Hill's Game-Changing Pick Against Army Was Redemption After Drop Vs. MTSU
Michigan Wolverines football senior cornerback Lavert Hill made one of the most crucial plays of Saturday’s double-overtime win over Army when he intercepted a pass at the goal line midway through the third quarter.
The Black Knights faced a third-and-goal from the five-yard line and were trying to extend their lead to 21-7, before Hill’s pick swung the game on a dime and led to a Wolverine touchdown that tied the game on the ensuing offensive possession.
“I was deep and I read the keys, and the ball just fell in my hands,” Hill explained when asked to recap the play. “Not really [in regards to whether or not he was expecting Army to throw the ball on that play], but you can’t fall asleep when they’re running the ball all the time, so we stayed alert every play.”
Hill’s pick came a week after he dropped an easy pick-six against Middle Tennessee State, in which the ball hit him squarely in the hands with no other Blue Raider players around him.
“I made sure I caught it this time,” he laughed. “It was real crushing [when I dropped the one against MTSU], but you just have to brush it off, play the next play and look past it.
“I heard about it a lot, with everyone telling me I had to get on the jugs machine the next day.”
Army’s unique style of offensive play resulted in just five passing attempts for the game, and seldom allowed U-M’s players in the secondary to make plays through the air.
A more traditional offensive style awaits in Wisconsin, a club that has outscored its opponents 110-0 through the first two games (a 49-0 victory at South Florida and a 61-0 triumph over Central Michigan last weekend).
“We’re just ready for who’s next,” Hill noted when asked about not having to face another triple option attack. “It wasn’t a good time with that.
“Wisconsin has a good running game with [junior running back] Jonathan Taylor and good receivers — they just got another one back too [redshirt junior Quintez Cephus].
“We just take every game as one and work even harder now that it’s conference play. We haven’t watched film on them yet, but their quarterback [junior Jack Coan] is right-handed and a pretty good thrower.
“Their other quarterback [Alex Hornibrook] was left-handed. [It doesn’t make a difference though], because Coach [Don] Brown just wants to smash them all.”
U-M’s defense has done an excellent job of holding opposing offenses in check this season (29th nationally, allowing 272 yards per game), though it hasn’t performed at the same level that Brown’s last three defenses have.
With that being said, Hill admitted he’s optimistic about where the unit can still go when asked to rate how this year’s defense stacks up to the previous three he was on.
“We can go even further than them,” he exclaimed. “We have good players that we’ve had previous years, but also some young guys who are talented.
“We’re up there with the best of them.”
• The corner spot opposite Hill was viewed as a concern heading into this season, but junior Ambry Thomas' return to full health and redshirt freshman Vincent Gray's emergence have actually helped make the position one of strength so far.
“Cornerback play has been pretty good," Hill noted. "Me, Ambry and Vincent have all held it down for the guys before us, like D[avid] Long and [Brandon] Watson. We’ve continued to ball."
• U-M has obviously posted a 2-0 record so far, but the two victories haven't exactly been pretty. The senior cornerback was asked what the vibe in the locker room has been like so far, and what the mentality is moving forward.
“Just to continue to work hard every day and play as brothers and have fun," he said. "We’re not satisfied right now. We just focus on us and worry about what we have to do in the next game.”
• Talk about this article inside The Fort
• Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes
• Learn more about our print and digital publication, The Wolverine
• Sign up for our newsletter, The Wolverine Now
• Like us on Facebook