Jim Harbaugh says Michigan sticking with the 'process' through struggles

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh says it's all about the process with his team this season, and suggested people outside the football program need to embrace this concept.

That’s a tough sell these days, though, considering the Wolverines are 2-4 and coming off a 27-17 loss last Saturday to Penn State at Michigan Stadium. They are 0-3 at home this season, and endured a three-game losing streak before a come-from-behind triple overtime victory at Rutgers on Nov. 21.

Michigan running back Chris Evans is tackled by Penn State safety Lamont Wade in the second quarter Saturday in Ann Arbor.

Michigan on Monday paused on-field activity and in-person meetings and is holding everything virtually, Harbaugh said, out of “an abundance of caution” because of an increased number of presumptive COVID-19 positives awaiting confirmation.

Harbaugh, in his sixth season coaching the Wolverines, was asked Monday during his weekly news conference if he can put a finger on what’s missing with this team. Is it energy? Confidence? Harbaugh said the coaches are “attacking it” and the players “are improving.”

“The team is competing," Harbaugh said. “The team (is) really working at it. There’s disdain for the process by some, but to us, that’s the whole ballgame.”

Harbaugh was asked to clarify what he meant by disdain.

“I think sometimes, outside of the program, I think people are very results-oriented and the process to us is very important. Process not as important outside of the program as it is to us inside the program.”

The focus of the players, Harbaugh said, has been good, but did acknowledge it’s tough when the wins aren’t there. 

“It’s hard to put everything into a game each week and you’re emotionally invested, you’re physically invested, you’re playing your heart out and to not get the rewards of winning, that’s tough, that’s hard,” Harbaugh said. “But football is challenging, life is challenging, and you respond to that challenge. I think our guys are doing that.”

After the loss to Penn State, right tackle Andrew Stueber said he didn’t have much to say when asked about what looks like a broken culture in the Michigan program. He said while there is plenty of speculation from media and fans, and others outside the program, that’s not what he has seen.

“Those aren’t the people coming in every day and working with the team,” Stueber said Saturday. “Something like that, saying it’s a bad culture, they’re not there every day with us working, grinding, watching film, working out, getting there early, getting treatment. It’s the kind of noise I don’t worry about, I don’t listen to much. I play for the guys around me and listen to the coaches.”

McNamara update

Quarterback Cade McNamara suffered an apparent injury to his right shoulder late in the first quarter of the Penn State loss and almost immediately left for the locker room with the medical staff. He returned to the game but was less effective and limited to shorter throws.

“We’ll see, we’ll evaluate that as the week goes on here,” Harbaugh said when asked about McNamara’s status. “Don’t know. See how the recovery comes.”

This was McNamara’s first collegiate start. A week earlier, he gave the team a lift after it trailed 17-0 at Rutgers and helped lead the Wolverines to a triple-overtime victory.

Joe Milton started the first five games.


Twitter: @chengelis