Big Ten coaches explain why Michigan football was so good in 2021

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — It was almost a dream season for Michigan football in 2021, with a near-perfect common season file, save for the one blemish coming in opposition to in-state rival MSU. But the Wolverines beat Ohio State for the primary time since 2011, superior to the Big Ten Championship recreation, and took down Iowa to win their first convention title since 2004.

Some groups had extra success than others. Rutgers, Nebraska, and Penn State took the maize and blue to the brink. Northwestern and Indiana had run-of-the-mill losses. Wisconsin, Maryland, Ohio State, and Iowa received taken to the woodshed.

At Big Ten media days this week, WolverinesWire spoke to each Big Ten head coach that confronted Michigan (besides Nebraska’s Scott Frost, who was scheduled at an odd time the primary morning) to ask both what made Michigan completely different in 2021, except for Rutgers’ Greg Schiano (we requested what made them reasonably profitable) and MSU’s Mel Tucker (we requested why the Spartans have been profitable).

Here’s what every of the 9 needed to say.

Greg Schiano – Rutgers

Photo: Isaiah Hole

When you might have success, your youngsters performed extraordinarily arduous and so they executed the plan, and the plan was good. Sometimes they play very arduous and the plan wasn’t good so it does not matter. Sometimes they do not play arduous and the plan’s glorious, so that does not matter.

We did not get it executed, that is the best way I take a look at it. We did not. We performed competitively two years in a row with the University of Michigan. This 12 months, they have been in the ultimate 4, so that is one thing you’ll be able to have faith from. But I believe it boils all the way down to at all times gamers. Players executed the plan and so they actually performed arduous.

Paul Chryst – Wisconsin

Photo: Isaiah Hole

It was a heckuva group. Quite a lot of respect for them. Certainly, some dynamic gamers, particular person gamers. But I additionally consider it was a extremely good football group. I believe it’s a must to be — to win this convention, it’s a must to be that group, and so they have been that final 12 months.

Pat Fitzgerald – Northwestern

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Yeah, their effectivity operating the ball — I assumed that they, I do not know if anyone ran the counter play in addition to they did. I assumed that was No. 1 getting ready for them on tape. Mac did an excellent job with the protection. I assumed they have been actually well-coordinated. Even although possibly we did not have as environment friendly a day as they — I studied football with him in the previous. My relationship with John and the Ravens — I assumed he did a extremely good job. And clearly, they have been actually gifted. That aspect of the ball was as good as anyone collectively we performed.

And then, I believe the one-two punch in the backfield. One-two-three. They performed a number of backs like again once I performed Michigan once they had them rolling. It was like six or eight performs and a brand new again would come in. Six or eight performs and a brand new again would come in. Your tongue could be hanging down round your ankles, after which right here comes Biakabutuka. Here comes someone else.

Kick game-wise, they blocked a punt in opposition to us, it was extra our fault than what they did. But I assumed they have been actually sound and once more, had actually good depth.

Mel Tucker – Michigan State

Photo: Isaiah Hole

We simply discovered a option to win. We performed for 60 minutes in the sport, six seconds a play and we did not flinch. We have been capable of run the ball and we have been capable of make stops after we wanted them. That’s actually what it got here all the way down to. It was a hard-fought recreation, however on the finish of the day, you could make sufficient performs to get the job executed.

I believe that speaks to anticipating to win reasonably than going into the sport hoping to win. If you count on to win video games, you will discover a option to win these video games.

Tom Allen – Indiana

Photo: Isaiah Hole

They’re a good football group. And they have been good in the previous. To me, I believe they could have gotten again to just a little bit extra offensively what they have been in the previous. They simply dedicated to run the football. Their offensive line, I assumed, was higher. I assumed their protection was actually good. They have been enjoying with a swagger, an edge, a confidence on that aspect of the ball that you just form of count on, which I assumed that they had in the previous. Maybe misplaced just a little bit there on the finish of that system that they have been operating.

But, with out query, at all times gifted, actually good football group. That quarterback play was higher, makes you higher. Talented, gifted operating backs. They’ve at all times had gifted talent guys and I believe the O-line’s at all times been there however they only performed higher. They simply had extra, it appeared like, the system that they have been hanging their hat on. Just as an opponent, on the brink of watch them play and enjoying in opposition to them. Talented group for positive.

To me, you simply count on a sure sort of group from Michigan and that is what they have been. I believe that can simply proceed to develop.

James Franklin – Penn State

Photo: Isaiah Hole

I’m undecided. We’ve had nice video games year-in and year-out in opposition to Michigan. Quite a lot of them have been one-possession video games. Obviously going there’s a robust place to play and coming here’s a robust place to play. But clearly, they have been capable of do it constantly, I believe that is the problem in our convention. Especially on our aspect of the convention, in our division. You’ve gotta have the ability to do it week-in and week-out and at a constant stage.

If you needed to say what was the most important differentiator? The defensive ends. When you might have guys like that that change the sport plan considerably, when you might have two guys that may rush the passer and be disruptive as they have been capable of be all-season lengthy, that was one among many most likely issues that stood out to me probably the most

Mike Locksley – Maryland

Photo: Isaiah Hole

I believe their confidence, No. 1 and so they knew who they have been. They have been a group that wished to play a bodily model of football, they wished to determine the run, play good protection, win particular groups, and so they did it constantly all 12 months lengthy. I believe their id, they created the id and caught to it. And that is when you might have an opportunity to win a Big Ten championship.

Ryan Day – Ohio State

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Every 12 months, we’ve got the identical expectation and the primary purpose is to beat the group up north and win the rivalry recreation. And that did not occur. So we needed to sit on that for a calendar 12 months, and that is not good. We do not need to must undergo that once more. And so, in the offseason, we tried to actually ensure that the blokes are reminded of that recreation, that the coaches are reminded of that recreation — everybody in the constructing is reminded of that recreation. But I additionally know that we’ve got to maneuver ahead — we will not let that recreation beat us twice. It’s one thing we do not ever need to must undergo once more.

Kirk Ferentz – Iowa

Photo: Isaiah Hole

We watched all of them season, so it wasn’t simply in December after we noticed them. They have been enjoying good football from begin to end. I believe that the strategy offensively, simply from one particular person’s opinion, was clearly completely different than possibly — I believe they remodeled their imaginative and prescient of what they have been going to do offensively, received just a little bit extra dedicated to operating the football. That made them a really harmful group and so they’re very dynamic. They’ve received actually good talent gamers and so they’ve received good linemen, good operating backs, good quarterbacks. When you might have that form of stability and also you play good protection, that provides you a chance, they actually did a good job of these issues.

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