Hutchinson Says Spring Ball Has Brought Out Energy He Didn't Know U-M Had
Michigan Wolverines football junior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson was limited to just three games last season after injuring his leg in the Nov. 7 loss at Indiana and missing the rest of the campaign.
The veteran appeared on Jon Jansen’s ‘In the Trenches’ podcast today to not only provide an update on his recovery status, but also to discuss his decision to return to Ann Arbor for another year and the staff moves head coach Jim Harbaugh made this offseason.
“I’m about three months out from my surgery,” Hutchinson explained. “I’ve been practicing and doing individual drills and will hopefully be practicing fully within the next few weeks.
“I’m healing fast and am just ready to go.”
Hutchinson made it clear he didn’t want last year’s 2-4 catastrophe to be the way his Michigan career ended. He told Jansen the opportunity to be a leader for his teammates was one of the primary reasons he chose to return, while also trying to get U-M back to its “old ways” that entailed “10, 11 and 12-win seasons.”
Though last season was a colossal disappointment in nearly every aspect, Hutchinson admitted there were some positives that came from it.
“From a personal perspective, I grew a lot as a player with my technique and knowledge of the game,” he said. “From a team perspective, for as long as I’d been here, we had never had that taste of a two-win season.
“The norm was 10-plus win seasons. When you get that bad taste, it fires you up even more and motivates you for next season. No one wants to feel that again, and we’ll come back as motivated as ever with last year in mind.”
The two new defensive coordinators Harbaugh hired, Mike Macdonald and Mo Linguist, will play a key role in helping the Wolverines turn the page from last year, after U-M’s 2020 defense finished a dismal 84th nationally.
Though the Michigan players only just began working with the new coaches once spring ball kicked off just over a week ago, Macdonald, in particular (Linguist works with the defensive backs), has already made a significant impression on Hutchinson.
“You can tell he’s been in the league for the last eight years,” the junior defensive end exclaimed. “He’s the most focused guy I’ve seen in my life and he sees the small details.
“He has a fire inside him he doesn’t show too often, but when it comes out, the guys kind of look around. It’s nice having a coordinator who’s locked in, but can also show that fire and fire the defense up.
“All these fresh faces and new minds have taught me more than I’ve ever known about football and defenses. I’m grateful for that.”
Macdonald, Linguist and the other new coaches on the defensive side of the ball seem to have brought an energy to the program that had been missing last year, Hutchinson admitted.
The team is only a few practices in, but the intensity level and amount of enthusiasm has been impressive so far.
“I’ve seen energy from this team I didn’t know we had,” Hutchinson declared. “That’s a big emphasis this year — to have a lot of energy in practice, games and our competitive periods.
“It’s a different feel than we’ve had in the past. Seeing our offense and defense go back and forth in practice fires me up. The identity of our defensive line is our aggression. We’re more physical on the interior and getting away from speed and are now beefing up.
“We’re faster on the edges and want to constrict that pocket as much as we can. We have the mindset that we’re going to destroy you this play, the next one and the one after that.”
• Jansen wrapped up today’s podcast by asking Hutchinson not only about U-M’s first two opponents, Western Michigan and Washington, and how excited he is to play them, but also about the regular-season finale against Ohio State.
“That one’s always in the back of your head,” the junior said. “We put a big emphasis on prioritizing Ohio and everything we do is to beat them. We have a slogan ‘What are you going to do to beat Ohio State today?’
“That drives our guys whenever we’re lagging, and you know what you have to do when you look at that.”
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