Jim Harbaugh has his sights set on upsetting Ohio State for the second straight season, and this time on the Buckeyes' home soil.
The Michigan head coach discussed the upcoming rivalry matchup between undefeated Big Ten powers at a press conference in Ann Arbor on Monday, and briefly touched on the health status of banged-up Wolverines Blake Corum, Mike Morris and Donovan Edwards.
Harbaugh was also asked about the comments made in the aftermath of last year's Wolverine win, which he called "irrelevant," and said "it wasn't me" who questioned the Buckeyes' toughness last season.
Following Harbaugh's interview, three Wolverine players stepped up to the podium to take questions from the media. Eleven Warriors took notes on everything Harbaugh, Ryan Hayes, Mazi Smith and Mike Sainristil said below:
- On what Michigan has done to prepare for OSU: "There's things we do in practice. ... We know Ohio State's our toughest competition. This will be our toughest test to date."
- Harbaugh says stopped the run "will be important."
- On the road environment: "It's gonna be great. I'll be grateful for that experience."
- Harbaugh says the Buckeye defense is '"really good" and that Ohio State is a "very strong team defensively."
- Harbaugh has "no update" on Blake Corum, Donovan Edwards or Mike Morris, who are all dealing with injuries.
- On if OSU is different this year: "They're a really good team, improved team. It's a tremendous team. We're very grateful to be in this position and playing in this game. Winner takes the East, winner takes all right there. Strong opponent, and it's the kind of situation that gives you the opportunity to display how strong our team is. There's no need to hate. ... It's like superheroes. It's through a strong opponent that you figure out how good you are."
- Harbaugh says both teams have players with "Heisman habits."
- "It's a real honor to be in this position to be able to test yourself. ... We know it's our toughest test of the year, and I think we're gonna find we're made of the right stuff."
- Harbaugh says "I'm always searching to understand just exactly where we're at and where our opponent is." Harbaugh says he's spent yesterday and today watching tape and talking to the parents of his team. "I think you're gonna find we're made of the right stuff."
- Harbaugh says it's a "tremendous honor" to play this game with the Big Ten East title at stake. "To be tested that way, it's an honor and we're excited about it."
- Harbaugh says "it wasn't me" that questioned Ohio State's toughness after last year's game and that he sees a tough team when he watches the 2022 Buckeyes.
- Harbaugh thinks his "third base" comments from last year are "kind of irrelevant" to this year's matchup.
- Harbaugh says Corum, Edwards and Morris won't play if they can't practice this week.
- "No question C.J. Stroud and Marvin Harrison Jr. have Heisman habits. Tremendous players."
- "It's all about this game. It's all about going 1-0 this week."
- "I know our 11-0 doesn't mean anything now."
OT Ryan Hayes
- Controlling the line of scrimmage is "going to be very important for us."
- "They definitely looked a lot better" on defense under Jim Knowles than they did last year.
- "It's definitely the best front seven we've played up until this point."
- Hayes says Ohio State is "always on the back of our mind."
- On the road atmosphere, Hayes says he's expecting "a loud, crazy environment," but that he thinks Michigan should be prepared.
- "Nobody wants to lose this game. We're gonna have all the motivation we need."
- "If we don't win this game, the season doesn't mean too much. If we don't win this game, we're probably not gonna be too happy."
- On Blake Corum: "He's a great player, but everybody else is gonna step up with him out."
- "We're gonna be happy on Saturday, but it's all about business."
- "We have complete confidence in that quarterback and wide receiver room."
- Hayes says Michigan's "identity stays the same this game" with or without Blake Corum.
DL Mazi Smith
- "We just know what it takes. No matter the game, we want to play our best game. ... Throughout the week everybody knows how serious we gotta take it."
- On the rivalry: "Coming off of our first win last year, it's competitive. We know that. They got every motivation to go in and put what they did to rest. We got every intention and motivation to come out and keep the roll going."
- "You give everything to get to this point, 11-0. ... This is the type of game you really get up for, this the type of game you come to Michigan to play. ... I think everybody knows that."
- On the road environment: "We know they get pretty live over there. I've been there before for recruiting and I've seen how they get. I'm just excited to be in another hostile environment."
- Smith says Ohio State has "great threats" at wide receiver and says Michigan's "front's gotta play great. ... You know where the game's getting won."
- Smith says "it's the coaches' job" to look ahead to Ohio State well in advance of the game, while the players have to stay in the moment.
- On Ohio State's toughness, Smith says it's "hard to get a beat" on a team's toughness from watching tape. Says he gets a feel for that within the first few plays of a game.
- On Harbaugh's superhero analogy: "We're Batman. They can be Iron Man or something. They're cool too, they got some gadgets and stuff up their sleeve, for sure."
DB Mike Sainristil
- On Marvin Harrison Jr.'s strengths: "Contested catches. ... He could be a Heisman type of receiver." Says "we're looking forward to the challenge."
- On the rivalry: "It's currently the most important thing in the world to me, I would say."
- Says Michigan has a "beat Ohio" period during practice.
- Michigan says "there's definitely things we can fix" coming out of the Illinois game. "Especially" heading into a matchup against OSU.
- "After Saturday, I called (J.J. McCarthy) the Miracle Boy. He just goes out there and makes it happen, that's just who he is."
- "No one on the team right now is harping on what we did last year. Because we know last year's team isn't this year's team, and what worked for us last year isn't the same thing working for us now. ... We're just focused on team 143 and what we can do to win this game."
- On the stakes and pressure of The Game: "Just continue being ourselves. ... Don't change that for nobody."