Monday, June 18, 2007

Ron English's Defensive philosophy: What a difference a year makes

Angelique S. Chengelis (a/k/a "The Angel of The Big House") caught up with Defensive Coordinator Ron English recently during the 4th Annual Carr's Wash 4 Kids. Coach "E" was quoted as saying, ""It's going to require patience. I'm serious. I've got to coach this team differently. This is not last year's team. Last year's team, you could get after them. There were days they used that as motivation, where as these guys, they get flustered, and they're not ready for that yet."

The Wolverines have lost four major defensive standouts from last year's team that went 11-2 -- Lombardi Award-winner LaMarr Woodley, All-Big 10 Alan Branch, leading tackler David Harris and All-American Leon Hall. At last year's Carr's Wash 4 Kids event, Coach "E" told WTKA (1050-AM) that the one word he would use to best describe the 2006 defense was "attitude." He described his philosophy as "we are going to just line up and say we are more talented than you and we think we can beat you." At the time, I questioned his approach as I wondered if Michigan had enough talent to take such a tact. As it turns out, Coach "E" was right but I was not completely wrong to question his philosophy. His team had the #1 rushing defense in the nation and the team rolled to an 11-0 record. However, the "D" fell apart in the final two games of the year as it yielded 74 points combined to OSU and USC. Michigan's "D", although talented, did not have the skill to simply line up and outplay the highly talented Buckeyes and Trojans. Now Coach "E" has to go back to the drawing board without, arguably, his four best defenders from last season.

Coach "E" explained the difference in philosphy for 2007 in this way, "Last year, our approach was, 'Hey, we're better than they are, that's the way it is. This year, to an extent, it will be, 'If you make a mistake, so what? Who cares? Move on.' It's going to be fun. It's going to be a process, and I'm looking forward to it." Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Def. Coordinator Ron English chest bumping Jamar Adams (22) from 10-28-06 game vs. Northwestern by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News

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