Khaleke Hudson sparks Michigan defense with best game

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan defensive back Khaleke Hudson forces Minnesota quarterback Demry Croft to fumble the ball in the third quarter. Michigan recovered the fumble.

Ann Arbor — Michigan linebacker Mike McCray did not need to consult the stats to rattle off Khaleke Hudson’s impressive performance in a 33-10 victory over Minnesota Saturday night.

“He had 13 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and a forced fumble,” McCray said of Hudson. “That’s something some people would dream about doing. Credit to him and the hard work he puts in.”

Hudson, a sophomore who plays the viper, a role Jabrill Peppers filled last season, had career highs in all those categories and matched a career best in forced fumbles. He was just shy of Larry Foote’s single-game record of seven tackles for loss at Iowa in 2001.

“What a game, what a game,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. Spectacular performance by Khaleke Hudson. It looked like he was everywhere.”

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His teammates were most impressed by how he stripped the ball on a sack of Demry Croft. Chase Winovich recovered the fumble and set up a touchdown drive that gave Michigan a 27-7 lead.

“I was coming off the edge, the quarterback stepped up in the pocket and was scrambling,” Hudson said. “I was coming behind him and I just seen it the whole time so I went for it.”

“That was a turning point for us,” safety Tyree Kinnel said. “We got confidence off that and we started playing even better after that. Khaleke was unbelievable. He was great. He executed really well, played fast and the results came out. Got the game ball for the defense.”

Kinnel said he has seen this type of performance from Hudson in practice.

“Opportunities come and when you get your opportunity you’ve got to take it,” he said. “His opportunity definitely came tonight with the calls given to him. He seen a way to go be successful and he did it and he executed really well.

“I’ve definitely seen it coming. You guys seen last year what Jabrill did in that position. He was making plays every week and now you guys finally got to see Khaleke do it. His opportunity came tonight and he was able to take advantage of it. ... He was deserving of that performance tonight.”

Hudson wasn’t about to take all the credit.

“I didn’t do this by myself,” Hudson said. “My teammates helped me in every way, working hard in practice to prepare for games like this and to have performances like this. I feel I had a good game but I feel it can always be better. Just some things I messed up on.”

He nearly had a blocked punt, too. Hudson said he missed it because of “bad eyes” and said he should have kept them on the ball.

“I think he got ahead of it,” Harbaugh said. “He dove and got past the ball and the ball snuck around him.”

Hudson said he learned plenty from watching Peppers in the viper last season. He said his performance against the Gophers was, in part, being in the right place at the right time.

“Just watching him, seeing him be a fearless player. I just looked up to that,” Hudson said of Peppers. “He’s a great player. You want to play like him. I feel he had a big impact on the way I’m playing this year and learning what I’m supposed to do.”