New defense should help Michigan better defend the spread
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said his defense will “morph more into a pro 3-4 than a 4-3” this year, a change that’s designed to help the Wolverines better defend spread offenses.
“We’ve gotten exposed over the last couple of years against teams that have spread us out,” Rodriguez said. “We got some great athletes, and in the short passing game you really have to address that two ways, with personnel and the schemes. So we’re trying to do both.”
Michigan has struggled defending spread offenses for years. Juice Williams amassed 431 yards of total offense in a 45-20 blowout of the Wolverines last year. Former Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith twice had his way with Michigan’s defense. And in 2005, with new Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson on the opposing sideline, Vince Young and Texas ran roughshod over the Wolverines in the Rose Bowl.
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By going to a base odd front, Rodriguez said Michigan will be able to get more speed on the field to counter the spread offenses in the Big Ten. Former safety Stevie Brown is now playing outside linebacker (Robinson does not call it the “spinner” position), and incoming freshmen Brandin Hawthorne and Mike Jones (a high school safety) likely will be his backups.
“It just gets different people in different situations,” Brown said. “Out there it’s not like the slants that the (offensive) linemen will take can get to us as easy. We’re spread out like they’re spread out so we’re already out there.”