Birk's Eye View: Michigan football could be worse on defense next year
LIVONIA - Coming off its two worst statistical seasons in history, it’s hard to see the Michigan football team's defense being any better next year.
Melanie R. Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Brown was asked Thursday before Michigan’s annual football bust what the defense would look like next year.
“It’s going look a little bit of the same,” he said. “I’m sure they’re going to improve and everything. They’re going to be recruiting the right guys and there’s guys behind us that are going to step up and fill in the spots.”
A handful of true freshmen - guys like cornerback Cullen Christian, safety Marvin Robinson and an as-of-now uncommitted prospect or two - will have a chance to play early, but several first-year players were supposed to contribute and didn’t this year, too.
Most likely, Michigan’s defense will be young and thin again. Troy Woolfolk is the only returning starter guaranteed a job in the secondary, and he split time between cornerback and safety this year. Safeties Mike Williams (9 starts) and Jordan Kovacs (7) were only consistent in that they regularly gave up big plays, and if Woolfolk stays at safety Michigan’s top 2 corners entering camp will be J.T. Floyd and J.T. Turner.
Outside linebacker Criag Roh has a bright future as a pass rusher, but Brown’s other cohorts, Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mouton, were benched late in the year.
“I know they both were not really completely pleased with how they played this year, so I know they’re going to come back with a vengeance and play even harder,” Brown said.
The defensive line is in good shape with Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen returning, but even Graham couldn’t say who’d replace his production next fall.
“That’s what I can’t wait to see,” Graham said.
Van Bergen is a candidate to start at rush end if Will Campbell or Greg Banks wins a job at defensive tackle, but Michigan’s best hope for defensive improvement may lie with an offense that looked potent at times this year.
Then again, with Vincent Smith and David Molk coming off ACL injuries and youth still an issue at quarterback, there are plenty of questions on that side of the ball, too.