|Craig Roh will get a chance to create deja vu on September 3rd
A couple weeks ago, I posed the question, “Who will lead Michigan’s 2011 defense in sacks?” Here are the results of that poll:
Craig Roh: 49%
Mike Martin: 21%
Jibreel Black (tie): 10%
Ryan Van Bergen (tie): 10%
Jake Ryan: 3%
Cameron Gordon: 1%
William Campbell: 1%
Junior defensive end Craig Roh won the vote in a landslide victory. I can’t tell if that’s good or bad. Obviously, Michigan fans have high hopes for a coaching staff that features three current or former defensive line coaches in head coach Brady Hoke, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, and defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery. Roh was miscast as a linebacker last season and garnered only 1/2 a sack, which means that backup safety Thomas Gordon had 1.5 more sacks. Yikes. Still, Roh ought to be the starter at weakside end, which should create plenty of one-on-one opportunities with offensive tackles.
Senior defensive tackle Mike Martin finished second in the voting, but it surprised me that he only got 21% of the vote. Martin had 2.5 sacks last season when he was strictly a nose tackle, and Mattison has promised to move Martin around this year – even to outside linebacker at times – to use his athleticism, strength, and quickness in various ways. Martin will still face plenty of double teams, but if he can avoid the ankle injuries that slowed him last year, he might give Roh a run for his money.
Sophomore defensive end Jibreel Black and fifth year senior defensive end Ryan Van Bergen had exactly the same number of votes. Black will split time between both defensive end positions, but he had zero sacks among his 7 total tackles as a freshman. Meanwhile, Van Bergen is the active sack leader with 9 total. He will face his share of double-teams as well, but he’s relentless and could make a run at the team lead, as well.
Redshirt freshman SAM linebacker Jake Ryan did not play at all last season. He did have an impressive spring and earned compliments from the coaching staff, but at best, he’s expected to split time with redshirt sophomore Cam Gordon at outside linebacker.
Speaking of Gordon, he just barely beat out junior defensive tackle William Campbell (by one vote) for last place on the list. Gordon had zero sacks among his 77 total tackles last season, although to be fair, Gordon played half the season at free safety before moving to outside linebacker. In one-and-a-half seasons at defensive tackle, Campbell – who moved from DT to offensive guard midway through 2010 – had only 5 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. He moved back to defensive line in the spring and at 6’5″, 333 lbs. should be a load for any offensive guard to handle one-on-one. I do expect Campbell to break out this season, but Ndamukong Suh-like seasons are rare from defensive tackles. Campbell will more likely end the year with 2 or 3 sacks, and hopefully a couple of his teammates will surpass that total.
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