For the second year in a row UM's linebacking core appears to be the weak link on defense late in the season. This is troubling, but can it be fixed...and quickly? Last year Ryan Glasgow's injury was a huge loss but we can't blame line injuries now. What can UM's staff do to help improve the play of say Mike McCray? Is the answer simply playing a more athletic Devin Bush Jr.? I'm not football smart enough to know but it sure seems ineffective linebacker play is UM's Achilles' heel versus the run and intermediate passes on an otherwise elite defense.
If the mods feel this has already been hashed out let's move on but I'm still unsure as to the answer.
Go Blue! A big Thank You to all student athletes for working your *sses off this season!
OK, so I can't find this piece that appears in this morning's print edition of the Washington Post anywhere on WashPo's site. The only place I could find it is on PrintReader, which it turns out makes it a snap to copy and paste articles into the webtool of your choice. So here you go: (BTW, the WashPo is the defacto local paper for the Terps ICYDK, although some would argue it's the Baltimore Sun, but whatever):
Not a Michigan man, but Brown is a perfect fit
Well-traveled coordinator’s relentless philosophy has made the Wolverines’ defense the best in the countryLON HORWEDEL/ASSOCIATED PRESSMichigan Coach Jim Harbaugh, left, hired Don Brown in December after Brown turned Boston College’s defense into the best in the country during his three seasons there.
MOD EDIT - Since the link exists, let's not paste entire articles into the blog. I realize the difficulty in this instance as the OP stated, but we should correct the problem as soon as the right link is available, IMHO. - LSA
Thanks for the edit. -OP
Washington Post story here - LINK
I perused the college football shows this morning, expecting to hear some praise of the defenses on display yesterday at Michigan Stadium. I was disappointed; the general assessment of this “defensive slugfest” implied that the offenses “struggled,” and that the struggling produced the good defensive play and not the other way around. Sure, they singled out D highlights, but the tone was softly critical that anything remotely special occurred.
IMO, the summary of the talking heads and various analysts was that this boring game may have lived up to expectations to be close and physical, but the level of play was malodorous and full of inherent offensive incompetence.
I argue that what we saw on display on defense (both sides) was as more glorious and far rarer than the video game offenses in the Big 12, Pac 12 and ACC. Yet little credit for those special defenses; however, I heard how “dominant” Clemson’s defense was and profuse praise for individual defensive performances in various games producing 90+ points.
It appears defense is only desired as part of an occasional highlight play or defensive stand that doesn’t otherwise impede the mad sprint up and down college football fields all over the country.
I am old enough to remember the ’85 Bears. I say Viva la Defense!
A simple set of concepts delivered through a dizzying number of packages and looks, all designed to do one basic thing. If you can confuse, disrupt, negate, and defeat the offensive blocking scheme (run or pass) fairly reliably with 5 guys at the LOS, well then, that's what he's going to do. Every time. Wants to impose the defense on the offense, not let it be the other way around.
Gratuitously obvious comment: Getting Peppers closer to the LOS in this scheme is going to make everybody happy.
Welcome any other's take on Brown's presentation from the Clinic, I'm no expert.
After the excitement that was NSD, I'm still starved for substantive discussion before spring practice starts. After reading some of the ESPN Way Too Early Top 25 thread, someone mentioned that they expect this defense to be tops in the nation. My question is whether anyone foresees any issues transitioning to Don Brown's defensive schemes coming off last year.
This defense will be crazy talented and experienced. The d-line has 7-8 starter quality players and multiple stars. The secondary has 2 incredibly high caliber athletes and good experience. The linebacker corps is definitely the weakest of the 3 defensive units, but with Peppers playing the hybrid blackhole of space position, UM will likely only need 2 fulltime 'backers.
Just as I expect the returning offensive players to improve after having another year in the Harbaughffense, I think it naturally follows to ask whether the defense may take some time to adjust to Brown's style. Fortunately, Michigan's first 3 games are against teams that were fairly abysmal last year and are all at home. Colorado had 4 wins last year which is more than Hawaii and UCF combined. That builds in some nice cushion for the defense to learn the nuances of the scheme. Frankly, the D line should have no problem adjusting because other than run fits and select drop coverages, their complexity is likely limited to stunts and twists. The secondary plays a lot of press man, and that won't change much. So it really boils down to the LBs.
While last year's D handled pro style offenses well, once Glasgow went out and they played spread offenses or IU, things went south. There are some potentially mitigating factors (read: Durkin packing his bags during OSU week), but nevertheless, do you expect there to be any growing pains as this talented, experienced D adapts to Brown's schemes and likely integrates 2 true freshmen and essentially a new LB corps?
Bronco's defensive scheme clearly frustrated and confused Pat's offense, Brady and Josh (Mc)Daniels. I found this article on ESPN very informative about what Bronco's did. In particular, they came up with schemes that they had barely used during the season -- e.g., three man rush or spreading their DL very wide. Very informative for a novice like me.