Appalachian State (34) and Oregon (37) combined for 71 points and gained more than 1,000 yards. Over the course of the season, Michigan has allowed 20 points per game, 151 rushing yards and 180 more through the air. They forced 29 turnovers and have registered 32 quarterback sacks.
They are coming off one of their best efforts of the season, holding Ohio State to 279 yards and 14 points while sacking Buckeyes quarterback Todd Boeckman four times.
Defensive Line --- The Michigan defensive line has excellent size but lacks foot speed. They are tough to knock off the ball, but not all that tough to get outside on. The ends Tom Jamison (5.5 sacks) and Brandon Graham (8.5 sacks) are better than the tackles. The top tackle, Terrance Taylor is a 300-plus pound load in the middle. He has 8.5 tackles for loss and gets a pretty good push (3.5 sacks in the middle.
Linebackers --- The best player on the Michigan defense is strong side linebacker Shawn Crable who leads the team with 84 tackles and an incredible 26.5 tackles for loss. Crable is an effective pass rusher (7.5 sacks) and very good at the point of attack. He has the side of many defensive ends at 6-5, 243 but runs well enough for the position. He probably would be better at the SLB spot in a 3-4 scheme because he lacks great speed. Middle linebacker Obi Ezah (66 tackles) and weak side ‘backer Chris Graham (83) are solid performers. This is the best unit on the defense.
Secondary --- The Michigan secondary has been reasonable effective this season, allowing 11 touchdowns, but registering 14 interceptions. They really struggled in those first two games, allowing 520 yards and six touchdowns, but only allowed three of the other ten teams they played to throw for 200 or more yards. The best player back there is strong safety Jamar Adams who is a good hitter (83 tackles) and solid cover guy (3 int., 13 passes broken up). Free safety Brandent Englemon doesn't break up many passes (just 6) but also has three interceptions. The corners don't wow me and offer Florida an opportunity to get deep because the safeties are very aggressive in run support.
Overall, this is a big, sound defense, but like Ohio State a year ago can not run with the Gators. Florida needs to get to the edge and turn this game into a track meet. The key for Michigan will be forcing Tebow to get rid of the ball more quickly than he wants to. They also must have a great day tackling because any missed tackle could result in a big play.
Special Teams --- Michigan has not done much in special teams this year, averaging just 7.5 yards on punt returns and 18.3 on kickoffs. They cover punts better than kickoffs and there may be an opportunity for Florida with the kickoff return abilities of Brandon James. Place kicker K.C. Lopata has made nine of ten, but has a long of just 42 yards. They have had one field goal and one extra point blocked and have blocked one kick. Michigan's punter Zoltan Mesko (what a name!) is effective with a 41 yards average. One third of his boots are fair caught and another third have been downed inside the 20 yard line. All in all special teams have not been a big factor in Michigan's success/failure this season.
Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel
Scouting Report: Michigan Defense
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