Sunday, May 14, 2006

U-M's 2005 Defensive Rankings

Posting about the wholesale coaching changes on the defensive side of the ball made me curious to look up exactly how we finished as a defensive unit last year under (former) Coach Herrmann. Everyone remembers (with good reason) the late game struggles to stop opponents from marching down the field for a last-minute score but overall the unit did fairly well statistically. However, when I cite statistics I always try to keep in mind a quote a friend recited to me. He said, "Some people use statistics like drunks use lamp posts. For support rather than illumination." So when I cite these statistics and make any conclusions based thereon it will be with the idea in mind of being enlightening rather than simply supporting my thesis that Jim Herrmann got a raw deal when it was suggested that it was time for him to explore NFL opportunities.

  • Scoring Defense 20.3 pts. per game 4th (Big 10) ;24th (NCAA)
  • Total Defense 345.2 yards per game 3rd; 36th
  • Rushing Defense 137.3 yards per game 4th; 41st
  • Passing Defense 207.8 yards per game 2nd; 42nd
  • Pass Efficiency Def. 116.3 rating 3rd; 33rd
  • Opp. 3rd Down conv. 35.7% 3rd; 37th
  • Opp. 4th Down conv. 25.0% 1st; 7th
  • Sacks 24 for -187 yards 6th; 64th
  • Red Zone Defense 86.5% 10th; ----

* Note: statistics researched from May, 2006 issue of The Wolverine. It's a fantastic resource. If you don't get it yet, you should. You can reach them by clicking here

Michigan's defense was basically in the top 1/3 of the Big 10 and the entire NCAA in most defensive categories. The stat that stood out to me was the red zone defense. If a team got to our 20 yard line they were money to come away with at least 3 points. Sacks was also a disappointment and I'm hoping LaMarr Woodley has something to say about that this year. Overall though, I think the defensive stats are not bad for a team that finished 7-5. Remember that 4 of our losses were by 4 pts. or less and our other loss was by 7 pts. (to ND). Our defense kept us in games. My theory (and what do I know) is the real problem was no rushing game to perform ball control/clock management on offense in close games to grind out first downs and kill the clock. Our leading rusher only had 662 yards for the season. I contend the problem was more offensive than defensive. Of course, Coach Carr did suggest to Offensive Coordinator Terry Malone that he also "spread his wings" and explore NFL opportunities. When you finish 7-5 there is enough blame to spread around to everyone. As for this season, I am hopeful with a healthy Mike Hart that the running game will get back on track which will take some of the pressure off the defense in the close games we will inevitably have this year. As for the defensive genius Herrmann, I wish things could have worked out better for him here. I really thought he was going to be our next Head Coach but that is the subject of a post for another day.

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