Will Heininger on the D and "The Tridents"
Question: This rotation system where you could be in for four plays and out for four and then back in, do you think that works to your advantage?
Will Heininger: "We've rotated in the past, but I think Coach Mattison and Coach Montgomery really believe in keeping guys fresh and there is no point in going 80% to the ball. You go 100% until you can't and the next guy in. That's why you have got to have depth and guys that can play and that's why we're lucky to have that."
Question: You've worked your way up to playing more and more. What would mean to start on Saturday?
Will Heininger: "Those things are nice and being from Ann Arbor, I do not think there is much more that you could ask for than playing for this school. In the end, those are coaches decisions, and I'm just excited to play for Michigan and get wins. Winning is fun and so that's what I'm excited for, more than a start or something like that."
Question: How will this defense be better than last year?
Will Heininger: "I'm just excited to put what we've been coached to do on the field and against somebody other than our team. You get sick going against the same guys. I know you guys hear that all the time but it is really true. You want to play somebody else, someone who doesn't know what you're doing every play. Because we know our offense inside and out and they know us. Just to unleash what they have on other teams, I'm really excited."
Question: Does having a strong side linebacker to your side help at all?
Will Heininger: "Yes. Without getting into scheme too much, it is fun to have a big guy with you who you know is going to come down and lay the wood on the power or whatever. It is nice to have someone out there."
Question: What excites you most watching them on tape, what are you really looking forward to facing them?
Will Heininger: "Western Michigan is a really good team. They've got a good O-line, a big O-line. So I think we're excited to go against them, get back to physical football and just test ourselves against them. That's what I would say, we're most excited about."
Question: Their quarterback, people talk about him in high regard, personal challenge to get after that because he can be a dangerous threat?
Will Heininger: "Yeah. They're quarterback is definitely the leader of their offense and he is a good player. He makes them go. He can throw the ball around. He can really read defenses because he makes a lot of checks. You can see that on film. Of course, we need to get after him, but he's a really good player and we respect him a lot. It will be a good challenge for us."
Question: Coach Mattison talked about The Victor's blaring in the building this afternoon, was that a new twist?
Will Heininger: "Coach Hoke said that every day between 1:30 and 2:30, we're going to have that music blaring out of his office and that's something he chose to do and we love it. It's great. We have the best band in the country, why not hear it."
Question: Was today the first day?
Will Heininger: "No. I think they were testing it out last week because you randomly hear it coming from his office but now it is going to be a regular thing."
Question: Mattison also said that he likes to give his defenses "enough bullets." Talk about: what do you feel is in the defensive arsenal going into this year?
Will Heininger: "I think when he says enough bullets, he means that he is never going to put in a situation where we can't defend something or we don't have an answer for something. I can't get too much into schemes but that's what he's talking about, and I'm very comfortable with our package."
Question: Not specifics in scheme, but do you feel like you've really been given a wide range of ways to attack an offense?
Will Heininger: "Absolutely, very much."
Question: Was there any concern that it was too much to handle mentally?
Will Heininger: "I do not think so. I think guys were excited to have all those different sort of bullets sort of speak."
Question: You guys weren't challenged necessarily in the past?
Will Heininger: "We had a lot of different things in the past, but I'm excited for the present and ready."
Question: Coach Mattison always talks about Michigan defense and rising to that level. How much do you guys have sense of what that is and the expectation?
Will Heininger: "Personally when he says it, I think I have a great sense of it because that's what I watched growing up all the time. He just means guys flying to the ball and celebrating with each other. I think we do get it and you get feelings of it during practice. It comes and goes and we're trying to get it consistently every day, but we have been during camp, it is something that has developed. Just cohesion and confidence in each other, I think that is the cornerstones of it, and then it is just playing fast physical football."
Question: For you personally what do you think about when they say Michigan defense?
Will Heininger: "David Harris flying to the ball. Charles Woodson, Shawn Crable knocking people out. Rob Renes physical in your face, I'm going to beat you. That's kind of stuff."
Question: When you guys are rolling as a defensive line and you are going in and out of games, how has that been going; does that motivate you guys and how do you feel when you are going in and out; do you feel like you are going to give your all while you're in there?
Will Heininger: "I think it is a great feeling knowing that you have someone that you trust, who your confident in to come in for you so that you can go 100% all the time. Of course you always want to go hard. I know times in the past Brandon Graham would just go forever until he was on empty, and it is good to have guys who you can rotate and we do. I think that is a strength of our D-line is our depth. Guys are able to play multiple positions, so that'll help us a lot."
Question: So you think it is a strength? Because some people have said one of the weaker points on defense is the lack of depth up front, but you think there are enough guys to go in and out?
Will Heininger: "I do. I think the coaches have done a really good job developing guys who can play. It will be there choice of who goes in and who goes out, but there are a number of guys in my mind who are ready to go and we're excited to have them on the field."
Question: Does it motivate you to want to be a guy like Graham to stay in there all the time?
Will Heininger: "I just want to go as hard as I can for as long as I can and then it will be the next guy in, and then the next guy should do the exact same thing. But no, I'm not looking to stay as many plays as I can, I'm looking to be as good as I can for as many plays and then let the next guy do his thing -- expectation's for the position."
Question: Do you think there is a Greg Mattison effect? Has he brought some credibility right from the beginning to make this defense into what you just described as a Michigan defense?
Will Heininger: "There is something to Coach Mattison. He is a great defensive coordinator. He is a great coach. He really makes you want to play for him and play hard for him. We have confidence in him. He is our leader and he always has our back. It really is a really good feeling playing for him."
Question: What is your first recollection of Michigan football?
Will Heininger: "Tyrone Wheatley when I was probably five years old. That's the first player I remember and the first game I remember would be Coach Carr's first game when we beat Virginia on the last play."
Question: Where you there?
Will Heininger: "Naw, I was watching TV at my friend's house. Who actually, unfortunately, their family is Ohio State fans, but I went crazy in their living room and didn't know any better at the time."
Question: What is the best part of game week?
Will Heininger: "Can I say Saturday? For sure, Saturday, first play get on the field, smack some butting heads."
Question: What's with the tridents, we heard about that. What is that tradition?
Will Heininger: "The tridents come from the navy seals. We've been studying them a lot. Coach Hoke has a great respect for them, as do we now as a team, but he kind of taught us about them. He had a relationship out there in San Diego with them and that is part of their symbol that they wear when they make it and that's where that comes from. Of course, we don't want to compare what we do to what they do, but there are some lessons that we can learn from what they do and teamwork and that's where that comes from."
Question: He hands you guys the trident?
Will Heininger: "The tridents, we each have our name on them. One of each us has one and we hung them from the ceiling in the team meeting room, and it is just a reminder every day that we can't do it without each other and that we're all up there together. We're all in this together."
Question: Do you have a personal favorite pregame tradition?
Will Heininger: "The D-line always goes on a walk at the hotel. We have a couple of hours in the morning before game. We usually after go after the pregame meal, just a quiet walk together as a group and then bring it up at the end, the seniors talk. Over the years, it has been…it was Brandon for a while and Terrance Taylor and Jaymo (drawing a blank on this one Sam) and last year Greg Banks and Renaldo Sagesse, a nice cohesive thing."
Question: Have you thought about what you're going to say when it is your turn now that you're a fifth year guy?
Will Heininger: "I'll probably let Ryan Van Bergen and Mike Martin talk. I just like being together with the guys. The D-line is a close group and has always has been. So I look forward to that all the time."
Question: You guys got the tridents for the first time on Friday when you guys went into the stadium there?
Will Heininger: "I think we got them Sunday or Saturday at a meeting. I think it was after the stadium, but I could be mistaken."
Question: Have you been able to sack Denard Robinson?
Will Heininger: "Oh man, I'm just excited somebody else has to chase Denard and not us."
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