Mike Morris reiterates there are multiple edge guys that can ‘play winning football’ at Michigan

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — No. 8 Michigan took care of its business on Saturday when the Wolverines hosted Colorado State for their season opener. Michigan is now 1-0 on the new year after defeating the Rams, 51-7.

The Wolverines’ offense totaled 440 yards of total offense and rushed for 234 yards on the ground. While the offense did what it needed to do to move the ball and put up 51 points, the story of the game was the defense.

Michigan had to replace three starters on the defensive line, but Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo were, arguably, the greatest edge duo in football last season. Hence, why the national media has been reluctant to pick Michigan to repeat as Big Ten Champions, largely due to the fact that the Wolverines are replacing so much starting experience.

On Saturday, the Wolverines started Mike Morris and Jaylen Harrell at edge, but Michigan used a committee to get as much production as it could out of its edge players.

The Wolverines caused a ton of havoc for the Rams’ starting quarterback Clay Millen. Millen was sacked a total of seven times on Saturday, but that number doesn’t even speak volumes as to how much the defensive line was in the backfield.

Mike Morris and Junior Colson spoke with the media on Saturday and Morris pointed to the fact that Michigan rotated eight guys during the game against the Rams, and that everyone ‘ate’. It’s paramount to give small breaks, and if there are so many players that can play winning football, then Michigan can always have players that are fresh out on the field.

“We have a, we have so many edges and so many different guys at d-line who can do great things for the football team,” said Morris. “So me and Mazi talk about that all the time, there’s a lot of guys on the d-line and in the edge room who can play winning football. So we just switched it up as much as possible. Give everybody a break. Yeah, we just had like, what I think eight guys rotating at one point, and everybody ate. So yeah, I feel like we bring a lot of versatility and depth to each and every game.”

Going back to the loss of Hutchinson and Ojabo, the Wolverines lost, statistically, a ton of contribution. Hutchinson is the single-season sack leader at Michigan with 14 sacks in 2021. Ojabo wasn’t far behind him with 11 sacks. But Morris said that the edge room has a chip on its shoulder. He says that players come and go, but the coaches have done an excellent job recruiting and developing the room, so the Wolverines have multiple players that can get the job done.

“I feel like as an edge room and as a d-line and total, we put a, put a chip on our shoulder because their absence,” said Morris. “Everybody thought like, we weren’t going to be as good because of their absence. And I feel like that fell on the coaches and the players because it’s like, I feel like people didn’t have faith in the coaches recruiting, and didn’t have faith in the coaches development of us and didn’t have faith in our development. Because people come and go out of every school all the time. But now it’s like, does Michigan have a guy? But no, we have multiple. So anybody can anybody in the edge room can play winning football and start on this defense.”

Lineback Junior Colson, who led the team with 10 tackles on Saturday, was smiling ear to ear in the media room on Saturday. He said he was just happy for the defense with how well they played.

“I guess now I’m just excited for the defense you know we know there’s been a lot of talk about — we lost a lot of guys,” said Colson. “I think we proved that you know like we can still be dominant without them we can still win pressure we can still sack the quarterback we can still just dominate in all phases”

One, of the many, edge players that contributed on Saturday was freshman Derrick Moore. If you look at the stat sheet he only had a quarterback hurry, but he was a menace for the Rams’ offensive line. Moore had back-to-back plays where he was in the backfield going for a sack, but barely missed out on it. Morris said that Moore shocked the entire team due to how far along he was physically when he came to Michigan.

“Derrick more surprised all of us because he’s a big guy just coming in,” said Morris. “He looked like us. And he just got there in January, so I was very surprised by him and everything related to the field as well. Everything, everything transferred to the field. He was strong in the weight room and doing his thing in the field. Learning to play is very fast and just becoming a really good ballplayer and I’m excited to see where he goes.”

The Wolverines added former five-star and Alabama edge defender Eyabi Anoma a few weeks ago. On his very first player as a Michigan player on Saturday, Anoma sacked Millen. He added two tackles and a tackle-for-loss to his stats at the end of the day. Morris and Colson both shared similar sentiments — they are happy he’s on the team.

“And on Eyabi, honestly had no idea like what was going on, but I accepted him with open arms,” said Morris. “I’m sure the whole edge room did. And today he showed us what he can bring to our team and he showed us at practice as well but today he solidified what he could do for our defense.”

“He’s a phenomenal player,” said Colson. “He’s very smart. So he learned the playbook very, very quickly if you just I think he’s gonna get more and more snaps as the season goes on because he’s a dominant player. He has a high motor. I just can’t wait to see what he can do.”

The Wolverines’ defense will look to continue to wreak havoc in the backfield next Saturday against Hawaii.

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Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire