Why Team 135 will have the #1 Ranked Defense in the B1G

Old school, Michigan defense. Do you even remember what that looks like? No? Not many people do without watching YouTube highlights. For a quick reminder, the defense we hear about consisted of big, physical defensive lineman that could stuff the run and get after the quarterback, as well as hard nosed linebackers and a play making secondary.

This resulted in less stress and anxiety every time the opposition had the ball. It was a great feeling.

And now, we are happy to say/guess that Team 135 will bring back that old school, Michigan defense and will be the #1 ranked defense in the Big Ten in 2014. And here\’s how it will happen:

Coaching Changes

It took a couple years but Hoke finally made the move and switched up his coaching staff. While he has a fantastic defensive staff, he only had one secondary coach and had some guys in positions that didn\’t fit too well.

One of the biggest changes was moving Greg Mattison to linebackers which will allow him to \”coordinate from the middle of the defense\”. Add in the move of Jake Ryan to the MIKE and I think Mattison will have the best linebacking core in the conference.

Another underrated move was moving Coach Mallory to safeties and Coach Manning to cornerbacks. Like Hoke said, every team needs two defensive backs coaches and Manning is a perfect fit for the attitude every corner needs. He is young, smart, hungry and aggressive which allows him to relate to his guys more than anyone else on the staff. With the deep pool of talent, I think Manning will turn his guys into a Wolverine version of the \”No-Fly Zone\”.

Talent

There are some fan bases out there that don\’t believe recruiting rankings matters but when you actually look at the statistics, it does. Big time. But at the same time, the fit and man is more important than the stars and Brady Hoke knows that. He has done a phenomenal job recruiting top prospects and continues to do so. This has helped him build a stable of talented players at every single position on the roster.

From top to bottom, the positions are filled with highly talented players that are young and only getting better. Does this mean they will all be great? Of course not. But from what I have seen, the deep talent pool means more competition which in turn means better play. If a guy is being pushed everyday in practice, they will have to pick their play up or enjoy the bench. For a good example, just look at nose tackle and cornerback.

If they play up to their abilities and gel together, there\’s a very good chance 6+ guys could be All-B1G members.

Depth

The staff has put together one of the deepest, most talented defenses in the conference and it will finally be shown this year. Thanks to seven returning starters from a year ago, as well as plenty of underclassman that are ready to contribute, the Wolverine defense will look much more like Wolverines and less like Greg Robinson\’s teddy bears that get ran over and fall asleep on at least 3-4 deep balls per game.

Every position on the defense has upperclassman that are ready to lead and youngsters ready to make an impact:

Defensive Line Projection

1st Team: Frank Clark – Chris Wormley – Willie Henry – Taco Charlton

2nd Team: Mario Ojemudia – Maurice Hurst – Ondre Pipkins – Brennen Beyer

Linebacker Projection

1st Team: Joe Bolden – Jake Ryan – James Ross III

2nd Team: Ben Gedeon – Desmond Morgan – Royce Jenkins-Stone

Secondary Projection

1st Team: Blake Countess – Jarrod Wilson – Jeremy Clark – Jourdan Lewis – Jabrill Peppers

2nd Team: Raymon Taylor – Dymonte Thomas – Delano Hill – Channing Stribling – Brandon Watson

Maturity

Great defenses need composure and discipline more than anything. Turnovers and sacks are great, but a team that can keep it\’s head on straight, follow assignments and stick to the game plan win championships. Thanks to the younger players being thrown into the fire the last two years, Mattison now has a depth chart that has experience and knowledge. This is how you build maturity on the football field.

Guys like Joe Bolden, Jourdan Lewis and Jarrod Wilson had to play earlier than normal because of the lack of talent in front of them. It was tough to watch sometimes because they made mistakes that any freshmen or sophomore is expected to make. But now, with experience under their belt, they are ready to take that next step and lead. I expect BIG things from all three of them in 2014.

Am I guaranteeing the #1 defense in the conference? No, the B1G has some really good defenses but I believe the biggest competitor (MSU) will take a bit of a step back with the loss of several big time players. That is why I believe Team 135 will bring back that old school defense that will dominate the Big Ten.