Michigan Football Preview 2013

2013 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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High Rollin' Up Front Defenders Are Ready DL To Come In Waves Fifth-year senior Quinton Washington started 10 games at nose tackle last year, and compiled 32 stops, three tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble and a blocked kick. photo by per kjeldsen B By John Borton rady Hoke doesn't engage in a lot of hyperbole, especially regarding a position in which he's taking a hands-on interest. So it says something when the big boss at Michigan gets genuinely effusive about a group. Hoke loves what Michigan is building up front, and throughout its defense. He's witnessing talent and hard work come together in a combustive combination. As always for the Wolverines' head coach, it starts up front. "We would really like to roll eight, nine guys through those four positions during the course of the game," he said of Michigan's defensive line. "We did that during the spring. They played their asses off. "I've been around a lot of defenses, and I thought our last one at San Diego State really ran to the ball well. These guys in the spring, if they can keep coming, they're going to get to the football. It was fun." Hoke works side by side with his old friend and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. They've split the defensive line duties, Hoke handling the tackles and Mattison the ends. That's another plus, Mattison noted, in gearing up a crew expected to create more havoc than Michigan's front wall did a year ago. "It's really good," Mattison insisted. "One, Brady is an excellent defensive line coach. He takes great pride in coaching the inside guys. I have forever coached the defensive line. "My feeling for the whole scheme is, we needed to be better on pass rush. That allows me to work it. That's something I'm going to hang my hat on — we're going to be able to pass rush. It allows me to be right there with them, doing it." Mattison sees plenty to like already, in the pass-rushing department. He appreciates the willingness to learn, combined with the ability to move. Michigan's ends can now provide a "three-way go," which shows both versatility and athleticism, he stressed. "They don't always see a guy standing right over them," Mattison said of opposing blockers. "They could be going to the left, right or straight ahead. Some guys can't move well enough to do that. This group can." Plus, he stressed, both inside and outside, the Wolverines' defensive linemen have reached the point where they can effectively roll in two units plus, without a significant drop-off in performance. "It could change every day," Mattison said of Michigan's situation at the defensive ends. "Keith Heitzman is the guy that just keeps doing everything he's supposed to do and playing as tough as can be. "Right behind him, you've got [Matt] Godin and [Chris] Wormley. You've got three guys that are really hunting for it. "On the other side [at rush end], it's the same thing. If Frank [Clark] slips up, Mario [Ojemudia] is there. Taco [Charlton], as he continues to get better, he's right there. You've got the same thing happening at those two positions, where you could say, 'Okay, today, you're going to be the first guy, you're the second and you're the third,' and it doesn't matter." Such quality depth isn't limited to the exterior of the line, Mattison reiterated. "The only difference is, you've got Quinton [Washington] and Jibreel [Black], who are established and have played a lot of football. But the young guys behind them — [Ondre] Pipkins and [Ryan] Glasgow, and you go to the three-technique with [Tom] Strobel, who has moved in there, Willie Henry — they're very solid. "You go through every guy there, and it's the same thing. Richard Ash is a perfect example of the Michigan program. He gets better and better each day. Now he gets thrown into the mix." The mix, according to Hoke, is real. The Wolverines feature the type of depth and mobility that should allow for better pursuit, which can result in more turnovers. Plus, he noted, Michigan's projected inside starters feature the sort of maturity needed at the defensive tip of the spear. Veterans Lead Tackles At nose tackle, fifth-year senior Quinton Washington (6-4, 305) has been through all sorts of battles. He's ready to not only perform at a high level, but to take a leadership role, according to Michigan's coaches. Washington started 10 games a year ago, registering 32 tackles, including a sack among three tackles for loss. He also forced a fumble and blocked a kick for the Wolverines. "The improvement he's made in two seasons is something we're The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview  ■ 131

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