New Michigan Wolverines defensive coordinator Don Brown is already mixing things up from last season. While still using a base 4-3 defense, Brown says that the versatility of his players means that the Wolverines won’t necessarily be using four down lineman or three linebackers on every play.
“We’ll start with the four down (lineman) scheme, but we are not exclusively that,” Brown said. “We’ll do it all. We’ll play a lot of man (coverage) tight. But we will also play some other things. That’s the new piece. And that’s the learning piece.”
A new wrinkle is this new versatile defense is where reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Jabrill Peppers will be playing. Last season, Peppers played primarily safety and defensive back, but so far in the Spring, he’s been lining up at linebacker.
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Brown clarified that this doesn’t mean Peppers won’t be playing in the secondary anymore, as he is still a viable asset back there, but the fact that the star sophomore is moving around once again, shows just how versatile he really is.
“That’s the beauty of it,” Brown said of leaving Peppers on the field. “We had a package today where he is in technically as a linebacker. So you may think you are going to get one alignment, but we can do completely different stuff.”
The one fear is that Peppers may get burnt out playing such a high percentage of snaps at multiple positions, as we saw him suffer from some injuries towards the end of last season. But if Brown can manage Peppers workload and keep him on the field, it’s hard to see this not working out for the Maize and Blue.