Reanimating Michigan Football
Sometimes, you get what you pay for. Mattison transformed one of the worst defenses in the country into one of the best. In each of his first two years, the defense gave up about half as many points as it did in 2010. Last season, Michigan allowed a meager 320 yards per game. Of the 120 FBS teams, only a dozen did better.
Mattison deserves most of the credit--but not all. Arguably, part of the defensive improvement in the Hoke era can be attributed to the more deliberate pace of Michigan's offense.
Coaches have long speculated that offensive and defensive success tend to "bleed" into each other. Exactly how that might happen remains largely unexplored, but Rich Rod is Exhibit A: his lightning offense forces his defense to spend more time on the field than most any coach would prefer. In his last year here, 2010, the Michigan defense faced 963 plays. In Hoke's first year, 2011, that number fell to 803. Defending against 160 fewer plays, Michigan almost had to do better.