HD's Octagon--- The Defense edition--Another look under the microscope

May 2nd

Welcome back Michigan fans...Today we are going to break down the defense from the Spring game and give you MY opinion on certain things heading forward..I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend...125 days GO BLUE

Starting defense was as follows:

DE--Ryan Van Bergen DT--Will Campbell DE--Greg Banks

OLB/DE--Craig Roh LB--Thomas Gordon LB--Obi Ezeh LB--JonasMouton

CB--Tony Anderson CB---J.T Floyd

Safety---Cameron Gordon Safety---Jordan Kovacs

DE---Ryan Van Bergen--Can you say multi-functional team player? I know I can...RVB can play both outside and inside..He has the size, strength and athleticism to do so..The formation will all depend on who we are playing that week or what the the down and distance is as well...RVB has a non-stop motor that infects the rest of his team...You can expect to see big things from RVB this year due to some players we lost and his affinity for football..He has a quick first step and plays with good leverage..I see ALOT of batted balls in the near future...
Current Status--B Potential---B+

DT---Will Campbell---BIG Will Campbell is a gentle giant off the field but, when he takes the field, anyone in his way will know he's out there...WC has transformed his body into a College athlete and I can't wait to see how he does this year in the trenches..He is a big, 2gap style DT and if teams have to double team him(which they will) it will free up his teammates to make the play...WC still plays a little too high for my liking but he will continue to improve that when the season goes on and he realizes he hss no choice but to improve fundamentals or get pushed around..I have been excited for a couple years now to see WC get PT and it's finally here..
Current Status--- B- Potential--- A-

DE----Greg Banks---GB was considered an after-thought at one time and a career back-up but, with a great work ethic and passion for the game, you will see GB in the rotation this year..He has one of the quickest first steps on the DL and he can pinch or crash the OL and shoot the gap..He plays with great leverage and uses his hands well to get by or off the OL..Needs to work on not getting to deep in the backfield and manage the outside so contain is broken...
Current Status---B- Potential---B+

*HD EXTRA*-Mike Martin was injured for the Spring game but he is our BEST DL so, when he is healthy, look for him to be in the starting line-up..The question right now is, at which position? That should be answered in the near future..I will have a close eye on the outcome...

LB/DE---- Craig "death" Roh-- This kid is one of my favorite players on Defense..He too is a man with multiple positions and responsibilites..He can put his hand down and help bolster the run D or stand up and come off the edge and rush the passer..He is solid in pass coverage and plays until the whistle blows on every play..He has added 15 lbs of muscle in the off-season and I EXPECT to hear his name on many plays this year...I have been told he will be a blitzing machine this year so, I hope the other LB's have their "game face" on...He did it all last year as a TRUE Frosh and even exceeded some peoples expectations..He WILL be all big ten or even an All American before he leaves A2..
Current Status--- B+ Potential--- A

LB---Obi "one" Ezeh-- This has to be the year it turns on for OE...He has exceptional talent and abilities as a LB...He is a stud in defending the run but still has some troubles in pass coverage and diagnosing plays..He is so close to having it all but it just hasn't happened yet..It better happen this year because it is his last...From the reports I get from practice, he is doing really well so far this year..Having the D-coordinator take over the LB coaching position as well SHOULD lead to a different bunch of LB's on the field this year..Let's hope so because THIS is the only position that still "worries" me...I EXPECT to see an upgrade in play and I'm sure they will..
Current status-- B- Potential-- B+

LB---Jonas Mouton---Another guy I have held in high regards for several years only to be semi-satisfied with the end result...JM is the most athletic LB in the starting group and can go from sideline-to-sideline with no problem...His strength is helping in the run and is solid in pass coverage as well..JM, like OE, has a tendency to mis-diagnose the play or over-pursue it as well..This leads to an LB out of position which isn't good for the D...Again, with G-Rob taking over the LB's this year, you will see a marked improvement in that area...I think we will see "the light" click on for JM this year..
Current Status--- B- Potential--- B

My predicition for THIS year---JM will be the 2nd leading tackler on the team..

LB----Thomas Gordon---Am I allowed to say that I have a semi "man crush" on TG..Of course it is due to the player, not the kid...I absolutely love this position switch for TG and it will pay huge dividends in the near future..He plays with a swagger and LOVES to hit people..He is better against the run than pass coverage but he is very good in that area as well..He is young so you can expect some mistakes but his talent and abilities will overcome most obstacles he will face..UM fans will like his speed at this position and his tenacity as well.. Can you say future all big ten? I know I can....

CB----Tony Anderson--He started with the one's and did very well doing so..A virtual "un-known" has stepped up in a big way and has probably earned the 2nd team CB this year.. I like his size and awareness on the field..You will see Troy Woolfolk take over the starting job once he becomes healthy again..I for one and excited that we finally have quality depth in the secodary which should lead to less points and less BIG plays.. Kudos to TA for working hard and EARNING some valuable PT...
Current status C+ Potential B

CB----J.T Floyd---Can you say most improved player in the off-season? Again, I know I can...I am absolutely ecstatic about the potential of JT..He has stepped up in a big way and it has paid off..He is a sure tackler and very physical for a CB...He loves to hit and will make you pay for trying to gain anything on him..He has improved in all aspects and isn't afraid to tell you about it either..I believe every kid who plays CB has to have an swagger/edge about himself as long as it isn't detrimental to the team...Did I say I am excited about this position this year? I think JT is going to be one of the better defenders for UM this year..
Current status B- Potential A-

Safety--- Jordan Kovacs--A walk-on turned starter..I don't know about you but this has "great story" written all over it..JK is not the biggest, fastest guy on Defense but his heart and determination will have you think otherwise...JK is always in the right place at the right time and if he is near you and you have the ball, prepare to be tackled..JK is one of the best sure tacklers on Defense and that alone should cut down the big play affect us Michigan fans have unfortunately come accustom to..His weakness is pass coverage but we won't ask him to do that to much so, I feel JK will definitely surprise people this year with his on the field production..I am rooting BIG TIME for this kid...As far as attitude goes, as a coach, you would hope to have a team FULL of JK's...
Current status B- Potential B

Safety--- "Killa" Cam Gordon--This IS THE BEST position switch the coaches have done since their arrival (IMO)..He is becoming, and probably is, my favorite player on Defense..I love all the kids but I think it's due to his abilities, the timing of the switch and this is my old position I played...CG is an absolute beast sitting out there in mid-field disecting plays and making plays as well...He is physically intimadating at safety and (imo), we haven't had a player his size with his talent and speed at Safety in a long time..So far he hasn't been tested much in the passing game so the jury is still out as far as affectiveness in pass coverage but I think he will be fine..As far as tackling and taking proper angles he seems to know the game well and LOVES to mix-it-up and PUNISH whomever it is that has the ball...I can see a lot of WR's developing a case of "t-rex" arms going across the middle of the field when CG is out there...If the receiver is lucky CG will only seperate the ball from the receiver and not his head from his body...CG plays with that nastiness we have needed in the secondary for quite some time..Again, he is young but has all the potential in the World...I can see the nickname "the Hammer" being synonamous with CG in the near future..I predict he will be at LEAST All big ten, if not more before it is all said and done..CG will be a household name before the season is over...
Current status B- Potential A

*HD EXTRA* Look for Vladimir Emilien to get several reps with the one's as well this year...He is a playmaker ready to make plays but, minor injuries have kept him limited..I am hearing he is progressing very well and to expect to see alot of him this year as well

*HD's blue-light special*-- Watch for up to 3 commitments leading up to or after the Big House BBQ during the weekend of May 15th- May 17th...It is heating up and just in time to "get the charcoal heated up"...We will have one for sure commit but watch for up to 2 others...

My thoughts-------This defense lost a few special players on defense this year..It is hard to replace guys like Brandon Graham and Donovan Warren and think you can be a decent to good defense or not have a huge dropoff....However, I truly believe even though less experienced, this Defense will actually be better than last year...We have a lot more size and speed at key positions and I believe that will pay huge dividends for this year...Don't discount leadership either..I am told several players on Defense are starting to "own" their positions..Players returning as starters and being in the system for a 2nd straight year will lead to more cohesion and less oonfusion as well..I am not saying they will be an all World Defense but, I believe they will be better...Actually, I think we will see a decrease in giving up the big play on Defense and the Defense will be about 7-9 points better this year because of that..I also think the same thing for the Offense so, who here thinks this season won't be exciting? I know I won't raise my hand..

I still see anywhere between a 7 and 9 win season and going to, and winning our bowl game...Which will propel us into 2011 which most consider to be "the year"..I truly believe that after this year, we won't see to many single digit win totals in the upcoming seasons..We will compete nationally year in, year out from 2011 on...The days of under-achieving are OVER...Thank you RR!!

Thanks for stopping by and getting in the Octagon..Feel free to comment or request anything on these topics and future updates as well..Another edition of Willis' World is on the horizon so make sure you check back daily for that and all other updates the MichiganSportsZone brings to you...125 DAYS GO BLUE



CBT said...

One of biggest Keys to UMs defense will be can the overhangs/ bandit and spur, and safeties play in space. That was one of the two the biggest problem this spring in my opinion. Both underneath people and deep safties rerouting and woring under coverage in space. On both of Roundtrees big catches he was able to under coverage and avoid rerouting.

Tied with getting consistent pressure on QBs

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment and analysis CBT...I definitely agree with what you say are the keys to the Defense...I believe we will generate a lot of pressure on the QB this year which should result in better secondary play because of it...Let's hope the back half can cover a lot of ground in the open field..If so, I think we'll be more than fine..Thanks again and please continue to check back with us and opine on any subjects...

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