Michigan football trying to avoid repeat of numbing losses

Jim Harbaugh holds a 28-11 record as head coach of the University of Michigan. (File photo)

Never one to mince words, Michigan senior defensive end Chase Winovich was as honest as he could be.

One loss is excruciating on its own. A second loss is frustrating. The third, fourth and fifth losses?

For Michigan last season, things got a bit too repetitive down the stretch. And while it may be tough for some to admit — or hear — compound interest began to take a toll.

“When you go 8-5, it’s the sad truth of the way it is: You kind of become numb to losing,” Winovich said last week at Big Ten media days. “(The last loss) didn’t have the same effect as it did when we lost to Michigan State and it was our first loss (of the season) and it kind of derailed our momentum.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh often talks about winning and working and improving with “numbing repetition.” Whether it be a drill or a practice or a game, he wants positive results to become habitual.

A year ago, though, his team wound up with the opposite during the second half of the season. Michigan finished 3-4 over its final seven games, with three straight losses (Wisconsin, Ohio State and South Carolina) to close the year.

There are a horde of things an outside observer might point to for those results. Poor quarterback play. Injured quarterbacks. Youth. All of the above.

The returning players would point toward something else, though.

“There’s a ton of variables that go into (football games) and there’s no correct answer or identification as to what one problem was,” senior running back Karan Higdon added. “We have to finish in the second half and more specially the fourth quarter. I think we wore down in the fourth quarter (too often), to be more specific.

“(The loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl) adds on to the other four losses. We knew it came down to the last minute, some guys being out of shape or not being mentally ready to take on that role. That (motivated us in the offseason).”


Posted by Tribune News Services

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