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Michigan edge rushers are making huge strides, including one 'dominant' one

Chris Balasby:Chris Balas07/12/23


The Michigan defense is looking to get more from the pass rush this year to make things easier on the secondary, a point of emphasis in the spring. In addition to improved interior pass rush, the Wolverines made significant strides on the edges in the spring. Several players stepped up their games and appear ready to take the next step in their development.

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Two who stood out, Michigan defensive line coach Mike Elston said on the recent In the Trenches podcast with Jon Jansen — sophomore Derrick Moore and Braiden McGregor. Moore is a guy who seems ready to take a huge leap, extremely skilled and talented. McGregor started coming into his own last year, showing out on the biggest stage at Ohio State in a blowout win.

“It’s a special group,” Elston aid. “We played two edge positions, one to the field, one to the boundary. Braiden McGregor and Derrick Moore are future guys that their names are going to be said a lot. We love the way they play. They’re very smart, aggressive, great pass-rushers. They can do all the jobs we ask that field end to do.

“[Junior edge] TJ Guy bounced around this spring both to the field and to the boundary. Kechaun Bennett did the same thing, so he learned a lot of football this spring. Unfortunately, TJ went down a with a little bit of an injury and missed a little bit of spring ball, but he’ll be back this fall. Those four guys at the field position … we’ve got great versatility.”

“On the boundary, senior Jaylen Harrell and transfer Josiah Stewart, we’ve got guys like those two that are going to be really, really good pass-rushers for us … [Stewart] plays opposite Braiden — that position to the field has bigger roles and is playing different techniques against the run than they do to the boundary. Plus, that boundary position drops into coverage a little bit, so the athleticism of Josaiah will will show up there.”

But he’s a pure pass-rusher, Elston said, and he can’t wait to see what he does.
“He’s as dominant of a pass rusher as we have,” he said. “He’s not only got speed, but he’s also got some power, too. So even though he’s a little bit on the shorter side than then those other guys in terms of length, he’s he makes up for it with versatility in his moves and his skill set that he uses.”

Freshman Enow Etta, too, has already impressed, the Michigan assistant continued.
“Enow Etta is doing a fantastic job. Cam Brandt from California is smart, aggressive,” Elston added. “He’s going to be able to play a lot of positions for us. Aymeric Koumba from Bordeaux, France — he’s big, long, athletic, doing a great job. And then Breeon Ishmael from Cincinnati who’s just been a great addition.
“It’s a really fun group, and a lot of talent there in the young group.”
Giving the Michigan defense plenty to work with overall.

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