Michigan Wolverines: Rebuilding the Defense — Part I
Besides the troubles of last year’s offensive execution, Michigan football had to endure a number of games when the offense put up big numbers, both yardage and points. There were times when the defense looked as it only an opposition turnover could save the day.
There is sufficient talent on defense. Almost all of the meaningful players return. There is more experience and rationally it is thought there is more strength. The coaches have been shuffled. One coach, the young, energetic, loyal, and with potential, Roy Manning has moved to cornerback. He has been given tutelage from the professional ranks. Coach Mallory, he of the wonderful legacy football family, has taken over as a dedicated safeties coach. Coach Mark Smith has moved to the defensive line, a move claimed as welcomed by the coach and logical by the administration.There is the Godfather of defensive coordinators, Coach Greg Mattison. He bitterly underwent a 2013 season where the parts did not always fit and the execution of the scheme was mediocre. The talent was young, the combinations were many, and the results were far less than a championship caliber.
This is a new year, changes have been made, and the final part of the rebuilding/retooling series features the defense. The change to the 4-3 over defense will be discussed, as will the personnel. Like the offensive side of Michigan football, the defense has many question marks, too many for most. But before finding a ledge, readers need to understand that Michigan has an excellent defensive coordinator, the coaching changes made sense, and plenty of position battles are underway. Sports are fluid and things change. So is the hope of the defensive staff.As all are aware, Michigan has changed from a 4-3 under defense to a 4-3 over defense. The base 4-3 defense that has been for decades a staple of, first, professional, then college and high school teams remains. The primary purpose is to honor the strong side and match up the defensive linemen in a manner that helps against the most likely destination of a power running game. The tackles line up against the center and strong side guard. The strongside tight end has a defensive end in the nine-technique alignment, unlike the under alignment where he plays a 3 technique, and the weak side defensive end shades the offensive tackle with a five-technique. The job of the linemen is to get upfield and be more than just protective screens for the linebackers; instead make plays.
It is easy to turn an over into an under alignment with a technique called a slide. In the over version the Sam drops off the line, the two tackles slide to the strong side up against the center and strong side guard, and the defensive end shades outside the tight end in the 9 technique.The linebackers have gap responsibilities for areas called bubbles. The weakside backer has the B gap on the weak side between the guard and tackle. The middle linebacker is pretty much head up over the center and somewhat protected by one of the defensive tackles playing over the center. He has the strongside A gap bubble. The strongside Sam linebacker is not lined up near the line outside of the tight end as in the under style of the 4-3. His bubble responsibility is the C strongside C gap.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu
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