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Michigan defense attacking mental part of game during lockdown

Michigan’s defense is concentrating on schematics during quarantine.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 05 Iowa at Michigan

Michigan Wolverines defensive coordinator Don Brown is maintaining a positive attitude during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite not being able to be around his players in person.

“The one thing I’ve learned in this process is don’t take coaching for granted. Work hard every day. Try to be a great role model for your players,” Brown said on Jon Jansen’s In the Trenches podcast. “Have fun with the guys and just realize that coaching football is a gift. It’s not a right and that’s what’s important.”

Brown has been pleased with the enthusiasm his defense has for learning.

“Without a doubt, one of the other things that I noticed is when we’re running our virtual meetings, guys are never late. Very attentive. I don’t think I’ve had one discipline issue through the entire seven weeks and you can tell the ole love of football is there. They’re anxious to learn,” Brown said.

The number one question Brown has been receiving from players, though, is ‘when are we coming back? When are we coming back to play?’

“I tell them... I think it’s, it’s really important... you’ve got to control the things that you can control. And that takes care of your grades, which our guys have done. Do the very best they can to find some options to maintain their conditioning, do a great job of the mental process, because now is the time we can really attack the mental part of the game, the scheme, the concepts, and those kinds of scenarios,” Brown said. “Just control the things that you can control. And when they tell us, ‘On your mark, get set, go’, let’s make sure we’re ready to go.”

Michigan has lost valuable practice and conditioning time that helps players fine-tune their craft and get them in game shape, but Brown is satisfied with how the defensive coaches are teaching players in a virtual environment.

“We’ve reduced it to eight installs. Obviously, we take them through the installs. But the one thing that I’ve learned here is, and I tell the coaches on defense, don’t neglect the teachable moment. So if you’re into a concept, and for example, you’re working on a run concept and, and guys are struggling, instead of feeling that, that that, hey, I’ve got to move on. I got to get them all this material. Take the teachable moment. Make sure that you give time to whatever concept that you’re working with so that the players have a complete understanding,” Brown said. “If you’re looking at it negatively, you can’t see him in person, you’re fighting the virtual world. But if you look at it positively, you don’t have any time constraints. You’ve got plenty of time to install, review, and teach your guys so when they hit the ground running whenever that is, we’ll be ready to go.”

Brown noted that veteran leaders on Michigan’s defense have helped teammates learn concepts.

“I also think another feature for us, and I’m certainly telling our guys is, we’ve been in this system for four years, and obviously, we’re tweaking it every year to a certain degree. At least in a lot of the commonalities, our guys really know it and, more importantly, our upperclassmen know it like the back of their hand,” Brown said. “So they’re able to work with the young guys and teach them the concepts because obviously the best leadership comes from within.”