The doom and gloom on this board regarding our defense moving forward always frustrates me so I looked at some of the stats this year. This took about 5 minutes and I was able to pull multiple examples. These are the Total Defense rankings for several teams from 09 and 10.
Team 2009 2010 Change Stanford 90 23 67 Arkansas 89 33 56 Illinois 92 37 55 Tex A&M 105 51 54 Hawaii 91 37 54 Louisville 65 14 51 Michigan St 73 31
I didn't examine all their rosters, but I think these are great teams to look at because we can reasonably determine that they don't have a great raw talent advantage over Michigan. So with comparable talent these teams all made great strides in just 1 year. So what are the arguments against improvement and why we will continue to suck.
1. Returning starters-Well maybe those other teams had a ton of returning starters. Well Michigan returns 9 so it's mathematically impossible to return much more.
2. New coordinator-While it's true more of these teams did get new coordinators, there were also ones that stayed the course.
3. Injuries- Maybe these teams had key guys out for much of the season. That is probably a safe assumption, but isn't it also reasonable to assume Michigan was not at least in the middle of the pack considering our best player missed time and played at much less than 100% for half the season, our best DB missed the whole season, the #2 DB missed almost half the season.
4. Youth- Maybe those other teams were forced to play multiple freshmen and since usually the biggest year of improvement for a college player is between his freshmen and sophmore years they took a big jump. I can't imagine we are not at least in the middle of the pack in freshmen played last season.
Is it a guarantee we will make a 50 spot jump in the rankings next year? No. Is it at least a decent possibility without even stretching my maize and blue glasses a little? Sure. So for those of you projecting years of defensive doom just come to the middle a little bit. We're going to be fine from here on in. We now have actual scholarship players and back ups at every position that are not true freshmen. This is something we haven't had in 2 years. I'm not sure we have enough talent to be a top 10 defense, but I don't think anybody does considering we've barely seen these guys play and when we have they were probably not ready so we have a jaded view of them.