|Ryan Van Bergen|
Name: Ryan Van Bergen
Weight: 288 lbs.
High school: Whitehall High School in Whitehall, MI
Position: Defensive end
Class: Redshirt senior
Jersey number: #53
Last year: I ranked Van Bergen #6 and said he would have 55 tackles and 7.5 sacks. He had 37 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, and 1 pass breakup.
I’ll be honest – I didn’t expect Michigan to run quite so much of the 3-3-5 last season. I thought it would be run only sometimes, and I assumed the Wolverines would blitz out of it. Eh . . . not so much. So for much of the season, Van Bergen was one of three rushers who made valiant but futile efforts to get to the quarterback. Without another down lineman or blitzers to draw attention away from the starting three, Van Bergen and his cohorts were constantly double-teamed and chipped by running backs. Production across the whole defensive line was down. Consider that in 2009, the four defensive linemen averaged 48 tackles and 4.9 sacks. In 2010 those averages dropped to 37.3 tackles and 3.2 sacks for the trio of Van Bergen, Mike Martin, and Greg Banks. But hey, at least Michigan’s strong safety had 116 tackles.
Van Bergen ought to see an uptick in his production as a senior this season. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has pronounced that Michigan will blitz, and with four defensive linemen already on the field, we should see Michigan’s sack totals leap significantly. From 2006-2010, Michigan’s sack totals dropped from 43 to 33 to 29 to 22 to 18. Even if one discounts the 2006 team that had so many stars (LaMarr Woodley, David Harris, Alan Branch, Shawn Crable, etc.), those totals in 2007 and 2008 are still satisfactory. But 18? Yikes. Van Bergen should benefit from the change in defensive philosophy. While he’ll line up on the strong side and face double-teams from a tackle and tight end on run plays, pass plays ought to give him a little more freedom to get a rush than he had last year. Combined with more pressure from the backside and some blitzing linebackers, I’m going to predict the exact same thing that I did last year.
Prediction: Starting strongside defensve end; 55 tackles, 7.5 sacks
Poll Results: Patrick Omameh got 43% of the votes for the #10 slot, while Van Bergen got 30%
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