Roundtable Transcript: Mike Martin

On Mattison vs G-Rob, Big Will Campbell, Wellman vs Barwis, on the LBs and the DBs, on Floyd and Woolfolk, on the "push em back" defensive line philosophy, on VanBergen and Roh, and much more.

Mike Martin: "Our D-line school has been really key for us with working on technique with the young guys and stuff. It has been a vital point that we have been shoved through this summer and we've done a good job on it."

Question: Did you have to goad these guys at all or were they pretty receptive and they knew what they had to do and you didn't have to stay on them?

Mike Martin: "No everybody has a great mindset and attitude to work and put ourselves in the best position to win. We have a lot of older guys who have a lot of great leadership. I'm on the D-line, having (Ryan) Van Bergen, Will Campbell and Craig Roh, a few guys that have a little bit of playing time, it was good to have. Those younger guys, they listen."

Question: You guys have to be a strength I would imagine on the D-line and talk about how you've adapted and the differences between last year and this year's scheme.

Mike Martin: "Our 4-3 base. That's good for us. We've really gotten into quite fast. We've done a great job. We had a great spring ball and our three technique—Coach Mattison, he always stresses how important it is, and Will Campbell has done a great job during the spring in working on that. I've seen a lot of improvement with him and that's great to see. Van Bergen and Craig Roh have really done a good job of stepping up there games." "If we don't have a three tech that can step up, we're not going to be able to run the defensive and we're not going to run it. If we can't run it well, we're not going to run it. So he put the burden right on Q and Big Will and pretty much said, you got to do what you got to do. He's really stepped up and answered the call. His work ethic is high as I've seen it and he's got his mind right. Ryan Van Bergen has done a great job. Me and him being seniors, it's great working with him and have some guys to lead the younger guys and I would say Craig Roh and Jibreel (Black) are doing great job too, working together with Coach Mattison at our rush end spot, learning their new scheme and also being a voice for leadership."

Question: Does Will feel more comfortable being full time defense after being kind of thrown around the last couple of years?

Mike Martin: "Yeah. He's the type of guy who will go anywhere for the team. Wherever he needs to go to make sure the team wins, he will. He is not a selfish guy. He is glad to be back on the defensive line and glad to be back with our unit. He belongs here and he is doing great job. He is very strong and is very good with hands. He is moving well."

Question: Are you all bigger, gained weight?

Mike Martin: "I think Will Campbell will bump up our weight average on the D-line a little bit. We've all gotten bigger across the board pretty much."

Question: Can you talk about some of the tougher offenses in Big Ten to slow down. Go back to the Wisconsin game, I know you were hurt a little bit. What do they do that puts so much pressure on the defense?

Mike Martin: "I think schematically we struggled a little bit last year. I think we could have executed better. Wisconsin and Penn State, those teams, they did a great job of attacking, I just don't think we did as good of a job adapting and being able to change up a little bit when we needed to. This year, it is a new year and Coach Mattison has a lot of different variations, different ways we can keep that up."

Question: Is it frustrating to be a defensive player on the field when they are running the ball? I think Wisconsin ran the ball like 29 straight times in the second half. What was that feeling like?

Mike Martin: "As a defense that's rough getting five yards a pop every play. That's something that coaches stress, we don't want to be a team that people can run on."

Question: Was that a physical issue more so than anything else?

Mike Martin: "No I really don't think so. I think we were the most in shape squad in the league. Whatever it was, it is what it is. We're just ready to get better and improve."

Question: Wisconsin has multiple tailbacks is that different; they had three last year that they used almost interchangeable?

Mike Martin: "For our team, we have a lot of backs as well, so we see a lot different types of backs. We have a variation of guys with different running styles and things like that during practice. So we get a great look and having Denard (Robinson) too. I think we have the best look at quarterback who is a dual threat like him."

Question: Could you tell a different between Montee Ball and a James White when they were on the field or are they just kind of similar?

Mike Martin: "No not really."

Question: Talk about the differences in strength and conditioning between Mike (Barwis) and Aaron (Wellman) and how they differ, not if one is better than the other but how they are different?

Mike Martin: "Coach Barwis, he was a big Olympic weight guy and really stressed lifting weight in space, so controlling your body and athletic movement with moving weight. Coach Wellman is a little bit like I've heard like Coach Gittleson a little bit, the old style. I've improved on each workout plan. Both of them work, so I don't think it matter really, they're both going to produce results."

Question: He is more machine (Coach Wellman)?

Mike Martin: "Yeah more machines, traditional, benching and squat. We don't do Olympic weights at all."

Question: Troy Woolfolk and J.T. Floyd are they getting back into it and looking pretty good health wise?

Mike Martin: "Yeah. Troy did a great job and JT with rehabbing and getting back. They had a great attitude during the spring of pretty much being a coach on the field for the young guys and keeping their minds in it and being active. They are pretty much doing everything we're doing now. Doing all the drills and stuff. JT, I always see him doing a little extra work, because they are a little bit behind and they know that. They are doing as much as they can to catch up. It is good to see."

Question: Freshman who have caught your eye?

Mike Martin: "Honestly, we have not even worked out with the freshman much, so I wouldn't be able to make a comment. We'll see in camp, August 8th."

Question: You going to haze them yet or anything?

Mike Martin: "No not yet."

Question: You talked about Will Campbell being the other lineman that is going to start in the middle. Talk about some of the depth in the middle that is one of the things that Michigan fans seem to be a little scared about. Who is going to step up and be that second guy in the middle of the line behind you and Will?

Mike Martin: "We have Quinton Washington and Richard Ash. They've done a good job just watching the older guys and trying to pretty much emulate everything that we do. They've been working hard and doing all they can to get better and make sure that if someone where to go down or to rotate that they could come in and be solid. I'm really proud of those guys. Quinton, it is a little harder for him because he is transitioning from offensive line still a little bit, but he has caught on real fast. He is athletic and he has done a good job."

Question: Are there things that you see him doing that you are just like, man this guy is going to be something special or are there things that he needs to work on. What does he need to do to make that next jump to be a good defensive lineman?

Mike Martin: "I think just the little things, shooting your hands, because it is different with the offensive line. He struggled a bit with that initially in the spring and he got better as it went on. His footwork, bring his feet with his hands and things like that. Like I said, it is all about repetitions and he got a lot of reps in the spring, which is huge and that's what we needed for the young to be able to get in."

Question: Talking to Coach Thomas Wilcher at Cass Tech, he said he has got the body of an offensive lineman and the mindset of a defensive lineman, do you guys see him fitting better on the D-line than the O-line really?

Mike Martin: "Yeah. Either way, he is a brick house. That kid is really strong. When I went against him, he was on scout team on offense, he gave us a great look. I'm glad we got him on our side of the ball now. He is a strong kid, athlete and he plays to the whistle."

Question: The offensive line, these guys needed to get bigger, Coach Funk told us that you can't play offensive line at 285 in the Big Ten. Have you seen that, have they gotten stronger in going against them?

Mike Martin: "Yeah. I think when you talk about guys getting bigger, I think sometimes they can lose a step and get a little slower maybe, but they have done a great job of putting weight on and keeping their quickness and things like that. A guy that has really stood out to me on that side is Patrick Omameh. He has put on a lot of weight. He has gotten a lot bigger, but he is still just as quick and he can move very well. Taylor Lewan has done a great job. We don't really go against each other. During the offseason we just do our own technique with each other. I see those guys every day working and they've done a great job. (David) Molk, he's always been a strong point, but it will be fun to be able to go against those guys when camp starts."

Question: Is it fun to go against Molk? I mean you guys have got similar mentalities. It's like going against you isn't it?

Mike Martin: "Yeah it is fun. I'm going to be all over the board this year. I'm told Molk he is not going to see me as much as he usually does, I told him not to miss me too much, I'll see him enough."

Question: How exciting are you about that that you're going to be moving around and doing different things?

Mike Martin: "Yeah I'm excited about it. It is a lot of fun. It is a lot of responsibility on the assignment side of it. You have a lot more assignments that you have to recognize, a lot of different things offensively. Coach Mattison is a great teacher and he has made it easy for me. I've caught on quite fast."

Question: Do you like Coach Mattison's approach, and what is it?

Mike Martin: "He's a great motivator and great teacher. He takes things slow the first time around so you catch on really fast. Like I said, the man knows what he is doing. He's a great asset to the defense."

Question: Are there any positions or slots that you prefer playing?

Mike Martin: "I like to stand up. It is a lot of fun. I never get to stand up. To be able to have a little more vision before the snap of the ball is a lot of fun."

Question: Have you heard any feedback about the NFL?

Mike Martin: "No. I play nose guard pretty much here. I think just being able to play all across the board gives you a little bit more versatility but wherever. We'll worry about his season first."

Question: Are there any lineman in the NFL that you look up to, model your game on?

Mike Martin: "I really like Ndamukong Suh a lot. I watch film on him quite a bit. His motor, I think it is huge for a defensive lineman is their motor. He's the best at what he does."

Question: You worked at his camp recently right, talk about that experience a little bit.

Mike Martin: "That was a lot of fun. The way I got connected through that is I met a guy who is a friend of his and I met his sister, we talked via Twitter and email and she told me to show up to the camp and held out. Me and Ndamukong talked a bit after and he said he is coming to the Nebraska game when it is at Ann Arbor. There was a little smack talk there. It was fun. He gave me a few pointers and tips, which was nice and we'll see him them."

Question: What kind of stuff did you pick up from him for a couple of days?

Mike Martin: "On and off the field he operates like a champion and that's what it is all about. He works really well with the kids and everyone loves him, as well as all the guys he brought out to help."

Question: Plus he plays right there in your hometown, I don't know what your Sundays are like, but do you get to watch him every week?

Mike Martin: "Yeah, I watch him all the time. Like I said, I watched film on him when he was in college and at the next level."

Question: On the D-line you guys got a little more experience than the right of defensive, especially you and Ryan, how is that going to help you guys this year?

Mike Martin: "It is huge. Me and Ryan have caught on really fast and coach put the burden on us to make the calls from the line, because we think faster out there compared to some other guys who have to take a little bit more time to kind of recognize things. It is huge to have a voice, a leader out there. So to have me and Ryan both out there who have a lot of playing time, it is huge."

Question: You got a chance to watch a little bit of the spring game. Were you watching the linebackers at all; was there anybody that really stood out for you that can fill the gap left by (Jonas) Mouton and (Obi) Ezeh?

Mike Martin: "J.B. Fitzgerald and Kenny Demens have done a great job. Marrell Evans, he is back and he has been working hard. It is like he has not lost a step. Everything is new for everyone, but he is right on a level playing field with everyone else. There is a lot of competition at linebacker, which is good."

Question: Moving back to that, has the move back to the 4-3, does this bring everybody back to maybe their high school teams, where it is a little more familiar, it is a little easier for people to react rather than think or is just a brand new thick playbook that you guys are having to digest?

Mike Martin: "No it is really familiar to a lot of us. I've talked to a few of the guys on th team and we pretty much ran this stuff before. Beside a few things that Coach Mattison adds in that is kind of his own thing, it is all basic really for us and easy for us to catch on to."

Question: Coach Hoke talked yesterday about playing against a pro style offense and practicing against that helps the defense because it builds a toughness and edge that you need in the Big Ten; what do you think about that?

Mike Martin: "I think the same thing. Coach Mattison always talks about having a ‘push them back' defense. Off the snap of the ball and playing on their side of the line of scrimmage. That is huge for us and having the pro style offense and then running the ball a lot. It is advertised as stop the run first defense, which is huge for our defense."

Question: Do you think you lost a little bit of that the last couple of years playing against a spread offense, getting that attack mode and edge that you're not seeing what you see from your opponent sort of speak?

Mike Martin: "It was just different. Not that we lost it or it was that way, but it is just a different way of playing defense. Each defense has their own release or whatever. We are having fun playing in this one."

Question: The defense was so inexperienced the last couple of years, so many young guys out there. As a guy that was one of the more experienced and better players on the defense, did it frustrate you at times because people just were not sort of knowing what they were supposed to do that you were giving up big plays. Not necessarily because kids were not good or trying, because literally you were dealing with guys who didn't know they were supposed to be doing.

Mike Martin: "You can't play defense if guys are not accountable and execute their assignment. It would be one guy not being in the right gap or something like that. If that happens, the play is going to break and that is what was happening throughout the season and it was frustrating for us, because it seemed like it was always happening. We're eliminating the mistakes, which you have to do and we've done that. We have minimal MAs (missed assignments) so that is good to see."

Question: How much will simply growing up help this defense, getting these kids who were maybe like true freshman playing last year, do you see already maybe in spring practice a huge difference that one year under their belts has made?

Mike Martin: "Yeah. There are no more excuses for those guys. There are no more maybe coddling, oh it is your first year. Everybody has a year under their belts and everyone is playing, there is no excuses to mess up or not execute your assignment the way it is supposed to be executed. That's the bottom line."

Question: Do you like the impression that Coach Hoke has made? How has he come across and maybe even from the first meeting, how did he set a tone?

Mike Martin: "He is a Michigan guy. He coached here and he knows what Michigan is all about. I knew that from the get go. I know the guys the first meeting when he addressed the team, he emulated that and without a doubt, he is a great coach and very knowledgeable and defensive minded, which is a lot of fun, different for us. Having a coach that is so involved with the defense and the defensive line. He loves coming and working with us, which is kind of cool."

Question: He is a hands on type deal?

Mike Martin: "Yeah he is right in the middle of our drills and coaching us up, critiquing us, because really the defensive line has three different defensive line coaches, Coach Mattison, Coach Hoke and Coach Montgomery our defensive line coach. We always have a set of eyes on us critiquing."

Question: Is he funny some times, does he crack jokes or is it all business all the time?

Mike Martin: "When it is time to work, it is time to work but it is a balance of it and it is nice. It is not very strict all the time."

Question: We know Mattison is a good recruiter, they have been well with that, but what is he like on the field and what do you see from him in spring practice?

Mike Martin: "Same thing for him, no excuses and pretty much if you don't execute your assignment, they are going to take you out and let you watch for a few plays until you get it right. He is not going to let you to continue to repeat your mistakes. For us, it forces us to raise our level play because that will happen no matter who you are, a senior, a freshman. The way he coaches and the way he coaches up the technique, there are no question about what you're supposed to do and that plays into there being no excuses because you were taught exactly what to do." "We watch film with him as much as we can. We always learn something new. He is a great teacher and we've really caught on to his scheme and his mindset very fast and we know what is expected. There is no question about what needs to be done."

Question: The fact that he has been coaching Ray Lewis, does that carry some clout?

Mike Martin: "There is a lot of credibility. There is nobody better that you could get to coach. I feel very blessed to have him and I know the rest of the guys feel the same way. We have to take advantage of that and get coached up as much as we can."

Question: We know the team has gone to a more 4-3 set, but has the mindset changed a all with Mattison coming in for you guys and the way you are going to attack things?

Mike Martin: "A very aggressive defense. The defensive line push them back. We're an attacking defensive line. We're going to move around. We are going to get off blocks and shed blocks and get after the ball. For pursuit it is huge and just running after the ball to the whistle."

Question: Do you feel that plays to your style of ball a little bit better?

Mike Martin: "Definitely, it sort of lets us loose on the defensive line. Hit your gap, get your assignment and then go make a play. There is no thinking."

Question: If you were to compare Mattison and Greg Robinson, what are some of the major differences there as a player not as a scheme, just the way you see the two guys?

Mike Martin: "I think they are just different character guys. They both coach differently. They are both very intense in their own ways. Both of them are relatable."

Question: You mentioned the leadership of the seniors, are there any particular underclassman that have taken up the mantle and said you know what, I'm going to help guide people, I've got an idea of what is going on and this is the way it should be going. Are there any underclassman that you look at as these are going to lead later?

Mike Martin: "On the defense I would say Carvin Johnson and Courtney Avery have done a good job back there. Troy does a good job of guiding those guys. They've put in the work and they've proven themselves since they've been here, the time they've been here. The younger guys listen to them and you need that, you need younger guys who work hard and get guys going."

Question: Are they verbal leaders or are they people who just lead by action?

Mike Martin: "Definitely action leaders. They play on the field and take care of business. That's the type of guys they are too. They are not really the showboat talk loud type of guys."

Question: Is the interpersonal relationship with Coach Hoke something different than you've ever had before, someone who is more than just a teacher?

Mike Martin: "Yeah. When Mother's Days rolled around, he calls me and said did you take care of your mother today. I'm like coach, I'm sitting right next to her. He said alright, I'm just making sure. He talks with us a lot off the field as well. He wants to know what is going on with your life, classes and all that. It is more than just football, it is about life too. A great balance."

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