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MnB Players of the Week: Smothering Defense, Lewis & Clark

The Michigan defense showed up in a big way against the Nittany Lions.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday night was one boring display of what we call football, but there was one bright spot on the side of the Wolverines, and it was the one thing that kept me awake until the very end.

Player of the Week: Defense

The defense put on a show that was the really the lone bright spot of the evening. Penn State was averaging just under 23 points per game heading into the night time contest on Saturday, but walked out with only 13 on the board. Not only that, but Christian Hackenberg was held to his lowest number of passing yards yet this season with only 160. Penn State doesn't have the most potent rushing attack--minus the 228 yards against perennial doormat Massachusetts, the Nittany Lions have gained over 100 yards only one time in 2014--so the fact that Michigan held them to only 54 yards isn't exactly a kick to the Lions' groin. But, we need to be able to grasp onto some of the good things that this Michigan team can do, and they do defense quite well...if a little spotty at times.

Sixty-five tackles, ten for 52 lost yards, six sacks accounting for 40 of the 52 lost yards, and one interception.

Although the entire defense is deserving of this week's POTW, there are two players who deserve some special recognition...

  • Jourdan Lewis -- since I couldn't go back and watch the game on Sunday due to my kids deleting the game, I'm using my horrible memory for this one. I seem to remember Lewis being in on every single defensive play during the night. With five tackles and one interception, he has moved his way up to the top of my list of favorite players on this team. He's consistent and will end up being one of the all-timers in the Michigan secondary.
  • Frank Clark -- on 4th-and-32 from Penn State's own 3 yard line Frank Clark came up with what may have been the biggest sack in the history of Michigan football. It wasn't just a sack that secured a win, but a sack that snapped a three-game losing streak. I'm going to miss that young man when he leaves the team.

Honorable Mention

  • Devin Gardner -- he may have thrown only one touchdown, but his return to the game after leaving with a leg injury changed the atmosphere in the entire stadium. Once Gardner got back, there was a sense that the game would end up the way we all wanted it to end. And the best part about his return was the cheer he received; the criticism went away, and it felt as though some of his detractors finally realized that Devin Gardner is not the problem with this team.
  • Matt Wile -- the kicker? Yeah, the state of Michigan has had its issues with kickers (come on, Detroit Lions, seriously!), but Wile did a great job of keeping Michigan in this game with three consecutive kicks that made the difference.