2010 Michigan Defense: Are You Experienced? [redux]

Submitted by Marley Nowell on August 20th, 2010 at 9:28 PM

I published my original diary shortly after spring practice.  Now that there is some more clarity to the 2010 Defense I thought I would revisit the numbers and see where we stand.  I just hope our defense does not look like Jimi's guitar.

2010 Michigan Defense

*I list who I think will be starters first


RS Jr. Ryan VanBergen

RS Fr. Anthony Lalota or Fr.  Jibreel Black


Jr. Mike Martin

So. Will Campbell


RS Sr. Greg Banks

Sr. Renaldo Sagesse


So. Craig Roh

RS Jr. Brandon Herron or Jr. JB Fitzgerald


Sr. Mark Moundrous or RS Sr. Obi Ezeh


RS Sr. Jonas Mouton

So. Mike Jones


RS Fr. Tom Gordon or So. Floyd Simmons


So. Jordan Kovacs

Fr. Marvin Robinson


RS Fr. Cam Gordon or So. Vladimir Emilen


RS So. JT Floyd

Fr. Cullen Christian

Sr. James Rogers

So. Teric Jones or Fr. Courtney Avery or Fr. Terrence Talbott

Big Ten Averages


Upperclassman: 7.6

Underclassman: 3.4


Upperclassman: 10.2

Underclassman: 11.8



Upperclassman: 5

Underclassman: 6


Upperclassman: 9

Underclassman: 13


These numbers are just terrible in comparison to the Big Ten.

Not All B10 Defenses Are Created Equal

After looking at the B10 Total Defense rankings from 2009 there appeared to be 3 fairly seperate categories of defensive quailty.

Craptastic: 404.0 yds/game (Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, MSU, Minnesota)

Decent: 354.1 yds/game (Purdue & Northwestern)

Great: 295.3 yds/game (Wisconsin, PSU, Iowa, OSU)

Starters Craptastic Decent Great Michigan 2010
Upperclassman 6.7 8.5 9.8 5
Underclassman 4.3 2.5 1.2 6
Two-Deep Craptastic Decent Great Michigan 2010
Upperclassman 11.3 11.5 11.7 9
Underclassman 10.7 10.5 10.3 13

Again the numbers are just plain scary.

What does this all mean?

Seems that only LIttle Brother fields the same experience level defense that Michigan does.  I am predicting a shootout for the Paul Bunyon Trophy.  I wish I could come up with something more positive.





August 21st, 2010 at 4:15 AM ^

I'm worried too, but if we can hold onto the ball (where we were last in the Big Ten) and have 2 quarterbacks with much better experience and maturity under their belts, who knows.

Yeah...I'm not talking so much about defense, BUT, there were a lot of missed coverages...with more simplicity and better Rod defensive terms this year, at least everyone is on the same page.  If Floyd, Christianson, Gordon, and others impress, there's hope yet. 

I'm actually saying this thinking we may be 2-2 after 4 games, but then the freshmen will have better experience and we will do better, even vs tougher teams, as the season continues.


August 20th, 2010 at 9:51 PM ^

but you have to factor in the offense, which should be one of the best in the Big 10.  Having a good offense makes your defense better because they're not on the field as much.   Having a great running team only emphasizes this advantage.  


August 20th, 2010 at 10:26 PM ^

Except the team really wasn't quick strike last year.  We averaged 22.13 PPG in conference play (which was the exact same as '08 by the way).  That's not quick strike.  That's just not a good offense.  We didn't lose TOP because we scored so fast.  We lost it because our offense didn't move the ball. 

My Adobe is screwed so I can't check the WVU site (which has the info I want in PDF form unfortunately), but I'd be interested to know if Rod's WVU teams consistently lost the TOP battle in games that they won.  I'd think they probably didn't.


August 20th, 2010 at 11:00 PM ^


WVU 2007 - 30:14


U of M 2009 - 26:25  rank 116 out of 120  yikes!!

FWIW, if you took WVU's T.O.P. stats from 2007 and ranked them against 2009 teams they would be 55th one spot below ...... West Virginia. 

TOP is not a critical stat but it sure doesn't hurt


August 21st, 2010 at 12:48 AM ^

No, TOP isn't critical.  My point is that regardless of how quick strike the offense is (which I'm not sure of anyway, I seem to remember a diary with Charts?  CHARTS!! that showed Rod's WVU teams were more consistent in the 5-10 yard range, while the 20+ yards range stuff was actually quite a bit lower than previous Michigan teams, which I don't think were ever considered quick strike offenses.)  I doubt that they consistently lost the TOP battle, or that they at least managed to keep it close. 

To find the info someone would have to actually go to the WVU site and look at the box scores from all their games '05-07 ('04 doesn't seem to have game logs, or at least not in the same place).  As I said, I'd do it, but my Adobe is boned and it's all in PDF.

Uncle Rico

August 21st, 2010 at 1:02 AM ^

Agree.  I can't tell you how many ways I've looked at a variety of data, from TOP, 1st downs, to run vs pass play %age, to total yardage.  I've done this several times over the years, to see if I can find (prove to myself) any causal relationship between O and D.

There's not one single data point which has any kind of significant correlation with a better offense improving a defense, especially when viewed from year to year.

Either the Defense if good or it's not.  It stands alone, regardless of how good or bad the offense is.


August 21st, 2010 at 2:30 AM ^

I've been trying to work onsomething similiar recently.  I wanted to see if I could find some kind of correlation between PPG for/against in conference and in conference record (there isn't, by the way).  There really appears to be no correlation that suggests that an improved offense means an improved defense.

The best example of this I've found so far is 2005 Minnesota, which averaged a whopping 31.88 PPG For in conference, but also gave up 34.13 PPG against (how that team finished 4-4 in conference is beyond me)


August 21st, 2010 at 6:34 AM ^

I think the quickness of this offense is more about how quickly the team is supposed to line up and get another play going. I remember the same diary as you about yardage per play, and agree, this is not an offense designed to always get the big play. It seems more an offense designed to have a cross of intermediate plays and have them quickly.


August 21st, 2010 at 12:34 PM ^

Our turnovers were very related to our TOP since they both reflected the state of our O-Line which should improve vastly with the return of the injured as well as the general improvement of our QBs under pressure. I think our TOP would follow suit (even if it is an antiquated stat)


August 20th, 2010 at 10:13 PM ^

I think what needs to be looked at is not just under/upperclassmen, but starting experience/ overall playing time.  Is a senior who's a first year starter better than a sophmore who's in his second year as a starter?  Maybe that actually is the case.  But I would certainly prefer the returning starter.


August 20th, 2010 at 10:29 PM ^

It's pretty much on our D Line to keep quarterbacks bothered enough that they don't wreak havoc on our secondary. The longer a quarterback gets in the pocket, the scarier this season is going to be. That being said, I have faith in Roh, Martin, and VanBergen. Also, it can't hurt that the young secondary gets to practice against a damn good group of receivers. 

Pea-Tear Gryphon

August 21st, 2010 at 10:44 AM ^

One of the things I really like about the 3-3-5 is the ability to bring pressure from anywhere to confuse the offense and QB. We will need this to relieve some pressure on the secondary. If we get 3-4 blitzes home per game and kill drives with big sacks, the D should be serviceable. And as everyone else has mentioned, the O should be better. Better Comp%, Turnover ratio and yards per play should all be better this year with what we have coming back.

Hope springs eternal...in August at least.


August 20th, 2010 at 10:49 PM ^

By the way one of those upperclassmen was a fullback as recently as Spring.

The DL looks extremely solid with a very good DT rotation and Van Bergen plus AWESOME FROSH manning the end spot.

Death Roh has got that hybrid DE/LB spot on lock. Good depth in the LB corps (Fitzgerald/Demens/Jones/Leach).

Secondary looks atrociously bad unless Marvin Robinson and Cullen Christian are killers and Vlad Emilien is a world-beater.

Difference between being absolutely atrociously season-killing and below average is unfortunately, Jonas Mouton and Obi Ezeh.

The fact the season and RichRod's Michigan tenure may ride on those two is Texas Chainsaw Massacre-level frightening.

EDIT TO ADD: Probably a bad sign I used "atrociously" twice in the span of 2 paragraphs to describe the defense.


August 20th, 2010 at 11:03 PM ^

thick and thin, since spring. And I think that will be an accomplishment, that Brandon will know it, and the RR keeps his job even with that record. 2011, we kill. 


August 20th, 2010 at 11:59 PM ^

..and I'll stick with 9-4 counting a bowl. 

Looking at the roster, if I have my count right, there are 6 CB's and 17 (yes, 17) safeties listed.  All of the safeties are listed at 207 or less, though some may have fluctuated since the weights were entered into the database.  They will find enough bodies to put at CB. 

Also, dividing into "upperclassmen" and "underclassmen" is valid, but games played may be a better determinant of experience.  It may look like it sucks right now, but we don't know and won't have any idea until we actually see them play someone.   Luckily, this will happen in a couple of weeks. 

After that, though, we won't really know how much they will improve until they get into the "meat" of the BT schedule.  I'm not ready to pack it in quite yet, and I'm sure they aren't, either.

To the OP: nice "Jimi at Monteray" pic.  I find this really fitting because right now, I am listening to a nice Jimi show from 1-22-69 in Vienna.  And it is one of the rare shows where he does AYE, to which I am listening as I type this sentence. 


August 21st, 2010 at 1:16 AM ^

 What will stop the tsunami?  Damn, even IU is probably licking their chops after reading all of the banter on Mgoblog.

Revising my forecast to seven, maybe eight losses.  Won't matter how many points we score, we are in major defensive doo-doo.

And sadly, RR will be canned.   I hate to see this happen, but our defense is thin, inexperienced, and bad.  And there are no excuses after three seasons.  There aren't.  The head coach has badly underestimated what kind of defense is necessary to win in the Big Ten.  Period.


August 21st, 2010 at 2:46 AM ^

So your theory is that RR has intentionally been fielding crappy defenses because he has underestimated the Big Ten?  You think that he doesn't want a quality defense?

Don't you think it is possible that he was dealt a crappy defensive hand, and the lack of depth has provided zero margin for error for injuries?  Is it his fault that his best defensive back recruits have either flamed out (BooBoo and Turner), been denied admission (DD, Witty), or are just getting a chance to contribute after their redshirt years?

If we can just slow teams down enough this year to let our offense win some games, we should be solid going forward as the younger defenders gain experience and physical maturity.


August 21st, 2010 at 8:59 AM ^

For the last two years after each tough loss, it's been "ehh, I Don't Live Today, just Wait Until Tomorrow." Still, when I read these numbers after a Long Hot Summer Night, it's easy to feel that my One Rainy Wish of a competitive defense is nothing more than Castles Made of Sand. In that case, I'm looking at staving off a Manic Depression.

What I have to do is remember the Burning of the Midnight Lamp as GERG and the rest of the defensive staff stay up late figuring out how to keep Michigan Stadium from becoming a Red House of blown assignments, missed tackles, and third-and-18 conversions.

If they can, Ain't No Telling how far this team can go with the increasingly potent offense we'll see over the course of the season.

If they can't, it'll be hard to prevent the mob from Ann Arbor Torch & Pitchfork from braving Crosstown Traffic to lay seige to David Brandon's office, screaming Fire RR or you'll see the Big House Burning Down.

My hunch all along has been that we'll only win half our games. If 6 was 9, then You Got Me Floating on this Third Stone from the Sun.


August 21st, 2010 at 11:36 AM ^

Yup. Gerg's gonna have to channel his inner Voodoo Child and work some magic with the youngsters on D or the Wind won't be the only the thing crying Mary Sue, get rid of this RR guy.


August 21st, 2010 at 10:54 AM ^

Can they possibly be worse then last year? One more year in the weight room and a simplified scheme should help, last years D had plenty of upperclassmen and we know how that went. I think the D will be improved enough to get us to a minor bowl with next year setting up for Big Ten contention.

steve sharik

August 21st, 2010 at 1:29 PM ^

We'll have 9 upperclass starters on offense (if Shaw is the RB), the only underclass guys being Roundtree and Omameh.  If the numbers are similar for offense, then our offense will be great and our defense will be craptastic.  In other words, just what we've been expecting: shootouts.


August 22nd, 2010 at 9:02 AM ^

Crashing and burning like the Jimi's guitar might be far fetched for our defense this year. I've been following our new freshmen's high school careers and checking the possible starters on defense and although this isn't a Bo's or Lloyd's defense, it might have a chance to be a middle of the Big Ten Pack defense this season.

At CB the fear is that JT FLoyd isn't great, well don't worry, he was going to play anyways, and as for the number 2 CB Fr. Cullen Christian is a super great athlete at that position, that means a lot at this point, James Rogers and Courtney Avery are great support also. As for Talbott and Jones, great support at DBs. Yes the position is thin, but still if we can keep these guys semi healthy during the season we can target being a decent defense this season in the B10. I think if Michigan plays contain defense and doesn't take much chances we can maintain having longer drives for the other offense, which means more snaps, more chances for mistakes, more time ticking off the clock and much more resting time for our offense.

The hope then is to get that offense to produce, we need an average of 28 to 35 points a game to win around 9 games this season. From what I see on Michigan's offense, I think that is very possible. we need to try to repeat what Michigan did in the 2000 season when Henson and the offense needed to SCORE big every game to be able to win. keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best... GO BLUE