Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh was pleased with his squad’s 49-24 victory over Minnesota in week one. The Wolverines now have momentum heading into their next game against Michigan State, while the Spartans fell to Rutgers in their opener.
“It feels good,” Harbaugh said of ‘victory Mondays,’ while appearing on the Inside Michigan Football radio show with host and former U-M All-American Jon Jansen. “The air breathes a little better, it feels cleaner and crisper. And the food tastes better. It’s just a better day.”
How the Wolverines got to feeling that good on Monday was behind an emerging offense, led by coordinator Josh Gattis, a revamped offensive line and a new quarterback in redshirt sophomore Joe Milton.
In his first start, Milton completed 18-of-25 passes for 225 yards and one touchdown, while also rushing eight times for 52 yards and a score. It was an impressive starting debut, Harbaugh noted.
“I thought it was really good,” Harbaugh said of Milton’s performance. “There were things we were game planning for that they took away, but I thought he did a good job of getting to the secondary and third receivers.
“Nobody’s ever perfect in the game, but I thought he really had a lot of maturity, really cool. The big stage, so to speak, didn’t rattle him at all in his first game as a starter. He went out and executed. He showed the touch that we’d been talking about and seeing on the bubble screens, but also showed the really strong arm on the throw to [sophomore wideout] Mike Sainristil. Mikey made an incredible catch, got one foot down. Just overall [Joe was] really good — poised, mature and talented. All the things we’ve been seeing really came out in the game.”
Sainristil was one of nine receivers to catch a pass from Milton on Saturday night. Harbaugh gave credit to Gattis for his ability to utilize the plethora of weapons he has at running back, wide receiver and tight end.
Harbaugh also lauded the play calling. Perhaps the best example of Gattis’ progression running the U-M offense was his decision to go right back to sophomore tight end Erick All following his uncharacteristic drop on a play that would’ve been a touchdown had he hung on. On the next play, he took a short pass 27 yards down to the Minnesota three-yard line to set up an eventual U-M score.
“I thought that was a great play call by Josh,” Harbaugh said. “First, it was a great play call and Joe made a heck of a throw, right on the money. And Erick is such a sure-handed catcher — I mean, he catches everything. He might be our best catcher on the team. And he’s so confident in his catching ability, he just takes it for granted that he’s going to catch the ball, and he turned his eyes away and he ended up bobbling it and dropping the ball. He’s going to definitely learn from that and keep his eye on the…