Lost in all the talk about Michigan having a questionable offense … is the fact that Michigan has a pretty good defense.
A solid defense, in fact. The Wolverines enter their game at Purdue on Saturday ranked fifth in the nation in total defense, allowing an average of 208 yards in their first three games. Not bad for a unit that lost all but one starter to graduation or the NFL.
Defensive coordinator Don Brown has set the standard in his second year at the controls, but don’t compare this group to Michigan’s 2016 defense just yet.
Michigan is limiting opponents without names such as Jourdan Lewis, Jabrill Peppers or Ryan Glasgow.
Instead, the Wolverines have Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich, Khaleke Hudson and Maurice Hurst. Outside of Gary, bringing up Michigan’s defense might cause some to take pause. As if to ask, “Who are these guys and why should I care?”
It doesn’t matter who “these guys” are, but how they produce. “Productive” might not be the right word to describe Michigan’s defense. “Overwhelming” might work.
And consider this: Brown and Gary believe that this defense hasn’t even scratched the surface of how great it can be. That should excite Wolverines fans. It already has accomplished plenty, and has carried this team early in the season.
How this defense fares against the Big Ten’s big hitters (Wisconsin, Ohio State and Maryland — yes, Maryland — teams that averaged at least 500 yards of offense in their first three games), will show the defense’s true colors.
But the need to play air-tight defense is immediate, as Michigan prepares to face the Boilermakers, one of college football’s most surprising teams.
As Michigan’s offense continues to search for its identity and find its steps (it should have already), sound Michigan defense will become a necessity. If this offense continues to sputter, the defense will be what keeps Michigan afloat.