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Michigan's Don Brown on Ohio State debacle: 'You’ve got to move on'

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Atlanta – Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown likes to say he chooses not to live in negativity, so with that, he has chosen to move on from the Ohio State debacle.

But Brown will not lose sight of the lessons learned.

Defensive coordinator Don Brown yells for his players to come into a huddle late in the second quarter against Ohio State.

The Wolverines, preparing to face Florida in the Peach Bowl on Saturday, lost 62-39 at Ohio State, and it was a dagger for the nation’s top-ranked defense and especially for Brown.

“You’ve got to move on,” Brown said Thursday at a Peach Bowl news conference in his first comments since the Ohio State game. “I thought Coach (Jim Harbaugh) said it the best -- we really had an outstanding year and a terrible week.

“The key is, you let it linger, then it can impact performance moving forward against a really good Florida team, so you’ve got to move on.”

Michigan’s defensive performance in that game facing Ohio State’s prolific quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who led the Buckeyes to 567 yards of offense, was puzzling to Brown.

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“When things kind of go your way for a long stretch of time, and you can look at it, obviously, that game’s not looked upon lightly,” Brown said. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, it’s OK. Let’s move on.’ I think everybody feels it, but we’ve worked our way to where I was really happy with our week of practice (for the bowl). The first couple days I was kind of curious to see how we would respond when we got here. Our response has been really good.

“The thing that’s difficult is when things go your way for such a long period of time, and let’s face it, we had 10 weeks of things kind of went our way. Maybe I shouldn't say 10 weeks, because we were tested at Northwestern. But outside of that, what we prepared for (against Ohio State) is kinda what we got.

"I don’t agree with some of the comments – there were say Day 1 mistakes that were made in that game. But you’ve got to be accountable for it, and the buck stops with me. Take full responsibility for it and move on, prepare and get ready for the next game. I don’t live in the world of negativity. You guys can. That’s up to you. But I’m not going to live in the world of negativity. I’ve got to move a defensive group forward that, despite it all, in my opinion had a hell of a year.

“Disappointing the one-game scenario. I’m not discounting that at all. But got to move forward.”

Dwayne Haskins of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates with the crowd as time winds down in the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines.

Brown credited Haskins and OSU receiver Parris Campbell for playing what he thought was the best game of their careers.

It was the third quarter, though, that changed the game. There was a blocked punt for a touchdown and a couple turnovers.

"If you remember, there was a sequence of events that occurred in that third quarter that were difficult,” Brown said. “Those are the types of things when you’re in the midst of a 10-game win streak, none of those things happen. Tough deal. Man up. Move on.”

After a huge loss at Penn State in 2017, Brown said he woke up every day thinking about the defense’s poor performance. Ohio State will linger with him, as well, but not until after the Peach Bowl.

“You’ve got to take care of what’s in front of you,” Brown said. “Then we’ll shift gears, for sure.”

Also during the time since the Ohio State game, Brown flirted with a potential head coaching opportunity and interviewed at Temple. Former Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is now the head coach.

Brown, 63, was asked if he’d like to be a head coach again.

“In the right situation, but not on anybody else’s terms, but my own, so take that for what it’s worth,” Brown said. “I’m not one of those guys who’s going to try to play that cookie-cutter game to fit myself into what somebody wants.

“Did I lose sleep on it? Blinked and moved on to the next day.”

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel was asked this week if he’s working on a new contract for Brown and he said simply he’s “working” on things.

Brown was asked if he’s aware if a new contract is in the works.

“Not that I know of,” he said.

Defense never rests

Where Michigan ranks nationally in various defensive categories:

Scoring defense: 12th, 17.6 points

Rush defense: 16th, 116.6 yards

Pass defense: Second, 145.9 yards

Total defense: First, 262.5 yards

Third-down conversions: 16th, 32.1 percent