Why Mike Morris has emerged as Michigan football's dominant edge rusher

All offseason, the media trope about Michigan football was that it could not replicate the success of the 2021 defense due to having lost both Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo up front.

The Wolverines repeatedly insisted that edge rusher Mike Morris was ready for the spotlight, yet the narrative persisted.

Fast forward seven games, and that narrative has died.

Morris leads the team now with five sacks, which is the third-best in the conference overall and the best from the edge rusher position.

Even when he hasn’t gotten home, he’s impacted plays, and he appears to be improving on a weekly basis.

In short, he’s everything that Michigan thought he could be when it compared him to the aforementioned Hutchinson.

“I think he’s just a phenomenal human being, who I think over the course of the season has sort of just evolved into the guy that we all thought and hoped he could be,” defensive coordinator Jesse Minter said.

“He knows how to use his strengths and he’s a very unique athlete.

That combination of height, length, power, athleticism, savviness as a dropper even at times. I think he’s a very unique player.

“And he’s one of those types of guys that he’s good at so many things. I think at some times, it’s like, ‘Oh, we can do this with him, we can do that with him.’ But he’s also a really good one-on-one rusher.

And I think that’s what he’s proven to me. I think the most (he’s improved) is he has a great ability to win one on ones using his tools and what he’s good at a really consistent level.

And, couldn’t be happier with how he’s been playing.”Morris had bulked up this offseason, having gone from 278-pounds to 292.

While it has given him added versatility to play inside if needed, considering he hadn’t lost his step, the Wolverines have still played him mostly outside.

Ultimately, Minter says, what’s led to Morris’ emergence has been the simplification of what the defense has asked him to do.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t asking a lot of him, but the more he’s been in, the more he’s shown. So, given that, he’s being put in a position to succeed with more and more now being added to his plate.

“I think he’s still the guy that we love to do a lot of stuff with. And he’s good at a lot of different things,” Minter said.

“But, I just think he’s proven himself and I said at the beginning of the year, if there’s a guy that proves himself as a really good one-on-one rusher, then it’s my job, our job as coaches, to continue to find ways to create matchups for that particular player.

And Mike’s a guy that’s done that so it’s fun to try to figure out week to week where to best utilize him and where the best to rush him from or who to match him up with.

If you know where the open roads are going to take So that’s been fun. And he’s certainly thriving in that in that role.” you, choosing an RV will be a little easier.

With Michigan State coming up on Saturday night, Morris will certainly be needed if the defense is to get QB Payton Thorne off his spot. That game will take place at 7:44 p.m. EDT at The Big House.

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