Entering the season, the Michigan Wolverines’ defensive line appeared to face a near impossible challenge — rebuilding the pass rushing unit that had conquered the Big Ten one year ago.
While you can never truly replace titans like Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, the rebuild looked more like a reloading of firepower on Saturday. With seven sacks and 11 tackles for a loss, Michigan’s defense got incredibly comfortable in the Colorado State backfield.
To senior Mike Morris, the outcome was never a surprise.
“I feel like in the edge room, and as a defensive line in total we put a chip on our shoulder,” Morris said. “Everybody thought we weren’t going to be as good because of their absence, and I feel that fell on the coaches and us. People didn’t have faith in the coaches recruiting, and they didn’t have faith in our development.
“People come and go from schools all the time, but now it’s like ‘does Michigan have a guy?’ No, we have multiple guys.”
With eight different players contributing to the sack total, including a couple surprising names like Mike Sainristil and RJ Moten, it appears any lack of an out-and-out pass rush leader has been remedied by new defensive coordinator Jesse Minter’s play scheming, as well as the much-lauded increases in communication across the defense.
“We were feeling the front getting better,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Nothing that you can really point to where the guys didn’t seem to know what they were doing or where to line up. Really good, especially for a first game.”
Now that the the bar has been set, the Wolverines will look to build upon Saturday’s successes, perhaps in particular folding in Eyabi Anoma faster than they expected to. In any event, it’s unlikely anyone will be looking down on the 2022 Michigan pass rush for the rest of the season.