Behind new D, Michigan in for a big jump 

March, 18, 2011

We'll start this week's mailbag with a question about the coaching transition facing the Michigan Wolverines:

From @Micah_J_D: How much better can Michigan's defense be with a new coach, but the same players?

I expect them to be considerably better than they were in 2010 under Greg Robinson. Of course, they can't possibly get much worse. Last fall, they were atrocious in almost every way. They ranked 108th in scoring defense, 110th in total defense, 112th against the pass, 95th against the run, 98th in sacks and 108th in turnover margin. Whether or not Rich Rodriguez returned, a change on defense needed to be made.

The issues were many: The 3-3-5 scheme they ran didn't seem to fit well against Big Ten personnel, and the Wolverines were also very thin on defense and took major injury hits in some key spots. Worst of all, they simply didn't have many playmakers or guys with the type of ability you expect to see at Michigan.

Near midseason, I spent about eight hours watching film of the Wolverines' D with a longtime former NFL guy. It was fascinating, because later that night Rodriguez popped into the room and watched along with us, answering some questions about what we were seeing.