Don Brown ‘will never change’ defensive approach, despite Michigan meltdowns

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor – Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown said he’s not going to “keep reliving it.”

What did he mean?

There’s always plenty to pick apart when Brown speaks to reporters, as he did along with offensive coordinator Josh Gattis on Wednesday, the first significant public update since UM camp opened last Friday.

Don Brown

Brown, entering his fourth season at Michigan, has been the architect of one of the nation’s top defenses. But it has been hard for many – including Brown – to forget the 62-39 loss at Ohio State to end the 2018 regular season, snapping a 10-game winning streak that began after an opening loss at Notre Dame.

He boiled down last season’s defensive issues to what he described as 19 minutes at Notre Dame and 19 minutes at Ohio State. In those minutes, the Michigan defense melted down. Against the Irish, the defense had time to recover, and did, but there was no room for recovery against the Buckeyes.

Brown has no intention of continually reliving that outcome and said he has made adjustments to address the vulnerabilities of the defense, but was asked Wednesday if he understands why there might be some skepticism.

“I don’t have time for skepticism,” Brown said. “I don’t have any time for that to affect anything that happens in our room. Do I evaluate? Have we adjusted schematically? Yes. But let’s not make any bones about it. If you were to bring –who’s a good defensive mind? – bring Kirby Smart in here and ask him how he’s going to stop RPOs. I bet I know what he’s going to say.

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“Here’s the big thing – have your beliefs, have your convictions. That’s what fuels you. If people don’t like that, somebody else will be doing my job, and I’ll be back in Cape Cod. But for three years, we’ve built out reputation here defensively on (being) aggressive. Like every other coach in the country, you have to evaluate, you have to adjust on a week-to-week basis. The one thing I can tell you is we’re more prepared versatility-wise in coverage, but the aggressive nature will never change. And in fact, I’d like it to be more aggressive.”

He would not share much in terms of how the Wolverines will be more prepared but has made clear that will be the case.

“Just some additional pieces to make sure we have specific areas of the field covered,” Brown said. “That could be a man concept with a drop, it could be a zone concept. We’ve done our due diligence and very comfortable where I’m at right now.”

This was all addressed during spring practice, Brown said, and he added many strides had been made in the most important areas.

“Our back seven is as in-sync as any group I’ve been around in terms of coverage, understanding, and what we’re trying to get done,” Brown said. “You just keep your fingers crossed we keep that up moving forward and we stay healthy so those guys are the right guys getting on the field.”