Save for a late Michigan State rally last weekend, Michigan’s defense hasn’t flinched this season. The unit ranks first in the nation in several statistical categories, including total defense, yards per play and scoring defense.
But there’s one area where the Wolverines have seemed to be particularly dominant: Pass defense. Behind shutdown CBs like Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling, the group has allowed just 120.1 passing yards per game.
As ESPN’s Brian Bennett pointed out on Wednesday, that’s one of the many strikingly impressive statistics the secondary is compiling when opposing quarterbacks drop back to pass.
“Michigan’s pass efficiency defense rating is currently 89.3, second in the FBS behind Florida. That would be the lowest posted by a Big Ten team since 2006 Wisconsin (84.2). The last Power 5 team to finish with a pass efficiency defense rating under 90 was … Alabama in 2011 (83.7).
“Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 41.7 percent of their throws against (coach Jim) Harbaugh’s team this season, averaging an FBS-low 5.01 yards per attempt with an adjusted QBR of 11.6 (that latter figure is on a scale of 1-to-100).”
Bennett also reports that the No. 2 Wolverines (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten) are on pace for the fewest passing yards allowed per game by a Big Ten team since Illinois allowed just 104.1 in 1987.
Some of the reasons for Michigan’s success are obvious. Lewis and Stribling, as Pro Football Focus points out in the tweet below, are two of the best corners in the nation.
If a college QB threw an incompletion on every pass, they would have a passer rating of 39.6.
Throwing at these CBs yields WORSE results ? pic.twitter.com/GFmY3fUp4v
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) October 31, 2016
But as Harbaugh noted earlier this week, the success of the pass defense is a collaborative effort, saying it “starts up front with the defensive line.”
Some of the success can also be attributed to Michigan’s opponents, and the Wolverines have faced some average signal-callers thus far. Regardless, the stats speak for themselves, and are yet another reason why Michigan is in position to make the College Football Playoff for the first time.