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Posted on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Michigan football team hoping for a bulked up Craig Roh in his new defensive role

By Nick Baumgardner


The Michigan football staff wants Craig Roh to bulk up to about 282 pounds to play his new strong-side defensive end position. He was listed at 269 pounds when he chased Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush, above, from his weak-side defensive end position last season.

Melanie Maxwell |

Almost immediately after the 2011 season came to a close, Michigan football coach Brady Hoke and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison came to a consensus.

Craig Roh needed to switch positions, and the defense would be better for it in the end.

After spending his junior season as a weak side defensive end, Roh has started his transition to the strong side this spring, a move Hoke and Mattison are excited about and one they say has gotten off to a smooth start.

"He's been active, and I think it's going to pay off in the long run," Hoke said Thursday. "We wouldn't have moved him if we both hadn't felt that way.

"He's gaining strength in weight that he'll continue to do that, but he has a burst to him and a good first step. That gives him a little more speed and (makes him) a guy who can give you a three-way move, which is important up front."

After getting off to a sluggish start last season while adjusting to Mattison and Hoke's new defense, Roh -- who claimed he had a mid-year epiphany -- eventually rounded into form as the Wolverines' weak-side end, playing opposite then senior Ryan Van Bergen.

Roh finished the year with 32 tackles and set career-highs with four sacks and eight tackles for loss.

However, in Mattison's eyes, he seemed to be battling uphill for most of the year on the weak side. And with the recent position switch, the Wolverines' staff hopes some of that struggle will be eliminated.

"I want to always have a very, very fast, disruptive defense," Mattison said. "That's what you always need to have, especially up front."

"Craig Roh will be a better football player moving into a five-technique than he would be out on the edge, where there's a lot of open spaces."

There will be more than the average mental adjustments for Roh during the position switch. Roh was listed at 6-foot-5, 269 pounds. Hoke estimated he entered spring practice at roughly 273 pounds, and before the season begins, the staff wants him to weigh in at roughly 280-282 pounds.

"If he can maintain that and then gain a little bit more during spring ball, then in the summer he'll be able to gain more weight," Hoke said. "(In his new role) you've got more blocks (to fight through). A tight end and a tackle. But you don't have as many combinations."

Roh's position switch isn't the only one Michigan's defensive line is going through this season. Former defensive end Jibreel Black has moved inside to defensive tackle and, like Roh, will have to bulk up before the start of the 2012 campaign.

At the end of last season, Black was 6-foot-2, 260 pounds. Quite a bit lighter than fellow defensive tackles Will Campbell (6-foot-5, 322 pounds), Quinton Washington (6-foot-4, 302 pounds) and Richard Ash (6-foot-3, 301 pounds).

With Black's move inside, Hoke and Mattison have eyed sophomores Frank Clark and Brennen Byer as Roh's replacement on the weak side.

"As a coach, what you do, when you're watching a player and you're evaluating him and you see him make a play, you say 'boy, that was hard for him, but he made a great play,' " Mattison said. "He may not have had to work as hard had he been at (another) position.

"He's the best you have at that time, but maybe when we get an opportunity, maybe we'll move him."

Michigan has already made some moves this spring, and it may take some time for everyone involved to gain full comfort.

But, with Mattison's scheme now entering its second season, the defense as a whole doesn't need nearly as much TLC.

Folks are on the same page now, and that seems to be more than half the battle.

"Last year was very difficult," Mattison said. "The first time we put in the defenses, they looked at me like I was trying to teach them German or something.

"In putting in what we want to work on this spring, the players just look at you (now) and say 'got it.' "

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

Craig Roh should play at a higher level in 2012. He's poised to have a better season. Staying healthy cannot be overstated.

Don Brake

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 9 p.m.

I think that was a misprint below the pic. I think they probably meant 282, not 202.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 9:59 p.m.

I'm thinking 262 since he's about 250 now.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.

Last year, Hoke, Borges and Mattison took a team with a 50-50 season record (and a horrible bowl loss) which was then projected to have (maybe) a 67-33 record for 2011: and made them ALL turn in a 85-15 record (and a credible bowl win). Sure, the schedule wasn't tough but the point is that all of these players needed to step up, learn a new system and improve on their past performance. On top of that: the core of this team (133) will be seniors now. These are seasoned players who're now accustomed to the new system. I have no doubt that Craig Roh will improve in his new position, since "new position" hasn't been a problem for these coaches and players. I think that having 'Bama as the first game might be a problem: going from 0 to 100 right off the bat isn't a likely scenario. A loss in their first game could set the team back for the rest of the season. I sure hope that Hoke, Borges and Mattison are preparing for that possibility. OTH: watching Michigan pull off that "hopeless" game vs ND last year proves that nothing is impossible for Michigan. Only two games matched that for excitement: the 1979 Wangler to Carter last-play win over Indiana and the 1998 Rose Bowl match up between Michigan and Washington State for the national championship. We don't have the 1979 or 1997 teams now, we've got the same team that pulled off that game against Notre Dame when it seemed literally impossible. Don't count Craig Roh or any of these players out: they are miracle workers with excellent coaching and loyal fans. Go Blue!


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 1:23 a.m.

Don't forget 1995 against UVa in Lloyd's first game. UM came back from down 17-0 midway through the 4th quarter as Scott Driesbach hit Mercury Hayes for a TD on the final play of the game for an 18-17 UM win. I was at that game and it was INSANE! I would also say the 1997 UM-OSU game was off-the-hook exciting as UM closed out their undefeated regular season with a barn burner against the bucks. The camaraderie of the UM fans, young and old, hugging, laughing, some even crying after that game was incredible. My two best Big House experiences ever.

jeff blue

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

I know that I worry way too much -- I am worried abour 2012. We had an excellent 2011, BUT: 1. We did not play Wisconsin or PSU 2. We played Nebraska and OSU at home 3. UM lost road game to MSU, and a really crummy Iowa team 4. In 2012 the schedule is not so great: Alabama, an improved ND team on the road, NEB and OSU on the road. Of course a very emotional and physical game with MSU at the Big House. But that is not what worries me!! What worries me is that we losing many of our most physical players to the NFL. Ironically, RR did NOT leave the cupboard bare; we had some really physical players. Will we stiil have the physicality in 2012; especially on defense? JEFF


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 11:57 p.m.

"RR did NOT leave the cupboard bare...." Actually, he left the team bare in spirit and scheme, along with a lack of size and complete neglect on DEFENSE. However, the new staff believes in whatever personnel they have to work with, and they know how to C-O-A-C-H. While I am concerned that Molk, Martin, and Van Bergen are leaving (Carr recruits), I have faith that 2012 will be a great year for Michigan.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.

The 2011 still exceeded expectations inspite of the softer schedule. That is the point. Given how the 2009 and 2010 teams collapsed after 4 and 0 and 5 and 0 starts, a lot can be said of this coaching staff and positive changes that occurred. Worry, you may, but keep an ounce of faith because this 2012 team will probaly exceed expections. Not too many of us are expecting another 11 win season in 2012 but they are poised to surprise us as well.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 6:01 p.m.

I'm sure it means 282 or 302. Regardless (irregardless if you're from Owosso), didn't we hear this all last summer? Roh was ingesting 5,000 calories a day to the point of vomiting because he was trying to eat so much. Just check mlive stories last summer. Surely this can't be healthy, and stop calling me surely, and if he keeps this artificial weight on for a long football career this will have long term adverse affects on his health.


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

The link is broken so have to pay to get to the archive, but this was the lead-in.. "Michigan Wolverines Links: Take the 'quarterback quiz' to test your ... Aug 9, 2011 ... Full Interview: Hoke talks about recruiting, expectations for 2011, his career path and more. ... "Thanks to a 6000-7000-calorie diet, Van Bergen is up to 290 ... defensive end Craig Roh, 6-5, also is up 10 pounds to about 260."


Sat, Mar 24, 2012 : 3:51 p.m.

you could be right Scott. 'irregardless' I think there's a point at how much weight gain actually helps before it begins to slow one down too much.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 9:58 p.m.

I thougth the stories were about van bergen eating 5000 calories a day last year, but I could be wrong.


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

"If he can maintain that and then gain a little bit more during spring ball, then in the summer he'll be able to gain more weight," Hoke said. Roh has definitely got the COACHES to show him how its done!! MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEANchigan football is getting BIG and BEEFY! Pass the Quadruple BIG Mac and leave off the Leafy!!!


Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

That's a good one MEANIE!!! I think I'll try that next time I order at McDonalds! MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEANchigan football is getting BIG and BEEFY! Pass the Quadruple BIG Mac and leave off the Leafy!!!

Matt Patercsak

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

the defensive front 7 will be better this year than last year. If you think that four-300+lb defensive tackles, Jibreel black, brennen beyer and frank clark can't replace Mike Martin, Ryan VanBergen and Will Heininger then you're out of your mind. the 4, 300lb lineman are will campbell ondre pipkins quinton washington richard ash

M 4 ever

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 12:21 p.m.

In Mattison we trust!!!!!!!!!!!

Steve McQueen

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 : 10:29 a.m.

"The Michigan football staff wants Craig Roh to bulk up to about 202 pounds to play his new strong-side defensive end position. " That would make Craig a bit light for strong side DE, lol. Roh must be sweatin to the oldies with Richard Simmons. Anyway, its time for Roh to step up and get 8 to 10 sacks this year and 15 to 20 tfls...