IOWA CITY—One play will stand out above all for Michigan linebacker Jake Ryan and the defense despite the Wolverines’ loss at Iowa Saturday.
It was the first play of the game, Ryan coming on a blitz off the edge, no one picking him up and boom, a rushed throw by Hawkeyes’ quarterback Jake Rudock thanks to a Ryan hit, the ball flutters in the air and into the hands of linebacker Brennen Beyer who picks it off and sprints to the end zone for six.
Still working his way back into his role as a playmaker in key situations coming off a torn ACL suffered this past spring, Ryan put together his most complete performance in Iowa City.
A performance full of trips for tackles, incredible discipline in 1-on-1 situations on the edge, and, as only Ryan has done in recent seasons, wondering how they heck he was able to make that play.
Ryan continued to sub in and out with senior Cameron Gordon throughout the game, as has been the case since his return at Penn State. For the game Ryan finished with five tackles and a pass break-up.
“I thought Jake and Cam both are two guys that are very active for us,” Coach Brady Hoke said afterward.
On Ryan, Hoke added, “And this may have been Jake’s better game (of the season).”
Defensive end Frank Clark. Clark finished the day with just five tackles as well but recorded 2.5 tackles for loss, anticipating the snap of the football and routinely finding himself in the backfield alone with a running back or quarterback.
Sideline to sideline Clark was productive, engaged and a major difference maker despite allowing Iowa to score 17 unanswered points in the second half.
Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Willie Henry continues to eat up snaps inside and the reward has been huge for Michigan.
Henry recorded five tackles against an experienced and physical Iowa offensive line, including a tackle for loss.
Still just a young pup, the early experience for Henry should pay dividends in seasons to come as he continues to learn the position and add strength.