ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan football enters the Ohio State game a little more banged up than hoped or anticipated. The biggest question is whether or not running back Blake Corum will play on Saturday, after leaving the Illinois game with a knee injury.
The jury is out to his status, but given that the Wolverines had built their offense over the course of the season to put the primary focus on Corum and his abilities, if he’s unable to go or is limited, the onus of that side of the ball will likely fall on the shoulders of sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy.
Buy Wolverines Tickets
McCarthy met with the media on Tuesday to discuss the matchup with the Buckeyes, ranging from his and the team’s confidence, how the maize and blue expect to perform, the environment in Columbus, and more.
Here is everything he had to say.
With what type of confidence does he enter The Game?
It’s just the same way we prepare every week. I mean, just do what we did all year, it goes to 11. And, obviously, the attention to detail is gonna tighten down and everything’s gonna get amplified in the positive direction. But everything we did all year,
How has Jim Harbaugh helped his confidence?
Just always, always coaching me, like I’m a guy that I want to be coached. Like, I don’t want to be someone that you’re always just gonna say, ‘Good ball,’ every time the ball comes out of my hand, I want to be coached, I want to learn, I want to always find ways to expand my game. So he always does that in a great way.
How does it feel with game week being here?
Um, feels just like the stars are aligning. Like, it’s finally here. It’s meant to be and we couldn’t be more excited for it. Honestly, we just can’t wait to get out there and have some fun on Saturday.
Does he get to enjoy the ride on a week like this?
100%. Yeah, I mean, it’s such a special opportunity to be a part of a game like this. And yeah, we’re just so excited to go out there and have the time of our lives on Saturday. Really. That’s it.
What’s the difference between the presnap calls he makes and Olu makes?
Yeah, a lot of it’s just like, he’s seen so many fronts and so many different looks from just the front seven that he’s got a lot more experience than I do. And he sees things that I don’t. And he does a great job of just communicating with me. And my eyes are mostly focused on the back end and what they’re doing in the secondary, and it’s a great complement to help our offense out for sure.
How important was it to develop chemistry with him?
Oh, it’s huge. I mean, that’s step one. And step two, with every single play, it’s in his mind. So that relationship has to be to a tee.
What he’s expecting playing in Ohio Stadium
At the end of the day, it’s really all just noise, and all just a bunch of fans that like to boo you and don’t like you very much. And you just do whatever you can to transmute that and use it against them. So I feel like a lot of situations we’ve been through this year, with like facing adversity on the road and being in Iowa, is just going to help us tremendously this weekend.
How important is it for him to meditate before the game?
It’s huge because then you just center yourself back to whether I’m in my bedroom in the woods, or back in The Big House, it just brings you back to inside yourself and centering yourself and it’s just huge. So no matter what environment I’m in, I just feel at home. 100%, yes.
What did Jim Harbaugh mean when he said ‘have at it?’
The saying that we love around here is just do you and I’m going to do me. What I did to get me here I’m gonna do that next Saturday for sure.
Do the RB injuries put added pressure on him?
No, I don’t think so. Because we’ve got guys are going to carry the torch, and big guys that we can rely on no matter who’s in there. And yeah, I mean, we’ll see with the running back situation, but we’re gonna be ready for Saturday for sure.
His recruitment by Ohio State and Michigan
It was always just very unique, the whole Michigan versus Ohio State rivalry and I just kind of felt attracted towards it. I grew up a Braxton Miller fan, I grew up loving just the passion that Michigan had. So I was kind of on both sides the whole way. And I’m extremely grateful to be in this spot for sure, though.
What he sees from Jim Knowles and the Ohio State defense
They do a really good job with their safeties and their safety plays, disguising everything and getting down in run fits and stuff like that, which was different from last year. And it’s gonna be really awesome to see how they match up with our big boys up front.
Any defenses he’s seen this year that compare?
I don’t think so, because Jim Knowles coming from the Big 12 is a totally different defense than playing Big Ten football. So, be very interesting to kind of test ourselves out against that.
How different did Monday’s practice feel?
There’s just a sense of energy that wasn’t really present in the last 11 weeks or 12 weeks with the bye week. Everyone’s ready to go. Like I said, the stars are aligning. And it’s finally here. And we couldn’t be more excited.
How much has he paid attention to what Ohio State is saying?
Every week, I’ll delete Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, all that. I don’t really pay too much attention to what’s going on over there. Obviously, like, you’re looking at personnel and injury reports and all that, but nothing about what they’re saying or what they’re doing, because it’s all just noise.
In what ways is the offense playing well and improving?
I just feel like we’re still progressing. That’s the most beautiful part. It really is no ceiling that we’re hitting at or where we’re reaching. It’s always just going off in a positive direction. But I just feel like our run and pass game is improving dramatically and each week by week, and find more ways to improve it. So there’s a lot of things that we still need to improve and it’s gonna show on Saturday for sure.
On Jim Harbaugh calling the team ‘happy warriors’
I already mentioned that I like going back to the quote, ‘Better be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.’ And we just absolutely have so much joy playing this game. And there’s that deep warrior inside of us that no matter what it takes, we’re gonna get it done.
Has he been talking to Cade McNamara?
Yeah, we’ve just been in contact with him just making sure he’s good and in good spirits. And he’s always just checking in and stuff like that. So he’s still like, really embracing his leadership role, even though he’s wherever he is in LA, rehabbing and stuff like that. But it’s just been great to kind of hear from him, how he’s doing.
Has the dynamic changed without Cade in the locker room?
It’s the same, I mean, it’s everyone trying to get better, everyone trying to improve and nothing really changed, really.
How has the confidence changed going into The Game from last year to this year?
Obviously, there’s more confidence because we proved that we can do it. And it’s just we’re matching up what we did last year to try to outdo that. And we just want to dominate on all cylinders. And yeah, that’s what we’re really focused on this Saturday.