Monday, August 10, 2009
Michigan's Mental Edge on Defense: Where Did It Go?
ErocWolverine hits it out of the park at the GoBlueMichiganWolverine Blog today about Michigan's trials and tribulations on defense. I particularly enjoyed this excerpt:
2) Michigan has lost its mental edge. The UM defense has lost that nasty, mean "I am going to rip your d*MN head/arm off and beat you to death with it type of attitude.
Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers have no fear at all lately against Michigan’s defense. Bo's teams scared the H*LL out of people. No UM team over the last five to ten years merits such old school comparison.
We refer back to an article not that long ago which stated that back in Bo's day the Big Ten coaches complained to the Big Ten about how physical the wide receivers were, and how they kept blocking right up to the whistle; sometimes past it.
The Big Ten sent a letter to Bo asking him to change or modify his approach. He actually framed the letter and said if other teams are worried so much about our wide receivers just wait till the other position players get a hold of them. Bo believed other teams would not be able to game plan to maximum effectiveness.
Hell yeah! I second that motion. There should be much more "I-am-going-to-rip-your-DAMN-head/arm-off-and-beat-you-to-death-with-it-type-of-attitude"!
And I agree that nothing creased that ear-to-ear grin on Schembechler's face more quickly than reading a begging letter from Big Ten coaches and Big Ten commissioner Wayne Duke saying essentially: "Hey Bo, stop playing so rough!"
I've been thinking a lot lately about Michigan's defense for 2009. And folks, I'm worried. For all of the advances that may be made offensively this fall with a better quarterback situation and improved offensive line play, I'm concerned how they could all be canceled out rather quickly with continued frustration and big play gift-giving on defense. One school of thought says, "Well, hey it can't possibly be any worse than last year!".
To that I'm here to say: "Yes, it could be worse".
Michigan lost 3 pretty decent and experienced front lineman in Tim Jamison, Terrance Taylor and Will Johnson. At linebacker Logan and Thompson are also gone, albeit on-off starters at that position. The secondary sees Stevie Brown moving from safety to linebacker, plus the loss of corner backs Morgan Trent, Charles Stewart and Brandon Harrison.
As a result, this is going to be a very young Michigan defense peppered with a few experienced starters coming back. My generous count includes:
DE Brandon Graham
LB Obi Ezeh
LB Jonas Mouton
LB Stevie Brown
CB Boubacar Cissoko
CB Donovan Warren
The safety positions are such a frightening situation right now for Michigan, I've purposely chosen not to discuss it very much on this blog. Michigan certainly has some talent there in Troy Woolfolk, Michael Williams, Vlad Emilien (Fr.) and Brandon Smith. Just not a whole lot of meaningful experience. The defense is probably going to be quicker from now on than Michigan fans have observed in the past. More importantly, major strides need to be made in the departments of tackling (see Morgan Trent in photo above) and pursuit angles.
I'm grateful for ErocWolverine's post on this subject today, because it encapsulates what I believe as well. There are some pretty damning reasons why Michigan has lost it's way defensively in recent years. Even the great 2006 team was marred by rather poor performances versus Ball State, Ohio State, not to mention versus USC in the Rose Bowl. Whether Robinson is the right guy to instill that merciless attitude, time will tell. Ken Norton Jr. did a great job of instilling defensive rage at USC, multiplied, of course, by several magnitudes of improved team speed at every position.
For now there's really only hope, that Greg Robinson and crew might bring some mental edge back to the Wolverine side of the field this year on defense.