After struggling against Alabama and Air Force, the Michigan defense finally had their break out performance at Notre Dame last Saturday night, losing to the Fighting Irish 13-6.
And most importantly, the Maize & Blue defense shut the Irish offense down, as Michigan held the Irish to 239 total yards of offense and created two Notre Dame turnovers.
"We played how we practiced," said senior defensive tackle Big William Campbell. "So us just having a good week of practice came out. Not a good enough game, but we made strides.
"I think we were way more focused. We knew what we were doing. We got in here on our own time and watched more film. We talked amongst each other to see what we needed to do and where needed to make strides in practice."
Michigan senior safety Thomas Gordon finished the game with six tackles plus an interception. He said the reason behind the defensive impact is that they are finally starting to think as a group.
"I think we are finally starting to gel and we coming together as a group," Gordon said. "As a whole we decided we were flying around to the football. (And) everybody on the same page. And when everybody is on the same page good things will happen."
While Michigan coach Brady Hoke wasn't happy with the outcome, he said there were some positives from a defensive standpoint.
"There are some things we obviously did well," Hoke said. "I think our defense obviously gave us a chance. I thought guys played really hard. When you watched the tape there are white jerseys getting to the football. That's a sign a little bit that we are playing a little faster."
Gordon was able to intercept an a errant throw by Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Everett Golson early in the second quarter. He said turnover opportunities were caused by the pressure of the Wolverine defensive front.
"First off it started up front," Gordon explained. "The D-line played one of their best games of the year. They got great pressure up front. And that kind of flustered the quarterback. He made some errant throws. And we made opportunities off those."
Michigan senior offensive lineman Patrick Omameh said the defensive production has come from their better understanding of the scheme. And with the Wolverine offense struggling with six turnovers versus the Irish, he said it was nice to see the defense keep them in the game.
"The team all the way around is always supportive of each other," Omameh said. "It was nice to see the defense playing well. It's always nice to see your teammates picking you up when you might not being doing so hot."
Hoke said the defense still has to work on their tackling and creating opportunities for the offense.
"I think still from a defensive standpoint we would like to tackle better," Hoke explained. "We missed a couple in a hole. I think when we are in position to make a play you have to make a play. Defensively we need to keep creating opportunities for our offense, by getting the ball back."
And with defense only having three sacks in their first four games, Campbell said they'll focus on getting to the quarterback more as they enter Big Ten play.
"That was a big emphasis. We got a lot of push. But we didn't get to the quarterback. We need to get home a lot faster. So we're going to go to practice and work on our moves even more."
U-M D a bright spot in loss and moving ahead
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