The Wolverine

January 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 5 of 67

DOUSED IN SUCCESS A team's culture is an impossible metric to measure. But when there's a drastic turnaround in the chemistry department, it's hard not to notice. This change was evident throughout the year, but perhaps never more so than in the aftermath of the Big Ten championship, a true team effort in which the Wolverines spread the ball around offensively. Six different ath- letes caught two or three passes — and the team leaders in that category were a pair of running backs, with three apiece. No fewer than five players had at least 17 yards on the ground, but no- body eclipsed 74. Three different play- ers even completed a pass. On the other side of the ball, four de- fenders posted a tackle for loss, but nobody had more than one. While red- shirt junior linebacker Josh Ross led the way with nine tackles, no player had more than four solo stops, and seven more defenders totaled three or four tackles. The final score (a 42-3 victory over Iowa), the drought-erasing Big Ten championship trophy, and the pro- gram's first College Football Playoff berth were all a result of traits that are as impossible to quantify as they are to ignore. "What we really found out was that the players were the ones that drove the change in all of this,"'s Tom VanHaaren said on the ESPN Daily podcast. "I had a chance to talk to some of the leaders on the team … and I asked them point-blank, what's different? You guys keep saying it's go- ing to be different, but we've heard that before. "They looked me in the eyes and said, 'Wait until you see what happens this season, because we the players took over, we took it in our own hands to change the culture of the program.' They were embarrassed by what hap- pened in the 2020 season." It's just another of the many 2021 im- provements worth celebrating. PHOTOS BY LON HORWEDEL THE BIG PICTURE

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - January 2022