- Jake Fromm/Daily
BY JOE STAPLETON
Daily Sports Editor
Published October 5, 2010
The defensive struggles for the Michigan football team this year have been well documented. One of the most common explanations for the issues on the defensive side of the ball is the unit's lack of experience, especially in the secondary. So against Indiana last week in Bloomington, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez decided to spread around what little experience he had.
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Specifically, he spread two of his most experienced defensive players around to different areas of the field.
Junior Mike Martin, who has started 17 straight games at nose tackle, found himself playing defensive end at times during Michigan's 42-35 win over the Hoosiers.
And redshirt sophomore J.T. Floyd, who has started every game this season at cornerback along with two games last year, was moved to safety at certain points in Saturday's game.
The move worked out well for Martin, who registered a sack rushing from the end spot.
"It was fun, it was different," Martin said after the game. "It was something coach (Rodriguez) put in at the end of the week, so I didn't get a chance to run it in practice."
Floyd, arguably the Wolverines' most consistent cornerback, had a good afternoon against Indiana, registering a pass breakup and 15 tackles, with one for loss. Some of those tackles occurred when he was playing safety.
"J.T., we put him in some different situations too," redshirt sophomore Jordan Kovacs said during Monday's press conference. "We had a couple different packages that we ran, I thought for the most part it worked."
It only worked to an extent, considering the Michigan (5-0 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) secondary was once again torched last weekend, allowing Hoosier quarterback Ben Chappell to have a record-setting day. The fifth-year senior completed 45 passes for 480 yards and three touchdowns, numbers that would make any defensive coordinator cringe.
Moving Martin and Floyd around to different positions could be indicative of a more desperate search for answers on defense, which will be tasked next week with stopping Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins and sensational freshman running back Le'Veon Bell.
RODRIGUEZ TALKS ROBINSON'S RECRUITMENT: Sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson has been, without a doubt, the nation's best player through the first five games of the season. But how did he get to Michigan? Rodriguez shed some light on his recruitment of Robinson during the Big Ten teleconference on Tuesday.
According to Rodriguez, one of the keys to landing Robinson was promising him that he would remain a quarterback as opposed to moving him around the field, which is what Florida and other schools aimed to do.
"It was a battle to the end because Florida and other schools were recruiting him as an athlete," Rodriguez said. "We told him quarterback and we were able to show him that we'd used similar quarterbacks in the past."
The most noteworthy of those past quarterbacks was obviously Pat White, Rodriguez's last quarterback at West Virginia and a gifted athlete. Comparisons between White and Robinson have abounded since the sophomore arrived at Michigan, but the comparisons have mostly centered around running ability.
Rodriguez said the comparison could go beyond that.
"I think the biggest comparison that I've seen so far is their ability to lead a team and the attention they get is not going to faze them at all," Rodriguez said. "Pat was a tremendous leader whose teammates rallied around him and I see the same thing with Denard."
DANTONIO TALKS DENARD: Last week, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio was forced to watch his team's victory over then-No. 11 Wisconsin from his hospital bed. His assistants have said they were in constant contact with the coach throughout the game on his cell phone.
On Saturday in the Big House, they'll only need a headset. Dantonio said during the Big Ten teleconference Tuesday that he'll be coaching from the press box.
The Spartans have a much different challenge in front of them this weekend. While they may have just beaten one of the best teams in the Big Ten, they now face Heisman frontrunner Denard Robinson.
"He is certainly special," Dantonio said of Robinson during the teleconference on Tuesday. "We have not come across a player like him in a long, long time."