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Michigan’s Tim Drevno, D.J. Durkin Detail Harbaugh Submarine

ANN ARBOR, Michigan–Michigan offensive coordinator Tim Drevno and head coach Jim Harbaugh have more than a working relationship, they have a career-defining bond that stretches for more than a decade.

Together, they’ve done wonders with offenses, both college and pro. Whether by way of the San Diego Toreros, the Stanford Cardinal or even the San Francisco 49ers, Drevno and Harbaugh have just found ways to click, score points, develop lines and groom quarterbacks.

And they’ve done all of that under cloaks of secrecy, behind closed doors and without a ton of media presence during the preseason.

So, needless to say, the past 18 days of submarine diving through fall camp weren’t really anything new for Drevno, who coached USC’s offense prior to arriving in Ann Arbor this past January. He’s been through all of this before. Eleven times, actually.

He knows all about the submarine captain in Jim Harbaugh. He was willing to talk a little about that guy’s process–and not much else–during Monday’s availability.

“When you’re around each other, and there’s not anybody in the facility, you can really concentrate on what you need to learn, how you need to do it–you can really build a relationship with your coaches and really get to know your teammates and get a trust,” Drevno said. “It’s a real fun time when you do that.”

Building relationships with the players consists of establishing an overall sense of cohesion during drills and scrimmage. They need to trust that they’re learning the correct methods. And in turn, the better they play together, the better they get along.

That’s the general thought, anyway.

This time of year is the right time to get things right, Drevno said. On that note, he is still working on the O-line. Ideally, he’d like to have a corps of seven or eight players prepared for any given Saturday. Five play per down, but it’s football–and depth is always needed.

Throughout the submarine camp, the Wolverines have progressively stocked their shelves, says Drevno.

Player by player, position by position.

The receivers have shown great abilities to catch passes, he said. Quarterbacks, namely senior transfer Jake Rudock and junior Shane Morris, have feverishly competed for top reps. Junior running backs Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith have done well, too.

Development is the goal when you dive with Harbaugh, said Drevno.

Sure, it was an agonizing 18 days for all parties involved, but setting the tone for the season trumps appeasing the media and fans–at least it had been that way up until Monday. Now that the Wolverines have washed ashore, their doors have opened and everyone seems willing to discuss recent events.

That’s what the submarine’s all about–learning, not hiding, and then reporting progress. They had to start something in order to talk about something, right?

Harbaugh’s expected to speak this week, which will be his first time since Aug. 6. He even recently turned down an interview with the Big Ten Network, indicating that he’s followed the same direction as the others; he was focusing in the sub.

Now that he’s out of there, he’s sending officers to update–which is very military-like.

All of this is new to Durkin, who knows D-line coach Greg Mattison from a stint at Notre Dame.

That’s it.

Two years with Mattison compared to a pair of guys going on 12 years together. But that didn’t seem to be an issue Monday. Durkin appeared just as comfortable and confident as Drevno. Other than Mattison, everyone’s new at Michigan.

He didn’t want to talk about injured sophomore defensive tackle Bryan Mone. But why would he? However, other than that, he was willing to discuss other ideas and thoughts–such as his experience in Harbaugh’s now-non-fictional vessel (it was a real sub, right?).

It certainly had been a different kind of 18-day stretch for the former Florida defensive coordinator.

“I mean, every camp you go through this time of year is somewhat similar,” he said. “But no, nothing (like the sub)…this has been unique to any other experience in a positive way.”

Evidently, Harbaugh’s style of management has a certain way of producing desired results, even if they’re just in the preseason. The Wolverines must now translate them to Saturdays this fall.

“I just think Coach Harbaugh really is always thinking outside the box,” Durkin said. “He’s always on the cutting edge of the way he views things and does things. So a lot of the ways we’re doing things is done differently here than anywhere else… Again, it’s all been positive and our players have responded really well.”

The fall grind “brought our team together,” says Durkin. The 1-on-1 time and non-stop action didn’t allow for wasted moments. All of that came together this past Saturday, as the Wolverines practiced under simulated conditions complete with hundreds of students and loud music at Michigan Stadium.

“That was the first time they were out there on the field on their own–no one helping them out, making checks,” he said. “They communicated well, and for the most part were assignment-sound.”


Follow Adam Biggers of Today’s U on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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