Michigan defense tries to avoid information overload
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Like most football players competing at the Division I level, Taco Charlton wants to win at everything. After three weeks of preparing for Florida State, though, things can start to feel monotonous. The senior defensive end said Wednesday that his attention to detail starts to improve when the Michigan football team starts to mix things up and integrate new drills and games in practice.
“We do that just because bowl practices get long,” Charlton said. “You watch film so much. You do so many practices, so many hours that, you know, basically your attention to detail starts to drift because everything is getting long. We try to add games and make things fun.”
Throughout the season, it’s been easier for the Wolverines to stay locked in to their current opponent because they have a new team to face each week. For six days, they try to get to know the intricacies of the upcoming team by poring over film, but then the slate is wiped clean once more on Sunday.
This time around, Michigan has been waiting for the Orange Bowl for three weeks.
“We get bits and pieces, different personnel each day, different types of runs each day, pass game one day, so it keeps it fresh,” said fifth-year senior defensive end Chris Wormley. “(Defensive line coach Greg Mattison) has a little game. We split up the D-line and we play for candy and stuff like that, like I guess little elementary school kids would do.”
The game involves breaking up the unit and placing 10 players on each team. As Michigan runs through different plays, the players on the opposite team have to guess what kind of run or pass it will be. Wormley compared it to Jeopardy, and at the end, there’s a final round where the winner gets all of the candy.
Mattison and defensive coordinator Don Brown try to strike the right balance between giving the players too much information and trusting that the players know what they need to do to win.
Fifth-year senior defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow says that both coaches do a good job of not overloading the players with too much information at once. For example, the Wolverines started working on the outside run game while they were still in Ann Arbor, so now they get to focus more on learning blitzes while integrating their knowledge from weeks prior.
“You’re just trying to give your guys the opportunity that somewhere along in the game, (if) we gotta make an adjustment, we’ve got answers and it’s not like, ‘Well, I guess we’re done,’ ” Brown said. “We have enough answers, so that’s kind of what we’re looking for. But our guys adjust really well to that, so I’m not even sure that it’s an issue.”
Though Michigan hasn’t had this much time to prepare for an opponent all season, it gained ample experience in changing up routines to stay focused in both preseason and spring practice. For that reason, Brown is confident in his players.
Brown mentioned that Harbaugh puts it as “more is more.” When you have more practice, you have more answers. While finding the answers, though, it’s vital that the Wolverines stay focused.
“You end up watching a lot of the games, a lot of the film and you get to study a lot of the tendencies,” Glasgow said. “…I think you get to know the opponent better and I think you get to prepare better overall, but I mean, (the opponent) does too.”