The Wolverine

January 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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22 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2017 BY CHRIS BALAS T he 2016 All-Big Ten teams were filled with Michigan players — when that hap- pens, it's usually indicative of a great season. The Wolverines fell short of a Big Ten title, but met many of their goals during a 10-2 regular season. Here are our position grades for the year: DEFENSIVE LINE: A Reason For The Grade: Michigan's defensive line was expected to be the Big Ten's best (and deepest), and it was. Injuries to redshirt sophomore nose tackle Bryan Mone and senior end Taco Charlton in game one slowed the group just a bit, but it still met all expectations. The Wolverines finished with 44 sacks — second in the nation with an average of 3.67 per game — and each of the starters earned All-Big Ten honors of some sort. One part-time starter who didn't — redshirt junior tackle Maurice Hurst — was arguably U-M's best lineman this year. He notched 9.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and seven quarterback hurries. Charlton and fifth-year senior end Chris Wormley were named All-Big Ten first team — Charlton on both the coaches' and media ballots, and Wormley by the coaches. Charlton led the team with 8.5 sacks, followed by Wormley in second with six sacks. The bookend defenders contributed 20 tackles for loss and 77 total stops between them. Fifth-year senior defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow was named to the second team on both the media and coaches' ballots, while fifth-year se- nior tackle Matt Godin was named honorable mention all-conference by the coaches. Glasgow posted a career- best 39 stops, 9.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, one pass broken up and one forced fumble this season. All told, the Michigan line racked up 56.5 tackles for loss and an amazing 29 sacks (the latter would've tied for 32nd nationally). The Wolverines were 13th nationally in rushing yardage al- lowed, giving up only 116.8 yards per game and 3.14 yards per carry. Best Player: DE Taco Charlton Most Improved: DT Maurice Hurst Who To Watch In 2017: NT Bryan Mone and DE Rashan Gary LINEBACKER: B Reason For The Grade: There was an upgrade in athleticism this year, and it showed across the board. Michi- gan State and Iowa had some success running right at undersized redshirt sophomore Jabrill Peppers with a heavy blocking package, but Peppers was still a menace for most offenses in earning Big Ten Linebacker of the Year honors. He also wreaked havoc the way defensive coordinator Don Brown hoped he would at the posi- tion, notching a team-best 16 tackles for loss and four sacks along with eight quarterback hurries, the latter of which tied for the team lead. Linebackers are supposed to be a team's leading tacklers if all goes right, and that was the case across the board. Senior Ben Gedeon had a breakout year and led the team with 104 stops, notching 15.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, while redshirt junior Mike Mc- Cray also enjoyed a coming out party with 72 tackles, 12.5 stops for loss and 4.5 sacks, and Peppers matched his 72 stops. The defense needed the starters to stay healthy, and they did. They were burned a few times in pass coverage — particularly on wheel routes to run- ning backs, including one for touch- down against Wisconsin — but this group was really solid. Best Player: OLB Jabrill Peppers Most Improved: ILB Ben Gedeon and ILB Mike McCray Who To Watch In 2016: ILB Devin Bush Jr. SECONDARY: A Reason For The Grade: Michigan's senior cornerbacks, Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling, formed one of the best cover-corner duos in Michigan history. They worked in conjunction with the front seven — and senior safeties Dymonte Thomas and Delano Hill behind them — to blanket receivers and finish second nationally in pass efficiency defense (91.93). Michigan's defensive backs hauled in 10 interceptions in 2016, led by FINAL GRADES Michigan Players Excelled At All Positions During The 2016 Season

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