Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh can’t stop praising redshirt freshman kicker Quinn Nordin and his record-setting season opener, but more than anything, he appreciates his kicker’s ambitious goals.
Nordin became the first Michigan kicker to make two field goals of 50 yards or longer in a game. He was 4 of 6 on field goal attempts Saturday in the Wolverines’ 33-17 victory over Florida.
Harbaugh appeared on The Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday morning to promote his family’s podcast that just launched: “Attack Each Day: The Harbaugh’s Podcast,” but he touched on how he coaches quarterbacks and Wilton Speight’s fight-back demeanor.
He found it amazing that for the first time in 138 years of the program a kicker made two 50-yard-plus field goals in one game. Nordin earned Co-Special Teams Player of the Week from the Big Ten.
“That’s unbelievably remarkable in his first game kicking field goals that he accomplished that,” Harbaugh said on the show. “That’s really cool. Quinn’s wired. He’s that kind of guy. This I can say about Quinn — he likes the pressure moments. He visualizes them.
“He told me when I was recruiting him, his dream, what he visualized was playing against our biggest rival, being on the right hash, and it was 43-yard field goal, and he makes the game-winning field goal. That always stood out the most of any conversation I had with Quinn and his family, that he was thinking about that in high school, he was thinking about doing that for Michigan.”
Certainly, there are improvements to be made. There were two missed field goals, so Nordin has a baseline from which to work.
“Gotta keep going,” Harbaugh said. “Now he’s got to do it this week, and the week after ,and the week after that. Now that you’ve done it once, that’s great, but now (it’s about) doing it the next time and the times before don’t even matter anymore. Right now, sitting here, I’m thrilled for Quinn, and that he’s a Michigan Wolverine and that he accomplished that. I’m very happy for him.”
Here are the rest of the show highlights:
■ Harbaugh was asked if he has a favorite story from his father, Jack: “He’s got a good one today on the podcast. I heard you talking about the interception for the touchdown, the interception for the touchdown, then we get a blocked punt, three straight things occur (in the Florida game). He likens it to getting punched in the nose. Getting sucker punched. And what that feels like. What do you do when that happens? You get hit across the nose and the blood starts to come out of the nose and go over the upper lip and around the corners of your mouth and some of the blood goes in your mouth. You’re tasting your own blood at that point. You see the blood drip down and the blood starts to form little globs. People are looking at you. Everybody forms a circle around you. Everybody’s aghast with their mouths open and they’re wondering what you’re going to do next. You have two options at that point — you can turn and walk away or run away, or you can fight back. That’s his analogy for what happens in a football game, especially to a young team. What do they do when it goes bad? What’s their reaction? I thought, as he said, our team reacted well in that situation. They turned and wheeled and fought back and ended up acquitting themselves very well.”
■ On whether his time as a quarterback affects how he coaches quarterbacks: “Yeah, been in those situations where you’ve been punched in the nose or you’re bombing. It’s going bad. You’re out there bombing for everybody to see. You’ve got a chance as a player, as a team, as a unit to get the train going in the other direction. It’s got to stop, and you’ve got to turn on the tracks and get it going the other way. It’s not easy to do, but it’s the better way than just capitulating and giving in. I’ve been there enough times, I’ve been through it enough times to where I know complete humiliation, been humbled, so you’re hardened to it.”
■ On if yelling at a quarterback during a game ever helps: “No, I haven’t found it to. Ever. No, I don’t think so.”
■ Asked if Mike Ditka yelling at Harbaugh when he was with the Bears helped: “We had a special relationship, so I knew him. I love Mike Ditka. I understand how important it was to him. I knew he wanted the players to be successful. I knew he wanted me to be successful. I knew he didn’t want me to bomb. It was coming from a place he wanted the team to be successful and good. I understood it because we’ve been together five, six, seven years. I had a great understanding of where he was coming from. Here’s another important thing to understand — if you’re a football player or even whether you’re a quarterback, if you can’t take criticism or you can’t take getting yelled at or making a mistake and not being able to recover from it, then it’s not a position to be playing. You’ve got to have thick skin or you’re not going to survive as a football player or a quarterback. I liken it to a golfer. You hit one in the water, you have to be able to pull another ball out of your pocket, drop it down, and still be able to shoot for the flag. That’s what a quarterback has to do. He throws an interception or two, one that gets returned for a touchdown, two that gets returned for a touchdown, you’ve got to be able to come back and still be willing fit the ball 25 yards down field to an open receiver and have no conscience about what took place just the series before. Wilton Speight did that. That’s a talent, because you’ll see guys that after something like that happens, they can’t even think about throwing a 25-, 30-yard throw downfield anymore because they’ll protect against another interception or another bad thing happening. You realize for those guys you’re not in the right position. I was proud, happy that Wilton’s got that in him. He’s wired that way that he doesn’t crumble, he doesn’t fall apart. He can stand up against it and come back and keep firing for the flag. I hope that makes sense, but that’s what my experience has taught me. It shows in Wilton he has the ability to do that.”
■ On if there had been no infamous Harbaugh sleepover recruiting visit to Nordin’s, would he have landed him: “Oh, yeah, yeah. Definitely.”
■ So Harbaugh didn’t need the sleepover visit, Patrick asked: “It was just fun. Quinn was a quintessential Michigan guy. He’s from Michigan, great family. I thought he was going to come to Michigan. At that stage, it was just great to get to know him, and his family, the teachers, everybody that was in Quinn’s life. I had 24 hours to do a home visit and wanted to use every minute, because I really liked Quinn and thought he was a real talented player. Wanted to make sure that you get to know him and the family as well as you possibly can. So, yeah, used every minute, the allotted 24 hours that we by rule could have. It’s good not only at that time when you’re getting to know a player but also going forward. I think people feel comfortable. Now Quinn’s parents and I, we’ve got a great relationship. They feel comfortable calling me because they know me, and I feel comfortable calling them because we know each other better. That’s a big part of it being a coach. The players know the coach, the coach knows the player. I think it’s really important.”