Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh is seeing something the rest of us are not. And for the second time in three days, he said so: "As I said after the game (Saturday), I feel like we're very close offensively, very close to hitting the stride of hitting on all cylinders."

On Monday, he went further: "Really good evidence to back that up."

The evidence in question is what the U-M coach said he saw watching film of the Wolverines' 10-3 win over Iowa Saturday. And that he is seeing even more to like in practice.

Well, OK.

The easy response is to say he's either delusional or gaslighting. After all, his offense scored 10 points Saturday. But I'd say there is another possibility at play here, and that the U-M football coach is using his public megaphone to let his players know he believes in them.

Look, he knows his offense scored 10 points against Iowa. He knows the fan base has booed the lack of production. He knows what it sounds like to use "high level" and his offense in the same sentence, as he did Monday during his weekly news conference at Schembechler Hall.

It's possible that Harbaugh truly believes his offense is close to something wonderful. He's an optimistic soul, and like a lot of coaches, he believes he can speak something into existence.

In fact, when asked to elaborate on why he thinks his offense is about to hit its stride, he said:

"Run game, pass game, protection. Quarterback, receiver, running backs, it's an evolving, improving group. I've seen them be at a really high level in practice consistently and a really high level in games. And getting that consistently high level in both games and practice is what I feel what I see coming."

The problem with doubling down on an alternate reality is that he appears out of touch, even though he isn't; he knows his offense is struggling.

The other problem is that the perceived double-talk gets in the way of the actual progress his team made in the two weeks since losing to Wisconsin.

Yes, the Wolverines made progress. They won. Against a top-25 team. Beyond that, they matched - even exceeded - Iowa's physicality, something they did not do at Wisconsin.

Remember the words Harbaugh used after his team was embarrassed against the Badgers?

Outhustled. Outplayed. Outcoached.

So dispiriting was the performance that a handful of former players took to social media to question the team's compete level. Charles Woodson had to avert his eyes on national television. And when Harbaugh met with reporters the following Monday at Schembechler Hall, he promised to re-instill the tenet of his football core:

Toughness.

He said he'd make it part of the daily practice plan. He said he'd find the players who were dedicated to "playing physically and hustling, hustling at all times."

Well, we saw that in the win over Iowa. Saw the aggressiveness, at least defensively. Saw the physicality. Saw the effort.

You could hear that in his voice Monday, when the intensity turned up as he finished this thought:

" ... I feel with our team, the effort is great. Off the charts. At the highest level. And when you get that, then you can get everything else."

He couldn't say that two weeks ago. Nor could he say that a week ago after U-M demolished Rutgers. The words would've sounded empty.

But after Iowa?

Go ahead, lay it out there. All it did was save the season, at least for now. This got lost because of the offensive struggles, and because he effectively denied they existed after the game.

Again, that's likely nothing more than strategy, a way to take heat off his players, a way to show he believes in them. And if he actually believes his offense is close to hitting its stride, more power to him.

What else is he supposed to say?

We stink?

Harbaugh is right that effort and physicality are the foundation for football. Lose either one of those and no scheme will work.

He had to fix that first. And he did. And it led to the win over Iowa.

Whether he can fix the offense is a different question. A fair question. No matter how often he tells us it's this close to being fixed.

After all, he isn't the only one with evidence.

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Bucky!

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