Jerry Montgomery talks 2012 Defensive Line

Submitted by M-Wolverine on December 8th, 2011 at 8:11 AM

It's early, and we still have some great 2011-12 to finish before we "need" to worry about it, but Kyle Meinke (who's proven to be not bad by standards) has a pretty extensive interview with Montgomery on the various players who make will make up the D-line, and what they have to do to be ready next year.

Also some Mike Martin quotes thrown in for good measure. Not sure if it will make anyone feel better, or worry more, but they don't seem to feel like it's hopeless, or something they haven't done before.



December 8th, 2011 at 8:25 AM ^

Hopefully, all of the returning DL players will work extra hard in the offseason knowing they are going to need to step up as a group to fill some pretty big shoes. It's not impossible, but it needs to be a group effort. The same is true on the OL. We lose a couple of very good players there too, but we have enough talent that the transition can be managed so long as there are not too many injuries and everyone works hard in the offseason.


December 8th, 2011 at 11:07 AM ^

While I agree that it is a good thing that they lose so much on defense, as well as their Heisman candidate, have you taken a look at their depth chart?  The players who will be stepping into those roles are almost entirely upper-classmen, and exclusively 4 and 5 star rated prospects.  We will not be facing a "decimated defense" by any means.

Not saying DOOM or anything like that, but Alabama - losses and all - will still be the most stacked team that this group of Michigan players has faced, by a long shot.


December 8th, 2011 at 8:34 AM ^

I've already purchased my tickets for the Panic Express®
and we're leaving the station 8 months ahead of schedule.

 AAAAAaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!!  (gnashing teeth & running in circles)


December 8th, 2011 at 8:37 AM ^

This coaching staff has given me lots of confidence in their ability to get the best out of guys...That being said I feel Strobel and Pipkins play early as freshman and QWash and BWC end up being serviceable to good in the middle. I think we have enough options at end that we're going to be alright there. 


December 8th, 2011 at 8:54 AM ^

That, "....the staff is good."

I don't share the idea that they will be able to create talent. We have very little on DL for 1-3 years.

That's quite sobering.

BWC, Q, Ash, Brink, Rock, Wilkins....barely played this year, if at all,

I see a big hole and we better hope Pipkins can start.

We are in double deep do do on the interior, which is where teams will attack and we will be very, very weak, possibly for 2 years.



December 8th, 2011 at 9:12 AM ^

BWC, Ash, Q, Brink didn't play because of the strength we had on the DL this year. Not because they don't have talent. 


More learned members of the blog have basically said that Wilkins will be a position switch to the interior, Pipkins is likely ready to start from day 1 and that Wormley probably grows into an interior position even if he doesn't start out there.


That's at least four likely contributors in 2013 (if you throw Brink into the mix) for two spots. I certainly don't expect the interior DL to be the strength of our team next year but I have confidence that this staff can make it work with the pieces there. We're not exactly filling both Interior spots with walk ons and first year position switches. 

los barcos

December 8th, 2011 at 10:54 AM ^

"I don't share the idea that they will be able to create talent. "


No one can create talent but if anyone can coach it outta kids, its this staff.  Look at the secondary last year compared to this year.  It is incredible what this staff was able to do with a freshmen starter and jt Floyd, the latter of which was on course to win the “obi ezeh poor performance punching bag award” before the start of the season.  There is going to be a drop off sure, but there is still talent for our three defensive coaches to work with.


December 8th, 2011 at 9:27 AM ^

Yeah I am not too worried either. Look at what the three pairs of eyes did transforming BWC into a decent backup this year, after only working with him for one season / offseason. I think our DL will be pretty good and our defense overall will be much better and more consistant next year, compared to this year. 


December 8th, 2011 at 8:43 AM ^

Richard Ash will need to factor in that rotation as well. We have big bodies, it's just a matter of the coaches getting them game ready. I like our chances from what I have seen out of them so far.


December 8th, 2011 at 8:58 AM ^

I expect there will be a heavy rotation on the inside next year.  WC can play well in spurts but he hasn't played a complete game yet, let alone a full 12 game schedule.  That's a big jump for him to make.

BTW this was a good read.  I always enjoy interviews with position coaches.


December 8th, 2011 at 9:03 AM ^

I think with the D-line being the strength of the defense this year the coaches leaned on them a bit more while the DB's and LB's got up to speed.  Hopefully with those positions improving over the course of the year and in to next year we won't need the line to be such a big factor and the defense can be a little more well rounded.  I have faith these coaches will make it work.  Nothing so far has given me reason to believe they won't.  Go Blue!


December 8th, 2011 at 9:11 AM ^

For the record, I have no problem with anything that was said in the article and enjoyed the candor, but a lot of people have been critical of other coaches(RR and others around the country) for calling out players in public.   

M-Wolv and for  those of you that think that way do you have a problem with what Montgomery is saying here? 


December 8th, 2011 at 12:42 PM ^

I don't see where Montgomery called out a single player in that article.  He assessed strengths and weaknesses and identified areas that the players needed to work on in the off-season.  A little different than when a coach throws a kid under the bus after a game for some error.  Even with Big Will, Montgomery says he is as good as anybody and that he just needs the light to click is that insulting? 


December 8th, 2011 at 1:18 PM ^

I went back and reread the whole thing, and really didn't see anything even borderline.


feel the same way as when we first got in here," first-year defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery said of losing three senior stalwarts. "We knew (last winter) Mike had played a lot of ball, and Ryan played a lot of ball, but when we got the guys, they weren’t doing the things we needed them to do. "To me, I think we’re no different going into this spring ball. We just got to develop the guys we had. When we got here, we felt like we had to develop guys like Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen and Will Heininger.

Saying that the new young guys are no different that the experience older guys...they all need to work with them to make them better. It's on the ocahces to make them do what they need to do. (Expectation is for the position).

There are always three sets of eyes on those guys, and there is a big emphasis on how they play," Montgomery said. "When they do something right, it's, ‘Hey, great job,’ pat on the back. And if they do something wrong, nobody misses it.

Good or bad, there are experienced, talented eyes who will catch it.

There are days where it looks like he should be starting, and there are days when you can tell he’s inexperienced," Montgomery said. "His footwork needs to become more consistent on a daily basis.

Says Washington he has his ups and downs, and what he needs to do. Not that he's hopeless, or they're looking for tryouts.

When he plays with pad level, and uses his hands, and he goes -- when he gets off that ball with the mind-set that no one’s going to stop him -- he is as good as anybody,

Not sure how that can be seen as negative about Will...

There’s been weeks of practices where he’s done that consistently, and there’s been other times when he’s been given consistent opportunities, and he doesn’t," Montgomery said. "So, that’s what I got to get out of him as a coach." How can Montgomery do that with a guy who has underperformed so badly going into his senior season? "You got to push, and you got to push, and you got to push -- and you got to push his buttons," Montgomery said, "and he needs to understand I’m not there to hurt him, I’m there to help him, and I think he understands that. "Eventually, it’s going to become a reality for him and he’s going to say, ‘OK.’ He’s going to find that second gear, and he’s going to be like, ‘I should have been doing this the whole time.

Basically taking responsibility for how Campbell does, and telling what HE needs to do to get the best out of Will. Talking about how to coach him, not it's a complete failure.

It could happen, but I’m telling you, Nathan Brink is going to be a good football player. To say anyone is going to pass him at five-technique (is premature).

Exceedingly positive.

You better put your big boy pants on if you want to play five-technique in the Big Ten," Montgomery said. "That’s why putting the weight on for Nathan Brink is going to be big.

Not in any way a critique of the player. Not even really former staff. More what it takes to go to playing in the big leagues.

He made some mistakes early on, but the only way you’re going to get better is to be put in those situations, and be able to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes," Montgomery said. "He did a tremendous job.

"Tremendous" Then goes on to say Freshmen are good enough to have a chance. So maybe you can pick what in there sounds like "I didn't have any QBs at Michigan", "Hope to find a kicker along the way to the game", "It was Zoltan who had the options and he shouldn't have taken it" or "Lombardi couldn't fix this D-line" (paraphrasing). The better question sounds to be, why can't you differentiate the two?


December 8th, 2011 at 9:35 AM ^

Is probably a bad sign. They even mentioned true freshmen before him. I hope this article is wrong and Montgomery just overlooked him, but its starting to seem like Ash is going to be a defensive version of Michael Cox


December 8th, 2011 at 9:50 AM ^

Some of you are writing off redshirt Freshmen and Sophomores a little too quickly. We have forgotten that players take time to develope and only the elite should see the field before their Junior years, at least in a starting role. These last 4 years have made our expectations on incoming Fr. a little unrealistic. Anyone who has played college football will tell you the speed and the strength compared to high school is night and day. These players need to first get over the shell shock of being ripped out of their comfortable environment and then adapt by getting bigger, stronger, and faster. This takes a few years and often you found out that your technique isn't really all that good either. You basically have to relearn a game that you thought you were great at.


December 8th, 2011 at 9:50 AM ^

Our starting line should be:


DE: Roh


DT: Rotation of Ash, Q, Pipkins

DE: Rotation of Black/Clark/Beyer


Lets not forget that Ash, Black, and Beyer were 4 star guys (according to some of the sites).  Also, Clark showed a lot of promise this year.  Finally its not like RVB and Heininger were lighting the world on fire the last few years so we should have some faith in our staff to coach up our players. 


December 8th, 2011 at 9:51 AM ^

The lack of mention of Ash is also concerning to me. Let's hope he was overlooked. There will be a drop off on the D-Line next year especially early, but by Big Ten season I expect them to be average.


December 8th, 2011 at 9:58 AM ^

Do you think that since the coaches know the d-line will be a major weakness they focus all their attention on coaching them up and getting them better in the off-season? The staff looks like they did that is past year with the LB's. I was also thinking if the secondary is improved and the LB are improved the line will be helped out automatically.


December 8th, 2011 at 10:14 AM ^

UofM's D Line coach is quoted as saying, "When we got here, we felt like we had to develop guys like Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen", but I really didn't see a significant improvement in their play from 2010 to 2011.  I may have seen some improvement, but that is to be expected of seniors adding another year of maturity, size, training, and experience.   

Also, I do remember seeing Mike Martin playing as a freshman and thinking he was going to be very good.  I don't recall seeing that with any freshmen D linemen since then, except for Roh.

So, I too think our D line is in big trouble next fall. 


December 8th, 2011 at 10:27 AM ^

Are you out of your mind?  Anyone who watched our Dline the past few years could see the improvement, especially in the second half of the season.  RVB took a big step this year into an All BigTen performer and Mike Martin went into absolute beast-mode in the second half of the season.  Montgomery, Mattison, and Hoke turned Will Heininger into an above average DT this season too. 

I have confidence in our defensive staff to develop the young guys on the Dline next year, but I don't expect a performance like this year from them because of their youth.  They  could surprise everyone though, who knows.


December 8th, 2011 at 10:22 AM ^

Mods I know u can see that's why I can be. I just wanna say u suck. Don't hate cause taking points away from ppl really made u a human. I hope u can support ur family with this salary, well if u have a family. Wrap it up, I wish uhave a very horrible Christmas and new yr.


December 8th, 2011 at 10:34 AM ^

Not panic time yet. Don't forget how Jake Ryan became a play-maker this year (despite some head-bashing freshman mistakes) and how J.T. Floyd became fairly reliable this season. 

Even guys like Patrick Omameh became solid starters during one offseason (although, Patrick has struggled with the new offense).  I remember spring game of 2010, when all of our thoughts were "I sure hope Tate improved this offsea-....OMG DENARD!!"

The fact is, we don't know what we have yet.  We may have some unknowns shoot up and become solid starters.  We may have guys with sky-high ceilings that turn out to be busts (I'm looking at you, #73).


December 8th, 2011 at 10:41 AM ^

defensive line is not one of them.

Campbell. Pipkins. Ash. Black. Roh. Washington. Brink. Wilkins. Beyer. Ojemudia. Godin. Strobel. Wormley. Clark.

Sure, there will some dropoff from losing MM and RVB, but that will be balanced in part by the increased familiarity with scheme, expectations, and conditioning on the part of the remaining guys.

If you want to worry about the trenches, worry about the departure of Molk. He's going to be much harder to replace without a dropoff.


December 8th, 2011 at 11:14 AM ^

we're going to miss Mike Martin badly. Did you read any UFR's? He lived in the backfield this year. I wish I could supply a number for how many plays he blew up largely by himself.

Not having DT's that can penetrate like Martin did will lead to more time for the QB and more time to find a guy open downfield. I'm sure our guys will be serviceable at the very least, but Mike is special


December 8th, 2011 at 1:46 PM ^

These players will be in "year 2" of the new system, they'll have another offseason for Wellman to get them physically sorted out, and they will have another year of learning the techniques the staff is teaching.  While they may not be a bunch of all big ten players, I think between Hoke, Mattison, and Montgomery that they will be coached up and ready to go.  If the freshman come in and can contribute as the season progress, that's great because they need to build on them to create some depth.

I don't think we are headed for a repeat of the 2000 team which had to rebuild with young and undersized fresh/sophs after some of our best D-lineman graduated.  [Renes, WIlliams, and Hall].  Still have nightmares of the NU game I was at that season.


December 8th, 2011 at 10:49 AM ^

You really think Meineke is good? I've found his stuff to be pretty shallow and also has a lot of mistakes in it. Nick Baumgardner, on the other hand, has a lot of style and solid insight. Hopefully he takes over the beat soon.

panthera leo fututio

December 8th, 2011 at 10:57 AM ^

"He made some mistakes early on, but the only way you’re going to get better is to be put in those situations, and be able to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes," Montgomery said. "He did a tremendous job."


December 8th, 2011 at 12:02 PM ^

It's a shocking statement that our new coaches felt they had to develop Martin and RVB as if they were freshmen.  On second thought, I guess we shouldn't be shocked given how the D played last year.  

The good news is, develop them they did.  They are used to doing this and good at it.  Just give them some decent raw material to work with, which I think they will have.


December 8th, 2011 at 12:20 PM ^

Big Will, Quinton Washington, Ash, Jibreel, Death Roh, Clark, Brink, etc. and  you have guys like Pipikins, Strobel, and Wormley coming in. All of these guys are talented athletes and massive bodies. Ash, Washington, Campbell, Roh were all 4-star on Rivals. It is not as if we have chopped liver on the team. Granted, under the previous regime, not all have lived up to their billing, but with just one year under the current coaching staff, the players have made great strides. With another off-season under the current coaching staff, I am willing to put my $ down that these guys will make even greater strides and will be playing very solid defense next season. The line will be massive, especially on the inside with Campbell (6'5" 322) and Washington (6'4" 302). If they can get their mean streak going, offensive lines will have their hands full.

As for next year's schedule, other than the Alabam game, I think a lof of the games lined up are pretty winnable.

Air Force (W)

Mass (W)

Notre Dame (W, their offense will still suck....QB issues and their best receiver will be GONE)

Purdue (W...where is Drew when you need him)

Illinois (W.....that team is a hot mess)

MSU (W...offense will be iffy with that douche cousins gone. Payback will be sweet)

Nebraska (W...can't stop Denard)

Minnesota....(= Middle Eastern North Central Miss Township Community College...duhh W)

Northwestern ( Persa)

Iowa (W...I still can't belive we laid an egg against them this year)

OSU (toss up)



Charlie Chunk

December 8th, 2011 at 12:58 PM ^

I think the 'D' is going to play better than expected.  Sure, we lose some big performers with Martin, RVB, and Henninger, but those guys grew a lot under the current coaching staff as well!

Big Will is going to be a senior and he's going to be better.  A year is a long time for a kid.  The coaches will mold this guy into a confident beast!  I think Ondre Pipkins will bring depth immediately as well.

Don't worry, Michigan will just re-load with this coaching staff!

Go Blue! 


December 8th, 2011 at 1:09 PM ^

This year, we returned 12 sacks from the previous season (through 13 games) after taking out the 6 the seniors accounted for.  Next year we return at least 19 (through just 12 games) after taking out the 9 the seniors accounted for.  Obviously sacks don't tell the whole story, but we have plenty of playmakers coming back next year.

The line will have a four year starter and 4-star senior at DE, a 5-star senior (Campbell) with significant playing experience this past season at DT, another 4-star RS Junior (Washington) at DT, another 4-star RS Sophomore (Ash) at DT, another 4-star RS Sophomore (Wilkins) who may move permanently to DT, a talented junior who got significant playing time this year (Black) at the other end spot, Brink and Clark who played some this year, a couple young guys we haven't seen yet and a talented incoming class.  Plus guys like Beyer and Ryan who are more like pass rushers from the linebacker spot anyway.

This is not a depth chart to panic about.