One of the biggest storylines to come out of Michigan’s victory last week over East Carolina was the lack of sacks from the defense. The dominant pass rush that we’ve been accustomed to seeing from Michigan teams in recent years was absent in the first game, sounding the alarm for some.
Michigan’s pass rush, and defense as a whole stepped up on Saturday and put them in position to run away with a 35-7 victory over UNLV.
“We kind of felt disappointed about that,” defensive end Derrick Moore said. “We knew that the offensive line was going to give us some type of indicator — so once we’d seen it we knew to get off the ball.”
Not being able to tally a sack as a unit is something the defense talked about in the days leading up to the matchup vs. UNLV.
“Me and Jaylen talked all week about how we had zero sacks last week. We definitely wanted to come out here and get a few,” sophomore defensive tackle Kenneth Grant said.
The Wolverine defense lived in UNLV’s backfield today, finishing with a total of five sacks and ten tackles for a loss. Five different players ended up contributing on sacks in the game, and eight contributed to a tackle for a loss.
“Everyone eats in this defense,” edge rusher Jaylen Harrell explained. “We’re all motivated to play together.”
Interim head coach Jay Harbaugh noted “the whole front was dominant”.
One dominant player on Saturday, as well as last week, was defensive tackle Kenneth Grant. Grant tallied 1.5 sacks in this one, four tackles, including two and a half for a loss.
“He’s a monster,” Jay Harbaugh said of Grant. “He prepares his butt off. Maniacal with his practice, his focus, his habits.”
Jaylen Harrell expounded upon Harbaugh’s thoughts.
“Kenneth is what I call a freak,” Harrell said. “Crazy torque, crazy power. He’s just explosive.”
Coming into the season, Grant had been mentioned as someone who could play meaningful snaps this season, but based on his early performance, Michigan could have a true standout on its hands.
It will be interesting to see how the rotation of defensive tackles and edge rushers continues to shake out over the course of the year, and how it can continue to propel the Michigan team.