The Wolverine

October 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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30 THE WOLVERINE OCTOBER 2018 BY JOHN BORTON M ichigan's defense led the nation in third-down stops in 2017, surrender- ing chains movers a mea- ger 26.1 percent of the time. So it's ruefully ironic that two such situations are all that prevented the Wolverines from entering Big Ten play 3-0 and giving up an opponent scoring average near the single dig- its. It likely doubles the angst — for those inclined to peek backward — that they occurred on the first two defensive series of the season. D e f e n s i v e c o o r d i n a t o r D o n Brown's crew remains formida- ble, without question. Despite the season-opening 24-17 loss at Notre Dame, it's still No. 12 nationally in total defense, surrendering an aver- age of 276.3 yards per game, and tied for 24th in scoring defense (15.7). But two snaps stepped in to snap Michigan's early season hopes for heading undefeated into Big Ten play. On Notre Dame's first two plays of the game, the Irish didn't manage a yard. Harried quarterback Brandon Wimbush nearly saw the series trun- cated, his second-down toss almost picked off by junior cornerback La- vert Hill. On third-and-10, the Wolverines failed to cover wideout Chase Clay- pool, who'd gone in motion. Wim- bush dumped an easy toss to him over the middle for a 16-yard gain. Four plays later, the Irish turned Michigan's near miss into a touch- down. ON THE RISE The Michigan Defense Is Sharpening After An Early Stumble

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