2013 Wrap: D-Line

2013 Wrap: D-Line

Submitted by Ron Utah on December 16th, 2013 at 5:56 PM

2013 will be remembered as "The Season of Infinite Pain" for me, and for many others, I suspect.  High expectations have a way of making even good seasons frustrating; 2013 has been well-below "good."  Not only did we fail to compete for a B1G Championship, we had our expectations boosted after a magical performance against Notre Dame, only to be crushed by consecutive weeks of struggling to beat two of the worst programs in college football.

I was going to wait until after the bowl game to write this diary, but this lull is killing me and let's face it--the BWW Bowl isn't going to change much.

This series is something of a follow-up to my diary re-ranking players based on Rivals ratings.  Reading the beginning of that diary will help explain the player's rankings (as well as the Rivals ranking system).  Additionally, I've added letter grades, which are explained more thoroughly at the end of the post, so that we can get down to business with the first position group in the series:


Defensive Line

Season Grade: C+  Overall, it was a less-than-stellar year on the defensive front.  My pre-season predictions said the fate of our season rested on the offensive and defensive lines, and I believe that turned out to be the case.  The D-Line produced just 13.5 sacks, and only one player on the line had more than 2.5.  The "right to rush four" was never earned, and the season suffered because of it.  

That said, there were some positive signs.  Frank Clark showed marked improvement, and Willie Henry emerged as a viable option to replace either QWash or Black in 2014.  Wormley started to emerge in limited snaps, and other young guns like Ojemudia and Charlton showed flashes.

Big things were expected of Frank Clark in 2013

Tkl Solo Asst TFL Sacks QBH FF INT PBU
42 19 23 12.5 5.0 7 0 0 1
Rivals Pre-Ssn Current
5.6 5.8 5.9

Season Grade: B+  To say Frank Clark made a big jump this year would be an understatement: he had 17 more tackles, 3.5 more TFLs, and 3.0 more sacks than in 2012.  More importantly, he played much more consistently and held down his job as the WDE all season.  He led the team in TFLs by a whopping 5.0, and many of those came against some strong opposition (2.5 vs. Iowa, 2.5 vs. MSU).

That said, the off-season hype and reports of him besting Taylor Lewan in practice pushed expectations to a probably unreasonable level, and he did not come through. I predicted that we would need at least eight sacks from Frank Clark if our defense was going to get the requisite amount of pressure on opposing passers to make 2013 a successful (B1G Champs) season.  Not only did he fall far short of that number, his five sacks all came in three games: UConn, Penn State, and Indiana.  In hindsight, we sure needed those sacks against UConn and PSU, but they weren't enough to win the game.  His pass-rushing was pretty quiet--even though he deserved a few more QBH's, he only finished the season with seven (which led the team), and had just three in B1G play.

2014 outlook:  It says here (again) that without significant production from Frank Clark (or a surprise at WDE), the whole 2014 team's ceiling is limited.  It is vital for every 4-3 team to be able to produce consistent pressure from their front four, and the WDE is the guy with the best opportunities in our system.  If Clark can't get to eight sacks in '14, we'll once again find ourselves in the middle-of-the-pack (#67 nationally in 2013 with 23.0 total) in sacks.  That is not a good place to be.

Jibreel Black will be missed

Tkl Solo Asst TFL Sacks QBH FF INT PBU
26 13 13 7.5 2.5 3 1 0 2
Rivals Pre-Ssn Current
5.7 5.7 5.8

Season Grade: B  Jibreel Black is the kind of player you like more every time you see him play.  I believe he was our most consistent performer on the line this year, even plugging-in at NT despite his 278 lb. frame.  Black, by far, produced the most pressure from the interior of the line, and probably produced the most consistent pass-rush of anyone on the team.

Unfortunately, it wasn't good enough.  He was tied for second (Cam Gordon) on the team with 7.5 TFLs and third (Chris Wormley) with 2.5 sacks.  On the defensive line, only Clark and Willie Henry had more tackles.  Yes, he was a productive player, but this needs to be the baseline for DTs if we are going to achieve our potential as an elite program.  For Jibreel Black, I see a guy who maxed his potential and deserves to be remembered for his worthy contribution.  But I also see a guy who stood out more than he should have because of pretty poor production by the D-Line as a unit.

NFL draft outlook:  Black is a fringe prospect, IMO, with a minimal chance of being a FA pick-up.

Quinton Washington's 2013 was a bit of a mystery

Tkl Solo Asst TFL Sacks QBH FF INT PBU
19 5 14 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Rivals Pre-Ssn Current
5.6 5.8 5.7

Season Grade: C+  I call shenanigans.  QWash finished the 2012 season strong--he had ten tackles in our last three games and a sack in the Outback Bowl--and appeared poised to be one of the team's most important pieces in 2013.  While no confirmed injuries were reported that I am aware of, I believe there were some physcial issues that held him back this year.  But that's just speculation.

What is certain is that his season was just mediocre.  We needed him to eat blocks and make a few plays each game; he didn't do enough of either, registered zero TFLs on the season and just five solo stops.  Expectations probably hovered around 35 tackles, 8.0 TFLs, and 3.0 sacks; he was far short of all of those marks.  Sure, part of it was that we frequently had smaller DL packages out there, but if QWash had been playing up to his potential, I don't think Mattison would have kept him on the sideline.  He was serviceable while he was in, but that's about the best I can say.

NFL draft outlook:  Not happening.  He appeared poised to be a late-round pick after last year, but a completely lackluster senior season seems to have erased that possibility.


Other notables

Player Tkl Solo Asst TFL Sks QBH FF INT PBU Grd Rvls Pre Now
Henry 28 12 13 2.5 0.0 0 0 0 0 B 5.6 5.7 5.8
Beyer 25 15 10 4.0 2.0 5 1 1 1 B 5.8 5.7 5.8
Ojemudia 20 12 8 1.5 1.5 1 0 0 0 B- 5.7 5.7 5.7
Wormley 17 8 9 4.5 2.5 0 0 0 1 B- 5.7 5.7 5.8
Heitzman 8 3 5 0.5 0.0 1 0 0 0 C- 5.5 5.7 5.6
Pipkins 7 1 6 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0 Inc 6.1 5.8 Inc
Godin 3 2 1 0.0 0.0 1 0 0 0 C- 5.7 5.7 5.6
Ash 3 1 2 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 D+ 5.8 5.6 5.5
Charlton 2 1 1 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0 C 5.8 Unr 5.7
Strobel 2 1 1 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 D+ 5.8 5.7 5.5
Glasgow 2 1 1 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 D+ 5.2 Unr 5.5

It's remarkable that we never established a starter at SDE.  Keith Heitzman was the presumed and nominal guy, but only started seven times and didn't even play in one of our games.  Brennen Beyer is currently listed as the starter at SDE, and he spent most of the season playing SLB with his 250 lb. frame.  It is not good that he is our best option at that position.  Chris Wormely showed signs that he can play up to his lofty potential, but did not produce consistently.  Matt Godin was sometimes on the field.

Willie Henry figures to start at either DT or NT in 2014.  Despite playing in only nine games (and missing stat-boosters CMU and Akron) and starting just five, Henry racked-up 28 tackles and 2.5 TFLs.  13 of those tackles came in the final three games.  QWash's 2013 fade gives me pause, but I will go ahead and predict a big 2014 for Henry anyway, in the 40 tackle range with about 10 TFLs.  Tom Strobel (whom I wrongly predicted would have a breakout 2013) will also figure into the rotation here, and perhaps Henry Poggi and Maurice Hurst.

Beyer is the presumed starter at SDE, and, as Brian says, will likely fulfill his Roh 2.0 destiny.  He will add 20-30 lbs. in the off-seasn and be solid but not spectacular, just as he has been this year.  He will be reviewed again in the LB wrap-up.

Ondre Pipkins will probably be our starting NT if he can get healthy; that is a big "if" for a 300-plus pounder who's had trouble staying in shape when his legs worked properly.  If it's not him, please feel free to panic as Richard Ash is currently listed as the #2 option at NT.  After that?  Ryan Glasgow is the only other guy with the requisite size (and the aforementioned Henry, which requires plugging someone else in at DT) to play the position.  Perhaps Hurst will become a NT; Bryan Mone will be a true freshman and is likely to get some snaps.

Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton represent what I believe to be the most talented group of back-ups on the roster, and I expect both to contribute.  Charlton may very well be big enough to play SDE and even DT on passing downs, and I hope we find a combination of players that can get pressure on third down without blitzing, which may put Ojemudia at the SDE.


2014 Outlook

The line will lose its interior starters in Qwash and Black, but both are replaceable.  Henry is likely to be an upgrade at either position, and in the other spot...well, we may miss Jibreel Black if someone doesn't step-up.  At SDE, I expect Beyer to be an upgrade over the platoon this year.  Even if he's not, I'd expect Wormley to be an upgrade.

To be an elite defensive front, we need our line to produce around 20 sacks.  That's 50% more than this year's group could manage.  While I believe Clark will take another step forward, Beyer will be solid, and I am excited about the future for Henry and Wormley, 2015 is when Hoke's recruiting will have the D-Line up to snuff.  I expect a "B/B-" season in 2014...quite a bit better than this year, but not yet elite.

Grading System:

  • A+   Consensus All-American.  One of the best players in the country regardless of position.
  • A  Likely Second-tem All-American/First-team All-B1G.  A hugely impactful player that affects every snap for which he is on the field and is one of the better players at his position in the country.
  • A-  Likely All-B1G selection.  A play-maker that forces other teams to adjust their gameplan.
  • B+  An impact player who is a big factor in the team's success.
  • B  "The expectation for the position."  At Michigan, this means you are doing your job well enough to get us to at least 10 wins and to challege for the B1G title.
  • B-  Not quite up to par.  A player who may start, but an upgrade would be helpful.
  • C+ Significant snaps for a C+ player will hold the team back from achieving its goals: 10 wins and a B1G championship.
  • C  An average college football player on an average team.  Picture an average starter at Washington State.
  • C-  A player that is consistently unproductive and should only be on the field in an emergency situation or for garbage time.
  • D+  A player whose performance hurts the team.
  • D  A player that should not be on the field for any reason at Michigan.
  • F  Pure disaster.

Please note that these grades are NOT representative of what I believe to be a player's future potential.  I am not assuming anyone with a low grade will turn out to be an unproductive player at Michigan.

Derrick Green & Brennen Beyer with "boo-boo" & should be back soon

Derrick Green & Brennen Beyer with "boo-boo" & should be back soon

Submitted by Leaders And Best on August 8th, 2013 at 7:09 PM
I thought I would update the Derrick Green injury saga with the latest from Hoke's presser.

Hoke post-Thursday practice: Beyer and D Green "little boo boos". Expects them back Saturday

Also on another note, Florida LB Matt Rolin tore his ACL again today. It's the one thing I am kind of worried about if we try to rush Jake Ryan back.

Dienhart: recent Q&A with Mattison

Dienhart: recent Q&A with Mattison

Submitted by PeterKlima on June 27th, 2012 at 11:54 AM

Tom Dienhart at the BTN recently posted a Q&A with Mattison.  I don't like Dienhart, but I am starved for football talk.  Relevant points:

  • Defensive line are all participating and working hard this summer.  Especially Will Campbell.
  • Beyer and Bolden might have an impact.
  • The LBs need the most improvement.
  • Kovacs is Kovacs.
  • We might see more defensive audibles this year.


Nothing earth-shattering by any stretch.  But it is recent talk from our DC and it reminds me of how far we progressed last year.



Moving Picture Pages - How Not To Defend Power, Part II

Moving Picture Pages - How Not To Defend Power, Part II

Submitted by Chris of Dange… on September 11th, 2011 at 2:56 PM

Like about everybody else here, I'm still basking in the afterglow of the win over ND, but I still wanted to get this done before the next batch of Picture Pages comes out.  In other news, I finally figured out how to slow down video, which some people have asked for.

Setup: (Brian's original post is http://mgoblog.com/content/picture-pages-how-not-defend-power-part-ii) In Part I (http://mgoblog.com/content/picture-pages-how-not-defend-power-part-i), we see that Brennen Beyer overran a counter play Western ran to the left, losing contain and opening the door to a 25-yard gain (to be fair, he just opened the door; bad linebacker play exacerbated the lack of contain and escorted the Western RB through it).  He was undoubtedly coached about said overpursuit afterwards (without, I am assuming, the use of stuffed animals) and returned determined to not repeat that mistake.

Wha'hoppon: Naturally, Beyer made the opposite mistake this time by engaging the pulling guard inside, proving there's more than one way to lose outside contain.  A cut block on the MLB took out both him and the backside LB, and Herron steps up into the pile instead of out to force the play back inside, completing the loss of contain.  Once again, Kovacs comes across from his deep safety position to make the tackle far downfield.

Non-embedded version at http://youtu.be/9asASKuFZ-I?hd=1


Moving Picture Pages - How Not To Defend Power, Part I

Moving Picture Pages - How Not To Defend Power, Part I

Submitted by Chris of Dange… on September 9th, 2011 at 11:04 AM

In case anybody's wondering, I'm Chris of Dangerous Logic here, but parkinggod pretty much everywhere else on the web, including YouTube.

(apologies to those who are familiar with MPP from last year; this is for the new folks)

  I love Picture Pages, but I'm so obtuse that I usually have to replay the video as I'm reading in order to understand what's happening.  Finally it dawned on me that I have the game footage, a video editor, and a little bit of free time, so (with Brian's permission) I have annotated the play with pauses, spot-shadowing, and other kindergarden video effects to make it easier to follow.  I notice that Brian has also started including an annotated version at the end of his regular picture pages posts (in this case, http://mgoblog.com/content/picture-pages-how-not-defend-power-part-i), but he points out different things there so I think this is still useful.

Setup: It's second and two on the Michigan 47 on Western's second drive of the day.  Western runs a counter out of the shotgun against Michigan's 3-4 front with corners pressing and only Kovacs deep.

Wha'hoppon: The LT ignores Brennen Beyer to double RVB. Beyer crashes into the backfield only to get hit by a pulling guard as the RB runs by him on the counter.  Demens steps up into the hole but loses outside contain, and the RB cuts outside and may well have had a TD if Kovacs doesn't make a tackle 25 yards downfield.


Brennen Beyer's First Game

Brennen Beyer's First Game

Submitted by DGDestroys on August 28th, 2010 at 10:13 AM

Beyer ripped apart both the Salem offense and defense last night en route to a 48-0 win last night. Tim tweeted these:

Beyer blocks a punt and recovers for a TD. Plymouth leads Salem 14-0 with 8:56 to go in the first half.

Beyer's 2nd TD grab makes it 21-0 Plymouth. Beyer has accounted for 18 points, ND commit Kyle Brindza has 3 extra points.

At the half, Brennen Beyer's Plymouth Wildcats lead Salem 35-0. Beyer has 2 rec for 43 yds and 2 TDs, punt block TD, and 3 QB knockdowns.

And Plymouth Canton sports ran this article late last night... quotes!

Senior Brennen Beyer, who has committed to play football for the University of Michigan beginning next fall, scored three touchdowns in a five-minute span of the second quarter Friday night to lead the Wildcats to a 48-0 triumph over Salem.

"That's why he's going to Michigan," Plymouth head coach Mike Sawchuk said, when asked about Beyer's game-changing exploits. "He worked his butt off during the off-season. He's even better now than he was last year."

Beyer's offensive explosion was ignited 55 seconds into the second quarter when the 6-foot-4, 225-pound wide-out out-jumped Salem defensive back Evian Pardo for a 32-touchdown pass from junior quarterback Shaun Austin.

There should be video up from Tim by Monday, thanks Tim!

Sam Webb's Brennen Beyer Update

Sam Webb's Brennen Beyer Update

Submitted by MGoShoe on April 1st, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Sam Webb's latest focuses on Plymouth DE Brennen Beyer and it confirms previous Tim and TomVH reports that Beyer is a Michigan lean who: grew up a Wolverines fan, decided to delay his seemingly sure commitment, has garnered signficant offers and interest, seems to be deciding between Michigan and Notre Dame, has spent a significant amount of time in A2 and plans to attend the Spring Game.

MGoBlog archive material on Beyer available here and

Money quotes...

Favorites: "I still like Michigan a lot," Beyer said. "But I'm really looking hard at Michigan and Notre Dame right now."

On his Notre Dame visit: "I got to talk to Coach (Bob) Diaco, their defensive coordinator and he explained to me where I belong in their defense as an outside linebacker," Beyer said. "I got to talk to Coach (Brian) Kelly. I also got to see the campus a lot and the campus is pretty nice. Coach Kelly has a pretty good record. It's attractive and so is what the whole school itself has to offer."

On Michigan's scrimmage: "It was great," Beyer said. "It was sweet to see finally hitting full speed and stuff. It was really good because I got to see the coach's coach and the players go at it. So it was good to get a feel for the atmosphere and what a practice was like. The defensive coordinator, Coach Robinson, was fun to watch. He was who I watched mostly because that's where I'm being recruited for. It was really good. I was pretty impressed."

On the process: "I've still got a little bit more things to think about, but I'm definitely getting closer (to making a choice)," he said. "I'm definitely going to make a decision before my senior year of football. The visits I'm going on now, I want to get a feel for what the coaches are like, how they are going to coach me, and what kind of atmosphere it is going to be at their practices. I'm looking for a school with a great coaching staff, nice facilities, and good academics."

"I guess just when I feel like I've been to the college I want to go to, and I'm 100 percent sure that it is the right place, I'll commit."