The Wolverine

October 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 36 of 75

OCTOBER 2016 THE WOLVERINE 37 BY CHRIS BALAS M ichigan's defense hit the field like it was shot out of a cannon to begin the season, holding Hawai'i to a long field goal in a 63-3 season- opening win before coming back to earth a bit the next two games. Injuries to three significant con- tributors — All-American senior cor- nerback Jourdan Lewis, senior defen- sive end Taco Charlton and redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Bryan Mone — put a damper on an oth- erwise strong non-conference sea- son and left many wondering how good the unit might be when they returned. The list of those most interested included their teammates. "I don't think we'll see the best of it for a little while until we get ev- eryone together and everyone back and healthy," said redshirt junior tackle Maurice Hurst, who is bat- tling through an injury of his own that kept him on the sidelines for the opener. "I think there are definitely better things to come. We'll get closer to a great defense as the season goes on and hopefully play our best de- fense at the end." All of the injured were expected back within a few weeks as of Sept. 19, either for the Sept. 24 Big Ten opener with Penn State or the fol- lowing week against Wisconsin, and they'll be needed. Michigan gave up 21 points defensively (28 overall) in a come-from-behind 45-28 victory over Colorado and allowed a handful of big running plays in a week-two 51- 14 win over Central Florida. Neither performance discouraged head coach Jim Harbaugh. "I just like the defense in all re- gards," Harbaugh said days after the Colorado win. "We got hit by a few post patterns … post corner, post moves got us this past week. "We've given up some big plays, but I'm very pleased with how our defense has been playing. They've generated big plays, big hits and mo- mentum-changing drive stops and turnovers. I think our defense is do- ing extremely well. "I love watching them, stand- ing over there even at times when I should be thinking about what to do on the next series. But I like watch- ing our guys play. I like watching the way our defense is running to the football and flying around, hitting. It's fun to watch." The non-conference breakdown by position: DEFENSIVE LINE The big story on the line in the early going was as much who wasn't play- ing as who was. Hurst missed the opener with an injury — Harbaugh called it a precaution, and he was back for week two — while Charlton and Mone went down with injuries during the game (an ankle and a knee, respectively). In the short span that Charlton and Mone were on the field together in the opener against Hawai'i, the defensive line dominated. The front was good in weeks two and three, as well, though Central Florida's and Colorado's up- tempo offenses — and Michigan's lack of depth — didn't allow for as much substitution. That didn't matter much to fifth- year senior nose tackle Ryan Glasgow. He notched five tackles, including one for loss, and a quarterback hurry in a 51-14 win over UCF in earning Har- baugh's praise. "Ryan Glasgow as a defensive line- man played his best game this past week, and probably one of the better games I've ever seen a defensive line- man play," Harbaugh said. "It was that good in terms of how he played the position and graded out." It's not about tackles at the nose tackle position — it's more about tak- ing out blockers so the linebackers can make tackles — but Glasgow was tied for seventh on the team through three games, with 11. Right behind him was fifth-year se- nior tackle Matt Godin, with nine. "He is a steady, high-performing guy … a tough guy, always in the lineup," Harbaugh added. "I'm really, really impressed with him. "He is almost playing at the level of Glasgow … he is a very similar player. He's not quite to the level of where Glasgow is playing right now, but it's great having both of them." Fifth-year senior defensive end Chris Wormley graded out as one of the Wolverines' best linemen in all three games and added a pair of blocked field goals, to boot, in the win over Central Florida. He's on his way to an All-Big Ten season. Hurst made up for lost time with five tackles, a tackle for loss, a sack and two quarterback hurries in two games, while freshman Rashan Gary slid to weakside end against Colorado and dominated. Redshirt sophomore Chase Winov- ich has played well there, too, with 15 tackles, three tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries, Short-Staffed But STELLAR Michigan's Defense Was Banged Up But Solid In Non-Conference Play Fifth-year senior nose tackle Ryan Glasgow played "probably one of the better games I've ever seen a defensive lineman play " against Central Florida, according to head coach Jim Harbaugh. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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