Michigan DBs helped by Robinson's system

August, 3, 2009
8/03/09
10:15
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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

As the last line of defense, Michigan's cornerbacks and safeties have a heightened sense of accountability. 

There will be times this fall when Donovan Warren or one of his secondary mates either must make a play or watch six points go up on the scoreboard. But first-year defensive coordinator Greg Robinson has crafted a scheme that minimizes the plays when a defensive back gets left alone on an island. 

After a season when Michigan's defense often felt deserted, it's a welcome change for Warren. 

"Coach Robinson's all about playing to your help and not just playing your game alone," Warren said. "You have to play to your help. That's what defense is all about."

Warren, a true junior who enters his third season as a starter, will be playing in his third defensive scheme this fall. Fortunately, Robinson's system reminds him of the one employed by former coordinator and current Eastern Michigan coach Ron English, who remains very popular with veteran Wolverines defenders.

Like the rest of the team, Michigan's back four struggled last season, finishing ninth in the league in both pass defense (230 ypg) and interceptions (nine). Warren is one of the Big Ten's most-experienced cornerbacks, but he'll be surrounded by youth this fall. Michigan loses corner Morgan Trent and safety Brandon Harrison, and safety Stevie Brown has moved down to linebacker this fall.

"We have a lot of unproven guys and guys that haven't been on the field," Warren said.

If Robinson's system works correctly, Michigan's young players won't be feeling green too often.

"It's using your leverage and knowing where your help is and what guys can do to you in certain situations," Warren said. "Coach Robinson, he breaks it down so much more mentally, so you know what to expect." 

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