Final Spring Practice Notes: The Defense

The defensive line truned in a dominating performance Saturday, with a number of players standing out. Ron English's unit also showed a few different looks on the day.

Defensive Line
This group had a very strong performance Saturday. They were equally effective stopping the run and rushing the passer. They displayed both the quickness to penetrate and the brute strength to bull rush the opposition. It was a dominant performance.

We did not see much of Lamarr Woodley, but the other ends played well. Tim Jamison looks like he is ready to be a strong pass rusher for this team. His quickness off of the edge was hard to stop and he had an array of moves that made him even more difficult to handle. Terrence Taylor and Marques Walton both performed well. Taylor was extremely stout against the run and did a good job controlling the line of scrimmage. Alan Branch did not see a lot of work, but looked great yet again when he was in there. With his athleticism, Branch looks like a future top NFL prospect. James McKinney was looking solid on the inside but was injured later in practice.

There were a lot of different looks from defensive coordinator Ron English Saturday. He deployed some 4-2-5, some 4-3, and featured a lot of movement from the linebackers.

Shawn Crable played over the tight end on the strongside for most of the day. He jammed the end and dropped into a flat most of the time, but he also rushed off the edge for a few plays. His versatility will be an asset to this defense and it appears that Michigan will design schemes to put Crable in the position of being a playmaker.

David Harris showed no signs of dropping off after a great season. He reads plays better than any other linebacker on the team, and showed that on a few screens and draws Saturday.

Prescott Burgess struggled some in coverage drills, but looked good inside when the team went to a 4-2-5 look. Brandon Logan was beaten in 1-1 drills a couple times, but in 7-7 and 11-11 work, he looked like one of the best coverage linebackers out there. Chris Graham looked solid in 1-1 coverage drills, but was quiet in the scrimmages. John Thompson did not participate due to injury.

The minor surprise for many today was that Charles Stewart saw the bulk of the work with the first team defense. However, those close to the situation have seen this one coming for much of the spring. If the season started today, Stewart would be the

Charles Stewart
starting right corner. He showed why during scrimmages, turning in a couple of pass break-ups and lived up to his reputation for being physical when he came up to support the run. That was clearly something Michigan lacked from the corner opposite Leon Hall last year. Speaking of Hall, the senior corner was his usual self. He jumped a couple routes for near picks and looked as quick as ever.

Johnny Sears was strong against the run and closed quickly on shorter patterns, but was a step slow to read and react to certain routes. He’s a work in progress, but he has the size and athleticism to be a good one.

Morgan Trent has been challenged by the coaches for to be more physical. He did not stand out much on the day and appears at this point to be behind Sears and Stewart.

Chris Richards is a smaller, but is very quick and showed good ball skills on a pass breakup later in the scrimmage. At this point, though, it looks like bigger receivers could give him trouble.

This group had a good showing Saturday. Three safeties were regularly on the field during scrimmages. Ryan Mundy returned from injury and had a very solid day. He played over the slot a lot of the time. He looks bigger and stronger and showed no hesitation for making contact on a few nice tackles on the day.

Ryan Mundy
Brandon Harrison looked good in zone coverages and had one big hit coming up to support the run. One notable play was when Harrison came from his free safety spot to cover the flat and Johnny Sears dropped into a deep third. This is a coverage that did not seem to be used much by Michigan in the past. However, with Harrison’s speed, it could be a good opportunity for some "gimme" picks.

Jamar Adams and Willis Barringer covered well, but weren’t really tested deep by the offense, so they ended up both having quiet days. Brandent Englemon sat out with an injury.

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