2011 Michigan Defense: Are You Experienced?

Submitted by Marley Nowell on August 13th, 2011 at 1:45 PM

[Ed-M: Apologies to mod who front-paged this. I bumped back to diaries. Plan on discussion in today's Dear Diary.]

I did this diary last year knowing our defense would be extremely inexperienced.  Here's hoping the 2011 numbers (and actual Defense) are more kind this year. At the time I did a simple breakdown between upperclassmen (Jr. to 5th) and underclassmen (Fr. to So.) and saw the strength of defenses climbing almost directly with the level of experience.

Michigan fans, myself included, are hopeful that our defense can be average compared to the rest of the conference. From an experience standpoint I believe this is a reasonable goal for 2011.

2011 Michigan Defense

WDE

Jr. Craig Roh

So.  Jibreel Black

DT

Sr. Mike Martin

RS Fr. Ken Wilkens

DT

Jr. Will Campbell

RS So. Quinton Washington or RS Fr. Richard Ash

SDE

RS Sr. Ryan VanBergan

RS Sr. Will Heininger

MLB

RS Jr. Kenny Demens or Sr. Marell Evans

WLB

RS So. Mike Jones

RS Sr. Brandon Herron or RS Sr. J.B. Fitzgerald

SLB

RS So. Cameron Gordon

RS Fr. Jake Ryan

SS

RS Jr. Jordan Kovacs

So. Marvin Robinson

FS

So. Carvin Johnson

RS So. Tom Gordon or RS Fr. Josh Furman

CB

RS Sr. Troy Woolfolk

So. Courtney Avery

RS Jr. J.T. Floyd

So. Terrence Talbott


Teams are listed from weakest to strongest based on 2010 Total Defense.

Northwestern

(courtesy of BigTen Nation)

Starters

Upperclassman: 11

Underclassman: 0

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 16

Underclassman: 6

 

Indiana

(courtesy of Rivals)

Starters

Upperclassman: 7

Underclassman: 4

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 15

Underclassman: 7

 

Minnesota

(courtesy of Scout)

Starters

Upperclassman: 10

Underclassman: 1

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 12

Underclassman: 10

 

Purdue

(courtesy of Scout)

Starters

Upperclassman: 8

Underclassman: 3

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 13

Underclassman: 9

 

Michigan State

(courtesy of Rivals)

Starters

Upperclassman: 6

Underclassman: 5

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 12

Underclassman: 10

 

Illinois

(courtesy of Rivals)

Starters

Upperclassman: 9

Underclassman: 2

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 14

Underclassman: 8

 

Penn State

(courtesy of Rivals)

Starters

Upperclassman: 11

Underclassman: 0

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 14

Underclassman: 8

 

Iowa

(courtesy of Rivals)

Starters

Upperclassman: 8

Underclassman: 3

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 14

Underclassman: 8

 

Wisconsin

(courtesy of Rivals)

Starters

Upperclassman: 8

Underclassman: 3

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 11

Underclassman: 11

 

Nebraska

(courtesy of Scout)

Starters

Upperclassman: 10

Underclassman: 1

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 17

Underclassman: 5

 

Ohio State

(courtesy of Scout)

Starters

Upperclassman: 10

Underclassman: 1

Two-Deep

Upperclassman: 17

Underclassman: 5


 

Big Ten Averages:

Starters

Upperclassmen: 8.9

Underclassmen: 2.1

Two-Deep

Upperclassmen: 14.1

Underclassmen: 7.9

Michigan:

Starters

Upperclassmen: 7

Underclassmen: 4

Two-Deep

Upperclassmen: 11

Underclassmen: 11

These numbers are much better than last year and are not too far off from the rest of the Big Ten.


 

Why That Matters...

After looking at the B10 Total Defense rankings from 2010 there appeared to be three fairly seperate categories of defensive quailty:

Craptastic: 419.9 yds/game (Michigan, Northwestern, Indiana, Minnesota)

Decent: 345.8 yds/game (Purdue, MSU, Illinois, PSU, Iowa, Wisconsin)

Great: 284.5 yds/game (Nebraska, OSU).

There's no difference in the experience of Craptastic and Decent teams but to get from Decent to Great had a huge jump:

Starters Craptastic Decent Great Mich 2010 Mich 2011 
Upperclassmen 8.8 8.3 10 5 7
Underclassmen 2.2 2.7 1 6 4
 
Two-Deep Craptastic Decent Great Mich 2010 Mich 2011
Upperclassmen 13.8 12.8 17 9 11
Underclassmen 8.2 9.2 5 13 11

This is quite interesting (and different from last year). Most of the B10 teams, including Michigan, seem to be returning the same amount of experience. Michigan is still less experienced but the gap (especially for the starters) is a lot smaller than in previous years.

Another encouraging note is the four underclassmen being pushed into playing time have all at least seen the field and any true freshmen who play do so because they are actually beating out on another player for the spot.

GO BLUE!

Comments

maizenblue92

August 12th, 2011 at 9:20 PM ^

My only critique is that all indications are Jake Ryan will be the back-up to Cam Gordon at SLB. And Thomas Gordon is playing the Nickle Corner (refuse to call it Nickleback, obvious reasons) while Josh Furman was the back-up to Carvin Johnson at FS. 

If this has changed since the spring game my apologies in advance.

All-American

August 12th, 2011 at 9:47 PM ^

Mike Jones over Brandon Herron? Jones has been kind of injury prone, and hasn't gotten a lot of on field experience. I think that the coaches will go with experience on this one.

ILwolverine

August 12th, 2011 at 11:14 PM ^

My only disagreement with your starters is Demens would be starter MLB and WLB would be Evans or Jones or Herron.  The only reason Evans started at MLB in the spring was Demens injury.  Am I correct in this thinking or have I missed something?

jbibiza

August 13th, 2011 at 9:01 AM ^

These are two distinct positions in our defense with Martin at NT and BWC at DT.  I cannot see Wilkins at 280 playing the nose and in the first practices he has been at SDE (though still listed as DT on the roster).  Q has played behind Campbell at DT so is correctly listed on the two deep, but without the "or" because he is well ahead of Ash at this point.  As for Martin's backup - hard to say.  Ash has the size but has so far not impressed so I am guessing that Q will back up both interior positions with Wilkins getting some time at 3 tech and Ash getting some at NT...... unless eveything changes in the next three weeks....

MODS IF YOU ARE READING THIS I WAS ROBBED OF 620 POINTS YESTERDAY - MY THREAD WAS DELETED AND ALONG WITH IT ALL OF MY POINTS DISAPPEARED - PLEASE CORRECT - THANX!

Seth

August 14th, 2011 at 9:47 AM ^

Looks like you were moderated man. This wasn't me but it's in your points record:

 

-621 Approved 08/12/2011 - 8:33am admin Uncategorized Use the search bar in the top right corner and you won't have this problem anymore. Points back in a month.

 

Slippery Rock …

August 13th, 2011 at 12:02 PM ^

I appreciate the analysis.  This is why mgoblog is the leader and the best sports blog around.  Not only do we get the blogger to create actual posts of substance, but the readers are just as passionate and informed.  As far as the speculation about who will be the starter at this position or that, I don't think it matters much.  The players have just strapped on the pads, and this is the best guess we have regarding the 2 deep at this point. 

Eye of the Tiger

August 13th, 2011 at 1:11 PM ^

There's no statistically significant relationship between the number of upperclassmen and whether you're in the "craptastic" or "decent" categories.  

A better indicator of our future success would be to look at the number of starting freshmen and how this affects defensive performance.  That was one of several problems we had lon defense ast year, the others being very poor coaching and a talent gap with the elite in the conference.  

 

 

uminks

August 13th, 2011 at 7:33 PM ^

To see a Hendrix concert and to remember Bo's first season in '69!

It is nice to have defensive experience.  I think this group could reach the good B1G defense category  by seasons end. 

Seth

August 14th, 2011 at 11:43 AM ^

I spent most of my morning today trying to play with this diary and make it front-page worthy since I couldn't figure out which mod FP'ed it.  Ultimately the useful part is knowing how many upperclassmen starters the other Big Ten teams have. What this doesn't do is provide any predictive information.

This isn't front page material. Not yet at least. But I'd like to help it get there.

First, what you show is number of upperclassman starters in 2011, but the last performance values we have are for 2010. What you need is 2010 starter information. The implication is that 2010 performance is related to 2011 upperclassman-ity, which I don't think that's what you meant to say at all.

Second, where's the cutoff? It seems like you counted redshirt sophomores as underclassmen, while true juniors count as upperclassmen, because they're the same age.

Let's use Nebraska 2010 as an example. You appropriately call them a great defense and rank them second to Ohio State, which I think we can concur on. Here's Nebraska's defense as of this date last year:

LE 34 Cameron Meridith, 6-4, 260, Soph. 
9 Jason Ankrah, 6-4, 255, RFr. 
 
LT 55 Baker Steinkuhler, 6-6, 290, Soph. 
58 Justin Jackson, 6-3, 270, Soph. 
 
RT 94 Jared Crick, 6-6, 285, Jr. 
90 Terrence Moore, 6-3, 285, Jr. 
 
RE 95 Pierre Allen, 6-5, 265, Sr. 
98 Josh Williams, 6-4, 245, Soph. 
 
SLB 42 Sean Fisher, 6-6, 230, Soph. 
46 Eric Martin, 6-2, 240, Soph. 
 
MLB 51 Will Compton, 6-2, 225, Soph. 
41 Thomas Grove, 6-2, 225, Sr. 
 
WLB 36 Matthew May, 6-1, 215, Jr. 
35 Matt Holt, 6-0, 200, Jr. 
 
RCB 15 Alfonzo Dennard, 5-10, 190, Jr. 
5 Anthony West, 6-0, 200, Sr. 
 
FS 8 Austin Cassidy, 6-1, 210, Jr. 
12 Courtney Osborne, 6-3, 195, Soph. 
 
SS 13 P.J. Smith, 6-2, 210, Soph. 
28 Eric Hagg, 6-2, 205, Sr. 
 
LCB 21 Prince Anukamara, 6-1, 200, Sr. 
7 Dejon Gomes, 6-0, 190, Sr.
 
I count six upperclassman starters there. However Cam Merideth, Baker Steinkuhler, Sean Fisher, Will Compton and P.J. Smith are all from the Class of 2008, ie they're redshirt sophomores. Also from that class: Alfonzo Dennard, counted as a junior.

Six upperclassmen* among 11 starters would be below the Big Ten average, and suggest bad performance:

  Starters (/11) Two-Deep (/22)
Big Ten Avg. 8.9 14.1
2010 Craptastic Defenses (M, NW, Ind, Minn) 8.8 13.8
2010 Decent Ds (Pd, MSU, IL, PSU, Iowa, Wis) 8.3 12.8
2010 Great Ds (Neb, OSU) 10 17
Michigan 2010 5 9
Michigan 2011 7 11
 

So I went back to your original diary last year, updated with Nebraska and Minnesota, and came up with the following:

Team 2010 Yds/G 2010 FEI Rk '10 Starters '10 Two-Deep
Michigan 450.8 108 6 8
Northwestern 426.2 100 10 15
Indiana 410.2 94 8 14
Minnesota 392.2 95 9 14
Purdue 369.0 44 7 8
Michigan State 353.8 32 5 8
Illinois 351.3 26 7 12
Penn State 346.8 49 10 12
Iowa 332.1 22 10 18
Wisconsin 321.8 34 10 12
Nebraska 306.8 5 6 12
Ohio State 262.2 2 9 11
 
If you use Fremeau instead of simple yards per game the groups you pointed out don't make nearly as much sense.
 
Michigan, NW, Minn and Indy are indeed the fearsome foursome, with Michigan clearly above the other three in production of soul-destroying failure. From there it's pairs: Penn State and Purdue were adequate, Wisconsin and Michigan State were good, Illinois and Iowa were pretty good, and Nebraska and Ohio State were great. Nobody was mediocre.

I'll say all of this (with charts) in the DD today.
 
* Side-note: this is the noun plural form.