Thursday, January 17, 2013
Depth chart analysis: Defensive tackles
By Michael Rothstein
Over the next few weeks, WolverineNation will look at every position on the Michigan roster and give a depth chart analysis of each position on the roster heading into the offseason.
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke and his defensive coordinator, Greg Mattison, both have backgrounds as defensive line coaches and perhaps more than any other position on the roster, have high expectations for their defensive linemen. Hoke believes a lot of a team’s success starts there.
Both also preach the importance of technique perfection -- and have for years. It is what makes this year’s defensive tackles group an interesting one for the Wolverines.
The starters: Redshirt senior Quinton Washington and senior Jibreel Black. While “starters” at the position doesn’t mean a ton considering Mattison’s desire to have a rotation to keep guys fresh -- not unlike the defensive line -- expect the two seniors to end up with a lot of the primary downs. Washington emerged as a good Big Ten defensive tackle this season after not playing much at all his first two seasons. Black has moved around a bit, but started to find a comfort zone inside as the season ended. Another offseason to develop size and knowledge of the position should allow him to hold on to the starting position.
The depth: Sophomore Ondre Pipkins. Redshirt freshmen Matt Godin, Willie Henry and Ryan Glasgow. Freshmen Henry Poggi and Maurice Hurst Jr. Juniors Kenny Wilkins and Richard Ash. While these are a lot of names, there is precious little experience there among them. Pipkins played the most out of the group and would likely spell Washington and replace Black in situations where Michigan wanted major size on the line. Other than that, there isn’t much. Wilkins and Ash have barely played and the rest of the group are freshmen.
The question mark: The depth. There just isn’t much there as far as known quantities. Pipkins has to improve in the offseason and while there are players who have said they are high on both Godin and Henry, they have still never played a college snap. This is another spot where it could be tough to see a freshman getting into the mix, but unlike on the offensive line, there is more of an opening and precedent for playing freshmen right out of high school.
The bottom line: This is still going to a position of concern entering the season, but not like a year ago when both Will Campbell and Washington were major question marks. Washington is more of a known factor this season and should have a lot of room to improve while Black has always had the potential to be good -- but actually shown it on occasion during his first three seasons bouncing from end to tackle. But Michigan is going to need this position to do a lot well next season, much like it did in 2011 with Mike Martin.