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Published: Saturday, 1/12/2008

Shafer is 'D' man at UM; Ohio native among 9 assistants named by Rodriguez


ANN ARBOR - Growing up in northeast Ohio, Scott Shafer had a family that was divided evenly between Michigan and Ohio State fans. So rather than choose one, he rooted for both.

As the newly named defensive coordinator with the Wolverines, Shafer and his rooting loyalties are a little more clearly defined.

Shafer, one of nine assistant coaches introduced by Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez yesterday at Schembechler Hall, is now assigned the task of stopping the Buckeyes, along with every other one of the Wolverines' opponents next season.

"The philosophy of our defense is based on attacking and reacting to the football," said Shafer, a Painesville native who spent last season as the defensive coordinator under former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh at Stanford.

"We want to be a defense that is always putting pressure and forcing the hand of the offense. We want to be a penetrating defense."

While Shafer said the Wolverines will run multiple defensive schemes in the fall, he said his experience in the 4-3 set will complement Rodriguez's background in the 3-3-5 formation, which he ran during his seven seasons as coach at West Virginia.

Shafer said he expects to utilize a 4-3 model on first and second down and then incorporate the 3-3-5 into his third-down coverage model and the nickel package.

According to Shafer, three goals are paramount in his defensive game plan: stopping the run, pressuring the quarterback and "creating on defense."

"We don't want to be a defense that sits back," Shafer said. "We want to be a defense that creates turnovers and turns turnovers into touchdowns. We want to score on defense.

"Our primary goal is always stop the run, lead the conference in sacks, lead the conference in interceptions and defensive scores. That's the way it's always been everywhere I've been, and that's the way it'll be here at Michigan."

The son of a long-time high school football coach, Shafer said his father, Ron, was his greatest coaching role model before he died 13 years ago.

"My dad always said a good coach can coach any position, and a good coach can coach any scheme," Shafer said. "We'll come up with an excellent scheme that is simple enough to let the kids attack and play with great aggression."

Shafer also received some words of wisdom from Harbaugh before making the move to Ann Arbor.

"He said he understood why I would be attracted to Michigan, for the same reasons he was attracted to Michigan," Shafer said.

"It's one of the best institutions in the country."

Those that make up the rest of Rodriguez's coaching staff are: Calvin Magee (associate head coach/offensive coordinator), Tony Dews (wide receivers), Greg Frey (offensive line), Tony Gibson (secondary), Jay Hopson (linebackers), Fred Jackson (running backs), Rod Smith (quarterbacks) and Bruce Tall (defensive line).

"I feel as good as I have in my coaching career that this is the best staff I've ever put together," said Rodriguez, who was sporting a No. 23 maize Michigan hockey jersey at the podium yesterday while introducing his assistants.

"Hopefully we'll win games to prove that, but nonetheless, I'm very, very excited."

Contact Zach Silka at: zsilka@theblade.com.

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