Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Is The Defensive Line Beginning to Wear Down?

Some have begun to wonder if fatigue is slowing what has been at most times this year a dominant defensive line. I think the easy answer is yes, at least to some extent. It's been a grueling run through a series of physical games (appropriately deemed by many to be the "gauntlet").

But I also think that this defensive line is probably not as fatigued as they have been in the past for a few reasons. First, there is no question that the entire team, d-line included, came into Fall in much better shape. That will continue to pay dividends down the stretch. Second, Michigan continues to lead the nation in time of possession, keeping the defense on the sidelines more than any other team out there. Finally, the staff has consistently rotated Jamison and Johnson, and less consistently a few others like Van Alstyne and Marques Walton.

The two guys most susceptible to being worn down are obviously Branch and Taylor, one or both face double teams on practically every play, and neither regularly shares time with a backup, as does Biggs, and to a lesser extent, Woodley. But I have't seen signs that they are so worn down they can't go when they need to, and Carr said he was pleased with everyone's effort after viewing the BSU film. I believe him. He's not one to hold back if he thinks guys are not getting after it. Moverover, if there are effort problems (which are the tell-tale signs of fatigue), they may not be publicly declared, but info usually trickles out. We're hearing nothing of the sort.

In sum, I think it is likely these guys are tired. That certainly does not make them unique at this time of year. It would have been nice to have the originally scheduled bye week, but I'm sure OSU feels the same way. But I think there is reason to believe there is probably a lot more in the tank, if called upon. I think the coaches will implore this team, and this d-line unit to so demonstrate this weekend. Indiana is playing for their bowl lives and should not be understimated. Yes, they lost by 37 to Minnesota, but they also gained 501 yards of offense in that contest. I think (hope) our guys understand that they need to come out and take it to Indiana early. At which time, we'll have two choices - keep the defensive 1's in the game, or run the risk of repeating what happened last week. Personally, I'll take a repeat of last week, so long as it means winning. Comfortably winning is not worth the risk of injury or additional fatigue heading into OSU.

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