Position Coaches are at fault for our defensive disaster

Submitted by Amused on November 7th, 2009 at 4:16 PM

Let's look back to last year. Our defense was supposed to be the strength of our team and carry us while our offense adapted to RichRod's new scheme. That obviously didn't happen and our 2008 defense finished as the worst in school history. However, a lot of people (myself included) thought that our defensive struggles in 2008 mainly stemmed from our offense's inability to move the ball, thereby putting more pressure on our defense and tiring our defensive players out as the game went on.

However, our defense has continued to suck hard this year. Despite the vast improvement of our offense, the defense has actually gotten worse this year. I understand that there are personnel issues that are not going to be fixed in the short term, but the defense has seemingly regressed as the season has gone by. The opposite should be happening. It's gotten so bad that we have to rely on our offense to pretty much outscore our opponent, because every game we play turns into an offensive shootout. Case in point: today, we score 36 points but allowed 38 points and nearly 500 yards to PURDUE. Our defense got punked by Joey Elliott (?!?!) for god's sake.

So what is the problem? I don't think that it's the DC Greg Robinson, mainly because replacing our previous DC Shafer with him hasn't fixed any of our defense's problems. Our defense still has trouble with fundamentals like tackling. I think the real fault lies with our position coaches. Aside from Donovan Warren, our secondary has looked straight-out awful and has shown zero improvement. I understand that we're starting a walk-on at safety, but we just allowed Joey Elliott to have a career day. This is mainly the fault of Tony Gibson. Among WVU fans, Gibson was notorious for churning our piss-poor secondaries, and he seems to have continued this tradition at Michigan (Ryan Mundy was coached by Bruce Tall, for the record, and not Gibson).

Our linebackers have also regressed horribly. Ezeh and Mouton, who were promising up-and-comers once upon a time, consistently take terrible angles and get sucked in by play action. It's gotten so bad that walk-on Kevin Leach is starting over Ezeh (and still playing pretty poorly). Who coaches the linebackers? Jay Hopson. And he hasn't done jack shit with Michigan's talent at linebacker.

So obviously the solution is to fire Hopson and Gibson, right? Except this probably won't happen. RR loves Gibson and Hopson and will not fire either of them. He fired Vance Bedford (who now coaches DBs in Florida's ridiculously awesome secondary) to bring Gibson in. He has similar loyalty to Hopson. RR's loyalty to his staffers is really hurting our defense right now.


Defense sucks
Position coaches are at fault
We should fire them but probably won't


Blue McMaize

November 7th, 2009 at 4:22 PM ^

I would also add defensive philosophy and recruiting. Using smaller defenders might work eventually but the recruiting strategy to load up on offensive players and the lack of talent on defense points to recruiting and developing.


November 7th, 2009 at 4:28 PM ^

I wonder that too. A couple he brought in from outside (though he did bring them in), but most of the coaches are Rich's hold overs. And while loyalty both ways is great, are they ALL ready for the big time? Offense makes a little more sense, since he runs a very specific system (though it does seem our QB coach and receivers coach took a step down), so he needs guys who know what he wants to do.

But a lot of the defensive ones are question marks. No, I don't think he should have brought English back (while a good coach in MY mind at least, you can't hire someone who applied for you job) but people who know football have told me that Vance Bedford was one of the best coaches around. We never believed it because our secondary was seemingly weak, but with the now shown lack of safeties we've had, he must have been doing a pretty darn good job.


November 7th, 2009 at 4:28 PM ^

I wonder how much of it depends on money. Is the AD just not going to pay higher salaries for assistants so we can't get any 'stud' coaches? I don't really know what a 'stud' position coach goes for these days, or even if they exist(???) I guess the same thing goes for the defensive coordinator were there no better options than GERG (I like him and think he'll be good for record) or were there no better options for the price? How hard is it to find a Will Muschamp or Monte Kiffin?

Of course with that said, TALENT TALENT TALENT, but even say 2006/7 we were pretty good with talent... but the HORROR...

ok back to breaking things


November 7th, 2009 at 4:28 PM ^

yeah!!!! you get em!!!!! how could these assistant coaches have only one safety on this roster. idoits!!!!!!!!!!! mike williams is the worst player the history of michigan football to start at least 10 games. he would be that bad if Rex Ryan was his position coach.

you guys are so stupid. RR has had 1 full year to recruit. And he is recruiting to a team that just finished 3-9. You think he doesn't know he needs a safety. Trust me he does. He will recruit one. Witty didn;t make it. Turner missed 2 weeks of ultra important practice.


November 7th, 2009 at 4:34 PM ^

They were both highly rated players that chose Michigan over USC on signing day. They WERE talented once upon a time. I'm sorry, but their position coaches need to take some heat on the inability to coach them up on simple things like positioning and angles. Mouton got sucked out of position on the long TE pass play, and same thing happened on the next play when Elliot ran for the TD. That's not a talent issue, that is poor coaching.


November 7th, 2009 at 4:41 PM ^

Right, being told "hey we are in man you have the RB" and that guy gets sucked into play action and doesnt gaurd his man, it isnt his fault. Seriously.

Just like Stevie Brown is a great safety because he was a 4 star. But Lloyd and Ron English are TERRIBLE!!! coaches because one of their players blows dick!!!!!


November 7th, 2009 at 4:37 PM ^

I agree about Hopson. He has not brought in elite southern recruits and his players have been awful. The LBs as a whole overpursue, lose receivers up the middle, cannot get to the QB in time on blitzs and are generally lost. He should be gone. I'm starting to feel the same way about Gibson too. Yes, he did not have much to work with and Warren has progressed nicely. But the safety play has been absolutely abysmal. They are constantly late, miss tackles, cannot read plays correctly and are out of position. A lot of the problems with the LB and S are coaching and the fact that those positions are getting worse by the day should mean change.

As far as loyalty to assistants, I don't think that's going to be an issue. Do you think RR has had a defense this dysfunctional. And was he loyal to Shafer? Poor performance must lead to change and if he's so loyal to Gibson that won't matter in the offseason because barring a huge upset over OSU, he will feel pressure and will be looking out for his own interests before he displays any loyalty to any of his assistants. It always works that way.


November 7th, 2009 at 4:38 PM ^

...I'm sitting here watching the Alabama/LSU game and looking at the size of DB's compared to ours. Why do we recruit big safeties just to convert them to LB's. Both Alabama and LSU have some really big AND fast safeties. I know the weather plays a part for some (playing in warmer weather) but it is Michigan. Surely we can call in some alumni to help recruit some bigger players that can run and stay at their position from high school. Been elbow deep in the cooler so if this is jumbled - forgive me.


November 7th, 2009 at 4:54 PM ^

You are correct that it has to do with location, but it's not the weather. LSU and Alabama are in the cradle of players. Their states and the south in general is completely stacked with talent, and they want to stay at home. Not so much for the weather, but because they grew up loving these teams and dreaming of playing for them


November 7th, 2009 at 5:02 PM ^

my main concern with hopson is the lack of talent he has brought in at LB. He recruits the south and pretty much has nothing to show for it in 2 years.


November 7th, 2009 at 5:26 PM ^

1) We brought in 4 linebackers in 2008.

2) Hopson isn't responsible for recruiting linebackers. He's responsible for recruiting the south - defensive linemen from the south, safeties from the south, punters from the south, etc.

3) The 2010 class isn't over.


November 7th, 2009 at 5:32 PM ^

Indirectly, he is responsible for recruiting linebackers. If he had a reputation for developing quality linebackers, better linebackers would be more likely to come to play for him. I don't know all the details behind the recruiting process but I'd expect position coaches play a large role in recruiting players at that position.


November 7th, 2009 at 5:38 PM ^

So now it's Hopson's fault that he hasn't developed a reputation for developing good linebackers in his 1+ year at Michigan? Was he supposed to develop good linebackers when he coached defensive backs for 5 or 6 years? He's never been a linebackers coach before he got to Michigan.

Christ. Hopson isn't doing a great job of coaching the linebackers, I know. But pretty soon some of you will be blaming the State of Michigan's jobless rate on the guy.


November 7th, 2009 at 5:03 PM ^

It's difficult to pinpoint a problem when so much is going wrong.

3 years 3 coordinators. This hurts recruiting, development, and consistency.

Attrition and bad class management -- we're thin and young.

Coaching -- so many big plays to me are mental mistakes. Mental mistakes are as much coaching as anything. However, 3 years 3 coordinators. Can you really ask for players to be very smart with such turmoil.

The tough part is there are so many things wrong that finding a solution is so difficult. I don't think it is more firing, however attractive and easy that option is, but I can't offer a viable alternative either.

Very frustrated... whiskey time.


November 8th, 2009 at 12:49 AM ^

did anyone else hear woolfolk at the press conference today!? he more or less said that no one on the defense has any idea whats going on. that means that the scheme is too complicated. the coaching is obviously at fault. in adddition to the talent.