Michigan’s defense had a complete turnaround in 2021 under defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. The defensive played at such a high clip Macdonald is now the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, the organization he was at before Michigan hired him.
When it came to who would replace Macdonald, the process wasn’t hard for head coach Jim Harbaugh, he picked from the coaching tree of his brother, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, once again.
This time Harbaugh hired Jesse Minter, who was previously on the Ravens staff and was Vanderbilt’s defensive coordinator in 2021. Minter was under consideration for the DC job back in 2021, but it went to Macdonald, but a year later things changed, and Minter is in Ann Arbor.
“He came highly recommended last year by my brother John, and Jesse and I have continued to have discussions and maintain a friendship which helped bring him to Ann Arbor,” Harbaugh said earlier this year.
- Indiana State: 2009-10 (linebackers coach), 2011-12 (defensive coordinator)
The Indiana State defense ranked third in the FBS in scoring defense in 2012 (14.32 points per game) and sixth in total defense (296.4 avg). During Minter’s time at ISU the Sycamores had three winning seasons in a row for the first time in over 40 years.
- Georgia State- 2013-16 (defensive coordinator)
Georgia State had the biggest improvement in scoring defense in the nation from 2014 to 2015. Georgia State allowed 15 fewer points and 122.3 fewer yards per game. Minter was nominated for the 2015 Broyles Award, which goes to the top assistant coach in college football. Georgia State ranked in the top-25 in 2016 in red zone defense, yards per play allowed, and pass efficiency defense.
- Baltimore Ravens- 2017-18 (defensive assistant), 2019 (assistant defensive backs coach), 2020 (defensive backs coach)
Minter worked with the defensive backs in 2017 and ‘18 and was involved in quality control, self-scouting, and opponent analysis. Minter was elevated to assistant defensive backs coach in 2019, a season Baltimore had three Pro Bowl selections in their secondary (Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Earl Thomas). In 2020 as defensive backs coach the Ravens ranked third in the NFL in fewest yards/passing attempt (6.4) and seventh in defensive passer rating (87.2).
- Vanderbilt- 2021 (defensive coordinator)
Vandy ranked 118th in total defense, 107th in rushing defense, and 114th in passing yards allowed. The unit ranked 27th in red-zone defense, and 33rd in passes intercepted.
Style of defense
Minter’s his own man, but a reason he was installed as defensive coordinator is that there will be continuity in the scheme from last season. Players and coaches consider this year two of Michigan’s defensive scheme, there just happens to be a new defensive coordinator at the helm.
“I think it’s a relentless, competitive group that thrives in situational football. Plays with an edge, plays with a chip on our shoulder, I think it’s going to be a team defense, where you do what’s best for the team, but also where we’ll try to do things to showcase different guys every week,” Minter said this spring. “Maybe a little bit more versatile in that regard, where you don’t have like that one guy that’s going to get 12/15 sacks, or the two guys. So, I think it’s just going to be a strong camaraderie, guys that play for each other, and play really hard and play really fast. Hopefully, that’s something that the fans enjoy watching.”
Harbaugh has a sneaky suspicion the 2022 defense may be even better than they were a season ago. That’s a reflection of the talent on that side of ball, as well as his trust in Minter and the rest of the defensive staff.