ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown has been characterized by Wolverines players and coaches as being “aggressive,” “bringing the juice,” and “the man.”
High praise for a guy who’s new on the job.
For the sake of being thorough, let’s throw the word “blunt” onto the list of Brown-related superlatives. On Monday, the former Boston College defensive coordinator proved as much during a media availability session at Schembechler Hall.
The hot topic? The Big Ten Network’s “high-risk, high-reward” analysis of Brown’s defense, suggesting a high degree of fragility and a desperate approach.
“Whoah, whoah, whoah — that’s a bunch of baloney,” Brown said. “The ‘high risk?’ No. We don’t just throw this stuff against the wall … and ‘Oh, I’m going to run this play.’ Come on. We’re not doing that. We look at the formations. We look at the personnel groups, and we lean to be on the aggressive side.
“Whether you’re running or passing the ball, we’re going to have the ability when we dictate to (aggressively blitz). That’s what it’s all about.”
Analysis?! Poking more holes in BTN’s statement, Brown offered his own thoughts.
“I can assure you that every one of the calls we’ve made, we’ve done a kind of a thorough study, we’ll at least have run it 100 times. OK?,” said Brown. “So we’re not throwing things against the wall. It’s not that kind of a scenario. I guess some people say it because you’re playing man-coverage and those kind of things…”
Having Mike Zordich and Brian Smith calling the shots with defensive backs provides even more comfort for Brown. Getting burned? Nah. They’re a fire blanket.
“They’re accomplished teachers,” Brown said. “If you call that ‘high-risk’ because we’re going to come up and play you like this (demonstrates on a reporter), well — I don’t call that ‘high-risk.’ That’s just part of the deal.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh runs an efficient camp, says Brown, so there’s never a wasted second. Brown looks forward to “shifting gears here and start getting ready to play meaningful games.”
Likewise for the players. They’ve helped Brown enter “phase 3” of his plan. That said, he didn’t specifically outline each phase, but he’s clearly pleased with the progress.
Wolverines such as redshirt sophomore linebacker Noah Furbush, who has the potential to be “a real-deal guy,” have impressed Brown during camp. So has true freshman linebacker Josh Uche, who has become a productive pass-rusher and a quick study at the SAM position.
Ben Gedeon, a senior linebacker, has gained attention by running the show in the middle.
Brown doesn’t come across as a coach who minces words. He honestly evaluates.
So far, he’s had no complaints.
“And there’s a number of guys … it’s probably really unfair (to limit list), because I can’t think of anybody that I’m like, ‘Aww, jeez, you know, I’ve got to straighten this dude out,'” Brown said. “But it’s been a good camp, and the guys are working hard — that’s all you can ask for.”
Veterans of the team have played for two previous defensive coordinators. In the beginning, it was Greg Mattison, who now coaches the D-line. One year ago, it was D.J. Durkin, the head coach at Maryland. It’s been tough for them according to Brown, but he not-so-jokingly said they have “no choice” but to learn and adapt.
“I mean, I enjoy working with them. I’ve got great guys, now. I enjoy my room,” said Brown, who credited his days as a baseball coach for establishing an even-keeled but aggressive approach.
“I don’t know… maybe it’s my age, whatever. I really don’t care too much about all this stuff (media interaction), but I do care about my room, and coaching those guys and trying to get them to whatever their dreams are as a football player. That’s what I’m focused on.”