November 10, 2012; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines linebacker James Ross III (15) celebrates a tackle of Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter (2) in the fourth quarter at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Football: Coach's Corner -- Plan to Improve in 2013 -- Defense/Recruiting -- Part I

Posted at 5:30am — 8/16/2013

Michigan Football: Coach’s Corner — Plan to Improve in 2013 — Defense/Recruiting — Part I

Over The Rainbow — What Is Michigan’s Plan to Improve in 2013?

Coach Hoke has made it clear that last year’s 8-5 record is unacceptable. He stated this is nice terms and terms not quite so nice. Records are not always a perfect indicator to judge improvement or overall team quality, but it is the one single piece of evidence first viewed by the multitudes. Michigan lost to the two teams that played for the national title and also to an undefeated Ohio State team. Michigan could not hold up at the end against a top ten South Carolina team. Then, there was the Nebraska fiasco.

Jul 24, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke speaks during the Big Ten media day at the Chicago Hilton. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan could very well improve over eight wins in 2013, but the health of key players may determine this more so than any other factor. Michigan through some gambling on team make-up planning and bad luck has cornered itself into essentially a one- quarterback team. Help will come though experience and moving on to future commits. But as of now, well the obvious is just that.

To get over the rainbow and back to an elite status, Michigan clearly has a multi-part plan. The lynchpin, as with every other college program, is recruiting. Program followers were satisfied with the collective, hybrid 2011 recruiting class, but Coach Hoke’s 2012 and 2013 classes brought a much needed, higher talent level to the Wolverine program. This talent is still young and is just starting to break the soil as the mighty oak is want to do.

This talent mission is far from finished. Fortunately, the 2014 class appears to have some difference makers that can keep the pipeline flowing.

The talent must be molded to the vision. Coach Mattison does not yet have the pass rushers to trigger his vision of a pressure defense, but this year holds more promise than last year. It is no secret that the eventual success of the 2013 Wolverine defense may depend on a rush package that features a standard four-man rush, instead of gambling blitzes. As Coach Mattison says- earn the right to rush four.

There is reason to believe that at the very least Michigan will show some improvement in rushing with four. Michigan possesses good rush ends; the question is the other positions. Not much in the way of a pass rush has been achieved from the 1 tech spot since Mike Martin graduated. Pipkins and Washington need great improvement in interior push to forward the pass rush effectiveness. Black has always been hailed as a pass rusher, but a look at his overall career stats does not show a premiere pass rusher. Although undersized, Black has quickness and works his butt off.

The linebackers are a somewhat strange mix and Coach Mattison clearly, through the pattern of 2014 class recruiting, is not yet happy with his options. The 2013 group, sans Ryan, are small, and excepting James Ross are not exceptionally fast. But the cupboard is not bare. Morgan is like Kovacs, once he sees the field; it is tough to remove him. Bolden has limitations of overall speed and weight, but knows the game and is relentless.

The bet here is Cam Gordon will play well, he reminds the author of a guy who is in a Stevie Brown type situation as a senior. Cam has been all over the place, like Brown was. Cam, like Brown, has the physical tools to play, and is now close enough to the line of scrimmage to use a combination of size and speed to cause some defensive mayhem.

Coach Mattison hopes the secondary is better protected by front seven play than last year. There are plenty of decent athletes that will compete for playing time. But experience is short, excepting Countess and Avery. Mistakes will probably be made. But collectively this group eventually will provide skill and depth. Look for some true freshmen to make a move in this position group.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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