Ouimet: The U-M Outside Linebackers

Former U-M staffer Mark Ouimet says, "Michigan went to 3-4 defense primarily to get more outside linebackers on field and to protect the inside 'backers." Read on to see what Ouimet means.

The depth chart again:

Outside Linebacker
56 Lamarr Woodley 6-2 268 So./So.
2 Shawn Crable 6-5 234 So./Fr.

Middle Linebacker
36 Scott McClintock 6-2 243 Sr./Jr.
6 Prescott Burgess 6-3 223 So./So.
45 David Harris 6-2 246 Jr./So.

Middle Linebacker
42 Lawrence Reid 6-1 219 Sr./Jr.
6 Prescott Burgess 6-3 223 So./So.
37 Chris Graham 5-10 205 Fr./Fr.
59 Joey Sarantos 6-3 231 Sr./Jr.
46 Jim Presley 6-2 231 So./Fr.

Outside Linebacker
99 Pierre Woods 6-5 248 Sr./Jr.
90 Tim Jamison 6-3 230 Fr./Fr.
58 Roy Manning 6-2 240 5th/Sr.

"Pierre Woods and Lamarr Woodley are the headliners at the outside 'backer positon of course. Both have special qualities -- size, speed, strength. Plus the freshman Tim Jamison will play, as well as Shawn Crable and Roy Manning -- so the Wolverines have five good outside linebackers. Michigan went to 3-4 defense primarily to get more outside linebackers on field and to protect the inside 'backers -- keeping the inside guys from having to go into coverage on pass plays. Also, the 3-4 gives them the flexibility to take an outside 'backer and put him down like a defensive end. After losing so many defensive linemen last year -- all the DL starters -- it's smart for Michigan to get more of their OLB's on the field.

"Because Michigan has great athletes at outside 'backer, the 3-4 gets more 'athletes' on the field for Michigan. And with the new look, the '04 Wolverines will be throwing new schemes, new blitzes and new zone coverages at offenses -- schemes that Michigan opponents won't have seen from Michigan the year before.

"With all the new quarterbacks in the Big Ten this year, you'll see Michigan going after the quarterback this year, and the 3-4 is good for that. The 2004 Michigan defense will remind people of the '97 defense: lots of blitzes, different fronts, different coverages -- much more than the basic 4-3 they have been running.

"What makes it easy for the U-M defense to be more aggressive this season - the cornerbacks back there, Jackson and Curry, who can go one on one.

"Michigan will bringing guys to line of scrimmage as well, either to blitz or to stuff the run. They will bring up guys into the box and play a lot of man to man coverage with the corners. Against a running team like Minnesota -- you'll see eight Michigan defenders in the box.

"Frankly, the defense has to make things happen this year since the offense has new skill people. The defense has to be rock of this team. So going to 3-4 plays to strength of their personnel and gives them the ability and flexibility to be aggressive. These are the guys who have to make it happen."

And, The Future: Tim Jamison

The Michigan Insider Top Stories