There was some discussion within the Phil Steele prediction thread about how good (mhmm, good 'n terrible) the D could potentially be in 2011. Some selective data to consider:
- we all remember fondly, vividly and often the '08 cap one bowl where Henne shredded Florida's secondary. Florida finished 98th in pass defense that year. The following year they finished 20th. The difference? 2 of their studs (Black and Haden) were no longer freshman, and the freshman they did have (Janoris Jenkins) was a frosh all-american. Experience helps...but clearly they had more hyped talent in that defensive backfield relative to what Michigan will have this year.
A better comparison may be '09 vs. '10 Sparty. Finished 112th on '09 in pass defense (exactly where Michigan finished last year); in '10 they finished 60th. Their DB's were not highly touted coming out of HS.
I understand that this only looks at pass defense and ignores dozens of factors I can't even think of. What I do think is encouraging, is how a little experience in the defensive backfield can go a long way. Let's assume a couple things:
- Woolfolk & Floyd are basically 100% come August-ish
- Will Campbell/Q. Washington prove to be servicable this year
My long-winded question is then, what is the ceiling for this years D? Is it crazy to think we too can make the jump from 112th to the 60th range in pass defense based on experience alone?