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Even at 1-2, Harbaugh feels Michigan is ‘close’

  • ESPN staff writer
  • Joined ESPN in 2011
  • Graduated from Central Michigan

After Michigan’s first loss to Indiana since 1987 and the team’s second straight loss of the season, Jim Harbaugh said after the game that he still believes this team is close to turning the corner.

The Wolverines are now 1-2 on the season and Harbaugh is 2-8 against AP ranked opponents on the road after the 38-21 loss to the Hoosiers. Michigan’s defense has struggled the past two games, giving up 460 yards to Indiana and 449 yards to Michigan State and has racked up penalties and mistakes along the way.

Despite those errors and the two losses, Harbaugh said he still has faith in his team.

“Personal feeling is we’re close to doing it,” Harbaugh said. “You see it done [in practice], you see it happening and then it’s gotta take the next step of happening in the games. There’s guys that are doing it [in the games] and others will get it and you just keep coaching.

“As a coach, that’s what you do, you keep coaching and players keep learning, and they get the experience of they can do it.”

He believes his players need to trust their technique, trust their fundamentals and trust their innate ability in games. He knows the results haven’t shown it, and the product on the field doesn’t show evidence of this team being close, but he believes there is a disconnect from what his team does in practice and in games.

For some reason the players aren’t trusting themselves in the games and are still playing with hesitation, he said, and they need to just “let it go” and make quick, decisive decisions.

Harbaugh has drawn heavy criticism for the results so far this season and so has defensive coordinator Don Brown. Breaking a 24-game win streak against Indiana and losing to a Michigan State team coming off of a loss to Rutgers will naturally bring skepticism.

Despite the fact that Harbaugh is in Year 6 as Michigan’s head coach, he isn’t in panic mode just yet. When asked if he thought he needed to make any drastic changes with personnel or coaches, Harbaugh said he loves what he is seeing from his players and coaches.

“They work extremely hard, their schemes are really good and they coach them good,” Harbaugh said. “We just keep forging ahead, keep, stay after it to make that next step. Critical step.”

The defense wasn’t the only problem in this game as Michigan was held to just 13 rush yards in a game that was never close.

The questions about the direction of this team continue to mount, but Harbaugh says he and his team will continue to move forward and stay the course.

“Every single guy here, every single player here, every single coach here has experienced that in our life where they have taken the adverse and turning it into an advantage,” Harbaugh said. “The thing you have to do is push forward, keep going.”

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