When the Michigan football team beat Nebraska on Sept. 22, its defense said it felt the Cornhuskers quit — like they couldn’t compete with the Wolverines and they knew it.
That helped explain Michigan’s suffocation of Nebraska, holding it to 132 yards of offense.
But the sentiment holds true for the Wolverines’ offense too, according to junior guard Ben Bredeson. Monday at Michigan’s media availability, he said the difference between this season’s offensive line and last season’s is a killer instinct. When an opponent is pushed to its breaking point, the Wolverines’ front five gives the extra effort to break them.
“You can tell when they’re starting to get tired, or when they’re starting to give out and you just gotta push harder for just a little bit more, and sometimes it’s just getting one or two more touchdowns on them and then they can start to give in,” Bredeson said. “You know, some of the issues last year were we’d get to that point, and people would feel it and kind of lax up. You know, the other team would score. They’d get back into the game a little bit. But this year we’re not letting that happen, and it’s paying off for us.”
It isn’t just that to Bredeson, though.
The variety of weapons Michigan has on offense compared to last season has allowed it to “let loose” and “make plays.”
“I think (the mindset has been present) since the first game and especially these last few weeks, it’s just, football’s a fun game. Play it with a smile on your face,” Bredeson said. “And it’s fun to win, so if you can let loose, make plays and win, that’s a good feeling. That’s what we’ve been going for as a team and especially on offense.”
But what exactly does that look like?
One example is sophomore fullback Ben Mason’s hurdle in Saturday’s game against Maryland. Another is sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson’s play-making ability, constantly scrambling and throwing on the run, providing a well–documented spark to the Wolverines’ offense.
For the offensive line, it isn’t so obvious. Obviously they aren’t hurdling anybody or scoring touchdowns.
“It’s just playing hard for us, really, is what we can get down to,” Bredeson said. “And then just being emotional. You know, when you score, it’s a good thing. Cheer, go celebrate with everybody. I feel like sometimes — this happens to me too — you get into the battle rhythm of the game. You score, you smile, you run off, you do it again. But it’s just important to remember that it’s a game. Have fun, go celebrate with your guys when you score.”
To the outside eye, Michigan’s defense has played the ostentatious role for the last few years. Whether it be former VIPER Jabrill Peppers or current players like junior linebacker Devin Bush, it would be hard to accuse the defense of not having enough fun.
It’s a unit that flies around the ball, makes plays, celebrates accordingly then lines up to do it again. Maybe that’s why the Wolverines have been first in the nation in total defense this season — the same spot they finished last year.
If that’s the case, and if that attitude has leaked into the offense, it can only mean good things for Michigan.
“They’ve been playing together,” Bush said. “You can tell they’ve been having a lot of fun out there together and competing. You can see it on film and it shows up on gameday.
“… That’s been something (Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh) has always been preaching, and I’m sure the guys bought into it more and more as they see more success come.”