Michigan's ‘Dr. Blitz’ is fitting sidekick for Harbaugh

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Michigan senior cornerback Jourdan Lewis heard the nickname somewhere and decided it’s too fitting not to use when talking about first-year Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown.

Brown joined Jim Harbaugh’s staff in December, after leading Boston College to a No. 1 ranking in total defense. His style is clear — all-out pressure, which means plenty of blitzing.

“Dr. Blitz knows what he’s doing,” Lewis said of Brown this week during the Big Ten media days. “That’s what he’s great at. That’s what he hangs his hat on, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to bring pressure and I’m pretty sure the whole country knows it.”

And about that Dr. Blitz moniker?

“That’s cool, ‘Dr. Blitz.’ That’s a nice little nickname,” Lewis said, smiling. “You think coach Harbaugh is crazy …”

The mustache might make Dr. Blitz look more crazed scientist than top-level defensive coordinator. But he is for real and has concocted looks many of the offensive players hadn’t before seen.

“They had more blitzes than I even thought possible,” Michigan tight end Jake Butt said. “I play a bunch of NCAA and I haven’t seen that many blitzes on every single video game I’ve ever had.

“Coach Brown, man, he’s a schemer, and that’s great. We lost a great defensive coordinator in (D.J.) Durkin. We wish the best for him at Maryland, but coach Brown came in and he means business. He’ll get our defense ready. He’s got a lot of talent to work with and they’ll be ready to go this fall.”

Decision on Michigan QB job won’t be made in a snap

Brown, who turns 61 on Sunday, is animated and extremely loud at practices. His voice is distinctive and more distinguishable than any other.

The defensive players got to know Brown during spring practice, and they all clicked quickly.

“As the spring progressed, you could see everybody was getting comfortable with how much we were blitzing, how much we were pressuring and how demanding it was,” Lewis said. “It was just a lot of craziness going on.

“Just understanding his terminology, you could see all of it click, like some of the younger guys understanding why we’re doing stuff, why we do this on certain downs. You could see everything clicking at the end of spring because everything was so high intensity and detail-oriented that you could see we were getting it together.”

As high-energy and high-strung as Harbaugh is, Brown is his match, from all accounts. Harbaugh hadn’t met Brown before he hired him, but he knew his reputation and saw evidence in the statistics Boston College produced. That prompted a phone call.

Since then, the two have become fast friends.

“I get a big smile about Don Brown every time I hear his name,” Harbaugh said, smiling broadly. “I feel like we’re becoming best friends. He’s a legend in my mind right now. Everything he has done and been associated with has been successful, even as the baseball coach at Yale.

“Everywhere I go, and I’ve been a lot of places since spring ball, since the summer, the amount of people who come up to me and say, ‘I played for Don Brown for UMass or I played for Don at BC, tell Donny I said hi.’ To hear the way he’s affected lives and made people develop as individuals is on the same par as people talk to me about my dad and how my dad has affected people through his coaching career, the many lives he’s influenced. Truly excited and dream higher for the Michigan football program to have Don Brown coordinating our defense. He’s an individual who puts his heart and soul into what he’s doing. Very excited for our players to have him as our defensive coordinator.”

Brown inherited a mostly veteran defense — the linebackers are least experienced. He’s got a two-deep defensive line to be envied, and an impressive group of defensive backs.

This defense will be all about pressure.

“It’s an attacking defense,” Harbaugh said. “They are attacking and they are covering and they’re coming from everywhere. The blitz percentage is high. I think the scheme is going to be tough to beat.”

At least that’s what Dr. Blitz has planned.