English Evaluates the "D"

Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English breaks down the performance and progress of his unit this spring. The inexperience was evident, but the Wolverines second-year signal caller saw great potential in his young crop of defenders this spring. Among the players singled out were Obi Ezeh, Jonas Mouton, and Steve Brown.

On where the defense is now that the spring is over:

“The one thing that we’re not good enough at right now is we’re not nearly as physical as we need to be and as we’re going to be. The good thing is we played a lot of young guys. We got a lot development out of them, but we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got a long way to go, but we’ll be fine.”

On the players that he has seen progress the most on defense:

“(Morgan) Trent has done a great job. I told people this the other day… last year, and really his first year if you look at him… he didn’t tackle very well. He really focused on tackling. This year he is focused on covering. I really expect him to be a real good player this year. He has done a good job this spring.”

On how the linebackers have progressed:

Obi Ezeh is going to be a good player. He has got to learn how to play better, but he is going to be a real good player. He is really talented. Then Mouton is talented. They’re just young puppies. They don’t know a lot about what to do yet, but they’re going to be real good football players.”

On how his role has changed with the addition of Vance Bedford:

“It just allows me to have more of a role with all of the players as opposed to a certain group in a more detailed way. I’ve been enjoying that. It has been good. You’ve got a coach like Vance, who is excellent. He is as detailed as you get. I really trust him so it really allows me to be more effective in other areas.”

On Austin Panter:

“It’s a tough transition. You come from the level he was to this level and these linemen are big, they’re strong, and they’re going to get after you. He had to learn to do that, and it took him a couple of weeks. But he is getting better and he has got a ways to go. We’ve got a camp, so hopefully he’ll be able to contribute in the fall if he keeps getting better.”

On Brandon Graham:

“Brandon Graham is a terrific talent. He’s got to be consistent, but he’s certainly a legitimate player and since I’ve been here, he’s as good from a talent standpoint as anybody we’ve had.”

On Obi Ezeh:

“He will get an opportunity. He is a big strong physical guy. He can run fast. He is smart. He’s just young and inexperienced, but he will be a great player here at Michigan. He’s a good player.”

On the benefit of breaking in the new defense with four home games:

“It is certainly going to allow them to be more comfortable, but some of these guys haven’t even played in that stadium. We made a lot of mistakes today because some of these guys… it’s a whole different atmosphere for them. But certainly it helps us being at home the first four games.”

On what he sees as the biggest challenge for the defense heading into the fall:

“It’s going to be consistency and then how do they bounce back. We’re going to make some mistakes. We’re going to play hard and all of that stuff, but we’re going to make some mistakes. Then it comes down to when you get beat as a young player, how do you respond? That’s going to be the interesting part that I’m waiting to see.”

On Steve Brown:

“He is talented, he can run, and he is comfortable back there. Vance has done a great job with him. He is probably…well not probably… he will be the fastest safety we’ve had in my five years here. He’ll hit you. We expect him to be a very good player for us.”

On Charles Stewart’s move to safety:

“He has done good. It has been a good move for him. He’s a physical guy, he can run, and he gives us a guy who can really cover the third wide receiver much like Marlin (Jackson) was doing a few years back when we played him at safety. I think from a physical standpoint the move has helped him.”

On Jonas Mouton:

“Mouton’s move has been excellent. He is 230-pounds, he is physical…he has just got to learn what to do. But he is certainly is athletic. A lot of the former players say he reminds them of Larry Foote. I know that’s a tall order. Once he really learns what to do, he’ll be a good football player for us.”

On Doug Dutch’s move to corner:

“It has been a good move for him. He has got a ways to go in terms of techniques and learning how to compete out there, but it has certainly been a good move for him.”

On what caught his eye this spring:

“They’re eager. The thing that is most disappointing… if there is something disappointing… is we’re not physical yet. We allow too many yards after contact…things like that. The thing that is encouraging is that we have started off at a higher level in terms of how we’re going to play…the intensity we’re going to play with. So that has been a positive.”

On Artis Chambers:

“Artis Chambers for a high school kid has had a really good spring. I think it’s hard to come in here (early). He should be at his senior prom right now really. For him to come in here and just get lined up… and even to be able to persevere through fifteen practices is tough. When you talk to him, he’s like talking to a guy who has been there in terms of composure. He can actually listen to what you’re saying and actually do some of it. Artis Chambers is going to be a good football player here. He is tough and he is smart.”

On Will Johnson:

”Will Johnson had a great spring. We didn’t play him today because he has had some injuries in the past and we didn’t want to take that chance, but Will Johnson is going to be an outstanding player this year. And really if you watched him last year… he was really a good player last year. He just didn’t get the notoriety that some of the other guys got, but he’s good football player. Solid…where you don’t have to worry about his position.”

On how he feels about the defensive line:

“Good. Right now we’re playing with about five guys that can really play. As you know we have o develop some depth in there. I like our first unit. Our first defensive line is going to be a really good defensive line. We’ve just got to get younger guys better. We’ve got to get younger guys going.”

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