As the spring season nears, we will continue to preview each unit for Michigan. The offensive line preview was first, but now I will take a closer look at the 2014 defensive line for the Wolverines.
Despite the rough season for Michigan in 2013, the defense wasn’t the problem for the most part (save for the Indiana, Ohio State and Kansas State games). One of the main things the team struggled with at times was generating a pass rush from its front four. There is a lot of talent on this defensive line and Michigan will return a few guys that are sure to make an impact in the spring and eventually the fall.
First, the guys that will see most of the playing time:
DE: Taco Charlton #33 (Soph. 6-6, 270): Taco played in eight games in his first season in Ann Arbor, mostly near the end of the season. He was a guy that gave Michigan a boost when it came to getting any kind of pass rush. While his numbers don’t jump out at you, he was consistently putting heat on opposing quarterbacks. He has a good shot at starting in 2014 and could play as a defensive end or a tackle.
DT: Chris Wormley #43 (RS Soph. 6-4, 289): In 12 games last season, Wormley recorded 17 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and recovered a fumble. He’s a guy that will be looked upon to start and be an effective pass rusher and run stopper on the defensive front for Michigan.
DE: Mario Ojemudia #53 (Jr. 6-3, 250): Mario played in 12 games last season and racked up 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Like Taco, Mario will play a bigger role heading into this season and should make an impact in every game he plays in.
DT: Ondre Pipkins #56 (Jr. 6-3, 315): Pipkins was a guy that was expected to play a lot and play well for Michigan last year, but tore his ACL early in the season. Now in his third year at Michigan, even more will be expected of him as he will hopefully be back to full strength.
DE: Frank Clark #57 (Sr. 6-2, 273): Clark is the most experienced guy on the Michigan defensive line, making 17 starts and playing in 36 games over the last three seasons. He was quiet at times last season, but came on strong later in the year. He racked up 42 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Clark will be relied on to solidify the Michigan defensive front and he will be instrumental to the team’s success in 2014.
DT: Willie Henry #69 (RS Soph. 6-2, 306): In his first season last year, Henry played in 11 games and totaled 29 tackles (12 solo). He was named to ESPN.com’s All-Big Ten Freshman Team after the season where he made five starts. With this experience in his first year, he will start and be a presence up front for the Wolverines’ defense.
DE: Keith Heitzman #92 (RS Jr. 6-3, 280): Heitzman played in 11 games, making seven starts last year and recorded eight tackles. Early on, it looks like he will be a reserve coming in for Clark and Charlton. He recorded just 0.5 tackle for loss last year and didn’t log a sack.
Matthew Godin and Tom Strobel were both RS Freshman last season that could move up the DE depth chart this season. Henry Poggi, Maurice Hurst Jr., Ryan Glasgow, Alex Mitropoulos-Rundus, and Garrett Miller are guys in the interior that you could hear from at some point during the season.
Bryan Mone - The #7 DT in the 2014 class is a 4-star recruit at 6-4, 315. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him play at times this season. Mone is an early enrollee.
Lawrence Marshall – #13 DE in the 2014 class, at 6-3, 228, more will be expected out of the 4-star recruit in the future.
Brady Pallante – The 3-star recruit out of Florida will not likely see time this season.
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