The 2022 Michigan football season kicks off on September 3rd versus Colorado State. The defense lost Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo who played like superstars up front defensively.
Another subtraction was Daxton Hill anchoring the back end at safety. Those three players are now in the NFL; can Michigan football adjust defensively to become an elite unit this season?
Jim Harbaugh displays his phenomenal mindset while coaching both sides of the ball, particularly with his defensive schemes and mindset. In college and the NFL, he has strong statistical ranking defenses on his resume.
Jesse Minter also comes in from the Baltimore Ravens to be the new defensive coordinator for Michigan football. That’s 35 years of coaching experience between two coaches.
That knowledge combined with leadership can help fill holes on the defense while turning inexperienced players; into sound playmakers who can stay disciplined within planned assignments.
Evaluating Michigan’s defense
Defensive linemen Mazi Smith steps in to provide stability within the front four on the defensive line. He totaled 37 tackles as a junior last year. His playing experience and technique should help fill some of the voids left up front.
Defensive end Mike Morris is another veteran some analysts are predicting to break out this upcoming season. With his length and bend off the edge, he can be a force that Michigan needs to pressure the opposition.
Nikhai Hill-Green alongside Junior Colson give the Wolverines a solid linebacker duo. Their agility and awareness, accompanied by mental toughness provide flexibility within the middle of the defense.
Tackling is a strength with this group, coverage against spread offenses that use multiple receivers is the biggest challenge they will face this year. These linebackers must produce sacks and turnovers to give their teammates confidence as the season progresses.
The two safeties are the players that give me the most confidence in this defense. RJ Moten is a solid tackler with fluid coverage skills. His deflections and ability to jump routes could create multiple interceptions in 2022.
Rod Moore is now a sophomore who has gained valuable experience after his first season. His versatility allows him to shift from safety to nickel if need be. The combination of this core makes them unique because they display tremendous attributes on the field together.
Putting all these pieces together will be a challenge this season. There will be trials and tribulations throughout the year while watching new players performing different roles.
The defense could achieve successful goals in 2022 and be great, but they are another year away from being elite.