4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MICHIGAN DEFENSE
– The top three and five of the top eight tacklers are done, but the Don Brown defense that finished second in the nation and was a force before the final two games, allowing 103 points against Ohio State and Florida – and 149 in the other 11 games. It’s going to be a wee bit of a work in progress up front, but …
– The D line will be more than fine, but it’s going to take a little bit. Even for Michigan, the loss of Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich hurts. Superstar recruits Chris Hinton and Mazi Smith are going to soon be the dominant forces, and getting Mike Danna from Central Michigan helps the depth, but for now, it’ll be up to sophomore Donovan Jeter on the inside, and junior Kwity Payne and sophomore Aidan Hutchinson on the outside, to rise up and star right away.
– Devin Bush might have been a guided missile of a tackling star, but the linebacking corps is going to be terrific. Senior Khaleke Hudson is coming off a good season on the outside, and senior Josh Uche is one of the teams’ best pass rushers. The inside doesn’t have another Bush, but there’s going to be a nice rotation of prospects around veterans Josh Ross and Devin Gil.
– The pass defense that was second in the nation might not be quite as good, but the secondary will be nasty. Lavert Hill isn’t a big stat guy, but he’s one of the nation’s better corners, and there’s speed and a world of upside among the options for the other side. However, overall the corner situation will be young, at least when it comes to the top talents other than Hill.
Is Daxton Hill ready for primetime right away? The superstar recruit should find a home somewhere at safety next to veteran Josh Metellus. Juniors Brad Hawkins and J’Marick Woods are veterans, but be stunned if Hill isn’t an instant star.