Brandon Graham Doesn't See all-Come-Backs

Michigan's talented junior defensive end is having a monster season, with many records in sight. But he doesn't want every Michigan game to be a comeback-bid. Read on to hear his feelings on his season, on hitting a quarterback, and on the defense and team to date.

In the waning moments of Michigan's game against Wisconsin, no player made a louder statement in the upset win than Brandon Graham. In the final seven plays for the Badgers offensively, Graham broke through the line with his ears pinned back to earn two sacks and a forced fumble.

"It is like I am thinking before each play, I've got to get the sack or I've got to get a turnover. I am quite sure that everybody on the line is thinking that at the same time. They really let me go one on one with the (Wisconsin) tackle, and I feel like if I get that every time, nobody can stop me," explained Graham.

Graham has earned the right to have those feelings in 2008. He's been the Wolverines' most dominant force on the defensive line, picking up 19 tackles, 9.5 of which are tackles for loss, plus recording five sacks and forcing two fumbles. These state have earned him a spot on the watch list for the Ted Hendricks Trophy, and for his performance in the Wisconsin game garnered him Big Ten defensive player of the week honors.

"I appreciate it. If it wasn't for my team going hard ... they set up big plays for me to make and I am glad that I was able to make them ... and I set up big plays for other people to make. It is just a team thing. I just appreciate it."

Even with that humility, Graham knows that he must continue to improve his game and step up for the rest of the team in terms of leadership.

"I feel like I'm doing pretty well right now. I've still got more room to work. I just trying to have everybody go hard each play, just like I'm working too. I push everybody to try and be a vocal leader. We've got a lot of vocal leaders on the defense, so we try to rub off on the offense to where they can come along with it too."

Being a vocal leader is a role that not many people step up to the plate for. While Graham steps up vocally for the rest of the team, he also shows it on the field. He's been very vocal since before the season has started that he wanted to hit as many quarterbacks as possible and break LaMarr Woodley's 2006 season sack record of 12.

"It is the best feeling to get a good shot on the quarterback because you know he is going to feel it. You want to see, like, where his head is going to be after the play, see if he is still going to be into the game. I gave him (Wisconsin quarterback Allan Evridge) a pretty good shot. It felt real good," said Graham with a smile. "I just know I hit him pretty good and I was just like, I hope he don't get up right away. He was down there for a little bit, but he got up. He takes his lumps again."

As the season moves on, Graham inches ever closer to a personal best in sacks and is now only seven away from tying Woodley's 2006 output. He, however, insists the record isn't on his mind in-season.

"I'm going to keep working. I don't think about it. I'm just trying to do my job, bring the defense together, keep us together, just like everybody else trying to do the same thing, ...keep the whole team together."

Keeping the team together will be vital as the Wolverine's head further into the Big Ten schedule. With the win over Wisconsin, the new season has started 1-0. Graham says his team has the potential and confidence to go out and win the conference title. But he also stresses mistakes cannot be made like they were in the first half of the Wisconsin game to be able to keep competing at such a high level.

"That was like the first step of what is going to happen this year, what we can do ... so that people can see what we can do. We can come back from behind, but we don't want to always have to do that. We want to come out with that intensity, like the second half, but for all four quarters. That is what we striving for right now, to able to go hard all the time ... and we will, we will. I feel like the next game is going to be the same, all four quarters instead of the second half, all four quarters against Illinois. Because I don't see if we get down to Illinois. We can't have that 19-0 in the first half and think we are going to come back. It could happen, but we just don't want to have to do that."


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