I've heard both Rich Rod and players mention that the defense will work on improving their third down defense this week in practice. Michigan's opponents have had great success on converting 3rd downs (not that this is news to any of you).
My question for the coaching minded: Is bad third down defense different than bad 1st and 2nd down defense (not in importance, but in strategy and technique)?
I understand that getting a stop on 3rd down is seen as critical since most teams will punt the ball away on 4th down, but are the things you work on to improve what you do on third down any different than the skills needed to be a good defense on all other downs?
Unless they're just stressing, "See that orange stick attached to that chain? On 3rd down it is EXTRA important to tackle the guy before he gets there!", I'm not sure what focusing on 3rd down defense entails.