My thoughts on who might be DC.

Submitted by Mr. Maizenblue on December 15th, 2008 at 3:36 PM

In reading the recent speculation lately on Shafer being a no show at recent recruiting visits, I again began to rethink what crossed my mind about a month or so ago. If , and that is if, Shafer is out the door there is one man that I think should be heavily considered.

With the recent finalization of Monte Kiffin to Tennessee, it leaves a good defensive coordinator w/out a job.

John Chavis.

Living in the state of Tennessee, I am forced to hear all about Vol football, and of course Rocky Top at the top of every hour. I know Vol fans credit Chavis for being the only bright spot in their 3 year downslide, or ten year depending on who is asked.

Chavis recruits speed on defense and has sent many a talent to the next level. But unlike Florida State, his players are top notch in college and carry it with them to the NFL. Line backers are his specialty and to my knowledge, we need them, and we need them to be better.

""Following the national championship season of 1998, Chavis was named the SEC's outstanding linebacker coach."

Rumors swirled a month or so ago that LSU was his destination, so I kept my mouth shut, BUT nothing has come of it. So I bring it to the Michigan fan base.

"Tennessee's defense led the SEC in 1996 and ranked in the top three five of the past seven years."

Yep thats TOP 3 IN 5 OF THE LAST 7 YEARS!!!

Whats your opinion on Chavis? If he is unknown to you These next few points might help.. I promise it will be easier to find his success that it was Shafer.

Here are a few points from his Bio.......

"Johnny "John" Chavis (born October 16, 1956 in Dillon, South Carolina), commonly known as The Chief, is the former defensive coordinator, linebacker Coach and associate head football coach at the University of Tennessee, where he has been since 1989. Chavis is the only Native American that is currently a Coordinator or Head Coach for a major college or NFL team."

"Following the 2006 Season Chavis was named as the Assistant Football Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association.[2]"

"Chavis and then Florida Defensive Coordinator Bob Stoops are credited with bring the "Zone Blitz" into College Football in the mid to late 90's."

"Following the national championship season of 1998, Chavis was named the SEC's outstanding linebacker coach."



December 15th, 2008 at 4:34 PM ^

But I thought that was after the Purdue game, with players asking to use a 4-man front for Minny. Unless there is some article or other evidence I didn't see, it wasn't anything more than a request. Upperclassmen providing input. That's not trying to call the shots like Maizeman in implying.


December 15th, 2008 at 4:52 PM ^

I'm not going to argue that the 4-man wasn't more effective than the 3-man. But I take issue with your assertion that the D-line was telling the DC what defense to run, as in dictating the offense. They provided input, that's it. Unless there's something more direct that you'd like to point to, don't make more out of it than it is.

Mr. Maizenblue

December 15th, 2008 at 5:04 PM ^

The fact they wanted to run a 4 man front, and the rest of the year they ran a 4 man front. If it was a suggestion, they would have went back to a 3-man front.

I never said they stomped their feet and said, we are not playing if we keep this 3 man front.

You my fellow Wolverine fan, are " making more out of it than it is."


December 15th, 2008 at 5:20 PM ^

You stated "When the D-line is telling the DC what defense to run, you know you got a winner," as in giving the DC instructions or directing the DC to do a particular thing (i.e., run a 4-man front).

That is a very different statement than "When the D-line is telling the DC what defense THEY WANT to run, you know you got a winner" which is expressing a desire or suggestion, and which what you are saying now (i.e. "they wanted to run a 4 man front").

And to say that "If it was a suggestion, they would have went back to a 3-man front" implies that Shafer was otherwise closed to the idea of a 4-man front. Yet you note that they were running a 4-man front and ran a 4-man front the rest of the year. GSimms can probably cover this better than I can or correct me if I am wrong, but all evidence (including your own) indicates that Shafer prefers a 4-man front. I'm sure Shafer saw the Purdue game just as well as you and I, and I doubt that the suggestions from his players were the only criteria that went into his decision for the Minny game.

Mr. Maizenblue

December 15th, 2008 at 5:35 PM ^

my argument. Shafer isn't cut out for this job. Period.

I guess I need to make my sarcastic remarks more gramaticly correct next time. I promise to use "suggest" instead of "told".

If I am the coach, we do it my way, I didn't see RR change the offense to the old style, I'm sure Threet would have "suggested" to stay in the pocket.Hell the majority of the media thought he should have changed to fit his players, did he, no.

I promise you J.T. or Chavis wouldn't waiver in the way they run a defense.

You tell me I change my argument, but then you say " I kinda of remeber in the Purdue game", Well your first question was when did this happen???, so do you remember or not?


December 15th, 2008 at 6:03 PM ^

You started this discussion about Shafer, not RR. Let's stick to the dicussion at hand.

Your argument consisted of both your original point (i.e., Shafer isn't cut out for this job) as well as your evidence to support your point. Your evidence was inaccurate. You may have meant to be sarcastic, but that only detracts from the impact of your argument.

By your own admission, you originally meant to say "When the D-line is SUGGESTING TO the DC what defense to run." Of course they are making suggestions for the defense. That's not unexpected. If you are trying to say that was the only reason Shafer changed to a 4-man front, then I reiterate that Shafer sees these games just as well as you and I, and I doubt that the suggestions from his players are the only criteria that go into his decision-making.

As for my original question, it consisted of one word: "What". Not "when". Like I mentioned above, telling someone what to do versus suggesting what to do are very different things. So when you say that the players were telling Shafer what defense to run, I have no point of reference to work from because it never occurred. Hence the question. Ernis was kind enough to shed some light on the situation, at which point I had a point of reference. That is all.


December 15th, 2008 at 4:15 PM ^

Is always asking to play more four man fronts. Becasue that is their position, and they think if we put all the de's out there we will win by 50. One time my all conference De asked me to play a bear front on an importnat 4th down, i said "ok lets do it" we stoped them, i huged the kid after he made the week we were back to playing okie becasue thats what we do. im pretty sure he still had faith in me, and im pretty sure that happends all over the place. You people that want shafer gone are idiots.

Mr. Maizenblue

December 15th, 2008 at 4:40 PM ^

But the 68th ranked defense in the nation, 9th ranked defense in the conference, ahead of Minn. and IU. 7 spots ahead of his former Defense Stanford?

All that with a defense that was suppose to " hold it down" with their Senior leadership and talent. Please.

This is Michigan! We are used to defense! I know the tackling and coverage was pourest all year, BUT, third and long rushing 3???? In zone coverage, giving up first downs? Gonna blame that one on Stevie Brown? Well maybe.

Zone blitzes put you in man to man, our problem was zone coverage. Thats where the LB's and S's got confused, on who is covering who.

I know what what Rich can do.
I'm still not sold on Shafer, I thought the D would have been a LOT better than it was.


December 15th, 2008 at 4:48 PM ^

"Call me an IDIOT!"

Followed by:

"know the tackling and coverage was pourest all year,"

Just sayin'.

But I agree, Shafer should have totally run Cover 3 Pirate X Robber out of his 4-3 playbook way more than the Fire Blitz from his 3-4. And he should have paused and reset during the 2nd half of the Purdue game because the AI was totally screwing with him. Kept using that stupid QB glitch play. Total cheese.

Mr. Maizenblue

December 15th, 2008 at 5:09 PM ^

BUT after that statement. Tackling and coverage does fall on the players, but after that C'mon, its coaching.

The idiot, comment was sarcasm,based on" if you want Shafer fired you must be an idiot". No, just want a good defense.


December 16th, 2008 at 12:12 PM ^

"Tackling and coverage does fall on the players, but after that C'mon, its coaching."

Can I ask you to rank those two in order of importance? Also, can you cite some examples of great defensive coordinators who have players with poor tackling and poor coverage? Generally, people will judge a defensive coordinator by stats, numbers, wins and losses. If you give the very best DC in the land a team full of guys that whiff and can't cover squat, that defense is going to get lit up regardless of scheme, and people will say the coordinator can't coach and his schemes FAIL. You're not going to hear anyone saying, "Did you see how he had the perfect play called but the player whiffed on the tackle? That guy is a genius."

Having players that can actually tackle and cover is pretty damn vital to ANY scheme or play call. If you thought last year's Defense was going to "carry" the team, then you, like I, grossly overrated their talent.

El Wolverino

December 15th, 2008 at 4:04 PM ^

that Shafer is canned ( very low probability, BTW )

We should seriously make a run at Jon Tenuta. He is playing second fiddle to Corwin Brown and would probably like a Michigan DC job. He'll be a solid, solid hire

That said, I think our Defense will be solid this year. And Shafer will be the DC.


December 15th, 2008 at 4:23 PM ^

any idea what this season would have been like with Tenuta, and all his MAN blitz Schemes, with the type of terrible lb coverage and safety coverage issues we had?

As much as a like Venerables, could you image his 50 zone blitizing scheme with the group that shafer had last year? if you dont have good lb play, and good safety play, i dont care how many freekin all americans you have at DE, or corner..

take a breath, hope that our lb's and safeties are better next year and stop trying to solve problems that are not caused by schemes or methods. If after a few years are defense isnt getting better, you will see a change, just like you will see if the offense isnt getting better, or the speical teams.
football coaching is 1/3 finding problems, 1/3 seeing if you have personal that can imediately fix those problems, 1/3 coaching the kids you have to fix those problems...

shafer knows the problems, we didnt have kids that could fix them, and it takes time to coach the problems out... relax


December 15th, 2008 at 4:52 PM ^

Mr maizenblue.. dont forget, i dont remember exactly. but 8-9 returning starters from last yrs team, we gave up like 19 PPG in 07, to 30 PPG in 08. WITH THE SAME DEFENSE. Thats def the D-cords fault and we need a new one i totally agree..

Oh, and.. 3rd down and 4, why the hell are our d-backs giving the WRs so much couchin?, .. 3rd n 4 and our d-backs are 10 yards from line of scrimage.. wtf?


chitownblue (not verified)

December 15th, 2008 at 4:58 PM ^

Trying to read this makes my head hurt.

Let's look at something:

MLB Obi Ezeh - Bad in 2007, mediocre (at best) in 2008
OLB John Thompson - Awful both years.
OLB Jonas Mouton - new starter, played slightly above average. Good on the run, can't cover shit.
SS Brandon Harrison - played out of position, for the most part. Much better as a slot corner than a safety.
FS Stevie Brown - awful both years.

That there was the team's weakness. Awful linebacking needing mediocre safeties to bail them out. That's a recipe for disaster.

The CBs gave so much "cuchion" because the Safeties were cheating up to bail out the most miserable linebacking corps in M's history inability to cover any pass route.

Mr. Maizenblue

December 15th, 2008 at 5:17 PM ^

with all that said how is it fixed???

Can't cover shit.
So much "Cushion"
Safties bailing out LB's

All sounds like something a "Good Coach" can fix. 3 of those 5 are LB's, which helps my case for Chavis, the LB man.
that was part of my original point.

chitownblue (not verified)

December 15th, 2008 at 5:25 PM ^

The fact that Ezeh is absurdly fundamentally unsound after two full years of starting suggests to me that he may just not be very coachable. Ditto Brown.

John Thompson was a *** guy who didn't start until his 5th year - if Carr found ways to keep him off the field for four years, we can assume he just wasn't good. And the second RR/Shafer found a way to keep him off the field (by playing Harrison as a linebacker), we benched him, too. Ditto Charles Stewart, by the way.

So, we had two guys that we really wanted to play at those five spots - Mouton and Harrison - one of whom played out of position, and the other did one thing well and the other poorly.

To me, that's hard to coach around, I don't care who you are.

Mr. Maizenblue

December 15th, 2008 at 5:47 PM ^

insight on an available, proven DC. Instead it has turned into what Shafer did and didn't do last year. It doesn't matter,what he did, if there is a better option at DC,no matter how many years he is given, then that man needs the job.

I like all of you are ready to turn things around, and I thought I would just let the Wolverine fan base know about a coach they might not have heard of.

If most are happy with Shafer, then disregard my efforts.I myself thinf there are more proven coaches out there to run this defense than what we have.



December 16th, 2008 at 11:42 AM ^

Using your logic, should we continue to talk about "better" head coaches? You can't discount fans who are actually SUPPORTING the current DC just because you wanted an exercise in "who do you like better than Shafer?"

Not all of us are sold that he should be gone, and since he isn't, why all the speculation? Does that help the program?

If you have defensive recruits looking at this site, or sites linked to this, or getting e-mails with comments fueled by this type of speculation, do you think it helps or hurts recruiting to bring unnecessary uncertainty to the DC position?

To me it's a no-brainer. Other teams use uncertainty constantly to negatively recruit, why give them any ammunition?

Personally, I'd prefer to have some of these nay-sayers put their efforts into convincing me that they could have concocted a scheme that works well with a team chock full of defensive players who couldn't tackle or cover in space. (I excuse or defensive line, of course. They brought it and were the one bright spot in our defense all year long.)


December 15th, 2008 at 6:58 PM ^

Zone Blitz to college football in 97 and won the national assistant coach of the year award, not those two guys. The zone blitz was run out of the 3-4, not tennesee's 4-3. I am not so sure Shafer is gone and if he is, I don't think he's at fault for the defense. Look past the obvious calls for the DC's head and look at the position coaches and ask the question; "Are they the best position coaches for their respective positions or are they good recruiters"? In the case of Bruce Tall he has a reputation as a good coach, but the Hopson and Gibson choices by RR are more suspect. Gibson is known as a recruiter and the secondary was god awful in excution not scheme. Our two returning starters at CB digressed and our safeties never got better. Hopson does not have a distinguished record, but he was known to be a good recuiter from an area that RR wanted to tap into. Shafer has a record of being innovative and succesful in his career. The only time I questioned his scheme was the Purdue game and I still am of the belief that the call to use the 3-3-5 was RR's in some sort of knee-jerk reaction to losing.

Personally, I don't care if Shafer's the guy or not, but if you look at the last few years of defensive stats, Tennessee is not amongst them. Tenuta is not the answer. I would look at someone who has a proven track record in the Big Ten and someone who can get the most of our athletes. There are some guys out in the WAC and the MAC that are near the top in Defensive stats and there are some guys in the MWC none for Defense. I have no objection to Chavous, but I think the reality of getting him out of the SEC is a tough proposition.


December 15th, 2008 at 7:35 PM ^

that Shafer called the 3-man front. I was under the impression that was RR's call to change up what hadn't been working lately. GSimmons or Chi may know for sure who called for that defense against Purdue, but either way it sucked bad in that game. It was an experiment in a lost season. It's over. If RR can't be purely judged on one season with someone else's players, then Shafer can't be either. No one can logically argue that Shafer is all at fault here and should be gone. GIVE THE MAN A CHANCE TO COACH.

Just because he hasn't been at all the basketball games, maybe he actually recruiting or as RR has mentioned, he could be learning some defensive specialties from Muschamp or someone else.

I don't begin to claim to know more than any coach on the field, or GSimms or Chi, but one thing this season and offseason has taught me, is you can't fire coaches based on little to no evidence of success. Look at where Auburn and Tennessee are. Shafer is well-regarded as one of the best defensive minds in the game.

You can't defeat an army with rubber bullets. Let's give this staff the chance to change the mindset and approach to playing the positions on BOTH sides of the ball before kicking anyone to the curb.


December 15th, 2008 at 8:17 PM ^

for those of you that have followed the season, and listened to what was happening, this is a rehash. For revisionist wanna-be coaches that didnt really pay attention, you might learn something.

1. 4 vs 3 man front. Shafer is a 4-3 guy. However shafer likes the 3-4 okie defense, ESPICALLY vs spread teams. Most of the top dc's in the country use some type of nikle package against spread teams, unless they have safeties and lb's that play well in space. SO shafer ran a lot of 3 man fronts against the spread teams and as his nikel package. All dlmen prefer 4 man fronts becasue they are dlmen. But straight 4 man fronts, against spread teams is suicide unless you have lb's that make big plays in space (michigan did not this year) the other alternative is that 4-2 nikle that shafer ysed some as well getting thomopson off the field for harrison. The fact that michigan was not good on 3 downs had ZERO to do with scheme and everything to do with the fact that our lb's and safties were not very good in coverage. doenst matter if we had 50 dlmen out there... the 3-3 exepriment was something the rr people wanted to try, and that was the perfect week to do it.. nothing at stack, wr turned qb who we didnt think would be able to throw, etc. it didnt work, so be it... The less spread we saw, the less 3 man fronts we ran, excpet in passing situations... becasue the best way to blitz is with deception, and the 3 man front offers more deception and flexablity of coverages..

2. this year vs last. 2 words, englemon-adams in shafers system these would be the top two safties in the country. michigan lossing them was huge, and no defense can survive the type of safety play we had this year, unless their lb's were studs. I have never seen a defense of michigan implement as many coverage schemes as this year, and that was 100% due to the fact that shafer was trying to cover up major personal issues and safety....

3. THe wings fell off the freekin plane. IT is ok to have an opinion but dont say "we couldnt tackle or cover, but the rest is on shafer" no we couldnt tackle or cover, thats all that has to be said. It doesnt matter if it was tenuta, veneables, Amato, Gruden, etc. just like it takes time implement a zone read offense, it takes time to implement the techniques needed to run a complicated defense. Shafer wasa frustrated coach, that couldnt spend the time teaching the fundamentals that were sorely lacking as the season progressed.. and it became more and more evident that their was not the personel to fill the holes that were hurting us. Look for major improvements next year. if we dont see it, then you can START to talk about coaching... but even then, it took me 4 years at this school to really implement the type of defense that we can run now.

coaches have to be able to fit the right schemes vs offenses, and shafer did that. Then coaches have to teach the fundamentals and the techniques to implement thier system and give the players a chance to make plays, and that takes more than a season to implement.

very seldom was michigan out of possition to make a play, that speaks more about players than coaches, obviously... the coaches for the most part had kids in places to be successfull, but by sometimes a very small margin, did not exectue well. When a lack of exectuion happends on offense you lose yards, when it happends on defense you give up td's... simple as that...

mad magician

December 15th, 2008 at 10:29 PM ^

There are lots of reasons why the defense struggled this year, but at the top of the list has to be our offense. I'm banking on offensive consistency next year; then I'll have a clearer idea of what I think of Shafer, if he's back, and frankly I hope he is.

Let me give an example: our D came out gangbusters against OSU. In the first half, they forced several 3 and outs, even Steve Brown got an INT, all while the Nick Sheridan-led offense didn't do shit until midway through the second quarter, and we couldn't catch a kick to save our sorry lives. But I thought, for a while at least, the defensive schemes were working, keeping OSU and Pryor off balance. Graham and Jamison were applying pressure off the edges, Taylor, Johnson and Martin were plugging up the middle. Score at half was 14-7. Shoulda been a lot worse.

Second half: the levees broke (predictably). Tressel and co. made the adjustments, our mediocre players were exposed, and it was only a matter of time. My larger point being, the Defense had zero momentum to play with in that game and throughout many stretches of the season (Granted, one of the frustrating aspects of the year was how in the rare moments we did build early leads--Penn State, Illinois, e.g.--the defense couldn't hold it. If you recall, we sucked hard in this way.).

But I'm willing to give Shafer another year before I call for his head. This past season was a learning experience, hopefully, for the entire staff. Next year let's see how he works as he's more familiar with the personnel. And I think the Purdue debacle, instituting the 3-3-5 et al, pretending Justin Siller was Vince Young, was on Rodriguez, FWIW. I think that call came from the top; it seemed a desperate move to find something that worked and it backfired horribly.


December 16th, 2008 at 12:13 AM ^

is that Shafer is probably not going to get fired (I think it would have happened by now, even if it was just a forced "resignation"). The only other scenario where we'd be looking for a DC is if Shafer left, which is possible: perhaps a sour relationship with other coaches trying to change his scheme or a sour taste in his mouth from the failure of the season and the heat on him for his disappointing defense. As each day goes by that seems more and more unlikely and if we don't hear something within the next couple weeks, it is extremely unlikely, unless chaos breaks loose in the athletic department.

That being said, I don't think that Shafer has as good of a résumé as either Chavis or Tenuta, but that doesn't mean he's a bad DC or even worse than them. He hasn't shown he can coach a marquee program's defense yet, but that doesn't mean he won't. I don't think that this year's players were the caliber to be a dominant defense, and adding the game time they had to endure, they shouldn't be good at all. Maybe not as bad as they were, but Shafer, like Rodriguez, is instilling a system, and just because (mostly not that good) starters return, doesn't mean they will be as poised on the field while playing out a new system.

While hiring Chavis or Tenuta might be good in the long run, I feel Shafer and the guys from Rodriguez's staff have the ability to create a dominant defense. Hiring another DC will create more rebuilding for our already struggling defense. I just don't think that's a risk this program can afford.



December 16th, 2008 at 11:34 AM ^

With all of the "Dick Rod can't coach!" and "Fire Shafer!" EMOs out there, it's a breath of fresh air to see a reasoned, sane approach to last season.

No one has to be "happy" about this past year, but change for the sake of change is asinine. Even the best coaches look inept without talent. (And as we've seen over the last decade or so, the best talent can look pretty average without a great coach.)

I'm NOT looking forward to bringing in ANOTHER coach, implementing ANOTHER system. SS will be fine if you give him the right players. How many times did he have them in position to make the right play and they simply didn't get the job done?

You don't HAVE to have a scapegoat for what happened last year, and we don't HAVE to take a step backwards and put in a new system.

Well said, Gsimmons.