By RICKY LINDSAY, Editor-in-Chief
As strong as Michigan’s defense has been this decade, it has struggled pressuring opposing quarterbacks. The Wolverines will need a defensive line with the tenacity to overpower opposing offensive lines to take the next step towards elitism as a unit.
In the seventh of nine position previews on the Michigan football team before the 2015 season, Editor-in-Chief Ricky Lindsay takes a look at the defensive line.
Ryan Glasgow walked on at Michigan three years ago. Since then, he’s become a starter at defensive tackle.
Glasgow and fellow redshirt junior Willie Henry will have provide experience to a thin, young defensive tackle position.
Glasgow started 11 games for Michigan last year, racking up 22 tackles — four for losses — and one forced fumble and recovery.
Henry tallied 20 tackles — 5.5 for loss —three sacks and one interception in 2014. He’s played in 21 games at Michigan, logging 12 starts.
After Glasgow and Henry, the position is murky for Michigan.
Bryan Mone was expected to contribute, perhaps even as a starter, after a solid true freshman season in 2014. But he could likely miss the entire upcoming season after breaking a bone in his lower leg during fall camp, according to Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.
That leaves redshirt sophomore Maurice Hurst, redshirt junior Matthew Godin and redshirt freshman Brady Pallante as depth.
Hurst has played seven career games at Michigan while Godin has logged 14 games, both as reserves. That role seems likely again with Glasgow and Henry having an edge in experience.
Pallante transitioned back to defensive tackle after a brief stint at fullback in spring practice. A talented wrestler in high school, he has the size necessary for the position but he might be a year or two away from contributing.
Although it played the final two games of the 2014 season without him, Michigan is embarking into life without Frank Clark.
It’s a big hole to fill, regardless of his dismissal from the program last November. Clark was incredibly athletic and became an NFL-level talent while a three-year starter at Michigan.
Upperclassmen Chris Wormley, Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton should all compete for starts at the position.
Ojemudia totaled 7.5 tackles for loss last year, leading Michigan returnees in the category. Charlton had 5.5 tackles for loss while Wormley had five. The trio combined for only 10 sacks last season.
Second-year freshman Lawrence Marshall could give the trio a run for their money. The four-star recruit in the 2014 class redshirted last year but bulked in the offseason.
Michigan will need a defensive end to break out this season. Charlton is player that could likely break out, and many thought he could do so in 2014. He made only one start in 11 games last season but contributed with 19 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He has the skill to get after the quarterback, which Michigan has longed for.
Ojemudia, Wormley and Charlton have game experience on their side but Marshall could supplant them with a good showing. Tom Strobel should fill a reserve role while incoming freshmen Shelton Johnson and Reuben Jones will likely redshirt.