Our front 7 next year

Submitted by caup on November 21st, 2010 at 1:50 PM

I feel compelled to look at and discuss Michigan's front 7 next year.  I know all the talk is about our young secondary, but yesterday also highlighted our glaring lack of beef up front.  RR agreed in his presser that his defense needs to get bigger and stronger. So where are we going to be next year?

We get 299-lb Martin and 287-lb Van Bergen back. That's great.

We get Roh back and I'd love to see him at 265 pounds.

We get Black back and I'd love to see him at 270+ pounds.

Will 6-4, 315-lb Q Washington be ready to contribute at NG?

Kenny Wilkins is currently listed at 270-lbs.  I'd love to see him hit the field at 280+ pounds next fall.

Will 320-lb Richard Ash be ready to contribute next year?

We get 277-lb Will Heiniger back, which is good.  Maybe he can pack on a few more pounds of muscle and play at 285-lbs.

We get 246-lb Demens and 244-lb JB Fitzgerald both back.

Will Isiah Bell, Jordan Paskorz, and Jake Ryan be ready to contribute? Those 3 guys are already in the mid-240-lb range.

Will 208-lb Mike Jones and 220-lb Brandon Herron come back with 10-15 of muscle added to their frames?

RR is making it Job #1 to get his defensive players bigger and stronger for next year.  Calling Mr. Barwis: GO!



November 21st, 2010 at 2:19 PM ^

gets a lot stronger and more athletic! I also hope that this coaching staff can form a identity of what they want to do defensively, no more of this multiple 3-3-5/ sometimes 3-4 stuff. All good defensive teams have a scheme they run and stick to it. I hope RR lets Gerg run the 3-4 he originally wanted to run!


Beat tOSU


November 21st, 2010 at 2:29 PM ^

i'm not too hung up on schemes and what will/will not work in the big 10.  what i do care about, though, is getting our best players on the field.  that said, i think we should have 4 down linemen as the base.

i like the idea of black, van bergen, martin and roh on the Dline on most plays.  with heniger, ash et al providing depth.  if we are weak at LB and the safety hybrids, i would rather have a more talented DL in there.

Dallas Wolverine

November 21st, 2010 at 2:34 PM ^

of the three man front , I watched it yesterday and it seemed like whisky was clipping along at about 14 yards a try. We have got to get to a four man front! We need BIG, fast and strong DTs!


November 21st, 2010 at 2:55 PM ^

Stats can be very misleading, but the DL has to produce more next year.  Maybe Martin sneaks in an honorable mention All Big-10 (perhaps higher if people cut him slack on the double teams he's had to absorb)  but Roh, VanBergen and Banks, meh.


November 21st, 2010 at 3:15 PM ^

Perhaps one of your X's and O's gurus can help me with this, but could we play 2 "nose tackles" in a 4-3 front? I'm thinking Martin + Washington as the DLs? Is there some reason why that wouldn't work? Are NTs strictly reserved for a 3-man-front for some reason? Is their technique not as a polished as a 4-3 DL?

Seeing Watt and the rest of Wiscy's beefy line made me yearn for the '06 defense briefly, and wonder if we'll be seein a massive front four anytime soon. Seeing Martin+Washington as a wrecking ball of DOOM next year would be great fun if it could work.


November 21st, 2010 at 3:26 PM ^

You can't play two nose tackles.. Mike Martin isn't really cut out to be a real nose tackle, but he's such a beast that it doesn't matter.

In fact, a lot of teams don't use any nose tackles. Iowa is one. It just depends on your DC's schemes.


November 21st, 2010 at 4:14 PM ^

A 4 man front will usually have a NT unless it is a 4-3 stack.  The only difference is that in a 3 man front, the NT usually aligns heads up on the center.  In a 4 man front, the NT either shades the strong side (4-3 under) or the weak side (4-3 over) of the center.

Again, Martin's skills are much better suited towards being a 3-technique DT as he is more of a quick/strong penetrator than the space-eating behemoth who occupies blockers that you would generally want from your NT.


November 21st, 2010 at 3:33 PM ^

There are defenses that have success with undesized DLs but they always utilize a four man defensive line.  The only teams that have success with three man fronts have larger DLs, particularly a NT well north of 300lbs.  We 'll never have that type of guy given our emphasis on conditioning.  If Roh and Black are going to be your ends you are going to need two DTs.

Webber's Pimp

November 21st, 2010 at 3:43 PM ^

I love what we have coming back but RRod needs to find a way to close big un the recruiting trail this year. OSU has 3 DT signees listed in this class. As i always like to say...

"It's the trenches stupid!"

The way to address our defensive woes is to bring in size. 


November 21st, 2010 at 3:48 PM ^

This list shows that RR is doing a good job managing the scholarships on the d-front.  People complaining that he hasn't recruited d-line depth don't seem to understand that it takes 2-3 years from when these guys get on campus to when they are ready to play.   Hopefully the redshirts are ready to contribute in backup roles next year.  (it is still a year early for them, but it is what they need)

And, BTW, that 'sufficient' depth comes even with a 5-star DT not working out.

Clarence Beeks

November 21st, 2010 at 6:37 PM ^

I agree.  One thing that has been completely overlooked with all of the defensive complaints this year and projecting for the future is the depth that is more or less not visible on the depth chart this year because of red shirts.  It's entirely possible that they've stuck with the three man front this year because they didn't have the depth for a four man front, but fully intend to move back to a four man front next year when there is adequate personnel available to play it.  I somewhat remember from the offseason/preseason some comments from the coaching staff about how they don't currently have the personnel ready that is necessary for a four man front.  I might be misremembering that, though...


November 21st, 2010 at 4:23 PM ^

Our defensive line should finally have the depth and skill necessary to be an above average unit next year. This is how I see the 2 deep shaking out:

1st stringers--Roh, Martin, Van Bergen

2nd stringers--Black, Ash/Washington, Wilkins

With Black, Roh and Wilkins all gaining experience and adding muscle, that should be a very formidable defensive line. Contrary to popular opinion, I am really not too concerned with the linebackers. Demens will be very good as a junior and somone out of Fitzgerald, Jones, Ryan, Bell and Marvin Robinson will emerge as capable linebackers next season. I have a hard time believing that any of these guys will be significantly worse than Mouton and Ezeh. All in all, barring injuries, I predict that our front seven will be substantially better next season.  


November 21st, 2010 at 5:20 PM ^

Assuming we move back to a 4-3 with a new coordinator I would expect to see something like this:

WDE: Craig Roh

SDE: Ryan Van Bergen

DT: Q. Washington/R. Ash

DT: Mike Martin

SLB: Cam Gordon

MLB: Kenny Demens

WLB: um...someone out of Mike Jones, Ike Bell, JB Fitzgerald, Marvin Robinson, or our many other LBs will step up here.


November 21st, 2010 at 7:14 PM ^

Definitely.  You'd also have Black, Heininger and possibly Talbott so there'd be some depth.  Switching to a 4-3 might also help with recruiting.  It seems like we get mentioned by a couple big-time DT recruits but we aren't seen as a leader for them.  It could be the funky 3-3-5 we run and if we get a DC who is 4-3 guy those recruits might show some more interest.


November 21st, 2010 at 8:36 PM ^

...a four-man front with Roh, VanBergen, Q and Martin. That could be a monster matchup for nearly any O-line in the B10. Give the starting LB's to Demens, Fitz and a combo of Gordon/Robinson/Jones. Starting corners in Floyd and Avery with safeties T. Gordon and C. Johnson with Christian/Furman/Vinopal as the nickel-back.

Assuming the D players can improve like most players do between freshmen and soph. years, that D could be pretty good.


November 22nd, 2010 at 12:38 PM ^

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