By: Will Burchfield
Jim Harbaugh isn’t one to heap praise on individuals, certainly not over the team, but he made quite the exception in discussing Michigan’s defensive coordinator Don Brown.
Through seven games of the 2016 season, No 2. Michigan has the top-ranked defense in college football.
“In my mind, as I sit here right now, if there’s a coach in the year in college football, it’s Don Brown,” Harbaugh told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket on Thursday morning. “He is a tremendous teacher, he is a tremendous person and the impact that he’s had on our team has been outstanding. We always look at it as a team effort, everybody does a little and it adds up to a lot, we win as a team, but boy, Don Brown has had a huge impact on all of us, on us coaches, on the players.”
Michigan hired Brown last December, after he had served as the defensive coordinator at Boston College from 2013-2015. The Eagles led the country in total defense in Brown’s final season, and now the Wolverines are following suit.
Their defense is surrendering the fewest yards per game (207), passing yards per game (111) and points per game (10.0) in the country.
“You really have to look at what the defense is doing as a unit and say, ‘That is really good football.’ And now, I want them to embrace that, I want them to see how good they can be. We’re a little over the halfway point but it has a chance to be something really special,” Harbaugh said. “Sure, there’s pressure because they are playing so well, but (if) they embrace it and continue at the same relentless, punishing pace, it really has a chance to be a special, special unit – historic, in that way. So we’re forging on.”
Beyond Michigan’s impressive defense, Brown has gained noticed for his mustache. Earlier this week, quarterback Wilton Speight said he was considering growing one of his own to honor the team’s 61-year-old defensive coordinator.
Harbaugh is fully on board.
“It’s a fabulous mustache, it is just fabulous. Everything he does, just how he looks, how he talks, you’re just kind of riveted whenever he’s saying something and he’s got expressions that many of our players can imitate very well. You just like watching him, you like listening to him, he captivates everybody that is around. He’s a dazzling, dazzling coach and person,” Harbaugh said.
Michigan will take its top-ranked defense on the road this weekend when the Wolverines take on Michigan State on Saturday at noon.