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Posted on Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 1:39 p.m.

Rich Rodriguez doesn't regret position changes despite Michigan's problems at safety

By Dave Birkett


Michigan's Stevie Brown gets up off the turf after picking off a pass from Michigan State University quarterback Kirk Cousins on the opening drive of Saturday afternoon.

Melanie Maxwell |

Safety has been Michigan’s biggest problem on defense this year. Stevie Brown moved from safety to linebacker last offseason, and Troy Woolfolk from safety to cornerback this fall.

Any regrets about the position changes?

"No," Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. “We talked about Woolfolk quite a bit. We had some, I don’t want to say issues, but we had some concerns at corner and so it was kind of like, ‘OK, which way do we go and where are getting attacked at?’ So I think that move has been pretty good.

“And even with Stevie’s move, now with the type of offenses we play all the time in a sense he’s playing kind of a nickel safety position anyway.”

Brown plays strong-side linebacker and is often responsible for covering a receiver or tight end in obvious passing downs.

Woolfolk started the first five games at strong safety before moving to right cornerback to replace Boubacar Cissoko, who was dismissed from the team. Walk-on Jordan Kovacs and redshirt sophomore Mike Williams have started the second half of the season at safety, though Williams was benched last week as Michigan unveiled a 4-4 defense with Brandon Smith as the extra linebacker.

Brown, one of two senior starters on defense, said he hasn’t considered the what-ifs of his position change.

“I feel like the role that I’ve taken on at this new position switch has been good for this defense, has been good for the team,” he said. “I’m not going to question if I should be back at safety because there’s been a lot of plays that I made from this position.”

Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 3:04 p.m.

Hey Blue, what do you call Stevie Brown? He's a safety. Period. If you don't think this is the 3-3-5 then you are the one that is misinformed. Quit making excuses. And this is pure RR, it's what all his assistants know. This is not what GRob has traditionally run, but considering that the none of the assistants are his guys, I wouldn't expect him to have much say in what's going on.


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 1:14 p.m.

Defense is terrible, and neglected by RichRod. It isn't going to get any better. In the classes from 2009 and the one coming in 2010, only 5 players 270+, and 3 are offensive line. Still recruiting the mighty mites, which will never mature into anything that can stop anybody. I have heard that they are young and will develop, lacking experience, just not in right gaps, etc. It won't matter when they are juniors and seniors, they will still be pushed out of gaps by bigger, stronger lineman. To finsh this year 5 and 7, and we will, is not progress. Even if by a miracle we do win, still no improvement - 2 and 6 in Big Ten 2 stright years. And the Big Ten is no SEC, PAC 10, BIG 12, etc. We are a lot closer to 0 and 12, than 12 and 0. Next year will very likely be worse. Only 3 winnable games in Big Ten, and 2 of them are on the road. And RichRod cannot win there, so we better hope that we can beat Illinois at home - may be our only conference win. May have to consider moving to the MAC - we still lose (Toledo at home) but at least we do not get blown out. We will be looking up at Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, etc. The rivalry with OSU is dead - you have to win every once in a while to have one. This program looks dead. All that history is just history - no connection to the current progam. Maybe it is time for us to lose to everybody, just to get things in balance? I will watch, and continue to watch and cheer when they win a game or 2. But the death of a program is a sad thing. RIP


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 11:12 a.m.

UM starts 2 seniors on defense. OSU starts 3. You have got to quit the whining about being to young. Athletes are here 4 to five years. When you recruit a kid to UM you hope he can start as a freshman. If he is good enough, he will go pro after his junior year. That's 3 years.


Fri, Nov 20, 2009 : 10:08 a.m.

GoblueinNE_PA, You are misinformed. Aside from one game last year after Schaeffer had already proven his ineptitude, RR hasn't tried to install any kind of 3-3-5. The schemes this year, which involve those weird flex positions that Roh and Stevie play, have been entirely Robinson's. Quit hating.


Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 10:14 p.m.

He hasn't done it here because he's not running his scheme. He's a 4-3 coordinator, not the 3-3-5 crap that RR runs. If he ever gets a chance to run his system, maybe we'll see something. Until then, continue seeing this type of horrible performance.


Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 5:23 p.m.

Robinson came the year after texas gave up 65 points to oklahoma in 2003. at least thats according to wikipedia. So he wasn't guilty of those travesties, but it does go to show you that he was able to take a team that had gotten thrashed on defense the year before and have them playing a little more solid. So why couldn't he do that here. If you give up 65 points in a game then your team can't be too talented right?


Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 5:15 p.m.

Bleedblue - that game was Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma in 2003(?) when OU won 77-0. I believe Torbush was the DC when Franchione (sp?) was the HC. When Robison was DC at Texas, they lost 12-0 to OU. If I remember that game correctly, 7 of the 12 game from a goal line pass deflection/interception into the endzone. I wouldn't pin that one on Robinson for a poor defensive showing.

John Hritz

Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 4:16 p.m.

Very nice photo by Melanie Maxwell!


Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 3:34 p.m.

Does anyone know who the defensive coordinator was when Texas gave up 77 to Oklahoma? just wondering if that was GR scheme or not.


Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 3:27 p.m.

You know all the position changes and the two walk ons starting really says volumes to me about how bad the depth on this team really is

Man in the Mirror

Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 3:26 p.m.

Beautiful Shot.....


Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 3:08 p.m.

no depth on D the same guys on the field all game they get wore down then beat unlike good team that can rotate guys in and out were stuck with the sae guys every play and by half time there wore out, then they get beat down the rest of the game tell we get depth and talent gonna be the same stuff.