Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 97 of 163

96 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW DEFENSIVE LINE BY MICHAEL SPATH A t the Michigan spring game April 4, the announced crowd of 60,000 was understandably confused. Though he had spoken of utilizing multiple fronts, defen- sive coordinator D.J. Durkin had strongly implied the Wolverines would employ a base 3-4 defense in 2015, but in The Big House, with a captivated crowd eager for its first glimpse of Durkin's front seven, U-M trotted out a traditional 4-3. "I think I only saw the 3-4 on maybe one or two snaps, total," said former Michigan defensive end Dan Rumishek (1999-2002). "They largely looked like they were running Greg Mattison's defense of the past four years, with a few blitz packages, but mostly they were just trying to generate pressure with four down linemen. "We didn't see the outside/rush end linebacker stand up but maybe a handful of times. It was a lot of what we had come to expect from Michigan's defense under Brady Hoke. "But I wasn't concerned because I know from playing in spring games that coaches like to keep it pretty vanilla. If they're going to do something different in the fall, they don't want to put it on film for the rest of the Big Ten. They want to give those coaches as little time as possible to prepare for them." Former All-Big Ten safety and current Big Ten Network analyst Marcus Ray called the April 4 spring game for BTN and also ob- served a number of the Maize and Blue's 15 practices. He said that, behind the scenes, Michigan is building toward a 3-4 base. "First-and-10 packages vs. pro-set offenses with either two backs or two tight ends, they'll be in a 3-4, but what Coach Durkin likes to do is line up in a 3-4 and by slanting and angling the defensive line, you fall into a 4-3 defense quickly," Ray said. "And then when teams spread Michigan out, they'll play a 4-2-5 a lot of time with another safety on the field. "I think he really likes the 3-4 because of the personnel they in- herited. He doesn't have a dynamic pass rusher that he could just tell to put his hand on the ground and go after the quarterback. They're going to need to mix up their blitz packages, and when you have four linebackers standing up, you can send pressure from a lot of differ- ent spots." With nine experienced players back, totaling 140 games played and 31 starting assignments, the defensive line — in a three-man or four-man front — will have enough depth to overwhelm any offen- sive line it faces. The question, however, is whether any of the Wolverines are ready to become a star, and whether the sum of the parts will become the dominant unit that had been billed but failed to arrive in both 2013 and 2014. "I expect this line to be pretty solid, but are there enough guys good enough to defeat blocks one-on-one? To be difference-makers?" Ray asked, rhetorically. "They have the personnel to rotate with waves of players that can go hard for three or four plays in a row and then come off the field while another wave goes in and competes for three more plays. They TIDAL WAVES An Experienced Defensive Line Possesses The Depth To Exhaust And Overpower Opponents QUICK FACTS Position Coach: Greg Mattison (fifth season overall, first season as defensive line coach). Returning Starters: DL Willie Henry (12 career starts), DL Chris Wormley (6). Departing Starters: DE Brennen Beyer (32), DE Frank Clark (26). Projected New Starter: DT Bryan Mone (1). Top Reserves: DT Ryan Glasgow (11), DE Taco Charlton (1), DE Maurice Hurst, DE Henry Poggi, DE Tom Strobel. Newcomers: DE Shelton Johnson, DE Reuben Jones. Moved In: None. Moved Out: Brady Pallante to fullback; Lawrence Marshall and Mario Ojemudia to outside linebacker. Rookie Impact: None. Most Improved Player: Hurst. Best Pro Prospect: Henry. FYI: Michigan's returning defensive linemen have combined for 13 sacks and 33 tackles for loss during their careers … Charlton has produced a TFL once every 3.5 stops in his career thus far, with six stops behind the line of scrimmage among 21 total take- downs … Strobel and Poggi both moonlighted as tight ends in the spring, seeing some offensive snaps in addition to their defensive line responsibilities …Poggi's No. 7 jersey is the lowest number worn by a U-M defensive lineman since Maurice Williams donned No. 5 as a defensive tackle in 1997 … Senior defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins did not par- ticipate in spring practice and is expected to transfer … Wormley is one of four current Wolverines to have recovered (or is recovering) from a major ACL injury, joining redshirt junior tailback Drake Johnson, junior tight end Jake Butt, and redshirt sophomore tight end Khalid Hill … Henry and Matt Godin both recorded interceptions in 2014, marking the fourth straight season a defensive lineman had a pick … They also became the first set of DL teammates to have an interception in the same season in the past 25 years. Redshirt junior defensive tackle Willie Henry has made 12 career starts, recording a total of 52 tackles, with 8.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks. PHOTO BY CYLE NUNEMAKER

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