The Wolverine

November 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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30 THE WOLVERINE NOVEMBER 2021 M ichigan's defense has had a couple bad halves and will face bigger tests, but the Wolverines ranked No. 2 nation- ally in points allowed under new coordi- nator Mike Macdonald as of Oct. 25 (14.3 points per game). Several of the first-year contributors had played huge parts in that, including redshirt freshman outside linebacker David Ojabo. Ojabo shared Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors after his seven-tackle, 2.5-sack game at Wisconsin Oct. 2, a 38- 17 Michigan win in which he also forced a fumble. He notched a sack for two yards for his only tackle at Nebraska a week later, but he was all over the field and blew up a third-down screen pass on a play he might not have made earlier in the year. Officially, he'd been credited with 17 tackles, two forced fumbles and five sacks as of Oct. 25. He is tied for 32nd nationally in sacks per game (0.71), but that doesn't begin to explain his impact. "He's just a freak athlete," offensive guard Zak Zinter said earlier this season. "The speed, the athleticism he brings … he's got the power. He kind of brings it all to the table. As offensive linemen, we re- ally don't know what to expect when we set back against him." "He's very much an ascending player in terms of an outside 'backer that can rush the passer, put pressure on the passer and make the ball come out quicker, and also create turnovers," head coach Jim Har- baugh added. "He's starting to have a real knack for coming up with that. "He's, before our eyes, really evolving into that prototypical edge pass rusher that makes the ball come out quick, moves the quarterback off his spot, cre- ates turnovers … also makes tackles, holds the point, drops into coverage. He's doing very well." Ojabo has been in junior end Aidan Hutchinson's hip pocket while learning the position (and, really, the game, having played for only a few years). He's finally starting to feel comfortable in Macdon- ald's new defense. "It's just a whole build-up of confi- dence from the coaches to all the work I've put in," Ojabo said. "Just getting comfort- able in my own body and the whole new system. "… Every day is a learning day. I had to pick things up quick to be in the posi- tion I'm in right now. Every day I'm still learning. I learned the terms, even just the basic rules of football. I feel like I've come a long way." — Chris Balas FRESHMAN RUNNING BACK DONOVAN EDWARDS IS BIDING HIS TIME The Michigan football running backs room is arguably as loaded as it's been in a few decades, led by redshirt sophomore Hassan Haskins and second-year fresh- man Blake Corum. The Wolverines' No. 3 back, true freshman Donovan Edwards, might be playing much more if he were somewhere else, but he's biding his time and waiting for his opportunity. Expect to see more and more of him down the stretch. While U-M's 1-2 punch of Haskins and Corum is outstanding, Edwards also has a special skill set that can be put to use in a number of ways. Edwards, freshman quarterback J.J. Mc- Carthy and classmate receiver Andrel Anthony have raised eyebrows by hitting the practice field at 2, 3, even 4:30 in the morning after games, showing great ini- tiative. In short, they all want more now, even though it's clear they are the future. "He actually asked me that question the other day — 'What do I need to work on, Coach?'" running backs coach Mike Hart said of Edwards. "I think that men-   MICHIGAN FOOTBALL David Ojabo Is Emerging As A Force On The Edge Through the season's first seven games, Ojabo tied for 32nd nationally with 0.71 sacks per game, and he also forced two fumbles. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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