Being compared to bullies and boa constrictors, Barrett was effusive in his response.
“We’re in the ass kicking business,” Barrett said. “And business is booming.”
Barrett is part of a Michigan defense that hasn’t allowed an opposing offense to take a snap inside Michigan’s 10-yard line through the first six games of the season. In its game against Indiana, the unit gave up 133 yards in the first quarter, but allowed just 100 yards the rest of the game.
“I just feel like we’ve kind of figured out our identity. We kind of talked about that earlier today,” Barrett said. “Just kind of always stressing our four pillars, especially defensively. Just always talking about our pillars; trying to get block destruction and communication and always focusing in on that daily, and just continue to get better day by day.”
The Michigan defense has allowed just five touchdowns all season, tied for fewest among all FBS teams. FOX commentator Joel Klatt compared the Wolverines team to playing against a boa constrictor, that they eventually restrict and put the pressure on teams until they give up.
Safety Keon Sabb told reporters that the team can start to see, over the course of the game, the opponent’s passion diminish. That they’re trying to act like boa restrictors, applying that pressure until the end of the game.
“My favorite thing is watching their hopes slowly go away,” Barrett said. “Watching that fight just kind of diminish away from them and just kind of get to the point where they’re just like, ‘Let’s go home.’ That’s kind of my favorite feeling.”
It’s not just the defense that has Michigan 6-0 this season, though, as it has been a balanced effort on all sides of the ball. The Wolverines are the fourth team since 1936 to score 30 or more points and hold opponents to 10 or fewer points in seven consecutive games.
Running back Blake Corum came into the Indiana game tied for most rushing touchdowns among all FBS backs with 10. After scoring two against the Hoosiers, Corum passed his running backs coach, Mike Hart, and former quarterback Denard Robinson to take third place on Michigan’s all-time career rushing touchdowns list behind Anthony Thomas and Tyrone Wheatley.
But what has made this offense so potent this season has been quarterback J.J. McCarthy, his accuracy and ability to put points on the board no matter the situation. McCarthy finished the game completing 14 of 17 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns.
Coach Jim Harbaugh referred to McCarthy as a once in a generation type quarterback after being asked about McCarthy passing Harbaugh on Michigan’s career passing list. He has praised his quarterback throughout the season and it has given him confidence as to how far this team will go down the stretch.
“It’s perfect when you got a quarterback like that. Some people ask me, fourth-and-two, tie ball game, two-yard line, what goes into that decision,” Harbaugh said. “And I know the ball’s going to be in number nine’s hands…mainly I know it comes down to number nine is going to make it right. Just have great confidence that the odds are in our favor.”
That confidence has filtered through to the players and staff and has Michigan feeling as though they control their destiny this season. Whether they’re the bully or a boa constrictor, they’re trying to fulfill their goal of making it back to the Big Ten Championship and on to the College Football Playoff at the end of the season.
“I think it’s just our preparation throughout the week and just a great job from our coaching staff and the team in general,” tight end Colston Loveland said after the game. “We just really honed in on always keeping our foot on the gas. Stuff is going to happen, adversity is going to come, but we want to try to be the adversity. We want to be the bully, so you’re going to get punched, but it’s all about how you answer back.”