By Ashley Dunkak
For all the flak Michigan has taken this season, the team is still 7-3, and head coach Brady Hoke said the Wolverines are a pretty good team. The way they played in the Northwestern game seemed to encourage him immensely.
“The way our kids stuck together, it was like a high school football game,” Hoke said. “They were chanting defense when the defense was on the field, offense when the offense was on … For us, that glass is always [half-full].”
It took quite an effort for Michigan to put away Northwestern, making a last-second field goal in regulation to send the game to overtime and going for a touchdown plus a two-point conversation to win in the third extra period.
“Defensively, we were playing really really well, had two timeouts left that we could use, has confidence that we would be able to get it in the end zone,” Hoke said. “The wind, I think the punt before went 10 yards because of the wind that was involved.”
The well-executed quick field to keep the game going initially was no accident, Hoke said.
“Number one, we practice that hurry-up field goal during camp, during spring ball, and we practice it every Friday, at least two snaps of it,” Hoke said. “We’re running them off the sideline and running them off the field … They were ready on the sideline. The guys on the field did a tremendous job coming off the field.”
With as far as some guys had to go to get back to the line of scrimmage, though, there might have been some luck involved too.
“If you have a right-footed kicker, I don’t know if we could have got it,” Hoke said.
On a broader note, the coach seemed upset that fifth-year senior left tackle Taylor Lewan, who came back for his last year instead of leaving for the NFL, is not one of the six semifinalists for the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top offensive lineman.
“Believe me, I think he’s the best left tackle in this country,” Hoke said. “I would like to see anyone play better than he has … He should be on that list, I know that, when I look at the other tackles who are on that list.”
This weekend, the Wolverines travel to Iowa, and when there they will be guests of the visiting locker room that legendary Iowa coach Hayden Fry painted pink years ago.
“It’s like anything else, if you make a big deal about you, you think about it,” Hoke said. “It’s like playing in elevation … We never talked about it, and our kids never got tired. I think sometimes you make a big deal about all those things and it becomes a mindset.”
In any case, the Hawkeyes have just one fewer win than the Wolverines, and both have 3-3 records in the Big Ten, so the pink locker room can definitely be the least of Michigan’s worries.