The Wolverine

September 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 25 of 99

H BY CHRIS BALAS Kenny Demens has seen plenty. He's appeared in 38 straight games, having made 20 starts. He was a key player on a defense that went from one of the worst nationally in 2010 to one of the best (No. 6 in scoring defense in 2011), racking up 94 total stops, five tackles for loss and three sacks. His play earned him All-Big eading into year two playing in defensive coordinator Greg Matti- son's defense, fifth-year senior middle linebacker ferent. But with the Baltimore Ra- vens' defense coming here, it was exciting and fun. Just to watch Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, it was fun. When Coach Mattison came in, we kept hearing about how Michigan defense is played and the guys that came be- fore us, and the tradition. Just to get things back rolling and making a name for ourselves — it was kind of exciting, kind of fun." With his position, however, also Key To The Defense's Success Expectations Middle Linebacker Could Be HIGH Ten honorable mention honors in ad- dition to the Roger Zatkoff Award as Michigan's best linebacker. Yet none of the accolades were enough to solidify his starting posi- tion in 2012. The same could be said of the Wolverines' 21 other positions on both sides of the ball, the coaches always dangling a carrot to ensure the starters weren't getting compla- cent and to assure those behind them they'd get a fair shot. Every day the positions would be evaluated, Mattison said, even those that appeared settled. That included the Mike linebacker spot, where De- mens admitted there was room for improvement. "It was okay," he said of his 2011 Kenny Demens' Play At ful of checks per snap depending on the formation, leaving it up to Demens to communicate effectively with the defensive linemen and the secondary, and there were occa- sional struggles. He and his fellow linebackers never reached a level of zone pass coverage the coaches envi- sioned, making it a point of emphasis in the offseason. In other games, including the Sugar Bowl win over Virginia Tech, missed tackles plagued the corps. "I'm the quarterback of the de- fense," Demens noted. And just like the offense, the de- season. "I battled with a hamstring injury, but pushed through it. This year I'm focused on staying healthy and being a leader, raising the bar for myself. Last year, Coach [Brady] Hoke came in and it was kind of new for us. This year, they set the bar high for us, with high expectations. This year, we know what to expect and we can instill that into young guys so we're on the same page. "It was different [last year]. With any new system, it's going to be dif- 26 THE WOLVERINE SEPTEMBER 2012 came great responsibility, and De- mens admitted it was hit or miss. There were times there were a hand- fense is only going to be as good as its play caller. It's up to the Mike to make the calls to set the front based on the offense he sees, and the adjust- ments if the front needs to be moved. He needs a complete understanding of the defense, and to be vocal and confident enough so his teammates can hear him and execute. "A year ago, they'd line up — es- pecially early in the year — and re- Demens, who has played in 38 consecutive games with 20 starts, is responsible for making defensive calls at the line of scrim- mage and has embraced his role as a leader. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - September 2012