This season, the Michigan Wolverines have stood atop the mountain in almost every major defensive category — currently ranking first in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense, and fourth in passing defense. Their dominance helped defensive coordinator Jesse Minter be nominated for the Broyles Award on Tuesday.
When asked about what’s made this defense so potent, Minter had an interesting answer — focusing on the aspect of a whole team performance rather than just what the defense puts out on the field.
“When you play complementary football — which we’ve done a tremendous job of — our offense can go on a long drive. I think it’s a huge mentality for us to go out and get a quick three-and-out,” Minter said. “Put pressure on another team’s defense that might’ve just been on a six- or seven-minute drive to go right back out there, not have as much time to adjust, not have as much time to make corrections and get them right back on the field.”
Minter isn’t overstating the role time of possession has played in the Wolverines’ performances. In the past five games, Michigan has totaled out at a whopping 3 hours and 13 minutes of controlling the football, an average of almost 39 minutes per game. In contrast, their opponents have mustered just an hour and 46 minutes in that same five-game stretch, good for only 21 minutes each game.
Not only has that inter-team dynamic had significant success in the game, it’s also played a key role in the development of the players at practice. The idea of iron sharpening iron in regards to the 2022 Wolverines has been a point of pride among many of the coaches and players. In particular, Minter put emphasis on his defensive front’s battles against the offensive line.
“It’s such a blessing for us to compete against our offensive line,” Minter said. “I do think they’re the best o-line in the country. I think they’re the best coached o-line in the country. I think Sherrone Moore is, in any position, one of the best football coaches I’ve had the chance to be around. And so all the way back to spring ball you sorta saw coming in — okay, this is the o-line that won the Joe Moore Award, what am I getting myself into?
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for us every day to compete against, to get better against.”
Like Minter, the offensive line was also the recipient of an award nomination Tuesday, being announced as Joe Moore Award semifinalists for the second year in a row. The two parties go hand in hand, and their individual successes have led to the whole team’s successes.