The Michigan defense stepped up in a 10-3 win over Iowa on Saturday, after an uncharacteristic start to the season. They dominated the game from the beginning, when they forced a fumble on Iowa’s first offensive play. Michigan sacked QB Nate Stanley eight times, their highest total since 2016. With the yardage lost from the sacks, Michigan yielded only 1 yard on the ground. They added three interceptions, and the four turnovers forced is the highest total in the Jim Harbaugh era.
Nate Stanley had one of the worst games of his career despite throwing for 260 yards. He completed 54.8% of his passes, his lowest since a 2018 loss to Penn State. His three interceptions were the most he’s thrown in his career and was only his second multi interception game. His eight sacks also led to a career low in rushing yards, ending the game with -65 yards. RB Mekhi Sargent also had one of his worst games, gaining 12 yards on the ground on seven carries, by far his lowest of the season.
Michigan had players step up from every position of the defense, but the defensive ends might’ve had the most impressive performance of the day. Aidan Hutchinson was named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Week for his performance. He had 6 tackles (2.5 for loss), a sack, and forced a fumble. Kwity Paye was spectacular as well, ending the game with 4 tackles (2.5 for loss) and 2.5 sacks. Michael Danna had 5 tackles and his first sack as a Wolverine, and LB Josh Uche only ended the day with one tackle, but gave the Iowa offensive line problems when he lined up as an end.
The line surprised as they were able to consistently apply pressure despite facing a tough Iowa offensive line. The ends were able to have their best games of the year, beating highly touted NFL prospects Alaric Jackson and Tristan Wirfs.
The secondary reaped the benefits of the dominant pass rush, as CBs Lavert Hill and Ambry Thomas and safety Josh Metellus each had an interception. Safety Daxton Hill deflected the pass leading to Thomas’ interception and had a solid game. LB Cam McGrone also had a breakout game, tying his season high with 6 tackles and getting the first 1.5 sacks of his career.
Michigan looked like itself on defense again, returning to the dominance that has marked much of Don Brown’s time in Ann Arbor. They showed Saturday that they’re ready to carry a struggling offense and keep the team in games, something they weren’t ready to do against Wisconsin. They’ll need to see improvement on offense, though, because tough games against Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State still remain.