PHOENIX — Michigan football has officially arrived in Arizona, and is set to embark on a week of practice and media availability with opponent TCU in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl on Saturday.
Upon arriving at Sky Harbor Airport, Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines were greeted by a gathering of fans on the tarmac and immediately moved into a tent where he, running back Donovan Edwards, safety Rod Moore, and linebacker Michael Barrett took questions from the media.
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At the end, Edwards beckoned a child fan to ask a question (which you can read at the end of the transcript).
Here is everything the group had to say with the College Football Playoff semifinal looming.
COACH HARBAUGH: Thank you. We’re here. It was a good flight. We had a good practice today. Jumped on the flight, and it’s great to be here. We’re honored to be here. This is the best of the best playing the best, and our team is ready to have at it.
MIKE BARRETT: Like Coach said, it’s great to be back. It’s great to be here. It’s always a blessing to play in December, January. So it’s a great feeling, especially the weather change. It feels good to be here.
ROD MOORE: Blessed to be here. Thank you everybody. And Go Blue.
How much has Donovan Edwards meant to this team since Blake Corum’s injury?
COACH HARBAUGH: About 401 yards. How many TDs, Donovan?
DONOVAN EDWARDS: In the last two games? I think three. Three touchdowns last two games.
COACH HARBAUGH: Pretty huge.
Jim, back in July, you talked about four goals this year. Three of them are now done, and this is one of the final games getting to that fourth one. Can you just talk about this season, this moment, and where you are at right now.
COACH HARBAUGH: Right where we want to be. And like I said, the best of the best played the best. That’s where we want to be. Great to have that.
Jim, now that you’ve had some time to take a look at TCU on film, what have you seen from them? And Sonny Dykes talked about them having team speed. What have you seen of that aspect of it?
COACH HARBAUGH: They’re a great team. No question about it. Really good at all positions. Yeah, I agree, speed, but this is a strong team as well in all three phases.
Jim, could you speak to Max Duggan, what you’ve seen on tape from him and what he means to the TCU offense?
COACH HARBAUGH: He’s one of the best players in the country leading one of the best teams in the country. Tremendous competitors. He’s so productive. Total offense and leadership and everything. You can tell, he’s on a mission. And so is our guy, JJ McCarthy.
Jim, obviously you made it to the College Football Playoff last year. Now that you’re back, what have you drawn from last year? What did you learn last year? And what is different going into this one?
COACH HARBAUGH: I think this team – since day one, it’s really just about “going to do my best today.” And that’s how they approached each day, going back to winter conditioning, spring ball, training camp, and throughout the season. So no change. That’s our goal: Got to give it my best today.
Could you speak to your relationship with JJ and how he’s grown and matured this year in the offense?
DONOVAN EDWARDS: I mean, he was always ready to — always been able to be in the quarterback one position. Now that he’s here, now that he has it, he’s just continuing to do what got him here to continue to thrive.
Hey, Donovan, how healthy is your hand? And how much do you relish playing in the big stage, even going back to your days at West Bloomfield?
DONOVAN EDWARDS: Like I said, after the Big Ten Championship game and Coach Harbaugh, he said it first, I thrive in the big games. I come alive in the big games. That’s what I’m here for. I’m here to play in the big games.
I’m blessed by God to be able to play in the big games and do my thing on the big stage and to be able to give Him the glory after the game and before the game.
I would love to hear from the players. Just what is so special about this Michigan team?
DONOVAN EDWARDS: Everybody works hard. We’re all humble. Everybody wants everybody to get better. There’s no selfishness on this team. Everybody is disciplined. Everybody is well coached — everybody is, like, wired to be a Michigan man. We’re coached great by our head coach and all of our position coaches. And it’s easy when you have coachable guys and great guys to be able to play with and to play for. We play for each other.
MIKE BARRETT: I would just say our ability to make each other better every day, and to make ourselves better than we were yesterday. We constantly come out to practice, meetings, workouts, whatever we have, and we just strive to make each other better so we can be the best team in the country.
Jim, how many true freshmen have enrolled early? And what have your impressions been of them during practices in the time they’ve been able to spend with the team so far?
COACH HARBAUGH: Really good. It didn’t take them long to get up to speed. First couple of days, hearts pounding away. But by the second, third practice, they really acquitted themselves well.
DONOVAN EDWARDS: My boy in the “Harbaugh’s my hero shirt,” you’ve got a question?
Harbaugh, you’re my hero.
DONOVAN EDWARDS: I’m sorry, we couldn’t hear you. You got to be confident, my boy. Be confident.
Coach Harbaugh, you’re my hero.
(End of press conference.)