Spotlight on New Michigan Football Coach: DC Mike Macdonald

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Michigan needed a new face in defense – new teaching skills, a new personality and new energy.

Michigan opted for someone that head coach Jim Harbaugh’s brother (Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh) knew very well – his linebacker coach Mike Macdonald.

“My brother John was like, yeah, he’s the guy I would hire and probably be our next defensive coordinator here in Baltimore after (defensive coordinator) Wink (Martindale),” Harbaugh said. “And what he liked about himself, what he told me, when I asked him what he liked about him, he said he was really smart, he was downstairs of the Ravens when they changed their defense, invented their defense and their scheme.Very detailed and very good teacher.

Macdonald’s coaching career, spanning more than a decade, includes two separate stops, learning under the guidance of two high-performing coaches, Mark Richt in Georgia and John Harbaugh in Baltimore.

The story of Macdonald’s training

2010: Georgia- Graduate assistant

2011-2013: Georgia – Defensive quality control

2014: Baltimore Ravens – Intern

2015-16: Baltimore Ravens – Defensive Assistant

2017: Baltimore Ravens – Defensive Back Coach

2018-20: Baltimore Ravens – Linebacker Coach

2021-present: Michigan- Defensive Coordinator

As John Harbaugh told Jim, Macdonald was part of Baltimore revising their plan and building it from scratch, which likely helped Macdonald in assembling the Michigan defense to adapt it. to the strengths of its current playmakers.

The Ravens’ defense did a lot of blitzing with Macdonald in the staff, in fact, they were No. 1 in blitz percentage in 2020 at 44.1%.

“You look at the defense of the Ravens and what Wink has been able to do and the rest of our staff over the last few years. You’re like, man, guys are flying everywhere. That’s kind of what we’re trying to create here, ”Macdonald told the media. “I think the secret sauce is that it’s really not that complicated. Again, just different concepts layered together. We are trying to make an offense more complex. I’m really trying to make the offender’s life a living nightmare.

When it comes to ploy, the opposition will not be able to fully classify the unit. “We’re gonna do it all, baby. We’re going to play the pattern, we’re going to play the zone, we’re going to play the guy. I’m going to have it all, ”Macdonald said.

And even doing everything, Macdonald doesn’t try to complicate matters. The defense learned one principle of the scheme before moving on to the next – and if they don’t shoot all the cylinders in a layer, they don’t move forward until they figure out what to do.

The defense setup has been orderly under Macdonald, as have the labels Macdonald chooses not to put on players in certain positions. “Guys who play on the edge of our defense, whether you call him a linebacker, whatever you want to call him, a fancy name, everyone has a fancy name for an outside backer. Listen, man, get on the edge, make sure you rush the ferryman and when you are asked to let go, don’t go wrong. We don’t separate atoms, ”Macdonald said. “There is a certain temper, intensity and violence that we expect them to play with. I think we have a really strong bunch of guys that we ask to do that and have that skill set.

Macdonald, 34, has received great reviews from Michigan staff coaches, as well as veteran leaders such as defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. “Coach Mac came here with a lot of energy and it’s a different kind of focus,” Hutchinson said. “You can tell he’s been in the league for eight years. He has this way of him. I like what we do with defense. I love the culture he instills in us, I think he does a really good job and I’m really excited to have him as a coach.

Macdonald’s task is great, but it can be accomplished. There can be rapid changes in college football from year to year when it comes to how well a defense or offense performs, and that’s what Michigan is aiming to achieve on both sides of the ball in 2021. .

There’s a lot of work to be done to keep the Macdonald and Michigan defense respected, and as linebacker Josh Ross said, they like to be the underdogs. “We know what’s going on inside our building. We know how we have changed. We know how we have improved. We know how we grew up, ”Ross said. “And everyone will see that when the season rolls around. “

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