Published Friday, November 8, 2013 AT 9:20 AM / Updated at 10:34 AM
Big Red Breakfast: Michigan has options with third-down defense
Doug Thomas Omaha World-Herald

When you play Michigan and your offense faces third down, Barney Cotton says, you never know what you’ll see from the Wolverines.

Zone. Man to man. Three-man front. Four-man front. Seven defenders at the line of scrimmage. Blitzing. Dropping back into coverage. One deep. Three deep.

The Wolverine defense is coached by Greg Mattison, former coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens defense, and he has “maybe one of the most extensive third-down packages there is in college football,” Cotton said Friday at the Big Red Breakfast in Omaha.

It’s a lot to recognize for a freshman quarterback and a patched-together offensive line.

“Obviously we have to do good on first down,” said Nebraska’s associate head coach and running game coordinator. “If we do well enough on first and second down to avoid those third-and-seven pluses, that’s going to be one of the keys to victory.”

About Doug Thomas

Doug Thomas edits and writes stories for the Omaha World-Herald. He has worked at the newspaper since 1986 and filled roles such as Husker football writer, health and fitness writer and assistant sports editor. You can reach Doug at 402-444-1058 or