Despite drubbing, UM seizes on season's positives
Ann Arbor — When Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh inherited this team, most thought, seven, eight wins, this season, tops.
The Wolverines finish his first regular season 9-3, 6-2 Big Ten, including a 42-13 loss to rival Ohio State on Saturday at Michigan Stadium. It’s their fourth straight loss to the Buckeyes, who have won 12 of the last 13 in the series.
Michigan also lost at home to Michigan State this fall, not to mention the season opener at Utah.
Michigan players certainly were not thrilled with the outcome against Ohio State, but the bigger picture holds more appeal considering they were 5-7 last season and did not qualify for a bowl.
“I don’t think anyone really gave us a chance this year except for us,” defensive lineman Chris Wormley said. “We were in it right until the end to play for a Big Ten championship. That’s going to be the goal every year. Looking back at it, there were some good things we did and obviously some back things we did. We have to improve on the bad things and build on the things we did well.
“This loss is obviously tough. You never want to lose to Ohio State especially the way we did. But (we have) a bowl game. We haven’t been to one in two years, and we’re super excited for that. It’s a chance for us to get better. We’re going to get an extra 15 practices.”
Harbaugh said there were improvements this season, but there is so much more to do.
“Very proud of the team, the way they’ve worked,” Harbaugh said. “Closed quite a bit of ground. Still more ground to close on but knowing our team, they’ll stick with it.”
Receiver Jehu Chesson said he does not believe Michigan is that far from narrowing the lead Michigan State and Ohio State have built in the East Division.
“The scoreboard was very sad in terms of what it showed,” Chesson said of the loss to OSU. “I don’t think the gap is insurmountable. It goes back to little details, how they pick up momentum, they being Ohio State or Michigan State. The gap’s not as big as people think it is.”
Michigan missed out on the 15 bowl practices last season. They are much needed in terms of preparation for the next season, giving coaches an opportunity to work players at different positions, and, obviously, give them more repetitions leaving less of a gap between the end of the season until the start of spring practice.
“The bowl game is obviously our biggest focus now, the extra 15 practices to get everyone that much better,” receiver Amara Darboh said. “Obviously we’re disappointed with the loss, but there’s a lot to look forward to with the bowl game.”