Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Alan Branch will be having Sack lunches on Saturday afternoons this fall

Yesterday, at Media Day, Alan Branch was quoted as saying the following: "Our goal is to be the top sack team in the Big Ten. Myself, I want us to have the most sacks in the nation, but that's a hard thing to do in the Big Ten. It's a reasonable goal to be the top sack team in the Big Ten."

New Defensive Coordinator Ron English spoke to the Detroit Free Press' Mark Snyder at Media Day and was quoted in the article as saying, "We want to play hard, we want to play fast, and when you play fast, you're going to play great defense," he said. "If we get them to do that, we'll have it licked."

With these quotes it sounds Coach English will be employing a more attacking style of defense than was used during the Coach Herrmann regime. In 2005, the Wolverines' defense registered 24 sacks for a loss of 187 yards. The 24 sacks was only the sixth best total in the Big 10 and earned Michigan a ranking of #64 in the entire NCAA in the sack total category. This was actually a slight improvement over 2004 when the Michigan defense registered 21 sacks for a loss of 146 yards and finished ranked #8 in the Big 10 in the sack total category.

Last year, Branch (5 sacks) and team sack leader LaMarr Woodley (7 sacks) combined to account for exactly one-half of the Wolverines' sack total. Thus, if the 2006 team is going to achieve the goal of becoming the top sack team in the Big 10 then both Branch and Woodley will have to shoulder much of the load to make that happen. I expect that both of these phenomenally talented players will have break-out years this season with Branch making All-Big 10 and Woodley making All-American. Whether they can lead the Wolverines' defense to the Big 10 sack title though remains to be seen. Go Blue!

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