Michigan’s defense has rolled through this season, the backbone of the nation’s No. 2-ranked team.
Under new defensive coordinator Don Brown, the Wolverines lead the nation in major categories including points allowed (10.0 per game), total defense (207 yards per game), pass defense (111 yards per game), first downs (74 total) and third-down percentage (13%).
U-M coach Jim Harbaugh and Brown will continue to push the unit, potentially toward “historic” territory. Michigan has only allowed fewer than 10 points per game over the course of a season twice since 1979: 8.1 in 1985 and 9.5 in 1997.
“You really have to look at what the defense is doing, as a unit, and say, ‘That is really good football,’” Harbaugh said today on the “Jamie and Stoney” show on WXYT-FM (97.1). “And now, our team, I want them to embrace that, I want them to see how good they can be. We’re a little over the halfway point, but it has a chance to be something really special. Sure, there’s pressure, because they are playing so well. But (if) they embrace it and continue at the same relentless, punishing pace, it really has a chance to be a special, special unit. Historic, in that way. So we’re forging on. Onward, as they say.”
Harbaugh gives much of the credit to Brown, whom he hired from Boston College in December after D.J. Durkin left to become Maryland’s head coach.
“In my mind, as I sit here right now, if there’s a coach in the year in college football, it’s Don Brown,” Harbaugh said. “He is a tremendous teacher, he is a tremendous person, and the impact that he’s had on our team has been outstanding. We always look at it as a team effort — everybody does a little, and it adds up to a lot. We win as a team. But boy, Don Brown has had a huge impact on all of us, on us coaches, on the players.”
Harbaugh has raved about Brown, 61, since their first meeting last year.
When he was told today that U-M quarterback Wilton Speight joked that he planned to grow a mustache like Brown’s, Harbaugh chuckled.
“It’s a fabulous mustache, it is fabulous,” Harbaugh said. “Everything he does. How he looks, how he talks, you’re just kind of riveted whenever he’s saying something, and he’s got expressions that many of our players can imitate very well. You just like watching him, you like listening to him, he captivates everybody that is around. He’s a dazzling, dazzling coach and person.”