I'm a little bored at work so I decided to compare Michigan to the consensus #1 team in the country, Oregon. Basically, I thought of the one team that was the most akin to Michigan philosophically (in terms of the quick paced no huddle) yet more accomplished at the given moment. Ideally, this seems like the direction most Michigan (and RR) fans would like to go. A high powered offense that puts up enough points to make life easier on their defense.
Offensively, both teams are similar so I thought it would be interesting to see what varied statistically in Oregon's progression under Chip Kelly vs Michigan's under Rich Rodriguez. Keep in mind that Chip Kelly inherited the program and didn't have to undergo quite the transition Michigan had to under RR, as well as the fact they've had the same DC (Aliotti) for several years now. A couple of stats (as indicated by ?'s) I still need to dig up, but I figured I'd post this to instill a little discussion.
Note: I obviously forgot turnovers which are probably pretty significant difference between Michigan and Oregon (at least at the moment). I'll edit later once I finish this post. Edit: Updated the Tackles (for some reason rivals was horribly inaccurate, the tackles are now indicative of the total tackles (solo&assisted)) and Fumbles Recovered Categories.
One thing I noticed is that while the 2007 and 2008 Oregon teams were putting up big numbers offensively, their defense was still giving up 380+ yards a game. However, the points they allowed were kept in check because they managed 37 interceptions in those 2 years. I understand that youth in the secondary is a huge issue for us, but I can't help but think that Aliotti is willing to gamble more due to the fact that he knows that Chip Kelly's offense will produce.
I think the last defensive play vs Illinois shows what our defense can be capable of when they're not predictable on a down by down basis. Our youth is still going to make mistakes, but when you tell a young linebacker or young cornerback that they are going to be blitzing, they want to make a play, and they all should know how to blitz (and hopefully not whiff). Obviously you wouldn't want to be predictable, so I would hope GERG would adopt a blitzing philosophy similar to the New Orleans Saints... while their defense may give up a lot of yards on a down to down basis, their wide array of blitzes (in an unpredictable fashion) forces opponents to make a lot of hurried throws or forces TFLs, which can make a significant difference.
Bottom line, I think our D being overly conservative has a lot do with their struggles (the youth obviously is a bigger factor). I really don't mind giving up homerun plays once in awhile if it means we force a turnover or put opponents in 3rd and long situations. We have an offense that we know can produce, and the longer they're on the field the more they seem to gel.