Friday, February 02, 2007

Michigan's 2006 defensive rankings vs. its 2005 defensive rankings

The 2006 season was Ron English's first year as Michigan's Defensive Coordinator and the honeymoon lasted for eleven (11) games as the Wolverines' defense dominated opponents while the team went undefeated. Unfortunately, however, everything came undone in the final two games of the year and the Michigan defense yielded a combined total of 74 points in the final eight quarters of play of the season (i.e., the OSU game and the Rose Bowl vs. USC). Although Michigan's defense was touted (hyped) as a top defense all season, the flaws were seriously exposed in the season's final two games. Despite all the goodwill Coach English generated from his players' performances earlier in the year, Coach English still endured a fair amount of criticism for failing to have an adequate defensive game plan in either of the season's final two games. Whereas his predecessor Jim Herrmann was criticized for bogging down the players with too many technical requirments, Coach English was rebuked for not employing sophisticated enough schemes. Although the two defensive coordinators have different coaching philosophies, the bottom line results are not as different as you might expect. Here is a comparison of how Michigan's defense performed during the 2005 season under Jim Herrmann and how it performed in 2006 under Ron English:

Scoring Defense

  1. 2005: 20.3 pts. per game; 4th in Big 10; 24th in NCAA
  2. 2006: 15.9 pts. per game; 4th in Big 10; 15th in NCAA

Total Defense

  1. 2005: 345.2 yds. per game; 3rd in Big 10; 36th in NCAA
  2. 2006: 268.3 yds. per game; 2nd in Big 10; 10th in NCAA

Pass Defense

  1. 2005: 207.8 yds. per game; 2nd in Big 10; 42nd in NCAA
  2. 2006: 224.9 yds. per game; 7th in Big 10; 89th in NCAA

Pass Efficiency Defense

  1. 2005: 116.3 rating; 3rd in Big 10; 33rd in NCAA
  2. 2006: 111.9 rating; 4th in Big 10; 25th in NCAA

Rushing Defense

  1. 2005: 137.3 yards per game; 3rd in Big 10; 36th in NCAA
  2. 2006: 43.4 yards per game; 1st in Big 10; 1st in NCAA

It is undisputed that Coach English had a highly successful rookie year as defensive coordinator. However, he did not accomplish anything with this defense that Coach Herrmann would not have achieved. In fact, Coach Herrmann would have had Michigan more "game ready" for the season's final two games than did Coach English. Coach English looked overwhelmed, frustrated and out of answers during both the OSU game and the Rose Bowl. I understand this was his first year as defensive coordinator but remember that Coach Herrmann guided Michigan to the National Championship during his rookie season as defensive coordinator in 1997. Coach Herrmann is an outstanding coach and I still believe that Michigan was too quick to dump him after the 2005 season. Coach English, who coached under Coach Herrmann for three seasons, would be well advised to install some of his predecessor's defensive formations for the 2007 season. The blending of the two coaching philosphies will only serve to make Michigan's defense even better. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Coach Carr staring down Def. Coordinator Ron English during the Rose Bowl by Kirthmon Dozier/Detroit Free Press

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At 2:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are crazy if you do not think that the change to English was a change for the better. Herman got too caught up in formations, etc.. and there was a lack in fundamental tackling, which improved with English. It was not perfect, but then again, the personnel were not perfect either.

Go Blue!


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