Blown Coverage: Michigan's Secondary Must Step Up against Spartans

Adam BoutonCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2009

ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 25:  Donovan Warren #6 and Boubacar Cissoko #33 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrate a second quarter pass break up while playing the Michigan State Spartans on October 25, 2008 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The scene was painful for Michigan fans last weekend.

Hoosier wideout Tandon Doss went around the edge and escaped the Michigan defenders and secondary en route to the end zone. Indiana running back Darius Willis took the hand off and burned past a hapless Michigan secondary en route to an 85-yard touchdown.

Doss handcuffed a Michigan corner back and easily hauled in a 56-yard pass from quarterback Ben Chappell.

Despite the big plays from Indiana, the Maize and Blue squeaked out the 36-33 victory over the Hoosiers in its first Big 10 game of the season.

They might not be so lucky next time.

The defensive backfield looked lost and over-matched at several spots in the win over Indiana and it's a problem that could plague the team throughout the season.

It is a problem that could again be highlighted as the Wolverines hit the road for the first time this season and go up against the Spartans in East Lansing.

Michigan State has a trio of formidable wide receivers in Mark Dell, Blair White, and B.J. Cunningham. The continued development of sophomore Kirk Cousins could also pose problems for the suddenly maligned Michigan secondary.

If any unit is to step up and make a statement this week, the Wolverine defensive backfield is the one to do it.

While still young, the unit isn't exactly inexperienced and now seems the time for someone to step up and help the offense. While it is nice to see budding superstar Tate Forcier show poise in putting together game-winning drives, it shouldn't necessarily need to come down to that.

The defense, especially the backfield, needs to pull its weight.

The Michigan pass defense is just eighth in the conference in pass yards allowed (243.8 yards per game) and the squad is ninth in total defense.

Learning new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson's defensive scheme probably hasn't been the easiest task for the UM secondary, however progression would be welcomed throughout the season.

Last week's performance against Indiana at home was anything but.

The big plays almost gave the Hoosiers the edge and the fact that it happened consistently was equally disturbing. It isn't just one game, either. Western Michigan was able to capitalize on a deep pass play in the opener and Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen picked apart Michigan for the most part in Ann Arbor as well.

Sophomore corner back Boubacar Cissoko and junior corner back Donovan Warren and safety Troy Woolfolk are seen as the leaders of the secondary. All have talent to boot and now is the time for them to show it.

Providing any kind of spark would go leaps and bounds in providing another dimension to what is already a very much improved Michigan squad.

It'll be a tall order for the Maize and Blue defensive backfield to contain the potent MSU passing attack this weekend in East Lansing.

But should they buckle down, cut down the big plays, and force Cousins into a few mistakes, the memories of past blunders could be easily erased.