With triple-option scratched off list, Brown gets back to basics with Michigan's defense

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown detailed the amount of time his defense has spent since the spring preparing for Army’s triple option and expressed extreme relief that the Wolverines can now get to business facing more conventional offenses.

Brown has had prepare the defense to face Air Force and Army during his time at Michigan. He crossed himself then offered his thanks for not having to prepare for any additional service academies.

“Thank the good Lord we’ve done well against it the two years I’ve been here,” Brown said. “Just really proud of the way the kids played.”

Michigan' Josh Metellus celebrates after recovering a fumble in the first quarter. Metellus had what appeared to be a touchdown off a fumble early in the fourth quarter called back.

Army was ranked second nationally last season averaging 312.5 rushing yards and had 200 yards against Michigan. The Black Knights ran 66 plays for 243 yards or a 3.68 per-play average. Army’s total yards were the lowest since facing Navy in 2017 and the lowest per-play total since Air Force in 2015.

Preparing for a team like Army can be disruptive for any defensive coordinator. Brown said that in 10 of 15 spring practices, at least one period was spent on defending the triple option. From the third practice of preseason camp through game week preparing for the season opener against Middle Tennessee State, he said they worked on triple option defense.

“So that when we got into the game week the guys aren’t going, ‘What’s that? What’s that formation?’ because it’s all different,” Brown said. “It’s very disruptive.”

Michigan does not play Saturday before opening Big Ten play at Wisconsin on Sept. 21.

“We finally can play Michigan defense, where we can go back and run our stuff we run all preseason and all spring practice,” Brown said Monday.

Wisconsin has outscored its two opponents 110-0 and is averaging 517 yards a game, including an average 216.5 rushing. Standout running back Jonathan Taylor is 237 yards on 35 carries and five touchdowns and also has five catches for 65 yards and three touchdowns.

Brown was asked about concerns the interior of Michigan’s defensive line isn’t big enough to hold up against the Badgers’ beefy offensive line and rushing attack.

“Bunch of crap,” Brown said.

He said he will start rotating more on the defensive line and pointed out, again, that MTSU and Army were vastly different than what the Wolverines will see in the Big Ten.

“(This is now) all the stuff that our guys know and are comfortable with,” Brown said. “We’ll jump in at a high level without question. It’s real now.”

Miffed about missed call

Safety Josh Metellus had what appeared to be a touchdown off a fumble early in the fourth quarter but was called back.

Television replays show the call was incorrect..

“Why do you need to blow the whistle there?” Brown said. “You don’t need to blow the whistle. Just let it play itself out and go take a look at it. That could be the difference between success and failure. Those are killers. Guys get hired, fired, lose jobs, the whole thing over those things.”


Twitter: @chengelis