Michigan Spring Game: Defense Will Be Just Fine Despite Discouraging Performance
It's a nice luxury to be able to nitpick when there really isn't a lot wrong with your defense heading into the upcoming season.
Such is the case facing Michigan. The school is coming off an 11-2 season and boasts one of the best defenses in the Big Ten, but expressed some concern over the pay of its unit in the second spring game on Thursday.
ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein writes that head coach Brady Hoke "wasn't entirely pleased" with the defense. If there's one specific area of concern, it might be on the defensive line, which doesn't boast a ton of experience behind the starters.
Much of the pressure will fall onto the shoulders of upcoming senior defensive end Craig Roh and tackle Will Campbell.
In 2011, Roh registered 32 tackles, 21 solo, and four sacks. Campbell, at 6'5" and 333 pounds, is a physical specimen but has struggled with inconsistency during his career.
The experience issue doesn't extend to Michigan's linebacking corps, which could boast a few all-conference players by the end of the 2012 season in Jake Ryan, Desmond Morgan and Brandin Hawthorne. Hawthorne was particularly impressive in last weekend's game, finishing with five tackles and a pick. Last season, he had 43 tackles, a sack and an interception.
The Wolverines' biggest defensive asset is their secondary, thanks in large part to the play of corners Blake Countess and J.T. Floyd and safety Jordan Kovacs. In 2011, Countess had 44 total tackles, 30 solo (he also picked off backup quarterback Devin Gardner in last weekend's spring game). Meanwhile, Floyd had 48 tackles. Kovacs registered 75 tackles, 51 solo, four sacks and a pick.
Last season, Michigan allowed the eighth-fewest points per game in college football. If the defensive line stays healthy and the secondary lives up to its potential, it will improve on that.
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