Ohio State fans, brace yourselves. Michigan football has brought in Wink Martindale to run their defense. He’s the guy who taught the system to both Mike Macdonald and Jesse Minter during their time with the Baltimore Ravens. Now, he’s back in college, taking charge of the defense his proteges used so well.

Martindale is known for being aggressive, but he’s more focused on what works for the players than making his mark. On the GM Shuffle podcast, he discussed his approach.

“As a system, it’s very flexible and player-friendly. When you understand the concepts, it’s easy to learn. At the college level, simulated pressures can be just as effective as blitzes. But, I’m more aggressive than Macdonald and Minter, sometimes to a fault. Jesse did a fantastic job, and now they’ve changed some terminology for coach-to-player communication, making it simpler with one-word names.”

Michigan’s new DC Wink Martindale

Martindale’s reputation for heavy blitzing has Michigan fans worried he’ll be like their former defensive coordinator, Don Brown. However, he insists that his strategy isn’t just about blitzing. It’s about confusing quarterbacks with different looks, similar to what Macdonald and Minter did.

“Well, like you mentioned, when you have free runners to the quarterback, people think it’s all blitzing. But we attack protections based on who’s playing and who we’re facing. For example, we used to blitz Patrick Mahomes a lot until he got good at reading pressures. Now, we use simulated pressures against him because he’s quick at seeing and reacting to blitzes. Our approach changes year to year and game to game.”

Michigan’s new DC Wink Martindale

If Martindale adapts his defense to the players and the system they know, as he says he will, Michigan’s defense could be very strong. But, let’s not get carried away—Ohio State will be ready for whatever they bring come the final Saturday in November.