You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Why Michigan’s pass rush ‘wasn’t effective enough’ against MSU

MLive- Flint/Saginaw/Bay City logo MLive- Flint/Saginaw/Bay City 11/3/2020 Ryan Zuke, mlive.com
a man wearing a helmet: Michigan defensive lineman Kwity Paye (19) tries to get past Michigan State offensive lineman A.J. Arcuri (76) during their Big Ten football game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, on Saturday, October 31, 2020. © Mike Mulholland | mmulholl@mlive.com/Mike Mulholland | MLive.com/mlive.com/TNS Michigan defensive lineman Kwity Paye (19) tries to get past Michigan State offensive lineman A.J. Arcuri (76) during their Big Ten football game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, on Saturday, October 31, 2020.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said before the season that he expected the line to be the identity of the team’s defense in 2020.

Led by standout ends Kwity Paye and Aidan Hutchinson, along with third-year starting defensive tackle Carlo Kemp, the unit flaunted its mauling pass rush in the Wolverines' season-opening win at Minnesota.

But after recording five sacks and three quarterback hurries against the Golden Gophers, Michigan’s pass rush dissipated in Saturday’s 27-24 loss to Michigan State. Quarterback Rocky Lombardi regularly had ample time to throw and allow his receivers to get open downfield. He dropped back to pass 32 times and finished with 323 yards and three touchdowns, while Michigan didn’t sack him once.

a person standing in front of a building: U.S. Special Agents arrest suspect Wayne Nelson Corliss in Union City, New Jersey, United States of America, on May 8, 2008, two days after INTERPOL's global appeal to the public, to identify a man who was photographed sexually abusing young children in Southeast Asia in images distributed on the Internet. Photo by Balkis Press/ABACAPRESS.COM © ABACA PRESS/MCT U.S. Special Agents arrest suspect Wayne Nelson Corliss in Union City, New Jersey, United States of America, on May 8, 2008, two days after INTERPOL's global appeal to the public, to identify a man who was photographed sexually abusing young children in Southeast Asia in images distributed on the Internet. Photo by Balkis Press/ABACAPRESS.COM

Paye had both of the team’s quarterback hurries Saturday, while Kemp and Hutchinson didn’t have any. In Week 1 against Minnesota, the trio combined for three sacks and three hurries.

“We didn’t get the sacks,” Harbaugh said Monday in a video call with reporters. “We got to the quarterback a handful of times, a dozen times but just after he released the ball. That combination of  throwing it early and just not quite getting there. Pressure goes back and forth. One unit affects the other unit -- the secondary and the defensive line. Each is reliant on each other. Cover them (receivers) long enough for the pass rush to get to the quarterback, and the corners and the safeties and the coverage unit are relying on the defensive line to get there in a hurry. Wasn’t effective enough in this last ballgame.”

a man wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Photo published as INTERPOL launches its second global appeal to the public, to identify this man who was photographed sexually abusing young children in Southeast Asia in images distributed on the Internet. The appeal was launched on May 6, 2008 and lead to the man's arrest on May 8, in New Jersey, United States of America. Photo by Balkis Press/ABACAPRESS.COM © ABACA PRESS/MCT Photo published as INTERPOL launches its second global appeal to the public, to identify this man who was photographed sexually abusing young children in Southeast Asia in images distributed on the Internet. The appeal was launched on May 6, 2008 and lead to the man's arrest on May 8, in New Jersey, United States of America. Photo by Balkis Press/ABACAPRESS.COM

While the Spartans' offensive line mitigated Michigan’s pass rush for most of the game, it also received added protection with a blocking tight end or running back.

“That was a good unit that we were facing, and they did some good things schematically to slow us down,” Kemp said. "Watching that tape, you really got to be crucial of your performance, because it didn’t end up producing an outcome at the end of the game that you wanted.

“The things that you did weren’t as impactful as you would have wanted them to be. So now as you watch that tape and you go forward, you got to be prepared to see looks like that coming again. And when you get into those situations where it’s a look that you’ve seen, you got to do something that you’ve been practicing differently to get there on the quarterback and to cause some disruption.”

Michigan’s didn’t generate much pressure with its linebackers, either. Starting “Mike” linebacker Cameron McGrone and starting “viper” (hybrid safety/linebacker) Michael Barrett exited the game early with injuries, while the absence of last year’s sacks leader, Josh Uche, also was evident.

Nevertheless, linebacker Josh Ross didn’t make any excuses.

“It’s tough getting pressure and getting sacks when everybody’s protecting, but we gotta keep pushing and keep giving that effort and get there,” Ross said.

The Wolverines now turn their attention to No. 13 Indiana, who has defeated Penn State and Rutgers to begin the season. However, the Hoosiers have allowed four sacks and four quarterback hurries in the first two games.

“You get your one Saturday, your one opportunity and your one chance to go out there and play and walk away with a win,” Kemp said. “Saturday we didn’t do that. So that’s the only thing that’s kind of in the back of your head and still on your mind. The only way to really erase that is to go out there as hard as you can on this coming Saturday and win, because now, going into the pressure games that we have coming up with already one loss, every game now is so crucial in the impact that it can make on your season.”

Get Wolverine Confidential texts straight to your phone from our Michigan football writers. Cut through the clutter of social media and communicate directly with our beat reporters, just like you would with your friends. Sign up for insight on the Wolverines for $4.99 a month (with a 60-day free trial) by texting 734-215-6605

MORE: Jim Harbaugh, after Michigan’s recent ‘gut-wrenching’ loss, forges on

Will Jim Harbaugh ever get Michigan over the hump?

Joe Milton film review: Michigan QB shaky in second start

Michigan lefts its cornerbacks alone in coverage, and it cost them

Michigan commit tracker: 5-star QB J.J. McCarthy throws for 4 TDs in win

———

©2020 MLive.com, Walker, Mich.

Visit MLive.com, Walker, Mich. at www.mlive.com.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From MLive- Flint/Saginaw/Bay City

MLive- Flint/Saginaw/Bay City
MLive- Flint/Saginaw/Bay City
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon