No. 18 Michigan loses senior DE Ojemudia for season
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — No. 18 Michigan will have to move on without defensive end Mario Ojemudia , whose college career is over because of an Achilles tendon injury.
Ojemudia, a senior, was hurt during Saturday’s win at Maryland.
The Wolverines (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) plan to put senior Royce Jenkins-Stone in Ojemudia’s spot on Saturday at home against No. 13 Northwestern (5-0, 1-0). Jenkins-Stone has started two games in his career.
"It’s hard to replace a guy like Mario," linebacker Joe Bolden said Monday. "But the greatest thing about football, you’ve got somebody working just as hard, pushing right behind you, trying to take your spot. We’ll get somebody in there to get the job done."
Ojemudia started the first five games this season and made at least one tackle for a loss in each game. He was one of the top players on a unit that has shut out consecutive opponents. Michigan has given up just 14 points since losing the season-opening game at Utah, a 24-17 setback that looks very respectable because the Utes have shot up to be ranked No. 5.
The Wolverines won 28-0 against the Terrapins without banged-up running back De’Veon Smith and cornerback Channing Stribling. Smith hurt his right ankle in the previous win over then-No. 22 BYU. Stribling’s ailment has not been disclosed.
"They will be back in some form or fashion (Monday) and then progress through the week," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "We’ll see how that goes."
Harbaugh hopes both players have "one-week type of injuries," that would put them on the field against the undefeated Wildcats.
Michigan has been without fullback Joe Kerridge for two-plus games because of an ankle injury. He has been replaced by Sione Houma.
With Smith out, running back Drake Johnson made the most of his opportunity with 99 yards of offense and two touchdowns to provide more evidence that he has recovered from having two knee surgeries. Likewise, cornerback Jeremy Clark took advantage of more playing time without Stribling on the field and made his third interception of the year against Maryland.
Michigan’s matchup with Northwestern will put two of the nation’s top defenses, statistically at least, on the same field.
The Wildcats are giving up an average of seven points a game and the Wolverines are allowing 7.6, ranking No. 1 and 2 among FBS programs. Michigan’s defense ranks first on third-down conversions and Northwestern is second. The Wolverines are giving up 184 yards of offense per game, ranking No. 2, and Northwestern is allowing 247.4 yards, ranking fifth.
"The two defenses won’t go against each other in the game," Harbaugh said with a grin.
Bolden, though, thinks it is refreshing to see stingy defense played in college football during an era in which scoring is high and the spotlight is usually on offensive standouts.
"It’s really painful to watch teams put 60, 70 points up on the board each week," he said. "In my opinion, that’s not football. That’s like a basketball score. That’s not how football is supposed to be."