Monday, August 10, 2009

Coaches Corner: Where have the great UM defensive teams gone?

Coaches Corner: Where have the great UM defensive teams gone?

People have been wondering what has happened to the once great Michigan defenses. Well, in our opinion, there are five things that we believe point to most of the recent decline.

Remember this discussion is based on analysis, observation, and results. But like all commentary and analysis is subject to further discussion and debate. So, here below are the five aforementioned points.

1) Recruiting. - This issue is huge and may well surpass the other four points. While an opinion, most would likely agree (and this includes the current staff) that there simply is not enough talent on defense. How many top-level, elite players did Michigan finish second on in recruiting? Too many and too painful to even count the last five years. How many times did we hear a kid pick a school and then say, "Michigan was my second pick" or " I went to bed a Wolverine and woke up a Seminole" (or insert several other teams as well)?

Since C. Woodson, how many top fifteen picks in the NFL draft has Michigan had? You will never stop, or even slow down, a V. Young type of player unless you have some stallions to run with him.

2) Michigan has lost its mental edge. The UM defense has lost that nasty, mean "I am going to rip your d*MN head/arm off and beat you to death with it type of attitude.

Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers have no fear at all lately against Michigan’s defense. Bo's teams scared the H*LL out of people. No UM team over the last five to ten years merits such old school comparison.

We refer back to an article not that long ago which stated that back in Bo's day the Big Ten coaches complained to the Big Ten about how physical the wide receivers were, and how they kept blocking right up to the whistle; sometimes past it.

The Big Ten sent a letter to Bo asking him to change or modify his approach. He actually framed the letter and said if other teams are worried so much about our wide receivers just wait till the other position players get a hold of them. Bo believed other teams would not be able to game plan to maximum effectiveness.

3) Michigan's base defenses were fine from an X's and O's stand point. Where Michigan failed is the program never caught on with the specialty packages. Manipulating personnel to get the most out of them is common and necessary. Not being successful in this venue places a defense straight behind the eight ball.

In 2006, could you have imagined a front four with A. Branch at nose tackle/1-tech, L. Woodley sliding down to a 3-tech, and S. Crable coming off the edge? Or how about implementing a Steeler’s style 3-4 zone blitz package as part of the nickel, with Woodley as a rush defensive end moving around? How about using another safety at outside linebacker in nickel, so C. Graham is not playing A. Gonzo in space?

4) Strength and conditioning was not a Michigan advantage. This includes offense, defense and special teams. Some of the time this deficiency had to do with a trait commonly known as dedication, along with the coaches putting in the time and demanding that players participate to the max in the off-season program, or face the almost certain likelihood of not seeing the field.

How many games in Coach Carr's last five years were lost on a last drive? How many of those missed tackles or poor angles were because the defenders were tired? How many injuries were due to being out of shape or too heavy? You cannot play this game any more unless you are in top shape and work your butt off in the off-season.

5) Accountability: Carr believed that the off-season was just that, especially later in his coaching career (the last five years). He believed the players were becoming too much of a semi-pro league for the NFL instead of being student-athletes at Michigan. He wanted the players to be student athletes first and enjoy their time in college.

Now the real problem with UM under Coach Carr, in regards to the strength and conditioning, was the accountability of not only the players but also the coaches. We saw some players, like Jake Long and the offensive line, working out all the time and really putting the time and effort in. Then we saw other players not showing up in the off-season workouts or when they did they decided to tell jokes for two hours instead of working out hard.

Football is a serious venture. And defense can keep a team in almost any game. There is work to be done and miles to go before this staff can say mission accomplished.

Thanks for stopping by Go Blue Michigan Wolverine
If you have any questions please E-Mail

Written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine


Anonymous said...

Bo Schmo. It was easy to "beat up" the likes of Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern, etc. during that period. I don't remember Bo's defenses beating up many people in bowl games or he would have won more of them.

Let's keep Bo's record in perspective: only count games against Ohio State and the bowl games. The other Big Ten teams of that era just don't count.

On the national stage, Bo's teams were never, what could be considered, exceptionally good. If they had been, he'd have won a national championship.

Anonymous said...

Eroc, coach...can you guys give us non "premium" folks a little heads up on the different fronts and coverages used by our D this past spring.

I guess too much has been made of the "spinner", "quick" and "hybrid" things on D.

Just would like to have an idea what fronts we are gonna run against different O formations before the season starts.

If you guys can give a rundown of fronts and coverages employed it would be great. If you have already dealt with this please let me know which month to look.....well let me check out this April......thanks.

coachbt said...

You mean Bo who is still 9th winningest coach In History despite seasons of only 10 and 11 games. Bo who was name 36th best coach in history, regardless of sport by Sporting News. Also remember some of Bos best teams were denied Bowl games because of Big Tens rules. And for the record, Bo was 11-9-1 against OSU and 5-4-1 in The Ten Year War!

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