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Where Michigan ranks statistically on defense at the bye

Michigan’s defense might be the real deal.

Michigan v Indiana Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Michigan Football’s defense has come up big on multiple occasions this season. The unit has been stingy against the pass and the run — they’re doing well in coverage, they’re suffocating the run, and the pass rush has been getting to the quarterback.

Michigan, now 7-0 and No. 4 in the nation, is on a bye week before playing Michigan State on October 29. Below we take a look at where Michigan’s defense ranks in key categories.

Michigan Football Defense Rankings

Scoring Defense 5 12.1 PPG
Total Defense 4 250 YPG
Rushing Defense 6 85.9 YPG
Passing Yards Allowed 9 164.1 YPG
Team Passing Efficiency Defense 4 98.67
Team Sacks 9 3.43 Sacks Per Game
Passes Intercepted 87 4
3rd Down Conversion % Defense 25 0.312
4th Down Conversion % Defense 14 0.294
First Downs Defense 17 103
Red Zone Defense 37 0.769

Evaluating the numbers

  • Michigan’s defense seems every bit as good as they were a year ago, which is crazy to say since they had two elite edge-rusher in Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, with Hutchinson being the Heisman runner-up. Michigan has been able to generate a pass rush from a rotation of players this year, but none have stood out more than Mike Morris. Eight of Morris’ 15 tackles have been for a loss and he’s up to five sacks on the year.
  • Michigan averaged 2.4 sacks per game in 2021, the fact that new defensive coordinator Jesse Minter has helped get that even higher to 3.43 is quite impressive. Here’s a crazy stat — 14 Michigan players have made a sack this year.
  • When it comes to tackles, linebacker Junior Colson is leading the way and then some. Colson has 49 tackles, the next closest player is Michael Barrett with 31.
  • Michigan’s secondary has four interceptions this season, with Rod Moore leading the pack with two. Creating more turnovers was a point of emphasis heading into this season, and this is still an area Michigan’s defense can improve upon. Still, Michigan’s secondary has played fairly well throughout the year across the board. They look better than they did last season with D.J. Turner, Gemon Green, and Mike Sainristil all winning most battles in coverage.


The numbers paint a picture of a defense that could be on the cusp of being one of the best in the nation. They’ve had a penchant for either shutting teams out in the second half or finishing strong in recent weeks. The unit communicates well pre-snap and they appear to be very well-conditioned and don’t wear down by the time the fourth quarter rolls around.

Players on Michigan’s defense don’t consider themselves to be a finished product and they know they can get better. They thoroughly dominated Penn State a week ago, allowing just 268 yards of total offense, but they did give up two big plays that led to points for PSU. Quarterback Sean Clifford had a 62-yard run that set Penn State up for a touchdown, and he had a 48-yard throw that set up a field goal. On a play-to-play basis, this defense looks like a team that can win, it’ll be about not allowing too many chunk plays throughout four quarters of play.

All in all, it’s been an encouraging first seven games for Michigan’s defense, and now they have a revenge game on tap against the Spartans next.