With the current state of our defense I started to wonder how our defense this year with GERG compared to that of Syracuse with Schafer.
Currently Syracuse has given up 109 points through 4 games, sporting a 2-2 record heading into conference play. While Michigan has given up just 91 points through their first four. Syracuse has played a comparable schedule so far when it comes to quality of opponent. With the exception of Maine, all of the Cuse' non conference games have been against the Big Ten. With a thrilling win over Northwestern, and losses to Minnesota and Penn State. Michigan's toughest game so far has been against the Irish, who I, like many other people believe are not as good as their pre-season expectations. Our Wolverines have also struggled at times with much weaker opponents (Indiana), and if not for Tate Forcier spitting hot fire in 4th quarters there's a really good chance we're 2-2 right now.
Obviously you know Michigan gets better talent then Syracuse does. And with the exception of Arthur Jones the giant DT the rest of the SU defense is not highly touted. Michigan on the other hand has a vast number of 4 star talent and highly touted 5 stars that SU only gets once in a blue moon. We should expect more out of Michigan Men, then we should out of the Orange. I watched the PSU v SU game and there was more then one occasion that a physically outmatched defense athletically, out performed PSU's offense (also had a big goal line stand). From what I've seen from both defenses on the year I'd honestly think about taking Syracuse from a defensive stand point because at least they have a pulse when it comes to stopping the run. You can draw your own conclusion from this years body of work but where we need to make the comparison is revisiting the haunting that is 2008.
I have all of the confidence in the world in Greg Robinson and the experience he brings to the defense. But after Shafer got "the boot" he took all of the blame for the lack of success the defense had during the worst season in school history. But when you look back to last season the defense had given up just 91 points through their first four. Also you cannot blame the Notre Dame loss last year on the defense as the inability to field a kickoff, punt, or screen pass was what doomed us that day. Also, last years defense was a little bigger and a little deeper then this years is. However one plays with an offense that has a leading rusher with a YPC average of 8.4 and also scores 37.5 ppg while the other boasted a team overall of 3.9 YPC and scored just 20.2 ppg.
With an offense as bad as ours last year did you really expect Shafer to hold every team on our schedule to under 20 points? As a coach I'd think its much easier to scheme defensively when you have an offense capable of breaking the big play at any time versus when you have an offense capable of being a middle of the pack high school unit. I don't think we made a mistake by hiring GERG. His resume' speaks for itself. National Champion / Super Bowl Champion. Obviously those things are a crucial recruiting tool and a certain edge that he has over Schafer. But I'm still not willing to put the blame on him for the 3-9 season last year. The only game I put squarely on the defenses shoulders was the Purdue game where a 3rd string QB that used to play WR ate us for lunch a la Armanti Edwards. You could also argue Penn State but you know they were going to get theirs. Did you honestly expect Threet / Sheridan and Co. to go downfield and match them score for score in happy valley?
I guess only time will really tell whether or not we made the right decision in hiring Greg Robinson. I think we did. But I also think that Shafer got a raw deal. I understand that someone had to be the scapegoat for a 3-9 season but if you're gonna give an offensive guru like RR time to get his offense going then SS should have at least been given a chance to show improvement with a second year instead of implementing another new system and moving players into positions they are not yet capable of playing. I'm not at all saying SS is a defensive guru, he's been average in his career as a defensive coordinator. But lets take this situation for what its worth : 3-9 at Michigan is unacceptable someone had to go. Giving up the most points in school history meant Schafer had to go. While I'm elated going forward with GERG. The blame for last year is not on Schafer entirely. The whole team was bad. The offense was the worst I may have ever seen from a highly touted FBS school. The special teams was lucky when the opposing kicker kicked it through the end zone or out of bounds so they did not have to field it. The defense had its moments but folded most of the time after being on the field for long stretches. Both PSU/OSU were winnable games at halftime. The defense kept us in it in a couple games (Toledo -Even though that dude had 20 catches), and Northwestern. Last season was bad. But as a fan I never wavered. I questioned some things, just as I always will. And I'll continue to question whether or not SS was given enough time until GERG and his infamous death-backers prove me wrong (soon I hope).
One things for sure: GERG will get another year. Yet at the end of this season I'm willing to bet that the defensive statistics will be somewhat similar to that of 08.
Just something I've been thinking about for awhile..