Big Ten: Terrance
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The learning curve is accelerated at Michigan this spring, and not only on the offensive side of the ball.
Granted, the offense remains young and thin at quarterback, but most players are in their second year running Rich Rodriguez's spread. Wolverines defenders, meanwhile, are installing a new system under new coordinator Greg Robinson.
|Chris Livingston/Icon SMI|
|Obi Ezeh is looking forward to defensive coordinator Greg Robinson's blitz-heavy scheme.|
"They're a little bit ahead of us," linebacker Obi Ezeh said of the offense.
Before Tuesday's practice, the defense needed to catch up.
So less than 30 minutes before taking the field, Robinson unveiled three or four brand-new blitz packages for his defenders. Then he gave Rodriguez the green light to move forward with the offense.
"They were like, 'Learn this stuff and then let's go out and run it,'" Ezeh said. "We started off real shaky, but toward the end of practice, everybody started coming together and it looked really good. So I like the attitude, that never-quit attitude that we're trying to develop here."
Ezeh senses a renewed attitude for a unit that, despite some solid performances in September and early October, ranked 10th in the Big Ten in points allowed (28.9 points per game) and ninth in yards allowed (366.9 yards per game). Michigan's offensive futility under Rodriguez drew most of the attention last fall, but the defense turned in one of its worst statistical performances in team history.
Coordinator Scott Shafer resigned after only one year and took the same job at Syracuse, where Robinson served as head coach for four years before being fired and coming to Ann Arbor. Robinson is Michigan's third defensive coordinator in as many years, but his plan for the unit isn't totally foreign to the players.
"It resembles a lot of the stuff we were doing with coach [Ron] English, so some of the older guys did it before," Ezeh said, referring to Michigan's defensive coordinator from 2003-07. "I got the feeling that it's going to be blitz-heavy, so I'm excited for that."
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
12:00 PM ET Purdue Illinois 12:00 PM ET 20 Ohio State Maryland 2:30 PM ET North Texas Indiana 3:30 PM ET 17 Wisconsin Northwestern 7:00 PM ET Michigan Rutgers 8:00 PM ET 19 Nebraska 10 Michigan State