Jim Harbag has settled on his third defensive coordinator at Michigan, and his choice may be his biggest coaching swing.
Sunday afternoon, the Wolverines announced that Baltimore Ravens linebackers coach Mike Macdonald had been hired to run Michigan’s defense. Macdonald succeeds Don Brown, who was let go last month and has since taken on the job of a defensive coordinator in Arizona.
Macdonald has no defensive coordinator experience, and is only a graduate assistant at the college level.
Macdonald had served as the Rens’ linebackers coach since 2018, and was Baltimore’s defensive backs coach in 2017. Prior to this, he was a defensive assistant from 2014-16. This fall, McDonald helped the Ravens to their seventh-best total defense in the NFL and the league’s second-best scorer defense. Baltimore also ranked in the top five in both categories in 2018 and 2019. During his time as a position coach, MacDonald directly coached Pro-Bowl players in Eric Weddle, CJ Mosley and Matthew Judon.
Prior to joining John Harbag’s staff in Baltimore, McDonald worked with Georgia as a graduate assistant with his alma mater. Macdonald graduated from Georgia in 2010, and immediately joined the Bulldogs’ staff as a defensive graduate assistant, after spending two of his collegiate years coaching for Cedar Shoals High School.
As a graduate assistant with Georgia, McDonald earned accolades for mentioning All-SEC linebacker Ramik Wilson, and was selected as a grade assistant to go on the road being recruited during a coaching change.
At Michigan, McDonald will have a defense that has talent and is ready to go back to making several starts, but the 2020 short season was terrible. The Wolverines allowed 2-4 yards, 54th in yards per game in 2020, 84th in yards per game allowed and 94th in yards per game. Michigan in particular was very weak per pass, ranking 90th in passing yards per game, ranking 65th in passer rating, allowing 12 touchdown passes compared to two interceptions, and ranking 104th in sacks per game .
Nevertheless, Wolverine seems ready for a strong core to operate in 2021. Aidan Hutchinson, Brad Hawkins, Daxton Hill, Josh Ross, Michael Barrett, Graeme Green, Vincent Gray and Christopher Clinton gave Michigan eight primary starts, while others such as Donovan Jeter, Makari Peig, Taylor Upshaw and Julius Walshof also returned. have hope. In total, the Wolverines add three more to the 2022 recruiting class, and are aggressively chasing the NCAA transfer portal, in the project of returning 19 four or five-star defensive recruits.
VIP: Michigan continues to track multiple defensive linemen in the transfer portal.
So far, it is unclear who will join MacDonald in the defensive staff. Cornerbacks coach Michael Zordich and Safaris coach Bob Shoop are not expected to keep up with the Wolverines, while lineback coach Brian Jean-Marie and defensive line coach Sean Nua have a precarious position. A list of potential secondary coaches can be found here.
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