Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 99 DEFENSIVE LINE that is the guarantee. He should be the one we're all banking on to come through for Michigan. Instead we're all asking: when is Taco going to become that unblockable pass rusher that can you get 10-12 sacks and become that all-conference guy? "Does he have that skill set? Yes, but does he have the want-to? I don't know. I think Taco takes plays off. That happens when you're young, and you rotate in and out a lot. Older players tend to compete harder because they don't want to come off the field. Young guys don't have that level of maturity yet. "You hope he's grown up and he's found it. Michigan needs some- one on this defensive line to be that first-round-type talent, that guy that makes opposing coaches and quarterbacks pay attention to him. They don't have that guy yet. "Taco has that skillset, but I'm not sure if he'll deliver on it." Rumishek was one of the most productive players of a non-descript defensive line from 2000-02, which also included tackles Shawn Lazarus (1999-2002), Eric Wilson (1997-2000), Grant Bowman (2000-03) and Norman Heuer (2000-03), and ends Evan Coleman (1998-2001), Alain Kashama (2000-03), Larry Stevens (2000-03) and Shantee Orr (2000-02) — Rumishek had 11.5 sacks while Orr had 12.5 and Stevens tallied 12 — but combined the nine were, at times, exceptional. In 2001, the Michigan defense limited opponents to 89.1 yards rushing per game and recorded 50.5 sacks. A year later, the Wol- verines collected 42 sacks and held foes to 123.2 yards rushing per contest. "We didn't have a big-name player but we played together, every- one did his job and we could count on the man to our right and to our left," Rumishek said. "We were deep, a bit like this team, and we could rotate a lot of guys through. "It helps to have that guy on the edge that everyone has to plan for because that makes every other lineman's job easier. If everyone is productive — inside guys, outside guys — that also makes you ef- fective. The offense cannot focus on just one or two guys, stop them and stop the defense. "I don't know what this year's line will be. I don't think there is that elite pass rusher, at least not yet, but they are really, really deep, and there's not a big gap between their best and worst line- man. They could be like the lines I played on during my junior and senior year where eight or nine guys work together to be one great unit." ❑ PRESEASON ANALYSIS: DEFENSIVE LINE Starter ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ No one really knows who the starters will be, probably not even the coaches, because the competition is so tight. It could be sophomore Bryan Mone at nose tackle or it might be redshirt junior Ryan Glasgow. It could be any two of redshirt juniors Chris Wormley and Willie Henry, junior Taco Charlton, and redshirt sophomores Maurice Hurst and Henry Poggi who start at the defensive end positions in the 3-4 scheme that defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin is expected to employ. This much is certain — whoever wins a starting job will have to be impressive in fall camp, and week to week, to earn that spot, and that bodes well for the Wolverines up front. Depth ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ With the exception of Ohio State and Michigan State, Michigan's backups — whoever that turns out to be — would likely start on the other 11 teams in the Big Ten. At least on the surface, there is not a considerable separation between players such as Wormley and Henry, who are probably considered the favorites to start at end, and players such as Hurst, Poggi and Charlton. One could view that with pessimism, arguing Michigan has no stars, but positively, an observer would note there will be little drop-off when a starter exits and a reserve takes the field. With so much depth, rotating six or seven players, this group should never tire and should wear down opponents. X-Factor Over his final four games last season, Charlton had two sacks, three tackles for loss and eight total stops, showing the combination of size, strength and speed that made him the perfect fit at the strongside defensive end position in Michigan's old system. Now, U-M is expected to play a 3-4, and that outside end needs to be big and strong enough to take on combo blocks but also possess the quick feet to penetrate the of- fensive backfield. The 6-6, 273-pound Charlton could be that guy, but only the coaches know what they have after the Pickerington, Ohio, native missed a chunk of the spring, including the April 4 game, with an injury. There is no shortage of Wolverines vying to be that dynamic defensive end, but Charl- ton may have the highest ceiling of any of them, if he can elevate his game. Overall ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ It might seem like sandbagging a bit to rank the group with an overall four stars, but for all the talk about potential, the production — 13 total career sacks — is lacking. There is reason to be optimistic, though. Consider that in 2013, Michigan's defensive line recorded just 31 tackles for loss and 11 sacks (less than one per game), but with more maturity, the front four produced 40.5 TFL and 24 QB takedowns in 2014 (2.0 sacks per contest). Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer are gone, and senior Mario Ojemudia is sliding over to outside linebacker (though he will remain a pass rusher). This group retains many of the emerging performers that contributed to last year's success, and they should continue to prosper with age. Note: Star rankings are made on a scale of 1-5 stars. Redshirt junior defensive lineman Ryan Glasgow has posted 24 career tackles with four for loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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