Michigan Captain Jake Ryan was sidelined during spring practice with a torn ACL. Monday, he got some news that will brighten up his spirits, and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison’s as well.
Ryan is a player the Wolverines defense desperately needs, especially now more than ever after the injury to Ondre Pipkins. Pipkins and Ryan don’t play the same position, but the reason I say that is due to the lack of pressure on the quarterback that Michigan has had in recent games. Ryan is a player that will create plays, disrupt plays, and really set the tone for the defense.
Many thought that if Michigan could manage majority of their non-conference schedule with Ryan out that they could make a run at a Big Ten title, and they did just that. The “bend, don’t break” mentality for the defense has worked up until this point, but with the Wolverines heading to Happy Valley on Saturday, they’ll need to make plays to pressure Nittany Lions’ stud freshman QB Christian Hackenberg. Ryan is not expected to rush his return, but Coach Hoke has said that he could, “potentially play” against Penn State. That’s encouraging news for any Michigan fan, especially heading into Big Ten play.
The next game for Michigan is, as mentioned previously, against Penn State and many view this game as a potential trap game. I feel the same, but if Ryan is added to the defense, he could change the whole dynamic of the game, even if it’s only for a handful of snaps.
The Westlake, Ohio native has been a force since his freshman year, and could return to form just 6 months removed from an injury that sidelines most for 8-12 months. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him dressed, and possibly take a few snaps during this weeks game. However, I don’t think Ryan will truly make an impact until their game October 19th against Indiana or November 2nd against Michigan State when he gets his legs under him, and back into football shape.
Moreover, if healthy, Ryan is one of how best Linebackers in the Big Ten, and will provide a much needed boost to the pass rush of the Wolverines. Once he gets back into football shape and starts to get his timing down, Ryan could be exactly what the doctor ordered for Michigan. He’s seen the field in a game 26 times in his career in Ann Arbor, 24 of those games he has been a starter. When it’s time for his 27th appearance, all eyes will be on number 47, and the whole mindset of the Wolverines defense will change. Hang tight Michigan faithful, the reinforcements are on their way.