2017 Season Countdown: #37 Noah Furbush

2017 Season Countdown: #37 Noah Furbush

July 27, 2017

Noah Furbush (image via Twitter)

Name: Noah Furbush
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 238 lbs.
High school: Kenton (OH) Kenton
Position: Linebacker
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #59
Last year: I ranked Furbush #39 and said he would be the backup SAM linebacker. He made 15 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.
TTB Rating: 64

Furbush did a good job on special teams in 2015 and worked his way into the good graces of the coaching staff. Going into 2016 he was in line for a more prominent role. He was slated to be the backup SAM linebacker, with Jabrill Peppers as the starter. After missing the first few games due to injury, he returned to make 15 total tackles throughout the year. In Don Brown’s defensive scheme, he’s not the type of player who gets a ton of snaps at SAM unless a team is using a tight end and fullback regularly.

This year there are rumors that Brown might line up Furbush as a weakside end, along with having him play SAM. The depth at weakside end is thin, with Chase Winovich being the only player with any noteworthy experience. Jabrill Peppers is gone, but a similar player in Khaleke Hudson has been inserted in his place. Furbush is still the best option as a traditional SAM linebacker, but Brown’s blitz-heavy scheme may lean more toward fellow backup Joshua Uche on passing downs. Furbush has several roles he can fill – SAM, WDE, special teams – but he’s unlikely to break out at any spot.

Prediction: Backup SAM linebacker, backup WDE, special teamer


  1. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Jul 27, 2017 at 12:30 PM

    Nice post. Agree on almost all fronts.

    The part I don’t agree with harkens back to the argument last year about SAM vs Viper. Furbush was not “next man in” as Peppers’ backup at “SAM”.

    Furbush did not play any defensive snaps against Wisconsin, while Peppers and Hill played every down. Furbush did come in when Peppers got nicked against MSU. Furbush was not a top option when Peppers went down before FSU.

    This holds even when the other team used a TE and FB all the time, the SAM stayed on the bench. This is just Don Brown’s defense. The SAM is a situational substitute, at best.

    The starting SAM may have a bigger role now that the starting Viper is less of a force of nature, but these are as different positions as the physical makeup of the guys who play there. The depth chart may list them that way but that’s wonky, distorting, and even perhaps intentionally misleading.

    It’s like listing a slot WR at FB. One replaces the other sometimes, but it’s not the same position.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3849
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jul 27, 2017 at 1:05 PM

      Furbush was injured and missed every game leading up to Wisconsin. It’s not hard to believe that his absence from the defense against Wisconsin was at least in part due to missing snaps during practice, games, etc. leading up to that point.

      Regardless, Don Brown’s playbook at Boston College called the starting strongside linebacker a “SAM.” Whether you want to call Peppers a SAM or Viper, or whether Furbush is a SAM or Viper, etc., it’s really just semantics for some of these purposes. There’s really no way for us to tell as outsiders what these guys are calling their positions during film and on the practice field.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6285
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Jul 27, 2017 at 5:10 PM

        Yes the SAM/Viper terminology is semantics, but saying Furbush is “next man in” to replace Peppers/Hudson is not. The traditional 235-245 pound OLB is not a thing in the Michigan defense except in special packages.

        Nickel CBs (or some other DB variant) play in the dominant personnel package in the NFL and if not also true in college it’s probably not far off – though there is more variability in college schemes than the ubiquitous pro-style offense (passing spread) of the NFL.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 10
    Joined: 4/20/2017
    Jul 27, 2017 at 8:30 PM

    I think Furbush will play quite a bit. Maybe even approach 1/3 of the snaps between SLB and maybe some WDE. My biggest indicator is that he played quite a bit against FSU, and I thought he played quite well. When the choice was Furbush or Peppers, Furbush didn’t play, but when the choice was Furbush or Metellus, Furbush got a lot of snaps. I think Hudson vs. Furbush will be a similar ratio.

    Furbush looks to me like a good, experienced football player, and there are not a lot of those on next year’s defense. I do think Kinnel, Metellus, Hudson and Glasgow are all guys you’d like on the field. I think they’ll find a way to get them all some snaps and keep everyone fresh. My best guess is Glasgow rotates in with the safeties with some snaps at viper, and the viper/SLB snaps are split 60/30/10 (Hudson/Furbush/Glasgow) or something like that.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Jul 27, 2017 at 9:29 PM

      I don’t remember Furbush playing nearly as much as Metellus in the bowl game. Kinnell, Watson, and L.Hill also saw snaps. I wish we had snap count data but I couldn’t find any.

      I think there’s a decent chance Furbush is one of the best 12-15 football players on the defense, but his path to more playing time is likely at end, IMO.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 528
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      Jul 28, 2017 at 1:28 AM

      Completely agree. People tend to think every team you play in conference is just about blitzing and playing some sort of spread offense. It is NOT. Sometimes you need linebacker’s who can bring the wood. Playing teams like Wiscy or MSU or Iowa who want to run the ball and play ‘manball’ is tough to play with undersized linebackers. See Bush and guys who want to play downhill.

      You need bigger guys like a Sam Sword. UM needed Sword to win the NC even with guys like Gold and Jones.

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