Michigan tweaks defensive staff

Updated: February 20, 2014, 6:21 PM ET
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com

Michigan has shuffled the responsibilities of its defensive assistant coaches after the unit's struggles cost the Wolverines during a 7-6 season.

All four defensive assistants, including coordinator Greg Mattison, will oversee new position groups this fall.

Mattison, who coached the defensive line in 2013, will work with the linebackers. Mark Smith, who coached linebackers last season, moves to the defensive line. Roy Manning, who coached inside linebackers in 2013, now will work with the cornerbacks. And Curt Mallory, the team's secondary coach for the past three seasons, will work only with the safeties.

"Greg and I met and felt this was the best for everyone, including him and his ability to coach a position group and run a defense from the middle," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said in a statement. "When you look at Mark's experience on the defensive line, then being able to split the secondary, where you have five positions and 20-plus guys, and with the way offense and passing has changed in college football, I think it balances our staff on that side of the ball."

Smith coached defensive line at Indiana State from 1988 to 2002, before coaching linebackers for Hoke at three different spots (Ball State, San Diego State and Michigan). The changes come after Michigan finished 41st nationally (13th in 2012) in total defense and 66th in both points allowed (20th last year) and pass yards allowed (fifth last year).

Hoke made one change to his staff, dismissing offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Al Borges and hiring Doug Nussmeier as his replacement. Other than Nussmeier's arrival, the offensive staff's responsibilities remain the same for the 2014 season.

Michigan opens spring practice Tuesday.

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