2010 Michigan Defense: Are You Experienced? [updated]

Submitted by Marley Nowell on May 31st, 2010 at 1:47 AM

Jimi Hendrix

The 2010 Michigan Defense will be quite young and inexperienced. But how do they compare to the rest of the Big Ten? Finding depth charts was more difficult that I imagined and I was not able to find all of them. [The only one I could not find was for Minnesota.  If someone finds a link I"ll add the Gophers in.]

Obviously depth charts change constantly but these are all finalized after the team's respective spring game, so its the best we got. I did a simple breakdown between upperclassman (Jr. - Rs Sr.) and underclassman.

Teams are listed from weakest to strongest based on 2009 Total Defense.

 

Indiana

(courtesy of Scout)

Starters

Upperclassman: 8

Underclassman: 3

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 14

Underclassman: 8

 

Illinois

(courtesy of Rivals)

Starters

Upperclassman: 7

Underclassman: 4

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 12

Underclassman: 10

 

Michigan State

(courtesy of The Only Colors)

Starters

Upperclassman: 5

Underclassman: 6

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 8

Underclassman: 14

 

Northwestern

(courtesy of Northwestern Football Blog)

Starters

Upperclassman: 10

Underclassman: 1

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 15

Underclassman: 7

 

Purdue

(courtesy of Bing)

Starters

Upperclassman: 7

Underclassman: 4

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 8

Underclassman: 14

 

Wisconsin

(courtesy of Rivals)

Starters

Upperclassman: 10

Underclassman: 1

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 12

Underclassman: 10

 

Penn State

(courtesy of The Penn State Examiner)

Starters

Upperclassman: 10

Underclassman: 1

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 12

Underclassman: 10

 

Iowa

(courtesy of National Champs)

Starters

Upperclassman: 10

Underclassman: 1

 

Ohio State

(courtesy of Brutus Report)

Starters

Upperclassman: 9

Underclassman: 2

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 11

Underclassman: 11

 

On first glance these breakdowns make sense.  Penn State, Iowa, and Ohio State usually field excellent defenses year after year.  These programs have (obviously) been able to build up depth allowing them to field experinced players.  Wisconsin and Northwestern also return mostly upperclassman and were ranked higher last year than I intially thought.

Michigan State and Purdue are more evenly split.  Both schools field relatively new coaches compared to these other schools.

 

Big Ten Averages

Starters

Upperclassman: 7.6

Underclassman: 3.4

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 10.2

Underclassman: 11.8

Michigan

Starters

Upperclassman: 6

Underclassman: 5

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 8

Underclassman: 14

 

Clearly the Wolverines are short on experience in the starting lineup, but they are not far off from the other B10 schools.  However these numbers could tip even younger if Obi Ezeh loses his spot and Will Campbell becomes a starter.

The two-deep is even more skewed toward younger players.  In a word: brutal.


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)

 

Which category most closely matches one of the above?

Starters Craptastic Decent Great Michigan
Upperclassman 6.7 8.5 9.8 6
Underclassman 4.3 2.5 1.2 5
 
Two-Deep Craptastic Decent Great Michigan
Upperclassman 11.3 11.5 11.7 8
Underclassman 10.7 10.5 10.3 14

I don't think any further analysis is needed here.  Michigan is significantly inexperienced compared to their BIg Ten foes, especiallly when compared to the good and elite teams. The two-deep is just scary to look at and there is no surgarcoating that situation.  Michigan needs health as much (if not more) than any other B10 team this year. 

The silver lining here is Michigan matches up fairly closely to Purdue, ranked 5th in Total Big Ten Defense.  Hopefully our superior talent will also allow Michigan to finish as somewhat of an outliner in 2010.


Michigan Defense: 2009 vs 2010

Starters 2009 2010
Upperclassman 6 6
Underclassman 5

5

 

Two-Deep 2009 2010
Upperclassman 8 8
Underclassman 14 14

 

What does this all mean?

Looking at the Michigan Two-Deep I am surprised that we field the same experience-level defense.  This gives me more hope that the 2010 Defense as an overall unit can be better than the one we saw in 2009.

 

GO BLUE!

Comments

bluesouth

May 31st, 2010 at 3:12 AM ^

enthusiasm that said I also like that you did not tack on some number of wins this "improved defense" will manifest.  My concern is watching and looking for some measure of improvement  Especially in linenacker play and defensive line play, the defensive backfield play has got to improve as in (can't get any worse) and (please suprise me).

.  I find with young teams win totals are even more difficult to gauge than well established talented upperclassmen laden teams.  Especially young talented teams they will win some games they are not supposed to win and will as we have seen in the past lose some games they are not supposed to lose.  ( Florida v Michigan) I don't pretend my presumption is borne out of some deep thoughtful well documented analysis , it comes from over 40 years of watching the game.  That said  I'm still looking for overall improvement. Hopefully that will translate to an improved record on the field.

  In the here and now RR has hinted that the team is moving in the right direction as in bulding team chemestry, improving competition, strenght and conditioning,  the maturation of several key positions, a pleasant suprise at the safety posistion., and lastly continuity at the DC. Usually in the cold hard facts world these intangibles are overlooked and undervalued because we generally cannot measure them. But the coaches know and they communicate this from time to time.   

maizenbluenc

May 31st, 2010 at 8:19 AM ^

Thanks for this comparison. Ugh, is my first response of course.

While I agree that youth = variabilty of result, we really have no excuse against MSU this year. Purdue is within competitive range as well. (Too bad you didn't find the depth charts for IU and Illinios as well. While outside the Big Ten, ND's depth chart is probably unstable due to the new coaching staff, and better compared after their first game.)

victors2000

May 31st, 2010 at 9:58 AM ^

the impact that having continuity on the defense with Coach Robinson being there two years in a row is going to have. The defensive philosophy has been established, and the team is building upon a foundation then simply just building. The leadership has solidified, experience has for the most part increased, and I think this will allow for more cohesiveness and better execution on the defensive side of the ball in '10 than in '09 despite the continued youth.

mgovictors23

May 31st, 2010 at 10:25 AM ^

I think we have the chance to be better next year even with the loss of Graham, Brown, and Warren. I think the continuity of having a defensive coordinator for two years in a row for once will really help, especially the linebackers. If Kenny Demens keeps playing like he did in the spring and in the spring game it wouldn't surprise me at all if he took Ezeh's job. Also if Jonas Mouton and Will Campbell play up to their capabilities and J.T. Floyd is at least serviceable as the second cornerback we could be solid. I know that's a ton of what ifs though, but I'm still looking forward to see how we play defensively this year because we have a lot of very young talented players on that side of the ball.

ihateMichigan

May 31st, 2010 at 12:04 PM ^

Michigans secondary will be cut through like swiss cheese once again this year.  Experience is a big deal, especially the first part of the season.  Sorry fellas, its gonna be a long long year for you all again. 

Sac Fly

May 31st, 2010 at 2:54 PM ^

... i would rank MSU lower, because they might have some experience but they also went away from their strength by switching to the 3-4, and i also think the cream on white fender strat is the coolest guitar ever.

Njia

June 1st, 2010 at 7:35 AM ^

Time-of-Possession. No, it doesn't show up in stats, but keeping the defense on the field for an infernally long time gives a young defense more time to show everyone how young they really are. Also, more time for injuries and exposing that two-deep (and its inherent weaknesses) to the light of day more than the coaches would probably like. Therefore, our offense in 2010 has to hang on to the damn ball, (ple-e-e-e-e-ease stay healthy, Mr. Molk, please) which may be as important as the points. Otherwise, it is entirely possible that - despite our honest and best wishes otherwise - that CFN prediction might turn out to be more right than not.

JD_UofM_90

June 1st, 2010 at 11:26 AM ^

too me from the data is how the four "great" defenses all have 9 or 10 upperclassmen starting, but the backups are mostly made up of underclassmen.  Talent plus experience is prefered for starters, but talent appears to trump experience for the backup positions.  It also shows that the "great" defensive teams are grooming the next generation of starters with experience for their future teams with a significant percentage of underclassmen.....

Makes alot of sense.  It looks like we are a couple of years away until we can get ourselves in the same position as these "great" defensive teams.

Don

June 1st, 2010 at 2:52 PM ^

All we can do is Wait Until Tomorrow; right now there Ain't No Telling whether we're finally going to see real defensive progress or just more Castles Made of Sand. The Burning of the Midnight Lamp better be the mindset of the entire coaching staff to compensate for the youth and inexperience of the team, because if we have another losing season it will be Manic Depression around here, we'll see the Big House Burning Down, and people will be throwing themselves into Crosstown Traffic. If all that happens, then RR's One Rainy Wish will be to just get the hell out of town to start over somewhere else, even if David Brandon doesn't Fire him.

funkywolve

June 1st, 2010 at 5:17 PM ^

The four best defenses tend to have the longest tenured coaches.  Wisky the possible exception but Alvarez handed the reigns to Beilma after Beilma was an assistant for a couple of years.