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Posted on Tue, Jul 28, 2009 : 11:24 a.m.

New defense should help Michigan better defend the spread

By Dave Birkett

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.


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.”



Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 9:41 a.m.

Dave. Ran roughshod?? Texas won in the final second or two on a 50 yard or so field goal. Did Michigan also run roughshod over Texas?


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 4:12 a.m.

I think tater has the right assessment on Michigan's reset to a spread defense. I "killed me" to watch Carr's teams stumble against scrambling quarterbacks. For me though, it remains to be seen whether watching the spread defense "partially succeed" because the spread offense is designed for racking up scores quickly. Yes, it's exciting to see lots of TDs scored in a game, a shoot out has attention-getting appeal. But I will always miss the sight of (for example) Michigan's dominating defense in 1997. I think that kind of nostalgia for dominating defense may be at the root of the NFL's refusal (so far) to adopt more spread offense tactics: the fans are "old school" and love to see such spectacles.


Tue, Jul 28, 2009 : 2:12 p.m.

You can't defend the spread unless you have speed. RR has been recruiting speed the past 2 years. We'll be there in another year.


Tue, Jul 28, 2009 : 1:30 p.m.

Should be an interesting year. Everyone struggles against the spread, but UM should be a little better prepared to handle it this year. They see it in practice all the time now, so familiarity will help. As mentioned in the article, RR is adjusting his personnel and scheme to become a better team against it. RR and the spread have helped evolve the game to a point where games will have higher scores now, regardless of talent on defense. Just like there haven't been many 10-7 or 13-7 games since the 70's, there won't be many 17-14 or 20-14 games anymore. It's all going to come down to personnel, as it usually does. Carr slipped his last few years, failing to adjust to how the game is changing and consequently recruiting plodding midwest kids like MSU is still doing, and UM paid for it the last few years. Hopefully, UM can retool fast enough to start doing some damage this year.


Tue, Jul 28, 2009 : 12:52 p.m.

That's it defend the spread and teach others how to defend you LOL LOL