Michigan senior linebacker Kenny Demens made arguably the biggest tackle of his career in last Saturdays thrilling 38-31 overtime victory over Northwestern.
The career defining play came when Demens crushed the Wildcats runner on a fourth and one that secured the Wolverines victory, and redefined the senior linebacker's legacy. A play that may well go down as his best individual play in his career. Demens has no argument with that assessment.
"I would say so, as an individual, yeah," Demens said on the game winning tackle. "But I was more happy that those guys kept fighting on the defense. We made a lot of mistakes. I was happy to go out there and make a play, that, you know, helped us win."
Demens added, "It was a zone read. I saw the quarterback hand the ball off, I just—a light went off, ‘Go get the ball.' I just went and got it."
Currently, Demens is second on the team with 67 tackles on the season. He said a big part of his success on the field is his relentless film study off it.
"I would say that goes to preparation, just watching film," Demens said. "When you watch film, you can go out there and start anticipating different things that the offense do. We watch film a ton here. On my own. I watch from my home, I come in extra time, as a team if we prepare—we can play great ball fast."
Coach Brady Hoke said Demens preparation put him in the right spot to make the final play.
"Kenny did a nice job of that on the last play of the game," Hoke explained. "Number one, I thought Greg (Mattison) really gave thm something a little different. I think we had run it one other time in the game. But when we ran it, it was Siemian in at quarterback. Gave him a different look. Had three backers in the box. Jibreel Black did exactly what he was supposed to do in forcing the A gap and getting penetration. So there was only one other way the runningback could run the ball. He had to run it right back into Kenny. Kenny obviously made a terrific tackle, and was in the place he should have been."
Senior safety Jordan Kovacs says he's seen the positive transformation of Demens as a player when the Hoke regime took over last year.
"He's another one of those guys that's really stepped his game up since this staff's been here," said the senior captain. "He is a great player, physical kid. But what I think you don't see is off the field. He's a tremendous leader. On the field, just look at him. I wouldn't like to get hit by him. He's a big kid. He can run. He does a great job of communicating, getting the plays to everybody. He's a great leader for this defense."
As for Demens, he credits his on the field success to the Michigan coaching staff.
"I would say, with anything with repetition you start to become familiar and more comfortable. Just me taking reps. Just coach (Mark) Smith and coach Mattsion, they do a good job of with me (and) what I need do to go out there and perform better."
Demens Makes the Hit
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