Harbaugh Embracing National Stage vs. Utah

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh took his players out of their comfort zones throughout fall camp. Now just a week from kicking the college football season off at Utah, Harbaugh and the Wolverines are eager to step back into the national spotlight.

Jim Harbaugh wasn't biting. Now just one week from taking the field as Michigan's coach for the first time, Harbaugh had zero interest in peering into the future to dissect what will assuredly be a special moment in the former Wolverines' career.

Still, Harbaugh can't do exactly what he wants when Michigan kicks things off at Utah next Thursday, officially jump starting the college football season.

"Well unfortunately at the age I am and the eligibility remaining I will be standing over there on the sideline like you," Harbaugh said. "The stepping in between the white lines, that's reserved for the fighters and it's their time to do that.

"But getting them prepared for that, that's the part we play as coaches and very excited about that, contributing in the competition."

Coaching. Michigan needed more of this in recent seasons, dipping every season under Coach Brady Hoke after a stellar 11-2 campaign in Hoke's first go round in 2011.

And coaching, consistency and understanding are all trigger words for Michigan's players, clearly eager to represent their new head coach out in Salt Lake City after a long few years in Ann Arbor.

In life, the most growth often comes through adversity, and that's exactly what Harbaugh tried to create throughout fall camp.

"The big things is he likes us to, for example, during camp, a lot of teams will have practice at night to be easy on the guys," Kyle Kalis said. "But no, Coach Harbaugh wants to do it at the hottest time of the day so it's one to four, specifically to shape the body and mold the mind.

"Stuff like that, especially being behind closed doors with him and seeing him in his environment, it's funny, but it's also just to see he's such a football mentality guy and an awesome coach. But yeah he definitely keeps you on your toes."

With a week to wonder how exactly the bunker mentality will translate onto the football field this season, Kalis cited one specific reason he believes it'll all come together for the Wolverines.

"It's been an experience that I'll probably tell my kids about when I'm older," Kalis said. "It's definitely been like a camp that we've never had before and I think it's going to pay off dividends down the road this year and this upcoming Thursday too.

"We've come together as a team really well, we're super close right now, super tight knit, we know what we're doing execution wise. Now we have to go out and show everybody we've been doing in the submarine."

As much as Harbaugh and his team embraced the rigors of fall camp, just a handful of practices now separate Michigan from a rematch with Utah.

Never one to shy away from competition or the spotlight, Harbaugh likes the idea of having all eyes on his Wolverines.

"It's what we all signed up for," Harbaugh said. "I hope that's what everyone signed up for cause it's here and it's been on the schedule a long time, we knew it was coming. A big game Thursday night and it's going to be watched by a lot of people. It's the first game in college football that I'm aware of.

"The only other games that'll be going on are NFL preseason games and having had some experience in playing and coaching in some of those games I understand people probably tune in and then switch over to our game pretty quick.

"It's a big stage against a really good football team who has got winning on their side, they're a confident team and they should be. Is that overwhelming? I asked our team the same thing and the answer is no, you want to be at that table, the big boy table."

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