As Michigan’s youngsters watch Georgia partying, outgoing vets call it “scar tissue”
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The next generation of Michigan playmakers stayed on the field a few more minutes Friday night.
While many of their brothers stepped off the stage after a 34-11 loss to Georgia at the Orange Bowl, JJ McCarthy, Donovan Edwards, Andrel Anthony and Mike Morris all recorded the sights and sounds of the Bulldogs celebration.
Blake Corum was walking back a few yards and was caught by the television cameras yelling, “I promise you we’ll be back,” as he walked off the Hard Rock Stadium lawn.
“This team was so great,” said Aidan Hutchinson from behind the start-defensive end. “We were so connected from day one. It sucks that it has to end like this. But I mean, nothing will detract from our performance this year. “
Player after player pointed out the positive aspects of the Michigan situation. The Wolverines won 11 regular season games, incurring a nasty loss to the state of Ohio and winning a Big Ten championship. They reached the college football playoffs for the first time in program history.
“We’ve done some amazing things, some historic things,” continued Hutchinson, a senior and surefire NFL first-round pick this spring. “This season we’ve climbed mountains that nobody thought we could.”
More: Cade McNamara or JJ McCarthy in 2022? Let the Michigan QB debate begin
In the end, however, Elite Talent (Georgia) beat good talent (Michigan) on the South Florida field, yet another reminder that, while Jim Harbaugh deserves credit for turning a program around when he says it lost its excitement there is still much to be done.
The Wolverines will lose many important pieces of the 2020 puzzle, a hodgepodge of exceptional players, guys who came out of nowhere, and important schematic changes to accommodate staff.
“Nobody ever stopped fighting, nobody ever gave up, nobody gave up,” said Startcenter Andrew Vasstardis, a sixth year center. “I’m proud of that. Even if I stop by tonight to be just part of this team, I couldn’t be more blessed. “
The longest-serving Michigan soccer team, Vastardis, has been around since 2016. That was Harbaugh’s second season at Ann Arbor when expectations were sky high. What followed was one season after another of disappointment. The Wolverines never seemed to exceed, or sometimes even meet, expectations.
That was until that year when Vastardis and the rest of the senior club – guys like Right Tackle Andrew Stueber, linebacker Josh Ross, and Safety Brad Hawkins – got serious and took matters into their own hands. As quarterback Cade McNamara recently said, “The leaders on this team have had enough.”
More: Jim Harbaugh reacts after the Orange Bowl: “It wasn’t our best, but certainly hers”
“This one hurts,” said Hawkins, another outgoing senior. “These guys will keep growing, they will grow from it.”
But Hawkins emphasized, “We have laid the foundation.”
Ross, the linebacker, said, “We were played out and it wasn’t the best game for us, but as for the season – overall – we’ve had so many great moments with our group. Such a great culture that we have built up here. “
Harbaugh admitted that this Michigan team won’t fully return next year, with up to eight starters expected to test the NFL waters, but called it “a start for this team”.
“Tons of determination with this soccer team,” said Harbaugh. “For me it feels like a beginning – like a beginning.”
Hutchinson, the Michigan native who made it his divine destiny to play in Ann Arbor one day, agreed. The potential No. 1 draft pick was chosen for another season in 2021 and helped set the stage for the unlikely ride that became Michigan to become one of the top college football games.
And that has not escaped him.
“All these young people, they have this scar tissue now, they are in the playoffs, they lose, they have to feel it,” said Hutchinson. “I know they’ll get back on their feet next year and give them hell.”
Read more about Michigan soccer:
Georgia’s Michigan game plan: “I don’t think it was a magic potion”
Overheard outside the changing room: Disappointing end to a great season
As-is Report: Both sides of the ball get bad marks
Kirby Smart’s 9 year old son is a huge Aidan Hutchinson fan
Jim Harbaugh reacts to death of NFL icon John Madden, “a great man”