Don Brown won’t make drastic changes to Michigan defense
During the week, Land of 10 reporters following the Wolverines answer questions on the minds of Michigan fans. Submit a question or suggest a topic by sending a tweet here to Rachel Lenzi or here to Kevin Goheen. Check back Monday through Friday as we answer the Michigan Question of the Day. Go here to see our previous answers.
Will Don Brown transition from "man" to more "zone" coverage this year to cut down on late game "big plays" against us?
— Mark2021 (@markl2021) May 15, 2018
Don’t expect Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown to drastically change or abandon his scheme. The trademark of Brown’s defense is to blitz the quarterback and put the secondary in man coverage.
“I want to contest every throw,” Brown said in December. “I don’t want these quarterbacks to have anything easy. That’s the premise. That’s the philosophy. And on top of not having anything easy, we want to still have the ability to make his life miserable by rushing him.”
Brown has committed his defense to that philosophy. Even if he has plans to change the Wolverines’ scheme, don’t expect him to publicly announce it.
Michigan boasted the No. 3 defense in the nation in 2017, allowing an average of 271 yards per game. That defense returns all but two starters and returns the entire starting secondary: cornerbacks Lavert Hill and David Long, and safeties Josh Metellus and Tyree Kinnel. The safeties need to shore up their work in man coverage because that scheme isn’t going away. But Brown has heard the criticism when it comes to Michigan’s choice to play man defense (covering different players on the field) instead of zone defense (covering certain areas of the field to limit the number of completions by a quarterback).
Brown said he doesn’t get tired of hearing the suggestions to change his scheme. Making those changes, however, would come with an asterisk.
“If you play more zone, then they say, ‘Why didn’t you play more man?’ ” Brown asked, rhetorically.
If Brown is going to make changes to his defense this fall, he’ll tinker. He won’t overhaul.
Michigan has the personnel to make the tinkers and depth among the defensive backs to rotate players to find out who, in fact, is the best fit in man coverage. If something goes wrong with that coverage, don’t expect Brown to throw out his entire game plan.
As for the late-game big plays, Michigan needs to address its execution as a whole in finishing games, not just the defense’s breakdowns late in games.
Read more answers to questions about the Michigan Wolverines here.