Michigan Football: Coach’s Corner — The Big Boys — Where It All Starts
The central theme of Coach Mattison’s defensive philosophy and scheme is to stop the run at all costs. Progress has been made in the interior trenches the past two years and this year offers reasonable depth and versatility. The terms one-tech, three-tech, and five-tech have replaced more common terms of nose tackle, defensive tackle, and defensive end in discussions of interior types.
Quinton Washington is a red-shirt senior. His improvement was noticeable last year and it is a fair evaluation that Quinton was an average or slightly above average major college interior defensive lineman. It is just as clear that this year could also yield more improvement and increased contributions. Quinton only has one career sack and like the other members of Michigan’s interior defensive line had great difficulty getting to the quarterback. This led to the use of blitzburg tactics with mixed results.Jibreel Black is also a senior. When he was recruited by Michigan the Wolverines were impressed with his quickness and potential for creating some mayhem. Jibreel can play the three and five technique positions and has been a valuable asset to the Wolverine defense. Still, Jibreel has only been a reserve or part-time starter during his career. Like the rest of the Michigan interior defense, Jibreel is working hard to contribute in 2013. Jibreel had three sacks in 2012. But again Coach Mattison has made it known that improvement in the front four pass rush is critical to the overall success of the Michigan defense.
Richard Ash has been through much in his career at Michigan. Unconfirmed reports of illness and injuries have been frequent. Richard is a reserve interior lineman. He is low to the ground and is currently in the 315-pound range. His long-term endurance may come into question, but 2-10 plays a game of relief in the middle may be Richard’s contribution. Richard may also be an extra space plugger on the goal-line unit. Ash is one of the Pahokee, Florida guys who have played hard, earned degrees, and represented Michigan well.Ondre Pipkins was a highly ranked high school player when he signed with Michigan. He did not red-shirt but played in a reserve role. Ondre was reported by some as being a little out of shape. And like most true freshmen linemen (on both sides of the ball), Ondre found out that the young lion does not necessarily whip the older veteran. His off-season obviously focused on conditioning and technique. The current roster information lists Ondre at less than 310 pounds, down from last year. Ondre will play nose tackle this year and has great athletic ability and quickness for a 300 pounder. The coaching staff is waiting for Ondre to take charge and become the run stuffer and push up the middle force Michigan needs from a nose tackle.
Willie Henry is now a red-shirt freshman from Cleveland Glenville. He has size and quickness. Henry’s success will depend on strength and improvement of technique. Henry has good upside and it would make sense that he sees action at the 1 and 3 technique as a rotating reserve this year.
Michigan signed two talented interior defensive linemen last year, Maurice Hurst and Henry Poggi. Looking at the list of above available inside players, and adding in Chris Wormley, who may move between tackle and end assignments, it becomes logical to conclude both Poggi and Hurst will red-shirt. Poggi clearly needs strength and weight and Hurst will likely play nose-tackle, a position where there is now depth.
No doubt this unit has worked hard since the South Carolina game. Success here will lead to more success for the linebackers and defensive ends. The rush to the quarterback will continue, the question is can the front four take the lead?
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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