Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison will work with the linebackers in 2014. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)
Michigan coach Brady Hoke said that after the Wolverines’ recent 7-6 season, he sat down with his assistants and made clear there was plenty lacking in terms of coaching and developing players.
It was a sweeping conversation. No one was excluded.
“Every position. Staff. Me,” Hoke said last month. “We need to do a better job. I didn’t think we, starting with me, did a good job developing this team.”
And while much of the focus has been on the offense since the firing of offensive coordinator Al Borges and hiring of Doug Nussmeier, the defensive staff has been reshuffled.
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who with Hoke coached the defensive line last season, will coach linebackers this season, according to a release from U-M on Thursday. Curt Mallory was defensive backs coach the last three seasons but he will focus on safeties, and Roy Manning, hired to coach outside linebackers, will handle the cornerbacks. Mark Smith, the linebackers coach, will work with the defensive line.
Hoke was not listed as having an individual position group to coach.
There will be no changes in the offensive coaching responsibilities.
Graduate assistant Jerry Milling will work with the linebackers and Ernie Lawson with the defensive line, and offensive graduate assistant Kevin Koger, a former Michigan tight end, will continue to work with the tight ends, and Michael Switzer with the offensive line.
“Everyone on the staff, and the kids are really excited about these changes,” Hoke said in a release. “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.
“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 football, I think it balances our staff on that side of the ball.”
Michigan’s offense struggled the majority of last season, mainly because of an inexperienced offensive line interior and a lack of a consistent running game.
That didn’t hide flaws exposed in the defense late in the season, but it made them less obvious.
The Michigan defense gave up 1,353 yards in the final three games (451 yards average per game), including three consecutive losses at the end of the season to Iowa, Ohio State and Kansas State in the bowl game.
Michigan allowed 73 points in the final two games to OSU and Kansas State.
For the season, the Wolverines ranked 41st nationally in total defense (371.5 yards per game average), 29th in rush defense (104.2), 66th in pass defense (231.3) and 66th in scoring defense (26.8 points).