UM’s Harbaugh: Blaming QB is ‘low-hanging fruit’
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh emphasized yet again the offensive hiccups are not because of one player, but the entire unit and pointed at the “low-hanging fruit” for always singling out the quarterback when things go wrong.
Harbaugh, appearing Wednesday morning on the “Jamie and Stoney” show on 97.1 The Ticket, was asked about quarterback John O’Korn, who will make his third start of the season Saturday night at No. 2 Penn State. He took over when starter Wilton Speight was injured in the first quarter at Purdue.
To illustrate his point, Harbaugh detailed the precision required from the snap to the hold for kicker Quinn Nordin to have the success he’s having making field goals.
“If that’s the case in the field-goal unit, imagine what it’s like in an offensive unit,” Harbaugh said on the show. “It’s the low-hanging fruit saying, ‘It’s the quarterback, it’s the quarterback, it’s the quarterback.’ He’s either making the field goal or he’s missing it.
“It’s far more complex than that. I know you guys get that and so do most fans. That’s what we’re focusing on, and as coaches and players, and we’re putting our best people on it, getting all 11 playing with great precision.”
Harbaugh was then asked about fans who are asking why backup quarterback, Brandon Peters, a redshirt freshman, isn’t playing.
“The guy who’s going to trot out there and play quarterback is the one that the ballclub thinks puts us in the best position to win,” Harbaugh said. “That takes nothing away from Brandon Peters. Brandon Peters is doing a fine job. That’s the facts. They’re stubborn. That’s not to say people shouldn’t support Brandon Peters or shouldn’t be for Brandon Peters. He’s a great guy. He’s working very diligently, too. He’s very talented.”
Here are some of the highlights from the interview:
■ Harbaugh on Karan Higdon’s 200-yard rushing game at IU: “(Running backs coach) Jay Harbaugh found that Karan had 94 yards after contact. When I came away from the game, I was wondering, ‘How many yards did he get after contact?’ I didn’t know it was that many. I think he can do even better, I really do. I think he has the opportunity, and I would like to see the other backs have some of the same opportunities. Chris Evans, there were breakdowns when he was in. It was unfortunate his opportunities, we were not operating as precisely as we can. As a coach and as a team, that’s what we’re striving for. Get all 11 on offense to play with great precision. There can’t be a breakdown in any one spot, and right now we’ve taken our turns. It’s not one guy who’s making 10 breakdowns a game or even five, but two here, two there, three here, three there. That’s what we’re all focusing on. How can we get the whole 11 to be clicking on all cylinders?”
■ On Kareem Walker getting a carry: “It was good to see him get in, get his feet wet. He showed some burst, he showed some good vision. He showed some physicality, dropped a shoulder there at the end of the run.”
■ On walking off the field with defensive end Rashan Gary: “My favorite part of the game is the competition. A highlight, a shining moment as a coach is when you make a coaching point, and somebody gets it and it clicks in and they kinda look back at you. I was an admirer of Rashan, I really was at that moment walking off the field. This was a guy who gave it all he had. He expended everything he had, and he had just enough energy to walk back to the locker room. I noticed it and wanted to pat him on the shoulder and tell him great job and tell him how much it’s appreciated the effort he had given. Another Chase Winovich hero performance as well. The last play of the game after playing every snap on the defense, gets blocked by the tight end, gets blocked by the back. His job is contain. He had done his job and took on two blockers to do it, but then the burst to the quarterback, and rush the quarterback into an interception so Tyree Kinnel was in perfect position to snag. It was one of those, you appreciate someone doing for his ball club.”