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Jim Harbaugh and Michigan now have a "Beat Ohio" drill

The Wolverines are running the ball as effectively as any team in the country, thanks to a renamed drill to emphasize their biggest rivalry.

Jim Harbaugh has his fair share of critics as he enters his seventh season leading the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. His loudest critics believe that, despite winning 10 games in three of his seasons with the program, coming up winless thus far against rival Ohio State is unacceptable and a lot of folks have accused him of not emphasizing the OSU rivalry enough.

It sounds like before spring practices started this past year, Harbaugh took that to heart by renaming their 9 defenders vs 7 offensive player run drill period. 

Most programs call that period Inside Run, where the offensive line, quarterback and running back face off against the defense's front seven plus their two safeties.

At Michigan, Harbaugh and the program have renamed that period of practice as the "Beat Ohio Drill" as a way to emphasize and focus on the rivalry daily.

The emphasis has paid off early in their first two games, as the Wolverines offensive line paved the way for 56 carries for 343 yards against Washington in their 31-10 win.

"Years prior, we'd call it a 9-on-7, which is what the drill is, but this year, we changed it to the 'Beat Ohio' drill,'" offensive guard Trevor Keegan shared via ESPN.

"Now we're blasting music, smelling salts, everything. It's a pretty physical period. We love it."

Asked yesterday if there was a point of the off season where he noticed a change in his offensive line, Harbaugh pointed to how guys have embraced the Beat Ohio Drill.

"It has been something they've embraced. Going back into spring ball, the 9-on-7 drill, which is an inside run type of drill, where you're not running any type of trick plays and defenses aren't running any games or twists. It's just who can block a man, and who can get off a block."

"We basically run 3 or four different run schemes, and one or two defensive fronts and it is something that our offensive line, and defensive line, has really embraced. When that period comes up, whether it's practice in the spring, or fall camp, we do it every day we have pads on and Mondays and Tuesday's in-season."

On the flip side of the rivalry, Ryan Day and the Buckeyes have their own "Team Up North Drill," and it has certainly paid off for them as a way to emphasize the rivalry. The two teams didn't meet last year because of COVID issues with the Wolverines at the end of the season, but the Buckeyes have won eight straight and 15 of the last 16 meetings in the rivalry. 

Will Michigan be able to ride their early season success on the ground because of the Beat Ohio Drill to a much-needed win over their rival in the regular season finale? 

Michigan has Northern Illinois this week and will likely be the favorite in their games most of the season until they meet Wisconsin (who is currently ranked in the top 20) in early October.