Friday, August 24, 2012

2012 Season Countdown: #6 Craig Roh

Craig Roh (#88)
Name: Craig Roh
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 281 lbs.
High school: Scottsdale (AZ) Chaparral
Position: Defensive end
Class: Senior
Jersey number: #88
Last year: I ranked Roh #17 and said he would have 50 tackles and 6 sacks.  He had 32 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.

It's a little hard to believe for a kid like Roh, but indications last year seemed to be that he struggled to buy in to what the new coaching staff was teaching him.  He was reverting back to old (a.k.a. bad) habits, which is somewhat understandable for a guy who had played outside linebacker in a 4-3 and then outside linebacker in a 3-3-5 stack and then defensive end in a 3-3-5 stack and then weakside defensive end in a 4-3.  In his first three seasons at Michigan, he played four positions.  He had an up-and-down season last year, disappearing for stretches and playing solidly at times.  He was never the elite talent that he appeared to be coming out of high school, but he wasn't bad, either.  He looked like just an average Big Ten starter.  Michigan fans keep waiting for these elite high school weakside ends to turn into elite college players, and it just doesn't seem to happen.

Now make it five positions in four years.  Roh has moved to strongside end to replace the departed Ryan Van Bergen.  He has apparently reached the 280 lb. mark, which is a step in the right direction.  For the most part, Roh has been known as a technique guy - despite his early struggles last season - and should be able to hold his own with even adequate weight.  As a high effort player, he shouldn't be a liability.  Strongside ends often have to take on double-teams from tight ends and tackles, and they're the guys opposing teams will run at most often.  Roh will be solid again in 2012 and pick up where Van Bergen left off, but the lack of a Mike Martin in the middle will hurt his production.

Prediction: Starting strongside end; 40 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks

Poll results: Roh won 61% of the vote for the #6 spot on the countdown.


  1. "Michigan fans keep waiting for these elite high school weakside ends to turn into elite college players, and it just doesn't seem to happen."

    Thinking of Tim Jamison? :)

    If you could have a do-over with Roh, how would you have deployed him (redshirt assumed)? I have to admit I'm personally surprised that he didn't turn into a 250# (or so) wrecking-ball WDE in college. Sure looked great at 6'4" and 220ish in high school ...

    Something tells me that (team needs aside) 280# isn't his optimal weight. Any thoughts on that?

    1. Yeah, Jamison is one of the guys I'm thinking of...

      Absolute, I would have redshirted him. He was roughly the same size as a freshman that Beyer was last year, and both could have used a redshirt. Keep him at WDE in the same system for three or four years, and you might have a different player. I think he bounced around too much and didn't have great coaching for his first couple years of college. If he were a redshirt junior weakside end this year (around 260 lbs.), I think a lot of people might see more upside with him. Unfortunately, he's a senior and has changed positions a bunch of times.

      I would have kept him at WDE in a 4-3 for his entire career. He might be needed at SDE as an upperclassman, anyway, and that's fine. Sometimes that happens. I don't think he'll be a great athlete at 280 lbs., but not many people are. He's learned to be technical, so I think he'll be fine this year even playing a little bit out of position and "overweight."

    2. There's no question he would have benefited from some stability, better coaching, and a red-shirt, but Roh's not athletic enough to be a great WDE. He has just 6.5 sacks in 3 years of significant playing time despite numerous opportunities, playing beside Martin and RVB. Even a disappointment of sorts like Jamison put up nearly that much every SEASON. He's a fine player and sounds like a good kid, but I don't think he's an impact guy - I don't expect him to make any all-conference teams (even though the media, but not the coaches, gave him honorable mention last year). He's not scaring anyone unless they happen to be afraid of thick eyebrows.

      The production simply hasn't been there for Roh and he's not a guy I've noticed putting frequent pressure on the QB either. He seems easy to block and I don't think that all falls on the coaching transition. I think he's one of the more over-hyped and over-rated players in recent Michigan football, maybe because there were so few guys who looked promising in the bad '09 and '10 defenses. Roh's a good, solid, player who won't mess up much, but he's not out there making a difference all that often and that's what you want from your rush end. I suspect he's a bit of a tweener in that he's too small to be a force at SDE and too slow to be an edge terror at WDE.

      Roh matters for this years team because DL depth is a weakness and he's one of the few proven players on it. But, if he's hurt Black can slide back to SDE (where he probably belongs), Brink can play a bit, and other guys like Heitzman and freshman are in the mix as well. This team has a screaming lack of depth at a lot of positions, and relative to those - SDE looks OK.

  2. I wish we could get a do-over with Roh too. A redshirt year followed by four years at WDE might have made him a great one.

  3. Roh looked really good in the spring game and I think he'll at least be a solid spot. I don't see him giving up big plays at the very least.

  4. I read a comment from Mattison somewhere that SDE was Roh's more natural position. I tend to agree with this. Even though he has bounced around a lot and had suspect coaching under RR, Roh has been rushing the QB from the DE spot in passing situations all four years. And he has not shown the speed rush to be a significant threat to offenses. I think that WDE spot absolutely needs to be filled by a great pass rusher.

    You make good points about Roh being technical and a high motor guy. I will not be surprised if he is as effective as RVB was last year. It may not show up in the numbers.

    1. I agree with that. In an ideal world, if he had an extra year and had served as a backup to RVB last year, I think we'd be looking an above-average 2-year starter at SDE. But I think it's a pretty big change to go from WDE to SDE and I'm not sure Roh is going to produce this year like people seem to expect. Hope I'm wrong.