3 reasons Michigan Football defense will be much better in 2023

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Syndication: Detroit Free Press /
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Michigan Football had a great defense in 2022, but it could be much better in 2023. 

There’s no denying that Michigan football had a great defense last season. It held Ohio State to 23 points, kept the Wolverines in games when the offense was struggling, and came up big countless times. However, it’s clear that the defense could have been far better in a handful of areas, and those areas ended up costing the Wolverines deeply.

The TCU game left a lot to be desired by the defense, and while yes, they did have to gamble a lot due to the offense giving up points, they just had too many lapses when it counted.

Going into 2023, I have sky-high expectations for the Michigan football defense. It’s likely the most talented since the 2016 Michigan defense and has the potential to be much better. Without further ado, here are three reasons why the defense will be much better in 2023.

A dominant D-line

Games are won or lost in the trenches. The age-old saying still stands true. While the Michigan football defensive line was good last season, it was not great by any stretch. The interior lineman, for the most part, did an excellent job of stopping the run, but the edge position was not what we had become accustomed to under Jim Harbaugh.

It was obvious all season that the pass rush was an issue. The Wolverines were consistently unable to get pressure with four guys, which forced Jesse Minter to blitz more than he should have.  Defensive linemen who can create havoc are the key to a great defense. Which brings me to my point.

Michigan has several potential game-breakers on the defensive line. The interior line will be the best Harbaugh has ever had, and very well could be the best in the country. Kris Jenkins, who they call The Mutant, is going to be a superstar. His body is finally where he wants it to be, and all indications are that he is going to wreak havoc.

Mason Graham was a great defensive lineman as a freshman. That’s nearly unheard of. As a sophomore, I expect him to play at an elite level. Kenneth Grant has the potential to be a Jordan Davis-like player in the middle. He has a massive frame and can move amazingly for his size.

Lastly, Rayshaun Benny, who has patiently been waiting his turn, looks like a potentially elite lineman. He showed plenty of flashes last season, including forcing CJ Stroud into the game-clinching interception. All four of these guys have elite potential, and the fact that there are four of them means that they’ll be able to stay fresh.

The interior is going to cause terrors, but what about the edge rushers?

Well, the edge position should be much improved as well. Sophomore Derrick Moore showed flashes as a freshman, and I expect him to make a huge jump and compete for a starting spot. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s one of the best in the Big Ten by the end of the season.

Across from Moore, transfer Josaiah Stewart looked great in the Spring game and is a very athletic option. Stewart is hungry to make an impact and is a player to look out for. And then there’s Braiden McGregor, whose potential is sky-high. He ended the season on an extremely high note and could be the best player on the line when it’s all said and done.

Jaylen Harrell cannot be forgotten either. He’s shown flashes and has consistently improved, especially as a pass rusher. He’s going to see a lot of playing time and should do some really good things this year.

Overall, this defensive line has scary potential. I’m excited to see how it looks.