ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The chants of "De-fense!" from the Michigan faithful rain down onto the field late in the game on Saturday.
The fans knew it, the team knew, everybody knew it. The defense secured its third-straight shutout in a 38-0 rout against Northwestern.
For defensive lineman Willie Henry, he had to take a moment to soak it all in. However, that feeling has to be short lived. Not only does U-M have a highly ranked opponent coming into Michigan Stadium next weekend, there's also plenty of season left to be played as well.
"It felt good," Henry said. "The defense going out there and doing a great job that we did. We're not satisfied because we still have a full season ahead of us but it felt good that the defense is stepping up this year."
So what's the secret to success? Surprisingly, defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin doesn't have a difficult formula to make the defense the way it is -- pulling a rabbit out of a tophat wasn't necessary either.
For Henry, the reason the defense is performing at a high level is quite simple.
"Technique," Henry said. "Every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday we go in and practice our techniques. We're looking at film to see where we can get better at. Coach Durkin, Coach Mattison and all the defensive coaches harp on technique. We go into every practice to get better and work on the stuff we didn't do so well the week before."
The past three U-M shutouts have been a team effort according to Henry. With long, time consuming drives, the offense has been able to eat up as much clock as possible. Which makes a dangerous defense become even more dangerous by coming back into the game refreshed.
"That's us being fresh because the offense is doing what they have to do up front," Henry said. "The blocking, killing the clock - running the clock out. That's a full team effort when we can go out there and get a bunch of three-and-outs and they're holding the ball six, seven minutes, that's a great feeling as a defense that you can get a three play drive out there and then the offense can go out there and kill the clock."
Going forward, U-M's defense will have to continue to play at high level if it wants to achieve big things this season. The celebration will continue for the time being but once a new week starts, Henry and his defense will be ready to go.
"It's high," Henry said. "We've gotta go in humble, though, because we still have a lot of good opponents left. We're humble but we're going to take this win as a win and we're going to celebrate our wins."