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Michigan’s defense is elite, but here’s where they look to improve

Michigan’s defense is keying in on these areas before they play Illinois and Ohio State.

Michigan v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Michigan’s defense has been downright impressive all season long. In nearly every defensive metric the Wolverines defense is near the top.

  • Scoring Defense: 1st
  • Total Defense: 1st
  • Rushing Defense: 1st
  • Team Passing Efficiency Defense: 2nd
  • Passing Yard Allowed: 4th
  • First Downs Defense: 1st

While Michigan’s stats are eye-popping on defense, there are still things to improve upon.

“It’s every little detail,” defensive coordinator Jesse Minter told the media on Wednesday. “We still want to attack the football a little bit more. We want to get the ball. We want to set our offense up on shorter fields or score on defense.”

Michigan ranks 17th in defensive touchdowns and just 103rd in turnovers gained. Creating more turnovers have been a point of emphasis this season, with many near-interceptions by the Michigan defense. Co-defensive coordinator Steve Clinkscale told the media earlier this month that it’s not rocket science with his message to players being “Play your ass off. Play hard. Be physical. Find the ball. Go make a play.”

“We’ve got to get more takeaways,” Clinkscale said. “They’ve been in plenty of positions to get the ball and take the ball away, and we’ve got to capitalize on it more.”

Clinkscale noted a lot of the defense is young and he wants them to be hungry because Michigan’s “got to continue to get better each battle” so they can win their “war”, which is trying to be national champions.

Throughout four quarters of action Michigan has been consistently dominant, especially in the second half where they’ve allowed just three points the last five games. Still, there are plays here and there where there are things to be corrected.

“We want to take better angles to the ball and not have any missed tackles,” Minter said. “We want to make sure that we’re communicating at a level that it’s going to take for us to play our best over these next couple of weeks.”

Minter is focused on how the unit block destructs, runs to the football and attacks the football. They have an admirable challenge in 7-3 Illinois on Saturday before facing undefeated Ohio State at the end of the season. Time is running out to fine-tune things further, ideally the team can button up what they need to from an improvement standpoint this week.

Minter said “the story is far from being written” on the 2022 Michigan Football defense and “we’ll find out a lot over the next couple of weeks”. But for now, Minter and Michigan will do what they can to put themselves in the best position to beat Illinois on Saturday, and then the rival Buckeyes the week following.

“There’s stuff every week that you go into the game nervous about, worried about. I think the guys have done a good job of focusing on every single play, looking to get a little bit better. You want to be playing your best football at the end of the season.”

The next two weeks are crucial and we’ll see how the rest of their story unfolds very soon.