We already took a look at how the offense performed in the Spring Game, but now we shift our focus over to the defensive side of the ball, where the Michigan Wolverines 2014 football team showed some good things after an off-season shakeup on the coaching staff and with the personnel.
Check out my take on what the defense displayed after the jump.As opposed to the offense, there were a ton of things to be excited about when watching this group play on Saturday afternoon. The front seven absolutely manhandled the offensive line and was in the backfield on nearly early snap.
The biggest takeaway from the practice session was just how deep the Wolverines are at linebacker. Jake Ryan‘s move to middle linebacker is going to pay huge dividends for this defense, and it will give him a chance to have an impact on every single play.
Throw guys like Desmond Morgan, Royce Jenkins-Stone, James Ross, Ben Gedeon, Joe Bolden, and more into the mix, and the linebackers are easily their deepest position group, and they will have to lead the charge for the Michigan defense in 2014.
The secondary played pretty well, too. They are starting to look as if they could be a position that has a big impact on this team, and they looked good yesterday. Fans are eager to see what freshman Jabrill Peppers will bring to the table when he hits campus this summer.
The fight for those four spots on the back end of the defense seem to be one of the more open position battles on this year’s team. Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor have been starting for a few years, but it seems no spot it safe in the defensive back rotation. That being said, it does not seem as if teams will have it quite as easy in terms of breaking off a big play in the passing game.
The player I was most impressed with in the secondary was sophomore Jourdan Lewis. In the secondary, Michigan wants to start playing more physical and jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage, and Lewis did an admirable job going up against Devin Funchess, even though he committed a few pass interference penalties.
Even with a poor showing from the offensive line, the defensive line did a very good job of applying pressure and forcing Michigan’s quarterbacks to make a quick decision of who to get the ball to. This is a group that needs to improve across the board this year, as the Wolverines’ sack totals have declined the last two seasons. It looks like improvements are being made thus far, and the defense as a whole will be better off for it.
If Michigan is going to compete for a Big Ten Championship this season, the defense is going to have to carry the load, it appears, and they absolutely have the talent to do this. Jake Ryan’s move to the middle of the field could allow him to have a Max Bullough-esque impact on the Wolverine defense.
The defensive line looks to have improved and were running stunts effectively during the practice session. The secondary played well and was physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage. Not much got past them, aside from a few big plays from freshman wide receiver Freddy Canteen.
Overall, the defense as a whole looks improved and swarmed to the football nicely yesterday. Part of that may have to do with the fact they were getting in the backfield almost automatically, but it was nice to see that from them consistently. You get the feeling that this group believes they have something to prove after last season, and it’s entirely possible they put the team on their back this season.
If you missed our offensive recap, you can read that here.