D.J. Durkin says Northwestern is 'Committed' to Run Game

Michigan's stifling defense has helped propel the Wolverines back to national prominence quicker than many expected, but defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin says his unit isn't about to rest on its laurels with a physical Northwestern team coming to town.

Back-to-back shutouts with just over 100-yards of total offense given up is pretty darn good in this day and age of college football.

That's exactly what this Michigan defense has done the last two weeks under defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin.

So the question becomes, what now and how can the Wolverines possibly improve on that? Durkin is doing everything he can to ensure his guys aren't reading a bunch of the press clippings.

"There's nothing special you can do about guarding against, we just have the same approach when we go in that meeting room every day," Durkin said. "Obviously I know they hear things and see things but it's all about how you work and how you prepare.

 "It's all about practice… and how we practice today when we go out there. That's what prepares you for the game and all the other stuff is just, it's really, I don't want to say non-sense but it doesn't matter."

 The task for Michigan doesn't get any easier this week as the Wolverines prepare to play host to No. 13 Northwestern (5-0) Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor.

 The Wildcats come in with a traditional, power rushing attack averaging 248.8-yards on the ground, also boasting seven rushing touchdowns.

"They're committed to the run game and they're a physical group," Durkin said.

 "They're committed to the run game and they do a great job of changing up formations and personnel and all that but at the end of the day they want to run that ball and they do a great job of it."

Michigan's players have talked openly about the desire to be a great defense, an elite defense in college football and through five games, the Wolverines are backing that up.

For Durkin, there's a few keys to becoming that type of unit and having everyone on the same page plays a major role in either taking that step forward or regressing as the season goes on.

"I'm really proud of our guys for how hard they've been playing," Durkin said. "That's the biggest thing to me is playing with effort and playing with the technique we're talking about.

"Anytime you get a group of guys that are believing in one another and playing for one another, then I think you have a chance to have something special. I think they're starting to understand what that means."

 After losing senior defensive end Mario Ojemudia for the season with an achilles injury suffered in the fourth quarter of Saturday's win over Maryland, Michigan will be forced to move on and look for suitable replacements against the Wildcats.

 As a reserve, Royce Jenkins-Stone has proved formidable for the Wolverines with 12 tackles, including one tackle for loss.

As Durkin points out though, Michigan will utilize a buck by committee approach to fill Ojemudia's missed snaps.

"Royce has played well with the snaps that he's had," Durkin said. "He was already rotating in there and playing a little bit and he's doing well.

"We'll mix it around. We have some depth up front and we have some guys that can do that and we'll play several guys there"


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