With plenty of talent and a new defensive coordinator, the Michigan football team should be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.
It’s been several years since the Michigan football team was honored with a popular moniker.
Fielding Yost’s football teams were known as the “Point-a-Minute” Wolverines for often scoring 60 points a game in the early 1900s.
Fritz Crisler’s teams in the 1940s were named the “Mad Magicians” because of their single-wing, slight-of-hand offensive attack.
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Down the road in Detroit, the NFL Detroit Lions picked up a nickname for its defensive line in the early 1960s. They were called the “Fearsome Foursome” and they were exactly that. Alex Karras, Roger Brown, Sam Williams and Darris McCord regularly thrilled the Detroit fans with their pass rush, and had their finest moment on Thanksgiving Day in 1962.
Turkey Day Massacre
Defending champion Green Bay had brought a 10-game winning streak into Tiger Stadium with hopes of pointing its way toward another title.
Instead, the Lions sacked Packer quarterback Bart Starr 11 times, taking a 26-0 lead into halftime and completing the “Turkey Day Massacre” with a 26-13 win.
There have been other NFL defensive fronts that have used the nickname “Fearsome Foursome”, so why not apply it to Michigan, since the 2016 d-line could be very special? After all, Michigan had the “Fab Five,” and boy, were they fabulous. Of course that was basketball.
So how good will next season’s defensive line actually be?
Mone on the Mend
The only real question mark is whether defensive tackle recruit Rashan Gary commits to Michigan. The 6-5, 295 lb Gary is the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect, and is favored by 247sports to join former Paramus Catholic teammates Jabrill Peppers and Juwann Bushell-Beatty on the Michigan roster. Gary would also join his former high school coach, Chris Partridge, who joined Jim Harbaugh‘s staff before last season.
If Gary enrolls at Michigan, he could immediately step into the tackle spot with Ryan Glasgow (5.0 TFL) at nose tackle, Chris Wormley (14.5 TFL, 6.5 Sacks) at strong-side defensive end and Taco Charlton (5.5 Sacks) at rush end/buck linebacker.
Brian Mone (DT), who missed all of 2015 with a broken leg, will be ready to go this fall. Maurice Hurst (NT), Lawrence Marshall (RUSH) and Tom Strobel (SDE) will also make things competitive.
Michigan’s new defensive coordinator Don Brown should also help the pass rush.
He spent the past three seasons in the same capacity at Boston College. His Eagle defense finished first nationally in total defense this past season, allowing 254 yards per game. They also finished fourth in scoring defense, giving up 15.3 points per game.
Play with Your Hair on Fire
Brown’s had excellent results on the stat sheet, but has plenty of supporters too.
Current Detroit Lions safety James Ihedibgo, who played for Brown at UMass from 2003-06, recently spoke to the Detroit Free Press about Coach Brown.
"His mind-set is he’s going to scheme up different types of pressures. But he’s going to get after the quarterback, by any means necessary."
As a junior in 2005, Ihedigbo was third in the Atlantic 10 with 7 1/2 sacks while playing safety.
"It was awesome. We sent corner blitzes, we sent double safety-linebacker pressures, man pressures, zone pressures, everything you could possibly think of, he drew it up. He always had a saying, ‘Play with you hair on fire.’ I don’t care if you mess up, I want you flying 1,000 miles per hour to the ball."
Brown will most likely use a base 4-3 defense, but will also mix in the 3-4. Either way players are going to move around so following a particular scheme might be difficult.