Michigan Starting Defense Projections.

Submitted by MichiganMan14 on August 7th, 2014 at 4:09 AM

I think we will have a "Michigan Defense" this season and one gander at this starting lineup should be enough to convince even the most fatal of fatalists.  We are stacked.  Can we live up to the billing?  The biggest question I have is team speed which will be revealed against ND, Ohio, Sparty and our bowl opponent.   Ideally you would like your DBs (sub 4.5) LBs (sub 4.7) DEs (sub 4.9) and DTs (sub 5.1).    Not sure if we are there on the Dline yet.   Regardless, heres what I've got guys......

C- Blake Countess- 5ft10 180lbs (Rjr)

C- Raymon Taylor- 5ft10 184lbs (Sr)

SS- Jarod Wilson- 6ft2 205lbs (Jr)

FS- Dymonte Thomas- 6ft2 193lbs (So) 

Nickel- Jabril Peppers- 6ft1 205 (Fr)

OLB- Joe Bolden- 6ft3 231 (Jr)

MLB- Jake MF Ryan- 6ft3 236lbs (Rsr)

SAM- Royce Jenkins Stone- 6ft2 234lbs (Jr)/ James Ross III- 6ft1 227lbs (Jr)   Torn.....

SDE- Taco Charlton-6ft6 276lbs (So)

WDE- Frank Clark- 6ft2 277lbs (Sr)

DT- Chris Wormley- 6ft4 295 (Rso)

DT- Ondre Pipkins- 6ft3 306lbs (Jr)


Average size for Secondary= 6ft+ /193lbs

Average size for "Backers"= 6ft3 / 234lbs

Average size for DLine= 6ft4/ 289lbs

Average * rating for Defense= 3.92

Average years in program= 2  

*Safety is the weakest link.  Peppers can slide to safety and Hill and Clark can be of service there as well. 

*Jourdan Lewis will push at both corner spots and Stribling/ TR3 should contribute.

* We have a slew of 4 star LBs on the bench (4) plus D. Morgan.

* We have 5 Four star D-Lineman on the bench not including Godin/Hurst/Henry.

* This Michigan defense is deep and talented.  Fatigue should not be an issue.  We have more NFL talent on this defense than we have had in 8 years.  Time to get after peoples' ass.

*Charlton/Bolden/Jenkins-Stone/Clark can all run well from what I've gathered which alleviates much of my concern with team speed.  Our secondary should be just fine in that dept. 

With Ohio's Oline issues I don't see an offense that we can't matchup with. 



Space Coyote

August 7th, 2014 at 8:58 AM ^

They both rotate, eventually with Beyer being the more standard down and distance guy, and Taco being the pass rush specialist. Give Taco a role, understand he's still young and needs to improve from a technique standpoint to consistently stand up to the run, but let him thrive in his role and continue to improve over the course of the year.

Boom Goes the …

August 7th, 2014 at 4:31 AM ^

N- Pipkins/Henry

T- Wormley/Hurst, Godin, Strobel

E- Clark, Ojemudia

E- Beyer, Charleton

WILL- Morgan/Bolden

Mike- Ryan/Gedeon

Sam- RJS/Ross

Nickel- Peppers/Lewis

CB- Countess, Stribling

CB- Taylor, Hollowell

FS- Wilson, Clark

SS- Thomas, Hill


August 7th, 2014 at 4:44 AM ^

Probably too good to be a backup Nickel.  I think he's our 3rd best corner and will fill in at both spots.  We run 2 field corners so Stribling's size isn't really the deciding factor over Lewis.  I really like Stribling's upside though.  I haven't seen anything from Hollowell that suggests that he would play over Stribling or Lewis.  Is he better than TR3 in your opinion?


August 7th, 2014 at 7:26 AM ^

I am mostly in agreement with this but a few comments

a) based on spring hype Lewis could be a starting CB.  If not he seems like the "first man up" in a rotation - i.e. first backup

b) I am confsued how RJS has moved ahead of our leading tackler (or 2nd?) - Ross III is a pretty damn good player and thus far RJS has not done a thing of merit on an actual football field.  Yet I am seeing all this talk of him challenging based on a good spring.  SHow me production in a real football game - I am going with Ross III, even with the position change, until I see otherwise.

c) Not sure how much time Hollowell will get, we'll see.

d) protect Wilson in bubble wrap next few weeks.

Wolverine 73

August 7th, 2014 at 11:04 AM ^

Given our coverage issues last year, and the praise heaped on Lewis in the spring, I expect he will push for a starting CB spot, and get one by the end of the year.  He always seemed to be close to his guy in coverage last year, and was beaten by some perfect passes.  Countess and Taylor were at times far away from their WRs.  And I don't see why anyone would think Ross loses his job at this point based on how he played the last two years.  It's great if someone is better, but I will believe that to be the case when the coaches run someone else out there to start.


August 7th, 2014 at 6:04 AM ^

While I think that both Jenkins-Stone and Charlton will get a good share of playing time, I just have doubts about Ross and Beyer not being the starters, at least for the first few games.


August 7th, 2014 at 6:54 AM ^

I don't think countess starts at corner, he may not even play there at all this year. I think you see him at Nickel, where he spent most of last year and got his interceptions. He is not great at man coverage and has trouble looking back for the ball. I suspect he is passed by Taylor, Stribling and Lewis.

Danny Bonaduce

August 7th, 2014 at 9:05 AM ^

Countess was less than a year removed from major reconstructive knee surgery, was nowhere near 100% and was still one of the top five or six CB's in the Big Ten.  But yeah, he will probably never play again at UM. 


August 7th, 2014 at 10:23 AM ^

Wow, not sure why people are jumping all over you. I think you're wrong that Countess doesn't ever play corner and that he's not very good (he was recovering from a year missed from an ACL and also an abdominal injury he had to get fixed over the summer).

However, I think it's possible, even likely that he spends significant time at Nickel against certain teams. The coaches have liked him there in the past and I think the position suits him. It's not a demotion, nor a slight against him as a player to move him. Nickel is just as important as any other defensive back position, it's not the 3rd best corner. Against spread teams, it may make perfect sense to have Countess check the slot bug while having a larger guy like Lewis or Stribling cover the outside receiver.


August 7th, 2014 at 11:45 AM ^

He said Countess isn't even good enough to play corner and is going to roughly our 4th best corner now despite clearly being the best on the team to everyone. 

He didn't think Countess would play Nickel when needed against "some teams" where it's not a slight as you said, he thinks he'll be relegated to Nickel only because he's not good enough to start at corner. Those are wildly different concepts. 


August 7th, 2014 at 4:01 PM ^

I posted my honest opinion. I understand he came off an injury. But he the same problems before. He is a good nickel back and that is where he got his interceptions last year. That would be at the same time they were playing Taylor and stripling at corner. You would also all remember the board and Brian wondering why they would then take him off the field in non nickel situations at the end of the year., granted we played mostly nickel at that point. Either way, the coaches see it too.


August 7th, 2014 at 4:07 PM ^

He made those ints as the nickel back in under zone coverage, at least the majority of them. His ints were rarely on balls thrown to the guy he was covering and usually when no one was in his zone allowing him to look back and undercut the pass. Something he does very well. Makes you think he might be the best free safety on the team too.


August 7th, 2014 at 4:51 PM ^

This seems to be the emerging consensus on some sites (e.g. Rivals).  Countess is a superbly ball-smart, high-IQ DB who's skills are better suited for nickel, while other DBs on our roster are more physical and better suited to CB.

Lucky Socks

August 7th, 2014 at 7:15 AM ^

With exception of the DBs I think it's less important who starts on defense. Tons of depth at LB, and some talent mixed with experience on the DL. I think we have the horses to be really, really good on this side.

I'm drinking all the cool aid!

Projected Starters Special Teams:

Fleet delivers on Musbergers promise at KR

Peppers evokes Woodson at PR

Hagurup stays out of trouble and quietly puts together an all Big Ten caliber season despite rarely ever being used (see what I did there)

Wile finds consistency at K


August 7th, 2014 at 7:26 AM ^

I am excited to see this defense. They've been pretty soft the past few seasons (not bad, but they have been lacking in a certain level of aggression), but I'm optimistic this year.

A few thoughts:

  • I don't think D.Thomas starts at FS. To go from non-contributor (I don't remember seeing him get any snaps at safety) to starter is a pretty huge leap. I would have pegged Hill as the starter at season's outset, with the possibility of someone else jumping him during the season, but I'm not sure now with his broken jaw. I still don't see Thomas as the starter Week 1, though. With the depth at corner, I'm guessing one of them slide over (Taylor, maybe), unless Clark has developed enough (I'd be skeptical of that, though). Safety is probably the second most interesting question, after the OLine.
  • Not to pick on him, but I don't think T.Richardson ever sees the field.
  • I think Ross over RJS, for sure.
  • I think Morgan over Bolden, but I'm less sure of that.
  • I think Beyer gets the nod as the starter, but that the line will rotate so much that it won't practically mean anything and that Taco gets as many snaps as Beyer.

This squad definitely features some nice depth in a lot of positions. They're still young in some spots, but they've got plenty of talent coming up.


August 7th, 2014 at 8:43 AM ^

If I understand you correctly, you're skeptical about Thomas' ability to start because he hasn't contributed at that position in the past. If that is the standard, then how do you have D. Hill starting there in his place? According to MGOBLUE.COM, Delano "appeared in one game as a reserve linebacker" in 2013 (in addition to special teams work). I'm curious if you factored this into your analysis.



August 7th, 2014 at 9:27 AM ^

My thinking is that Hill played safety in HS, while Thomas was a HS LB and had to learn to play in the backfield. Thomas has the athletic edge, and was expected to be the NB last season, but (from what I can recall) never actually played DB at any position. Word on the street (i.e., Heiko) was that his coverage abilities were abysmal.

Basically, the learning curve for Thomas is much steeper by virtue of having to move back in the defense, something that Magnus has pointed out is extremely difficult. Hill should be more technically polished, and this site's recruiting evaluation didn't exactly pegged as a dud (LINK). Having the technical edge is why I assumed he'd have the starting role at the outset, but wouldn't be surprised if a more raw back-up jumped him as they learned the position more.


August 7th, 2014 at 8:48 AM ^

If nothing else I think this season may answer some questions about coaching too. Especially on D. With our depth at virtually every player position, if we don't start seeing some marked improvement in overall performance....will we ever?

I have all the confidence in the world in our staff...and I'm ready to see it.


August 7th, 2014 at 9:56 AM ^

Wow, man. You blatantly question the competence of the coaching staff then show you have absolutely no spine by adding that little sentence in at the end. You clearly don't have all the confidence in the world in our staff. If you did, you wouldn't have written everything else in your post. Which is good, you shouldn't. They haven't earned it yet. I'm not taking any position on this, I'm just in wait-and-see mode.