Weight: 277 lbs.
High school: Cleveland (OH) Glenville
Position: Defensive end
Jersey number: #57
Last year: I ranked Clark #7 and said he would be the starting weakside end with 50 tackles and 8 sacks. He made 43 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries (1 returned for a touchdown), and 1 pass breakup.
Clark got a ton of hype going into 2013. He promptly disappointed a lot of fans in the first three games. But from week four onward, he stepped up his game. If you pretend he was injured against Central Michigan, Notre Dame, and Akron, he made 39 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks in nine games! That's pretty impressive. His season highlight was probably the fumble returned for a touchdown against Penn State, but it might also have been his 9 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss against Michigan State. There were several solid outings - enough to be named Second Team All-Big Ten - but it's hard to cleanse the bitter taste from your mouth after that ineffectual start.
But hey, it's a new year. We're all a year older and a year smarter and a year closer to paying off our mortgages. Oh, happy day! Clark has put on just a couple pounds since last year, and despite being 20 lbs. heavier than Brennen Beyer, he's staying on the weak side. Michigan faces a couple patsies within the first few weeks, so in a year when he should be trying to show off for the impending NFL Draft, he had better get off to a faster start. Furthermore, the opposing offensive tackles he'll face this year should be a little less talented, so I expect a significant - but not outlandish - jump in production. Even though he might not be Michigan's most talented defensive player, he's ranked this high because the backups at weakside are few and unproven. With Beyer and sophomore Taco Charlton over on the strong side, the only experienced backup is junior Mario Ojemudia. After him it's freshman Lawrence Marshall, who would ideally redshirt but will probably play a few snaps here and there like Ojemudia did in 2012. It's important that Clark stay healthy because Beyer is not a good pass rusher, and the interior defensive linemen only have that thing called "potential." I'll stick with with my slightly updated prediction for last year.
Prediction: 50 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 8 sacks
8 sacks. Would be ecstatic if that comes true. And he'd have a real shot at the NFL.ReplyDelete
8 sacks would not be unrealistic for Clark, IF we get improved play from our DTs this year. Guys like Black and Washington were not giving blockers too many worries last year, but if our interior line play is improved, edge rushers may have better opportunity.Delete
Good assessment. The talent is definitely there - very difficult to handle at times. He jumped out at me against PSU and Iowa late in the year for playing very well. I think his biggest problem over the last couple years has been inconsistent effort. He also does not always play good assignment football (esp. against spread offenses), but we should see plenty of savvy out of him this year with all of his experience. He may not be quite as good as Bosa, Gregory, and Calhoun, but he is talented enough to be close to those guys.ReplyDelete
I actually think Clark should outperform Shilique Calhoun if our tackles play at a higher level.Delete
Calhoun will be interesting to watch. He was lights out through the UM game, and then faded as the season ended. Not sure if he ran out of steam, drew more doubles, or what. Hopefully, all of the press is going to his head.Delete
The guys at MGoBlog said a lot of Calhoun's production in the Michigan game came when he went unblocked into a RB or was slanted in TE. Consensus had seemed to be he couldn't do a whole lot against Lewan. It seems the theme is he gets a lot of really good stats based off scheme and he feasted on the less talented teams early, only to sputter off a bit against talented OT's. Not to say he isn't good, but he might not be as good as everyone plays him out to be.Delete
Agreed! Clark is really important to this team and DE is, on paper, the the position with the least depth behind the guys that will play (besides Safety).ReplyDelete
I do think we'd be OK with Ojemudia playing against weaker opponents, but against ND, MSU, PSU, OSU we'll need Clark to play up to his potential.