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Stats show Michigan 'D' can only improve

The headline for Chris Fallica's latest Stats & Info blog post -- "Michigan must improve defensively" -- isn't exactly a news flash.

Anyone who watched the Wolverines defense the past three seasons knew things couldn't get much worse on that side of the ball. New coach Brady Hoke and his staff would have to mess up royally not to facilitate some type of improvement on defense this fall.

But exactly how dire did things get on defense in Ann Arbor during Rich Rodriguez's tenure?

In three years -- or 37 games -- under Rodriguez, the Michigan Wolverines allowed 40 points nine times. From 1935 to 2007 -- or 778 games -- the Wolverines allowed 40 points a total of nine times.

Wow. Pretty damning evidence against the previous coaching staff.

ESPN Stats & Info also shows that among the 66 FBS teams from BCS automatic-qualifying conferences, Michigan ranked 59th or worse in points allowed (30.7 ppg), yards allowed (405 ypg), pass efficiency defense (136.4 rating) and number of 20-yard plays allowed (84) between 2008-10.

The good news?

Enter new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who served as Michigan's defensive coordinator in the 1995-1996 seasons. During those two successful seasons, Mattison's defense didn’t allow 30 points once and allowed an average of 16.3 PPG over those 25 games.

While it might be unrealistic to expect those numbers in Year 1, Michigan's D should take steps toward regaining its typical form.