Youth of the Nation – A hungry-blue collar defense kicks the stigma

As September came to a close, the weather was uncharacteristically warm and Fox sportscaster Tim Brando was very busy battling with the entirety of the Michigan twitter fan-base (in a losing battle I might add). That being said Michigan is heading into rivalry week with a clean four and zero record, a record many pundits and analysts claimed wouldn’t and couldn’t happen, due to the fact that this Wolverine team was too young. Claiming that losing ten starters just on the defensive side of the ball alone would be too much to overcome. However this young Michigan defense has been on a head first collision course to stop that narrative dead in it’s tracks. So far this defense has been legit. Think reloaded not rebuilding. 

Need proof? Here you go, in a secondary that had multiple starters leave and migrate over to the NFL, they currently rank fourth in the nation in pass defense without a single returning starter. Also keep in mind that this is also coming off of a game with Purdue and Jeff Brohm’s pass happy trick style offense. The Wolverines rank number two in total defense, third in rushing defense, fourth in defensive efficiency, and number five in total sacks, putting us just above Clemson*. This defense is reloaded not rebuilt, Don Brown has this team playing at a very high level, and that brings me to my first underclassmen that has made a huge difference in the season’s early going.

 

5.Lavert Hill

(Photo credit: Eric Upchurch)

 

When Defensive backs coach Mike Zordich challenged Michigan’s secondary to step up, only just twelve days before the season opener in Arlington, one name was omitted from that group: Lavert Hill. Hill has been stellar this season, a lot of question marks were raised as to see if he could fill the shoes of the Cowboys third round pick and former All-American Jordan Lewis. To his credit he has met those questions with answers, after taking on the opposition’s top wide receivers week after week and doing an admirable job. Hill collected his first career pick six off of Cincinnati quarterback Hayden Moore. Also on top of playing well in coverage, Hill has been pretty good in run support mainly in the game against Air force he came away with two solo tackles and a half tackle for loss. In short Lavert is a Dude.

4.Khaleke Hudson

(Photo Credit: Chris Cook/MGoBlog)

 

There is a picture somewhere on Michigan’s official twitter account that has this man doing a bicep curl and his arms are about as big as most people’s head, scary. Anyways that guy is our new viper Khaleke Hudson, when watching film on this guy he is the hammer every single time, this guy is constantly around the ball much like the rest of the defense but going into our bye week he has some respectable numbers, with sixteen tackles, one interception, and one forced fumble. Why I chose to rank him ahead of guys like Hill and starting safety Josh Metellus is the sole fact that he is Don Brown’s Viper. Like Peppers before him he might not put up a gaudy stat line but he is the a main cog that turns all these gears in this vicious defense.

3.Quinn Nordin

(Photo Credit: Bryan Fuller)

 

Yes, literally I’m putting a kicker here; not sure how I feel about it but at this point in the season he’s been our offensive MVP. That being said, I can’t truly think of a player whose performance has bested Nordin’s. He’s eleven of thirteen with his long of fifty-five yards out against Florida is almost a thing of folklore among the bench seats at the Big House. All I can really say is, Nordin for Kicker of the year.

2.Rashan Gary

(Photo Credit: Chris Cook/MGoBlog)

 

Now for the main course, we’re getting into two absolute freaks on defense who are really the reason why this team was able to reload instead of rebuild and obviously, Gary was going to be apart of it. The leader by action hasn’t been dominating the stat sheet like many have called for with only fourteen tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble. Getting to ten sacks this season might be a little far fetched, seeing as how he is double teamed and still fights through and makes plays. This kid is a manimal and is everywhere on the field, straight up without Gary, this defense isn’t this damn good, he wouldn’t be taking up numerous double teams play after play while guys like Chase Winovich, Devin Bush, Khaleke Hudson, ect. are free to eat all game long. If Gary was fortunate enough to not get double teamed and be treated as a second priority, well you might as well start bringing out shovels to the field because he will bury any quarterback on your depth chart. (just ask Hayden Moore) Believe in this man because without this anchor of a human on your line this Michigan defense takes a noticeable step back. Don Brown’s moustache approves of Rashan Gary.

 

1.Devin Bush

(Photo Credit: Bryan Fuller)

 

The longer I watch film on Devin Bush the more I’m convinced he’s a real life cyborg, now hear me out just trust me on this I might be onto something here. He can’t feel pain he’s been destroying people since he stepped onto campus and doesn’t ever have a scratch on him. So, check. The inhuman way he ran fifteen miles on a ninety degree day in West Lafayette, seriously how did he do that? And honestly he seems to know where to be, how to be there, and how to inflict hurt on the person he meets up with when sees them. He definitely has infrared vision just like a heat seeking missile, he is shot out of a cannon and tackling someone, preventing plays from even getting started.

Luckily, for the rest of the Big Ten Devin Bush isn’t a cyborg, in fact he’s just a Dude (a Don Brown Dude (TM) to be specific). Through four games this year he has thirty-two tackles and four and a half sacks, good enough for eleventh in the nation. If he can keep his play elevated like this for the rest of the season he will hands down be an All-American candidate. The emergence of Devin Bush happened much faster than I anticipated, I hoped but didn’t expect this type of play.

Just before I start wrapping up this bit on Devin Bush, a  there is a player who is actually an upperclassman and needs to have a small shout out for his selfless play that has given Bush the opportunity to flourish. Noah Furbush needs to stand up and take a bow for his efforts this season. While yes, I understand that this is a list about underclassmen overachievers, I’m still going to give credit where credit is due. Furbush has taken up key blocks in order to spring Bush on many an impact play. This isn’t meant to take anything away from Bush. Please don’t misunderstand the fact that I just want to give props to a Guy that’s helping Bush become a full fledged Dude, as me taking anything away from this Dude. A Dude who through these first four games, is playing like a madman. That being said Bush has to still make the read and complete the play and as of right now he’s playing like a certified Thomas Davis clone and the sky is the this limit for this defense the rest of the year, as long as the continue to be doubted they will rise up and smack teams down. Savages.

Honorable mentions:

The next five up

The most difficult part about writing a piece like this, is this 2017 Michigan team is absolutely loaded with a slew of super young talent. Obviously these top five players stood out enough to make the cut, however, some players are just now starting to hit the tracks and hammer down. (Then hammer down, then hammer down again, then…you get the point)

The first I want to start with is…

 

Donovan Peoples-Jones

(Photo Credit: Lon Hegwedel)

 

 

Okay, rule number one when punting to an uber-athletic freshman receiver is to not out punt your own coverage, I think after DPJ housed a seventy-nine yard punt off the foot of Air Force punter Charlie Scott most teams should have memo. DPJ was a consensus five star recruit out of the Detroit powerhouse Cass Tech and after the injury to the other standout freshman receiver Tarik Black, expect DPJ to be called upon a fair amount in the coming weeks.

 

Chris Evans

(Photo Credit: Michael Desimone)

 

By now Chris Evans should be walking away with a nice and shiny September heisman following a breakout freshman season in 2016. But with an impressive outing by senior running back Ty Isaac in the season opener coupled with a fumble against Cincinnati, Evans was pushed out of the spotlight. That is, until his unofficial homecoming, where he gashed Purdue in West Lafayette for fourteen carries, totaling ninety-four yards and two touchdowns. Evans and his stock are sky high after a solid breakout game that a lot of Wolverine fans were waiting for.

David Long

(Photo Credit: Michael Desimone)

 

The reason why David Long is on my watch list for the second half of the season is simple as this: he’s the other man across from my number five selection Lavert Hill. Hill who I complimented on his run support and deservedly so, but when comparing the two Long gets the nod as the better run defender. He was tested heavily against Air Force and showed up and showed out with five tackles across the board. He stepped up and is beginning to show confidence in his game if he along with Hill can elevate their game the defense as a whole will have a lot more fun terrorizing opposing offenses.

 

Sean McKeon

(Photo Credit: Michael Desimone)

 

Coming off of a stellar five reception, eighty-two yard performance that had all but saved the day, for the Wolverines on the twenty-third of September against Purdue.His stock is sky high right now him and being a big target at six foot five inches the rest of the season could open up for him nicely as long as he is a big reliable security blanket.

 

Michael Onwenu

(Photo Credit: Bryan Fuller)

 

Alright to me Michael Onwenu is a big player to watch the rest of the season figuratively, and quite literally. After shedding some poundage to get down to a slim weight hovering around the three hundred and fifty pound mark, that’s some serious road-grating-mauler in the trenches type weight. His weight aside if we can find a run game behind Onwenu I think the season has a much better outlook. Also if he can hunker down and become a more effective and consistent pass blocker we could have another piece figured out on the offensive line. With more solidarity along the offensive line is a huge must have for the rest of the season. From what I have seen on the right side of the line there is a lot of room for improvement. We will have to wait and see for the Michigan State game to see if any improvement has been made or not but personally, I trust in this staff to get it figured out.

 

The Michigan State Spartans, formerly known as the Aggies, will meet up with a hungry, fearless animal on October 7th in Ann Arbor. One team will look to play with dignity, the other, pure blood-lust. State has to know this will be the most hostile environment they have seen in Ann Arbor yet. Michigan players and fans alike will be a handful, whether they are the names in this article, or the few upperclassmen. My bet for this game will be to live and die by your defense as they have done all season. State has to know that these players will be gunning for them, coming off an improvement week and State coming off of a confidence building win over Iowa. I can only see this game as a pure battle, keeping the status quo for the series as of late. This defense will look to impress and the offense will look to continue off the success they had in the Purdue game. The names you see above will be repeated time and time again from broadcasters, press box announcers and the like. With players like Hudson, Gary and Bush on this defense they are primed to have another powerful showing, one more time just for good measure. This defense is reloaded not rebuilding and they are all Dudes. Go Blue.

The following two tabs change content below.

Add a Comment