ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Physicality, the Michigan football team believes, is a good thing. Whether it’s dishing it out or absorbing a solid hit, the right kind of physical play is good for a team, now and down the road.
After a 51-14 loss to Michigan on Saturday, UCF coach Scott Frost pointed out his team’s level of physical play.
“We came in here and outhit those guys,” Frost said Saturday. “The score is what it is. But we outhit them. Standing on the sideline, there’s no doubt which team was hitting harder.”
The Wolverines, ranked No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll, didn’t necessarily scoff at the comment. Instead, they agreed with it, to a certain degree. Because of that level of physicality, the Knights ran for 275 yards and held the Wolverines to 119 yards rushing, forcing them to go primarily to their passing game.
The physical play also steeled the Wolverines (2-0), who host Colorado (2-0) at 3:30 Saturday at Michigan Stadium.
“They came in wanting to take some shots and I know they did,” said Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight, who threw for 312 yards and four touchdowns against UCF. “They blitzed a lot and I took a couple big hits in the pocket and some helmets to the eyes.
“I know their coach was big on saying how they came in and outhit us, but you have to give them respect. They came in. They weren’t scared. But it was good. Last week versus Hawaii, I got brushed up on, but I think I hit the ground one time. To be able to get some of those hits under my belt and move on to conference play (Sept. 24 against Penn State), it’s good. It’s positive.”
Michigan defensive tackle Matt Godin didn’t see it the same way as Speight, or as Frost.
“I know that’s what the coach said,” Godin said. “They came out and they played physical, no doubt about it, but I don’t think we were outhit.
“He’s protecting his team. But I do disagree.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh also didn’t see eye-to-eye with Frost, but did it in a rather eloquent manner during his Monday press conference.
“They hit well,” Harbaugh said. “That was a good, physical football team. I was impressed with the way they tackled, the way they played. I was very impressed with their speed. I agree, they played very well. My view of it after the game and after watching the film was that we got the job done. We took care of business physically in the lines. I feel the same as I did after the game. As you notice, I didn’t say we dominated, but I thought we got the better of it.”
When looking back at UCF — and any possibility of continuing a war of words — Harbaugh took the high road.
“I thought they had a very good football team,” Harbaugh said. “They’re very well coached. I was impressed with their aggression, their toughness, their speed. I wish them luck the rest of the way.”