VanBergen on Denard, on the DL, on his mom

Defensive lineman Ryan VanBergen talks about chasing Denard in practice, about Mike Martin taking on double-teams, about the DL-unit going after opposing quarterbacks, and about his biggest critic - his mom.

Question: Is this year's 4 and 0 team better than last years 4 and 0 team?

Ryan Van Bergen: "I think so. I think it is a more mature 4-0 team. I think it is a hungrier 4-0 team. A lot of guys on this team have been 4-0 before and didn't get any of the things accomplished that they wanted to so I think definitely a hungrier team going into the Big Ten schedule."

Question: What do you know about Indiana's quarterback and talk about the challenge of getting to him and getting pressure?

Ryan Van Bergen: "He's a pretty experienced guy. He has been there a while. I don't know how many sacks they have given up this year, I haven't got a chance to look that up yet. But last year, they did a great job of protecting him, I think we only got to him once. He's a playmaker out there. He's going to be something that we have to account for on every play as well as some of the other explosive things that they have back there. They're a good offense."

Question: Have any of the young guys on defense surprised you at all through the first four games?

Ryan Van Bergen: "I think that the play of Thomas Gordon is something that we're really thankful that he's been there because he has been very helpful, especially when Carvin (Johnson) went down. We weren't sure of the depth that we had at that position and Thomas showed that he is a competitor and when Carvin comes back, it is going to be a good competition for that position."

Question: Did you go up against Taylor Lewan in practice and is he as physical as everyone sees?

Ryan Van Bergen: "I'm not going to bad mouth him on stage. Yeah, he's a pretty physical guy. I'll give him credit. He'll be the first one to tell you that I have probably given him the most flak out of anybody else on the team. When he came in at 260 or whatever, I told him, yeah, you'll never play here. You might as well learn tight end or something. You're never going to be a left tackle at Michigan and I think it was motivating for him and he's playing really well right now. He's a very physical player, sometimes overly physical to the point of, me and him have probably exchanged blows a couple of times in practice. We still hang out afterwards. We get along but he is a physical player and it is a good thing he brings to the table."

Question: When you told him those things did you mean it or was it just to light a fire under him?

Ryan Van Bergen: "Did I mean it….I didn't mean that he would never play here no. I did mean that if he didn't gain weight, because there is never going to be a left tackle here that plays at 260. I don't know what he is right now, 295 or whatever. Obviously, it has helped him. He has got good athleticism, but he's physical enough to make some big time blocks, which he did Saturday. The ceiling for him is really high. I think he's got a lot of potential, especially since he is playing early. I think he is going to be a great player here."

Question: Going up against a quarterback as elusive as Denard (Robinson) during practice, does that help you guys a lot when it comes to a quarterback who is maybe not nearly as fast like any of the other quarterbacks in the Big Ten?

Ryan Van Bergen: "I would say it helps, but only to a certain amount, degree. He is someone that you're never going to see. You're never going to see another Denard Robinson when you go against another team. Where if you have a pocket passer, you're going to see a pocket passer when you go against him. Denard is hard to imitate for other defenses, so when we go against him, it is almost like we are going against somebody that we'll never ever see. It is good because we learn pursuit angles and all kinds of stuff like that but at the same time it is frustrating because if we don't catch, we think we are messing, but that we can get to a quarterback that normally might not get too."

Question: Do you laugh at some of the comments that some of the other defenses have made for getting ready for Denard. All we have to do is our assignment and we'll be in position to tackle and make the play. Is it that easy to track him down?

Ryan Van Bergen: "I think it is a common misconception that Denard…if you play to your assignment you're going to get to Denard. That's why we have Denard out there because he breaks your assignment. He is going to make it look like he is going to go up the A gap right up the middle and then he is going to jump cut backwards and then all of a sudden he is on the hash. People can say, all I have to do is stick to my fundamentals and my technique and I'll get there, but the reality is that you have to cage him in kind of like a rabbit if you want to tackle him. We've talked about that as a defensive line in practice. You have to just slowly approach him. If you try to take a shot on him, you're going to miss. It is going to be interesting to see how different people approach tackling Denard because we've done it for two years and we still don't have it down yet."

Question: When you go back and watch tape, what do you see that Mike Martin is doing so well, his consistency?

Ryan Van Bergen: "The thing about Mike Martin is since he is playing in that zero head up on the center a lot of time. The thing everybody says they want to double team Mike Martin, take him out of the game, make him a nonfactor. Well, if you are going to double team zero, head up nose guard, the guard has to come over, probably a good two and a half yards and have the quickness to get there and help the center. If you watch Mike on film, he is so fast at getting rid of the center and shedding that block, most of the double teams that he is supposed to be getting, he is not getting because he is so fast there is no guard helping. You can scheme a double team, but the reality is that most people haven't gotten there and that is all due to his physical abilities and his ability to get off the block and he is so fast to get off his block and get into the backfield. He has just been unreal as a player."

Question: Are you that fast?

Ryan Van Bergen: "That quick, but I don't know if I'm able to play nose guard at that speed. If me and him lined up in a race I am probably that quick, but to watch him get off blocks and stuff like that, I got to credit that to wrestling or something, something I've never done, because I don't know how he can be so explosive and at the same time be moving his feet that fast. It is very unique."

Question: How are you able to break down what he is doing so well, have you always had that mind where you can look at film and see it that way or is that what the coaches are telling you?

Ryan Van Bergen: "Oh absolutely. The coaches do say things to a certain extent, but at the same time that is kind of what the role is on this defense. I break down film of the defensive line and I'm kind of an x's and o's guy. I can make sure that everybody is in the right position and stuff because I know every position watching Mike is something that is very beneficial to me, because I can see things he is doing and try and imitate it. Some things he does naturally that most people train years to be able to do. That is just something that if I want to get better at it, I have to train too and watch him and improve my game."

Question: Is your mom still finding negative stuff to motivate you?

Ryan Van Bergen: "No. My mom, thanks for asking. My mom is doing just fine. She is very happy and just basically telling me to keep playing like I'm playing and tell Mike to keep playing like he is playing. I think she is very happy when things are going this way. She said just remember, you've 4-0 before, let's keep this thing going."

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