Michigan Football Tidbits: Coach Robinson and some defensive players last chance?

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Michigan Football Tidbits: Coach Robinson and some defensive players last chance?

Let’s start by talking about our new defensive coordinator Coach Robinson. Because of the need for him to come in and help with recruiting, he has not really had a lot of time to evaluate tape from last year (the team tapes both games and most practices). Coaches will have started meeting this past weekend. Vacations will be coming up, after which coaches will start planning for spring practices. Also during this time, position coaches will meet with each kid individually to discuss expectations for spring.

One tidbit about Coach Robinson (an overheard conversation he had with another coach): one of the things Coach Robinson believes in — which may be a small change from the past — is in “showcasing” the best players. Going into 2009 there are three players who fit that description: Graham, Warren, and Ezeh.

Showcasing”your best players it does a few things:

1) It forces your opponent to make sure they game-plan for those players.
2) It takes the pressure off the other less-talented defensive players which helps them focus on their assignments.
3) It helps with recruiting — you can tell top-tier recruits that their talents will be showcased at Michigan.

Because of this, look for Warren to play more man-coverage and look for a big emphasis on what position best suits Ezeh. In addition, look for B. Graham to either become Michigan’s version of Woodley, or if it is determined he cannot cover in passing situations, look for him to move somewhere around the line of scrimmage.

Not he’s going to veer away from a team concept. Coach Robinson just believes your best players have to play great. If not, then it will be hard to be effective defensively. So put more pressure and responsibility on your best players whoshould, by definition be able to handle it, and even thrive under it. A subtle but important difference from past approaches. Many times in the past, our big-time players did not show up in big games to make a difference like other teams’ star players did.

With spring practice coming up (March 14) a couple players have a chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of the Michigan coaches. To say the least, it is make-it-or-break-it time for these defensive players.

Brandon Herron:

Coach Robinson prefering to use hybrid-type players, which he calls the “Spinner” position. Herron fits that description, so he may have an added chance for playing time. Late in 2008, Herron started to impress some coaches with his special teams play and, in fact, many believed he had become one of our best special teams players. On defense, he struggled with last year’s schemes, never really fitting in at any of the positions, but this new role may fit his skills. Herron continues to get bigger and spring practice should show us if he’ll be able to effectively contribute to the defense in 2009. If not, he may end up being a career special teams player.

Adam Patterson:

In all the years we have followed Michigan football, we’ve never seen a stranger situation than the one involving Patterson: The kid works his butt of in Barwis’s S&C program; he is one of the players coaches like to use for recruiting; he really likes his defensive line coach, Coach Tall; but when he gets on the football field, at times, he plays almost as if he just doesn’t care if he plays or not.

There are coaches who believe Patterson simply cannot play defensive end. It looks like with Robinson’s new scheme, in 2009 he may have the opportunity to see if inside or defensive tackle suits him better. Coach Rod and Coach Tall really want to upgrade their ability to get to the quarterback and one big improvement would be the inside pass rush. Also, in the new scheme, the right defensive end may end up being nothing more than a defensive tackle, so he may not have to even change positions. This spring practice is going to be a huge opportunity for Patterson to show what he can do. We were excited year ago because he won many of the training awards. This year, he has to show up on the field.

Sagesse:

We’re not as optimistic about Sagesse, but let’s see how spring practice goes. In Sagesse’s defense, last spring he could not really workout because of injuries, so he basically missed the Barwis baptism-of-fire. This year he is healthy, though we still think he might leave the program. Assuming he makes it through the S&C program and gets into shape, we might be pleasantly surprised. There is nothing wrong with this kid’s football skills. He plays a position of need and would really take some pressure off of Big Will, if he could contribute.

Evans:

Another great kid who is a hard worker and who will — possibly — have the chance to play inside. (Coach Robinson has not yet decided). IF, and we by no means think its a given, they decide to move Ezeh to the outside, then Evans, with his lack of speed, may be a candidate to play inside. Evans is a good tackler who always does well in spring, but he needs to find a position. He has to keep working hard, but more importantly find a position he can succeed in.

>>> (Tomorrow Tidbits will be talking about new incoming freshmen football players.)

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Written by MaizeMan, CoachBt and ErocWolverine