The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 140 of 275

THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 139 DL score) in a week-six loss to Penn State, and put up 9.5 tackles for loss overall from week six to week 11. However, he had just three sacks — and only one QB takedown after the PSU game — and disappeared in U-M's final two contests, notching a single tackle apiece against Ohio State and Kansas State. There were rumors Clark was flirting with the idea of entering the NFL Draft, but he returned for his senior season with a mission to emerge as the player that LaMarr Woodley (in 2006) and Graham were during their senior seasons — first-team all-conference per- formers. "When you talk about Frank Clark, he's a young man that has come a long way as a football player and as a person," Smith said. "You see great desire and great passion out of Frank to play his best this year and to be a leader for this team. "We're expecting Frank to have his best year. Physically, he's ca- pable of it, and mentally, he's shown he's committed to it. "We expect him to be a guy that can dominate a ballgame and a guy that has to be accounted for. That's what we tell Frank — when those coaches on the other team turn that film on, they should say, 'How can we account for this guy?' He needs to make them scheme to block him because he's consistently creating plays in the backfield if he's in a one-on-one situation." Clark should benefit from increased competition at the weakside end position. Last season, he was clearly the best U-M had, with Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton essentially third-down pass-rush specialists, but the 6-3, 250-pound Ojemudia is finally where he needs to be physically going into his junior season. "He is much further along than he was as a freshman or even as a sophomore, and had his best spring practice since he's been here," Smith said. "I think a lot of on-field gains he's made are attributable to what he's done in the weight room. Mario came in and was a pretty lean kid. He's always been active, but he would break down. Physically, things would fall apart on him because he wasn't capable of taking the beating you have to take along the line. "But now, you see a much stronger, more physical player, and that will help his endurance and stamina too. Now you can turn him loose for four, five, six plays in a row instead of just one or two." Redshirt junior Alex Mitropoulos-Rundus and redshirt freshman Garrett Miller, both walk-ons, will complete for third-team reps with incoming freshman Lawrence Marshall, who — at 6-4, 230 pounds on Signing Day in February — needs time in the weight room. "It's not fair to him or fair to us to make judgments on what he can and cannot do until we coach him. He will begin his career on the weakside, and if he's the best player, he'll play," Smith said. "One thing we all believe in is there is no entitlement. You have to earn your job every day. It doesn't matter if you started last year or you were the guy last week or yesterday. You have to do it today, this week. That's reality. If a young kid comes in and is playing better than an older guy, he's going to play." On the strongside, Michigan will also go three-deep, with Beyer, Charlton and redshirt freshman Henry Poggi. "We have good depth, good competition, which will keep them always wanting to get better and hungry to be the best player they can be, and not complacent. There is someone behind them that is going to take their snaps otherwise," Smith said. The 6-3, 256-pound Beyer has been a journeyman during his ca- reer, starting out as the backup Sam (stongside linebacker) in 2011 after an injury to Cam Gordon (2010-13) created a need at that posi- tion. The Canton, Mich., native then bulked up 27 pounds to play weakside end in 2012. In the spring of 2013, he moved back to strongside linebacker when senior Jake Ryan blew out his ACL, but midway through the 2013 season, after recording four tackles for loss, two sacks and BIG TEN RANKINGS PLAYERS 1. Shilique Calhoun, Jr., Michigan State — The 2013 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year had 7.5 sacks and 14 total tackles for loss, and achieved an incredible feat with three defensive touchdowns. 2. Randy Gregory, Sr., Nebraska —Gregory recorded at least one sack in seven of NU's final eight games en route to 10.5 on the year and 19 tackles for loss. 3. Noah Spence, Jr., Ohio State – Starting 12 games at defensive end, Spence put up eight sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss among 52 total stops, and he could vault to No. 1 on this list by season's end. 4. Joey Bosa, So., Ohio State — With 7.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss, Bosa was so good in his true freshman campaign that he displaced former five-star Adolphus Wash- ington as a starting defensive end. 5. Michael Bennett, Sr., Ohio State — Arguably the top interior defensive lineman in the Big Ten, Bennett started all 13 games and had seven sacks among 11.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage last season. 6. Frank Clark, Sr., Michigan — Clark had 4.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss in 2013, but needs to reach the QB more often to rank higher on this list come December. 7. Darius Hamilton, Jr., Rutgers — The class of 2012's No. 11 overall player, Hamilton made his mark a year ago with 4.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss to garner third-team all-conference honors. 8. Theiren Cockran, Jr., Minnesota — A 13-game starter, Cockran led the Golden Gophers in sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (10), and also forced four fumbles. 9. C.J. Olaniyan, Sr., Penn State — With 11 tackles for loss, five sacks, an interception and four QB hurries in 2013, Olaniyan has emerged out of the shadow of 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Deion Barnes. 10. Marcus Rush, Sr., Michigan State — Rush slumped some in 2013, but boasts more tackles for loss in his career than any other Big Ten defensive lineman with 27 and has 11 career sacks. UNITS 1. Ohio State — It's an embarrassment of riches in Columbus, with OSU featuring three returning starters — tackle Michael Bennett, and ends Joey Bosa and Noah Spence — that each recorded at least seven sacks and 10 tackles for loss last year. 2. Michigan State — The Big Ten's most dominant four front in 2013 graduated both of its interior linemen, but with ends Shilique Calhoun and Marcus Rush back to anchor the unit, the Spartans should again be among the league leaders in rush defense and sacks. 3. Michigan — No program can match the Wolverines for depth along the line, but Michigan does not feature the proven standouts that both OSU and MSU have, and needs playmakers to emerge. 4. Nebraska — Randy Gregory might be the top pure pass rusher in the Big Ten, but while he occupies the spotlight, junior tackle Aaron Curry and sophomore tackle Vincent Valentine are developing into solid performers entering their second year as starters. 5. Iowa — A typical Hawkeye defensive line devoid of stars will outmuscle and out- tough opponents with three returning starters in seniors Carl Davis and Louis Trinca-Pasat and junior Drew Ott. The trio combined for 18.5 tackles for loss last year. Nebraska senior defensive lineman Randy Gregory posted at least one sack in seven of the Cornhuskers' last eight games in 2013. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN 137-143.DLs.indd 139 6/19/14 1:15 PM

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - 2014 Michigan Football Preview