Do we have the personnel to run a "conventional defense?"

Submitted by cypress on November 4th, 2010 at 9:41 PM

I'm looking at this more in terms of next year, because I think its pretty unrealistic to expect massive change this year. And yes, I'm fully aware there are going to be a few of you who are going to huff and puff about worrying about this year first. Oh well, deal with it.

Anyway, the general consensus is that the scheme has issues and we would be better off running a more traditional 4-3 defense. I know that we run "multiple" now that features a 4 man front at times, but our guys seem confused more often than not and there does not seem to be much consistency. I've also heard the argument that we dont have the bodies to run a 4-3 at this point. How about next year? Obviously QWash or Ash would need to step up and handle nose tackle.

Also..linebackers. We've got plenty of them but I dont know who would play what in a 4-3. MLB is obviously Demens, perhaps with Bell, Ryan and maybe Kellen Jones in the mix. The WLB and SLB..I really dont know. We'll have Herron, Fitz, Mike Jones, Cam Gordon, Leach, maybe Furman and M-Rob. I'm not a defensive guru, does anyone have any insight on what qualities are needed to be successful at WLB and SLB and who might project there?

Comments

DGDestroys

November 4th, 2010 at 9:46 PM ^

Obviously QWash or Ash would need to step up and handle nose tackle.

I'd think that Martin would probably continue to handle NT duties.

I'm not a defensive guru, does anyone have any insight on what qualities are needed to be successful at WLB and SLB and who might project there?

I'm no guru either, but here's what I know. WLB is a lot more athletic than the SLB. SLB is charged with man coverage on TEs, keeping contain on stretch runs, etc, and is all around more physical than the WLB. Roh/Herron/Fitzgerald/Gordon/Gordon/Leach would seem to be good (although heaven forbid we see Roh at LB next year). The WLB is more agile, athletic, and somewhat smaller. Bell/Jones/MRob/Furman/K. Jones could all have impact here. It's my understanding that Bell is a MLB prospect

DGDestroys

November 4th, 2010 at 9:54 PM ^

I think Martin's the best fit at NT. If Black continues to put on weight in the offseason, he could easily be the 3-tech, I don't see him being a 4-3 DE. With Roh at weakside DE and RVB at strongside DE, it would provide us with the best combination of experience and talent. Basically, I don't want someone inexperienced like QWash or Ash seeing significant time next year, I've had enough of that this year.

Magnus

November 4th, 2010 at 10:05 PM ^

I don't think having an inexperienced nose tackle is that big of a deal.

If we could find a solid nose tackle, I really think Martin would be a good 3-tech.  The only reason Martin has stayed at NT is because they haven't been able to groom a solid player to fill the position in order to move Martin.

beastcoastinc

November 5th, 2010 at 9:23 AM ^

NT has to be able to read and diagnose the play properly or he gets handled and the backers are neutralized.  Shawn Rogers of the Browns was discussing his role in the 3-4 with the Browns and how now that he fully understands the defense, he is able to make plays and be more effective.  I think plugging in inexperience puts a body on a body, but in order to improve your chances of winning, you put players in a position to win 1 on 1 matchups. 

We have more than enough players (according to the players) and word is that the d-lineman and lb's on the team would prefer to run a different defense.

Magnus

November 5th, 2010 at 9:51 AM ^

Well, it would be great if we could have an experienced player at every position.  But that's not possible for U-M.  You can have a solid defense if your NT is inexperienced, as long as he's not physically limited (say, 275 lbs. like Adam Patterson).

beastcoastinc

November 5th, 2010 at 1:23 PM ^

Agreed, Adam gets neutralized on 9 out of 10 plays.  He has no "anger" when he plays.  His brother was very similar as rb with a dozen BCS level offers in high school.  No aggression at all.  It's why I love Jibreel Black (in passing situations)  

You need a coach that can teach a DT to play in that system, because it really is the most important position on that front 7 over the course of an entire game.  I think it's evident that "DC who's name will never be spoken again by me" doesn't know.  Mike Martin is having a good season, and he looks like a 4-3 DT in technique more than a 3-4 NT.

mGrowOld

November 4th, 2010 at 9:49 PM ^

When you say "conventional defense" I assume by that you also mean a defense that periodically stops the other team somewhere short of the endzone. 

That would be fantastic. 

Magnus

November 4th, 2010 at 10:17 PM ^

I'm not one of those who thinks that we need to run a "conventional" defense in order to be successful.  The 3-3-5 is fine if you a) have the personnel and b) know how to deploy your personnel.

If we ran a 4-3 like Michigan ran under Ron English a few years ago...

LDE: Black
DT: Martin
NT: Washington (?)
RDE: Roh
SAM: Mike Jones
MIKE: Demens
WILL: Cam Gordon
CB: Floyd
CB: Avery
FS: Woolfolk
SS: Kovacs

It's still not a great defense, and we have no real SAM linebacker.  But no matter what defense we run next year, it's still going to be bad.

Magnus

November 4th, 2010 at 10:27 PM ^

I knew I was forgetting someone.  Yeah, I'd insert Van Bergen for Jibreel Black.  Or potentially keep black at DE, put Van Bergen at DT, and leave Martin at NT.

And yes, I think we're doomed, regardless.  Our defensive backs are still bound to be horrible in 2011.  Even marginally better leaves them in the category of "very bad."

Swazi

November 5th, 2010 at 12:07 AM ^

I wouldn't say that. A healthy 5th year senior Woolfolk and Junior JT Floyd would be a great improvement over sophomore Floyd who should have been Troy or Donovan's backup, and Rogers, who until now was never good enough to even see the field in over three years. Combine that with all the freshmen in the secondary getting their baptism by fire, and I honestly think this secondary is much improved. If it isn't then Gibson is the most incompetent human being since Homer J. Simpson at doing his job.

funkywolve

November 5th, 2010 at 1:26 AM ^

seems to be regressing.  I'm not expecting some miraculous turnaround this season and not sure how much better he'll get next year.  I'm wondering if he's going to fall in the Ezeh/Mouton catagory - guy who plays a lot in his career but never really gets better.

tpilews

November 5th, 2010 at 2:17 AM ^

Couldn't the "Floyd regressing" be blamed on a snowball effect? I don't remember hearing much of him earlier in the season other than him being pretty serviceable. With the defense being the culprit every game and JT probably taking the majority of the stress because he's the "veteran" in that secondary. Obviously, CB is a position you want a ton of attitude and cockiness. Floyd got burned a couple times and it just fell apart from there.

Swazi

November 5th, 2010 at 2:29 AM ^

Like I said, Floyd should have been Troy or Donovan's backup this year.He was forced into action, like pretty much everyone else in the secondary, when he wasn't ready.

Ill give you Ezeh, but I really do think Mouton improved dramatically from his play last year.  Him and Ezeh seemedl iek the same player last year, and this year Mouton is light years better.  Still not great, but Mouton overall improved his game.

Magnus

November 5th, 2010 at 4:01 AM ^

Regardless, the other cornerback and the other safety (if Woolfolk plays FS) will be bad.  And Floyd isn't good in the first place.  If both Floyd and Woolfolk play CB, then both our safeties will be bad.

We're still going to have a bad defense in 2011.  It might be better, but it still won't be good.

Nick

November 4th, 2010 at 10:29 PM ^

I honestly think Rich made the decision to include the 3-3-5 in their 'multiple schemes' because the type of athlete it uses in the optimal alignment has been the focus of our recruiting.  We are seeing lots of hybrids from LB-S to DE-DT.  Positional flexibility I think has been a focus of our defensive staff, whether by choice or neccesity.

So, I think we can run convential schemes on D, but the coaches though we would have more potential running something slightly unconventional and have recruited upon that assumption.

Magnus

November 4th, 2010 at 10:30 PM ^

I think the 3-3-5 this year has been more a function of our current personnel than anything else.  We don't have enough defensive linemen to run a 4-3 and not enough linebackers to run a 3-4.

Nick

November 4th, 2010 at 11:45 PM ^

I agree that our personnel has dictated this alignment.  I was just trying to say that from the moment RichRod has been here, it seems that he has recruited for the 3-3-5 on defense and that possibly confirmed his choice to run some 3-3-5.   Reasoning being that the decision was made and that recent recruiting classes and the guys were after now were the nail in the coffin.  

I think this scheme is what he wants to run long term and he has had the urge to put it in but I feel like he has always questioned if he should take the plunge.

Shop Smart Sho…

November 5th, 2010 at 1:23 AM ^

I have never understood this line of reasoning.

Starters:

RVB

Martin

Banks

Roh

Subs:

Black

Patterson

Campbell

Sagesse

With those 7 guys from Spring practice forward, you would think we had enough to run a 4 man line.  Especially considering the shape that RVB, Martin, and Roh are in.  RVB and Martin don't come out much, if at all.  Considering the amount of time the defense spends on the field, that is amazing.  Michigan didn't need 10 good DL to run a 4 man front, right?

 

Not trying to argue, really want your answer on why you think we didn't have enough DL to do the 4 man front.

we the roses

November 4th, 2010 at 10:48 PM ^

personally i think the 4 man front fits the team better right now. Roh, Martin, Van B, and...Banks? That fourth guy is the only problem, but i think everyone is aware that Roh is much better at rushing the passer from a down position than what they have had him doing for a majority of the season. If we do go to a 4 man front next year, I could see a lot of potential improvement on the defensive side of the ball.

Swazi

November 5th, 2010 at 12:32 AM ^

I think that odds are next year we run a 4-3. Thats more in GERG's comfort zone, and we shouldn't need a billion guys off the line to help the corners. 5th year senior with loads of PT and a Junior with also loads of PT that are backed up by a bunch of Sophomores that have played this year makes for possibly the best corner situation of Rod's tenure. The only big question is who fills Mouton's spot? Im assuming Demens has the MLB spot locked up. Kellen Jones watches every Michigan game multiple times and dissects every detail with his dad, so he might be a Freshman with an advanced defensive mind(certainly above Obi already probably) wouldn't be so bad to start. Does Cam bulk up some more and take/compete for the other linebacker spot? Also have Jake Ryan and Isaiah Bell to compete.
The line will be upgraded because Roh will (hopefully) be the DE opposite RVB, with Black as one backup off the top of my head, and maybe Ash/QWash will take over NT and Martin can be the DT with Talbott backing him up. Im pretty sure Im missing other linemen (been drinking).

Next year, the defense will have something its lacked since the day Rod was hired: adequate depth of players that have all played important minutes previously.

TrueBlue88

November 5th, 2010 at 1:55 AM ^

the realistic chances RR fires all his WVU boys and brings in a good DC and overhauls the defense? Gibby can stay on board as special teams Coord, (only RR best friend and not likely to fire him) What do you guys think will happen defensively during the offseason, assuming RR stays in AA? Which i hope he does!

Hail

The Punisher

November 5th, 2010 at 8:14 AM ^

...that DB tells RR he doesn't have a choice if he wants to keep his job? I think the smart money is on, whoever the DC is, the DC having total control of the D. I think RR has proven he can recruit and coach a top ranked O. He needs to keep his hands off the D.

Either way, I trust DB to make the best decisions for the school.

snoopblue

November 5th, 2010 at 3:28 AM ^

didn't want to start a new thread about this but I was watching Syracuse 2010 football and their defense actually looks really good. I then watched 2007 Stanford Defense and once again, very good. Scott Shafer's defenses play fast, aggressive and wrap up when they tackle. I really think RR forced a scheme on him and didn't allow him to teach his players what he knew. If you remember, they "mutually agreed" for him to resign - I didn't buy it at the time, but GERG seems like he's being forced to do the same thing. If GERG goes, I really hope David Brandon lays down the law and tells RR that the new DC will run what he wants to run with his own staff. I know that is kind of undermining the coach, but RR needs a little taste of his own medicine and be "forced" to do something - it will actually help him keep his job.

funkywolve

November 5th, 2010 at 12:37 PM ^

At the beginning of the season UM actually had a number of upperclassmen starting/playing a lot - Banks, Sagesse, Martin, Van Bergen, Ezeh, Mounton, Herron.  In addition some of the sophomores that were starting/playing a lot were returning starters - Floyd, Kovacs, Roh. 

That's what 4 seniors, 3 juniors and 3 sophomores that started/played a lot last year.  That looks pretty similiar to the numbers you posted for the 2007 Stanford team.

funkywolve

November 5th, 2010 at 12:38 PM ^

At the beginning of the season UM actually had a number of upperclassmen starting/playing a lot - Banks, Sagesse, Martin, Van Bergen, Ezeh, Mounton, Herron.  In addition some of the sophomores that were starting/playing a lot were returning starters - Floyd, Kovacs, Roh. 

That's what 4 seniors, 3 juniors and 3 sophomores that started/played a lot last year.  That looks pretty similiar to the numbers you posted for the 2007 Stanford team.