"It's not about last year or who's here or who's isn't here," says your head coach. "It's about getting out here and competing and seeing who is here, and that's where we're gonna go."
I read with interest the earlier threads discussing possible D coordinator candidates, and wanted to suggest someone I haven't seen mentioned yet on this site -- Buddy Green, DC at Navy.
What's our biggest problem on D? (I mean, besides the youth/attrition, Angry Michigan Secondary Hating God, and dopey scheme...) It's the lack of sound technique/fundamentals, toughness, and players maintaining responsibilities. So why not grab a DC from a school where the players are always outclassed athletically and have to play tough, sound, fundamental football to avoid getting stomped -- i.e, the service academies?
I'd love to see us hire Buddy Green. Navy this year is a very respectable 30th in total defense, giving up an even 20 points/game, even after all four of their starting linebackers from last year's D graduated (Green runs a 3-4); they've also lost 6 senior starters during this season so far. Last year Navy finished 20th in total D, at 19.9/game. Here's what Sweatervest himself said about Navy's D (tOSU squeaked by Navy 31-27 in their 2009 opener):
"They're very sound. You're not going to get big plays against them, and they're not going to make errors," Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel said in early September, before the Buckeyes' 31-27 victory over Navy in the season opener. "They play fast, and they play at you. . . . There's no doubt that they know what they're doing. You're going to have to earn every inch against them."
Wouldn't it be great to hear a Michigan defense described in these terms?
And how about having a guy who can put together an effective D despite injuries and youth? Here's John Feinstein, writing after Navy beat Notre Dame a couple weeks ago:
But in his nine seasons in Annapolis, Green is accustomed to working with players who must improve as the season goes along.
"I remember in '07, we knew we were going to be a little inexperienced starting out and then at Rutgers [in the second week of the season] we lost both Clint Sovie and Jeff Deliz for the year," Green said. "They were the only two guys we had who had real experience. That became a struggle. But there was no point whining. You just go out with the guys you have and play and try to get better."
When Navy went to Notre Dame that year, three freshmen started in the defensive backfield. The fourth starter was Blake Carter, a sophomore making his first start. Navy gave up lots of yards and points, but the defense made the stops it had to make late in the fourth quarter and then in the third overtime..
I thought about Green after looking at what's happened at Texas A&M (my dad's alma mater). They recently took the "poach a DC from a service academy" approach, after years of defensive suckitude (which was really aggravating for Aggie fans, b/c A&M football built its identity around its great "Wrecking Crew" defenses in the late 80s and 90s).
Before this season, A&M hired Tim DeRuyer from Air Force, after he'd led their defense to the 9th ranking in total defense in 2009. (The only teams above them? Alabama, Nebraska, Florida, Penn St, OSU, TCU, Oklahoma, and Texas.) In 2009 A&M finished 104th in total D, giving up almost 33 points and over 430 yards/game; this year they've improved to 44th, giving up 21.5 points and 345 yards/game, while still fielding a very young D.
I'd be willing to wager that Green could affect a similar improvement at U-M. He's 56, so he's not some hotshot young guy who'd demand a ton of money or would be angling for a head coaching gig somewhere (he's already done that). As for whether he'd "fit" with RR, well, at least he's shown he can be a good DC at a program that runs the football a ton and scores points...