ANN ARBOR, Michigan — Michigan Football enters Ohio State’s game a little more battered than hoped or expected. The biggest question is whether running back Blake Corum will play Saturday after leaving the Illinois game with a knee injury.
The jury is aware of his status, but given that the Wolverines had built up their offense throughout the season to put the primary focus on Corum and his abilities when he’s unable to walk or is limited, the onus rests with him Side of the ball will likely fall on second quarterback JJ McCarthy’s shoulders.
McCarthy met with the media Tuesday to discuss the matchup with the Buckeyes, which ranged from his and the team’s confidence, the likely performance of Corn and Blue, the Columbus environment and more.
Here’s everything he had to say.
What kind of confidence does he come into the game with?
That’s how we prepare each week. I mean just do what we’ve been doing all year, it goes ’till 11. And of course the attention to detail will fade and everything will step up in the positive direction. But everything we’ve done all year
How did Jim Harbaugh help his confidence?
Just always, always coach like I’m a guy I want to coach. I don’t want to be someone that you’re always going to say, “Good ball,” every time the ball comes out of my hand, I want to be coached, I want to learn, I always want to find ways to expand my game . So he always does it in a great way.
How does it feel when game week is here?
Um, feels like the stars are aligning. Like, it’s finally here. It’s meant to be and we couldn’t be more excited. Honestly, we can’t wait to get out there and have fun on Saturday.
Can he enjoy the ride in a week like this?
100%. Yeah I mean it’s such a special opportunity to be a part of a game like this. And yes, we’re just so excited to get out there and have the time of our lives on Saturday. For real. That’s it.
What’s the difference between the presnap calls he makes and Olu’s?
Yeah a lot of it is just that he’s seen so many fronts and so many different looks from just the front seven that he has way more experience than me. And he sees things I don’t see. And he does a great job just communicating with me. And my eyes are mostly on the back end and what they’re doing in the secondary and it’s a great addition to help our offense for sure.
How important was it to develop chemistry with him?
Oh, it’s huge. I mean that’s step one. And step two, every single game, it’s in his head. So this relationship has to be perfect.
What he expects when he plays at Ohio Stadium
At the end of the day it’s really all noise and all just a bunch of fans who like to boo you and don’t like you very much. And you just do what you can to convert that and use it against them. So I feel like a lot of the situations we’ve been through this year, like facing adversity on the road and in Iowa, will help us tremendously this weekend.
How important is it to him to meditate before the game?
It’s huge because then you just refocus on it, whether I’m in my bedroom in the woods or back in The Big House, it just brings you back inside and centering yourself and it’s just huge. So no matter what environment I’m in, I just feel at home. 100% yes.
What did Jim Harbaugh mean when he said, “Do it?”
The saying we love here is just do it and I’ll make me. What I did to bring me here I will most certainly do next Saturday.
Are the RB injuries putting extra pressure on him?
No I do not think so. Because we have guys that will carry the torch and big guys that we can count on no matter who’s in there. And yeah, I mean we’ll see with the running back situation, but we’ll definitely be ready for Saturday.
His recruitment by the State of Ohio and Michigan
It’s always been very unique, the whole rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State, and I just kind of felt drawn to it. I grew up a Braxton Miller fan, I just loved the passion that Michigan had. So I was on both sides all the way. And I am very thankful that I am definitely in this place.
What he sees of Jim Knowles and the Ohio State Defense
They’re doing a really good job with their safety and their safety plays, camouflage everything and going into running fits and stuff like that, which was different than last year. And it’s going to be really great to see them keep up with our big boys up front.
Any defenses he’s seen this year that compare?
I don’t think so because Jim Knowles coming from the Big 12 is a completely different defense than playing Big Ten football. So it would be very interesting to test ourselves with it.
How different did training feel on Monday?
There’s just a sense of energy that hasn’t really been there for the last 11 weeks or 12 weeks with the bye week. All are ready to go. Like I said, the stars align. And it’s finally here. And we couldn’t be more excited.
How much did he pay attention to what the state of Ohio says?
Every week I delete Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, all that. I don’t really pay attention to what’s going on over there. Obviously you look at staff reports and injury reports and all that but nothing about what they say or do because it’s all just noise.
To what extent is the offensive playing well and is it improving?
I just feel like we’re still making progress. That’s the nicest part. It’s really not a ceiling that we hit or hit. It always goes in a positive direction. But I just feel like our run and pass game is improving dramatically week by week and finding more and more ways to improve it. So there are still a lot of things we need to improve and that will certainly show on Saturday.
About Jim Harbaugh calling the team “lucky warriors”.
I have already mentioned that I like to revisit the quote: “Better a warrior in a garden than a gardener in war”. And we just have so much fun playing this game. And there is this deep warrior within us that no matter what it takes, we will make it.
Has he spoken to Cade McNamara?
Yes we just got in touch with him to make sure he is alright and in a good mood. And he’s just checking in and stuff like that. So he’s still like that, he’s really embracing his leadership role even though he’s all over LA, rehab and stuff like that. But it was just great to hear from him how he’s doing.
Has the dynamic changed without Cade in the dressing room?
It’s the same, I mean everyone’s trying to get better, everyone’s trying to improve and nothing’s really changed, really.
How has confidence in The Game changed from last year to this year?
Of course there is more confidence because we proved we can do it. And it’s just that we’re building on what we did last year to try and surpass that. And we just want to dominate on all cylinders. And yes, that’s really what we’re focusing on this Saturday.