Former Ohio State linebacker and current ESPN analyst Chris Spielman has seen many Michigan - Ohio State games and has played in a handful, but he's never seen a worse U-M defense, he said on Columbus radio station 97.1 The Fan.
Michigan's only chance Saturday against Ohio State is that sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson, the fastest player Spielman said he's ever seen, has a huge game and the Buckeyes make mistakes, Spielman said. Otherwise, the Buckeyes should march up and down the field against a defense that features "Mike Martin and a bunch of guys who would be nice little subs at Indiana."
"It's not for lack of trying. They have a scheme, but they can't execute the scheme," said Spielman. "I'm not a big fan of the scheme because there are a lot of bubbles… areas to run. They're not gap sound. They make a lot of mental errors. I think some of it is youth, but some of it's got to be talent, right?
"Here's the deal with this whole defense at Michigan: I'm pretty sure this is going to happen. There's going to be a huge evaluation of what direction they're going to go defensively. What do you want to do philosophically? What type of player are we going to recruit? Are we going to have walk-ons from outside of Toledo be our starting safety [Jordan Kovacs] or are we going to get kids who can play?
"At Michigan you shouldn't have to play [guys like Kovacs]. The kid's tough. He plays hard, I love him, he's a battler, he's a warrior, and all their kids play hard. They're Michigan kids, so they're going to play hard. But that doesn't get it done at this level.
"When you have a team like Wisconsin that can line up and run the ball 34 out of 35 plays, 24 or 25 straight times down your throat and you know they're not changing and you can do absolutely nothing to stop it, you have a talent deficiency, and it's clear and evident that they do. [Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez] needs to reevaluate, 'What's our philosophy and what type of player are we going to get?' And they better get on our recruiting high horse and start going into living rooms and getting All-Americans and getting players that fit the Michigan defensive model that's been established over 100 years of talented players, NFL-ready type players who come in, play hard, play it with a level of tenacity and talent, which I'm used to seeing at Michigan.
"They had a defensive back [Charles Woodson] from Ohio who won the Heisman Trophy for crying out loud, the NFL MVP. Frankly, they don't have any of those guys on their roster."
There are many reasons for it, said Spielman.
"It's a combination of poor recruiting, in my opinion… I think [Lloyd] Carr, to be perfectly honest, left the cupboard bare in his last few years," he said. "I don't think they recruited the talent because you look at the upperclassmen that they have. They're all great kids. I had a chance to meet with a bunch of them. They practice hard, they play hard, and they're tough, but it comes down to one thing when you're talking about playing at a high level like Michigan is used to playing at, and that's talent. And they have zero on defense. One kid, the [Mike] Martin kid. Other than that, a lot of guys would be nice little subs at Indiana.
"It is the worst Michigan defense ever in the history of Michigan football in my opinion. They are so bad. They can't tackle. In my way of thinking, I don't know how they got this bad on defense. You look at Ohio State, when they lose players, we've had injuries, has this defense taken a noticeable step back? No. It still maintains. It still goes.
"Everybody is saying, 'Well, they're all young, they're all coming back.' Well, yeah, they're all coming back. It's the worst defense in the NCAA that they're all coming back [to]. Is that so exciting for you? It's bad.
"Martin is the only guy that could start at Ohio State - the only guy that could start. He would roll in there. He's a good player. But other than that, these guys would be excellent special teams guys."
For Spielman's comments on Robinson, click here: Spielman on Robinson