It certainly appears that the Michigan defense is ahead of the offense after week one – and that’s not a knock on the offense but a credit to the defense. It’s also probably a good thing, not only in general, but also considering how young the Wolverines are on both sides of the ball.
Michigan’s defense allowed 3 points in the opener (remember, two Florida scores were off interceptions) and 14 in the second game on Saturday in U-M’s 36-14 win over visiting Cincinnati. The Bearcats’ first TD came on a short drive of just 38 yards.
The Wolverines’ defense has actually scored more points (21, counting the extra points) than it has allowed over the first two games. The fumble recovery in the end zone in the opening win over Florida and the two interceptions for scores against Cincinnati gives the U-M defense a 21-17 lead over itself.
“It’s a good thing,” Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh said on Monday. “Very good players and a good scheme and they work very hard at being good on defense.”
Good defense, as Harbaugh will tell you, is a combination of good players working in an effective scheme. The Michigan coaches have done an excellent job in the first two games of putting their athletic players in positions to succeed and it’s working better than anyone could have imagined after just two games.
The Wolverines defense, which held Cincinnati to just 200 yards of total offense, is getting contributions from the front line to the secondary and in between.
Tyree Kinnel and Lavert Hill each had interceptions returned for touchdowns, marking the second consecutive home opener that Michigan had two pick-sixes.
“Yeah, been happy with Lavert,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “He’s asserted himself and played very well. Made the big play for us in the ball game this past week.”
Kinnel was another player Harbaugh wanted to shine the “spotlight” on.
“Defensive player of the game,” he said of his junior linebacker. “Sacks, two I believe; tackles for loss; interception for touchdown; seven tackles total, I believe. Well done.”
Brandon Watson, Josh Metellus, Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, Chase Winovich, Noah Furbush and Mo Hurst, “probably played the best of all of our upfront defensive players” were all singled out by the coach.
“(We) dodged a couple bullets,” he said. “As was pointed out, scored two touchdowns on defense, so we’re doing well. We’re good. Attribute that to hard work and good scheme and good players.”