ANN ARBOR, Mich. - On the 'In the Trenches' podcast earlier this week, Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh said that he feels the defense is further along than last season's ballyhooed group at this time last year.
It's a notion that co-defensive coordinator/defensive pass game coordinator Steve Clinkscale echoes.
"Oh yeah, I agree with it," Clinkscale said on Thursday. "In the perspective that a lot of these guys have been in the system already, it isn't something that's new to them, starting off in the summer last year - even though I had a little bit of a spring previous to last fall camp, we still put in a lot of stuff at the same time. Most of the menu that we have, a lot of our players have already experienced."
But why has it looked better? The Wolverines lost the bulk of their departees on the defensive side of the ball, thus, most pundits anticipate that Michigan will take a step back on that front.
However, like we heard from players on Tuesday, the biggest step has been communication - which is borne from knowledge.
"Communicating and understanding all the nuances, what's gonna happen, to predict and anticipate the issues," Clinkscale said. "If you can coach like that and your players can think like that, it helps them stay further ahead with communication, with effort, with knowing your responsibility.
"I would agree with that, especially as far as understanding the game a lot better."
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This notion wasn't explained solely by the second-year secondary coach. First-year defensive coordinator Jesse Minter led off his Thursday media availability by explaining how the coaches have been preaching 'obnoxious communication' on defense.
"We always have said a loud defense is a good defense. One of the pillars of our defenses is obnoxious communication," Minter said. "And so, a lot of our calls, it might be rotation of coverage, it might be where's the pressure coming from? It might even be just, hey, they're lined up like this, alert for this. And so I think our group has just bought into that being a foundation of how we want to play defense. I think they started to do that but I think, as they continue in the second year, and have a lot of carryover, that allows them to do that with a lot of confidence.
"The more confidence you have, the louder you communicate. So when you look at the younger guys, sometimes it's quieter, it's not as good. And so the more that the more of those guys gain confidence in them, knowing what their assignment is, knowing what they're doing, the louder it becomes."
What makes said communication obnoxious? And why is it good? While Minter didn't elaborate, Clinkscale had answers on that front.
"Obnoxious is good on the football field! And it's gotta be crazy, like a fire drill, when that siren goes off," Clinkscale said. "It's gotta be great communication, everybody knows where they're supposed to go, what they're supposed to do so that we're safe."
Could that pay dividends this fall? We'll find out when the season opener against Colorado State comes Sept. 3.
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Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire