Wednesday, August 28, 2013

BHB 2013 Season Defensive Preview

My hope was to break down each position group one by one.  I just ran out of time with the number of commitments and other practice news of late.   So here is a high level preview of the defense with each position group.

Defensive Line

DE Frank Clark
DT Jibreel Black
NT Q. Washington
DE Keith Heitzman

This position groups has two basic jobs in stopping the run and rushing the passer.  This unit had trouble getting sacks last year without blitzing a LB.   Getting pressure on the QB has been a clear goal of Mattison's this off season.  Frank Clark has got some serious camp buzz since Spring Ball and Q. Washington is finally ready to dominate on the D-Line after starting his career in Ann Arbor as an offensive lineman. 

I love Ryan's reaction after the sack, "what just happened?"

This is one position group that will see a ton of subs coming in and out.   Of course Ondre "Pewee" Pipkins will be better and Wormley is back healthy and been getting some nice buzz as well.   I love all the back ups behind Clark which includes Mario Ojemudia and true freshman Taco Charlton.   I expect starter minutes from both of those guys. 

This unit is very similar to it's counterparts on the offensive line.   I expect they will do well against the run but can they get to the QB?  If this unit can pressure the QB the Michigan Defense can be really good.   Greg Mattison and DL coach Brady Hoke sure do have a lot of weapons to use to spell a guy if they get tired or under preforming.

Breakout players to watch are Taco and Wormley. 


The golden locks are gone, lets hope his knee is getting the extra power his hair took


SLB Cam Gordon
MLB Desmond Morgan
WLB James Ross

Michigan's worst loss in the off season came to their best player on defense in Jake Ryan's ACL tear.  Reports are that his rehab is doing well and we might see him back on the field sometime in the Big Ten season.   I just hope they don't rush him back. 

How do you replace the best player on defensive?  You do it with speed and Michigan has some very fast LB's and maybe the fastest in the history of the program.  Poor Cam Gordon has played pretty much everywhere on defensive and now gets his chance after Ryan's injury.  He has had a great Fall Camp and I expect he will use his speed to get to the QB on blitzes and cut down runners trying to get wide.    He is a 5th year senior now and this is his platform to shine. 

We know what we have in Desmond Morgan and James Ross.  Morgan is a smart middle linebacker and we will see Ross fly to the ball with his speed.    The only thing I'm concerned with from Ross and Gordon is if they get fooled their speed will get them out of their gaps very quickly.   I expect we will see a number of subs from this position group as well, I expect quite a few snaps from Brennen Beyer (if he is healthy), Joe Bolden at MLB and RJS at WLB.    

Breakout Players to Watch:   Bolden and Ross to have big years

Defensive Backs


LCB: Raymon Taylor
SS: Thomas Gordon
FS: Jarrod Wilson
RCB Blake Countness

Michigan lost their best defensive player to injury they lost their smartest player to graduation in Jordan Kovacs.  I think we all know Kovacs seemed to make a few game saving tackles every weekend.   That type of leadership is tough to replace and this unit is coming off one of their worst performances in the Outback Bowl under Mattison.    JT Floyd is gone and The Count is back after losing him in Dallas last season. 

I will have 3 picks, no 4 picks, 5 picks...ha ha.......

Taylor got plenty of experience last year and The Count's talent should lock down the other corner.   Avery is out for a couple weeks with a knee, so the 3 deep has a ton of young guys on it.  Delonte Hollowell has had a hard time cracking the lineup and we could see a number of true freshmen in the defensive backfield this year. 

I think the biggest question mark comes at FS where they moved Avery before his injury.   Jarrod Wilson will get the start and got playing time there last year.   He struggled most of the year and I expect to see Jeremy Clark get some time here as well.   That's the entire depth chart at the FS position.   Expect teams to test this position with a bunch of deep balls.

At Nickel, they have Blake as the starter, but I'm pretty sure he can't be in two places at one time, so I expect Dymonte Thomas will get more then his fair share of snaps

This unit like the WR, concerns me.  I like Taylor and The Count but Gordon is a run stopper and Wilson's sometimes seems lost back there.   Michigan could be open to some big plays if these guys are out of position.  QB pressure could take the pressure off this unit.

Breakout players to watch:  Channing Stribling and Dymonte Thomas

Overall take:

I think the defense will continue to be strong but without a 100% healthy Jake Ryan, I think they will be good but not great.   I like the speed and I think the DL has matured but this is a building year rather then a great year.  We will see some young guys really start to make waves for the future like, Ross, Wormley, Thomas and Stribling.   These will be the building blocks of a great defense a couple years down the line.

#1 key to success this year for the defense is a huge year by the Dline.   If Frank Clark goes crazy and becomes a guy the other teams OC has to game plan for, Michigan will be in good shape.    I also expect to see a couple alignments with the likes of Taco, Mario and Clark all on the field at the same time.  These guys are way too talented to all be locked into one position group. 

Either way, the one thing I know for sure:  In Greg I Trust!

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