ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A bend but don’t break defense.
A cliché football term, yes, but it held so true in No. 16 Michigan’s 49-16 win against Rutgers on Saturday.
The Wolverines top-ranked Big Ten defense held Rutgers to only 225 total yards, with no offensive touchdowns. In fact, Rutgers made inside U-M’s red-zone four-times, and could only manage three field goals, a fact that was pointed out by U-M coach Jim Harbaugh afterwards.
“Our red-zone defense was outstanding again today,” Harbaugh said. “It’s been something that has been really been good for us. Our defensive coaches do a tremendous job. I don’t think anybody is doing a better job, playing defense in the red-zone. A couple times they had the ball in the scoring area inside the 20, and we only allowed field goals. The only touchdown came on the kickoff return, so that’s very impressive to me.”
Why is Michigan so good inside the red-zone? Is it their mentality? Or their scheme that makes them so good? Well, Harbaugh says it’s mixture of both, noting he gives credit to both the players and coaches for U-M’s red-zone success.
“It’s the scheme that you’re running,” Harbaugh said of his red-zone defense. “It’s the way that you play. Coach (D.J.) Durkin does a great job. He convinces our guys they’re not in till they’re in -- they have to get it in.”
Adding: “It’s who’s doing it, you know. It’s the players out there accomplishing the task.”