Monday, March 22, 2010

Mailbag question: Defensive questions

Posted at 8:00am -- 3/22/2010

Mailbag question: Defensive questions


From what has been said on a premium recruiting site, Michigan will be running a 3-3-5 this year as a base. I became pretty familiar with this D in 2009, because Vero Beach High School (FL) runs it. It took a little getting used to, but eventually I got used to the idea of only having one safety (in name). VBHS has two "spurs" flanking the three linebackers, with one of the LB's blitzing much of the time. I understand that in many systems they call one position spur, and the other bandit, to designate strong/weak sides I guess. That said:

-Why is the message board still calling the positions by the old names of spinner, quick, and even such nonsense as FS (but really the strong safety). Why can't people accept the change? Or do I have the wrong information, and the defense is really sticking with the old defense? It seems like we have recruited for the 3-3-5 the past few years.

I saw the linebackers working out on film, and Roh was running drills with Ezeh and Mouton. Can we assume this is the starting LB set up for the time being? I just don't see Roh being effective as a DE in a 3-3-5 set.

Does this mean that we are looking at Van Bergen, BWC, and Martin, with Patterson, Sageese, and Banks backing them up on the DL?

I did not see Herron on film at all, nor has anyone talked about him--is he a transfer candidate?

As far as Spur/Bandits go, Marvin and Furman appear to be the future here, maybe with Carvin thrown in if one of them bulks up enough to go to LB. Who starts at these spots this year, maybe assuming the freshmen will not start? Maybe Kovacs and Jones/Hawthorne? Is Teric Jones in the mix too?

As far as CB and FS goes, it seems like you could put any combination of Woolfolk, Turner, and Dorsey in there and we would collectively have the most talent at these spots that UM has had in a long time. If Dorsey and even Christian are not ready to play, I have to suspect Vlad will get a hard look at FS, along with Thomas Gordon. If I remember right, though, Thomas Gordon is a 4.6 40 kid--not ideal for FS. Maybe being a former QB compensates for that. It is hard to imagine Cam Gordon changing positions and starting right away.

Thanks for answering my questions!

Mike B.


Thanks for your questions that clearly indicate a very good knowledge of football.

We agree with your observation that Michigan has indeed been recruiting players that fit better in a three-man front.

Frankly, concerning the terminology differences, it is very difficult for most people to fully understand the mechanics and schemes of the game of football. A nice example might be a bridge; all know what a bridge is, but only engineers, or associated disciplines, could fully explain the theory and design elements accurately. Football is of a technical nature and the underlying theory is based on structure, just like bridge building. So, to truly understand schemes, a person likely has, at the least, playing or coaching background. The good leaders (among coaches) and those at the cutting edge of scheme development, a real chess game, become coordinators. And so, switching terms can take time, until the bystander becomes aware of and understands not only the new terminology but also the underlying theory.

First off, GBMW is not 100% convinced that the UM defense will play a three-man front as a base this coming year all or most of the time (along time till fall). As time progresses, the coaches may shed more light on this possibility.

To directly entertain the questions:

Just because Michigan is playing a base three-man line does not preclude the use of some four-man front alignments. Many teams that use a three-man front will also use a four-man front in passing situations to get an additional pass rusher. We would state it is more likely for Michigan to use multiple fronts all season and not just one front.

The linebackers you referred to are the three linebackers at this time who possess the most experience. So we should expect this trio to get a lot of reps early. Coach Rod has been adamant that depth charts should, by design, be very fluid throughout the spring.

In our opinion, reading too much into who is “starting” or getting the most reps early on is not of high value. We have been very clear and have stated, like last year, that it is more accurate to term the players as first group and second group, not first team or second team, since the groups change all the time. There is simplicity here in the approach; this promotes competition, especially in the spring.

The defensive line listed within the questions, would definitely be anyone’s leaders at this point, and we expect all the players you highlighted to be factors. We still think Roh plays with his hand on the ground, at least part of the time, especially in nickel packages.

Predicting transfers this early into spring practice is iffy at best and certainly nowhere near an exact science. Herron is a name we have not heard mentioned as transfer candidate at this time. Regarding young Mr. Herron, we presented an article on Wednesday that stated that Herron is out for spring football. Unfortunately, this puts him behind, and sets up a difficult situation that, in our opinion only, could create a make or break year for Herron. Keep in mind; Herron possesses a very high level of athletic ability.

Frequently, predictions of transfers are more of a " we feel" nature than anything else. We viewed former players such as Jason Kates and Marques Slocum struggle in practices and always had in the back of our minds the possibility of them transferring. On the other hand, on this site it was stated that Renaldo Sagesse was struggling early on with the conditioning under Coach Barwis, and had difficulty with staying healthy. And so, on the back burner of our minds we thought Sagesse might be a possible candidate as well. But, Sagesse has really trimmed down and has put forth a high level of effort and, thank you very much, is now doing well. Now he needs to get it done on the field.

There are some players who might have but one last spring to prove to the coaches that they can produce somewhere on the field, or they might start getting splinters on the bench and be relegated to watching the younger players develop on the field. It is difficult to play college football at a high level and it takes time to develop, but time is not an infinite factor, instead the amount of time given to produce is finite.

We like your list of bandit and spur candidates, and respectfully would also add M. Williams as a candidate. In fact, I. Bell could also play the bandit or spur positions.

We also expect Vlad to be in the mix, especially if Woolfolk plays a corner like it seems in the spring. If Woolfolk does not play corner, then add Vlad to your list of bandit and spurs. Floyd is the only player with game experience and will more than likely be in the mix.

Written by GBMW Staff

Go Blue -- Wear Maize!

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