Phil Steele: Michigan 2nd to last in Legends division

Submitted by lukepanici on June 7th, 2011 at 12:07 PM

Title tells all. Thoughts?


James Burrill Angell

June 7th, 2011 at 12:19 PM ^

Lets face it, The defense has most of the same guys as last year so the only way we improve is (a) Woolfolk & Floyd comeback healthy and make a little jump in the backfield (b) what talent we have has improved exponentially (c) Some of these freshmen come in and can make an immediate impact.

As far as offense, yeah they basically kept us in games last year and most of our wins were because we were able to rack up huge points.Granted we have the same guys but a new offense for them to learn that isn't particularly suited to what they were recruited for. I'm not saying they're not going to actually be successful but if they don't pick up and execute the offense successfully and quickly, it could be a long season.


June 7th, 2011 at 12:25 PM ^

That's the ONLY way the defense improves? So improved coaching and fundamentals cannot improve a bad defense? Good to know.

And really, Shaw, Hemingway and Koger were PRECISELY recruited to run a pro-style offense, and most RBs do have the ability to run forward and through holes when they're available. Going from a spread offense to pro-style is immeasurably more straightforward than the other way around.


June 7th, 2011 at 12:36 PM ^

I disagree that bc alot of the same players returned, that means the results will be the same. Same guys with experience is a big thing. However, when I watched the defense last year, it was just sloppy. Poor tackeling, bad angles, missed assignments, and poor discipline were very prevalent. THe talent is there, and with an influx with the freshman class (a small addition granted), and the return of T-Wolf, I would expect on talent and experience alone would lead to a better defense. With the addition of a defense first staff that knows how to develop talent and teach discipline, I would expect another jump up. 

Now lets not expect miracles, but allowing less than 20 pts a game on average would be reasonable to expect


June 7th, 2011 at 1:52 PM ^

Now lets not expect miracles, but allowing less than 20 pts a game on average would be reasonable to expect

Actually, I think it would take a miracle for the defense to improve from 35 ppg to less than 20 ppg. I am hoping for around 25 ppg from the defense in 2011.


June 7th, 2011 at 9:49 PM ^

I don't think the points per game is what matters as much as a competent defense that doesn't give up points at the wrong time and is able to stop drives, force 3 and outs, and maybe give our offense a short field with a timely turn over occasionally.


June 7th, 2011 at 12:50 PM ^

Going from a spread offense to pro-style is immeasurably more straightforward than the other way around.

sounds like "defense wins championships" and other pieces of conventional wisdom that people repeat without proving that they're actually true. We have a 5'11 lightning fast QB with some accuracy issues who has never operated in a pro-style scheme, and an offensive line that spent 3 years blocking in a different way than they'll be expected to do now. It's totally reasonable for people to be forecasting some serious growing pains.


June 7th, 2011 at 1:05 PM ^

Didn't Denard run a pro-style in high school? I think the change is definately worrisome but it is not as bad as some seem to believe. I think the defense will improve as the season goes on, the better coaching and emphasis on fundamentals will pay dividends.


June 7th, 2011 at 1:24 PM ^

A lot of people on this site seem to have Millen syndrome.  That smarter than the room fever that makes someone say, "well, most people think this, but I am going to assume they are idiots."  What is so wrong with conventional wisdom?  Some of the greatest coaches in the history of the game think that defense wins championships, that time of possesion matters, etc. but what do they know, right?  I am not saying there is no room for argument on some of these issues, but to just dismiss something because it is conventional wisdom is ridiculous.

King Douche Ornery

June 8th, 2011 at 8:26 AM ^

I'm always confused as to which is right there...

UMDad nails it. Conventional wisdom is considered "wisdom" because it's tried and true.

Conventional wisdom told us Rodriguez would have a tough time getting going with his offense (plus, MY conventional wisdom told me he was sucking from the start)--and of course, we know how it played out.

Conventional wisdom is the bane of most fans because it doesn't usually jibe with what fans want to hear. So, when the media tells us something we don't like, THEY are idiots.

I'll tell ya what: Phil Steele is like a lot of people: thought UM would be better than they were. NOW, we switch to a pro-style and people are giddy because Robinson played under center---in high school. And he did it so well that no one except Michigan (and Florida? Yeah, right) recruited him as a quarterback.

Conventional wisdom is telling us the defense is not going to make major leaps this year. And it's telling us the offense will struggle (there is NO proven running back behind Robinson, and let's see him make those downfield throws after making several reads during games first). And Stonum? Last I heard, he's out. Hemmingway? Let's see him be able to stand up to a stiff breeze without getting injured.

This team will struggle mightily to get to seven wins. We do have some experience, but it is mostly bad. Over the last two seasons, if your name wasn't Denard Robinson, you didn't get much coaching.


June 7th, 2011 at 1:47 PM ^

I think he was referring to the fact that downsizing (increasing speed and elusiveness) is probably tougher than upsizing (increasing muscle mass). I think he is right that it is tougher to run a spread with pro-style guys (imagine Threet running), especially since the spread requires at least a somewhat mobile QB. For example, didn't Texas run more of a Pro-style offense with a mobile Vince Young (not sure so anyone feel free to jump in)?


June 7th, 2011 at 2:02 PM ^

Been watching UT up close and personal for 15 years.  When Mack Brown came in his OC (Greg Davis) tried to run a pro-style while transitioning to a spread style.  Vince is who helped them make the full switch.  Prior 5 years had been Major Applewhite and Chris Simms trying to run a hybrid because they didn't have the full capabilities to be a spread QB.  That said, Texas' spread was a little different than Michigan's.  Although Colt McCoy had decent running stats, it really does not focus on the QB run.  Much more like Oklahoma where they pass to set up the run. 

An interesting note, Texas has had periodic problems over the years getting their running game going which leads me to wonder if our lack of RB dominated running game would have had similar problems over time.


June 7th, 2011 at 3:00 PM ^

I'm hoping that D Rob looks a lot better in the fall than he did in the Spring game. Many of his throws were high and off target. That can prove to be devistating. I know it was spring ball but he made tremendous leaps the year prior and showed it in the spring game. I hope this years spring was not what we are going to see all season. If so it could turn out to be a long one. I know new system=growing pains. Hope there is less growing pains and more wins. GO BLUE!!!!


June 7th, 2011 at 3:32 PM ^

but I think a lot of the throws he made that were high broke down to 2 main distinctions

1. he wasn't entirely fluid in his drop backs (3/5/7 instead of his normal roll out and decide)

2. he is still learning his timing routes.

QB is the hardest position on the field for a reason. You have ot know every check down for every player and then deliver the ball when and where it it supposed to be based on a read of the defense. 

My personal belief was that Denard was thinking to hard instead of just playing, whcih is easy to expect based on the fact that he just learned the entire offensive scheme 3 weeks earlier. Give him 6 months with the playbook before you start to worry.


June 7th, 2011 at 12:34 PM ^

Overlooking possible improvement in two areas: defensive coordinator and running backs. Depending on the health situation, we could be looking at a more viable run attack. If Shaw and Toussaint stay healthy, Smith's knee improves, Cox bothers to learn the playbook, and the improvement of Hopkins, then that will really help this season, particularly in the big games. In the big games last year, we were significantly outgained in non-Denard rushing yards. Hopefully that will change.

Hopefully we will also see less of our defensive subs rushing onto the field right before the snap with Mattison versus Robinson. I think Mattison alone improves the defense to top 85-90 defense. Factor in improvement in physical ability, experience, depth, and the development of talent, and the defense will hopefully just be sub-par or rough versus terrible.


June 7th, 2011 at 12:37 PM ^

Right, but as you said, we have most of the same guys from last year.  That means one more year of practice and conditioning for the guys, some of whom were freshmen that got thrown into the fire day one.  Add in some guys that redshirted, and others that maybe just needed some more time in the weight room, and it is entirely possible that the defense becomes at least competent.

And of course, as mentioned above, coaching could make a huge difference.  I am guessing that having a coach that knows how to actually run the chosen scheme must make a difference.


June 7th, 2011 at 1:22 PM ^

I'm looking forward to the steady incline to a very successful Michigan team that I have no doubts we are on the path to becoming. But I am not expecting instant success. I think the thoughts of former M linebackers and 10+ win seasons have sugar plums dancing in many M fans' heads. It'll happen at a realistic pace.
I expect that learning a new system on the offense will take time that just has to be invested before success. And the fundamentals needs that we've heard so much about on defense will be filled, but again, as the time is invested by our hard-working new staff.

Lyalls Wolverines

June 7th, 2011 at 12:48 PM ^

The defense will be significantly better...last time I checked having the same guys coming back from the previous year makes a big difference.  Guys will have an year of experience under their belt as well as another off-season to get bigger, stronger, and faster.   I know the defense wasn't good last year but our system didn't help along with injuries.  I was very happy with what I saw in the spring game especially from our front seven stopping the run.

As far as offense goes, ya their may be some growing pains, but we have a lot of returning starters and by the time big ten play rolls around we will be a good enough unit to win some games.

Lastly, the big ten will be down this year.  Iowa, Wisconsin, MSU, and OSU are all losing prominent starters in important positions.  I'm not sold on Nebraska especially after their end of the season collapse last year.  Maybe I'm too optimistic but I feel a big ten title appearance is closer to where we are at then being a bottom feeder in the legends division.


June 7th, 2011 at 1:27 PM ^

I totally disagree with your pessimism about the defense.

1.  Freshman and Sophomores will now be Sophomores and Juniors.(to go along with MM and RVB).  Experience alone will offer some improvement.  There's also more depth.

2.  The scheme will be changed.  The 3-3-5 won't be forced on an unprepared DC.  The four man front will make Michigan a more physical team.  Big Will is going to be moved back to his natural position (and be coached in how to play it properly).  Mike Martin will not draw a double team every time.  Craig Roh's athletic ability will not be overcome by his lack of size/weight (as opposed to the opposition).

3.  The defensive coaching staff will be significantly better.

4.  As you mentioned, Woolfolk and Floyd will be back.  That's almost 20% of the total starters (and 100% of the staring CB's).

I think that Michigan was 99th in points allowed last year.  I think that they'll jump up at least 25-30 spots this year.  They might not crack the Top 50,  but I expect them to be clearly out of the Bottom 25.




June 7th, 2011 at 2:49 PM ^

The defense was abysmal last year -- one of the worst in the FBS.  Even if we assume that everyone coming back improves, and we assume they can all pick up a new defense, and if they can all improve (and retain) better fundamentals, I mean, really, the best you can hope for is that this defense makes the leap from one of the worst defenses in college football to just a bad defense.  And there is no amount of coaching that is going to improve the lack of depth that we have at some key positions.

The one strength on the team -- offense -- is going to be transitioning away from the things that they were very, very good at into things that they may or may not be good at.  Its completely logical to expect them to take a step back.

So a good/mediocre offense and bad/terrible defense sould leave us right around .500 again.  Maybe not #2 from the bottom in the division, but certainly not at the top.

Oh, you know, you can believe that everything is going to be puppies and rainbows and that we're going to win the Big Ten.


June 7th, 2011 at 1:28 PM ^

your hyperbolically charged optimism and passion.
This year, for me, 7-5 is the tipping point. I will be happy with anything better than 7-5 and disappointed with much less. 6-6 would probably hurt, despite the expectations rebuilding, given the competition.