Roh Says Defense is Stepping Up

Michigan sophomore LB was one of the defensive standouts Saturday and throughout the spring. That said, the talented youngster says he is not alone when it comes to improvement. A number of players appear to making progress toward what everyone believes "Michigan's defense should look like." The talented youngster discusses simplifying the defense, surprise performers, his new role, and more.


Question:   How do you feel like you guys did this spring?

Craig Roh:  "I feel like the defense as a whole right now is stepping up.  I expect myself to feel those shoes and that's my expectations going into this next season.  I'm going to train that way so that I can be that kind of guy that can fill in his type of play."

Question:  Do you have a number in mind?

Craig Roh:  "I do not want to throw out any numbers, but I want to be a guy that was constantly pressuring the quarterback like BG (Brandon Graham) did every play."

Question:  Who is the biggest surprise on defense so far?

Craig Roh:  "Cam Gordon is probably the biggest surprise on defense.  He switched over from receiver and he's just coming in headhunting.  Like he really did not even, he was third string until both Vlad (Emilien) and (Jared) Van Slyke, they both got injured, and he got pushed in there, he stepped up.  He's a headhunter and he's got a great energy on the field."

Question:  The defense obviously underperformed last year; what do you guys have to do this year to be better?

Craig Roh:  "Just be really sound in our technique and our assignments.  The reason why they gave up the big plays is not have good eyes and not know there assignments all the way, so they weren't playing fast.  Now that we've kind of simplified the defense a little bit more, we can play faster and know our assignments."

Question:  Do you feel like it helps having the same defensive coordinator for another year, where the two years before that?

Craig Roh:  "Yeah definitely.  You know how he is going to coach and it is not that you are feeling out how he is going to respond to certain things.  You just kind of know what he expects from you."

Question:  You said he simplified the defense a little bit.  Can you talk a little more in depth about what you mean by he simplified the defense?

Craig Roh:  "For me in particular, I feel like it has gotten a little bit more complicated because I see more of the field because I'm in that second level.  I can only speak for myself necessary but simplification of the defense, you'll have guys who just have one assignment, which is like hey get to this gap and then just react from there.  Not like get to this gap and then pass rush or drop back.  Not giving them a whole lot of options that can happen."

Question:  How is it different not playing with your hand on the ground and your position in this defense?

Craig Roh:  "You have to read a lot more.  You are seeing a lot more of the offense.  You can't be as aggressive, you have to be able to take your read step and see what's going on and then you make your reaction."

Question:  How did you adapt to it?  Do you feel like you did pretty well?

Craig Roh:  "I feel like I picked it up pretty well.  I almost got an interception today.  That was something that I was really pleased about.  Earlier I would have just rushed the quarterback and it wasn't my responsibility, now I'm learning more and more what my responsibility is on this defense."

Question:  Talk a little bit about the secondary, the youth there and some of the guys that caught your eye?

Craig Roh:  "The secondary, everyone is doing good right now.  Cam Gordon, JT Floyd stepping up, just a lot of great youthful energetic plays out there."

Question:  Do you sense more speed back on this defense than maybe you've had since you've been here?

Craig Roh:  "Most definitely.  What I'm sensing the most is that guys are just extremely aggressive and just really want to know someone's head off, which is what Michigan's defense should look like."


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