Michigan Preview: Defensive Personnel

Michigan's defense showed signs of life after struggling most of the 2009 season. IrishEyes takes a look at the Michigan lineup.

Michigan has moved to the ‘3-3-5' under second-year defensive coordinator Greg Robinson (former Syracuse head coach and NFL defensive coordinator). Michigan will substitute throughout the game with the front seven, but there is naturally a drop-off in experience and productivity. Much like Notre Dame's defense, this unit has a lot of prove despite a solid effort in their first game against Connecticut. In 2009 they allowed nearly 400 of total offense and surrendered 27.3 points per game. In the season opener, the Wolverine defense yielded 343 yards and 10 points to UConn.

Defensive line

  • Strong-side Defensive end, #53 Ryan Van Bergen (6-foot-6, 283-pounds, Sr./Jr.): He moves outside after playing the defensive tackle spot for Michigan the first three years of his career. He's a strong kid with a high motor, similar to Notre Dame's Sean Cwynar. Van Bergen will make piles when you run at him and chase the ball down the line when you run away from him. Given that, he doesn't give you a lot of pressure off the corner. He has started 15 games for the Wolverines. Last season he played defensive where he had 40 tackles and five sacks. He registered four tackles in the opener against Connecticut.

    #55 Jibreel Black (6-foot-2, 258-pounds, Fr.) Black played against UConn, and he may see time against Notre Dame this weekend, but I expect Van Bergen to get nearly all the snaps.

  • Nose tackle - # 68 Mike Martin (6-foot-2, 299-pounds, Jr.): The battle between Braxston Cave and Martin will be one to watch. Big strong anchor in the middle of the defense. Not only is he tough to move, but he is quick and disruptive with the ability to get into the backfield. He won't get a lot of sacks, but he can generate pressure up the middle and flush Crist into the waiting arms of other defenders. He only had 2 tackles in the opener, but he muddled things up for the Connecticut offensive line. Last season Martin registered 51 tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss.

    #99 Adam Patterson (6-foot-3, 276-pounds, 5th Sr.): Patterson is light for a nose tackle, and doesn't generate a lot of push. He did play against UConn, but I expect his play to be limited this weekend. Patterson has been a career back-up with eight career tackles. He went to high school with Gary Gray.

  • Weak-side defensive end - #92 Greg Banks (6- foot-4, 285-pounds, 5th Sr.): Banks has played in 31 contests and has been a career back-up until this season. He is the least impressive of the starting defensive linemen. He isn't a tremendously strong player and can generally be neutralized with one blocker. He doesn't generate much push and generally doesn't apply much pressure on the quarterback. In obvious passing down they bring him to the sidelines and bring Roh up to the line to help create more pressure. He started his first game last week against Connecticut, where he registered two tackles.

    #95 Renaldo Sagesse (6- foot-4, 289-pounds, Sr.): He's similar to Banks, but obviously not quite as good since he isn't seeing the number of snaps that Banks does. Sagesse has appeared in 25 games during his career, but has yet to earn a starting spot. Last week he made one tackle against Connecticut.


  • Outside linebacker – #88 Craig Roh (6- foot-5, 251-pounds, So.):Roh plays the rush backer spot, so more often than not you'll find him lined up on the line across from Zack Martin. He's very active and gives great effort. He's has good quickness for a guy his size. He needs to add strength, as he can be pushed around at times. But overall a very good player. Roh has started every game (13) that he has worn a Wolverine uniform. Against UConn he registered five tackles and two tackles for loss. As a freshman he had 37 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, one interception and three pass breakups.

    #58 Brandon Herron (6- foot-2, 220-pounds, Sr./Jr.): Herron has played in 25 games registering 31 tackles. Last week against UConn he made four tackles.

  • Mike Linebacker – # 45 Obi Ezeh (6- foot-2, 250-pounds, 5th Sr.): Ezeh is a big guy that has potential to make a ton of plays. At times he'll come up, take on a block and clog a hole and other times, he'll run around blocks. When he's on his game, he can be a handful. Last week against UConn he led the team with nine tackles. He's a four-year starter (32 games) and is the active career leader in tackles. In 2009 he was a Butkus Award semifinalist. He started nine games and was third on the team in tackles with 69 with five tackles for loss.

    #44 Mark Moundros (6- foot-1, 233-pounds, 5th Sr.): Converted fullback is in his first season at linebacker. He did get some snaps at linebacker last week against UConn.

  • Will Linebacker – #8 Jonas Mouton (6- foot-2, 240-pounds, 5th Sr.): How long has this guy been at Michigan? Seems like forever… Mouton is an outstanding player that flies around the field… the best linebacker at Michigan. He can chase the ball sideline to sideline, and drops into coverage very well. He'll be making his 24th career start this weekend. Mouton had eight tackles against UConn. Last season he was the team's fourth leading tackler with 65 stops. He added three tackles for loss, two interceptions and four passes breakups. He has 155 career tackles.

    #27 Mike Jones (6- foot-2, 208-pounds, So.): If he gets in the game, it would be because something happened to Mouton. Mouton is a guy you need on the field as much as possible, especially against Notre Dame's offense.

Defensive Backs

  • Hybrid Safety-Linebacker – #15 Thomas Gordon (5- foot-11, 205-pounds, So./Fr.): Starter Carvin Johnson is out. Gordon could be the guy that steps in for Johnson. The only experience he has is against UConn and that was limited.

    #23 Floyd Simmons (6- foot-0, 200-pounds, Jr./So.): Michigan is not deep at this position. Simmons is a special teams guy.

  • Left Cornerback – #12 J.T. Floyd (6- foot-0, 183-pounds, Jr./So.): Has limited experience. Made his third career start against Connecticut, where he made six stops against UConn. In 2009 Floyd played in nine games where he made 17 tackles.

    #9 Courtney Avery (5- foot-11, 167-pounds, Fr.): True Freshman with on special teams appearances against UConn.

  • Strong Safety – #32 Jordan Kovacs (6- foot-0, 195-pounds, Jr./So.): Kovacs was the starting strong safety, but with an injury to Carvin Johnson, he could be moved to the Hybrid position. It will be interesting to see how this plays out during the game this weekend. He's a solid player, but he doesn't appear to be very physical. The best way to describe him is steady. He has six stops against UConn. Last season he started eight games at safety where he was second on the team in tackles with 75. He also added 4.54 tackles for loss, and an interception.

    #3 Marvin Robinson (6-foot-2, 200-pounds, Fr.): True Freshman with on special teams appearances against UConn. If Kovacs moves to the hybrid spot, he's likely the guy that will need to step in at strong safety.

  • Free Safety – #4 Cameron Gordon (6- foot-3, 207-pounds, So./Fr.):Tough to get a feel for a player after just one game, but Gordon seems to have a solid feel for the game and appears to be a very good athlete… Gordon saw the field for the first time last weekend against Connecticut. He made five tackles and broke up a pass. Injury and transfers have left this position rather thin.

  • Right Cornerback – #18 James Rogers (6- foot-1, 183-pounds, Sr.): Rogers was switched to cornerback from wide receiver late last season, after originally coming to Michigan as a cornerback and playing his first season on defense. He made his first start at cornerback against UConn last week.

    #22 Terrence Talbott (5- foot-11, 171-pounds, Fr.): True Freshman the saw limited action against UConn.

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