Michigan Defense Seven Games In

Submitted by markusr2007 on October 21st, 2012 at 1:36 PM

If defense still wins Big Ten championships, then after 7 games Michigan isn't doing too shabby. One might consider their strength of schedule this year, with Alabama (8-0), Notre Dame (7-0) and MSU in the rear view, which ESPN earlier cited as being 5th toughest in the land.


Yards Per Game: 2nd, 286 ypg

Points Per Game: 3rd, 16.4 ypg

Passing Yrds: 1st, 1,001 yards

Rushing Yrds: 6th, 1,001 yards (weird that it exactly matches passing yards after 7 games!)

Interceptions: Tied for 3rd with 6

Sacks: 6th, 9 sacks

This is a snapshot, but one might also expect the rushing defense stats to worsen with 3 of the best Big Ten rushing offenses in Nebraska, Ohio State and Northwestern still ahead on the schedule.



October 21st, 2012 at 1:48 PM ^

I'd like to know how each team looks statistically against B1G competition only. We've played some bad teams, but that's just the B1G, and the three are probably pretty typical B1G offenses this year. Considering Hoke's defenses seem to get better as the year goes on, this would be a more useful stat (and more fun to look at considering how good we've been in B1G play).


October 21st, 2012 at 2:16 PM ^

Rush Defense : 2nd, 91 yds/game

Pass Defense : 2nd, 126 yds/game, Minnesota!!! No. 1

Scoring Defense : 1st, 7.7 pts/game


I think the big stat here is turnover margin in conference. Michigan is currently tied for 1st with PSU at 1.33. Take care of the ball, eat the clock, play good defense.


October 21st, 2012 at 3:22 PM ^

very well be the case.  I hope he is.  Now with urban at ohio, we could have another 10 year war.  Neb will replace ND as our other rivalry game.  Penn State will now become a key game for us.   Then with the recruiting Illinois and sparty have done, they will be just another game on the schedule.


October 21st, 2012 at 3:43 PM ^

A ten year war is not a concept Urban Meyer could understand. He maxes out at 5 years a coaching stop.

Seriously though, with all his "rules" and the pressure at OSU I can see him flaming out in no time. It actually kinda pisses me off that he's 8-0 just because their schedule is an absolute joke. If we played their schedule we'd be 8-0 as well, and if they played ours they'd be lucky to be 5-2 right now I'd guess. Their defense would have been a mess against Air Force, and their offense has been absolutely terrible for long stretches of games this season. They needed a miracle to beat Purdue at home, and we beat them by 31 on the road. Anyway, rant over, I'm just sick of OSU fans thinking their team is any good after near losses to Purdue, Indiana, California, and MSU already.


October 21st, 2012 at 1:50 PM ^

With a bye week under our belt, I can't help but wonder if we are better than 6th in the conference in run defense if you look at yds/game?  I would have expected we were in the top 3 for run defense... but maybe it's my maize colored glasses.

Mmmm Hmmm

October 21st, 2012 at 3:56 PM ^

The 'Bama game didn't help our rushing defense numbers either.

Are there any defensive metrics out there that take into account the relative strengths and playing styles of opponents? So, for instance, a metric that takes into account that Air Force pretty much only runs, or that Alabama can run at will on pretty much anybody?  The idea being that giving up 290 rushing yards/4.1 per carry to Air Force and 220 rushing yards/5.5 per carry to Alabama look really bad, but it looks relatively less bad considering that Air Force racks up an average of 352.7/5.8 and Bama gets an average of 219.4/5.3 per game (both per ESPN.com).


October 21st, 2012 at 3:30 PM ^

You have to remember, we gave up 232 rush yards in week one to Alabama and then 290 to Air Force in week two.  Those two games are a huge drag on our rush defense statistics.  In the five games since then, we've given up a total of 479 yards on the ground.




October 21st, 2012 at 1:52 PM ^

I'm kind of worried about this Nebraska game... at Lincoln, night game.... I just don't know. Jake Ryan is obviously a beast, but I think Nebraska will be a tough test. 

But that said, so far we've played as good as I could expect against ND + the big ten teams on the schedule. 

Greg Mattison is a miracle worker. I just can't wait until he gets his recruits developed. 


October 21st, 2012 at 2:02 PM ^

And you know they'll be JACKED up. I think Michigan matches up well and there is potential for record-setting offensive numbers. I think Fitz will have a huge day, like 150 yards and 2 TD's. Nebraska's D is NOT GOOD from what I've seen. Different team without Burkhead too, anyone heard anything on him?


October 21st, 2012 at 2:00 PM ^

Going into Lincoln concerns me a bit from the points you mentioned as well as the emotional win we had this weekend.  Hopefully we can bring it for another week and keep the high going.

Burkehead banged up so their rushing attack may be a bit limited but I think his backup is faster but smaller so without Rex they don't really have an inside run threat (not that Rex really was but moreso than anyone else in their backfield).

I don't think Nebraska will really stretch us vertically with Martinez throwing so that should allow our D to sink in and shut down the run and shorter passes and make for longer drives for their offense which would play well into Michigan's hands.

The more I think about it the more I like Michigan's chances though playing on the road is always dicy, esp at night against a historically good team.


October 21st, 2012 at 2:04 PM ^

National Rankings:

Total Defense: 10th

Passing Defense: 4th

Passing Efficiency Defense: 15th

Scoring Defense: 16th

First Down Defense: 16th

All this managed with games against Alabama, and Air Force. If we had played cupcakes like everybody else our stats would be severely padded.


October 21st, 2012 at 2:24 PM ^

Our secondary has fared about how I expected, decent, shows signs that they could get burnt from time to time, but also responds well to coaching and has generally limited big plays.  The interior of the D-line has played better than I expected, especially after the first few games.  I'd still like to see Peewee get in there more as I think he's better than both BWC and Wash.  The ends have been ok...it would be nice to be able to get more pressure from 4 without having to blitz, but this wasn't exactly our strongsuit going into the season.  I did expect more pass rush out of Clark than he's given us so far.  The linebackers haver really shown a ton of improvement as the season has gone on.  I expected to see Ross and Bolden replace Demens and Morgan, but the older guys have really repsonded.  I really hope Taylor isn't seriously hurt.  Since the injury to Countess he has really saved us.  A second big secondary injury could hurt.  But, I am just really impressed by Jake Ryan.  He has not dissapointed ever since the spring game last year and just is a really good football player.  He's hard nosed, has a nose for the ball, has a good motor, never gives up on plays, always is around the football, and is just the kind of guy you'd like to have 11 of.  


With D-Rob, Fitz, Roundtree, & most of the O-line back from last year I thought for sure our offense would be our strong suit, but the defense is what has really kept us in close games when our offense is struggling (ND & MSU).  I think our D is good enough the win the B1G as long as we do what we did yesterday...limit turnovers and rush for more yards than our opponent.  The only team left that I think has the ability to challenge us in that regard is OSU.  I think MSU is our worst matchup on the conference schedule because they excel at stopping what we do best.  We still go to the championship even if we have one more conference loss somewhere down the road.


October 21st, 2012 at 2:38 PM ^

One issue: Given Hoke's track record of playing young guys and even freshmen if they're the best at their positions, don't you think Pipkens would be playing more if he was actually better than BWC and Washington? Why would you say they've been playing above your expectations but should also be getting less PT. Not very logical.


October 21st, 2012 at 2:50 PM ^

I didn't think BWC or Wash were very good.  They didn't look good last year or early in the year.  But, they have been playing better every since the ND game, hence better than I expected based on what I saw last year and before the ND game.  I think Peewee still looks like he is quicker, keeps a lower pad level, and is more explosive in getting into the backfield.  So, they are playing better than I expected, but not better than what I see in Peewee.  


Yes, I beleive if the coaches thought Peewee was better they would play him...they obviously don't.  They're probably correct.  They are great coaches and I'm just a dude on a computer that watches them on TV.  But, that's why we have this beautiful forum to talk about what we see.  From what I see Peewee looks better.


October 21st, 2012 at 2:42 PM ^

This defense is going robe GOOD next year. We lose Campbell (easily replaced by Pipkins), Demens (a little more difficult but Ross or Bolden have looked decent in their time this year and the freshman to sophomore jump will be huge for them especially with Mattison's coaching), Roh (SDE was his calling but our recent recruits have been getting high praise so I'm not worried) and Kovacs (huge loss but hopefully MRob comes along. He's looked ok in his time this year). Plus we get Countess back.

In all, I think every unit on defense will be significantly better with the exception of the secondary which should break even. I hate to look ahead with a potential big 10 championship in sight this year but man it feels good to see this team getting back to where it should be.


October 21st, 2012 at 2:57 PM ^

While I agree our defense will continue to improve next year that's only half the equation.  I think next year will be our biggest rebuilding year since we lose our entire offense...Denard.  It will be a huge adjustment losing his productivity, not to mention losing a big chunk of our offensive line (Barum, Omameh, & probably Lewan).  If Lewan stays that will be nice, but it's hard to say that will happen.  Also keep in mind most of MSU defense is back and OSU will have Miller with another year of experience.  Unfortunately each year we get our recently recruited talent more and more involved as everyday players, so does OSU who is recruiting equally well, with the addition of a more experience Miller.


October 21st, 2012 at 3:25 PM ^

Still, this year our schedule was a beast, next year we have a cake schedule, our two toughest games are at home, and we have 2 bye weeks. I'm tempted to post a smiley.


Our toughest matchup will be next years OLine versus ND at home in week 2, or at Michigan State in week 10 after our second bye.

We shouldn't miss a step on defense. Clark and Beyer will step right in, they have already. Pipkins will be more than college ready by next fall. My guess is Desmond Morgan slides inside and James Ross starts at WLB next year, and Thomas Gordon plays SS next year with Jarrod Wilson starting at FS. On offense our pass protection should be fine, our run blocking needs to improve, and I think it will. I hope Lewan stays, but Kalis, Magnuson, Bryant, and Miller can step right in with Schofield and blow open some running lanes. Our qb won't be a game breaker like Denard no matter who replaces him, but Bellomy doesn't have to set the world on fire. He'll have a n improved running game, decent protection, and likely the best receiving corps in the B1G. We lose Roundtree, but we gain Darboh, and Chesson, Butt, HIll, Dukes, and York. Our passing game should improve substantially once the few new starters settle in next year.


October 21st, 2012 at 5:16 PM ^

Thanks for posting the link to our future schedules.  They look easier the next two years.

Next year, the biggest wildcard will be Bellomy or Gardner.  How much production will we get at QB.  If either turns out to be a good QB, we should have a great season.

I think the defense will fully hit their stride in 2014.  We will be loaded at every position with highly rated guys that have at least one year in the program.



October 21st, 2012 at 6:28 PM ^

I wouldn't call UM's schedule "cake" for 2013. The non-conference schedule will certainly be much more manageable, but the conference schedule will probably be just as difficult as 2012: UM adds PSU to the schedule and has to play them in Happy Valley, plus they will have road games at MSU and at Iowa (a game that shouldn't be difficult but often is). Nebraksa and OSU are in AA but they won't be easy games. Looks like a 5-3 conference record is most likely next season.

Way too early prediction for next season: 9-3 overall, 5-3 in conference.


October 21st, 2012 at 2:41 PM ^

The Big Ten as a conference is now 88 games into the season overall, as you might know.

Looking at the conference stats on the NCAA Statistics site, we find the following - 

The average total yardage yielded by defenses on per game basis is 354 yards, compared to Michigan at 286 yards. 

The average passing defense in the Big Ten gives up 207 yards per game, compared to 143 yards for Michigan.

The average rushing defense in the Big Ten gives up 147 yards per game, compared to 143 yards for Michigan.

The average scoring defense in the Big Ten yields 22.6 points per game, compared to 16.4 for Michigan. At this point in the season,  the average team has surrendered 20 TDs, where Michigan is at 12 TDs, and has allowed 8 FGs, where Michigan has actually allowed 10 FGs. 


October 21st, 2012 at 3:17 PM ^

and deverting the subject to DB training for a post-college job, new Giant Stevie Brown just intercepted RGIII.  And got some run-back yards. 

We now return to the previously scheduled discussion.


October 21st, 2012 at 3:22 PM ^

Occidental is in Eagle Rock, near Pasadena, which is on the fear northeastern edge of LA (whereas SM is in the southwestern corner). But it's a fairly straight shot down the freeway.

I assume you're talking about Loyola Marymount? That's near SM. Just ask for Paul Westhead.


October 21st, 2012 at 3:48 PM ^

Burkhead may be in or out Saturday, don't know. He's wearing a knee brace now and is definitely not his old 100% self. Meanwhile they have this other guy Ameer Abdullah at IB who leads the team in rushing and scoring with 5.9 ypc. 600+ yards.

As for their quarterback, I've been watching college football a long time and I've never seen a kid operating hot and cold like that. Taylor Martinez simply has no gray days. He's either white hot or stone cold at various points in the game.  Martinez has been sacked 15 times in 7 games.

The Huskers have really played only one decent team at home this fall - Wisconsin - and were down 10-27 but rallied back to beat them with Martinez, Abdullah & Co.

Nebraska racked up 420+ yards vs. Ohio's defense and tacked on 225 yards rushing.  Nebraska is probably the most explosive offense Michigan has played since Alabama, but NU remains a very bad defensive football team.



October 21st, 2012 at 4:05 PM ^

"I want the ball boys to be defensive-minded." -Dave Brandon, in the weeks before the Hoke hire.

Looks like he hired the right guy for that.

Sten Carlson

October 21st, 2012 at 5:22 PM ^

AS well as Mattison has developed the defenses of late -- after pretty much everyone predicited DOOM on that side of the ball this and last year -- I have absolutely no doubt that Michigan will be among the nation's elite defenses next season.  Given that fact, I have very little concern about the offense.  Yes, it will be young, but the elite defense gives Borges the luxury of being conservative and developing the offense patiently and methodically.  There shouldn't be any need to rush Shane into a starting position with Bellomy and Gardner competing for the starting position.

I love where the Michigan program is right now.  I'll dearly miss Denard, he was a great transitional player, but I am really looking forward to seeing an entire Hoke recruited team at play in a couple of years.


October 21st, 2012 at 10:26 PM ^

We have yet to play a balanced offense this year (except for Alabama and we saw how that went).  Every other team had significant holes in one area or the other.

It will be interesting to see how we do when we face an offense that will pressure us in both areas.  Nebraska and NW come the closest, so we'll know soon.


October 22nd, 2012 at 11:36 AM ^

But I don't remember a player that's like him. He is a good (not yet great) pure pass rusher, can set the edge but isn't elite at it, and looks comfortable in converage but again, not elite. His one elite skill, though, is super elite: he just spots openings and hits them before anyone knows what is going on. I don't remember a player who can just absolutly snuff out anything out of the back field and between the LG and outside reciever. 5-7 times a game he just absolutly kills a play so quickly and violently that it almost seems incedental, like he just decides to sprint straight into the backfield and happens to run into the guy with the ball. He's the very definition of instinctive. 

Craig Roh is similar, though his results are more muted. It seems like every tackle made on the strong side is mad because he gets good position on the olineman and neutrilzes him, allowing the lucky LB behind him to shoot in and make the play. The more I watch him, the more I think that Roh is integral to our defense.