Michigan defensive line toughens up for Penn State

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, left, and linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone tackle Penn State running back Saquon Barkley in the second quarter.

State College, Pa. — With nose tackle Ryan Glasgow out for the rest of the season with an injury, the defensive line had to find a way to shore things up after allowing a season-high 307 yards rushing at Indiana a week ago.

Against Penn State in a 28-16 victory on Saturday at Beaver Stadium, the Wolverines held the Nittany Lions to 207 total yards, including 70 rushing, six in the second half.

“There was talk and Ryan’s a heck of a good player,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Maybe our guys took it as a challenge that somebody had to step up and grab that share of glory that’s there to be had.

“From my perspective today, there were four, five guys grabbing at it. It’s OK to chase glory.”

Michigan held Penn State to three field goals in trips deep in the red zone. Penn State reached the Michigan 6-yard line on the first series of the game and then in the second half reached the 6 and the 1, and all three yielded field goals.

“It’s just a mindset, your backs up against the wall and you know you have to hold them to three points or less and that was our goal all along, especially this game,” defensive lineman Chris Wormley said of Michigan’s red-zone defense. “We knew it was going to be a ground-out game, and I think we accomplished that.”

Harbaugh said he thought the defensive line play was a key in the game. Michigan had four sacks of quarterback Christian Hackenberg, including two by Taco Charlton and 1.5 by Wormley. Willie Henry was credited with 0.5.

“All our guys on the defensive line, they got a lot of pressure, they got sacks and got hits on the quarterback, and I really felt that took its toll,” Harbaugh said.

The players said they could tell Hackenberg was wearing down.

“He was flinching at the end of his throws, kind of trying to duck out of the way,” Wormley said. “That was the goal all along was to get to the quarterback and apply pressure to him.”

Charlton said the line had something to prove at Penn State to make up for recent issues. He said defensive line coach Greg Mattison had been preaching improvement all week.

“We always have something to prove when we go out there,” Charlton said. “We go out there every week with that mindset. We thought the last couple of weeks we were slacking. We had to pick it up ourselves.”