Defensive Philosophy

Submitted by greg788 on November 25th, 2018 at 11:02 AM

90% of our "hawt takes" are regarding the antiquated offense. But, WE GAVE UP 62 POINTS YESTERDAY AND IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE. If anyone told me we scored 39, I'd say we won the game. 

Offense wins games, defense wins championships. It's the fundamental tenet of football, even in today's with the field tilted towards offense. Need a benchmark? Why do you think Alabama's the king? Yes, this year they have offensive mojo but for years it was all about boring defense.

We got so out-coached defensively yesterday it was embarrassing. OSU didn't do that to MSU or Purdue and we have way more defensive talent. Our defense is WAY too complicated. Hell, they can't even execute zone defense properly at this point.  

Pep is an easy target and Brown is our love child here. No, this is mostly on him and I'd say he should be on thin ice right now. I was more impressed with Mattison as D coordinator because you could see gameplanning and adjustments. This is a one-trick show and it either works (against inferior quarterbacks) or turns into an epic CF against good ones (remember last year's Penn State game)...



November 25th, 2018 at 11:59 AM ^

Yup, they did. So I guess we just ignore all the numerous times it held teams to their season worst performances because of 2 games.

See below, Clemson smoked 'Bama several times (though lost the game the first time). Some times it happens against great offenses, to even the best and most talented defenses.


November 25th, 2018 at 11:59 AM ^

This is different. 

We’ve been killed by a specific type of offensive attack that’ exposes the weaknesses of Brown’s system. He doesn’t seem to do anything to address it.

Indiana exposed the cracks, and nothing changed.  Nor has it changed from year to year. Gameplan to slow the rush.  Let speeed demons run crosses. With enough time, one is routinely wide open and scampering. 

This was our best defense in years, and it was torched. Urban didn’t do anything fancy. He did what we expected. That’s on Brown.  


November 25th, 2018 at 12:35 PM ^

Yeah but it was in a NC game that was still very close. Speaking of said NC game, that is something UM and their fans can only experience in front of a television. Should have NEVER happened against our main rival, if that what OSU still is. As another poster pointed out in another thread, there was more hatred/animosity towards MSU than OSU. Maybe MSU has become the main rival to UM.


November 25th, 2018 at 1:42 PM ^

To be honest, after yesterday, it became clear to me that we aren't in OSU's league as far as talent goes. Their squad is loaded with 4-5* players, and they always bring their A+ game against us. I hate them more than anyone. But I don't think we're close to making this rivalry competitive again. Best bet at this point is that they end up with some sort of sanctions, or Meyer decides to hang it up. 


November 25th, 2018 at 2:22 PM ^

This take is crazy. Personally shows me these takes (your not only one) live in a bubble and only watch UM football. I watch college football weekly. This team has a ton of talent, not sure why people keep saying OSU is so much more talented. Enough of this crap. You think That watching Them play Maryland? Probably because this was the only OSU game you watched all year. They did 2 things. Got up for this game. Coaching attacked our weaknesses. Our coaches are stubborn and want to do what we do. Not working, no backup plan. Please stop saying OSU has so much more talent. They got playmakers, but so do we. We just don’t use ours enough, call plays to get them in space, or know how to play a Zone D worth a lick to slow down OSU athletes. 


November 25th, 2018 at 3:30 PM ^

I watched OSU-Purdue, OSU-MD and OSU-PSU, and probably OSU-TCU. But you said it yourself - they got up for this game. They are constantly pulling in top 3 recruiting classes, and I think it shows - they are better in every aspect of the game, and when you add it up, that means they can move the ball with ease.

For example, better OL means more time for Haskins, who in turn can find receivers who are faster than anything we can put on the field. If we tried running the same plays to DPJ, we'd be taking sacks each time. 

I guess it depends on how you define "having talent." After yesterday, I went back and looked at the recruiting rankings, and then I remembered that they probably have better players at most positions. 


November 25th, 2018 at 11:14 AM ^

This was worse than 2006 IMO.  Tressel abandoned Tressel-ball which broke all tendencies and was genius.  The OSU offense was the same yesterday as it was all season.  Zone was the way to go.  Many analysts knew that.  We stubbornly trotted out a man defense.  Our guys were not put in position to succeed.  

Also, give me Don Brown over Mattison as D-coordinator any day.  Hopefully this embarrassment will force him to evaluate his philosophy of zone vs man-to-man.

The Fan in Fargo

November 25th, 2018 at 1:01 PM ^

Honestly if you throw a man and a zone at the buc's receivers, do you really think they can game plan for that? Those goons know to run and run fast. The only other thing they know is where their weed dealer lives on campus. All those muscle head idiots did was run across the field really fast and wait for the ball to land in their finger tips. Then they turned and ran up the sideline. You know those guys cant make it to J in the alphabet right? Throw a zone at them in the same weeks preparation and they're fucked. All the Michigan defenders would have to do is start spelling their words on the field as to what the actual defense needed to be and the buc's receivers would be lost. Game set and match.


November 25th, 2018 at 11:17 AM ^

The Don Brown apologists are already at work I see, but I agree with the OP, we have to wake up.  DB is a likable guy, he’s got a fun mustache. He’s fiery for an old guy. He’s a character. Ya da ya da ya da.

For the past 2-3 years especially, our defensive has done GREAT against inferior talent and/or more traditional offenses. It’s fun at the time and gets our stats way up, and hence, gets the D in the national conversion year after year. But then it literally can’t keep up with elite offenses, and faster, better teams.

I’m ready to say that I’d rather implement a defense that performs 20% better against the best teams even if it means it performs 20% worse against the inferior teams. 



November 25th, 2018 at 11:55 AM ^

2016 and 2017 mostly featured JT Barrett running the ball a bunch which is much easier to defend than a 4/5-wide spread air raid attack.

Michigan had a 10-point lead in the third quarter in 2016 and a 14-point lead in the second quarter last season and lost both because they couldn't get stops.


November 25th, 2018 at 11:56 AM ^

PSU last year, USC last year when it mattered, and OSU's historic ass kicking this year. That's three awful performances in two years and you might even want to include FSU. 

Brown getting beat to shit all game is relatively rare. Brown failing to close out a game when we really need him to isn't. 

Diagonal Blue

November 25th, 2018 at 12:03 PM ^

Just look at the way the two programs recruit. OSU has 4 and 5 stars at every position. Michigan is trotting out Devin Gil, Josh Metellus, Dwumfour, and Watson and they got eaten alive vs elite athletes. 

Don't worry though, we have 14 3 star commits coming in next year. OSU has 4.

I'm sure some "trust the coaches" idiot will make an excuse for this too.

Bottom line Harbaugh needs to recruit better.


November 25th, 2018 at 12:23 PM ^

Recruiting is fine. Harbaugh just needs to play the goddamn best players and put them in a position to succeed.

Why is Gil getting snaps that Ross could take? Why is some WR I've never heard of getting snaps instead of one of our 4.5-5 star guys? Why is Milton out throwing picks when Peters looks competent? 

Why don't we have a Zone D back up plan to help out a game but overmatched Watson (no team is going to have lockdown 3rd CB)?



November 25th, 2018 at 12:27 PM ^

I agree with this mostly. I do think recruiting is still on the uptick and hasn't been quote equal with OSU but should be soon. However, Gil and Watson have been talked about as being inferior athletes by this blog and other places a lot, and they got burned repeatedly. I don't get why those guys play so much when they have better athletes on the team. I'm sure there's a coaching reason for it but it's perplexing nonetheless. 


November 25th, 2018 at 2:29 PM ^

Like our coaches, you my friend are a one trick pony. Everything is always recruiting with you. We have tons of studs on this team. In game coaching and preparation to attack opponents weaknesses biggest difference between these two clubs. The gap isn’t wide to the point we have a hard time competing. It was 2-3 years ago, not now under Harbaugh.


November 25th, 2018 at 12:13 PM ^

I think that a lot of people on this blog get a bit too analytical at times and seem to think that defensive performances happen in a vacuum. The offense sucking can indeed affect the defense, especially when the defense is young. We were insanely young last year and the huge swings in momentum caused by the offense hurt them a lot.


November 25th, 2018 at 11:19 AM ^

Defense has balled out, almost beyond measure, under Brown. Only two times did they get worked beyond measure, though in that time frame: when they faced offenses that were bigger, faster, and stronger (or all of the above). See: PSU 2017, OSU 2018. 

It's an arms race, homie. Unless we are willing to make it GET PAID SZN and subsequently celebrate top-5 recruit classing on the reg... which we shouldn't ever even consider, by the way... we're going to lose to the Alabama, Clemson, OSU, Notre Dame, and Georgia with regularity, and beat everyone else most of the time. 


November 25th, 2018 at 11:19 AM ^

Absolutely Don Brown needs to incorporate more zone, and I think you will see those changes next year. Press man is great under 2 conditions: elite pass rush, and your CBs are faster than the opposing WRs- both of which were non-existent yesterday. Haskins said post-game that we was "licking his chops" over the single high safety look that UM plays, because he only needs to beat one CB, and they targeted Watson virtually every key play, which usually resulted in a catch or penalty. Then, when UM switched to zone, they had no idea what they were doing. Obviously Don Brown is at fault, but he doesn't strike me as too stubborn to incorporate some changes in his scheme.

Toby Flenderson

November 25th, 2018 at 11:19 AM ^

The key factor in the Don Brown defense is pressure. If the pass rushers are unable to get pressure on the QB, then it leaves the secondary quite vulnerable. Tyree Kinnel and Brandon Watson are not athletic enough to have stranded on an island against OSU's receivers. 

Michigan needs to get more consistent pass rushers for and a more athletic secondary for 2019 to be a truly elite defense.

Bill in Birmingham

November 25th, 2018 at 11:29 AM ^

I made a comment in another thread that there should be questions about defensive philosophy as much as offensive philosophy and this thread reflects others feeling that way. Having said that, I don't think it is realistic to think we will have more elite pass rushers in normal years than we did this year (at least from the outside). It's also not realistic to think we will have three or four No. 1 corners. We had as close to two this year as is reasonable to expect. The scheme needs to realistically address that you are not going to have All American talent at every position when playing against the best competition.


November 25th, 2018 at 11:21 AM ^

Really looking forward to seeing how that speed and size of Daxton Hill compliments the secondary. 

The 2019 defensive recruiting haul has a lot of potential Dudes.


November 25th, 2018 at 11:44 AM ^

Michigan went four man Dline early on, then went to 3-4-4. And Michigan did little blitzing, and failed at executing zone coverage, especially on Haskins easiest TD pass of the day so when the Dline didn't get pressure, there was no other outlet to get it. And Haskins had a clean pocket for lots of different routes and hit most effectively on short, mesh routes targeted at Devin Gill and Brandon Watson's covers.

Michigan didn't get outschemed so much as it got out performed by the effort of Ohio State's Oline. They had a great day. Michigan's two best corners had their usual good day. They were solid. Metellus' covers were good.

Michigan has been attacked on the perimeter and at safety downfield all season long. And that trend was the essence of the Ohio State gameplan. They used their depth of fleet receivers to go after Michigan in the short passing game to win races across the offensive formation on mesh routes, then sent their secondary receivers on wheel routes down the sideline to beat slower cover linebackers.

Actually, Michigan did a good job of shutting down the run until late in the second half when they were warn down emotionally and OSU was flying high. I thought Kinnell who was also targeted by the Buckeye gameplan, had a pretty solid game.

The irony is, Michigan thought it could get pressure from its Dline alone and take care of the Buckeye receivers with its available backs. And Haskins accuracy and ability to throw unimpeded put Michigan in untenable defensive situations that it couldn't resolve in usual fashion and get off the field as it has all season.


November 25th, 2018 at 11:22 AM ^

Sometime you get got.  OSU is really talented, and when they put it together, they’re really good. For whatever reason, they put it together against us this year. Stinks, but it doesn’t mean we need to blow everything up.  They’re at a historic high and it’s going to be hard for us to keep up. It’s reality until Meyer leaves, likely. 


November 25th, 2018 at 11:23 AM ^

Defenses don’t win championships anymore. As long as you have a moderately adequate defense you’re fine. Hell, the chiefs and rams have average at best defenses and are the second and third best teams in the NFL. 


November 25th, 2018 at 11:24 AM ^

I agree that the D was a problem yesterday. I also think you’re an idiot if you think you can hire a defensive coordinator whose defense never has a bad game. Saban got outfoxed by Meyer a few years ago in the playoff semifinal. It happens. And heres the deal..our defensive talent is not as good as that of Bama, Clemson or OSU.

Fans think that firing and hiring is the answer to every problem..and its plain dumb. Its only a solution if you know you can hire better. You almost certainly wont be able to hire a better DC than Brown. 


November 25th, 2018 at 12:17 PM ^

He did much, MUCH more this year than last. Sometimes nearly 50/50 zone/man in some games. The problem was we got ZERO pressure on the QB. Their scheme, with that talent, and no pressure on the QB is impossible to stop. I don't care how talented the back 7 is, no one is going to stop it if a QB like Haskins has all day to throw to the types of receivers they have.