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Michigan fires defensive coordinator Don Brown after five seasons

Nick Bromberg
·2-min read

Michigan is looking for a new defensive coordinator.

Don Brown is out as the team’s defensive leader after five seasons. Michigan’s defense was routinely picked apart during the 2020 season as the Wolverines gave up 34.5 points per game in a 2-4 season.

Michigan’s pass defense was especially brutal. The Wolverines allowed opposing QBs to complete nearly 60 percent of their passes for over 255 yards per game. Or to put it in context, quarterbacks playing Michigan played better than quarterbacks playing for Michigan. The Wolverines averaged 250 passing yards per game and their QBs completed under 58 percent of their passes. Joe Milton and Cade McNamara combined to throw for nine touchdowns while QBs playing Michigan threw 12 TDs over six games.

The passing success against Michigan’s defense came as opposing quarterbacks often found their receivers in man coverage against Michigan’s defensive backs. The Wolverines were regularly beaten deep in a 27-24 loss to Michigan State on Halloween. That game dropped Michigan to 1-1 and made it clear that Michigan wasn’t going to be a Big Ten East contender in 2020.

Changes to Michigan’s coaching staff had been expected after the Wolverines’ struggles in 2020. As coach Jim Harbaugh seems set to return in 2021 without a contract extending him beyond the season in place, Brown’s dismissal is unsurprising.

Brown came to Michigan ahead of the 2016 season from Boston College. Michigan had never given up more than 21 points a game in any of his four previous seasons with the team or had never been outside the top 10 in yards per play during Brown’s tenure until 2020.

Michigan played just six games in 2020 because of COVID-19. The Wolverines were unable to play Ohio State and Iowa at the end of the season because of a COVID-19 outbreak and also had a game against Maryland cancelled.

Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown looks on during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Maryland, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in College Park, Md. Michigan won 38-7. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Don Brown has been at Michigan since 2016. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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