Apr 13, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke talks to defensive tackle Willie Henry (69) defensive end Mario Ojemudia (53) and defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins (56) during the Spring Game at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Wolverines: Rebuilding the Defense -- Defensive Ends

GBMWolverine Coach's Corner2Posted at 4:30am — 8/4/2014

Michigan Wolverines: Rebuilding the Defense — Defensive Ends

The Defense — Protecting The Edge

Defensive ends are a little like Global Positioning Systems, they can solve many problems and avoid others. However, for best results, just limit their use to the football field. The defensive end sets the edge, hopefully turning a running play inward to be ingested by the interior defenders. The defensive end must hold up at the point of attack as the edge defender; at least that is what is theorized. Finally, in clear pass situations the defensive end will put the hand down with an emphasis to bull rush the offensive blocker(s) or use sophisticated moves, such as the rip and the swim, to achieve the best possible pass defense: tackle a quarterback in the backfield for a loss.

Nov 23, 2013; Iowa City, IA, USA; Michigan Wolverine player Brennen Beyer (97) intercepts a pass and returns it for a touchdown against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the first quarter at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The 4-3 over defense will place the strongside defensive end outside the tight end and play the open-side defensive end in a 5-technique. So, who will play the wide side and who will play the strong side?

To answer that question one must insert the variable of versatility. The entire defensive line, except for a couple of the larger anchor types inside, has some versatility. It is assumed Chris Wormley will be a 3-technique tackle, but he could play the 5-technique end position. It is assumed that Henry Poggi also will mostly play 3-technique tackle, but he may start off seeing limited action at the 5-spot defensive end. Frank Clark has done well at the open side defensive end, but he could play the strong side, depending on injuries, formations, match-ups, etc. Tom Strobel has bounced around hunting a line spot; he and Godin almost certainly will end up mixing it up inside at the 3-spot, but there is still versatility to return to the outside. Taco Charlton and Mario Ojemudia were recruited to be pass-rushing specialists. Taco has beefed up enough to go strongside, but still has not demonstrated consistency in neutralizing the run. Mario is still small and likely will remain a weakside defensive end.

Aug 31, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive end Taco Charlton (33) celebrate with fans after the game against the Central Michigan Chippewas at Michigan Stadium. Michigan won 59-9. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

So, Michigan’s best edge rush potential has been at weakside defensive end, albeit with only limited effect and also only limited success against the run. Who will emerge as the strongside defensive end?

The odds-on choice for starter at strongside defensive end is the somewhat light but technically sound Brennen Beyer. As mentioned, Frank Clark and Taco Charlton have seen action at strongside and could play the position if called upon. Beyer is a two- time All-Big Ten Academic selection from the nearby Canton/Plymouth area. He has outgrown outside linebacker but perhaps not weakside defensive end. Taco Charlton has plenty of frame to carry good weight. Concerns of strength have lingered, just keep in mind that Taco is a true sophomore. With total dedication and sufficient strength, Charlton could be unleashed.

Jul 28, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive end Frank Clark addresses the media during the Big Ten football media day at Hilton Chicago. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Clark, the other senior, must assume the leadership role of the defensive line in multiple roles. Clark needs to provide true, consistent edge pressure, not just be a vitamin pill one-a-day type of guy. He needs to finally be an actual force against the rush and provide better edge contain. And Frank must truly be a unity force that helps to bring the new group together.

Frank Clark needs to work as hard as any player on the team. He is a little undersized for a 4-3 pro defense, but has some good athletic measurables. After his embarrassing citizenship gaff from the past, Frank also needs to show the NFL types, and his Michigan family, that the character compass has improved. When it comes to investment, Clark must be all-in and it looks like the Michigan staff is giving him some empowerment to reach his own goals, that if achieved can only help the team.

One thing for certain, this year’s defense has plenty of puzzle parts. What is somewhat uncertain is how the parts will mesh. But unless a team has most of a highly ranked defense returning that is the norm in high school and college competition.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu

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Tags: Brennen Beyer Chris Wormley Coach Greg Mattison Football Frank Clark Henry Poggi Mario Ojemudia Michigan Football Michigan Wolverines Taco Charlton Tom Strobel

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