Don Brown describes the moment he knew Jim Harbaugh was a good fit

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Tuesday October 18, 2016

When Don Brown interviewed for the Michigan defensive coordinator job last offseason, he emphasized his pressure style, but downplayed just how much.

But Harbaugh knew the real number, and that’s what he wanted.

On Harbaugh's radio show Monday, Brown said, “When we were chatting, I said, ‘Coach, I’m probably 65 percent pressure.’ He goes, ‘No, I think it’s more like 85.' So I knew I was in good shape."

“Obviously, he likes it aggressive. His approach offensively is the same. It’s like looking in the mirror. It’s a good fit for both of us.”

Here are the results: Through 6 games, Michigan leads the nation in scoring defense (10.3 ppg) and 3rd down defense (12.2 percent), they’re second in TFLs per game (9.8) and third in rushing defense (2.8 ypc). They allowed 39 total yards against Rutgers two weeks ago.

Brown’s defense gave up several big plays in wins over UCF and Colorado earlier, but he vowed he wouldn’t change things over his dead body, because offenses wanted that. A few weeks later, the Wolverines better understand the concepts, and that’s only improving.

“People assume you’re just blitzing to blitz and we’re going to come from here. It doesn’t happen that way,” Brown said. “You evaluate the protections in the pass game, you evaluate the run plays that you’re seeing, and then you formulate and adapt and tweak your pressures based on formations, their play strength and you go from there. The only thing you try to do is play on their side of the line of scrimmage, not your side. There’s a learning curve to all that.

“We gave up a couple big plays in the UCF game in the run game. OK. We’re working hard to get that solved and give up a couple pass plays in the Colorado game — by the way Colorado is a good team. We’re still going through it. Wherever we were at that point in terms of concept and understanding, three weeks from now, we’ll be this much better, and three weeks from then, we’ll be that much better. That’s happening.”

FootballOutsiders’ advanced stats rank Michigan’s defensive line No. 1 in the country. Brown also has perhaps the nation’s best cornerback in Jourdan Lewis and a Heisman candidate in linebacker Jabrill Peppers. He’s got all sorts of tools at his disposal, and mixed with his pressure style, we’re seeing the results.

"It’s fun going to work every day. It really is," he said. "When you go to that meeting room and look around the players I’m so fortunate to coach, it’s exciting on a day-to-day basis.”

The Wolverines host Illinois on Saturday. They’re favored in Vegas by more than 35 points. 

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to