The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 34 of 119

Stock Report: U-M Defenders Trending Upwards This Season Craig Roh: Two weeks into the season everyone was asking, ���What���s wrong with Roh?��� after he went backto-back games without recording a single tackle. Since then, he has been arguably U-M���s best defender, notching 3.0 sacks among 7.0 tackles for loss and 24 total stops in the past six contests. The junior defensive end has been Michigan���s most consistent front-seven difference-maker. Mike Martin: The senior defensive tackle was expected to have his best season yet in a playmaking role in UM���s 4-3 alignment. His numbers had been meager ��� 1.5 tackles for loss among 21 stops in the first seven games ��� but he had a big afternoon against Purdue with a pair of sacks, including a safety. Martin still won���t come close to the doubledigit sack total some had forecasted, but he has been a monster in the middle since dominating in a weekfour victory over San Diego State. Blake Countess: The four-star rookie made his first career start against Purdue, and has been, arguably, Michigan���s best cornerback this season. Countess had steadily seen his minutes increase at the expense of fifth-year senior Troy Woolfolk before taking over in a starting role, while Woolfolk moved to safety. He has been productive with his opportunities, notching 27 tackles and a team-leading four pass breakups in six appearances. Most impressively, he has been solid in tight man-toman coverage against opposing wide receivers. Thomas Gordon: The Wolverines have allowed just a single pass play of 40 yards or more this season thanks to the stellar safety play of Gordon and redshirt junior Jordan Kovacs. With the exception of a poor outing against Notre Dame, Gordon has been a consistently stout performer. The redshirt sophomore has also been a playmaker, with two forced fumbles, three recoveries, an interception and 1.5 tackles for loss among 52 stops. ��� Michael Spath Redshirt sophomore Cameron Gordon (left) and freshman Desmond Morgan are two of U-M's talented young linebackers who will be counted on to make an impact in the season's final month. Photo bY lon horwedel Smith and all of Michigan���s coaches, starting at the top with Brady Hoke and working through his coordinators, demand the very best from their players. The Wolverines have not been discouraged by this tough love, but have been spurred to push themselves harder. ���We���ve done a good job of competing ��� no one has let up ��� and we���ve done a good job of being hungry, but we have to be better,��� Demens said. ���Our coaches don���t even need to tell us that because we know. We watch film, and we see the plays we���re leaving out there. We know that we���ve been inconsistent. ���We���re encouraging each other, and guys have stepped up and are doing their best but we have to pick it up a lot. We have to learn quicker, get to where we can play faster and tougher, and help our defense shut teams down.��� Defensively, the secondary has outperformed expectations, and the defensive line has largely met them. The linebackers have underperformed, according to their own words. With four games in November left to be played, there is still time for the linebackers to play at a higher level, a championship level. ���I���ve seen great progress, but we know the stakes are going up every week, and we can���t play like how we did against Michigan State,��� Demens said. ���If we do that, then we won���t be good enough. ���If we play like we have in certain games, the Minnesota game, San Diego State �����if we all do our individual jobs and trust our teammates, we should really play a big role the rest of the season.��� ���Don���t misunderstood what I���m saying ��� I���m proud of my guys,��� Smith added. ���And when we coach these young men, we let them know we appreciate their effort, their determination and passion. These kids want to be great linebackers. They want to be game-changers. The attitude is there. But the execution isn���t where it needs to be. ���I just want them to be more consistent. More consistent in their alignments, their reads, their tackling, all of those areas we���ve been coaching since the spring. ���The goal the rest of the season is getting them to that point and them getting themselves to that point where they���re grading out higher, really doing their jobs well and giving our team a chance. ���We���re two months into the season, three months since camp started, and we need to do a better job taking what we���re practicing and executing it in our games. That���s our challenge ��� to do that better.��� ��� November 2011��� ������ the wolverine��� 35

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - November 2011