Why Josh Uche and the Michigan Defense Rebounded in the Second Half

josh uche michigan linebacker

Why Josh Uche and the Michigan Defense Rebounded in the Second Half

Football

Why Josh Uche and the Michigan Defense Rebounded in the Second Half

EVANSTON, Ill. — The Wolverines netted six sacks total against Northwestern on Saturday, which was pivotal to Michigan’s ability to come back and defeat the Wildcats, 20-17.

Many of those sacks and tackles for loss came late in the game as Northwestern attempted to mount its own comeback, down three in the waning moments. But, while at midfield, as Wildcats senior quarterback Clayton Thorson dropped back, No. 6 for the Wolverines came off the edge, netting his second sack and ending the home team’s hopes to come out with its second victory of the season.

That defender was Josh Uche, who already had a sack a few drives before. As to his success on Saturday, Uche said all it was — really — was him and his teammates doing what his coaches told him to do.

“Coaches just told me to go out there and rush — go after the quarterback,” Uche said. “He struggled with pressure a lot, and they wanted us to go get him. That’s what we did and that’s what we’re taught to do.”

The defense ended up pitching a shutout in the second half of the game, not allowing the Wildcats to score at all once it had reached 17 points in the first half.

Of course, if you were a Michigan fan watching this game unfold, it felt uneasy as Northwestern seemed to drive the ball with seeming ease. Yet, Uche said the defense remained confident in their abilities, and once they regrouped at the half, that’s when things came back together as planned.

“Coming out, we knew they couldn’t really hang with it,” Uche said. “We was just having a lot of self-inflicted wounds. Went into the locker room, got our minds right, came back and dominated — like we’re supposed to.”

But that didn’t mean it came easy.

Part of the seeming ease with which Northwestern was able to do its thing was predicated on Michigan’s inability to stop the Wildcats on third down. More so — Michigan’s inability to keep flags from being thrown just as it seemed like the Wolverines were about to get off the field.

“Obviously, we’re on the road, so we’re not going to get a lot of helps from the refs, at all,” Uche said. “And we don’t expect that at all. We’ve got to make it clear that there were no penalties, so there’s no grey in-between for the refs to throw that flag. Like I said, it was self-inflicted stuff, but we adjusted, came back and fought and won.”

So, as Thorson dropped back and attempted to win the game for the home team, it was Uche — a player with all the hype, and results finally starting to match — who kept Michigan from getting its second loss of the season. How did it feel?

For him, it wasn’t a personal accomplishment. It was a team one.

“It’s just — whatever it takes to get a win,” Uche said. “To be honest with you.”

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