What is your best case scenario for the defense next year?

Submitted by cypress on October 22nd, 2010 at 8:46 PM

Yes, another thread about next year's defense, so I'll be waiting for the obligatory snarky "lets worry about this year first" post. Which one of you will it be....


Anyway...this is a critically important subject because it will make or break our season. The offense will be even better next year, and even an average defese could propell us to the top of the Big Ten. The problem is, we arent even close to being average at this point. Also, this is assuming we dont go into the tank this year and blow everything up. I'm pretty confident we'll show enough to get into next season in tact with the staff. Here's my somewhat realistic hopes.


1. Keep Greg Robinson: Yes, this is controversial, but I just dont think going with a 4th different DC in 5 years is going to help us. At some point we have to have some continuity. I'd allow him to run the defense like he wants and hope that things really start clicking with the players in his third year.

2. Defensive Line: Martin stays and becomes an All-American at  NT. Van Bergen proves to be strong enough to play DT in the Big Ten and steps his game up to All-Conference consideration. Black and Roh become competent pass rushers on the edge, and the redshirt freshmen Talbott, Ash and Wilkins provide quality depth. Q Washington is now the wild card in this situation, and if he impresses, our depth will be greatly improved. I think the defensive line will be considered an above average unit next year. And thats a great start.

3. Linebackers: Kenny Demens FINALLY provides us with a competent MLB. Mike Jones, fully recovered from injury, shows us that he would have made a huge impact this year if he had been healthy. A whole glut of players- Cam Gordon, T Gordon, Hawthorne, Carvin..compete at the Spur position and provide depth and competition. Furman bulks up a little and looks like a future star at WLB. Herron and Fitz provide senior leadership and deliver on some of the promise they had.

4. Secondary: Floyd improves to at least average, One of the freshmen CBs emerges as a solid starter, and the other 2 provide quality depth. As sophomores, having been through the wars in the Big Ten, they improve immensely. Marvin Robinson is impressive enough to supplant Kovacs, and Troy Woolfolk regains his speed and becomes an All-Big 10 selection at FS.

Obviously this is a lot to hope for and it wont all happen, but I really believe this defense will have a chance to become at least average next year, and that may be enough to make some serious damage.



October 22nd, 2010 at 11:53 PM ^

I think that's why the special teams have played so poorly this year...They're spending all of their time working on the 2011 onsides kick.  If RIchRod can perfect it, we'll just have to score on every possession and then kick to ourselves.

RichRod is a genius,  I tell ya.


October 22nd, 2010 at 8:55 PM ^

Never allow a yard. 132 INTs. Cure all the sick children in the world. Make Pluto a planet again. Breakdance before every snap. Sing like immaculate angels. Hit real hard, shimmy, hit real hard again. Cornroll Gerg's hair in different varieties after each shutout, which will be every game.


October 22nd, 2010 at 8:57 PM ^

That is your BEST case scenario right there???


That more looks like a good scenario that could happen....but not best case scenario.


That would include something along the lines of floyd becoming much improved and an AA along with a freshman stepping up and being a lockdown corner. Along with some great improvement at all other positions, etc , etc.  Not likely, but still, that is the BEST case scenario. 


October 22nd, 2010 at 9:00 PM ^

I think we'll be best off with a tandem of Woolfolk and Floyd at corner. I think Cam Gordon will definitely be better at FS next year, but hope we can land a stud like Byron Moore who could contribute right away. D-line I think will be very good. Craig Roh has shown that he can be a very good pass rusher, Black's shown flashes of greatness. D-line could be one of the best units in the B10. LB will be average and I think secondary could also be average. With one great unit and two average units this D could legitimately be in the top half.

Webber's Pimp

October 22nd, 2010 at 9:00 PM ^

The best case is Martin and Woolfolk come back. Big Will stays on defense and actually develops into a contributor (as opposed to a colossal bust). In addition we have to load up on defensive recruits which means RRod needs to close big on the recruiting trail this year (no more excuses). Most of the guys we bring in on defense won't make a huge difference but the extra bodies will provide some much needed depth and spur competition. 


October 22nd, 2010 at 9:11 PM ^

Undefeated, untied...and unscored on. And Point-A-Minute offense for good measure.

That's right, Michigan outscores its opponents 840-0

How about my worst case scenario where we could still win the Big Ten? Assuming the O plays like this year without the turnovers, then JT Floyd improves, Avery learns what "zone" means and becomes the other corner, Woolfolk is a competent FS and leader of the backfield. Demens improves in coverage, and Martin returns. Everyone else is at about the same level as this year. End result - big plays don't happen every game, we get nickeled and dimed a lot down the field by both the pass and run but actually get off the field consistently on 3rd down. We give up ~28 points/game in conference, and score ~35. Unless we have a kicker, than we score ~40.


October 22nd, 2010 at 9:22 PM ^

This was the first "Point a Minute" offense, but assuming they had 60 minute games in 1901, Michigan only score 555 points in 660 minutes. Were the games shorter back then?

South Bend Wolverine

October 22nd, 2010 at 11:56 PM ^

Actually, it was not unknown for a Michigan game in those days to be shorter than 60 minutes.  We beat the shit out of the opposition so mercilessly that opposing coaches would give in before the clock ran out.  Stanford tried to do this in the inaugural Rose Bowl, if memory serves, and Yost refused.

EDIT:  Also, now that I'm reading through the history of our 1901 season, we actually did play several games with 20 minute halves.  Which we still won by 50+ points.


October 22nd, 2010 at 10:03 PM ^

GRob has been doing all he can with a myriad of inexperience. Next year's losses will be this year's biggest disappointments - sr middle lbing corp - so we return nothing but experience, especially along the DL, i.e., Martin and VanBergen, two of the best in the conference right now, and possibly Big Will emerges as the man in the middle, clearing MM for the other bookend, complementing RVB at the DE positions. 

So we actually have experience returning at every position, even though the middle of the second line will be young, they will have played at this level, and Kenny may end up seeing as much pt as Over Easy by season's end. 

As pointed out above, even losing 3 OL, depth - solid depth- exists and the offense should continue its evolution and if Dee even gives us a hint of ability close to LaMichael James, we should experience even more offensive production, thus mitigating what should be fewer lapses by a "more experienced" unit. The more we score, logic says defense doesn't need to be as statistically strong in points scored again, but jumping back to experience factor and the continuity GRob(proven DC) brings, O keeps evolving into greatness and D evolves into sufficient unit. 

Not best case which would be dominant D, but that will come with more recruiting classes, each possessing speed similar to that provided by the likes of "Roh, Furman, et..al.  Based on above, I think overall measurement of success, points scored vs. points allowed will become even more disparate, thus greater the difference in Ws and Ls as should continue with each succeeding year. 


October 22nd, 2010 at 10:15 PM ^

Really? Where is the creativity?

Stephen Hawking invents a time machine and human cloning becomes legal. Unfortunately, the machine only works on former Michigan players who were stars on the defensive side of the ball.


-Brandon Graham and Lamar Woodley starting at defensive end. (I couldn't decide between the two)

-Mike Martin and Alan Branch at defensive tackle. (Once again...)

With a line like that, I can only imagine a lot of quarterbacks would be faking injuries, or receiving them, not that that is a goal or anything.

-Ron Simpkins and a David Harris at linebacker. (Alternatively, add another Simpkins)

-Secondary: Charles Woodson, Charles Woodson, Charles Woodson, and a Rod Woodson. Why a Rod Woodson you ask? Simply because I can.

I believe that is the best case scenario.

But wait! To coach the defense, we will hire Rich Rod's evil twin, a defensive guru named Hot Rod.




October 22nd, 2010 at 10:46 PM ^

(IMHO) our Dline is not as bad as the numbers may indicate. I think the secondary is so poor that it takes away from the ability to stop the run. LBs havng to help the secondary all the time takes away from the line. With a more experienced seconday and the return of Woolfolk I think we will be a lot harder to pass against. When we have that our Dline and LBs should be able to stick more to stopping the run. Best case scenario 14-0 and a BCS national championship. Possible? YES. am I calling my bookie to put money on it? NO..


October 23rd, 2010 at 1:08 AM ^

The best-case is basically that we go through the same progression MSU did.  A year ago, MSU ranked 112th in the country in pass defense, and recorded just 14 takeaways.  This year, with a lot more experience in the back seven, they're considerably improved.  They already have 18 takeaways.


October 23rd, 2010 at 1:50 AM ^

1.  Gerg - yes, plz keep.  Critics want him gone but I refuse to believe that a guy who was the d-coordinator of a superbowl winning squad suddenly doesn't know how to run a defense.

2.  D-line - We'll be OK as long as Martin comes back.   We need another guy to step up on the other end spot opposite RVB.   RVB is doing fine, he might not be a world beater but he's a good B10 player.  If Will Campbell shifts to OL, maybe we get Washington?  If I was the D-line coach I'd be clamoring for that trade.  We will have Ash and a year of Barwis-ized J. Black ready to help.

3. Uh, LB's?  Uh... I'm hoping for average play here.   We lose Mouton and Ezeh, looks like Demens could be good.  With a year of experience at the Spur & Bandit spots, hopefully they'll be solid there.   Furman and Ryan will be ready.   I think LB might be a bigger question mark than DB next year.

4.  Again average at best?  Rogers will be gone... I think JT Floyd is going to be good.  IMO he's come close to jumping a route  (and getting a pick) here and there this season. The big question mark will be if Woolfolk will lose a step after a broken ankle?  I hope not.  If not, he'll be a huge upgrade.  You'd think that with another year of experience in the same system they'll be better.

Honestly with this offense we just need an average defense... if that happens we're going 10-2 at least.


October 23rd, 2010 at 4:36 AM ^

And to go along with the original post, I think those things are all very likely to happen, barring any major injuries to players we are counting on, such as Woolfolk or Martin.

The youth of our secondary is the biggest issue now on the defense, given the emergence of Demens at MLB. With a year of playing CFB under their belts, our secondary should become competent, at the very least, or quite good, if they progress like most players do between their first and second years of playing a position.

I look forward to having a team similar to Oregon's this year, where the Offense scores virtually at will, and the defense is capable of stopping anyone for most of the game.


October 23rd, 2010 at 6:27 AM ^

a few missed points:

If we are talking best case then I would like to include

jernigan getting some time on the DL

Dallas Crawford showing enough to move Christian to FS

Jake Ryan, Furman, Kinard and the Gordon's play well enough to keep the redshirt on Kellen Jones and B Moore at LB.

Side note best case - O'Brien, Godin, Ross, Jenkins-Stone, Wormly and Richardson all love watching the defensive improvement at the games


October 23rd, 2010 at 9:23 AM ^

That we will be slightly less bad. Currently, we're on pace to virtually equal the record established by the 2008 team for most points given up in a season.


October 23rd, 2010 at 10:10 AM ^

...We just leave the offense on the field for all 60 minutes.  They don't even break a sweat on their own drives anyway.

Can they do any worse than the Defense?


October 23rd, 2010 at 10:12 AM ^

I hope you don't mind if I went kind of diary-length in the response.

Defensive Line

RVB returns to his old position and is again solid Mike Martin returns and is Mike Martin-y Jibreel Black adds about 20 lbs. Starts to look like a sack machine. Can hold up to doubles

Talbott demonstrating he is clearly the RVB heir apparent

Richard Ash has a great spring, looks like the next Martin/Branch. Will Campbell holds Ash off. Heininger is behind RS freshmen on depth chart.

Warning: defensive line by 2012 will be in some trouble unless we pick up a Jernigan or similar tackle, I think. There has been a trickle of 3-star ends here but talent on the D-line has been thinning. Campbell is a likely bust at this point, and Black is the only kid who's been a serious PT threat. It worries me a lot that M missed out on some big-time DL recruits already.

Also: We debut a new goal line package with Martin, Campbell and Ash in the middle. We will call it "1,000 lbs. and Van Bergen." Note: I believe Campbell will move to offensive line, and end up being a pretty awesome tackle by his senior year, maybe getting a redshirt while he learns it along the way. On this same note, Gabe Watson always should have been a tackle too, for the same reason (great hands and size, but doesn't have defensive leverage/agility).


Spinner MLB WLB Spur
DEATH Roh makes the junior leap, is challenging for All Conference honors. Kenny Demens continues to play like he did against Iowa, never has a whiff of off-field issues, and plays until he's a 3rd round pick in the 2013 NFL draft. Mike Jones's practice hype from this year is no fluke. He reminds us of Lawrence Reid: fast and responsible Not worried at all. One of T. Gordon, Carvin, or one of our slow safeties will seize this spot and run with it.
Herron returns healthy and stronger. In Spring, we hear Beyer or Paskorz is pushing him. Isiah Bell looks stronger and ready to go, and is used on passing downs. Furman moves here and is the obvious heir apparent J.B. Fitzgerald is moved back here, as a Mouton-like rusher who is slowly fixing his mistakes. Leach is nowhere to be found on the depth chart. So many natural Spurs on this roster (Furman too) that backup should be fine.

The depth at linebacker is actually pretty good, albeit young, especially at Spur. I would love if somebody next spring jumped out the way they used to gush about David Harris (minus the injuries he kept sustaining). We haven't hade a true terror at LB for a long time, but between Bell, Jones, M-Rob, Furman and our starting Spur duo, there is a ton of speed and potential here.


CB-Wide Bandit Hero CB-Short

The return of Troy Woolfolk, who hasn't lost anything from his year off.

M-Rob is pushing Kovacs  (who bulks up a bit) such that this becomes a platoon. By OSU Robinson is a star. Dreaming: A Fr safety recruit (Walls /Clinton-Dix /Lyons /Williams) arrives and is a superstar from Day 1. Or Byron Moore transfers here and is that guy for 3 years. Reasonable: Cam improves tackling and awareness, a high-profile recruit is fast and smart and able to push Gordon out by mid-season. Vinopal pushed to special teams. J.T.Floyd is pushed to nickel by mid-season  by a freshman who does the Warren/Hall/Jackson/Woodson thing where he stars by mid-season.
Cullen Christian gets it together, starts looking like a really good man corner Maybe Carvin Johnson moves here and takes a SO redshirt. Or in dream scenario, Cam moves here. Avery and Talbott advance on track, are both solid nickel/dime guys.

Cornerback will get a huge boost with the return of senior Woolfolk, and also the big freshman-to-sophomore jump from CC, Avery, Gordon and Talbott. Still, if there was such a thing as a Marlin/Donovan/Leon/Charles type of recruit out there, he would start. We're at F right now; getting to C- might be the best-case scenario. To get anything approaching a B will take one or two super-recruits, one of whom is a better safety than Michigan has had in my lifetime.


Every freshman redshirts.

Nobody transfers.

Overall, the Front Seven next year could be good enough to make up for the weak secondary -- kind of like the 2005 to 2006 jump, except we're starting about a full letter grade worse. Michigan won't win in '11 with a dominant defense, but the best-case scenario does create a good-enough group of guys who give junior Denard and co. a chance to win when they screw up, and creates some Oregonian 62-28 blowouts along the way when the O is clicking. Depth at defensive line starts becoming a concern next year and a major worry by 2012. The secondary probably can't be hoped to be "good" or even "solid" until then.


October 23rd, 2010 at 10:49 AM ^

I think he becomes a real good LB for us. Was doing a nice job as the first LB in and then the broken leg took him out. Should be healed by then and probably a little bigger. Would love to see him at 235lbs and he and Demens give us a very solid true LB core.


Black should make a huge leap. I think by Wiscy this year he is paying a ton. Better conditioning and adding some good weight should help. Need a true pass rushing DE and guy that can get down the line on running plays.


Roh needs to find a rue spot. Never should be a DE o a running down. Just looks to be without. Maybe a true rush OLB is all he can be. Needs to get a bigger backend to play with Bug Ten lineman. Black has a big dumper and that is why he shows better against OL. 


Woolfolk should be the S next year. He has the speed to cover the deep area. Cam does not. Hopefully one of these frosh can grab a spot. I think Avery is the guy but hope all 3 can give us depth. Carvin and Marvin should blossom. Problem for Marv is that Kovacs tackles too well to not play. On a D where very few show ability to tackle we need him.


October 23rd, 2010 at 11:41 AM ^

I think this is a reasonable "good case" that would give us an ok but not dominant defense:

1. Martin, Van Bergen, Roh, Demens, Kovacs, Floyd, and especially Woolfolk stay healthy, and as a group they get at least somewhat better. (Unlike those guys, T Gordon is only marginally better than his backup as of now.)

2. We find an adequate replacement for Mouton: most likely M Jones, possibly Fitzgerald, Ryan, or K Jones.

3. Either C Gordon improves enough to become a deep safety, or Avery, Talbott, and/or Christian improve enough to become a decent starting corner. Less likely, Vinopal or an incoming player do the same thing.

4. The light goes on for Campbell and he becomes a plausible space-eater on non-passing downs, allowing Martin to move from NT to "DT" and Van Bergen to stay at strongside end. Less desirable but maybe more likely, Black toughens up enough against the run to start at strongside end, forcing Van Bergen to move to DT. 

This would give us one Mike Martin and no glaring weaknesses, which would be a big step up from this year.

ND Sux

October 23rd, 2010 at 12:11 PM ^

As much as I like Roh, he looks lost dropping back into pass coverage.  Not enough quickness (0 - 10 yards) to chase down speedy RB's/WR's in space. 

Lined up on the end vs. ND, Roh was a force.  Can't recall a single impact play he's made dropping into coverage.