The Decimated Defense

Submitted by Seth on October 29th, 2009 at 9:36 AM

[Editor's note: I was working on a post similar to this today that examined the past five years of defensive recruiting with a particular focus on the secondary. This is broader but I may as well not reinvent such a well-put-together wheel. I will take this opportunity at the top of the post to rephrase something I stuck in a mailbag. Here are the members of the secondary in the recruiting classes that comprise this year's team:

2005: None. (Harrison, Sears, Richards all gone.)
2006: None. (Mouton, Brown moved to LB.)
2007: Warren, Woolfolk, Williams, Rogers. (Chambers gone.)
2008: JT Floyd (Smith moved to LB, Cissoko is gone.)

Excluding true freshmen, Michigan has five scholarship players for four starting spots, none of whom are seniors and one of whom is a positional vagabond who was a huge reach even at WR. Attrition has something to do with it, but poor recruiting—the 2006 class didn't have a single corner, and the 2007 class had two reaches and one Notre Dame defection—had much more. With Woolfolk's move Michigan has one scholarship safety on the roster outside of true freshmen. Not to go all ND-fan-talking-about-Ty here, but lord I don't know if anyone could dig themselves out from that.]

[OP note: Part II lives here].

How did it ever come to this?

NFL All-World Guy Young Beast Solid Guy
True Freshman Blue Chip or Serviceable backup guy Old-guy bust who's kind of serviceable now

Former Infinite Safety Disaster, now above-average tweener guy Young guy who's progressing but prone to massive young-guy mistakes True freshman wunderkind who is still a true freshman
Long-time judgment-impaired starter who projected to possible Butkus Watch List but instead regressed and lost job to a walk-on Nuclear missile equally likely to strike his own territory as his enemy's Kind of this 3-star redshirt soph who plays exactly like that

CB1 S1 S2 CB2
NFL-ready junior guy Current Infinite Safety Disaster, who is worse than the walk-on Legacy who is halfway decent and was our FS until a few weeks ago
Dust mite true freshmah who was a running back until a few weeks ago True freshman recovering from knee surgury who can't be that great if he hasn't seen the field Redshirt freshman with clear talent deficiency to be serviceable

(Where = Walk-on)

With Boubacar Cissoko's dismissal from the team, we now have a number that every Michigan fan might need to commit to memory:

4053762448_57b1c3dcf6_o Everybody got that?

Now, numbers without context are hard to understand. If it's a completion percentage, well, that's not horrible but it's not bad, right? If that's how many questions you got right on your Anthro-Bio mid-term, well, not so great.

The question we will try to answer in this Diary, is what does that number mean when it's the percentage of defensive recruits over the last five classes who are still on your team?

Really? 58.33 percent? How?

Defensive Recruits No Longer With the Team: 2005-2009

Name Class Pos Stars RR What happened?
Eugene Germany 2005 DE **** 6.0 Left team
James McKinney 2005 DT **** 5.9 Left team
Terrance Taylor 2005 DT **** 5.9 Graduated
Brandon Harrison 2005 CB **** 5.8 Graduated
Johnny Sears 2005 CB *** 5.6 Left team
Brandon Logan 2005 LB *** 5.6 Graduated
Chris Richards 2005 ATH *** 5.5 Left team
Carson Butler 2005 DE *** 5.5 Moved to TE, left for NFL
Chris McLaurin 2005 DE *** 5.5 Left team (health)
Jason Kates 2006 DT **** 5.8 Left team
Cobrani Mixon 2006 LB **** 5.8 Left team
Quintin Patilla 2006 LB *** 5.7 Left team
Quintin Woods 2006 DE *** 5.6 Left team
Austin Panter 2007 LB **** 5.8 Graduated
Artis Chambers 2007 S *** 5.6 Left team
Marell Evans 2007 LB ** 5.2 Left team
Boubacar Cissoko 2008 CB **** 6.0 Left team
Marcus Witherspoon 2008 LB **** 5.8 Did not qualify
Taylor Hill 2008 LB **** 5.8 Left team
Adrian Witty 2009 CB ** 5.3 Did not qualify (may return)

That seems really bad. Like really really bad.

Is it bad?

It's obviously no surprise that Michigan has faced a lot of attrition since RR came on board. Each case is it's own particular. But all told, it seems to me that we are seeing something here that is way out of whack. And I'm not sure it's RR's doing. And though that seems like a lot of attrition, I'm not sure that's the whole story.

I'm going to break down this list by class. Perhaps in the micro we can see what happened to the macro...

(or perhaps you are already poised to scroll to comments and write "tl;dr" -- if so, get a sandwich and meet the rest of us down at the very long sub-header)

Class of 2005


Name Class Pos Stars RR What happened? Here?
Eugene Germany 2005 DE **** 6.0 Left team no
James McKinney 2005 DT **** 5.9 Left team no
Terrance Taylor 2005 DT **** 5.9 Graduated no
Brandon Harrison 2005 CB **** 5.8 Graduated no
Johnny Sears 2005 CB *** 5.6 Left team no
Brandon Logan 2005 LB *** 5.6 Graduated no
Chris Richards 2005 ATH *** 5.5 Left team no
Carson Butler 2005 DE *** 5.5 Moved to TE, left for NFL no
Chris McLaurin 2005 DE *** 5.5 Left team (health) no

Nothing left. This isn't just age -- you'd expect at least a couple of 5th year seniors to stick around. This class was decimated early and often, leaving Terrible Taylor as the only major defensive contributor. Harrison, who would be very nice to have around today, burned his redshirt during Safety Armageddon. Logan was the only other graduate. For Sir Carson Butler's career at Michigan, consult the minstrels.

Moral of this story: losing the top two recruits on defensive line made things dicey. In the first attempt at refilling the cornerback cabinet, Carr picked up Harrison and a couple of fliers (Sears, Richards) who didn't work. [More after the jump!]

Class of 2006


Name Class Pos Stars RR What happened? Here?
Brandon Graham 2006 LB ***** 6.1 DE yes
Jonas Mouton 2006 S **** 6.0 MLB (backup) yes
Adam Patterson 2006 DT **** 5.9 DE (backup) yes
Steve Brown 2006 S **** 5.9 SLB yes
Jason Kates 2006 DT **** 5.8 Left team no
Cobrani Mixon 2006 LB **** 5.8 Left team no
Quintin Patilla 2006 LB *** 5.7 Left team no
Greg Banks 2006 DE *** 5.6 DE (backup) yes
John Ferrara 2006 DE *** 5.6 Moved to G yes
Quintin Woods 2006 DE *** 5.6 Left team no
Obi Ezeh 2006 RB *** 5.5 MLB (backup) yes

This was an excellent class of seniors and red shirt juniors, from which seven of 11 (63.63 percent) remain. Attrition came largely from the 3-stars and low 4-stars for depth issues -- of Kates, Mixon, Patilla and Woods, only Kates left from the transition, and none project to be a significant improvement over the current starters in their positions.

Brandon Graham has been every bit the blue chip. The upper four-stars are a bit more mixed: Mouton plays much younger than a guy who's the same age as Graham, has been responsible for a number of big plays, and in a recent development was benched in favor of a true sophomore. Brown spent several seasons as the safety whipping boy de jure before a fortuitous position switch to linebacker his senior year. Patterson's the big bust.

Ezeh turned out much better than we deserved from a basically unranked fullback, but was benched mid-way through his redshirt senior season in favor of a walk-on.

Overall, this defensive class, with a few exclamatory exceptions, seems to have been generally overrated.

It is also very very noticeably lacking in defensive backs. Brown and Mouton were safeties coming in, but at least Mouton's move to linebacker was anticipatory. It wasn't a great year in general for cornerbacks, and Michigan lost out on its prize recruit in Myron Rolle, but does anyone else think, with Sears and Richards and a burned shirt on Harrison your foreseeable future, what is up with the lack of defensive backs? This is doubly-WTF considering Michigan's former DB coach, Ron English, was now the DC.

Of note, senior RB Carlos Brown was an "athlete" in this class, but was promised and has remained at tailback from the get-go, so you can't really give defensive recruiting credit for him.

Class of 2007

cornerback Donovan Warren (6) plays against Indiana at the Big House in Ann Arbor on September 26th 2009.  Michigan won the game, 36-33. (Said Alsalah/Daily)

Name Class Pos Stars RR What happened? Here?
Donovan Warren 2007 CB ***** 6.1 CB yes
Ryan Van Bergen 2007 DE **** 5.8 DE yes
Austin Panter 2007 LB **** 5.8 Graduated no
Michael Williams 2007 S **** 5.8 SS yes
Renaldo Sagesse 2007 DT *** 5.7 DT (backup) yes
Brandon Herron 2007 LB *** 5.7 WLB (backup) yes
Artis Chambers 2007 S *** 5.6 Left team no
Troy Woolfolk 2007 CB *** 5.5 CB yes
Marell Evans 2007 LB ** 5.2 Left team no

Six of the nine (66.67 percent) would-be juniors and red shirt sophomores are still around. This was Carr's last class, and going into the writing of this, I was already tempted to suggest that this one was an example of career-winding-down trying less.

This is the class you'd expect to see the most coaching change attrition from, since they were generally still young enough at the shift to start over somewhere else, and didn't get the coach (in this case, Ron English) they signed up for. But, no. Panter left because he was a rare junior transfer. The other guys departed citing depth chart issues.

Depth issues?

From Marell Evans, okay. He was a 2-star recruit getting passed up by the 2008 class and likely would never earn long-term PT here. But Artis Chambers' decision, strange at the time, now seems absolutely ludicrous. vanbergen He may not have been the answer at DB, but he certainly would have been given every opportunity to win the job from a walk-on and an under-performing classmate.

This class actually ended up underrated by scouts it seems. Warren is right on the Michigan 5-star CB track. RVB seems like he should have been higher up than the bottom of the 4-star ranks. Sagesse and Herron are the serviceable backups you'd expect from guys at their level. Williams has disappointed; once Troy Woolfolk (in BTN parlance: "Wool-fork") moved to corner this season, Williams was exposed as the latest safety whipping boy, minus speed.

This class did get a jolt from Woofolk (-fork), a 3-star legacy recruit whose emergence at both cornerback and safety this year has plugged at least one hole. Unfortunately, he can't plug two.

For all intents and purposes, after two classes of ignoring the position with Johnny Sears and Chris Richards the only option, Michigan's entire 2009 backfield had to come from this haul. Warren and Woolfolk are as much as you can rightfully expect from one class. Having Michael Williams pan out would be nice, but still, an entire backfield is too much to ask from one class.

Did Carr take this year off? It's hard to say. English did a good job getting some defensive backs, particularly Warren. But at this point linebacker was now past leaking (Mouton had moved but Brown hadn't) and they needed more than a junior transfer, a 3-star and a 2-star.

Class of 2008


Name Class Pos Stars RR What happened? Here?
Boubacar Cissoko 2008 CB **** 6.0 Dismissed no
J.B. Fitzgerald 2008 LB **** 5.9 MLB yes
Brandon Smith 2008 S **** 5.9 WLB (backup) yes
Mike Martin 2008 DT **** 5.8 DT yes
Kenny Demens 2008 LB **** 5.8 WLB (backup) yes
Marcus Witherspoon 2008 LB **** 5.8 Did not qualify no
Taylor Hill 2008 LB **** 5.8 Left team no
J.T. Floyd 2008 ATH *** 5.5 CB (backup) yes

This is the hybrid class between Carr/English and Rich Rod/Shafer. With limited time, RR focused most of his first-year recruiting efforts on offense, so these guys are primarily Carr-era holdovers.

Considering the previous classes, holes were now springing all over the defense, but linebacker was dire, while defensive back was basically 2007's haul and a whole lot of nothing.

The lack of attention became evident early, as Hill and Witherspoon never arrived on campus. Smith proved to be a linebacker. Meaning DB was basically Boubacar and 3-star athlete J.T. Floyd.

If ending up with six of nine of your juniors was bad, coming to this point with five of eight sophomores is, well, demonstrative of the greater theme of this whole exercise.

As Brian said while discussing this class recently, Martin has been a beast, Fitzgerald is on pace (update post-Purdue: won starting job?), Demens looks buried on the depth chart, and Floyd justified his low ranking. They're young, but declaring "disaster" on this class may not be premature.

Class of 2009


Name Class Pos Stars RR What happened? Here?
William Campbell 2009 DT ***** 6.1 DT (backup) yes
Justin Turner 2009 CB **** 6.0 redshirt yes
Craig Roh 2009 DE **** 5.9 WLB yes
Anthony LaLota 2009 DE **** 5.8 redshirt yes
Vladimir Emilien 2009 S **** 5.8 FS (backup) yes
Brandin Hawthorne 2009 LB *** 5.7 MLB (backup) yes
Isaiah Bell 2009 LB *** 5.7 SAM (backup) yes
Teric Jones 2009 RB *** 5.7 CB (backup) yes
Mike Jones 2009 S *** 5.7 MLB (backup) yes
Thomas Gordon 2009 ATH *** 5.5 redshirt yes
Adrian Witty 2009 CB ** 5.3 DNQ (may return) no

At this point, you're not supposed to have much attrition, and this has held true. Adrian Witty, who did not qualify academically, was Michigan's lowest-rated recruit, and got offered because it helped us reel in Denard Robinson. On the other hand, given the current state of things, every warm body at cornerback helps.

The 2009 class has considerably more star power at the top than we've seen from the waning Carr classes.

They're way too young to put against a track, but it is concerning that Campbell has looked lost, meaning his blue chip status may be overrated. To demonstrate what I mean by a 5-star's track, look at Brandon Graham: he didn't start as a freshman, but he did see significant time, and showed himself to be something special, behind LaMarr Woodley.

A closer analogue to Graham then would be Roh, who may have been underrated. Justin Turner's late arrival justified his red shirt. The coaches have been adamant that his red shirt status will not change.

Looking ahead, I have a personal fear of Emilien being slow after seeing him get torched this spring against Carlos Brown (I'm not married to that opinion), and Mike Jones we know is moving to linebacker, so safety remains a concern.

Safety and cornerback are now major priorities for 2010. Linebacker, which has benefited from more redshirts and an influx of erstwhile safeties, seems like less of a concern. Defensive line needs backup bodies, and lots of them, but the front seems like it can hold if Roh slides over to Graham's spot next year.

I Just Got a Sandwich and Then Skipped Down to This Part. Did You Learn Anything?

You mean conclusions? Already? Without contextualizing? No way! But I'll give you some hypotheses now:

  1. Small defensive class size seems to at least as culpable as attrition for the defense's depth issues.
  2. Very, very little of the overall attrition on defense seems to be related to the coaching change.
  3. The disastrous Class of 2005 is still leaving ripples through Michigan's program. If you discount the erstwhile 5th year seniors and true freshmen, our attrition rate is still like 1 out of 3, which is bad, but not as ludicrously bad-looking at you see here.
  4. RR's focus on offense in his limited time in 2008 may have resulted in a class just as disastrous.
  5. The English-to-Shafer-to-GERG shift is probably somewhat at fault for many of these players' seemingly retarded development (particularly the linebackers)

Some of these we have already discussed, if not completely digested. Some I think (like 1 and 2) are new. Of these, 4 and 5 are those easiest to pin on Rich Rod, particularly 4. It seems to me in retrospect that Rodriguez wasted too much time chasing Pryor and not enough on addressing defensive needs. The 2009 defensive class and its early returns are encouraging to that regard -- it seems he has learned his lesson and, even with 3-9 around his neck, managed to close a solid class.

The 2008 linebacker and DB hauls are a perfect microcosm of Michigan's bigger problems.

Linebacker: At a position that had zero depth left over from previous classes, we brought in four 4-star players: Marcus Witherspoon, Taylor Hill, J.B. Fitzgerald, and Kenny Demens. Of those, two (Witherspoon and Hill) were lost immediately to attrition. One (Fitzgerald) is on track to be a long-term contributor. One (Demens) seems to be a bust. In this case, Michigan fulfilled its recruitment needs, but was hit by double the expected attrition. Result: one serviceable player when we needed at least two.

Defensive back: At a position that had zero depth left over from previous classes, we brought in two 4-stars (Brandon Smith and Boubacar Cissoko) and one flier (J.T. Floyd). As with Mouton, Smith was immediately deemed a linebacker, and this was a known likelihood during the recruitment period, so really we brought in just a 4-star and a flier. The 4-star looked to be a bit behind track for his rating, until he got himself kicked off the team. The flier, as was the expected result, was not useful. Result: zero serviceable players when we needed at least two or three.

Linebacker is a clear-cut case of decimation due to attrition. Defensive back is a clear-cut case of decimation due to under-recruiting. Both of these factors have ravaged each class from 2005 to 2008. Along the way, there were some serviceable players picked up, but we are still generally <b>two</b> serviceable players short of the Michigan norm at several linebacker positions and all four defensive backfield positions, i.e. we are at least 12 good, useful, on-the-roster players away from a normal Michigan defense. That is HUGE!!!

Preview: The Decimated Defense, Part II

(Had to do it in two parts because my other spreadsheet I need is on another computer dammit)

See: Misopogon test the hypotheses above by showing what other major programs' class size and attrition rates over this period have been like.

See: Charts.

See: Nice formatting that inexplicably seems beyond the capabilities of the Drupal editor

See: SPARTY. ON. ICE.!!!!

Tropp, Conboy, Winston...what are they teaching at these schools these days?



October 28th, 2009 at 7:22 PM ^

He only had a few months, had to re-sell/close the guys that had already committed, so how much time did he really have to get in on guys that we really had no chance to begin with?

Also, great analysis I doubt that anyone who is in the "Never bash Lloyd Carr camp" will enjoy this analysis.

I look forward to the second part.

Tha Stunna

October 28th, 2009 at 10:54 PM ^

It would appear you're not part of the "Never attack straw men" camp...

I do agree that RR doesn't deserve much blame, if any, for 2008. Offense was clearly a higher priority than defense at that point, and he would probably figure that Lloyd's defensive recruiting was fine. As woeful as our secondary is now, the team would be in even more trouble without guys like Odoms around.


October 28th, 2009 at 7:47 PM ^

I haven't had a chance to read the year-by-year breakdown, but I would recommend removing players who used up all of their eligibility among the "no longer here" cohort, as by including them you're mixing apples and oranges. If a player was recruited, enrolled, and stayed on the team through their eligibility, their "absence" on this team can in no way be used to explain the poor quality of the current defense (aaaargh wasted redshirts be damned).

I'd be interested to see how the numbers shook out with those folks excluded; the "number" that opens the post might be less shocking, but IMO it'd be a lot more meaningful.

Again: one feedback point aside - great work!


October 28th, 2009 at 8:18 PM ^

Should we not include him? The first class on this list could still be Redshirted players but the previous coaches decided to burn their redshirts for whatever reason. They should be included IME.

(Also if the comparison classes also have all 5 years then it's fine to compare. I think that it would be interesting to see how many top programs still have redshirt seniors on the team)


October 29th, 2009 at 12:56 AM ^

Agreed. In the same vain, players who left for the NFL should not be included in the number, either. That is a sign of GOOD recruiting.

I would also like to see a comparison to some other programs (OSU, PSU, MSU, etc). That number, by itself, doesn't say much.

Garvie Craw

October 28th, 2009 at 7:51 PM ^

Informative and depressing. In the NFL bad teams are rewarded with high draft picks. Bad college teams need to convince high school players to come and be part of the solution. Recruits who see bad defensive play and lopsided losses, and don't know the whole story, may be harder to convince. It's going to take some time to dig out of this hole.


October 28th, 2009 at 8:32 PM ^

I don't think it's fair yet to say Campbell and Turner were overrated or not deserving of high rankings. Campbell was not coached very well in high school and had a lot to learn, and Turner coming in late certainly didn't help matters.

While it would have been nice to have Campbell contribute and Turner start, we have to remember these are freshmen, and even in these trying times patience (and growth) is needed.


October 28th, 2009 at 10:23 PM ^

Rivals did a little blurb on him a few weeks back and noted that he was on the right track to get his GPA to the necessary level to meet the sliding-scale qualification. Obviously, nothing is set in stone by any means, but it was encouraging to read.

As you noted, if he qualifies, he will be in A2 for the winter term. Trusting nothing but my gut (and the bit of info provided by Rivals), I'd say he hits the mark and enrolls in January.

Tha Stunna

October 28th, 2009 at 10:46 PM ^

Sure, but I'd expect little out of Witty until he has at least a full year at Michigan. He appears to be pretty raw and while he may have physical tools, I would be shocked if he wasn't quite a lot worse than BoBo at this point, no offense to BoBo. Witty really won't be much of a factor until 2011, short of the miraculous, and he's more of a gamble at any rate.


October 29th, 2009 at 11:12 AM ^

Ya know this one:

So then when Justin Turner is a Redshirt Senior

Should we not include him? The first class on this list could still be Redshirted players but the previous coaches decided to burn their redshirts for whatever reason. They should be included IME.

(Also if the comparison classes also have all 5 years then it's fine to compare. I think that it would be interesting to see how many top programs still have redshirt seniors on the team)

Or this one:

How much fault can we really put on RR for the 2008 class?

He only had a few months, had to re-sell/close the guys that had already committed, so how much time did he really have to get in on guys that we really had no chance to begin with?

Also, great analysis I doubt that anyone who is in the "Never bash Lloyd Carr camp" will enjoy this analysis.

I look forward to the second part.


October 28th, 2009 at 9:02 PM ^

I also thought including the Grads was a bit of a red flag at first

But it does illustrate the ratio of Graduates to other leavers (20% graduated) which says a ton on its own

Adjusting for graduates, the percent retained is 66.67%

Still not so good.

Rad diary, Anthrah-Brah


October 28th, 2009 at 9:43 PM ^

"It seems to me in retrospect that Rodriguez wasted too much time chasing Pryor and not enough on addressing defensive needs."

More like chasing Jeff Casteel, no? Not getting Casteel chopped the head off the defensive side of RR's successful WVU formula and considering how hard Rodriguez went after Casteel multiple times, it looks as if he really didn't expect to have to replace him. Which I assume means he hadn't been thinking about new D-coords.


October 29th, 2009 at 12:31 AM ^

He had to coach against it every day and would have been a great guy to force RichRod to have adjustments on tap each week. That would have helped in some games this year (MSU, PSU) where it looked like we saw some new looks from the D and had problems adjusting.

I'll be happy if we can just quit giving up 1st downs on 3rd and 7's and longer. Stick Mike Williams 20 yds off the ball in the middle of the field. Tell him to never let anyone get past him. He is worthless otherwise so make him a scarecrow out there.


October 29th, 2009 at 12:14 PM ^

I feel the lack of talent is the biggest culprit to a struggling defense. The other reasons Misopogon listed are factors but secondary to this, though the coaching changes do hurt especially in recruiting. When the D has the same problems after 3 different D-coordinators, what's the LCD? Talent, or lack thereof. I trust the coaching staff knew this was going to be a struggle this year so they're redshirting guys to get them ready for their positions next year rather than lose a year of eligibility.


October 28th, 2009 at 10:26 PM ^

Truly fantastic work. Someone above mentioned it (BlueDurham, IIRC) - you should be providing content on an official level (as opposed to your diaries being bumped to the front).

Excellent analysis and very well-written. Looking forward to Part 2.


October 29th, 2009 at 4:50 PM ^

I vaguely remember somebody doing a diary where they tallied up the # and *s of the oversigned recruits at Alabama (i.e. the recruits that were signed but then somewhere along the line cut from the team). It was massive, something like 25 extra guys over a 5 year period. It essentially gave Alabama an entire extra recruiting class.

Don't quote me on those numbers, BTW. Still, I'd love to see how the oversigning impacted Alabama over multiple years.


October 28th, 2009 at 11:29 PM ^

This really was a great post. Opened my eyes to what's been going on. I do, though, think that declaring disaster on the 08 class might be a little early yet. Not too many of them have seen the field yet, although, that may just have contradicted what I just said.


October 28th, 2009 at 11:51 PM ^ always. I was trying to explain how recruiting 4-5 years ago has helped result in depth issues on defense to a member of the "Never Bash Lloyd" camp and it just wasn't sinking in. This post, however, does a great job.... although I think he'd be the type to skip the micro and go throw some salted, cured meat between 2 slices of marble rye.

Blue in Seattle

October 28th, 2009 at 11:56 PM ^

So why did everyone think that we were going to have a great defense last year?

This looks like a continuing downward trend from 2005. And from my memory of the program from 2000 on it seems like points scored on the Michigan D was way up from the time when Carr wasn't the head coach.

And while everyone discussed whether or not it was a good thing RR was changing out the offense, I never read anything that said, "wait a minute the defense is bad too!"

Shafer left town stating, "I single handedly destroyed the Michigan Defense". At the time I felt that was a facetious comment, and that he had been promised awesome talent so he could run his awesome schemes.

Instead he had thin talent with poor development from a departing regime.

Shafer left because it was going to take too long for him to be a star coach. Picking up Robinson is perfect at this juncture, since he'll have the patience to build the program back up on the defensive side.

And to date, I think Robinson has performed much like a fan dancer,

You know that he's naked behind the fans, but you really have to try hard to see the pink.

J. Lichty

October 29th, 2009 at 11:41 PM ^

everyone thought we were going to have a great defense, but rather one that far outpaced the offense which returned 1 starter (Shilling) and was entirely in a new scheme.

Defense had much more coming back including a seemingly very strong D-line. Returning starters at 2 of 3 lb spots - a senior in Trent, and an emerging star in Warren at the corners.

Safety was still a concern, but there was still hope for Steve Brown at safety. Harrison and Englemon were far better than what we had.

What we didnt realize was just how poor the linebackers would play. Just how bad Trent and Brown would be. And in general how d-linemen not named Graham underacheived.

Couple that with the new d-cooridnator who was "not on the same page" as the rest of the staff, and some really bad field position and lopsided TOP caused by a horrible offense, and you have a defense that did not live up to expectations.

On paper that unit should have decent and much better than this year's squad.


October 29th, 2009 at 12:17 AM ^

Yeah, he's gone, but he left football due to a medical issue. As I understood it, he stuck around and finished his degree as UM converted him to medical scholarship. Perhaps he's better categorized as "career-ending injury - graduated".

Otherwise, a worthy effort, and clearly illustrative of the genesis of our defensive headaches.


October 29th, 2009 at 12:27 AM ^

Don't forget that we had some staff changes PRIOR to Lloyd leaving. I'm forgeting a few of the names but we had some guy in for 1 yr as DB coach and failed off the job (2006 season, I think, when the Front 7 was awesome but OSU and USC shredded the DBs). Had to bring back Bedford after that. Also, we had a new LB coach late in Lloyd's time (ex-NFL guy). Herrmann left (thankfully) and gave the new D only 2 yrs to learn under English.

A lot of things (players, coaching, etc.) contributed to the issues we see this year.

Last year was more about MOTIVATION than anything else. That D had quitters who have since ragged on the program to the Free Press.

Personally, I think RichRod's safest bet would have been to keep two guys around: English (that would have helped maintain some continuity on D while he re-tooled the O in '08) and Eric Campbell (good WR coach, take a look at Iowa's WRs, not flashy but get the job done). English was going to get a HC job soon enough so RichRod wasn't going to have to wait for long if thigns didn't work out.


October 29th, 2009 at 3:47 PM ^

As much as I agree that keeping English around would have helped band-aid the defensive situation in 08, I think RR & company were more so of the mindset to tear down and rebuild the football culture and not pussy-foot around implementing their philosophies. English served us better on the recruiting trail than he did as a DC in my e-pinion, and as you eluded to it was only a matter of time before he landed a head coaching job and I’m sure RR knew this as well.


October 29th, 2009 at 4:47 PM ^

Let us not forget that Ron English is responsible for [one of, maybe THE] worst 4 game stretch in Michigan defensive history:

2006 OSU, 2007 USC Rose Bowl, 2007 Horror, 2007 Oregon

Not sure he had earned a spot on the staff at that point, hindsight being 20:20 we probably end up better off with him than shafer though...

los barcos

October 29th, 2009 at 5:28 PM ^

i have a hard time calling losing a close game to the #1 team in the nation at an away game and then losing to a usc team at the rose bowl (like every big10 team) as 2 of the 4 worst defensive games in the history of michigan football.

but thats just me.


October 29th, 2009 at 4:52 AM ^

With Woolfolk showing improvement, JT Turner coming in, along with Emilien and possibly a recruit like Cullen Christian, we could definitely see a greatly improved backfield next year. If Warren stays another year, our DB's could actually turn into a strength. If RR can close on christian and one other DB, our defense has great potential.


October 29th, 2009 at 7:12 AM ^

I was thinking of reviewing this information myself. People need to understand why we're in the shape we're in. I was listening to the radio and heard the nonsense "OMG Fire RichRod today and hire Brian Kelly!"

This also points to the awful 2005 recruiting class. How many (from O or D) from that class stayed all 4/5 years? Jason Forcier, Mister Simpson, etc. Maybe half stayed?


October 29th, 2009 at 6:40 AM ^

First of all, let me retract my statement about the 2005 class being disastrous, as it brought us Zoltan the Inconceivable.

However I did want to point out that Marques Slocum, who had moved to DT from OL also left due to academic issues. He was a 4* recruit at OL. Point being that was another defender from that class who didn't / couldn't stick around.