ESPN: Wolverines dominate second halves

Submitted by psychomatt on October 10th, 2011 at 11:57 PM

ESPN has an interesting article about Michigan's ability to successfully make adjustments this year. We are second only to Stanford (and one spot ahead of Bama) in terms of second half point differential.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison sat his players down in the visitors' locker room Saturday night at Ryan Field. It was halftime, and the Wolverines trailed 24-14, obviously not the best 30 minutes for a defense that had garnered praise for its turnaround from a year ago.

In Michigan's first five games, defensive lineman Ryan Van Bergen said, the changes Mattison had made had been small and simple. This was going to be a big change in a small amount of time.

Michigan had been hurt by Northwestern's run option. The Wildcats had also unexpectedly run more bubble screens than anticipated, leaving Mattison about 20 minutes to overhaul his plan.

"It was a pretty serious thing," Van Bergen said. "To bump all the linebackers back the way we did, but it was successful."

Michigan pulled its linebackers off the line of scrimmage more to allow them a split-second more time to read where Dan Persa or Kain Colter would try to run an option. It also caused more traffic for receivers running short routes over the middle.

And like it has through six weeks this season, No. 10 Michigan had success.




October 11th, 2011 at 12:02 AM ^

Is probably the best defensive coordinator and possibly the best overall assistant coach in all of college football. I don't think that is a stretch, we are incredibly fortunate to have him on our staff. I cannot wait to see what he can do when he has speed, talent and athleticism to work with.


October 11th, 2011 at 12:02 AM ^

This is a great reputation to have.  Other teams say they don't pay attention, but they know the reps of other teams.  When a team has a reputation for second-half dominance, opponents are waiting for the "other shoe to drop" in the last two quarters.

In a sport where the increment of separation between teams is shrinking every year, any mental edge helps a lot.

Philip A. Duey

October 11th, 2011 at 12:05 AM ^

A concrete tactical move to counter the option/bubble stuff.  Wonder if that'll show up clearly in  UFR.  I'm curious if we'd do something similar with Nebraska; even though they're more of a downhill attack, they still have that Martinez-Burkhead option possibility.


October 11th, 2011 at 12:41 AM ^

But only slightly. Scheme is important but what has lead to the revival is the players have the fundamentals back and that is coaching. My god, they TACKLE, they WRAP UP, they create turnovers, it's BEAUTIFUL. To this point I have felt that every week those kids on defense are getting *better* each game. Better coaching man, and it is glorious to see.


October 11th, 2011 at 1:04 AM ^

Scheme is totally irrelevant if your players don't have fundamentals like, say, tackling. This season has shown that scheme only becomes relevant when fundamentals are sound. See: Ron English hailed as a defensive mastermind with the personnel of the 2006 defense.

Doesn't matter how good your driving skills are if you don't have gas to fill the tank.


October 11th, 2011 at 10:17 AM ^

This article reminds of why the defense is so good this year; the ability to adjust the gameplan, this trait has been sorely lacking the last 3 years on both O and D.