Michigan’s Defense in 2017 is in a state of flux. As Brian indicated on monday, they will lose 10 out of 11 starters, but it might not be that bad. Their defensive line with Maurice Hurst and Rashan Gary will be tough, with some people calling Hurst the best interior pass rusher in the nation. The linebacking corps will be led by Mike McCray and Devin Bush. The defensive backfield could be weak.
How do you think Michigan’s defense will be in 2017?
LPW: As WSR indicates below, losing Jabrill Peppers will hurt. Hurst will be a monster, and I’m glad Northwestern won’t face Hurst this year. If the defensive backs are weak, then all opposing teams most likely have to do is double team Hurst and beat the Wolverines with long passing.
WSR: I think they’ll take a noticeable step back without Heisman Trophy contender Jabrill Peppers. There’s just no way to replicate his contributions.
JWS: It seems like all the pundits have been predicting a step back for Michigan this season. I know a place like Michigan generally reloads quite well, so my initial reaction was skeptical. Then I looked at the actual schedule and numbers.
One freaking starter returns on defense. And it wasn’t just any starters that they lost. Jabrill Peppers, Taco Charlton, Chris Wormley and Jourdan Lewis are all gone. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill and the guys filling them won’t have other starters to lean on, save Mike McCray.
The start of the schedule is interesting. Right off the bat they take on Florida, who recently has had a good defense, and no offense to go with. I don’t think it’s crazy to think Florida could win in this situation. Their defense should hold down Michigan, and the offense might just be good enough against a young defense.
Game two is Cincinnati led by new coach Luke Fickell, a defensive guru that just so happens to have spent his life in Columbus. Then for the last non-conference game, they get an Air Force squad that runs the triple option which is the last thing you want to face as an inexperienced defense.
It’s possible Michigan still manages to win all three of these games, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they lost one or two of them. After that, it’s probable the defense starts to pick up, and Michigan finishes the year somewhat strong, with optimism for 2018.
GF: Oh, apparently the Wolverines will be stacked and loaded on the front 4, questionable in the middle, and extremely questionable in the brand new secondary.
Let’s talk about the blitzing though, because there was a TON OF IT last year. The fantastically complex blitz packages, discussed here, helped push the Wolverines into a Top 5 defense nationally. Nothing will change. They’re going to blitz from every defensive front and pray that the secondary can avoid confusion long enough to get to the QB.
Ah, what a life, to have capable defensive players on a consistent basis and avoid those bad old days, when Wisconsin stopped throwing ball against Michigan in 2010 because they knew the Wolverines didn’t have the horse to even slow the run game a bit.