We continue our series as we look at each potential contributor on Michigan's roster in numerical order and look at what would be a stellar, standard and subpar season in 2020.
We're on to No. 2, fifth-year senior defensive tackle Carlo Kemp.
As a returning starter, senior and captain, expectations around the locker room, in practice and on the game field are pretty high for a guy like Kemp.
The 6-3, 286-pounder has always been a bit limited physically for the defensive tackle position but he's reliable, intelligent and really grinds in there. Last year Kemp racked up 40 tackles including 4.5 for loss and two sacks from his interior defensive lineman position.
So the question is, what kind of season would be considered stellar, standard and subpar for Kemp?
Can Kemp achieve Mo Hurst-levels of success from his interior defensive line position? I don't think so, but if he gets close, that would certainly be a stellar season for the fifth-year senior. Physically the two aren't that different so it's not like comparing an undersized defensive tackle to a 340-pound behemoth.
During Hurst's final season at U-M, he recorded 61 tackles including 14.5 for loss and five sacks. In order to get to those numbers, Kemp would have to be 20 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and three sacks better than he was in 2019. I don't envision a jump like that but getting to 50-10-5 would be a great final year for Kemp. That would require adding a handful of tackles and getting into double figures in the tackles for loss column while doubling his sack total from last year. That would definitely be a stellar send off.
A standard season for Kemp would be similar to what he did last year. He was good, not great, and missed the bowl game due to a leg injury. In 2020, if he can be on the field for every game, I expect his numbers to be pretty similar.
Michael Dwumfour is gone, but rising sophomore Chris Hinton should be on the field a lot more, and Hinton's classmate Mazi Smith should also break into the rotation. We've been hearing about Donovan Jeter for a couple seasons now and he could and should finally be ready to contribute. All of those new faces could eat into Kemp's snap count just a bit, which would result in similar numbers to last year.
I actually think a subpar season for Kemp would be a drop off in playing time versus a dip in production. Obviously the two would go hand in hand, but it would be more about not being on the field.
It looks like Hinton is going to make a massive leap in year two and it's time for Jeter to make a move as well. I also think Smith has a chance to be utilized much more as the biggest defensive lineman on the roster. If two of those three guys are healthy and ready to go all year, they'll be on the field more than Dwumfour was last year and will eat into Kemp's snaps. If that happens, Kemp's final season might be his least productive since he became a regular contributor.
I think Kemp's final season could be a bit of a disappointment, not necessarily in terms of how he plays or what he means to the team, but I do see his snaps decreasing. I expect Hinton to be one of the more important plays on Michigan's defense this season and I think Smith is going to take a big leap as well. I'm still not sold on Jeter, but the two sophomores are bigger, more athletic and better suited to play on the interior than Kemp is. Those are just the facts. Because of that, I see Kemp's season somewhere between subpar and standard.