Michigan Football Preview 2013

2013 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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DL During his first three years in Ann Arbor, senior tackle Jibreel Black has played in 39 games with three starts, recording 45 tackles, 6.5 stops for loss and 4.5 sacks. photo by per kjeldsen Quick Facts Position Coaches: Brady Hoke (tackles, first season) and Greg Mattison (ends, third season). Returning Starters: NT Quinton Washington (10 career starts), DT Jibreel Black (4) and DE Frank Clark (4). Departing Starters: DE Craig Roh (51) and DT Will Campbell (11). Projected New Starters: DE Keith Heitzman. Top Reserves: DT Ondre Pipkins, DT Willie Henry, DT Tom Strobel, DE Mario Ojemudia, DE Matt Godin and DE Chris Wormley. Newcomers: DE Taco Charlton, DE Henry Poggi and DT Maurice Hurst Jr. Moved In: None. Moved Out: Brennen Beyer (to outside linebacker). Rookie Impact: Charlton. Most Improved Player: DT Richard Ash. Best Pro Prospect: Clark. FYI: The Wolverines feature two defensive linemen as the only player from their home state on the roster: Washington from South Carolina and Pipkins from Missouri … Clark has welcomed back the hands-on instruction from defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who coached the rush ends two years ago and now handles all of Michigan's defensive ends … Michigan's defensive linemen produced 30 of the Wolverines' 79 tackles for loss in 2012 … They also accounted for 12 of Michigan's 22 sacks on the year … The Wolverines forced 12 fumbles in 2012, and the defensive linemen accounted for five of those … Ohio has proven fertile ground for Michigan defensive linemen, with Heitzman (Hilliard), Henry (Cleveland), Clark (Cleveland), Black (Cincinnati), Strobel (Mentor), Wormley (Toledo) and Charlton (Pickerington) all hailing from the state to the south of Ann Arbor … Washington overcame a significant speech impediment with the help of medical personnel in Ann Arbor, growing into leadership status for this year's team … Pipkins shed more than 30 pounds from winter into spring, moving to his presently listed 308 … Black has a brother, Larry, who plays on Indiana's defensive line … Following a flood of Floridians on the roster in recent years, Ash represents one of only three remaining from the Sunshine State, the others being fifth-year seniors Jeremy Gallon and Brendan Gibbons. 132  ■  The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview really proud of," Hoke said. "He has become a leader. He's become a guy that guys respect. After the fourth practice, from then on through spring, I thought he had a great spring. I'm excited, because he's really become a much better football player." Pipkins (6-3, 308) got a taste of action last year, getting into all 13 U-M contests as a backup. He notched seven tackles as a true freshman, and is learning the techniques that will allow him to better unleash his considerable athletic talents. "Ondre is still a work in progress, but he's improved," Hoke said. "He physically has as much skill as anybody. When you look at the ability to strike and come off the ball with quickness, the first step, everything you want, his strike continues to grow. His conditioning continues to get better. He's a guy you've got to count on." Beyond those two, redshirt freshman Glasgow (6-4, 295) and redshirt junior Ash (6-3, 316) provide some bulky depth. "Ryan Glasgow, who is a young man that is a walk-on, has worked hard," Hoke noted. "And Richard Ash is one of the most improved guys. Two years ago, I said this guy can't play. He's earned the respect of his teammates, he's earned the respect of his coaches. That's because of his mindset, his mentality and all of those things." While Washington gives the Wolverines an anchoring veteran at the nose tackle, senior Jibreel Black comes with plenty of experience at the other tackle, the three-technique. Black (6-2, 276) made three starts among his 13 appearances in 2012, and he supplies considerable mobility with his strength. He recorded 20 tackles a year ago, with five tackles for loss and three sacks among them. Black also broke up a pair of passes and forced a fumble. "Jibreel Black gives you a guy that has played a lot of football here," Hoke said. "His quickness is going to be an ally for him, and us. He's got a very good first step and very good quickness." Redshirt freshman Willie Henry (6-2, 306) made strong use of his year of background training in the Michigan program. He'll be working as a backup to Black, but certainly one who has put himself in position to get game snaps. "Willie Henry probably has as much talent as anybody," Hoke assessed. "He has grown. I'm excited about Willie. He has started to preseason analysis: Defensive line Starters ✪✪✪✪ The Wolverines feature a fifth-year senior and fourth-year senior as projected starters at the interior positions, and third-year performers at both of the outside spots, so experience and seasoning isn't a question. The fact that they're all getting pushed hard makes a difference as well. Fifth-year senior nose tackle Quinton Washington looks primed for a big-time exit season, and junior rush end Frank Clark should be a force off the edge. ✪✪✪✪✪ Depth This is where the Wolverines look particularly strong, both on the interior and exterior of the line. Brady Hoke made it very clear he intended to build up the front wall on both sides of the football, and there's no denying he's done so. The two outside spots go three deep without any question, and the tackle positions offer backups that are extremely talented and gaining experience. The plan is to roll eight or nine defensive linemen onto the field without a quality drop, and that could easily happen. X-Factor The X-Factor for this crew could be the coaches. Some worried about the defensive line when coach Jerry Montgomery left, but it's hard to argue about those picking up the slack. Hoke is hands on with the tackles, highly motivated to produce a stronger line, and the architect of several prominent Michigan lines in the past, including one that helped win a national championship. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has the defensive ends, and he's enlisting his NFL experience in the vow to upgrade U-M's pass rush. ✪✪✪✪ Overall This crew has yet to record a sack, force an interception or prove difference-makers in a big ball game. So for now, any five-star ranking would be premature. But there's a growing excitement and confidence in what they're building, and there will be plenty of chances to add to their galaxy. Note: Star rankings are made on a scale of 1-5 stars.

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