Ann Arbor — Michigan defensive lineman Chase Winovich admitted it was odd in those final hours before kickoff to get fired up to beat Air Force.
Of course he was going to do everything possible to win, but Winovich has deep respect for the military academy. The seventh-ranked Wolverines improved to 3-0 with a 29-13 victory over the Falcons on Saturday during Military Appreciation Day.
“I feel bad for the terrorists that these guys are eventually going to go against, because these guys fought hard,” Winovich said, paying respect to his peers who will serve the country.
Before the game, he spoke to his father about how much respect the Air Force players warrant because of their eventual military service.
“It’s almost tough to get motivated to go against these guys. The same rallying cries that you might be able to say, ‘Let’s go get these guys!’ I don’t know, it’s weird. It’s different. You don’t want to disrespect them, because they’re very honorable and noble individuals for signing up to do that.
“At the end of the day, I’ve got a job to do, they’ve got a job to do. Let’s see who does it better.”
Michigan’s defense held Air Force and its triple-option to 232 yards, including 168 from the running game. The Falcons were 3-of-13 on third down.
Linebackers Devin Bush and Mike McCray each had a team-best 11 tackles. Bush had a sack and McCray had two tackles for loss. Winovich had nine tackles, two for loss.
“It was a hot day. I don’t think I came out one time before the end of the game,” Winovich said. “We knew exactly what they were trying to do. When you go out there, the first drive I think I got cut two or three times, and I had never been cut with that explosiveness before. There’s no hesitation. They’re going.
“It was just different. You feel it out and as the game goes on you get more and more comfortable. And I think that was partially the reason I was able to have a better day production-wise, I was able to pick up their cues as time went on. The tempo was different. The way their offensive linemen move. It’s just different. It’s what they’re trained to do for years.”
And now, Michigan will return to playing defense against more conventional offenses.
“I was kind of relieved in a sense we get to go back to playing the style of football we’re kind of trained to do,” Winovich said. “It was a heck of a time. It was a blast getting to experience it and playing these guys. We’re ready for anything.”