Unbeaten Wolverines embracing the moment while 'chasing perfection'

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, his team unbeaten and ranked No. 9, said he saw something different from his players during winter conditioning and spring practice.

“I could see it in their eyes, they’re having fun playing football,” Harbaugh said Monday during his weekly news conference.

The Wolverines (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) are coming off a dominant 38-17 victory at Wisconsin last Saturday. Michigan had lost its previous five meetings with the Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium and had not won there since 2001. The Wolverines are preparing this week to play in primetime at Nebraska on Saturday, marking their first trip to Memorial Stadium in Lincoln since 2012.

This is Michigan’s best start since 2016 when that team started 9-0.

Among the highlights during the game at Camp Randall was the Michigan team wildly jumping on the sideline during Wisconsin's tradition of playing “Jump Around” between the third and fourth quarters.

Cornelius Johnson and the Wolverines are off to their best start since 2016.

“As far as that, it was au naturale. It just happened,” Harbaugh said. “We had talked about early in the week when you go on the road you want to embrace that environment, make their crowd cheer like it’s your crowd cheering, make their music your music.

“We played that song quite a bit during the week as crowd noise. I think they just made it theirs in that moment.”

Harbaugh said he did not participate.

“No, I was thinking about the 10-point lead and still a full quarter to play,” he said.

Michigan led 20-10 at that point and then scored 18-unanswered points before the Badgers got a final score with 32 seconds left.

“The vibes are at the highest right now with everything,” linebacker and two-time captain Josh Ross said Monday. “It’s a blessing to be a part of the team. Just all that we’ve been through, all the vets, Aidan Hutchinson, Andrew Vastardis, Ronnie Bell, guys that have been here for a while and now we’re back to winning football, Michigan football. It’s a blessing. We’re just looking to keep pushing, keep going week to week and keep winning.”

Ross said the players have not lost focus of the goals they set before the season.

“Our expectation is to win a championship, Big Ten and national championship, and that’s never going to change,” Ross said. “One thing we preach about every single day, especially in the defensive room, is we’re chasing perfection every time we step on the field for practice, every time we go into a game. There’s going to be mistakes, but we’re chasing perfection, and we want to be the best we can be. We know what we are capable of.”


Twitter: @chengelis