The Wolverine

2022 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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86 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2022 FOOTBALL PREVIEW H eading into last season, the interior defensive line appeared to be Michigan's biggest question mark on that side of the ball. Head coach Jim Harbaugh had brought in a new defensive coordinator — someone few had heard of in Baltimore Ravens assis- tant Mike Macdonald — and new assistants at both secondary positions and linebacker, as well, in what could only be described as an upheaval. A year later, the Wolverines are in a similar position, but with a few key differences. Harbaugh has a new defensive line coach in longtime Notre Dame assistant and former Michigan linebacker Mike Elston, replacing Shaun Nua (now at Southern Cali- fornia). There are still question marks up front, only now they're centered on the defensive end position after edge rushers Aidan Hutchinson (first round, second overall to the Detroit Lions) and David Ojabo (second round, No. 45 overall to the Baltimore Ravens) left for the NFL. On a positive note, there's plenty of experience returning. Graduate student Taylor Upshaw (6-4, 262 pounds) emerged this spring as a vocal leader, and he's played a lot of football in his four years (24 games with two starts). Senior Mike Morris (6-6, 278) played in all 14 games last year with four starts and emerged as a key contributor, while junior Kris Jenkins (6-3, 275) played inside and out in starting four of 14 games. Combined, however, the trio notched only 3 sacks. While a lot of the pass rush responsibility falls to those now considered outside linebackers, like Ojabo last year (11 sacks), the Wolverines will need more from this group. "Coaches are telling us, 'There's not going to be another Aidan, there's not going to be another Ojabo,'" Jenkins said. "They're saying, 'But there is going to be a Mike Morris, a Taylor Upshaw, a Mazi Smith …'" The point being that it's the same as it's been for the last several decades. The mantra is and always has been "the expectation is for the position," and the coaches have lofty goals for the group despite the losses. BIG SHOES TO FILL Defensive Ends Will Be Under The Microscope After Losing Two To The NFL BY CHRIS BALAS [ D E F E N S I V E L I N E ] Senior Mazi Smith became a force against the run, occupying blockers and closing gaps regularly in notching 37 tackles (15 solo, 2.5 for loss) on his way to an honor- able mention All-Big Ten selection in 2021. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL Michigan Defensive Linemen Drafted In Jim Harbaugh Era Player Position Year Round Pick Team Willie Henry DT 2016 4th 132nd Baltimore Ravens Taco Charlton DE 2017 1st 28th Dallas Cowboys Chris Wormley DE 2017 3rd 74th Baltimore Ravens Ryan Glasgow DT 2017 4th 138th Cincinnati Bengals Maurice Hurst Jr. DT 2018 5th 140th Oakland Raiders Rashan Gary DE 2019 1st 12th Green Bay Packers Chase Winovich DE 2019 3rd 77th New England Patriots Mike Danna DE 2020 5th 177th Kanas City Chiefs Kwity Paye DE 2021 1st 21st Indianapolis Colts Aidan Hutchinson DE 2022 1st 2nd Detroit Lions David Ojabo DE/LB 2022 2nd 45th Baltimore Ravens

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