Q & A with Mike Hart

Michigan' s all-time leading rusher and current Eastern Michigan RB coach, Mike Hart answers some questions on playing as a true freshman at U-M, the new divisions, Notre Dame leaving the rivalry and more.

Josh Newkirk: What do you make of the new Big Ten divisions? The loss of Notre Dame rivalry game?

Mike Hart: "Obviouly, the Notre Dame game was such a great respected rivalry, It's disappointing that it no longer will be going on. But obviously the business they are in now they have to make decisions. The decision they decided to make was to cut Michigan. Cause obviously, Michigan is going to be good the next four or five years. So I am sure they probably had something to do with it. But it all comes down to money. The new divisions are interesting to say the least. It's going to be tough in Michigan's division, with the east it's a tough division. It's going to be hard getting through that division undefeated. ...You know, every game is going to be a big game. it's going to be no easy ones as you like to say it, you know, when it comes to division play for them anymore."

Josh Newkirk: Obviously, the offense will be more running back oriented now moving forward. Do you like seeing where the offenses is headed?

Mike Hart: "Definitely it is going back to Michigan football. The offensive line is getting bigger. It's fun, it's fun to watch that. Al (Borges) is doing a great job with that. They got some running backs. They got a lot of talent. They're going to have a lot of talent. So, it's going to be interesting to see what they do. Obviously, someone has to step up and take the role (of lead runner.) But I's going to be interesting."

Josh Newkirk: How difficult was it for you a freshman to be the guys and get the majority of the carries?

Mike Hart: "Well, I'll say that I think running back is the easiest position to transition to in college to play as a true freshman. I say that, because if you are a good running back you just run the ball. You know, you break tackles. You don't teach kids how to break tackles. So, I think transitioning as far as running the ball wasn't hard. But I think the mental aspect is what slows guys down. If they can't come in and learn the offense, they're not going to be able to play. But I think from an athletic standpoint, it's the easiest position to transition too."

Josh Newkirk: What was the biggest mental hurdle you encountered when you were a freshman at Michigan?

Mike Hart: "I am pretty smart," he said with a smile. "Honestly, that's why I played. That's why I played over Max Martin, 'cause I picked everything up fast. I think the biggest thing I tell my guys, my younger guys, I didn't get all the reps, but I made sure I watched every rep. The one thing I tell my guys, I took a lot of mental reps. There's guys, freshman still on my team, they're over there talking, they don't know the play call, they don't know what's going on. So you can process things through your head without taking a physical rep. I think that's what helped me make my transition. I was only getting a couple reps, but I was really getting 15 reps, cause I knew the play call. I was thinking of what I had to do and how I would do it."

Josh Newkirk: Michigan coach Fred Jackson is a pass protection guy. That's not easy is it for a freshman?

Mike Hart: "No, If you are tough, you can pass pro. That's what I always say. If you are not tough, you're probably not going to be playing as true freshman as a running back. So, if you are tough, then you'll have a chance to be good at pass protection. But again, it comes down to mental. If you know who you have, then you can go get him. The problem is a lot of guys can't pass pro, cause they don't know who they have."

Josh Newkirk: What's the biggest adjustment as a true freshman running back when you step on the field?

Mike Hart: "I would probably just say the speed of it. 'Cause you know game speed is different than practice speed. You can say you're used to it and you're ready, but those first couple snaps—No. 1, you're nervous. So, I's about getting a couple carries under your belt. Then it's like you're good to go, ‘Oh, I can do this.' So, to me it was more of a confidence thing."

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