In a not-so-surprising development, senior linebacker Khaleke Hudson was voted a captain by his teammates because of his intense work ethic and exceptional leadership skills. The 6-0, 220-pounder does a little bit of everything for Michigan from his viper position and he's expected to take his game to another level this fall. Or maybe, just return to the level he played at in 2017.
Two seasons ago, Hudson recorded 83 tackles, which included a whopping 18.5 for loss. The speedy linebacker also had eight sacks on the year and really showed some elite abilities as Jabrill Peppers' replacement. In 2018 the production fell to just 44 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. He also had just two sacks last year. Everyone interested in Michigan football hopes that Hudson can get back to his 2017 form and finish his career in Ann Arbor with a bang.
Senior defender Josh Uche is another one of Michigan's versatile weapons on defense. The 6-2, 250-pounder had his best season last year with 15 tackles including eight for loss and seven sacks. His numbers obviously aren't as eye popping as Hudson's were in 2017 but he was only used in spot situations and was extremely efficient. It remains to be seen how Uche will be used this year but linebackers coach Anthony Campanile recently said that Uche is doing a lot more throughout fall camp.
"Uche is one of the guys [flying around]," Campanile said. "He’s rushing the passer, fitting the run game, covering tight ends.”
If Uche can improve in those last two areas, he becomes very hard to keep off of the field. Mix in a 2017 version of Hudson and Michigan's defense suddenly looks lethal again even with guys like Devin Bush, Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich playing on Sundays.
Does this mean Don Brown will switch up U-M's base defense and run more three-man fronts? Michael Spath and myself discussed this on Inside The Huddle yesterday giving a potential preview of what U-M's defense could look like this fall.
However it plays out, one thing is clear — Michigan's defense is talented. When you start naming the guys who are going to be on the field a lot it's hard to imagine a drop off. Sophomore Aidan Hutchinson, junior Kwity Paye and especially senior Carlo Kemp are poised to have leading roles on the defensive line. Throw in a graduate transfer like Mike Danna who was very effective at Central Michigan last year and you have some real pieces to work with. Sure, losing several guys to the NFL is a big deal, but that hasn't bothered Don Brown in the past. The team sounds extremely confident and there are still a lot of guys who have played a lot of football before.
Hudson and Uche are two of those experienced players and both need to have above average seasons in 2019. They could be two of the more fun pieces to watch this fall and both are practicing like they want to leave Ann Arbor in a blaze of glory. The term "maniac" has been used when describing Hudson and Uche is right there with him. Can the pair combine for over 100 tackles including 20 for loss and 15 sacks? That sounds like a tall order but that's exactly what you'd get if you combine Hudson's 2017 season and Uche's numbers from last year.