The defense is surprisingly good

Submitted by Franz Schubert on October 6th, 2013 at 5:18 PM

I must admit I have been critical of Mattison and what seems like really passive coverage schemes this season. After looking at some of the defensive statistics, I realize that although not my personal preference the schemes have been very effective. The numbers show Michigan is #13th nationally in total defense allowing 305 YPG. More surprisingly to me is that Michigan is #27th nationally in scoring defense at 19.4 YPG, which is nothing to be ashamed of but in actuality Michigan is even better than that. Because the NCAA includes all scoring against the defense, the 3 touchdowns allowed by the offense are dragging down the defensive numbers. If you remove those 3 touchdowns that were not scored against the defense, Michigan is only allowing 15.2 points a game, which would rank around #12th nationally. In addition, the defense has only allowed 7 touchdowns in 5 games! To put that in perspective consider that the muchly hyped (deservingly so) MSU defense has given up more touchdowns(8) than Michigan. Not too shabby for a defense playing without its best player.



October 7th, 2013 at 9:39 AM ^

The pass rush hasn't been that bad from the standpoint that while we usually don't get the sack, we seem to force the opposing quarterback to rush the throw a lot.  On Saturday, I saw a lot of pressure that didn't get home but did force Leidner to release earlier than he wanted and force the throw to be inaccurate.  Not as cathartic as a sack, but still pretty effective.

Still a lot to be concerned about when we face better quality offenses like Northwestern and Ohio, but I'm optimistic.


October 6th, 2013 at 5:26 PM ^

Considering that Greg Mattison is DC and the caliber of recruits that Hoke and Mattison have recruited since they came on board, it really shouldn't be that surprising. Especially in light of the job Mattison and Hoke did with RichRod's recruits in the 2011 season.


October 6th, 2013 at 7:49 PM ^

with 2012 and 2013 than 2011. '11 had much better players left over from the late Carr era that were poorly coached under RichRod. '12 and to a less extent '13 is a combination of making due with RR's defensive recruits/players, and relying on early contributions from the young players. Make it through this season at 10-2ish, and U-M's defense will be dominant in 2014. Hell, it could be dominant when Jake Ryan returns.  


October 6th, 2013 at 9:01 PM ^

Won't be dominant in 2013 with Jake.  Could be dominant in 2014 if the DL improves.  The back 7 in 2014 I like, main losses will be the 2 Gordons.  The front 4 loses some players but you hope some of those RS freshman are ready to be better in 2014.  Without playmakers at DE and run stuffers at DT you dont have a dominant defense.  There is no Graham or Martin I see in the current crop - maybe someone makes a gigantic leap year over year but usually great players pop as youngesters in between their mistakes - see Ryan, see Ross, see Blake.  I have seen none of that in the DL.


October 6th, 2013 at 11:20 PM ^

That's not necessarily true. Willie Henry has definitely flashed some impressively dominate plays, but has also shown to be inconsistent and has been blown up more than once. Every thing I've seem from Ondre Pipkins has been pretty good but he hasn't got a time this year with us pulling the nose and he just got hurt last game. Either of those guys could be your Martin. As far as Graham the only end on the team I really love is Mario Ojemudia but idk how much he can hold up against power run teams (though how many are really left in the B1G), Frank Clark is just not on that level and I haven't been impressed by any of our SDE's and it's probably the weakest position on the team. So no Graham but we'll have a fantastic Linebacking core and all the DB's but Thomas Gordan return but we add Peppers so we could improve there. This will be a very good defense next year and if we get good receiver production and Tackles we could have an offense to match. With Ohio losing almost their entire OL we should be favorites to win the conference.


October 6th, 2013 at 8:50 PM ^

RichRod gave us Kovacs, Ryan and a few other pretty good players (Roh, Lewan, Dileo. Gallon, Countess (was iffy once RR was fired, but recommitted to Hoke), Beyer). The guy had an eye for talent and could recruit, I'll give him that. Developing the talent on the defensive side of the ball, not so much.


October 7th, 2013 at 4:32 PM ^

Jordan Kovacs was a walk-on (and not even a preferred walk-on) who basically willed himself into the starting lineup through hard work, persistence, and determination. GERG didn't even remember Kovacs' name the first time he called his number. The only one who should get credit for Jordan Kovacs is Jordan Kovacs.

Point taken on the others, though. For all his failings, Roch Rod did bring in some notable names.

snarling wolverine

October 6th, 2013 at 5:26 PM ^

Counterpoint: when your first five opponents are CMU, Notre Dame, Akron, UConn and Minnesota, shouldn't your defense be expected to do very well?  There is only one remotely good offense (ND) in that group.  Most of the rest are downright poor.



October 6th, 2013 at 6:50 PM ^

 counter point, after 5 games with the exception of Georgia what teams have face multiple good teams this year. I'm concerned about the defense but, I was after two games last year also and then it just clicked. I'm waiting for it to just click again and confident it will. I have two bets with my cousin one is on the Game for 100 and the other is on total defense for another 100.

snarling wolverine

October 6th, 2013 at 7:02 PM ^

It's not just that we haven't played a lot of good teams; we've played three absolutely horrible teams (Akron, UConn, CMU), and one cellar-dwelling B1G team (Minnesota).  Take away ND and our strength of schedule rating would probably be in the 100+ range in the country.  

Against ND, the only remotely competent offense we've faced, we gave up 23 points and 411 yards.  That's not exactly a bad performance, but it's nothing to write home about either.  



October 7th, 2013 at 12:54 AM ^

 I don't know what you expected. Most of our defense are freshman and sophmores. We wheren't going to be competing for a national championship but, we can still compete for a big ten championship. We run 4 upper classman in our defense with Beyer, Washington, Black and Gordon so I think they are playing fairly well. Oops 5 upper classmen dont know how i forgot Courtney Avery


October 7th, 2013 at 1:00 AM ^

That's not accurate.  Washington, Black, and both Gordons are seniors.  Avery is also a senior.  Then there are a number of juniors playing, including Morgan, Taylor, Clark, Beyer, and Hollowell.  Jake Ryan is another junior, and Countess would be a junior too if he hadn't gotten a medical redshirt for 2012.  

snarling wolverine

October 7th, 2013 at 6:36 AM ^

Again - I'm not saying we're bad defensively, or that I'm disappointed.  I just wouldn't go so far as to say "surprisingly good."   We've played pretty much how I've expected.  Our run defense is decent, but we generate very little pass rush and also don't cover particularly well, which is a dangerous combination.  Because we've played four bad offensive teams out of five, our statistics look really good, but I don't know how confident people can really be about this unit given our schedule to come.  Our pass D has not yet been exploited that much (except by Akron, of all teams, and ND) but our next two opponents pass pretty well, which makes me wary.  And then we get into the NW/Nebraska/Ohio stretch, where we're going to have to massively step it up.

One thing we are pretty good at is tackling, and that's helped prevent giving up too many big plays.  But aside from that, we have a ton of room for improvement.  We need Ryan back ASAP.



October 6th, 2013 at 5:31 PM ^

What's the cumulative record of the schools we've played thus far? Stats not that pressure on qb, difficulty tackling, can't contain draw

Dilithium Wings

October 6th, 2013 at 5:34 PM ^

That's a good point about the Devin Gardners turnovers resulting in immediate points that count towards out points against average. Another thing to consider is the field goals the defense had to hold opposing teams to in their own territory. While it has been a very un-aggressive defensive approach, it is getting the job done.


October 6th, 2013 at 7:43 PM ^

6-7 years. A) I am always very optimistic generally about the team and B) my predictions, as Brian has noted, have always been spot on as W-Ls are concerned. I don't know what yours have been, but I have seen your name around enough not to just diss you on general, wafer-thin principle. 

Anyone who watches us in the afternoon and the SEC at night, with half a freaking brain, can see two losses in the regular season and one in a bowl. 

Sign Me,

Somewhat Conscious and Not Named After Some Shitbird Star of the 80s


October 6th, 2013 at 5:37 PM ^

Here is a more comprehensive set of rankings as tabulated by

Defense Value (rank)
Opp Points/Game 19.4 (#21)
Opp Yards/Game 305.0 (#10)
Opp Points/Play 0.288 (#28)
Opp Yards/Play 4.5 (#19)
Opp 3D Conv % 41.10% (#71)
Opp 4D Conv % 20.00% (#14)
Opp RZ Scoring % 73.33% (#25)
Opp Rush Play % 42.73% (#10)
Opp Yards/Rush 3.1 (#17)
Opp Rushes/Game 28.8 (#6)
Opp Rush Yards/Game 90.4 (#7)
Opp Pass Play % 57.27% (#116)
Opp Completion % 53.01% (#20)
Opp Yards/Pass 5.9 (#18)
Opp Passes/Game 36.6 (#87)
Opp Pass Yards/Game 214.6 (#41)
Opp Int Thrown % 3.83% (#38)
Sack % 5.18% (#69)



October 6th, 2013 at 7:22 PM ^

Plus they are going to come off being pounded on by MSU.

Pass first teams like IU are susceptible to the blitz. I have to believe that Mattison's will get come a few times.


This isn't GERG folks. Mattison will at least slow them down. I don't see IU being able to slow down UM with inferior athletes. Their defense isn't even as good as Minnesota's.