The defensive line has not been a position of strength for Michigan's defense for quite some time. Now, with Brady Hoke's recruits firmly having a grasp of the defense, that might change in 2014.
The defensive line has probably one solidified position (at defensive end) and could go through many possibilities before the final starting group is chosen. However, there is plenty of talent waiting for their chance to prove themselves. Can 2014 be the season where this group steps up and applies heavy pressure on the quarterback and can disrupt the run game?
The Players (Listed in order by class)
|Maurice Hurst Jr.||Redshirt Freshman|
|Henry Poggi||Redshirt Freshman|
|Chris Wormley||Redshirt Sophomore|
|Tom Strobel||Redshirt Sophomore|
|Graham Glasgow||Redshirt Sophomore|
|Willie Henry||Redshirt Sophomore|
|Matthew Godin||Redshirt Sophomore|
In the grand scheme of things, losing two on the line isn't going to hurt Michigan that much. Considering the cluster of redshirt sophomore talent that will see time this season, it will create some familiarity on the line. Whether or not that will equal success down the road remains to be seen, but it is certainly promising. 2014 also needs to be a better year for Frank Clark. A senior, he needs to build off a somewhat disappointing 2013 season and push towards his draft ratings.
2013 Statistics (If Applicable)
|Player||Total Tackles||Solo Tackles||Sacks|
*Ondre Pipkins not included, missed majority of 2013 with knee injury.
As you can see, there are not many enamoring stats that jump out at you. The defensive line wasn't terrible, but they weren't great either. Obviously, in order to make 2014 be a more successful year, players like Clark will need to step up and make more of an impact.
2014 Maize n Brew Projected Depth Chart
|Defensive End||Defensive Tackle||Nose Tackle||Defensive End|
|Starter||Brennen Beyer||Chris Wormley||Willie Henry||Frank Clark|
|Depth||Taco Charlton||Maurice Hurst||Ondre Pipkins||Mario Ojemudia|
|Matthew Godin||Ryan Glasgow||Bryan Mone||Tom Strobel|
Personally, the starter/depth for defensive end between Brennen Beyer and Taco Charlton seems like a toss-up. My gut says Beyer, but Charlton is poised to make a run at the starting spot and he could very well get there. However, I feel as if this is Beyer's job to lose. At any rate, Charlton will have plenty of chances to prove himself this season.
Chris Wormley is emerging as a sure-thing as a starter. From tearing his ACL as a freshman, he has come a long way and a strong spring really helped his case. Willie Henry has been receiving hype from his teammates and coaches for years. It's time to finally see what the hype is all about with a starting role.
Three Big Questions
1. Can the defensive line turn itself into the B1G's best units?
Possible, but highly unlikely. Compare the talent and output to Michigan State's and Ohio State's a year ago and you can see that this unit is not quite ready yet. In fact, I don't think it will be ready to be a dominant force in 2014, either. They have a chance to be good, but they're not ready to be great just yet.
2. How important is it for Frank Clark to have a great year?
I think it's extremely important for Clark to have a solid year. He's the leader of this unit and also one of the leaders of the entire defense. As a senior, he must set the style of play for the younger players. If he continues to be aggressive and live up to his ceiling, he could have a very nice year. Michigan has been having issues with applying pressure from the edges, Clark could fill that role nicely. We all know what happens when he gets free on the edge.
3. Is Ondre Pipkins healthy?
Come opening kickoff, I expect Pipkins healthy enough to play without any limitations. As of right now, Pipkins has been cleared to play but the coaching staff plan on taking it somewhat easy until it gets closer to the end of August. Now, with that being said, Pipkins needs to step in 2014. He's been relatively ineffective most of his Michigan career (albeit the injury bug decided to hit him a couple times.) He has the build and speed to be a great defensive tackle, everything just needs to come together for him.