The Wolverine

December 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 18 of 67

DECEMBER 2018 THE WOLVERINE 19 Lions underscores that fact. "I was just thinking about it in the offseason," Winovich said. "It wasn't something I was vocal about. We had revenge to give out on the people who were kind of bullying us, just beating up on us last year. "They took advantage … we were in an in-between year. Something about that gave me a bad taste in my mouth. Me personally, I wanted our lunch money back, and I wanted them to pay interest." They're paying, one by one. Those payments have accrued to Michi- gan's interest in the College Football Playoff standings, where the Wol- verines moved to No. 4 in the Nov. 6 edition of the rankings. They know the tour isn't over. The biggest payback of all can't happen until the final week of the regular season. But they're relishing making past bullies eat dirt in the meantime. A RALLYING CRY The 2018 Wolverines have consis- tently managed to find something over which they can be ticked off. In the Big Ten opener against Nebraska, they recalled how Huskers coach Scott Frost said his Central Florida team "outhit" the Wolverines when they played at Michigan Stadium in 2016. When the Wisconsin game rolled around, Michigan players seized on the then-popular shade throwing sug- gestion that the Wolverines couldn't win big games. U-M needs extra motivation against Michigan State like Antarctica pen- guins require Cool Zone fans. But the Wolverines found it anyway, in pre- game intimidation tactics by the Spar- tans bluntly described by Harbaugh as "bush league," for which the Big Ten fined MSU $10,000. Certainly Penn State put itself in line for payback. It not only battered U-M 42-13 in Happy Valley last year, but tacked on a last-second touchdown as an exclamation point. All of that had defensive coordinator Don Brown waking up every day thinking of ways to shut down the Nittany Lions. He wasn't pleased one bit when PSU's late TD stole the shutout and limited the Wolverines to a 42-7 dis- mantling of James Franklin's crew. Winovich based his decision to re- turn for a fifth year, in part, on his belief that the Wolverines would be significantly better than they were last season. He's gratified to experience things playing out according to the script. "The wins are definitely more sat- isfying," he said. "Not necessarily the wins themselves, but just seeing our transition from last year's team to this year 's team and seeing how much growth we've had. It's a really cool thing to see." Junior defensive tackle Carlo Kemp bought into the Revenge Tour. He first heard it from Winovich, noting his fel- low lineman had probably been saving that one up. "Chase said that in an interview," Kemp recalled. "It's one game at a time. We have a lot of bad taste from last year, and we just don't want to feel that way anymore. We want to go out there and win these big games. "We're just putting everything we have into it. That feeling from last year? It's just saving it up until we can bring it back during the week." Kemp noted it's not just about re- venge, either, but a growing camara- derie on a team playing with a purpose toward some huge goals. "You're going out there and you're playing for everybody that lines up next to you and behind you," Kemp said. "That's who we're all playing for this year. It's for the people we've been doing this with since we were fresh- men. "It's a big reason why a lot of us came here, to be in this position, to set us up to reach those goals of a Big Ten championship, a College Football Playoff [appearance]. It's huge. Having an impact and doing it for your broth- ers, and them doing it for you, it's just a special feeling." Junior linebacker and captain Devin Bush Jr. is all about the Revenge Tour. He has a shirt he went out and pur- chased, like his teammates, and is among the most fiery Michigan lead- ers. He also doesn't anticipate any let- down. Michigan's angry-edge ap- proach has taken it a long way, and there's no reason to change now, he assured. "It just comes with experience," Bush said. "What we went through last year motivated us to do what we're doing this year and [to] up our focus. Last year we had it, and we fell short. "There's always something out there [for motivation]. But the biggest thing is knowing the other team wants to beat you, knowing the other team wants to get in the way of what you're trying to do with your season. I take that personally." Junior cornerback David Long has seen his team climb into the top five nationally, not only in the polls but also in the CFP rankings. That and a fistful of dollars will get him an Uber ride to Schembechler Hall. "I'm pretty sure whoever we're play- ing doesn't care where we're ranked," Long cautioned. "We've got to take it in like that and get ready to play the next week." Michigan's coaches are doing their fair share to keep the team's sharp edge. After U-M took down Penn State in dominating fashion, Winovich as- sured that by the following Tuesday, Brown & Co. would have the defense Michigan's defense stifled Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin, allowing an average of just 187.7 total yards and 9.0 points per contest against three foes who were ranked at the time of the game. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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