Michigan Scouting Report: The Defense

Woodlet, Hall, Adams, Stewart

It's time to start preparing for the Vanderbilt game next Saturday. So GoBlueWolverine presents its Michigan Scouting Report. Next, "ErocWolverine" profiles the 2006 Wolverine defense -- new coordinator Ron English, possible starting lineup, and key players.

New Defensive Coordinator Coach English has made these statements on what he wants to see in a great defense, how the coaching will change, how he wants players to change and how the best players will play.

On his basic defensive philosophy:
"I think the characteristics for any great defense are all the same. What you see when you watch is guys getting to the ball, guys striking with violence once they get there, guys that know exactly what to do and guys that are excited to play. Everybody knows great defense when they see it."

On putting a defense together:
"The very best players are going to play regardless of position. What I am interested in is getting the best 11 on the field. If it's five defensive backs than that is fine. What I've found is, if you get caught up in trying to match up, the thing that sometimes shows up is the next guy you put in is not as good. If he is not as good as the one you took out, it makes no sense to put him in even if you are matching up.

On changes he foresees implementing:
"We are going to have to be more violent, we are going to have to play harder and faster and we are going to have to play with more confidence. We are going to know exactly what to do." "Regarding the (front seven). They are going to attack and play downhill, but the thing is there going to be held responsible for being physical, for triggering to stimulus. Again I think it comes down to how fast we play, how violent we play and if we know exactly what we are doing, we will play fast."

The Michigan Defense:

The big question with all the new defensive coaches (new coordinator in English, new cornerbacks coach in Ron Lee, new linebackers coach in State Szabo) is how the defense might change and how will it stay the same. Michigan may play several fronts depending on the opponents' offense each week. The key this year will the defensive line being able to contain in the pocket the mobile quarterbacks they will face, and get pressure on them.

Michigan fans seem to like really the new approach on defense, but the question is whether all the talk will just be talk or will this defense be different. We will soon find out against Vanderbilt. Last year, in Michigan's big games the defense was very good for the first three quarters and then fell apart in the fourth. Michigan lost five games by a total of 21 points, and in four out of the five loses they gave up the lead in the fourth quarter. If this defense is better and learns to finish this could be a very good year.

The defense needs to stay healthy due to lack of depth at certain spots (linebackers particularly), put pressure on the opponents' quarterbacks, produce turnovers, and give scoring chances to the offense instead of putting pressure on Michigan's offense to keep up and score points, especially in the fourth quarter.

Possible Starting line-up:
*Depending on injuries and final practices*

Position...........#..........Name.......................Class.
DT.................67..........Terrance Taylor.......So.
DT.................80..........Alan Branch.............Jr.
DE.................56..........LaMarr Woodley.....Sr.
DE.................91..........Rondell Biggs...........5th.
or
DE.................90..........Tim Jamison.............R-So.

LB...................2..........Shawn Crable...........R-Jr.
LB.................45..........David Harris.............5th.
LB.................37..........Chris Graham...........Jr.

or
LB...................6..........Prescott Burgess.......Sr.

CB.................29..........Leon Hall..................Sr.
CB.................14..........Morgan Trent...........R-So.
or
CB..................5..........Charles Stewart.........R-So.

S...................21..........Ryan Mundy..............R-Jr.
S...................22..........Jamar Adams.............Jr.
or
S.................31...........Brandent Englemon.........R-Sr.

These guys are battling for some playing time:
Marques Walton #95 (DT), Will Johnson #97 (DT), Jeremy Van Alstyne #50 (DE), Brandon Graham #55 (DE), Eugene Germany #96 (DE), John Thompson #49 (LB), Brandon Logan #46 (LB), Quintin Patilla #36 (LB), Brandon Harrison #27 (CB), Johnny Sears #25 (CB), Brandent Englemon #31 (S), Willis Barringer #19 (S), Jonas Mouton #8 (S) and Stevie Brown #30 (S).

Four keys to watch:

1. Terrance Taylor has been thrown into the fire after limited playing time as a true freshman and will be one keys to this defensive line, along with Alan Branch who was the best defensive lineman lasts year team and will probably be getting most of the double teams this year. LaMarr Woodley just recently was named defensive captain and must be one guy to get pressure on the quarterback along with Tim Jamison, and Rondell Biggs who is the best run stopper of the defensive ends.
2. Shawn Crable has had an excellent off season and is in the starting line up. He has greatly benefited from the new coaching changes. David Harris is a pure run stopper along with Chris Graham, while Prescott Burgess is probably the best all around linebacker and could make an impact in his final year.
3. Leon Hall will match up against the best wide receiver of each team Michigan plays and is on the Lott/Thorpe awards lists. The big battle will be who will be on the other side of Hall, Charles Stewart and Morgan Trent? Stewart is more physical than Trent, but Trent is one of the faster players on the team.
4. Ryan Mundy -- will the safety be able to stay healthy, along with Willis Barringer and Brandent Englemon who all suffered injuries last year. Will health issues make some true freshman step in and get playing time such as Jonas Mouton and Stevie Brown?

Leon Hall stats:
In 2005 he started all 12 games at cornerback and led the team with four interceptions. He tied for team lead with nine pass breakups, and was fourth on the squad with a career-best 61 tackles, including three tackles for loss and two sacks.
In Hall's career he has played in 37 games and made 24 starts in the secondary. He is the team's active career leader in interceptions and pass breakups, is tied for seventh on Michigan's pass breakup list (25), has the nine interceptions during career, and has contributed 135 career tackles, including five tackles for loss, three sacks and three fumble recoveries. He recorded at least one pass breakup in 16 of his last 29 games.

Alan Branch stats:
In 2005 Michigan's top defensive lineman started final 10 regular season games and played in all 12 contests, contributing career highs of 31 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, five sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
In Branch's career he has appeared in 24 consecutive games and has made 10 starts along defensive line. He has 36 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, seven sacks and one fumble recovery during his career.

LaMarr Woodley stats:
In 2005 he started eight games and played in 11 contests at rush linebacker, being fifth on the team in tackles with 48, leading the squad in tackles for loss (16) and sacks (seven), forcing three fumbles, recovering a fumble and tallying one pass breakup. He recorded at least one TFL in nine of his 11 games.
In Woodley's career he has played in 36 games and made 20 starts. He has 141 tackles, and is the team's active career leader in tackles for loss (36) and sacks (12). He has registered at least one tackle for loss in 17 of his 23 career games. He has also contributed one fumble recovery and five pass breakups.

David Harris stats:
In 2005 Michigan's top linebacker started final 11 games at inside linebacker, and led the team with a career-high 88 tackles. He contributed a career-best seven tackles for loss, one sack, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Harris has played in 20 career games, making 12 starts at inside linebacker. He has 100 career stops for an average of 5.0 per contest, plus seven tackles for loss, one sack, one fumble recovery and three pass breakups. He also has the two career double-digit tackle games.

Prescott Burgess stats:
In 2005 he started all 12 games at outside linebacker, and was third on the team with a career-best 81 tackles, including four tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, one interception, and five pass breakups. He posted six or more stops in seven of the eight conference games.
Burgess has played in 35 career games and made 12 starts. He has tallied 123 stops, four tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and eight pass breakups during his career.

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