It’s no secret, Michigan’s defense has been progressively worse under Rich Rodriguez. After eight games, Michigan’s defense is 103 in the country. This season once again indicates Michigan is not able to develop a decent defense.
Take Saturday’s game against Penn State. The Nittany Lions are no offensive juggernaut. They’ve struggled all season trying to establish a run game (they‘re 81 in the country in rushing yards a game). Now add to this fact they were starting Matt McGloin, a former walking on starting his first game. If there was a game where Michigan’s defense could shine, it was this one.
Instead, they faltered again. They gave up 41 points and 435 total yards. It shows that whomever Michigan plays their defense can make any offense look good.
After the game, there were rumblings that Rich Rod may fire some of his defensive staff. Michigan faithful are tired of having their defense cost them games. With that in mind, I think Michigan’s struggles on defense show a larger issue.
Rich doesn’t know how to run an effective defense.
From the start, he’s made bad staffing decisions. Hiring Greg Robinson hasn’t helped as clearly neither see eye to eye on defensive schemes. Rich hired Adam Braithwaite who didn’t have any experience coaching for a big program. Add to this the mid-season position switches and friends he has hired and you can see a troubling pattern.
While some may think getting new defensive coaches will help I argue it won’t. Rich Rod has the tendency to make bad staffing decisions. What makes you think it will be any different this time around? In addition, Michigan cannot afford another one to two year setback, which may invariably happen with a new defensive staff.
Rodriguez isn’t a bad coach. In fact, he’s done a masterful job getting the offense back on track. It doesn’t matter where the guy goes; he always finds a way to develop a dynamic offense. Here’s the problem, he doesn’t coach in the Big East anymore. While his offense is effective you need to be able to have at least an average defense to compete in this league, something he hasn’t had or developed since he’s been there. The trend that’s emerging show there needs to be wholesale changes and that starts at the top.
There are two answers, either Rich needs to leave or he needs to hire a coordinator and allow them to control the defense and have input on whom they hire on the defensive staff. If one of these two doesn’t happen, folks in Ann Arbor can expect more of the same in the coming years.
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