Stan Green’s return shows progress


Jonathan Bonaguro

Defensive back Stan Green tackles a Michigan player at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Despite injury, Green has become an asset to the team in his final season.

By Miles Powers-Huang, Staff Writer

After jarring the ball out of Michigan running back Zach Charbonnet’s hands and falling on the loose football — something he did twice on Saturday — senior safety Stanley Green moved into a tie for third place on the school’s all-time forced fumbles list with eight.

The achievement was made even more special by the fact that Green moved into a tie with former linebacker Dana Howard, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame who hails from East St. Louis, Illinois, and attended East St. Louis High School, just as Green did.

“I gotta call him (and) let him know,” Green said. “I’m in great company. I guess I forgot the other two. I think Simeon Rice is number one, so I’m coming for him next.”

Despite losing his starting position due to injury and other factors during his senior season, Green found a way to be productive when on the field throughout his career.

Green was a contributor in the rotation as a true freshman, becoming a starter by season’s end, and then by earning an honorable mention on the All-Big Ten team by both the media and coaches as a sophomore.

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Green missed the trio of games before the Michigan contest battling injury, and for a defensive back unit that has been undermanned and overworked since week one, Green’s return was a welcome sight.

“We missed Stanley Green, said head coach Lovie Smith. “He’s been out for a period of time; (Saturday) was his type of game. Stanley Green is an impact player, tough, physical football player, and we saw that throughout. (We) caused a couple of fumbles, which is good, we’ll need that from him.”

Having a nose for the ball is a trait Smith has repeatedly stressed as a need for players in his defense, as he hopes to guide the unit away from being one of the worst in the Football Bowl Subdivision, a mark it has earned both this season and last.

Green’s physicality and willingness to come in and make big hits have certainly aided his high forced fumble rate, but they have gotten him into trouble as well, as he was ejected in the first half at University of Connecticut for targeting on Sept. 7.

“I’ve been doing that my whole life,” Green said. “It’s never planned; it just happens on the play.”

Though Green’s role has diminished as a senior, he’s still out on the field often. As a deep safety in the cover-2 defense, he’s had to stand back and sprint to help recover as his teammates in front of him have struggled to make tackles in the opening field.

While it looked as though Michigan was going to take advantage of Illinois’ poor tackling on its way to a blowout, Saturday, Green and his teammates stepped up coming out of the break, holding the Wolverines scoreless in the third quarter and setting their up offense to bring the game within a field goal.

The Illini are marginally improving their defense from last season, but as they continue to lose games, taking away small victories from the defense’s performance is no longer good enough for Green.

“We’re real close, but close is not good enough,” Green said. “Just gotta go back to practice, go back to the drawing board and make corrections.”

Though the 2019 season has probably not been what Green was expecting, both from a team win-loss and individual playing time perspective, his penchant for chasing down big hits is causing him to ascend through the Illinois record books, regardless of how often he’s out there.

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