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Jesse Minter diagnoses issues Washington offense may cause for Michigan football defense

HOUSTON — For this Michigan football team, Washington presents great challenges. None bigger than the Husky offense.

The Pac-12 team (soon to be in the Big Ten) might not be one of the best on the defensive side of the ball, but it is still undefeated due to its No. 1 passing attack. It’s not just quarterback Michael Penix Jr., the former Indiana gunslinger, either. With three elite, first-round-level wideouts, Washington can push the ball down the field explosively, and there’s little most defenses can do about it.

Michigan defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, however, was brought to Ann Arbor to stop that exact style of attack. The Wolverines needed an answer in 2021 for Ohio State‘s vaunted aerial assault, and Minter came aboard in 2022 to replace Mike Macdonald, who initially orchestrated the scheme based on what he learned under Wink Martindale with the Baltimore Ravens.

Minter spoke on Saturday about what Michigan needs to do in order to emerge unscathed on the season and hoist the championship trophy in the end. He notes that getting pressure up front is key, but it’s not always about getting the quarterback on the ground.

“I think it’s a great challenge. They’ve only given up 11 sacks,” Minter said. “Sometimes in this type of game it’s not necessarily about the sack numbers. It’s about affecting the quarterback someway, somehow, and sometimes that’s through coverage, sometimes that’s through pressure, sometime that’s through winning one-on-ones up front.

“It’s a great challenge. Their O-line has played really, really well. I love our D-line, so that’s a matchup I’m excited to see play out on Monday.”

As mentioned, the wideouts are a different problem entirely. They can make plays like OSU star Marvin Harrison Jr. — and there’s three of them.

Michigan just finished playing an elite team in Alabama, and the Crimson Tide took the maize and blue to the wire. But Alabama is much different offensively. It uses more of the quarterback run to create openings to pass downfield. This Washington team doesn’t have to do that.

“They have elite skill. Their whole receiving corps is really, really good,” Minter said. “They have draft choices all over the field at the skill positions and on the O-line and at quarterback and at running back.

“It’s a different type of challenge than the Alabama offense where the O-line was that big, physical group and then they had speed. They had a quarterback that could do different things.

“This is a little bit more of a matchup game where it’s elite quarterback that can get the ball to his guys and is not afraid of throwing in tight windows, is not afraid to give his guys chances in one-on-ones. We expect the ball to be thrown downfield and look forward to the challenge of trying to defend that.”

One of the big concerns in the national championship game will be preventing Penix, in his sixth year of college football, from diagnosing what Minter’s defense is doing, coverage-wise. But Minter is aware of all of the motions that the Huskies use, and is looking to do everything he can to confuse the Washington quarterback and make life as tough on him as possible.

“They do a really good job. Like I said, they try to undress your defense in a sense to where they can give the quarterback some answers presnap as to what you might be playing,” Minter said. “So they do that by putting people in different positions. You kind of have to tip your hand if you are in man or zone, tip your hand if you are pressuring.

“So it’s a great challenge. You have to have some different ways to handle the shifts and the motions and the adjustments and not let them do that. But it’s a big part of what they do, and it’s a big part of our plan to try to combat.”

The national championship game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. EST at NRG Stadium.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire