The Wolverine

December 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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DECEMBER 2018 THE WOLVERINE 31 guide them," Partridge said. "You have to make sure they handle it the right way. "He handled it well. He took it on the chin and knew he had to improve on cer- tain things. The best thing he did was, he came in, in the spring, with an open mind, and said, 'What do I have to do? How do I do it?' "He's worked to do that, to improve. He'll take those criticisms and make them positives." Metellus learned to shut off some of the avenues for the amateur critiques. "Most of the criticism I got was on social media," he remembered. "Halfway through the season last year, I found myself looking at it a lot. Sometimes it would get me a little bit mad. "These people who call themselves fans, who root for you on Saturdays, were saying stuff. I caught myself looking at it too much. So I told myself never to look at it again. "On social media, I don't look at anything, whether it's good or bad, that has my name in it. I try not to read it. I tell people, if you see something, don't even tell me. At the end of the day, I'm me, and they can't change that. Only I can." Metellus can't shut it all out, despite his best efforts. But he does for the most part, insisting he doesn't need that type of negative energy surging through his brain when he's trying to win for Michigan. The opener in South Bend became another hurdle, and a challenge — one Metellus and his crew still revisit to keep the fire of their winning streak burning white hot. "He got off to a little bit of a rough start this year," Partridge acknowl- edged. "He got thrown out of the Notre Dame game for targeting and made a couple of mistakes in that sec- ond game. But from there, he's grown and he's gotten better and better and better. I'm proud of the way he's prac- ticing and playing right now." Of Notre Dame, Metellus said: "We didn't come out in that game like we were supposed to. We started slow, and me getting kicked out of the game … "There's nothing we can do about it. Sometimes I think to myself, yeah, if I played, a lot of stuff wouldn't have happened. But again, something else could have happened. It's one of those things you have to brush off and move on." FOCUSED ON THE FINISH Harbaugh likes what he's seeing, from the defense as a whole and from Metellus. "They're playing very good ball," Harbaugh said. "Josh Metellus is playing really well in coverage, get- ting his hands on balls and his tack- ling. "He's really improved in all areas. He's doing a fantastic job." Michigan is far removed from the squad that dropped three straight in the home stretch of 2017. Metellus knows it. At the same time, he's on high alert against any slip whatsoever. If there's one overriding message he learned from all that's transpired over the past 12 months, it involves finishing what you start. He's locked in on making it happen. The Wolverines ran over Wisconsin 38-13 to begin turning heads, in mid- October. Metellus made it known afterwards his team entered that game under- standing it didn't need to be the edge-of-your-seat battle earlier anticipated. "We're a really talented team," he assured. "We've got great coaching. If we do what we're supposed to do, if we prepare right, if we go out there from the first whistle, we give it our all, 110 percent, every game does not have to be close, no matter how good the other team is. "The game does not have to be close. We can make ev- ery game a blowout game." So far, so good in that re- gard. It's a fight to the fin- ish, and Metellus wants to make it a knockout. The Wolverines handed Michigan State a touchdown with a fumble in- side its own 10 in East Lansing. A year ago, they might not have reacted like they did this year, Metellus stressed. "Instead of saying, dang, we shouldn't have given up a touch- down, it was like, let's keep playing," he said. "I just kept that on my shoul- der. Keep playing. It's in the past now. The only thing that matters now is the next play. "It's how you finish. It's how you go about the next play. You don't harp on the things that already happened, the things that you can't change. Do something that you can change. Make a play the next play. Do something that can change the outcome of the game." Or the season. In a growing team- wide brotherhood, a maturing Metellus is locked on a sprint to the tape. ❏ After 10 games, Metellus ranked fifth on the squad with 34 tackles and third with seven passes defended. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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