Defensive Line Notes

Starting defensive line:

SDE - Brennen Beyer

NT - Ondre Pipkins, Jr.

DT - Willie Henry

WDE - Frank Clark

Depth chart:

Strongside Defensive End

Nose Tackle

  • Ondre Pipkins, Jr.
  • Willie Henry
  • Richard Ash
  • Bryan Mone

Defensive Tackle

  • Willie Henry
  • Henry Poggi
  • Maurice Hurst, Jr.
  • Ryan Glasgow

Weakside Defensive End


  • The nose tackle in Mattison's 4-3 under is typically a giant, immovable wall, and has to be good enough to draw a double-team from both the center and right guard. By doing this, he thus closes off the strongside A-gap - and if you have heard that before and were curious about the lingo, there are two A-gaps, which are the gaps between the center and each guard, where running plays might be designed to go; the two B-gaps are between the tackles and guards, and C-gaps between tackles and a tight end or extra lineman, depending on the play.
  • The only two players that look really good at nose tackle are OPJ and Willie Henry; Richard Ash has played only 14 games despite a four-star ranking out of Florida in 2010. He has good measurables (6'3", 314) for the nose spot, and provides some depth.
  • The other tackle position is called the under; there's a little more diversity to the kinds of successful under tackles, but usually they are strong, quick on their feet, and have great technique. They face off against the weakside or left guard, leaving the left tackle to face the weakside defensive end. Ideally, the under tackle can cut the gap between the center and guard and disrupt running plays for TFL's. Good under tackles are sometimes tabbed as 'interior pass rushers.'
  • Looking at the two end positions, weakside ends are generally the most athletic of the line, and height doesn't matter so much - which makes Taco Charlton an interesting case, in that he's a lanky and explosive 6'6". Strongside ends are supposed to be solid in run support and hold their tackles, leaving the SAM linebacker to make plays in gaps or rush the passer.
  • The star of the D-line next year should be Frank Clark. He had 12 tackles for loss this past year and 4.5 sacks. He turned a corner the last half of the season, but can still improve by playing within the philosophy of the defense. His problem has been losing contain on mobile quarterbacks and forcing the issue too much to try to make a play.
  • When Ondre Pipkins tore his ACL, Hoke lamented that he was just turning a corner and improving his play. The five games that he did play meant he wasn't eligible for a medical redshirt. So, OPJ will head into his junior year without having shown much in a Michigan uniform. It would have been nice to potentially redshirt him freshman year, and have him for his age-23 season instead of plugging him in for depth purposes with minimal returns at 19.
  • Brennen Beyer started 6 games at SDE this year after Jake Ryan's return; he'll be going back to SAM linebacker to back up Jake Ryan with Cam Gordon's graduation.
  • Ryan Glasgow is a big guy who walked on two years ago, earned a spot and played in 10 games this year. Matt Godin has earned some praise, as well. Both will be redshirt sophomores.
  • Before the K-State game, word was that two people who turned heads were Henry Poggi and Mo Hurst. Poggi needs to gain more muscle, so it'll probably be best if he's no more than a bench contributor next year while he gains reps in game conditions. Hurst is destined for the under spot, and has some quickness.
  • Michigan has been MSU-like (yeah, I know) at converting three-stars into stars on the defensive line - the now-departed Jibreel Black, Frank Clark, Keith Heitzman, Matt Godin, Willie Henry, Chris Wormley, Mario Ojemudia, and Mo Hurst all have a three-star background.
  • Bryan Mone, Lawrence Marshall, and Brady Pallante are coming in with the 2014 class. Mone has been called a brick, so he may contribute right away. Marshall looks like a very good prospect, and Pallante, also, seems like a really nice pick-up: he's a 2-star tackle out of Florida who has a wrestling history and advanced technique (à la Mike Martin). He's already been listed as high as 278 pounds. He's been called a natural nose tackle, but given his size he may fit better at the other tackle spot, and mirror a guy like Mo Hurst with his combination of stoutness and quickness.

Edit: Apparently Beyer will be the starting SDE this year. This gives a more veteran presence on the DL, and this makes me a little more comfortable.

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