Mag Excerpt: English Sizes up the Defense

With GoBlueWolverine's offensive preview issue is already on newsstands, the finishing touches are now being put on next month's defensive preview. In this mag except we highlight our conversation with Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English. He discussed his philosophy, how the defense will (or will not) change this year, incoming freshman Donovan Warren, and much much more.

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Looking back on your first year as defensive coordinator of the Michigan football program, what were some of the more difficult transitions? What were some of the easy ones? What were your experiences in general?

A: “First off, it’s interesting because as I look back on it, I start to look back on it as probably more in the spring and summer time. It was interesting because I really knew those kids pretty well. I’m talking about the Woodley’s, the Branch’s, the Hall’s and the David Harris’ and those guys… we all kind of came into Michigan together. I came to Michigan in 2003 and many of those guys did. I really knew those players. It really helped me understand them and what they were about, and in turn, they understood me and knew what I was all about. That part of it was a joy because it felt like we really grew together. In terms of the more difficult parts of it, to get that close and not win the last two games was a difficult part of it. But, the thing we established over there was a mentality that I think will carry over to this season.”

Can you comment on your philosophy on the defensive side of the ball? What do you expect from the Michigan defense this year?

A: “My philosophy hasn’t changed. What I think is it’s more of what the defense does in terms of making mistakes than it is what the offense does to make plays. We always want to dictate the tempo, so we say that we want to play fast and we want to play physical. We want to execute, and the physical part comes in with destroying blockers and knocking the ball carrier back. We don’t want yards after contact. Our goals are simple and our philosophy is simple, but it takes a lot of toughness to execute.”

When you installed the defense, you obviously couldn’t get the entire thing in. Can we expect to see more added to the defensive package this season?

A: “There are just so many things you can do with defensive packages. Our problem wasn’t not having enough packages in. It wasn’t the issue. It won’t be the issue again this season. Obviously, we’ll do what best suits our personnel. One of the strengths of our staff is we have a lot of guys with a lot of experience and I welcome input from them. We all kind of do it together. The main thing we try and do is run a defense that suits our personnel.”

Do you anticipate Donovan Warren being able to compete for the starting position from day one?

A: As you know, I’m from California. The school he comes from, Long Beach Poly, has produced more professional athletes than any school in this country. Because he goes to that school, he has the advantages of the pro players coming back and he certainly won’t be intimidated by this level of football. He understands preparation and understands what he needs to do. The great corners, and when I got here I was told this, will play as freshman. I do expect him to compete for the job. If you remember when I first got the job, one of the things I said in the beginning was it’s going to be a week-to-week deal. All the jobs will be open each week and there will be competition for all those spots.”

For the rest of this interview with Ron English, plus features on the defense, defensive line, Brandon Graham, the facilities upgrades, and more, check out the next issue of GoBlueWolverine The Magazine. Subscription to the annual pass currently includes 56 issues of Sports Illustrated, so get in now!

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