Yeah, but two of those touchdowns were right. And again, it’s it’s smarts, because, you know, there are games that you lose. And there are games that you run out of time before you can win. And I definitely felt that this was a game where, you know, Michigan got knocked on their butt in the first half. And they came out firing, the disappointing thing was, again, you know, you look at that, and TCU scored 32nd 32nd, half points, Michigan scored 39. But again, you’re down because of that, you know, those not being able to execute well in the first half. So, you know, again, it’s frustrating. It’s disappointing. You know, the critics will say that Michigan lost in the semis again. And this is a completely different game than what happened versus Georgia last year. And it doesn’t mean it’s gonna sting any less. And you look at this, and, you know, JJ was our greatest strength. And JJ had, you know, arguably his worst game, because of those pick sixes. So it’s it to me, it’s going to be really interesting. You know, how JJ deals with this over the next nine months, because nine months is a long time to stew on on those facts. And, you know, after the game, he said everything right. And said, he’s gonna be back. And you know, and I liked JJ a lot. Okay. I, you know, when I say, JJ thinks he can throw the ball through anybody, you know, I think you need that as a Quarterback, right? You need to have that confidence, you need to have that overwhelming belief in your skill. Right. And, you know, JJ certainly wasn’t hanging his hat in this game. He was, he came back, guns blazing, leading the team back in that second half. But, again, to pick sixes, right. So, you know, you know, between JJ and the pick sixes and kolel. Mullins, you know, on that fumble, and, again, he shouldn’t be in that position. And, and I think that when I talk about all the, you know, all the, the tumblers coming together, right, it’s like, oh, the, I think this is the game. You know, I don’t think this is the game we miss Blake the most because of his running style. And, you know, you can wonder what happened to CJ Stokes. Where was he? You know, he’s on a milk carton somewhere. He’s, uh, he’s on a milk carton, you know, on one side, and Andrew Anthony’s on the other, you know, as far as players who I think I had high expectations for, but again, it’s not Club’s fault. You know, he’s the guy who’s up because Blake’s down. And I think, you know, I was watching this game and I’m like, oh, man, this is the game. You know, there are pictures of Blake on crutches before the game and, you know, it’s like, oh, I you know, as the game progressed, I think he was the biggest difference by his absence.

Clint Derringer 39:30
Yeah, I would say this also, we’re obviously specifically to the to the Michigan point of view here but taking a step back to have two semifinal games that were really really hyper competitive and very entertaining on New Year’s Eve was was a really great was kind of a great day for the sport nationally, the feedback. There hasn’t been a lot of negative Michigan spin and it’s been much more positive TCU and more appreciative that both games were fun to watch. But the fact that both games were close with, with Ohio State being up 14 points in the fourth quarter on Georgia and letting it slip away. It’s clear that Michigan is on the level that they could have won a national championship this year. And that is, you know, to your point, that’s what makes this thing much worse. But, you know, I would say that that’s the final positive for me is that it’s clear, the foundation is built for a championship program, it’s been proven in terms of the big 10 Championship, it’s been proven that the program is built in a way that can beat Ohio State at home and on the road. And it’s clear that they are in, you know, right in the mix, to to win a national championship, even as good as Georgia has been this year. And, and with the rest of the SEC, I mean, Alabama looked really great in their ballgame. But, you know, but that team lost twice in the SEC. So they, they have some questions the same way that Michigan did this year. So I would say, as the calendar turns into 2023, there, there’s a lot more positive foundational pieces to build on moving forward. And the players that we’re talking about in this in this conversation, many of those guys are coming back and are going to be the leaders on that team next year. So we liked a lot of the language and what we heard from the players in the coaches last year after the last GA they reiterated that they weren’t just happy to be there, they wanted to be able to win. They played in this game and had a chance to win and should have been able to win this game. But they didn’t get it done. So let’s let’s hope and see if if Michigan can kind of take these mistakes, and immediately get to work on trying to correct these things as well. And and just take that next step forward and win in the semi finals and give your your give yourself a chance to play for a national title and hopefully, you know, execute crisply two times at the end of the year here and and there’s no reason that this team can’t compete right back at the same level next year.

Phil Callihan 42:38
So while the game was going on, I was able to step back and I said a couple times, man, what a great game right now. I hope that it was a great game, we were going to come back and win. But you know, there’s a I tweeted out during the game, there’s a GIF of Russell Crowe from gladiator saying are you not entertained? Right. And whenever it’s a game like this, I you know, I tweeted out to our followers because, again, this is why you watch right now, of course you want Michigan to win, but from a Football perspective, you know, and stepping back even a little bit further. Okay. What is the say about the big 10 that you could say you could make a strong case that, you know, two plays difference, okay? Ohio State somehow makes that feel gold snicker snicker right. And Michigan has one less pick six. And it’s a big 10 national championship. Right. So again, it is a you know, I think it says a lot for the strength of the conference. You know, I think, you know, Michigan’s gonna have to bounce back from this, right? Because, because this one’s going to leave a Bruce. Okay. And, you know, on one hand, they say, you know, the worst thing that can happen is that you just miss your goal, right? I mean, last year, you know, that game was over by halftime. I was there, right? It was, it was Michigan was not going to get by GA on that day. And you know, that Michigan definitely struggled, you know, down at halftime, but whereas last year, you know, they didn’t get any closer. This year, that second half, they look like a team that was that was gonna win a national championship if they had a little bit more than time.
So, again, you look at that and you say, Okay, you’re getting closer, right. But again, I really wonder, you know, you know, hopefully they will use it as fuel to to get even better. And, you know, as as Coach Harbaugh said, they’re really

Jim Harbaugh 44:57
Really proud of them really proud of the fight. I’ve been a locker room of heroes the entire season. And as I stand in front of them, that’s, that’s, that’s who they are. And it’s, it’s what they are. That was super proud of. And that’s why you doing you’d never give up. Never give in. Never let up. Just keep playing keep playing the game one play at a time. And yeah, I’m sure there’s a lot of analogies to life with that. But, you know, they’re, they’re real. And our team continues to do that done it all year. And, you know, did did it right up until to the end and great season that ends one week early. One, one last big play one more big play by us. One more opportunistic play by us one less opportunistic play by them. And it’d be it’d be a different situation. But yeah, it was a it was a it was a great Football game. And congratulations to TCU.

Phil Callihan 46:07
How do you sustain that effort in the offseason and come back?

Donovan Edwards 46:11
It sucks that we lost again, you know, our whole season of preparation has been to win a national championship. And this is the second year that, you know, we’ve lost in the 14th game of the season. So, you know, we’re just like, we’ll be back. Same things we said last year.

Phil Callihan 46:29
And, you know, we’ll be here to see. Yeah,

Clint Derringer 46:31
I mean, it’s, you gotta be able to look forward through the offseason. And certainly this, this team has given us a lot of great moments this year in 22. And ended on a sour note, of course, here that should be able to fuel enough entertainment value through the offseason, as as we try to figure out whether they can take that next step forward. So it’s, it was fun. I wish that there was one more game to break down for sure. I will do the best that I can to appreciate what this season was. Because I know that it doesn’t come around all that often.

Phil Callihan 47:18

2022 Michigan Football Podcast — Team Awards, College Football Play-off Semifinal Preview 12-20-22

Phil and Clint and discuss the Michigan Football Individual Team Awards and preview the College Football Play-off Semifinal game vs TCU. With audio from RB Blake Corum, EDGE Mike Morris, LB Junior Colson, QB JJ McCarthy, Jim Harbaugh and many more.

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Podcast Transcript

Phil Callihan 0:14
On this podcast we’re going to talk about the Michigan Football team awards. We’re going to preview the college Football playoff semifinal game versus TCU. And talk about some stats about the Michigan Football season so far. So Clint, when you look at the awards, you know, the most the most important one that stands out is the team MVP, the Bo Schembechler award won by Blake Corum. How do you feel about that? And do other ones stand out for you?

Clint Derringer 0:50
Yeah, I think I think naming Blake Corum the most valuable player makes, makes a lot of sense. I think the Michigan identity, especially offensively is centered around the run game. But you could argue that even the defensive identity is was kind of forged in spring ball and fall camp kind of going against the the offensive line. So I think the run game is really core to this team’s identity. And Blake Corum put together a historic season. That was unfortunately cut short. So I think that it makes a lot of sense, internal to the team into the program that the star player within the run game, be named the most valuable player, because he he’s really kind of the heartbeat of what this 2022 Michigan team was. So that made a lot of sense. And then he he also had a couple other awards that I think make make a lot of sense as well.

Phil Callihan 1:52
Yeah, and those other awards were toughest player and blue collar Awards, which definitely makes sense.

Blake Corum 1:59
But I’m more focused on my team right now, you know, I’m really focused on you know, beating Michigan State beating Ohio State again, you know, going to win the big 10 championship, but actually going all the way this year, you know, like, that’s my focus, like, I’m really not focused on myself goals, that’s gonna come like, the yards, the yardage yards per carry, yards after carry, like, oh, that’s gonna come but like, as long as you focus on the team, and that’s why I’m focused on focusing on you know, making sure my whole life get better, what can I do to help them get better? What can I do to help the defense get better, like, I always say, the team to team to team and that’s what I’m buying into, like, it’s really not about me, at the end of the day, I’m gonna, I’m gonna get my you know, but I’m here for my team. I’m gonna I’m gonna go all the way this year. And I think we can as long as we lock in, but to answer your question, I don’t really care but accolades, you know, like, this preseason is cool. It’s nice, you know, but, uh, I don’t care. I don’t really pay attention to that stuff.

Phil Callihan 2:50
It’s just a weird feeling for what a great season he was having to have his season cut short. Well cut short right there at the end. And, you know, there’s some questions, he hasn’t decided if he’s going to come back next season. So definitely, we’d love to see him come back. And, and, you know, hopefully be healthy for the complete year and come back and have a, you know, a possibly another Heisman trophy. Worthy season. But, again, wish them all the best. And, you know, we’ll stay tuned for that. Yeah, so it just, it is weird. And again, it’s a good weirdness to be looking forward to, you know, hopefully, you know, two more games, definitely one more game, but with him not being a part of it. It’s, it’s kind of an odd feeling there. So, again, wishing the best for him. Another award, Michigan’s top defensive lineman or outside linebacker was Mike Morris, the catcher award, you know, that that seems to be that seems to make a lot of sense to, you know, again, another player who missed or intermittent the last couple games, hopefully, he’s going to be back for the semi finals. But again, that word seems to make sense to you.

Clint Derringer 4:13
Yeah, I think that’s, he’s head and shoulders, clearly the most productive of those interior lineman and outside linebackers.

Mike Morris 4:25
I feel like it shows a lot. You know, like y’all said, The narrative is that Michigan has played hasn’t played anybody. And I feel like that’s not true. I feel like everyone the big 10 victims very slept on. I feel like everybody had big 10 can be anybody in the country. So Maryland was a great team, Indiana, as a as a good team. And Iowa was a really good team, great defense. And now at Penn State, you know, people want to look at it as we haven’t played anybody, but in reality we have and we showed up and showed out. And now people say we haven’t played anybody And now Penn State, again, we showed up, and we showed out. So that narrative can keep going. But a, we’re in the business of proving people wrong. So that’s all we got to do a show up and show up,

Clint Derringer 5:12
He’s capable of doing both moving inside, starting predominantly on the edge, but fully capable of moving inside. And his ability and that versatility is really the key that unlocks a lot of additional options for the the defensive coordinator, Jesse mentor, to be able to put different fronts out there and, and his ability to be the foundation of the defensive front, through the season allowed other guys to be put into positions where they could be successful, right, if, if certain edge guys were better at pass rush, you know, they were allowed to be in those special roles, because Mike Morris could move inside, in a pass rush package, for example, on standard downs, you know, he could play on the weak side or the strong side, which really allowed, you know, the linebackers and the interior the other interior lineman to, to really flow freely from inside out, so his role on this on this defense was, again, really foundational, and he his presence made other guys better. And, you know, kudos to Jesse mentor for using him and being as versatile as possible. And then really, both of those awards, you know, Blake Corum with the MVP, and blue collar and toughest player awards, and Mike Morris being kind of the anchor upfront with the with the Richard catcher award, not having those guys in the game against Ohio State, and then in the big 10 championship game and still managing to play well is one of the biggest, you know, shining stars that you could put on what this program accomplished so far in 2022, you know, to not have your your best players on both sides of the ball and still have the depth and versatility to play so well to this point is is quite a statement for for what this team has gone right now.

Phil Callihan 7:24
Absolutely. Another award, the Rogers that cough award, that goes to the team’s top linebacker went to junior Coulson, again, another good choice. And again, what’s interesting about I think this award and you know, the last word we just talked about is after how good last year’s defense was, there was this question hanging over this, this new group right this season. And, again, they have gone on rolling and in some ways, has even or in some ways have even, you know, eclipsed last year’s group, right?

Junior Colson 8:05
Or my says just dominate whoever’s in front of us and just make them at least you know, remember us five times. So like, we’re trying to be the best defense out there. So it doesn’t matter who we play. We’re always gonna give it our best shot.

Phil Callihan 8:17
So again, Jr. Coffin, a huge part of that, you know, add 97 tackles, and, you know, six tackles for loss.

Clint Derringer 8:26
Yeah, that you’re seeing the natural growth of a player last year it was a true freshman and start at that inside linebacker, which is really, really difficult. You can see giant steps forward from last year to this year in his sophomore campaign. And I think this is also really, really well deserved, I think he really played cleaner and made a lot fewer mistakes this year. And his athletic ability, again, was a big deal in terms of maintaining versatility for for the defense and allowing the coordinator to make a lot of different types of calls based on run or paths in down in distance, because his his ability to stay in coverage with with running backs and tight ends. really was was a giant difference this year. Then some of the defenses we’ve seen in the past where were inside linebackers were more of a liability. So for him to clean up the mental mistakes and really be able to play fast and lean on his athletic ability play sideline to sideline and sticking coverage with some of those more athletic, offensive weapons that were on Michigan’s calendar, I think really played a another big role, right? Not quite as foundational as what I was saying about Mike Morris, but certainly another big part of being able to do a lot of different things based on what what the coordinator expected to see from the opposing offense.

Phil Callihan 9:57
Next award Is the Hugh a traitor award presented to the team’s top offensive lineman, again, went to Olu Oluwatimi, and again, an obvious choice. You know, being a former amateur low level offensive lineman myself, I love to watch the line play. And the last two seasons Michigan’s line play has just been amazing. And olu was just next level great this year. So definitely worthy recipient of that award. And again, kind of a, you know, a poster guy for how successful players can be taking advantage of the transfer portal,

Olu Oluwatimi 10:42
you gotta be tough and you know, you’re gonna work, there’s gonna be some some tough days that you have to, that you have to go through. But you know, that, that allows us to play to what we play on, that allows us to play to where we play on Saturday, been able to last longer than teams out tough about fiscal them for 60 minutes. And, you know, sometimes it’s a grind, but you got to go through that grind, if you want to be great.

Phil Callihan 11:05
You know, we talked about when Harbaugh came in, thinking that Michigan would be Quarterback you. And one of the things that’s happening is we’re really turning into offensive line you and Running Back you and pretty much everything else you but really, it’s it’s amazing to see how this group and I know we’re going to talk about that a little bit more later. But again, great to see Oh, Lou, honored and definitely a great choice for that award.

Clint Derringer 11:36
Yeah, and he was a finalist for the Remington trophy last year as the best center in the nation, and then actually won the award this year. So all he did was take one more step forward and be in be the best at his position nationally. So the offensive line as a unit, one, the Joe Moore award for specific for offensive line play last year. And then when Alou came in as one of only two new players on the unit from last year to Michigan is very fortunate to have taken a step forward, especially at the center position, where you’re really kind of the hub of communication, obviously, across all five guys. So it was really is really fun to watch for for folks who who like the X’s and O’s, and blocking schemes. And he, again, is kind of the linchpin that allows this offense to do a lot of different things. And use a handful of running game concepts and be versatile against no matter what the defensive front is doing. They can they can make those calls and communicate them in real time and adjust. And it led to some really big plays and key moments as as we came down the homestretch. So, again, I agree with you another slam dunk, really easy pick for lineman of the year. And again, best at his position in the entire country is really saying something unless you ask the big 10 media, of course, where he was second team in the big 10.

Phil Callihan 13:19
Well, you know, big 10 media, right? So I sense Well, again, we’ll just leave that. So, you know, again, when you have a player who’s honored as the best in their position, and somehow comes up short, you know, in conference awards, you kind of have to wonder, and I don’t think it’s national that got it wrong there. So next one’s an interesting one. Brad Robins won the Bob you for B quest, which is awarded to the player who demonstrates the most enthusiasm and love for the University of Michigan, named for the great, Bob youfor, legendary announcer of Michigan Wolverines. I was, you know, grew up listening to him on the radio with my dad, and interesting that my first Michigan game at the Big House was actually his last game. So a nice tip of the hat to him, really glad that I was able to experience that. And of course, Unfortunately, he passed away of cancer shortly thereafter. But, again, what’s interesting about this award is that Brad won it for the second straight year. And typically, it goes to a senior so you don’t have that option. But again, I think it you know, goes to what a great player he is, and definitely how much enthusiasm he has for the team, the team, the team.

Brad Robbins 14:51
And, you know, that’s why we’re called the leaders in the best right like we have, we’re chock full of them, everybody, everybody on the team.

Phil Callihan 14:56
So again, you know, a great choice and it It’s interesting when we think about how great Michigan has been on offense, sometimes you, it’s easy to forget that Brad also had a really great year planning. Thankfully, we didn’t need it that often. But when he was called to perform, he did very well.

Clint Derringer 15:15
Yeah, I think this is one that is the least visible to kind of us as fans from outside the program to really show team spirit and enthusiasm, really, you’re talking about team gatherings, meetings, practice field, right locker room, all the stuff that we’re not privy to. So for him to win it two years in a row, he must really be one of those glue type guys that can keep things positive and usually can kind of keep things light in different scenarios and keep everybody focused on and having fun ways. They’re playing a game and doing the hard work that’s necessary to play the game. So it’s rare that you kind of see a specialist in a role like that. A lot of times those special team players, kickers and punters kind of get isolated on their own island, right? They get their own practice field area and they’re over there. There’s, you know, couple, a handful of players and their coach and they’re not as integrated. So it’s cool to see. Fred Robins really obviously integrated into the fabric of what makes this team so great. And that’s, that’s great for him.

Phil Callihan 16:22
Yep. And one of the key stats that jumps out is, you know, when he was punting, there were only six returns. So, definitely, you know, when he was called upon, he performed well. Next award, the Dr. Arthur Robinson Scholarship Award, and that went to Caden CalStar.

Clint Derringer 16:41
Yeah, I thought that co star would probably get the blue collar award that ended up going to Blake Corum. Not that I disagree with Blake Corum winning that but with Blake Corum taking his own Hall, I felt that this was kind of a shoo in for caving, colas, our

Caden Kolesar 16:56
complacency is the worst thing that can ever happen to a team like right when you get complacent. That’s when a team at you know what I mean. And so I mean, it’s really just keep in the same mindset every day, coming in every day with the same exact mindset and recommitting every time that you step into this building. That I mean, your goal is just to get better each day, no matter who you’re playing, no matter what’s going on that day, no matter how you’re feeling. Like you have to just keep getting better every day. Well, you just gotta you just gotta keep reminding yourself that like, you’re not just preparing for them. You’re you’re preparing for those other teams down the road. Because the season is a marathon, it’s not a sprint, like, there’s gonna be times where you’re not feeling up to it and you’re not feeling great. You’re like, Oh, I just want to go through the motions today. But you got to realize that like, hey, maybe the guy on that other team he’s he’s not doing that he’s working hard today. So I gotta I gotta work hard on him. I gotta practice harder than him

Clint Derringer 17:50
To see him get a different award certainly for scholarship and dedication to the team, especially on special teams. Where it’s a major expectation for Michigan sometimes high level programs don’t want their their people to play special teams. They don’t want players risking injury on that and we had that conversation a lot over the last two seasons of course with with Ronnie Bell being injured on a on a on apartment term play so gaping holes are being rewarded for his dedication to learning the defensive backfield as a safety and then also really playing across all of the different special teams. With Jay Harbaugh. Again, I think you’re seeing a theme of guys being rewarded for really being pivotal in the ability to give their coaches and their coordinators. The ability to do a lot of different things and Caden Colas are is another one of those guys he filled in as a returner. In the last two years, he plays on the edge he’s been a jammer, he’s been a gunner. And he’s always in the center, kind of taking the leadership and communication leadership role. So makes a lot of sense for him to get this type of reward. And another real glue guy that isn’t gonna get some of the other accolades and statistics, but really critical for Michigan as a program.

Phil Callihan 19:22
Now, the awards we just talked about, were the six original team awards. So these are the awards that have come down throughout the years. And there are a number of other awards that have been added through time. And again, we talked about the toughest Player Award, went to Blake Corum the blue collar award that went to Blake Corum. Next award up is Rookie of the Year offense and that went to Colston Loveland. What do you think about that one?

Clint Derringer 19:52
Not a slam dunk. Really little bit of a surprise when he played in his fifth game. With as D because Michigan was at the tight end position, thought he would probably get four games of experience and probably take a red shirt. But I think that he played in every single game this season. And that experience really helped him grow.

Colston Loveland 20:13
So I came in spring, I enroller came in spring and I remember like the first couple practices of spring ball, I was kind of getting bullied, you know, I just, it was like my Welcome to College moment. And so it took it took me it took me a while to kind of get used to it and it’s really more technique over anything, you know, get being in the right spot, getting your feet down in the right spot. And that’s, that’s kind of just came with, you know, being the coach Coach Newsome and being around the players and then been able to kind of get those things out pretty good. And that’s that’s, that’s what helped me.

Clint Derringer 20:44
And now he’s really quite a weapon to to really be reckoned with. And defensive coordinators are going to have to account for where Colson Loveland is on the field. And I’m sure as he gets older and stronger, he’s going to continue to develop as a blocker as the rest of the Michigan tight ends have. So really a slam dunk, I think, for rookie, in terms of true freshmen, stepping into a really tough position like tight end. So great job by Colson level in this year and exciting to see what he can do in the next in the next game or two.

Phil Callihan 21:21
And it just shows how deep Michigan is, at many positions, like, like you said, coming into this year would have been really easy to anticipate that he may have been redshirted, and you know, and here are called into frontline really important, you know, situations, and, you know, definitely stepped up and got the job done. So, again, a player who kind of emerged in the second half of the season. And, you know, we will continue to expect great things from next ward Rookie of the Year on defense split between Mason Graham and will Johnson. And, again, two more good choices. What are your thoughts on those players?

Clint Derringer 22:06
Just amazing, that two high level units, Michigan’s offensive unit and their defensive unit had room for these true freshmen to come in and learn on the job. I mean, it speaks a lot to their talent, of course, they’ve got to be good enough to be there. But it takes a little bit of vision and foresight from the coaching staff to be able to put them in and allow them to make some mistakes early on as true freshmen and then coach and help develop the improvement based on those mistakes and then see what we’ve seen at the end of the year. So we’ll Johnson obviously huge game in the big 10 championship game two interceptions, you know, everybody is just fly high with with what he’s capable of.

Question 22:53
JJ, I don’t know how much you guys like face. Will Johnson in practice? Two picks today ball Hawking? Is that what he’s like in practice? or what have you seen that he’s developed like that?

J.J. McCarthy 23:06
100%. I mean, he’s a, he’s a freshman that came in that he didn’t play like a freshman. And he just had so much God given ability that was backed up with his tremendous work ethic ethic and his skills. I mean, his skills is top of top of the charts, but I just can’t wait to see him keep growing, keep grooming into the Great player he’s going to become. And I mean, every every day in practice is just a blessing to go up against that guy because he really is the truth.

Clint Derringer 23:37
He really is drawing a lot of comparisons, intentionally, of course, to Charles Woodson, he wears number two at Michigan and plays corner. He did that by design by his own design. So he’s going to always draw that comparison. And it’s going to be fascinating to see him grow and develop. And then Mason Graham is an interior defensive lineman nose guard, that there’s no way that a true freshman, I would have never ever expected a true freshman to step in and make so many plays.

Mason Graham 24:12
Yeah, these college linemen are obviously bigger than the offensive ones I faced in high school, but I played one of the best league so best competition coming out of high school. Coach herb has really prepared us and all the rest of the Stringtown staff on just be prepared for these games with this specific stuff for these games. So it really helps like spring training, winter training, even during season. It helps all earlier in camp, like probably like first week. I started I wasn’t starting to go with the ones. So that’s like kind of a point where I started to realize that was probably going to play this year

Clint Derringer 24:52
at that position just physically, to have been playing high school Football this time last year and To be able to step in, and physically be capable of hand to hand combat against big 10 offensive lineman usually upperclassmen on the interior, right. And make so many huge plays, especially third and fourth down short plays, where he’s not just kind of borrowing and holding the line, but he sheds blocks and makes tackles in the backfield. He is He may be the player that I’m the most excited about over the next two or three seasons. To see what he did as a true freshman is totally out of character very much reminds me of what Aiden Hutchinson did, as a true freshman having an impact on the defensive line and kind of really opened my eyes. But Hutchinson was doing that mostly on the edge, which is, you know, one step maybe easier physically, then to really be battling inside there, like Mason Graham did, it’s going to be he’s, he’s going to really make some noise coming up soon. Keep your eyes on number 55.

Phil Callihan 26:07
What was interesting about that, you know, to your point is they brought him out to talk to the media, really early this season. And I was kind of surprised, because again, like you said, to freshmen, and I’m like, Well, what are you doing, right? Like, like are we going to be sometimes you’ll see players and they don’t make a big impact. And you kind of get the impression that they want to get them experience talking to the media, right? And it’s more for their sake, then an opportunity for us to talk to them. And then as the season progressed, you got it. It’s like, oh, this is a player of note, this is a player you’re going to be hearing about. And again, just, like you said, an amazing circumstance for a true freshman to come in and really dominate in critical situations. And again, another tip of the hat to the depth that Michigan has, okay, I mean, you have depth, you have new guys coming in, you have opportunities to play as freshmen. And these guys are playing not just to get experience they’re playing because they’re ready. So definitely really speaks to the coaching staff, and speaks to how the whole team is working together to you know, get these guys ready to play. So, you know, in the past seasons, you know, we’d always say, Well, it’s the next man up mentality, right? And, you know, the expectation is for the position. Well, that always doesn’t always work out. But these last two seasons, it really is. And this is an example of that. Next award, another familiar name, Rookie of the Year special teams. Colston, Loveland and Jimmy were older.

Clint Derringer 28:02
Yeah, I would say, you know, the reason that we saw these guys getting time on offense and on defense to the role they’re getting in, at linebacker is because of their dedication on on special teams, you know, they come in, give 100% effort learn quickly show that they can handle the speed of the game at the college level. And that led to increased opportunities for them, both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. So really coming in and dedicating yourself to special teams is a good idea for any incoming freshmen. And those two guys. You know, it’s good to see the program giving them some accolades on top of that, especially, you know, Jimmy rover.

Phil Callihan 28:45
So, Offensive Player of the Year, JJ McCarthy. What do you think about that one?

Clint Derringer 28:54
I think it makes sense. Obviously, with Blake Corum getting the team MVP, they wanted to give another very high level award to a guy that has made a huge difference this year. And JJ McCarthy, his ability to kind of maintain the Quarterback play that we saw last year and 21, from Cade McNamara and add dimension on top of that both with a little bit more arm strength, and the ability to hit a couple more intermediate throws into tighter spots because of that arm strength. And then obviously his ability to run impacts the the defense and makes them account for the Quarterback in the run game, which was not something that we had with with Cade McNamara on the field last year. So again, he is just mere presence back there, taking a snap made a huge difference in what this offense is capable of, and then being the leader in the huddle and on the sidelines and in the law. Kareem JJ McCarthy really excelled all the way through the year. And I still think that there’s room to grow there. And he’s he’s going to continue improving on the physical parts of the games, and he’s going to really have to be great. In in the college Football playoffs for Michigan to accomplish what they want to accomplish.

Phil Callihan 30:20
One of the amazing things about JJ this season, for me watching him is there was a lot of questions through the first half, I’d say the first three quarters of the season, about the long passing game. And what was amazing about JJ is that his confidence was never shaken. He, he said, it’s coming. Right. And I remember thinking, you know, prior to the Ohio State game, I mean, like, the week before, he’s like, Yeah, you’re gonna see it,

J.J. McCarthy 30:57
you know, everything’s a work in progress. And obviously, we have so much so much high expectations for us as an offense, especially passing games. So of course, everyone’s looking at that gap. Like, why isn’t it there, and there’s really no ceiling to it. So there’s always going to be questions of why. So there, which should be thrown for foreign yards, a game all that. But, you know, our identity is a smash fest, and we love to run the rock, we love to do it and inflict our force on any opponent, we play. So a lot of the meat on the bone and still on the bone, and it’s ready to come off next Saturday.

Phil Callihan 31:30
And I remember thinking, wow, we’ve gone through 11 games, and we haven’t quite seen it consistently yet. Okay. But he had no doubt. And then we saw it. Right. And I think it shows kind of, again, as you mentioned before, we don’t always get to see everything that happens behind the scenes, or we don’t have a really good window into what happens in the practice. But you can imagine JJ being that enthusiastic leader, you know, continuously. And I think that’s, again, you have to you have to perform, right. But I can easily see, you know, in future season, JJ getting that spirit and enthusiasm award to because he just he has that mentality, he has that. That leadership. So I think that, again, great award for him, you know, no question there. And again, at this point, you know, you have the awards that Blake Corum are already received. And this is a good place to to honor JJ McCarthy. Next award up is Defensive Player of the Year mozzie Smith.

Clint Derringer 32:49
I think this one also makes sense given that Mike Morris already had one of the original six awards given. I think, again, Mike Morrison, his versatility was really critical. But Mazi Smith and his his mentality on the inside his ability to really battle and accept kind of the grunt work role on the interior there where most of what Mazi Smith has to do is eat double teams and keep the linebackers free and keep the edge guys free to make plays. So for him to really excel and still be able to make some very key plays from the interior there was huge. Again, I think that he’s he’s a foundational piece he and Mike Morris are the reason that this defense can do all of the different things that they do on the back end,

Mazi Smith 33:45
stopping the run is key in every game, every college Football game, especially in a conference, like the big 10 We see teams who, you know, get past heavy on a team to keep a balance rushing attack, you know, they’re usually able to keep the defense on his toes. And no surprise, that defense with certain plays explosive. So last year, you know, they did a great job. And they had a special back back there. And the boys play hard no matter what. So it’s but it’s always, always important to stop, just like any games will stop doing in this game. They won’t be good.

Clint Derringer 34:25
And mozzie Smith, really his role and ability to still make plays from a role really you’re just trying to get a guy to eat up space and not get driven backwards. And he does that plus some. So I think this is a really huge honor. For a guy that’s in in a position that’s not going to get a lot of statistical shout out and accolades. And clearly the staff wanted to make sure that everybody knew that his role is really crucial for the success of the defense. So I’m Glad to see him be able to get some some positive recognition.

Phil Callihan 35:05
Absolutely. Next award up, special teams Player of the Year, AJ Henning?

Clint Derringer 35:14
Yeah, I think this is another place where they wanted to highlight somebody who accepted a role that maybe is less than we would have thought a couple of years ago AJ heading even last year got a lot more coaches on the offensive side of the ball than he did this year. I know he battled some injuries a little bit this year. But his development back there as a punt returner from the second game of last year after Ronnie Bell got hurt through last year and then through this year, his development has been really really great and where he’s made some big plays really the value to the team is his ability to much more quickly read the ponds that go up into the air and catch the ball much more reliably.

A.J. Henning 36:04
Yeah, you know after last season, I really went back and looked at the film and just really just looked at each return that I had last year balls and I felt like I could have filled it that I didn’t some balls that I felt like I feel that that you know dropped. Just honing in on the little details alignment assignment, the little keys keep your your your body square keeping your elbows in tight. You know I got with Brad Robins you know just talking with him the different types of types of balls that I’m going to see different types of way ways the punter will hit it to see the way they’ll spin off the foot. You know, I just really honed in on all those little details to get better. And with repetition you you always get better so you know just keep repping keep you know bringing a punter along Tommy Dolman or Brad Robins, you know, getting with those guys just catching balls, after hours just getting those reps in

Clint Derringer 36:53
and not allow those punts to roll. And what we call hidden yardage, right giving up 1520 Sometimes 25 yards of roll on those punts. And that happened a lot early on when he first took over that position. But now he’s really much more reliable asset back there as a returner, still extremely dangerous to take it back to the house at any given time. And again, I think the program and the coaching staff wanted to reward his selflessness of giving up a certain amount of touches on the offensive side of the ball and really embracing his special teams role and he gets named special teams player of the year because of

Phil Callihan 37:38
Next up offensive skill Player of the Year. Ronnie Bell

Clint Derringer 37:42
Yeah, I would say no doubt are here, right? Of course Blake Corum is a skill player already had an award Quarterback skill position already had an award, Ronnie Bell is is has been the best receiver in the program for three or four seasons now and again took another step forward. In terms of making a couple big plays, I’d like to see Ronnie be a little bit more consistent. Just just catching the ball. I think most of the time he’s trying to try to make plays with his legs you know kind of running before he catches it. But he’s this is another slam dunk if he is without a doubt. The the most crucial skill player

Ronnie Bell 38:25
So he’s moody made it man like just to pull the wind out like this is something that like, it ain’t easy to do, man. He says tough game tough opponent. You know, like we said we had some guys down, missed some plays here and there. And so to win as ugly as I was and still come out on top, you know, I think we’ve done with seven going into fourth quarter to come out on top managers. It feels really good. And yeah, I think I think everything about it is the culture that the players have said and the coach Coach Harbaugh has, you know, flooded into the building every single day. And it’s just completely shifted man. It’s not even it’s not even the ones that didn’t make it through 2020 Man is it’s a whole different whole different team now man so

Clint Derringer 39:10
and we really saw the rest of the wide receiver room have to be forced to develop last year in his absence. And now adding him back into that same wide receiver room was was a really great reminder. Oh yeah, by the way, we still got our best wide receiver back this year. And it’s great to see him and his enthusiasm and leadership in all corners of a Football game so well deserved skill Player of the Year for Ronnie Bell.

Phil Callihan 39:38
The next award might be the most surprising to me. And again, the one that I’m actually the happiest to see. defensive skill Player of the Year, Mike seine was still and again for a player to switch from offense to defense and he Have this impact is really impressive.

Clint Derringer 40:03
You’ve brought it up a couple of times where we heard that there were rumors swirling that even with the entry of Dax Hill into the draft last year, that Michigan was still going to be able to cover almost as well in the slot. And certainly sounded like offseason bluster, and I think it’s held true. Mike Samer, still repeatedly is stands up in the in the biggest moments, including what might be the play of the year in the Ohio State game with him breaking up that pass in the endzone from from the tight end in the fourth quarter,

Mike Sainristil 40:46
I think was the same as the grit determination, the underdog mindset that we had last year, just you know, the Michigan versus everybody mindset was different. It’s just the fact that it’s not the same team. As I say, we don’t have the same guys defensively. When I’m saying Guys, we have majority saying guys offensively. But you know that identity is not the same as what it was last year. What worked for last year’s team is not the same thing that’s working right now. You know, we have we just, we play with it with a different attitude. You know, not to take that away from last year’s team. But you know, right now what we’re doing is, we’re just we just have a mindset of Nothing is good. Nothing that gets in our way is gonna stop us. And you know, that’s just what we we pride ourselves on.

Clint Derringer 41:28
Truly remarkable season. Really, a lot more. You could pour almost every accolade to Michael Sandler still with what he did. being selfless, changing positions, showing leadership and all in all positions, doing a lot of hard work, obviously to be to excel in as a receiver last year, and now as a defensive back, so he deserves all of this and more certainly, and it’s going to be very interesting to see what type of big plays he still has in store for the remainder of the season.

Phil Callihan 42:04
Absolutely. Next award specialist of the year Jake moody.

Clint Derringer 42:10
Yeah, it’s hard hard to give reward to the punter Brad Robbins certainly deserved and then AJ heading special teams, the player here. And then Jake moody. Oh, by the way, just the best kicker that we’ve ever had in the program.

Jim Harbaugh 42:23
But watching Michigan Football since I was a kid, pretty, pretty decent historian of Michigan Football, and I am I am nominating him for legendary status

Clint Derringer 42:37
probably deserves some type of award and accolades. So I got to figure out a way to highlight him. So I’m glad that they figured out how to do that. And again, I would say over 100 years of Michigan Football Jake moody is the best kicker and I don’t think that is really stands for much debate. So that’s that’s a pretty high praise. And one more title and more trophy for him to have is great.

Phil Callihan 43:08
Most Improved Player offense. Karson Barnhart.

Clint Derringer 43:13
Yeah. Barhart, a couple seasons has been solid along the offensive line. He’s gained a lot of game experience in the 2020. And the 21 seasons, battled Andrew Stuber for playing time, a little bit last year, along with Trent Jones, and then Stuber goes to the NFL. And Barnhart and Trent Jones battle it out. Trinity Jones starts out at right tackle this year and gets hurt, giving the opportunity to Carson Barnhart to really settle into one position instead of moving all across the line. And I think this really shows how the staff saw him grow and finally kind of settled into that position.

Karsen Barnhart 43:57
I said, the difference is just being able to know that I’m starting and going out there first, and but nothing’s really changed that much other than just going out there first, because I still prepare the same as I did when I was a backup and I still do the same all the same things just to get better and better each day and every week and go out there and do my best to try to win. Having a defense like going against guys like Chris Jenkins, mozzie, Avi, all of them just gets us prepared for Saturday’s and we feel like they’re the best defense in the country. And having them to go against every every week allows us to go out there and put our perform the way we do on Saturdays,

Clint Derringer 44:37
where even once Trent Jones was healthy, I think Barnhart had kind of wrestled the job back away from him. So kudos to him. Another really critical piece of an offensive line. That continues to be the heartbeat of the offense. So gratulations to Carson Barnhart finally kind of set filling into a position and showing a willingness to keep competing for his job every day.

Phil Callihan 45:07
Next award most improved player on defense, Mike Barrett, another well earned award.

Clint Derringer 45:18
Yeah, we’ve spent a couple of different podcasts really highlighting what what Mike Barrett was had done in those individual games and put together finally a full season from start to finish, where he was really, really great consistently. And again, this is a spot where injury kind of dictated that he had to go in there. A previous kind of hybrid Space Player Viper and browns defense moves inside to inside linebacker, a lot of work to do to mentally understand that new position to physically try to grow into that position, and then make the best of what he was capable of. And he really became a huge piece of allowing Jesse Minter to be versatile again, his coverage ability. Next to junior Coulson is a huge reason that shored up a big weakness that we’ve seen in previous Michigan defenses, where linebackers are consistently exposed in coverage. And I think Michael Barrett and Jr, Coulson their athletic ability was a huge part of shoring that up. And for him to to show the leadership and perseverance to really take on every challenge that every season has brought to him, and always come out the other end a little bit stronger and a little bit better. I think he deserves a most improved player, certainly. And also, even more than that, I think, mentally and physically, one of the tougher players that we’ve got in the program.

Phil Callihan 47:01
Absolutely. And we’ve talked about this before, again, you were slated to be Viper, and you know, could have been disappointed at the change and defensive schemes could have left the program and the culture

Michael Barrett 47:15
of the builder and the culture of just Michigan Football is just a place that that’s hard to leave. I knew once once everything changed, it changed for the better understand my pain. And I just feel like just that quarter changed her just made me want to stay even more

Phil Callihan 47:35
stuck around and really showed his grit. And it’s become a key key part of of the defense. Not only last year, but but definitely this year. So again, glad to see him. Him honored and recognized. Next award, most improved player, special teams.

Clint Derringer 47:58
And another couple guys that I think are really really physically talented human Dennis has seen some time in wide receivers in a corner and hypnosis in the tight end room. So I would take this as a signal that these guys are ready to take the next step probably start making some bigger plays on special teams, and will likely also be rewarded with more playing time on the offensive and defensive units as we go into 2023 season.

Phil Callihan 48:31
So the next awards are recognize recognizing scout team players. We have scout team player of the year on offense Zack Peterson, scout team player of the year on defense, Jesse Madden and scout team player of the year on special teams, Joe Metzker.

Clint Derringer 48:49
Yeah, these are guys that are almost impossible to see outwardly for us as fans. So must be really, really a celebration for those players and for their families to get get the recognition for doing a lot of hard work scout team is very difficult, not only because you are typically younger and a little bit less talented than the first teamers and second teamers that you’re playing against, but you’re also trying to learn a new offensive or defensive scheme every single week right to mimic what the other team is going to be doing. So to excel in that role is really critical. Our teams are the best Football teams have a lot of versatility and can put a good look onto the practice field every day. So kudos to the program for rewarding three scout team players of the year for being really embracing that role in what is sometimes very thankless. And I hope that the that those players and their families get to celebrate and a lot of times that can also be a sign I’m that, that this is the a person that may be a future contributor. I know, I believe a few seasons ago Cade McNamara happened to win this on the offensive side of the ball. So keep your eyes peeled for those names may become more regular household names in the future.

Phil Callihan 50:19
Absolutely. And, again, all of these players have, hopefully two more games to continue to making impact. So looking forward to that. So Clint, the speaking of potentially two more games, the next game up is a big one. TCU. But before we get to that, you have been working on crunching numbers. And I think you’ve exposed some really cool things. Statistically, would you like to talk about some of that?

Clint Derringer 50:58
Yeah, last year, in the preseason, between the 2020 season and the 21 season, you and I, our biggest question mark was whether or not Sharon Moore could step into the shoes left by Ed Warner. Without much drop off, we expected maybe a little bit of drop off, given that Ed Warner had been coaching offensive line for, you know, 20 plus seasons, show more was kind of getting his first crack at it coming from being tight ends coach. So we were just hoping to kind of maintain and stay at a similar level. And we wanted to measure to see whether or not that had happened. And I posted this morning, kind of an extension of that, because last year, we measured that, and the offensive line in the run game as measured by expected points added or EPA really took a jump forward. Not only did Sharon Moore as offensive line coach, take a step forward or maintain what had been done by Warner, which was pretty consistent with what had been done with his predecessor, the run game has taken a huge jump forward, almost doubling what our average EPA output per play was in 21, and then increased by another 45% from 21 to 22. So what Sharon Moore has done in that offensive line room combined with the work that has happened in the Running Back room with Mike Hart, really has turned the program completely from middle of the road into really elite. And I say that, because Jim Harbaugh has always wanted the run game to be core to his philosophy, his offensive philosophy, and the toughness in the trenches really being key to the whole program philosophy. And they were okay at that in the past. And the program was okay, because of that. Right. What they wanted the core of their identity to be was was fine, better than average. But for it to really take a jump forward under Sharon Moore’s leadership. And again, adding the Running Back coach Mike Hart to the mix, really has what put has what has pushed the program from, okay, probably a second tier two big 10 champions back to back, second time in the college Football playoff consecutively. And really a reasonable chance to be able to win their semifinal game and challenge for a national title. All of that starts with Jim Harbaugh taking a chance on giving Sharon Moore the promotion in the offseason from 2020 to 21 to the offensive line, and then promoting him again in 22. To offensive coordinator. So really just wanted to kind of extend those numbers that we had looked at in the past and highlight again, that I think Sharon Moore is one of the most underrated coaches that we see that we know of our program within the big 10. And likely nationally, he’s really going to be he’s going to be in a lot of conversations about taking over a program of his own at some point in the future, and it’s well deserved. And I’m glad that we’ve got him. I’m glad that we’ve had him for as long as we have. And I hope that he stays. But if not, I will be a fan of his for a very long time. And what he’s done is super, super impressive.

Phil Callihan 54:49
Yeah, and I think it goes back to the way Jim Harbaugh was running this program, right where I remember when Ed Warner left I was concerned, because in a superficial way, there were a lot of good. There are a lot of good things happening, right. But again, at a superficial level, like many coaches would have been fine with the job that he was doing. And again, you know, sending guys to the NFL. And you took a really hard look at the running stats and said, you know, could have been a lot better. And, you know, this comes back to many coaches would have been fine with that. But Jim Harbaugh said we needed to get better, right? And made a change. And that change has turned out great. And again, even talking about my car, right? It would be really easy to say, well, you’re bringing an alum back, right. It’s, it’s something for the boosters and it’s something you know, it’s it’ll be a popular move. But not all alums are great coaches. And when you look at the stats, Mike Hart is popular, and you know, is beloved by the fan base. But he’s also a really good coach. And, you know, it’s interesting that over Harbaugh’s time here, he has not hesitated to make changes. And again, you know, I keep, you know, keep spinning the dials to get things, right. And the last two seasons, things are coming up very, very right. And I think that looking back, they were not obvious moves. And you got to give him credit, you got to give credit to Sharon Moore and my card. And of course, the players who were, who were taking the hits doing the work. But you got to give credit to Harbaugh and everybody for working together. And, you know, again, this is a guy several times over the last three seasons, people in the fan base, we’re ready to show him the exit. And you know, you, you hang with it. And, you know, comes back to, you know, those who stay will be champions? Well, you know, Michigan recently updated the welcome area, to Schembechler hall with pictures of them being champions again, and again, really great to see it working out, but it just doesn’t happen. It’s not a mistake. It’s not random. Okay. And you can look at, you know, the work that the coaches are doing, the coaches, the work that the players are doing, and the statistics bear it out. And, you know, you mentioned this earlier, we’ve mentioned this in previous podcast, Michigan, put a beating on Ohio State down their best player on offense and down their best player on defense, and didn’t miss a beat. Right. So, you know, we’re going to talk about, you know, the college Football playoffs. There’s the potential for Michigan to see Ohio State again. And, you know, a lot a lot needs to happen for that to happen. But, you know, I don’t sweat Ohio State right now. So. So, Clint, speaking of the college Football playoffs, how do you feel about the upcoming the upcoming game versus TCU?

Clint Derringer 58:22
I think it starts when we talk about TCU. It starts with their Quarterback, Max Duggan, he is really a dynamic player, kind of a more experienced version of JJ McCarthy can make big plays with his arm and with his legs, and has shown really physical and mental toughness, through this season. physical toughness really banged up in the big 12 championship game that I watched from start to finish. And that continued making plays, you know, he scores a touchdown late in the fourth quarter and is so physically exhausted that he can barely barely stand up and get back to the sidelines. So really kind of a warrior mentality just kind of emanates off of Max dug in at the Quarterback position. And the Mental Toughness where this season for them really was a lot of comeback wins and a lot of very close games. So for them to run through the regular season, undefeated 12 Oh, losing overtime in the big 12 championship game to Kansas State with it already beaten, really speaks to their ability to to rise up in the most crucial, crucial moments. And I think it as you and I have talked about many times in the last few seasons, that is directly attributed to, in my opinion, leadership, right both starting with the coaches and on the sideline, but really In the moment, it’s all about your player leaders, your best and mentally strongest players stepping up and making big plays in big moments. That is what it’s all about. So, for TCU, it all starts with the Quarterback and kind of keeping him contained. They have some really, really talented receivers. I think Michigan will employ a similar coverage scheme that they’ve used the last two games. First to kind of keep Ohio State from major explosive plays. We saw it again, against Purdue, where they really just wanted to limit the ability for those receivers to take the top off the defense, they’re willing to concede some completions and moving the chains but they really wanted to avoid explosive touchdown plays. I think that will stay consistent. But there’s going to have to be some added wrinkles against TCU. Because Devin can really hurt you with his legs. So they will Sonny dykes, the head coach at TCU will will have some creative ways for Dugan to make some plays, and to have the ball in his hands with an option to run our paths. So Michigan is going to have to kind of tweak what’s been the core of their defensive game plan these last couple of weeks. So I’m excited to see exactly what Jessie Minter comes up with. On the other side of the ball, Michigan is probably going to be down. You know Blake Corum had surgery as the still, you know, still walking around with crutches. From everything, there was a little bit of confusion about what his surgery and what type of rehab, there would be, I would, I would imagine that he’s out. But I don’t know that we’ve seen anything definitive from Blake Corum directly but 99% chance that he’s out for this game. I don’t believe Donovan Edwards is going to be all the way back to 100%, he’ll probably still have to be wearing something protective. On his hand, given the nature of that, that injury. If it’s something that needs to be surgically repaired, then they’ll likely still have to put the protective equipment onto his hand. So that’s a little bit problematic. But as we’ve spent a lot of time earlier, talking about the core of what this offense is going to do, is rooted in the offensive line and their ability to execute on a couple of key zone plays a couple of key gap concepts and to be versatile and how they’re going to change based on the TCU front TCU right now as a bass 335 defense that may sound familiar from the rich rod days. They’re not a particularly elite defense there, depending on where you look. TCU ranks anywhere from 23rd down to 35th in defense nationally, especially against the run. So I expect Michigan to keep their their main philosophy, they’re really going to start and end with the run game. And it’ll be interesting to see exactly how they mix in different paths, concepts, and try to eat up a couple chunks with JJ McCarthy, finding guys likely over the middle, depending on how how TCU decides to play. But I think it’ll be Michigan’s receivers and tight ends, trying to find space against the linebackers and safeties over the middle of the field, where Michigan will try to make a chunk plays, but I expect to see, you know, probably 55% up upwards of 60% run plays. And when they do pass it, they’re going to try to get 15 to 25 yard chunks over the middle. And I expect them to be able to find success. This is not not quite as strong a defense as they’ve seen elsewhere that they tend So Michigan should be able to put up a lot of points.

Phil Callihan 1:04:24
What I find when I look at it when I look at this game, is that last season TCU was five and seven, right? He had a coaching change many of the same players and caught fire this year. And it reminds me of being okay, they’re out of phase with Michigan. But it reminds me of kind of Michigan last year or Michigan came out of the COVID year just just hugely disappointed with the results and just caught fire right That’s what TCU reminds me of this year. And, again, going back, I watched much of that game that you were talking about. And I’ve gone back and watched a lot of tape. And again, a really resilient team. Okay. And I think that this is a team that, I think was fortunate many times, but again, you know, you got to, you got to win the games, but definitely dodged some bullets, right. And that shows they’re resilient. And it has increased their resiliency, right? This is not a team you want to leave hanging around. Okay. And it’s also a team that even if Michigan gets up two or three touchdowns, I don’t think you can sleep on because they have come back before. And, and I will tell you, that performance that we saw in the big 12 championship game, was one of the most amazing performances from a Quarterback I’ve ever seen. Okay. And I will tell you also, and I think a lot of people would agree that TCU got screwed by the refs. Okay. And very easily could have won that game. You know, there were some real questionable reviews. You know, thinking specifically of when they were going down to potentially score and when, and, oh, well, when did the ball come out? Well, wait a minute, where was the ball when they went over? And and, again, I, if I’m TCU, I have a real bad taste in my mouth. And a lot of a lot of a boy, what’s the word? I’m looking for? A lot of a chip on my shoulder. Okay. And we probably, you know, we had this great comeback, maybe maybe should have won that game. Okay. And everybody is overlooking us in the semifinal game. You know, I think they’re going to they’re going to put up a really good show. And I, you know, I do think Michigan is going to win, I think Michigan outmatches them and some of the skilled positions. I think Michigan has a better defense. I think Michigan has the potential to contain their offense. But you know, they have a puncher’s chance. Okay, again, I, I think this is going to be I’m really excited to see this game. I’m, again, I think, like I said, it’s kind of the mirror image of Michigan last year. And hopefully, we will play the role of Georgia and, you know, knock the snot out of them. But, you know, I’m keeping an eye on this TCU team, not only you know, when Michigan plays them this year, but I think as Harbaugh would say they are an ascending program, and definitely looking forward to how Michigan will match up with them.

Clint Derringer 1:08:10
Yeah, I think if things go according to plan, Michigan is able to kind of dictate the speed and pace and rhythm of the game, then, then it’ll look very similar to what we’ve seen for pretty much the whole year, maybe close game through the first two quarters, you know, one score game at halftime, either way. And then really, once the adjustments are in, and you’ve been able to kind of really implement everything that you want against the game plan that we see from TCU. Then typically, we see Michigan pull away. That is very, very possible, certainly. But the really the dynamic playmakers that TCU has on offense, that’s the X Factor if they can find a way to make some explosive plays to both leverage some of the passing success that Purdue was able to find against the Michigan zone defense and then also use their athleticism in turn some of those into big plays and points, then then all that really changes it. So the challenge for me you know, in my eyes is really on the Michigan defense to to be able to you know, the front seven really have to be able to keep Max Duggan, kind of hemmed in and when he does use his legs, you know, keeping those scrambles to you know, less than 10 yards really keeping an eye on him on third downs and fourth downs where where I think they’ll lean on him for big conversions. We’ll see some of those high leverage plays. That’s the first challenge and then finding a way to keep your safeties over the top of their most explosive receivers. That’s that’s going to be the biggest challenge and where the game will be decided if Michigan’s defense is able to kind of keep them inside and in front, as we say, right? Don’t Don’t let them go over top of the defense. Don’t let them beat you up the sidelines, then I expect this to look and feel a lot like Michigan’s big 10 games.

Phil Callihan 1:10:37
So watching this game, or expecting this game and watching this team play. Okay, Ohio State’s a front runner, right? They get ahead, and they expect the team to roll over for him. And when Michigan caught up on Ohio State, Ohio State hung their hat and quit. Okay, and I’d say for the second year in a row, I don’t think there’s any quit and TCU and I say that with respect meeting, take care of your business. Okay. Specifically a defense but if this team’s down two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, they their head won’t be hanging there will be looking to come back. And again, alter I say that with respect. Okay, so again, I’m really looking forward to this game.

2022 Michigan Football Podcast — Big Ten Champions (AGAIN) Michigan 43 Purdue 23 Game Commentary 12-13-22

Phil and Clint discuss Michigan winning the Big Ten Championship (AGAIN), possibly meeting Ohio State for the National Championship (and definitely beating them), Blake Corum getting “The Heisman” from Heisman voters, the departures of QB Cade McNamara and TE Erick All. With audio from QB JJ McCarthy, former QB Cade McNamara, and Jim Harbaugh.

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Podcast Transcript

Phil Callihan 0:00
This is Phil Callihan, along with Clint Derringer, and we’re going to wrap up the big 10 championship game that saw Michigan triumph by a score of 43 to 22. And talk about the season in general up to this point. Well, Clint, what do you think about the big 10 championship game,

Clint Derringer 0:32
I thought it was really interesting going into the game, I thought maybe Michigan would kind of just tweak the game plan that they had gone into the Ohio State game, because in a strange way, Purdue’s offense operated in a similar way to Ohio State’s offense in terms of being passed first. With you know, and just trying to eliminate as many explosive plays for touchdowns as you can, and making them execute up and down the field and then finish for touchdowns in the red zone. So a similar game plan in that manner. And that’s what we saw on Michigan conceded a lot of yards and allowed Purdue to run a lot of plays. I tracked 83 plays for 469 yards for Purdue. But they could only turn that into 22 points, and only nine points in the second half. So another really, really great defensive game plan. And another very similar shape to this game on the offensive side, in terms of a little bit of a slow start, you know, only up 14 to 13 at halftime, and then really found some creases in the running game. And Donovan Edwards had another couple big runs, and was named the game’s MVP, so very, very similar tone. And I think a strategy, even if the specifics of the game plan were different, of course, but I think a very similar strategy from what they did in the 12 game into the 13th game. And it was obviously good enough to beat Ohio State and then good enough to beat Purdue and bring home big 10 Championship

Phil Callihan 2:18
Definitely hats off to Purdue. They were they held up the honor of the West Division and the big 10, certainly better than Iowa did last year. And I was struck by how similar this game was to many of Michigan’s other games this season, as you said, really tight at halftime 14 to 13. And then Michigan outpaced them by scoring 29 points to their nine in the second half for a final 43 to 22. And, you know, on one hand, you look and you say, well, Michigan gave up 22 points. But on the other hand, it really felt like a, like a typical Michigan prototype Football game this season, you know, kind of probing them and trying different things in the first half, and then just putting the pedal to the metal and blowing them out in the second half. And, you know, it’s interesting, because I was wondering heading into this game, when you look at the records of the teams, right, Purdue came in, you know, with four losses. And of course, Michigan was undefeated, I thought there was a chance Michigan might just blow them out in the first half and get it over with. And it’s interesting, because I think from an entertainment standpoint, it definitely kept people tuned in. And on one hand, if you’re, you know, from a national perspective, if, if you’re wondering, oh, great as Michigan for real, you know, you could kind of maybe question it in the first half. But then you saw what they did in the second half. And you’re like, Yeah, this is how Michigan does it.

Clint Derringer 3:46
Yeah. To your point about the the slow start, I’m just gonna look at the success rate, right, our efficiency metric. That’s really how how did you stay on rhythm in terms of moving the chains? So did you get 50% of the yards you need on first down, right? Usually, it’s, you know, first intense, you need five yards or more to be successful. It’s two thirds of the yards that you need on second down, right. So you know, second and 10, you’ve got to get seven yards to be successful. six yards would not be successful on second 10. And then third down, you have to convert 100% of what you need. And fourth down you have to convert so those are successful plays in terms of success rate. And the game ended up very close with Michigan at 46% success rate on 56 plays and Purdue 43% success rate on 83 plays. And then for comparison, Ohio State was also a 46% success rate the previous week. And Michigan success rate in that Ohio State game was just 39%. With explosiveness being the difference in the Ohio State game. So Michigan and Purdue were very similar in success rate, and Purdue got to run a lot more plays. Again they marched pretty easily between the 20s and then could not find a way to punch it into the endzone once they got into into scoring opportunities so that that success rate metric. Even though it ended up close in the first quarter, Purdue was 55%. And Michigan was 30%. Right? It was a huge gap. Purdue had a great game plan for how they wanted to attack Michigan’s defense. And they were finding space with Charlie Jones, the wide receiver transfer from Iowa and ended up with over the huge game in terms of receptions and yardage. But the second, third and fourth quarters, Michigan had an efficiency edge. Right, Purdue was 47, then 33, then 36% success rate. So the they started to get a little bit more physical with Charlie Jones at the line of scrimmage played a little bit more man coverage, right and then created a little bit more pressure with their with their Forman front. And offensively. The, you know, the offensive line, the offensive staff, the run game coordinators started to make a couple adjustments to what they were seeing and eventually broke some long run. So I thought, again, the it was really echoes of the same game plan just dusted off and adjusted for what they were going to see personnel wise from Purdue, from the week before. And that makes total sense to me, because we know that Michigan staff put, you know, an entire offseason and the full season, regular season into what they created for that Ohio State game plan. So the fact that they ended up against a Purdue team from the West, that kind of fit the same bill offensively and defensively as Ohio State then it actually turned into a simpler week of planning for Michigan, I think, from what I could tell, it’s what I thought they might do. And I would agree or I would, I think that it was confirmed with what we saw.

Phil Callihan 6:58
So one of the interesting things for me when I was looking at the postgame stats is that actually Purdue out gained Michigan 456 yards, the 386. And, you know, it’s really notable when you look at the passing yards, you know, 366 yards to 161. So, looking at the game, you know, with perspective of being over, you know, you look at the scoreboard, but if if I had seen those stats, if I had known those were going to be the stats prior to the game, I would suspect that it would be a much closer match. So, you know, going back and rewatching the game. Again, as you said Purdue had some success at times, but Michigan was really able to shut them down when it counted. And, you know, yards don’t always equal points. And I think that’s the thing that I took from watching. The Purdue offense is yeah, they had some success, but if you can’t convert it to touchdowns, you know, it’s, you know, you’re gonna get out outpaced and I think that’s what happened. The other interesting thing is, you know, when you look at, you know, the Michigan side, you have Donovan Edwards, who ended up with 185 yards on 25 carries. JJ McCarthy 11 for 17, one interception, 161 yards, three touchdowns, and you know, Ronnie Bell, five receptions for 67 yards. So it’s another game where the offense did enough, scored, you know, a fair amount of points, but really the defense got the job done and, and came up big when it was important. So, again, just a really interesting Workman, like game for Michigan. You know, we’ve talked about this before, you know, I’ve been a lot around a lot of different teams. And one of the interesting things about covering a game in the big 10 Championship at Lucas Oil Field, is that you have a lot more access to the sidelines prior to the game. And then behind the scenes, like, around the locker rooms before and after. And Purdue. I mean, again, they were definitely game on the field. But again, they they kind of reminded me of, of a team that was definitely overmatched. And you know, they got the heck out of dodge when it was over. There wasn’t a lot of frustration. I think that you know, they, they knew they were overwhelmed. So another interesting thing that as I was running around, right before the team took the field, for the half, I was walking by the Michigan locker room, and, you know, door opened and you heard a, you know, go blue beat Ohio, which really struck me at first I was like, beat Ohio. And then, you know, it kind of got put in perspective after the game. When, you know, JJ McCarthy was asked, you know, how do you feel about possibly playing Ohio State again, please? Please

J.J. McCarthy 10:00
Bring it on. I mean, that would be truly a blessing if we get a shot to play those boys. Again,

Phil Callihan 10:07
We talked a little bit about this when Jim Harbaugh faced Ryan day, you know, for for the game that I think this is a little bit of gamesmanship of, we’re not worried about Ohio, we want to Ohio. And I thought that was an interesting way to do it. That, you know, they’re ready for any challenge, however it comes. So again, I just thought that, you know, at that time, it really struck me and I had to, I had to catch myself that I hear what I thought I heard, and I did. So it’s interesting the way they’re gearing up. And you know, every every game, we’ve heard this this season, that they’re focused on the game at hand, but they have a larger goal, right. And how I took that beat Ohio cheer is, you know, their goal is to go all the way to the end of the college Football playoffs. And if Ohio State is waiting for them all the better.

Clint Derringer 11:03
Yeah, I think that it reiterates what we said after the game last week was this is an inflection point in the rivalry where the pressure and the wonder and the doubt and the questioning of the program, the questioning of the head coach has all shifted it to Columbus. You know, they’re, they’re in a very strange spot where they managed to get a college Football playoff berth is top four program in the country this year. And it doesn’t take much searching to find people who are still calling for Ryan day to be on the hot seat or to be outright fired already, because he’s lost to Michigan twice in a row and lost the first game in Columbus to Michigan in 22 years. So they there are some people that have seen enough in terms of the direction of the program, since Ryan day took over for Urban Meyer. And they feel like the the 2019 and 2020 seasons were kind of you know, the the analogy is wily coyote running off the cliff, right, and he kind of stays up suspended in the air for a few steps at once he’s off the cliff. And he realizes that there’s there’s no ground beneath him and he falls so that questioning and doubt is really it’s familiar, right? It’s what Michigan felt for, you know, at different points in the last 1520 years of the entire program. And every head coach back to Lloyd Carr. At the end of his career. Certainly rich rod and Brady Hoke felt it. And in Jim Harbaugh felt it in the first five years of his tenure. So that pressure, and those questions are significant. So first of all, there’s no reason for the players on this year’s Michigan team to to wonder or to have doubt about whether you know whether they want to play Ohio State again, I think that makes perfect sense that they would be confident. But also, like you mentioned that the gamesmanship aspect of it, I think is also legitimate. The pressures on them, you know, keep it on. But yeah, make make it again, where they’ve got to wonder whether they beat Michigan, or are they going to be the first Ohio State program to lose the Michigan three times inside of two years? Right, another historic, problematic talking point for that program. All of that ends up mounting on top of their program, and then coach, certainly, and eventually that trickles down to the players. And we’ve seen what happens when the players in your program are too nervous or playing tight or too worried about what’s going to happen. As a result, the outcome, as opposed to playing and playing free and having fun and enjoying the enjoying the moment. It’s a very fine line between kind of embracing that moment and enjoying it as it’s happening, and being tight and nervous about it. And we’ve seen that difference, the last two years in the game against Ohio State.

Phil Callihan 14:19
And not just Michigan versus Ohio State. We talked about this last season, when we did our postseason wrap up. It really seemed like there was not only an inflection versus Ohio State that was starting. But there was an inflection in the Michigan program where they weren’t satisfied with just making the college Football playoffs. And it seemed you know, the players were saying listen, the culture has changed. There’s a new vibe here. And you know, that’s one of the reasons we did the postseason wrap up last year is we wanted to see if they continue to build this season. And they have they’re continuing to was sent. So, you know, you talked about how tough it is for Ryan day to lose two in a row to Michigan. What happens if you lose two times in the same season to Michigan? And especially if you know, presumably the second one would be in the national championship game. So it’s really has some interesting undertones and some interesting themes coming in. I mean, I think back you know, you talked about Ryan day being the wily coyote on the Ohio State side. You look back to the one year that Brady Hoke won it was the Luke fickle year, right? I call it the the Ohio State Asterix Asterix year, right 40 to 34. But hey, you had your your pinch hitter coach, right. And, you know, you didn’t do enough to keep the job and he was gone. And you wonder if Ryan day is in a similar position now where you’ve lost two in a row. And again, you know, from an Ohio State side, you wonder, would you rather lose the first game in the college Football playoffs instead of eventually losing the Michigan. And again, it’s just interesting. I really think that those are the kinds of doubts and questions that’s running through Ohio State’s mind. And again, you made a great point, Clint, we’ve been on the other side of it, the end of Lloyd Carr, rich Rodriguez, Brady Hoke era, even the beginning of Jim Harbaugh, you start wondering, gosh, are we ever going to win again, right has things shifted. And it is it is interesting to see the team’s you know, the demeanor on the Ohio State sideline. When when you know, I was down in Columbus, the attitude of the fans. Again, it’s really soured on. The other thing that I thought was interesting was, you know, I think back to the 2006 season, where both teams were loving and no heading into the game. And Ohio State 142 to 39. And prior to that game, there was some conjecture on well, should they both, you know, continue on and meet again, right. And after the game, Ohio State fans were all know, Michigan had their chance they had their chance, right? They didn’t get it done. It was interesting to me to see Ohio State fans twisting themselves in a pretzel to explain how they should back in, you know, this season, especially when they lost so convincingly at home to Michigan, right, with Michigan down two of their best players, you know, and, you know, while we’re while we’re on the subject, right? So it was interesting to kind of see the Ohio State apologists, making all the excuses on why they should be there. And well, you know, watch what you wish for, you know, we’re gonna get to see it play out, especially since I know it’s a different season. But, you know, Georgia is still Georgia. And, you know, I’m still smarting from what they did to Michigan last year in the college Football playoffs. So Ohio State has a very tall order ahead of them.

Clint Derringer 18:05
Yeah, absolutely. They’ve got plenty on their plate. As the four seat taking on Georgia, Georgia is, is, you know, maybe maybe one step one notch below where they were last year, which was a really historically great defense and an explosive offense. And this year, the offense is is pretty similar to what they were last year, but they’re not quite as as dominant on both sides of the ball. So if they came back a step. And this Ohio State team is, I would say not quite as good as what they were last year. But I would say the buckeyes have at least a puncher’s chance because they are still very talented on the offensive side of the ball. We’ll see how we’ll see how healthy they can get between now and then especially in the in the Running Back room. And, you know, they if they can put up points, I mean, LSU was able to put 30 points up in that SEC title game against against Georgia. So there’s a path there for Ohio State to kind of turn it into a little bit of a track meet at least early and and maybe hold on. So I wouldn’t I wouldn’t be shocked if it happened. But I agree with you that it’s a tall order. And we’ll see and we’ll see how I think mentally they respond. You know, we hear from their fan base, and in the Ohio State media, certainly. They feel as if they’ve been given second life, but we’ll see how the program and the coaches and the players seem to respond to being given this the second life, right, and especially if if there’s adversity early on. I just I still haven’t seen these last couple of seasons. I haven’t seen the buckeyes really have to dig deep mentally. And really face adversity or early in a game and and kind of gut or grind out a win. I just I haven’t seen them able to do that. Usually it’s the jump on top by a big number early and they can hold on. But when they’re really up against it, they tend to play tight. And they’re not used to having to really fight their way out of a tough situation. So we’ll see how it goes.

Phil Callihan 20:36
Well, again, it’s just one game. But seeing the way the Ohio State team was just thumped down there. And Clint, it’s one thing to lose. Okay. And I think back to the 2016 game, right. Both teams stood toe to toe, Ohio State came out on top with a little bit of help from the refs. But that was not a game that you would say Michigan was thumped. And, and they left the field with their hate with their head hanging. Right? It was, you know, again, one of those times, well, we we ran out of time before we could win, right? You know, whatever happened in overtime, and you get what I’m saying? You know, there are times where a team has definitely beat. And Ohio State was beaten. Okay, they were they were down. And even if you listen to the postgame press conferences. CJ Stroud was apologetic, I mean, just just beaten, just, you know, the spirit thumped out of them. So, I wonder if Ohio State wants this matchup. Now, again, they’re all competitors. They’re all great athletes, and I’m sure that they will be pumped up and, you know, the competitors in them should want another opportunity. But, you know, when you get beat like that at home, you know, on one of the largest TV audiences, and in quite a long time, you know, they have a lot to come back from, I think that, you know, you look at certain losses, and you say that’s gonna leave a bruise. And that one left a bruise. So you wonder how quickly they can come back. And you know, the same thing when you’re talking about Georgia, they can’t look past Georgia. They can’t look past Georgia to hope to play Michigan again. Or they’ll get embarrassed again. Right. So it’s interesting. You know, obviously, if Ohio State was to go on a run and win the national championship, I’m sure all would be forgiven with Ryan day. But if you know they have this loss for Michigan in the game, and they go out and get thumped by Georgia, or if they somehow squeak by Georgia get thumped by Michigan, you know, where does that leave the program? Right. So, whereas most programs would be very happy to make the college Football playoffs? You know, this is a little different situation.

Clint Derringer 23:01
Yeah, the the best comparison, at least for how I felt and how I would imagine that it feels to be a Buckeye right now is really that 2018 season where Michigan didn’t play well, in the first game of the season in South Bend last to Notre Dame. Right. That’s the team in Notre Dame that ended up going to the to the playoff. And then they win 10 games in a row really dominating everybody on the schedule and riding high into Columbus. And then just got shellacked. Right felt like a total sucker punch that that I didn’t see coming. Certainly like it was I expected a close game and everything. You know, sometimes strange things happen when you’re in Columbus, so So I didn’t, I was prepared to to see a loss, but to get totally railroaded the way that they did in 2018 was was a shock. And I remember, in the days after that game, the questions were about the program. They weren’t about the game. They weren’t about X’s and O’s. They weren’t about the players that are on the field. Right. It was about Don Brown and his defense. It was about Harbaugh and the program. It was about recruiting. It was a you know, they they were existential questions, right there was a paradigm shift in the program to where are we built the way that we need to be to win these games, you know, with with it, can we our offense wasn’t prepared to win a shootout. It was was the consensus, right that if we fall down by a score too early on this this run heavy attack couldn’t couldn’t get it done. And what the answer to that ended up being, you know, they didn’t really transform on offense since 2018. There’s still a run heavy, right? You know, run the ball and play action pass kind of centered on offense but what they’ve done is shift on defense to contain and giving up yardage against Ohio State but tightening up and and trying to hold them to field goals once the once the field shrinks in the red zone so and that now it’s not it doesn’t turn into a track meet and the ground and pound Tech of the offense King can kind of take hold so really you can see this existential battle or the kind of the the large scale battle back and forth between Ohio State and and Michigan where Ryan day had Don Browns number down Brown was a very very successful defensive coordinator for Michigan for his entire tenure until he got buzzsaw by Ryan days passing attack. And now Ryan day is passing attack is successful in terms of yardage, but they can’t beat Michigan over the top with what Mike McDonald and then Jesse mentor have been able to do by mixing more zone coverage and selling pressure schemes and keeping everybody in front of them. bracketing their number one receiver and making the Quarterback go through all of his progressions. Knowing that CJ Stroud doesn’t want to take off and run, right, which is would be the most dangerous thing that Ryan day could find would be a running Quarterback now. So the fact that Stroud wants to sit in the pocket and either force the ball down the field or, you know, wait for something to come open underneath. It allows them to gain yards and move the sticks. But, again, they’ve they failed to push the ball into the endzone for two straight years now.

Phil Callihan 26:41
You know, I wonder. So, after Michigan, beat Ohio State in October last year, Ryan day, went big. totally rebuilt the defense right, brought in Jim north. It struck me listening to Jim Knowles press conference this year after the game. If he is Ryan days, Don Brown, right, like, brought in well, you’ve already rebuilt the defense. Well, now what do you do? Do you rebuild again, this isn’t what you expected. If anything, it was far worse. And you didn’t have the excuse of the weather. And again, it’s it is interesting, and it’s in front of your home crowd. Right. And so, that that matters. That’s that’s a big deal, especially down in Columbus. So lots to lots of offseason drama I had I think and, you know, while we will predominantly be watching Michigan, definitely a lot a lot of subplots among our among our major rival that we can watch over the next couple of weeks and, and in the offseason as things move forward. So next question. Heisman and Blake Corum didn’t get invited to the ceremony. So my question for you, Clint, is when we look at the overall stats, right? Blake Corum ended up with 14 163 yards on the ground on 247 carries. Donovan Edwards ended up with 872 on 117 yards, or 117. carries. Diamond Edwards averaged seven and a half yards per carry and Blake Corum averaged 5.9 yards per carry. Blake Corum at 18 touchdowns. Donovan Edwards had seven. So here’s my question. Do you think that Blake Corum is Heisman chances? were hurt by how well Donovan Edwards ran this season. And my point being that when Blake Corum went out, you kind of just plug Donovan Edwards in. And he had, you know, a pretty huge game against Ohio State and he ran for, you know, 185 yards in the big 10 championship. Do you think there is a perception that the that not that the running backs aren’t super talented, but that the offensive line does a huge amount of the lifting and the the offensive plays do a huge amount of the lifting? And do you think that hurt Blake Corum is chances of being a finalist for the Heisman at all?

Clint Derringer 29:17
Well, there’s there’s two pieces to that to the answer. I do think. I think Donovan Edwards stepping forward, and the Ohio State game and then in the big 10 championship game shows that the running attack, it starts up front and Michigan’s offensive line and scheme and the diversity that they have with with what they’re running, both with some inside zone or duo run concepts, and some gap locking power and counter concepts. Really, that is the core of their run success. Now, Blake Corum is a dear prints maker. Right? He there’s a reason that he was the number one back and that datamined entrance was the number two back. But Donovan’s success in the last two games does show you that there’s a certain amount of programmed success there. Above and Beyond now, I don’t think that particular realization hurt blanc quorums Heisman campaign, I think just not playing in the second half against Illinois and not having the opportunity to play on the biggest stage in Columbus. Kurt Blake Corum is campaign, right? That was a 17 million people watch that game against Ohio State in Columbus, the largest crowd to watch the loud largest TV audience to see a game in two decades. So it’s definitely the largest by far of this season. So people were waiting to see what was going to happen in that game. I think a lot of the Heisman voters vote early, right after that week 13 rivalry week and before the conference championship games. You know, the eventual winner Caleb Williams, Quarterback from USC, was hurt in in his conference title game, right had kind of a tweaked hamstring, still made a big player to in the first half. But really, his injury, and his inability to move the way that he normally did is the reason that USC could not keep up with Utah in that championship game. But I think most of the votes for Caleb Williams were already cast. So I think that’s what that’s sunk. Blake horns Heisman campaign if he had been healthy enough to compete in the Ohio State game and put forward even half of what Donovan Edwards did in that game. You know, if one of those long runs was Blake Corum Ames against Ohio State, then he’s probably at least a finalist and stays in the picture. And I think he still ended up finishing seventh in the voting, you know, minus half of a game against Illinois and the full game against Ohio State and obviously not playing against Purdue. So missing two and a half games, he still ended up seven. So it’s hard for me to believe that if he had put forward, you know, another touchdown, and 125 yards in each of those games, that he wouldn’t have been sitting right there and had a great chance to win the trophy.

Phil Callihan 32:35
The thought has crossed my mind. And not that Blake Corum isn’t amazing. But I think back to last year when he got hurt, and Hassan Haskins stepped in, right, ended up with, you know, 1327 yards. So, so again, I think, I think my interpretation is Michigan is blessed with great running backs great depth, right. But I can understand, you know, if you’re a if you’re a voter, and you’re thinking, hey, wait a minute, is it the system? Or the back? Or is it both? I think the question might be both, and I think Blake is great. But But again, i i The thought crosses my mind when I see how Hassan just kind of plugged in last year and was just a workhorse, okay. And I remember when Blake went down being super, super concerned, because you know, thunder and lightning, and Hassan was definitely the supporting character for most of the year. And then he just turned it on against Ohio State. And that’s exactly what I thought when I was watching down at Edwards, I was like, oh, here is the supporting player grabbing the highlight or the spotlight at the most opportune time to, you know, kind of cast a shadow over everything. And even though Blake had great stats, you know, again, it crossed my mind when I was watching it. So some other things, you know that that, you know, maybe I’m overthinking it, because I’ve you know, watched the team so closely over two seasons. Some other news that came out. Cade, McNamara and Erick All have left the program. What are your thoughts on that, Clint?

Clint Derringer 34:19
I think I think we knew or kind of had prepared ourselves back in the preseason or in the offseason leading up to this season that whichever Quarterback did not win the Quarterback battle. It was going to be tough to hold on to both of them and really what we had hoped was that we would hold on to both of them through this season thinking that we would definitely need the backup Quarterback to play a role in a pivotal moment. And Cade McNamara has injury in the in the third nonconference game, I think against UConn really changed that whole that whole paradigm. I think, number one, it Uh, obviously, the JJ McCarthy had taken control of the starting job through those first three nonconference games. I think that was clear. We talked about that a lot, obviously, in those podcasts because that was the main storyline early in the season. So JJ McCarthy won the game or won the competition pretty clearly. And then when Cade was not allowed the opportunity to continue playing because of that injury, then it made it clear that he was going to shut it down and start thinking about his future. And I think that’s perfectly reasonable. It also affected I think, how the coaching staff utilized JJ McCarthy, I think we would have seen more Quarterback running attack this season, even than we did. If Cade McNamara was still there and available to be a second string Quarterback. The drop off from JJ to Cade, I think is still smaller than what it would be now. If there was a drop off from JJ to Davis Warner. So I think the safety net being removed in terms of cade McNamara not being available as a backup changed a little bit of the offensive game planning as well. So Cade McNamara, well, I think what he accomplished on the field and as a leader in the 21 season, and then the offseason leading up to 22, is really remarkable. It’s something of certainly of note in the in the history of the program, and I think I certainly will, will continue wishing him well, and, and I’ll be rooting for Iowa in any game that that doesn’t impact Michigan. I have no problem rooting for Iowa. And hopefully, Brian ference doesn’t do the same damage to Cade McNamara that he has done on the rest of their offense for the last five years.

Phil Callihan 36:58
Well, hopefully, Cade will have the gravitas to control that offense rather than be controlled by a lackluster coach. So it’s interesting when I think about Cade, I think back to in fall camp, where, you know, he talked about that he really thought that he had done everything to capture the job.

Cade McNamara 37:25
Absolutely. I think I’m by far playing my best Football that I’ve ever had in my life right now. Chris, what are you doing? Well, what am I doing? Well, I think I’m pushing the ball downfield, I’m throwing the ball with accuracy. My mechanics seem very clean right now. I’m not missing very often. My recognition of the defense right now, it seems very clean. And I think, you know, the more time we’ve spent with the receivers over camp, I’ve been able to gain even more chemistry with them and just finding zones, whether it’s main coverage zone coverage on how we’re dealing with those and our concepts and everything. I think, you know, this team is really ready. I think we’ve done a lot of situational preparation, a lot of work together. And not just myself, but I feel that this offense and this team is extremely prepared for the season.

Phil Callihan 38:13
Then Harbaugh you know, a couple games in the season said:

Jim Harbaugh 38:16
He’s really raised at the last row really the last last week of training camp. I mean, I really hit an inflection point. Last, last last scrimmage that we had in the big house, and it really from there, it’s been, yeah, it’s been just really straight up for him. So that’s 122 and a half weeks, really, every single day has been has been about as good as it can be.

Phil Callihan 38:56
It was really odd covering the team, Clint because I really had no idea from talking to the coaches and the players who was who was the leader, right, because we don’t get to see the practices. And I couldn’t tell if they were trying to lead JJ on so that he wouldn’t leave or if they were trying to keep Cade so he wouldn’t leave. Right like they were some players have talked about how great Cade was some players are talking about how great JJ was. And it’s really, it was an odd thing to witness like, you could see Cade, realizing that the job was slipping away. And I think that there was some frustration there because again, Harbaugh talked about what a great spring he had.

Jim Harbaugh 39:45
I know the competitor Cade is…He’s got gravel in his gut and he’ll, he’ll be ready for his next opportunity. That’s that’s what I predict.

Phil Callihan 39:55
And was saying all great things about Cade and you There was this shine on JJ. Right. And I guess the way I would describe it is that I think, to a man, the players respected Cade, and still do. Okay. But I get the impression that they love JJ. Right. And it’s a different kind of relationship. And it’s a good relationship both ways, right? I mean, you want to be respected and you want to be loved. But just JJ had that little brother enthusiasm that everybody seemed just just laid up to and really be a threat, you know, attract people to so, you know, I could I feel for Cade, because, listen, he did everything we could ask of him last season. Right. He and, you know, the prior season before he was the spark where the program started to turn around, and yet, you know, here he here, he delivers a big 10 championship in the college Football playoff berth. And then you reset the next season and the end he’s kind of you know, back in a in a dogfight. And then JJ was out all spring. So it was all Cade. Right. And, and I really do think Cade believes he did everything in his heart. And I think he just got eclipsed by more talent. And that’s, you know, I think we’ve all been in that position. As you know, whatever level of an athlete we’ve been to be eclipsed by somebody better, you know, it sucks. It’s not fun.

Clint Derringer 41:32
And I’ve said every now it seems like it’s a weekly thing, right? That but I still I tend to believe what Jim Harbaugh says when he makes a clear public statement. So when he came out and said, Listen, art starting quarterbacks are gonna switch for the first game is going to go to Cade, he’s going to be the starter, JJ will get snaps. And then the second game JJ is going to be the starter and Cade will also get snaps. And we’re going to evaluate from there and look at those games and look at the performance look at not just how it ended up statistically, but also, you know, some of the leadership traits that made Cade such a beloved figure, I think and and really endear him to fans and to players in the locker room during that 2020 season, where some of that some of that toughness and willingness to grind through some of those tough times of the 2020 season. He was faced with those challenges, right? So in that second game, where when Cade wasn’t the starter, he came in behind the the second team offensive line, and they had some some protection issues, and he wasn’t given the opportunity to execute at the same level. And I think he was pressing a little bit, I think he may be felt as if he had earned it in the offseason. But in those moments that were very public facing he, JJ clearly performed better in those two games. And then in the third game, Caden’s up injured, right, again, I believe he would have given he would have had more opportunities to continue getting snaps and getting reps had he been able to had he stayed healthy. But the the beginning of the season for Cade McNamara could not have gone worse in the games, and I know a lot of that was not of his doing in terms of protection and breakdowns and getting hit and getting injured. But also starting in that first game. You know, he just didn’t have his best day that day. And I think I still believe that it was his performance that was driving him to the frustration that we saw in that, in that postgame news conference. You know, I know what it looks like, when a competitor is mad at himself, right? And that’s, that’s what I picked up. That’s what I felt from Cade McNamara in that first game, that he might have been disappointed that he was still in a Quarterback battle. But he’s not going to shy away from competition. So here’s the competition. Here’s his shot, and he didn’t play his best. And Jay did play well. And then JJ really played well in his starting opportunity. So all of that adds up to a lot of frustration. It certainly is not a surprise how it ended up and I again, I really hope that he is able to put together a great season at Iowa, I hope that it kind of catapults him into a career at the next level. I certainly think that he is capable of doing what’s necessary to you know, to make a 53 man roster in the NFL and and serve a functional role in the NFL as a Quarterback.

Phil Callihan 44:43
The other thing that I think we need to point out is that JJ started that game under the weather adversity, right. You know, here you are preparing for your game and the game had that delay because of the the epic rainstorm You know, and the whole, your whole pregame ritual got disrupted. And you know, here he is warming up in the tunnel instead of on the field. And again, you got to give it you got to give credit to him. And, you know, I do look back on those breakdowns that, you know didn’t help Cade. Right? And I could just see Yes, he was pressing, but you also had some bad luck there. Right? And and you just look and go, Wow, the offensive line is lights out all year and they did have some failures at some inopportune time. So, so again, wish Cade the best. Again, you know, I hope if if he somehow ends up facing Michigan in the big 10 championship game next year. And you know, one thing we, you know, one thing I didn’t mention is it was a predominant Michigan crowd in Indianapolis. And I would expect it to be again, I would expect the Michigan faithful to to give him quite a cheer, you know, as a sign of respect. And if we ever face him on the field again, quality guy, you know, Michigan man, all that good stuff and wish him the best, like you said, another player who, oh, and the one thing I’ll say about about the last thing, and the key thing is, so the other thing that I thought was really weird, is that all during Harbaugh’s tenure he was really reluctant to talk about injuries, except when Cade got hurt.

Jim Harbaugh 46:30
Yeah, Cade unfortunately. Yes, is think his foot was caught in the ground and got hit by a hit from the side of the leg and probably going to be out for a few weeks not going to be a season ending thing. I don’t, I don’t think but he’ll he’ll miss miss some time.

Phil Callihan 46:49
Maybe that was just a sign of how bad the injury was. But I just that was another weird note that I that I thought was odd. So another player who’s decided to leave the program, and you know, had a huge moment last season versus Penn State, probably, you know, the moment that helped pivot that season toward the success that Michigan ultimately had. Eric Hall has decided to leave the program. And you know, another point, Caden was a captain and left and Erick All was also a captain. So what are your thoughts on the news that Erick All decided to leave?

Clint Derringer 47:27
First of all, from from an emotional fan standpoint, it’s just as disappointing and sad to see a really great player and great leader, go. I don’t know that he’s committed to another program yet. I know he showed up at Iowa’s basketball game with Cade. So it would make sense if he ends up over there. Iowa certainly had success turning tight ends into NFL players, but it’s just frustrating to lose a really great player like that. And this particular case, being tied to Erick halls, health status, right there’s there’s a lot of whispering and pointing and some innuendo, especially on social media coming from, you know, direct sources, indirect sources. From from the best that I can tell, this is all tied to Eric all’s back injury and his decision to have surgery and where he had surgery and how all of that was supported or not supported by the view of medical staff. And it’s, it’s a reminder, again, in a conversation that you and I have semi regularly that the kids that are really putting their their health and bodies and their their future earning potential on the line for the university. It’s sometimes you get these stark reminders of who was really sacrificing and who was really taking and bearing the brunt of the risk for, for the program for the Football program to remain successful. And then when there are tough decisions to be made. The person who ends up on the short end is almost always the player who has been out there risking their body for our entertainment. So, again, it circles back for me to a lot of those conversations about player compensation and thinking first, from the player’s perspective, I think Jim Harbaugh has a long history of being an advocate for the players in every facet, and this seems to be a certainly an unfortunate scenario that has unfolded where there’s Eric halls not going to be on the roster next season. And I’m sure that that that was a very a difficult decision, especially all tied to this, this medical status,

Phil Callihan 50:04
Really disappointing. I really liked him again, he delivered that key play versus Penn State last season. And we have, you know, if you go back and listen to the podcast of that game, we have those great quotes. He was really excited. And it’s one of the reasons I really like to cover the team is you see players when they’re successful, right. And heading into this season, Harbaugh was touting him as an NFL talent. You know, there was a story about how, you know, he had a new son, and that you got the impression listen, he wanted to have a great year, put some great performances on tape, and GoPro, right. That was the plan. And he was hampered by injury right out of the gate. And you know, you just, well, we don’t know what’s going to happen. And the rumors swirled and the rumors swirled. And then the pictures on Twitter of he’s having surgery and Hey, guys, thumbs up, right. So the other thing that struck me is down in Columbus, you’re watching the team come up the tunnel. And again, we have access to a area off the field, took a lot of photos. And if you go to the website, you can see a lot of those postgame celebration pictures. And Eric all was so happy Clint, huge smile there with his teammates. And I remember thinking, no good, he’s gonna be back right here. He’s, how could you be part of this and not want to come back? Right. And in that subsequent week, when you know, mentioning NIL, I went to Ann Arbor HopCat. And they’re advertising the Erick All burger. Right? Which I’m sure he got, you know, some sponsorship money, you know, related to NIL I ordered it and I felt great ordering it right. I’m like, great, good for Erik all glad to, you know, help support them. And then just a few days later, the news broke that he was leaving the program. And again, just a disappointment because it he seemed like a really quality guy and, and you just you want the best for the players. And like you said, they’re the ones paying the price. So not only is he not going pro, but he’s transferring to another school. And you know, lots of changes with that and you wonder, okay, so how is that gonna affect him seeing his kid I mean, really, you start all these other thoughts kind of come flooding in and you just you just feel bad. Right? So, you know, if if he ends up in Iowa, and we don’t know that for sure yet, but if he ends up in Iowa with Cade, you know, I hope he does. Great. I hope he plays well. Every game except, you know, when when he phases Michigan, and I will still cheer him. You know, when he takes the field. If he ended up taking the field against Michigan, I’ll still cheer him and wish him the best.

Clint Derringer 52:52
Yeah, I think a great kid, great young man, great attitude, great work ethic. Did everything in terms of practice and, and performance that we could, we could have asked for his fans. You know, I think Erick All kind of set the standard for being a really dangerous pest threat, combination with a really good run blocker. And I think without Luke Schoonmaker I don’t think that you end up with Colston Loveland developing the way that he did this year. So Erick, all really kind of set the standard in that tight end room, or the last three or four seasons, and certainly the 21 and 22 seasons and that success and the role that he played. So, you know, he leaves, he leaves quite a legacy in Ann Arbor, even even as he transfers. So again, from from me as a fan, disappointing to see him go. I will certainly, like you said, be cheering for him personally, to have great success and make it to the next level. And whatever team he ends up with, as long as it doesn’t impact Michigan, they’ll be for his team as well. And, again, keep this in mind when when we’re talking about who’s really who’s really risking it and putting it on the line for a multibillion dollar entertainment industry.