Michigan’s defense can be ‘special, historic’

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan defensive linemen Ryan Glasgow and Taco Charlton

Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown has meant plenty already to the Wolverines in his first season with the program.

The second-ranked Wolverines are ranked first nationally in total defense, yielding an average 207 yards a game, and are first in scoring defense (10.0) and pass defense (111.0), and fourth in rush defense (96.0).

Brown, who last year molded Boston College into the nation’s top defense, has been the architect of Michigan’s defensive evolution this season.

“If there is a coach of the year in college football, in my mind it’s Don Brown,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Thursday morning on the “Jamie and Stoney” show. “He’s a tremendous teacher, he’s a tremendous person, and the impact he has had on our team has been outstanding.

“We always look at it as a team effort. Everybody does a little, and it adds up to a lot. We win as a team, but, boy, Don Brown has had a huge impact on all of us, on us coaches, on the players. You really have to look at what the defense is doing as a unit and say, ‘That is really good football.’ And now, our team, I want them to embrace that, I want them to see how good they can be.

“We’re a little over the halfway point, but it has a chance to be something really special. Sure there’s pressure because they are playing so well, but they embrace it and continue at the same relentless, punishing pace. It really has a chance to be a special unit. Historic in that way.”

UM’s Harbaugh: ‘I do grow on people after a while’

The players always comment on Brown’s mustache. This week, quarterback Wilton Speight joked he might grow one in his honor.

“It’s a fabulous mustache,” Harbaugh told the “Jamie and Stoney” show. “It is fabulous, just fabulous. Everything he does, just how he looks, how he talks. You’re just kind of riveted whenever he’s saying something. He’s got expressions that many of our players can imitate very well. You just like watching him. You like listening to him. He captivates everybody that is around. He’s a dazzling, dazzling coach and person.”

Will he or won’t he?

Harbaugh said he isn’t sure whether he will show the team the clip of the end of last year’s Michigan-Michigan State game – the fumbled snap in the final 10 seconds on which MSU scored the winning touchdown.

“I haven’t decided yet,” Harbaugh said on the show. “I’ve always thought that for guys in the arena, guys that are in the ring playing or on the field that anytime you lose you have that feeling. There’s that feeling of loss, and it does not feel good. And every time you win, there’s that great feel of winning, thrill of victory, wonderful feeling of winning. That’s the nature of the competition.”