Herrmann Preps for 2005 Campaign

Eight games into the 2004 season the Michigan defense was one of the strongest areas of the team. During the next four games that same Michigan defense surrendered an average of 33 points-per-game. Michigan defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann discusses what can be expected with the 2005 edition.

Eight games into the 2004 season the Michigan defense was one of the strongest areas of the team. They were only allowing a manageable 18 points a game, sat near the top of the list of every defensive turnover statistic, and were playing solid football. What followed during the next four games was a Michigan defense that surrendered 33 points a game. Michigan State ran for 368 yards on the Michigan defense, while Ohio State put up 446 yards of total offense on the Wolverines. The winds of criticism blew into Ann Arbor hard and heavy after Michigan dropped the Rose Bowl game 38-37. Michigan's defense allowed Texas to score 17 points in the fourth quarter and were led by quarterback Vince Young's 192 yard, four touchdown rushing performance in the game. Despite the criticism, Michigan defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann is not caught up with what the public thinks of his squad. "Criticism is going to be there whether we win 12 or lose 12" said Herrmann. "Criticism is going to be part of this thing because, that's just part of it. I don't really worry about it, its part of the deal."

Despite the up's and down's of the season Coach Herrmann does what he always does this time of year, learn and teach from the past while preparing for the future. "You can use last year as a learning year" said Herrmann of the 2004 campaign. "I think you do that every year, if you ask me that question in 2006, I'd tell you the same thing. You learn from it, none of us are happy about losing but we're certainly not going to sit and think about it, you got to learn from it and you got to move on and get better. We're always striving to get better and I think that's the biggest thing."

Herrmann knows that much film work and improvement is needed by his defense to prevent a repeat of last season, and he also feels he has the dedication of his players to achieve those improvements. "The one great thing about being here at Michigan is we have great kids" said Herrmann. "We have kids that like to win, we have kids who love football and as a coach, that's all you can ask. Kids that come everyday and say 'coach, just make me a best player I can be, push me to be the best player I can be'. I think that's the one thing you go back to all the teams here … you have kids who love to play the game, that's fun, it really is, its fun."

Also as with every year there is plenty of change on Michigan's defensive makeup. The team won't totally scrap the 3-4 fronts they used last year but they will use the 4-3 look more frequently. Herrmann also loses two All American defensive backs in Marlin Jackson and Ernest Shazor as well as cornerback Markus Curry who recorded 33 tackles and three interceptions last year. Herrmann's own coaching unit, the linebackers will miss Lawrence Reid whose career was cut short by a neck injury.

Defensive end Will Paul was moved to fullback while speedster Morgan Trent moved from wide receiver to cornerback and could see playing time there early. Herrmann feels dealing with change is apart of coaching college football. "It's not like I'm a pro team ok, well we lost Joe at corner, next guy… let's go pay him a million and bring him in." said Herrmann. "That's the great thing I think Lloyd's done and has been able to do, he's been able to make those moves and it's helped us as a team. That's the great thing about college football."

Herrmann feels Michigan has been successful in the past at switching positions and molding its football team going into the season. "What's the best combination for us to win, what's going to help us win? To me that's neat" says Herrmann of the process. "For example, Steve Hutchinson going over to offense, Maurice Williams starting on defense and going over to offense. Down through the years we've been able to help ourselves out because you have this team, your not going out and getting big free agents, that's it! Let's mold this group."

Defensive line coach Bill Sheridan also had to be replaced after accepting a job with the New York Giants during the off-season. Veteran Steve Stripling was brought in not only to replace Sheridan, but to also improve the defensive line's pass rush skill, intensity level and technique. Herrmann feels the improvement has been noticeable. "Being a guy who's coached the position for 20 years that he has, he's a great technician; he understands body types…how to coach each kid, each position up front. The improvement from day one of spring to day fifteen was great."

Heading into double practices, there are several positions with hot depth chart battles including cornerback, strong safety, as well as playing time at linebacker. Herrmann feels this is the time of year to let those battles play out. "Well, that's what two-a-day's are for … that‘s what we‘re here for" said Herrmann of the position battles. "You came out of spring with some indicators of where your at, and everybody knows where their at, things they need to improve on. Your going into two-a-day‘s and your at football every single day."

With all the changes, criticism and expectations levied his way; Herrmann knows that his defensive unit will be key in Michigan's 2005 season. "This is Michigan football, defensively we have a certain role here on this football team to help us win" said Herrmann. "I think the final analyst is…did we do what we needed to do for this team to win? I think that's the mentality you got to have no matter if your on the kickoff team, the defensive team, the offensive team…did we execute what we needed to do to help this team win as a whole, because that's the final goal is to win."

The Michigan Insider Top Stories