The Wolverine

November 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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24 THE WOLVERINE NOVEMBER 2018 America honors from ESPN — who noted "opposing coaches will tell you that Winovich is the guy who makes it all go for a defense that's playing at a championship level" — while Bush earned second-team lau- rels from The Athletic. Winovich led the team with 10.5 tackles for loss, despite command- ing more and more attention with junior end Rashan Gary missing a few games due to injury. "Chase has been an animal this season," Harbaugh said. "I don't really like to use human-to-animal analogies, but he's been great, just doing so many things. "He's a catalyst. … He plays every play all out. Bo [Schembechler] used to have a saying, 'Every man on ev- ery play.' Chase is living that." The secondary, too, had been living up to lofty expectations after a tough first quarter at Notre Dame in which big passing plays helped the Irish jump out to a 14-0 lead. Harbaugh said he loved his cor- ner trio of fifth-year senior Brandon Watson and juniors Lavert Hill and David Long, and junior safety Josh Metellus has really been a catalyst for success from the back line. He was outstanding getting the defense lined up against Maryland's misdirection offense in a 42-21 win, and was the defensive player of the game in a 38-13 win over Wisconsin. He led the team with three inter- ceptions through seven games, and ranked fourth with 31 stops. "He had his best game as a Wolver- ine [against Wisconsin]," Harbaugh said. "He continues to be a solid tack- ler and a good coverage safety." SPECIAL TEAMS This unit was one of great concern heading into the fall, but it's turned out to be a strength. Former walk-on punter Will Hart was outstanding in the first seven games, averaging 51.0 yards per kick to lead the conference. Kickoff artist Jake Moody had been stellar with 28 touchbacks on 50 kicks, and most of the other ones had been kicked short by design. Special teams coordinator and safeties coach Chris Partridge called the rookie's work "phenomenal." Through seven games, opponents averaged 20.9 yards on 14 runbacks, which ranked 66th nationally, but the numbers would have been drastically different without allowing a 98-yard touchdown to Maryland. The Wolverines had scored two touchdowns on returns, one off a kick- off and the other a punt. Sophomore Ambry Thomas took a kickoff 99 yards for a score at Notre Dame, and Peo- ples-Jones returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown against Nebraska, while junior viper Khaleke Hudson blocked a punt in the Western Michigan game to set up a touchdown. Meanwhile, redshirt sophomore kicker Quinn Nordin had been solid, but missed two against Wisconsin to stand 11 of 14 (78.6 percent, tied for 31st nationally) through seven games. He'd also missed an extra point, but still tied for 17th nationally and ranked first in the Big Ten with an average of 9.0 points per game. "You're not going to make every kick your entire life," Partridge said. "It's how you react and what hap- pens on the next kick. "If he happens to miss one, we need to get back and make the next one." That will be critical in late October and November. ❏ Junior linebacker Devin Bush Jr., who led the Wolverines in tackles (44) and sacks (3.5) through seven games, was named a second-team Midseason All-American by The Athletic. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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