Ouimet's Pre Spring Game Report: Defense

Former Michigan Assistant Recruiting Coordinator Mark Ouimet analyzes the defensive positon groups as Spring Practice starts to wind down.

Defensive Backs

"Ron English has been a good change both on and off of the field. Both the players and coaches like him. Plus his hands on coaching style and overall personality is just a big asset. It was an excellent hire by Carr."

"Marlin is the man this year. I don't have to say much about him. He was dinged up for most of the season, but is really focused on doing what it takes to be better and as injury free as possible in the upcoming season. Markus Curry and Jeremy LeSueur will both play opposite Marlin. LeSueur is more of a cover guy and the more physical of the two. He's a really good man to man cover guy. He has to remain focused on the process of learning the position and maintaining the responsibility dictated to him by the coverages. Curry is probably a little better in the zone coverages. He has a really good understanding of the system. Both guys will play a ton."

"As you know, Darnell has moved to corner. We recruited him with that possibility in mind. The move will get him on the field a lot more than just in special teams situations. The spring is going to help him tremendously and give him a jump-start over the summer as he continues his learning process. He has got to learn as fast as possible because he's going to have to play next year. The fact that he made the move early in the spring is only going to help him. We all know the type of speed he has and what type of athlete he is. It's just a matter of him learning the system. I don't think Quinton McCoy will be redshirted. I think he'll play right away. I think he'll be the fifth guy out there."

"Ernest Shazor at strong and Jon Shaw at free, will be the starting safeties. The backups at this point are Willis Barringer and Jacob Stewart. I think the safety spots are in very good shape. People won't believe that I'm saying this, but I think the production from the position will be better than it was last year. Ernest is a fantastic athlete and I really think he's ready to make a step. The kid is raw ability. He has two years of learning under his belt, so he should feel comfortable enough on the field to let that raw ability and athleticism take over. If he progresses like I think he will, he will be the best we've seen there in a long long time."

"Shaw is a senior, and in his limited action last year may have been one of the best DBs at playing the ball. He's also one of the smartest guys on the team. He's knows how, where, and when to be in the right spot. He's a good but not great athlete. However, his intelligence and understanding of the position allows him to make a lot of plays that others don't make. Those are probably the most important traits for a free safety. That guy named Shultz that played FS for the Lions led the NFL in interceptions a few years ago, and he's by no means a great athlete. Jon Shaw is a good athlete and I think we'll see a lot more plays like the ones he made versus Michigan State and Minnesota this year."

"I think Barringer is going to turn some heads. He's a very confident kid and he can hit. He just has to learn the position."


"I look for McClintock and Kaufman to be the starters in the fall. They are reliable in that they know where to be and when to be there. McClintock has the potential to do some special things because he runs very well for a big guy and he's one of the best at reading his keys. Both he and Zach know what Coach Herrmann is looking for."

"The starting SAM backer will be Pierre Woods. He is another one of the great athletes on the team. He's learning fast, but the transition still takes time. Once he gets to the point where he can react without taking time to think, Michigan fans will be in for a treat. They will be hard pressed to come up with a better athlete at that spot. He has to get used to covering a TE from time to time, or picking up a receiver over the middle. But I'll tell you what; Pierre Woods is going to be a hell of a player."

"Roy Manning is back and is 100%. He too is a very nice athlete. He's also like Jon Shaw in that he's also one of the smartest guys on the team. He'll play a lot his year. He's really good at getting to the quarterback on blitzes. I think we'll get a chance to see other parts of his game this year as well. I think we'll see a lot of good things from him before the season is over."

"I definitely look for Reid and Harris to see time this year. We'll see Diggs at some point, but he had a pretty bad injury and it was late in the year, so I'm not sure when we'll see him. Obi (Oluigbo) is a nice athlete but he has a lot to learn. Once he develops, he could turn into a pretty serviceable linebacker."

"I think you could possibly see another one of the linebackers moving around because of the LB numbers. Joey Sarantos already moved to SAM, for example."

Defensive Line

"We'll probably see a few new line schemes put into place with Sheridan taking over down there. The starters will be Larry Stevens, Grant Bowman, Norman Heuer, and Alain Kashama. Watson will be a valuable player off of the bench. It would have been best if he redshirted last year. Sure he gained experience, but that extra year sure would be nice down the line. He's slimmed down a lot and understands the position a lot more so I think he'll eat up a lot of space in the middle."

"Kashama will be one of the keys. He's explosive and can get off of the ball very quickly. He needs to learn more technique like Orr did. Orr had the total package as far as pass rushing moves go. If Alain picks those up, he could be very very dangerous."

"Both Pat Massey and Alex Ofili are working out at DE and DT. It's both for depth and for the future. One of them will have to play DE next year so it's best that they get experience now. I think that one of Woodley or Crable will get some time at DE on passing downs next year. It remains to be seen exactly which one it will be, but I think it will be Woodley."

Punt Returner

"I think it will be Steve Breaston. He's been working on it a ton this spring, even while nicked up a bit."

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