U-M Insider: Defensive changes seem to be working

BY foxsports • November 19, 2010

Ann Arbor -- Although Michigan's defense scored more touchdowns (one) than Purdue's offense (none), it's premature to say the Wolverines have turned the corner.

Purdue's offense is depleted because of injuries, and inept. We'll know a lot more after Saturday's game against Wisconsin, which put up 83 points on Indiana.

Regardless, two recent position changes seem to be working well for the Wolverines. Sophomore Craig Roh switched from outside linebacker to defensive end, where he played last season, and redshirt freshman Cam Gordon went from free safety to the hybrid safety/linebacker spot.

"I think it's helped us because it's helped him," coach Rich Rodriguez said of Roh's move. "Craig was a defensive end in high school. He was athletic enough, so we thought he could play some linebacker. I still think he can.

"But he's more comfortable, and I think we're better with him being in a position he's natural at. He's a high-motor guy. When he's in a three-point stance, coming off the edge, I think he's more effective. Putting his hand down makes him a lot more comfortable. That makes us better."

Roh was significantly undersized at 238 pounds when he played up front as a true freshman but he held his own. He's now at 251, still not an ideal weight.

Rodriguez expects Roh, who is 6-foot-5, eventually to get up to 265 pounds and stay at defensive end for his final two years.

Gordon, meanwhile, was moved from receiver to free safety last spring to take advantage of his athletic ability, aggressive nature and a natural nose for the football.

Gordon (6-3, 207) struggled at times to defend the deep part of the field. He's better playing closer to the line, where his weakness in coverage won't be exposed.

"With Cam's size and mental makeup, he's better closer to the ball," Rodriguez said. "He's a physical guy. When he's down lower, it's not as much room to cover as when he was playing on the back end.

"He was a receiver a year ago. He's going to keep getting better. One thing I like about him, he loves playing football."

Said Gordon of the latest move: "I feel it has been good for me. If it's good for the team, it's good for me.