Craig Roh returns to defensive end, Big Ten honors Roy Roundtree, Ryan Van Bergen not impressed by Ndamukong Suh and more
Flustered by their season-long inability to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, the Michigan football team made two changes on defense heading into last Saturday’s game against Illinois.
Based on the results, they’ll become permanent.
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez liked the way the defense played with Craig Roh moved to defensive end and J.B. Fitzgerald in the lineup at outside linebacker.
“Craig is athletic enough that we can move him around a little bit, but especially at open-side end, that’s a good move,” Rodriguez said. “He’s more comfortable there, and it’s a more natural fit.”
Roh played the position last year as a true freshman at 235 pounds, played outside linebacker this season at 250 pounds and Rodriguez said he could bulk up to 265 by the time he starts next season.
Roh’s teammates felt like his return to the line Saturday immediately bolstered a pass rush that ranks ninth in the Big Ten with 12 sacks this season.
“I just felt like there was a lot more pressure coming off the edges,” said Ryan Van Bergen, who slid to tackle to accommodate Roh’s return. “The quarterback was very uncomfortable and had happy feet. I think Craig definitely felt more comfortable and produced better.”
BIG TEN HONOR ROLL Michigan receiver Roy Roundtree shared Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors with Illinois’ Mikel Leshoure, the conference announced Monday.
The two were the offensive standouts in Saturday’s epic triple-overtime 67-65 shootout.
Roundtree caught nine passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns. Michigan’s previous single-game high for receiving yards belonged to Jack Clancy, who had 197 versus Oregon State on Sept. 17, 1966.
Roundtree had 209 by halftime.
Leshoure had 172 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns on the day for the Illini.
LIGHTENING THE MOOD With Michigan’s NCAA investigation that involved practice-time violations behind him and postseason eligibility secured, Rodriguez let down his guard a little Monday.
Asked if the Wolverines would spend extra time watching film this week because of the length of the triple-overtime game, he said, “We’re not breaking any rules."
“When it gets close to that four-hour limit, we’ve got sirens going off and people screaming and countdown clocks and all that stuff. Normally, we don’t even cut it close. But at 3 hours, 58 minutes, the coaches are all running into the building.”
The remarks got a good chuckle. The next question asked was “how good does it feel to joke about that now?” “I’m not joking,” Rodriguez replied, again drawing laughs.
JUST FOR KICKS? Michigan defensive end Ryan Van Bergen could only shake his head in disbelief while watching Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh miss an extra-point attempt Sunday.
“I knew I would have made that,” Van Bergen said. “There’s no way I missed an extra point."
Van Bergen, who kicked at Whitehall High School, said Monday that his career long is a 46-yarder. Given the Wolverines’ woes this season on field-goal attempts -- they’re 4 for 11 this season -- could the 6-foot-6, 283-pound defensive lineman lend any help?
“It’s been four years, so I don’t have the technique down. In high school, I practiced it every day and got decent," he said. "If called upon, I would make an extra point for this team, for sure.”
INJURY REPORT Injured on a kick return during Saturday’s game, U-M’s Teric Jones will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
He had played in seven games this season, primarily on special teams. In training camp, he moved from safety to running back, where he has three carries for seven yards this season.
QUOTABLE “My first thought was ‘You got to be kidding me. Again?’” - Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, upon watching Illinois complete two passes to wide-open receivers running a wheel route.
Rodriguez said two different players had been responsible, that the Wolverines had run different defenses and it was only coincidence they both resulted in blown coverages.
Nontheless, Rodriguez said he “would expect we’ll see a play similar to that in every game going forward.”