The importance of Mike Sainristil to the 2022 Michigan defense

There is a case to be made that Mike Sainristil has been the best and most consistent player on Michigan's defense.

What if I were to tell you that the fourth leading receiver on the Michigan Wolverines football team last year would be the most consistent and important player on Michigan's defense this year? It's no secret that in recent years (mainly the Don Brown era) Michigan's defensive backs have struggled when it comes to coverage and even tackling. However, through the first eight weeks of the 2022 season, the case could be made that converted wide receiver Mike Sainristil is the most consistent player on Michigan's Defense.

Mike Sainristil

How important is Mike Sainristil to Michigan's defense?

Mike Sainristil's consistent play through 8 weeks

Through the first eight weeks of the season, according to ESPN, Sainristil ranks sixth on the Michigan defense in tackles with 26 total tackles, is tied for fifth on the defense with 2 sacks, and is tied for first on the defense with 5 pass deflections. Simply put, Sainristil has been all over the field, molding his game after the likes of former Wolverines Daxton Hill and Jabrill Peppers. You may even go as far as to start to call this man a beast.

Now I think it's time for us to ask the question did any Michigans fan expect this of Sainristil through 8 weeks, or is this just the Wolverines catching lightening in a bottle through the first eight weeks of the season?

Did any of the Michigan faithful expect this from Mike Sainristil?

Many Michigan fans were in the same boat, seeing this move as a non-factor; a move that really didn't move the needle. First, Sainristil was the odd man out in a crowded wide receiver room. And, it also looked like Michigan's defense was set for the coming year. To our surprise, Sainristil has exceeded our wildest expectations. In previous seasons we have seen Sainristil in limited action on punts and kickoffs, going downfield and making tackles, but to grasp the scheme and play at such a high level is something remarkable.

What can we expect for the rest of the season from Mike Sainristil?

So what can we expect for the rest of the season for Mike Sainristil? If Sainristil's snap count stays the same and grows, and we continue to put him into winning situations where he can succeed, we can expect more of the same from the senior defensive back. He won't be Michigan's number one cover corner on the opposing team's best receiver, but he can continue to shine in the slot/nickel role we've been seeing him in, due to DJ Turner having another solid season.

Sainristil still has a ton of tough competition coming up in the next couple of weeks with Ohio State still on the schedule–his hardest test. He will most likely be tested more against the Buckeyes than he has all season. If Sainristil can stay focused and stay consistent, there is no reason why he should not do just fine in this situation.

A year ago who would have thought that we would be sitting here in week eight talking about potentially our best player on defense being Mike Sainristil, but here we are and I'm glad that we are. The answer to the question of who is going to step up and make plays with Hutchinson and Ojabo being gone, the answer in my eyes is Mike Sainristil.