Michigan Football Preview 2016

2016 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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94 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2016 FOOTBALL PREVIEW DEFENSIVE LINE BY CHRIS BALAS W ith few exceptions, the line has been considered a weak link on the Michigan defense over the last few decades. The 2000 group might have won a national title had the D- line been more seasoned, many believe — and not since 2006, when NFL talent like Alan Branch and LaMarr Woodley starred up front, have the Wolverines really been feared in the defensive trenches. A decade later, the Michigan line has a chance to take its place among the all-time greats, and many believe it will. There's All- America talent, there's depth and there's hunger to prove everything glowing being written about it — and there's been plenty — is de- served. "No question, it's probably the most depth we've had in a long time, and with the way teams are running all the spread, the no- huddle and everything like that, it's so critical to have guys you can rotate throughout a game," defensive line coach Greg Mattison said. "That's what I'm excited about." Especially after a spring in which his group improved at every position up front, demonstrating a desire to be the best. During the first week of spring ball at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy, senior end Taco Charlton and fifth-year senior end Chris Wormley talked about being the best bookends in the country, and they practiced as though they meant it. In the middle, redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Bryan Mone — who Jim Harbaugh ranked as the No. 3 player on the team coming out of spring ball following his freshman year, but was sidelined last year with a foot injury suffered in fall camp — showed the same flashes of dominance that were on display a year ago. For any line, Mattison noted, that's where excellence starts. A great nose tackle can change a defense, and the Wolverines have not one but two options in the middle. Fifth-year senior Ryan Glasgow (6-4, 300) made nine starts filling in for Mone (6-4, 320) before a pectoral injury ended his season. Glasgow shared Michigan's Richard Katcher Award with Wormley as the team's top defensive lineman and still garnered honorable men- tion All-Big Ten honors despite missing the last four games. He was injured against Rutgers and the impact was felt the following week at Indiana in a four-overtime 48-41 win in which the defense allowed a season-high 307 rushing yards to the Hoosiers. Indiana starter Jordan Howard rushed 35 times for 248 yards and two touchdowns alone. "You've got a lot of experience with Ryan, who had a great year last year until he injured his pec," Mattison said. "Bryan Mone had a very good freshman year, so now getting both of those guys back and — and Mo [Maurice] Hurst, who has played a lot of football for us — is big. "Ryan takes great pride in his technique and really doing what the coaches ask him to do. He's probably his biggest critic. When you grade the film and go over the film, he's right on the same page with the coaches on what he should have done, what he did well, those kinds of things. He's got so much pride in the position, not unlike his brother [Graham, a former Wolverine now with the Detroit Lions]. His brother was the same way at center. Ryan looks at himself as be- ing the guy and says, 'I'm going to control things in here.'" Reaching new heights This Year's Unit Might Be One Of U-M's Best Ever Fifth-year senior Ryan Glasgow (pictured) shared Michigan's Rich- ard Katcher Award for the team's top defensive lineman in 2015 with classmate Chris Wormley. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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