Feed the Beast...(No, this is not a Charlie Weiss Post)...Recruiting Defense

Submitted by BILG on October 4th, 2009 at 12:15 PM
1) My previous post was not intended to be a Lloyd bashing (I have done enough of that for 10 lifetimes), but instead a response to those likening this loss to those of the LC era. My point is simply this is not of the same mold. There are many ways to lose, and many ways to get out-coached, but this year's version of UM-MSU was not a case of the significantly more talented and experienced team allowing the game to stay close and finding a way to lose (as was often the case with LC). UM got outplayed at the line of scrimmage and deserved to lose. My argument has always been that Lloyd had stacked teams and they played mediocre football. This year's version of UM is indeed a mediocre team, so to expect greatness is premature. 
2) LC was a solid coach for the first part of his tenure. Things really changed for the worse after the 2000 Orange bowl. The only big win after that game was 2003 OSU. Yes, Lloyd was consistent and a good man. But given all the NFL talent he recruited (and look at their impact in the league...Brady, Woodley, Jackson, Edwards, Breaston, etc), to only have 1 BCS bowl victory is an underachievement. IMO, in his last few years he held down the fort, but never reinforced it, and the game was beginning to pass him by.  Point being....please let's not go down the path of every time we lose a game we compare it to the LC era.....We are not a top 10 team yet, let alone a top 10 team losing to unranked opponents.
3) The defensive recruiting comment is the most interesting response I have seen. I totally agree, that RR needs to do more to bring in big time recruits on that side of the ball. Is Greg Robinson the right man for this job?....I have no idea, but it is clear that RR has pretty much entrusted him with this unit, so he can focus on the offense. Getting speed and talent at skill positions on offense will not be a problem given the fun and gun system RR is installing. But to really compete at the BCS level we need speed on defense. "SEC speed" is a myth when looking at skill position players (recievers / RBs are fast at all big-time programs in the country). Where this argument has some validity is at the D-lines and LBs, where they really are faster in the south.....(Play football year round.) Skill position players in the north often run track in HS, so are not as much at a disadvantage when compared to their peers in the south. Point being....ahs22 raises a great concern, are we recruiting enough talent on defense?  I think if we can pull of some of the fours star talent still on the board we will be ok  We have a lot of defensive recruits still around with at least medium interest in UM......Cullen Christian, Dior Mathis, Olaniyan, Bryant, Furman, Ifill, etc....Come on Down!!!! 



October 4th, 2009 at 12:27 PM ^

GERG should be an excellent recruiter. Thirty years of experience, NFL, other big time college programs, etc. In addition, you would think that some of these undecided blue chippers would now be more attracted to M than ever. The team is clearly on the rise and there is an opportunity to play right away or at least early.
That being said, I have heard that the position coach is more important in recruiting than the coordinator, but I am not a recruiting guru. If so, and there is a public outcry to dump Hopson, it could be a problem for LB recruits. The gurus on this board may want to comment on this.


October 4th, 2009 at 12:31 PM ^

After a loss to ASU (to a John Cooper-coached team, no less) in 1987, Bo started moving some of his fastest players onto the defense.

I remember, in particular, Tripp Welborne, who was a freshman in the 1987 season. He was fast and had good hands. Bo moved him from WR to safety the following year. Tripp became one of the most dominating players on either side of the ball, and was a consensus All-American in 1989 and 1990.

The point is that, sometimes, moving a good skill position player (such a WR for speed and size) to a corner or safety position can be a difference maker. If we can't get the "natural" D recruits we need, maybe we "promote from within".


October 4th, 2009 at 12:45 PM ^


I like the idea of moving speed and talent to the defensive side when possible, but this is not always a smart option. Remember WR Morgan Trent going to CB....just didn't have it. Often it is a lack of a certain mentality, but sometimes it is simply that speed is not enough....acceleration,agility, and anticipation also play a role. Trent had straight line speed, but not change of direction ability. Defenders are most often in a position of reaction, especially in the secondary. I agree with simply putting the best talent on the field, but it is much easier and more efficient to get to that place by recruiting 4 and 5 star position specific talent.


October 4th, 2009 at 12:52 PM ^

A Tripp Welborne will only come along once in a while, but if you've got a WR who's maybe 2nd or 3rd on the depth chart, it might be worth a look. I also agree that you need the right mix of characteristics. Recruiting a "natural" CB, safety, LB is preferable, but if you can't get what you're looking for from the high school talent pool, (or they won't come to you) you may have no choice.

Magnum P.I.

October 4th, 2009 at 5:14 PM ^

We have a lot of 4- and 5-star rated guys on the team right now, the bulk of whom are on offense. I think it's interesting to consider putting athletes on the other side of the ball if it helps the team. Most of these guys played two ways in high school, anyway, so the coaches aren't starting with blank slates. Anyway, recruiting 4-star defensive recruits may be the most efficient solution, but it's clearly not easy, seeing as how we have only two 4-star defensive recruits on board for next year.

Jeff H

October 4th, 2009 at 6:06 PM ^

... Morgan Trent is playing defense in the NFL this season(albeit for the Bengals), which suggests NFL talent evaluators felt that was the best side of the ball for him (or maybe the only side of the ball for him, I guess).

Plus, I'm sorry, but Morgan Trent ran down Percy Harvin in the Cap One Bowl, which makes him okay in my book. Proves your point - that he has straight-line speed - but still.


October 4th, 2009 at 8:19 PM ^

Just because you run a fast 40 or whatever, doesn't mean you are a "fast" football player. You can be the fastest guy in the world, but if your reaction time and recognition time is slow, then none of that really matters. If you run a 4.3 40, but it takes you half a second or longer than a slower guy to figure out what's going on, then you're really not that fast. At that point all your speed is good for is a little CYA.

Better recognition and tackling skills will make up for a lot in the speed category. Just look at our safeties.

Meeechigan Dan

October 4th, 2009 at 12:32 PM ^

Given that we could give the max 28 scholarships without batting an eye, I am wondering if RR doesn't go for numbers as the class ends. He's slow playing it now to see what studs bite (Christian, Olayian, Mathis, etc.) and when we get them in the fold, he goes and gobbles up the best of the three stars left stealing from MAC teams and similar schools. Maybe add four or five low three stars for depth and hope to catch David Harris in a bottle once or twice.

Maize and Blue…

October 5th, 2009 at 11:14 AM ^

Maybe your negative attitude in the post is why you got negged and deservedly so. You have visits coming up from Josh Shaw, Tony Grimes, Sharrif Floyd, CC, and are looking good for Olaniyan and Furman. Supposed visits according to recruiting services from Anthony Barr, Sean Parker, Marquis Flowers, John Fulton, and David Thornton to name a few. Absolutely no reason to gobble up low three stars.


October 4th, 2009 at 12:52 PM ^

draft picks (recruits) this year and next, that is my epinion. They are working hard at coaching them(current starters) up as best as possible. The Staff is working with inferior and/or inexperienced talent. I am loving the effort from these kids, we will get it. I am saving my kool-aid for later.

Blue in Yarmouth

October 5th, 2009 at 8:22 AM ^

You can say a lot about our team on both sides of the ball, but to say they have inferior talent....is just not correct. Lack in depth, yes but there is maybe two teams in the big ten with more talent than we have. We are just inexperienced and thin in numbers. We are certainly not playing with inferior talent on this team. OSU and Penn State may have better talent, but that is about it in the big ten.

Magnum P.I.

October 4th, 2009 at 1:35 PM ^

There's a quick compounding effect on defense. If a defense has gaping holes, it makes every player on the unit look bad (phenoms like Graham and Warren being the rare exceptions, but even they would look a ton better with a more solid unit). Offense is different because one good QB can relatively salvage the unit. Take last year as an example: Terrance Taylor, Tim Jamison, Will Johnson all saw their draft stock fall off a cliff as a result of the overall unit's poor performance (you can say what you will about their true NFL staying power, but they would have been drafted higher if our secondary play wasn't so bad last year). Stud defensvie recruits know this; they're smart; there's so much at stake with potential NFL millions down the road that they do their homework. When they see a defense play solid every year (e.g., Penn State, Florida, USC, Ohio State, Michigan pre-2007) they realize that's a safe place to ply their wares for three or four years. When a defense is porous, why would they take the risk of making themselves look worse? Every game we get gouged it has a negative compounding effect on our future defense. We need to make defensive recruiting a major priority now, and we need to be disturbed every game we get blatantly pushed around and run around on defense. Perception matters.


October 4th, 2009 at 1:49 PM ^

This team is still extraordinarily young and is still operating at a scholarship deficit after all the defections (fewer scholarship players on the team than there are scholarships to hand out). Next year's D only loses two scholarship players (assuming Warren stays). Losing two starters is nice, but losing only two players is unreal. Next year's D will have 8-10 extra bodies on it. This can't help but make the team better.

Also, I think you have to give some credit to the kids and coaching staff for holding a quality offense to 20 points in regulation, despite being on the field all day. Hell of a performance that gave us a chance to win. Just caught a bad break in the OT.

Blue Fan

October 4th, 2009 at 2:14 PM ^

Last year there were too many blown tackles by the defense.

Capers winning run in overtime was notable for two blown tackles on the way. Was it just the rain?

Maize and Blue…

October 5th, 2009 at 11:03 AM ^

Don't you think maybe the players knew this and thought the best way to stop the FG was to strip the ball. Thus going after the ball instead of a solid tackle.
Also, Woolfolk had injured his shoulder earlier in the game which could have contributed to his miss on Capers.


October 4th, 2009 at 7:05 PM ^

And that's not the only one. ND was top 10 in 2006. And if you don't like at the game time rankings, PSU actually ended up #3 and with their only loss to Michigan in the dreaded 2005 season. And was in the Top 10 going into the game in 2007. And while it's a loss, too many make it seem like we were more than a fingertip away from beating Texas, who was starting their road to the Nat'l Championship.

Oh, and in addition to not losing to PSU for 11 years, he finished off with 6 straight against MSU (and we all know it should have been at least 2 more). Not a big deal because they weren't ranked high most of those years? Looks pretty good today, since Rich isn't capable of having a winning record against them till 2012. (And if PSU and OSU go the same way, with those on the road next year...).

But that doesn't mean RichRod is a failure either, and doomed to be "Tresseled" for life. Lloyd started off with a huge advantage vs. OSU, and lost his first 2 to PSU. Things change.

The only thing I have a problem with this site is the seeming need to justify belief in Rich by blaming everything on Carr, and no sense that RichRod has actually made some mistakes, but that doesn't mean he's not a darn good coach, and that Lloyd made some mistakes, but he was a really good coach too. Lloyd's defensive recruiting wasn't so hot in his final years, RichRod's hasn't been so hot his first few years. I think too many people spent so much time complaining about Carr and calling for his head, that they have to justify it by acting like RichRod can do no wrong, and the RIGHT hire can never be human, or you know, a mortal coach. And likewise there's a little "I told you so" from the loyalists who heard all the complaining, and can see that Lloyd wasn't doing such a bad job...because it wasn't as easy as it seemed to maintain all those winning streaks and such... (seeing this weekend shows how ridiculous it was for us to NEVER lose to MSU two years in a row for the whole Bo team era...improbable, yet impressive).

It is probably one of those quiet majority things that hold the opposite view, but I don't know why it seems most people are against Carr or against Rich. I think we had a great coach, and we found a great one to replace him. Being "real" Michigan or "all in" isn't saying RichRod right or wrong. It's being behind all our coaches. As long as they're doing it the right way, and making progress or maintaining excellence.

-Chris C.


October 4th, 2009 at 4:47 PM ^

What we need is some big time, NFL quality linebackers. We have none in the pipe, so we need them this year, which is not going to happen. We also need to ask whether Hopson is a good enough teacher to really improve out ILBs.


October 4th, 2009 at 4:47 PM ^

What we need is some big time, NFL quality linebackers. We have none in the pipe, so we need them this year, which is not going to happen. We also need to ask whether Hopson is a good enough teacher to really improve out ILBs.


October 4th, 2009 at 4:56 PM ^

tackle properly and take the correct angles and play with discipline over guys who run fast to lunge and grab at players while taking poor angles. Bad habits have returned.

Michigan has been a fundamentally poor team on defense for a number of years now. (Save for a good starting 11 in 2006 who played no good offenses until Ohio State)


October 4th, 2009 at 10:26 PM ^

That is the most frustrating thing - fundamentals on the defense have been poor for years now. I would think the coaches would see and are doing everything they can to correct it but...the problem seems to remain.

I was really hoping that when RR arrived last year that we'd see that corrected but so far that has not been the case.


October 5th, 2009 at 11:42 AM ^

GERG is a coach who stresses fundamentals. However, in the short time we've had him here it's not serisouly possible to completely right the ship. I've seen strides (particularly in the early games) when it comes to staying home, reading the play, and tackling but there is still significant progress to be made. Discipline is not something that just happens overnight.


October 4th, 2009 at 5:45 PM ^

If my memory serves me right, didn't we have two D-line four star decommits last February, guys who had made their commitment and changed their minds on signing day.

Recruiting helps, but so does coaching stability If recruiting were the sole reason a team is good, Iowa would not be ranked and Michigan would be top ten almost every year. Ditto for PSU, but they tend to do better in their recruiting, at least recently, than Iowa. Admittedly, you need the talent, but without consistent coaching it is impossible to succeed. Even before LC left, our D was often in the crosshairs, with the obvious exception of 2006.

Go Blue!


October 4th, 2009 at 9:41 PM ^

Defense is the hallmark of all real great teams. We also need more speed. The sight of Cousins breaking contain and running rampant on us was horrific.


October 5th, 2009 at 1:15 AM ^

You like at the teams that are competing in late november every year for a chance at the BCS title game, and they might have a high powered offense that gets most of the attention, but they all have solid to great defenses.


October 5th, 2009 at 9:27 AM ^

Looking at the recruiting board, it seems Michigan is close to securing key commitments on defense from high star guys. That's a good sign, and teaching them fundamentals is even better. Defense, unlike offense, is reactive. You don't control the pace of the game. Therefore, having better players is oftentimes the pivotal key for a successful defense. Whereas you can account for athletic differences on offense, sometimes that just cannot happen on defense. No coordinator is going to correctly predict the offense each time, so you need guys who can compensate for a poor call. Only speed, athleticism and agility can do that.

Right now, there is unquestionably a need for speed on defense except maybe on the D-Line, which could use some depth but is not as pressing of a concern as the LB or secondary. The MLB position must be faster. The WLB position has to be stronger fundamentally. There is a huge hole at corner and probably at safety as well.

The problem is that under the old regime, players were recruited out of position because the idea was to stop smashmouth teams. Now, however, with so many teams running the spread, the former safety is now a LB and a former corner is now a safety. These position shifts have really hurt the defense because a new position is like turning the player into a true freshman all over again. With more time in new positions and recruits hopefully on the way, the defense can improve. But I cannot imagine a truly good defense until 2011 at the earliest.