January 1,2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke talks with defensive coordinator Greg Mattison against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the first half of the 2013 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Wolverines: Rebuilding the Defense -- Part II

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GBMWolverine Coach's Corner2Posted ay 1:00pm — 7/25/2014

Michigan Wolverines: Rebuilding the Defense — Part II

The “over” shift has been decreed, by football historical technicians, a result of the annihilation of defenses predecessors of the spread offenses, namely the strong option packages and the wishbone of teams like Switzer’s best Oklahoma defenses. The standard college 5-2 and even the base 4-3 defenses were in harm’s way.

Jul 21, 2013; Oxnard, CA, USA; Statue of Dallas Cowboys former coach Tom Landry at training camp at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

So, even earlier Landry came up with the famed Dallas flex defense that made blocking the defense more difficult. The over shift could shift linemen to the strong side if the destination was thought to be heading in that direction, or easily shift the Mike and linemen locations favoring the weakside area by using the under version. Many successful programs have used the 4-3 over defense. Regardless, most programs have scrapped the basic old style 4-3 base in favor of the over or under defense. Offenses have evolved; it is tougher to shut offenses down, due to changes in scheme and high level offensive talent. Defenses have used to over and under versions to somewhat “hedge” against the offenses most likely objective.

Aug 31, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Central Michigan Chippewas running back Zurlon Tipton (34) and Michigan Wolverines linebacker James Ross III (15) reach for the ball in the first quarter at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 31, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Central Michigan Chippewas running back Zurlon Tipton (34) and Michigan Wolverines linebacker James Ross III (15) reach for the ball in the first quarter at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

If a defense plans on stopping some of the high octane offenses that attack the edge, there had better be a group of outside linebackers and ends that are the total package: speed, strength, play in space. Of course, this is easy to lay out in theory and difficult to translate to the field. This may also help to explain some of Coach Mattison’s recruitment ventures the last three years.

So, speed is imperative, with the spread and edge/flank attack offenses it will remain as a priority. Some programs take safeties and make them linebackers, take linebackers and make them defensive ends, and take defensive ends and make them into defensive tackles. Michigan appears to be doing the latter as ends are becoming tackles, but not the previous options. The linebacker corps still remains linebackers.

Some programs take the best athletes, with speed and size, plug them in, and go after all offensive variations with reasonable success.

Oct 12, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jake Ryan (47) prior to the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

Oct 12, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jake Ryan (47) prior to the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

One position in the 4-3 over variation that cannot be hybridized is the middle linebacker. In this defense, the Mike must be a true old-style tough football player, a true linebacker type, that can help to control the bubble that results from an uncovered area in the area between the

This defense can shift back to last year’s 4-3 under by moving interior linemen one hole toward the weakside and the Mike shifts toward the strong side tackle-end gap.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu

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Tags: Coach Greg Mattison Football Michigan Football Michigan Wolverines

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