DL Coach Jerry Montgomery Pregame
Sam Webb: Has the feeling hit you yet what it is going to be like when you go down that tunnel and run under that banner for the first time?
Jerry Montgomery: "I'm excited but it hasn't fully hit me yet. I'm sure it will at that time."
Sam Webb: You are certainly a guy on the defensive side of the ball benefit from having the most experience. It is all relative obviously there all in a new system, but particularly with those older guys Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen, Craig Roh; what has the transition process been like for them and have how quickly have they been able to adapt to your style and what you want to see from them?
Jerry Montgomery: "First and foremost, it is always great to have some seniors and some older guys, some guys that have played some football because they've been there and done that. They've come down the tunnel. They've made an easy transition. They want to be successful. They've done everything that we've asked them to do and a big part of that is just them having a lot of playing time prior, being around the game and we're just teaching them new schemes and new technique. They've adapted and good things should happen."
Sam Webb: We go back to the spring and I recall talking to Mike and to Ryan and both guys said, look, the first day you guys stepped on the practice field for spring ball, they thought they knew the fundamentals, at least the basics. They didn't think they had to go back down to the ground floor and they found themselves being coached on a lot of the things that they thought they knew. They said at the same time, you quickly get over that and you understand that is the foundation for what they do for the way you guys want to play.
Jerry Montgomery: "Absolutely and there is 100 ways to skin a cat. We do it a certain way and we believe in fundamentals. These guys from day one, they thought they knew what they knew and it was kind of an eye opener for all of them, but they dialed in and like I said earlier, they want to be successful. So anything we told them they did with 100%. All spring, all summer, they did a great job. They did a great job during fall camp and we're getting better. We're getting better each day. We're not where we need to be, but we're definitely head and shoulders ahead of where we were."
Sam Webb: How would you in a nutshell describe this style for this defensive front? Are you a read and react front, are you a front that gets up field; how would you kind of classify the approach that we're going to see from the defensive front?
Jerry Montgomery: "I would say an aggressive, knock them back mentality and impose our will on people. That's all we preach is being physical at the point of attack. On imposing our will on people, wanting to shut down a run, it is a mentality. Then when you get to third downs, now we get to have fun. All the other stuff is grunt work. All the other stuff we do in stopping the run is grunt work and that's how we preach to them and hopefully that rubs off on them. Obviously, we practice that way, but I would just say a very, very physical imposing knock them back football."
Sam Webb: Let us go back to the defensive end position because I recall going back to the spring one of the guys you talked about and I had no idea who he was when you mentioned his name – Nate Brink. Then Brady Hoke talked a lot about him during fall camp and then Will Heininger emerges on the depth chart at the top of the rotation. Let us start off first talking about Brink first since that's the guy that we've head the most about. What was it about him and his performance that made him be a guy that you guys felt like you could count on?
Jerry Montgomery: "Really at the end of the day it came down to three things we believe in on the defensive line is great effort, toughness and technician. He brings all those things to the table. It doesn't take talent to do any one of those three things and he would bring that to work every day. Is he the biggest guy? No. Is he the fastest guy? No. But he brings all three of those things to the table and when you do that that stands out. When other guys aren't doing that, it stands out. He works extremely hard. He deserves to be in the rotation and I'm excited to see what he does when he gets in front of all those fans."
Sam Webb: We heard, I think it was Will Campbell describe him as an animal. When they talk about him, really in the run game as a guy that shows up. Is that a proper sort of description of Nate Brink?
Jerry Montgomery: "A tough guy I would say, a tough guy. If you were to go into a back alley, you would want him to come with you and that's what it is about up front. We're grunts, we grind and we bang every day in practice and that's who he is. We would love to get him bigger and stronger. He did a great job this offseason put 20 something pounds on and will continue to do that. If he does that, he'll play a lot of football here at Michigan."
Sam Webb: We're moving on to a guy that is at the top of the depth chart, a guy we've heard from, seen play before, he was out in injury, didn't hear as much about him this fall on the outside, but obviously Will Heininger was a guy that impressed you guys on the practice field. What was it about Will's performance that vaulted him up the depth chart?
Jerry Montgomery: "Just consistency I think from a physical standpoint. There were times when those guys were battling in and out. One day he was physical and one day he wasn't and then all of a sudden he started picking it up and being more physical at the point of attack and when you talk about the Big Ten, you talk about physical football. You've got to have big guys in there and he's a guy that is listed anywhere from 295 to 300 and he holds points. He plays technique and he does some of those things really well. Those guys are going to split some time and find out what happens on Saturday."
Sam Webb: The most questions are asked about a guy that hasn't played as much as maybe a Mike Martin, Craig Roh, Ryan Van Bergen, you know where I'm going with this with Will Campbell. He's a guy that we've seen flashes but he said himself that he needed to now that he has his conditioning in order, he needed to work on his pad level, aka technique and also he needed to work on, he said not being lazy. He said, I need to not be lazy on the football field. I interpreted that as, not that he is a guy who loafs on the football field but a guy at all times is playing with 100% intensity is that an accurate interpretation?
Jerry Montgomery: "Yeah. Again, you know this, I know this, the potential is through the roof but potential that doesn't work hard, is just okay or just average. Our goal here is to get the potential out of every single player we have. He is being pushed every single day, not by me, not by Coach Mattison but by all three of us. Coach Hoke, myself and Coach Mattison, we push him to the limits every day because if we don't then we wouldn't be doing our job. Just more consistency because when he does it right, it is as pretty as it should look and when he doesn't do it right, it's as bad as it looks. He did a good job. He really came on the last four or five days in camp. He's really improved on some of the things that we've talked to him about. He's working harder. I see him running to the ball more. Where there were times that I would see him jogging to the ball. We're going to run to the ball, we're going to be physical at the point of attack and when you look like that, you should knock guys back every play. He's getting better. He's going to get some reps out there and so kind of excited to see what he does under the lights."
Sam Webb: Brady said just what you said, the last few days that it is almost like a switch has gone on with him and he's seen a little more out of him in that time period. Was there anything in particular that you could attribute that to or is just getting close to the season and hey, I want to get out on the football field?
Jerry Montgomery: "I'm sure there are some things that hit home with him literally. At the end of the day, I think he started to see his opportunity slip away and he stepped up to the plate. He's telling us that he's good enough to play by his actions, which that is all we want to see. If you grind every day of every practice, you're going to get that opportunity and he's definitely deserving of that. The last four or five days of two a day and game week, he's done a good job. Real excited to see what he can do."
Sam Webb: One more on Will Campbell, he started out on the depth chart at the three technique and then being behind Ryan Van Bergen, looking at the depth chart, he is behind Mike Martin. Are there some fundamentals differences in his responsibilities in sliding over a spot and if so what are they?
Jerry Montgomery: "There is not much space to play with at a nose tackle, where as a three, if you get reach boy it is tough. Playing the nose, you're on top of the man. He's got to snap the ball and then block you, which Will is a big strong guy. If he gets that foot on the ground and hands on the center right now, he should be a very, very successful nose."
Sam Webb: A lot of talk about the freshman on the depth chart. The defensive freshman talked about the most is a guy named Frank Clark and you look at the depth chart and he's right there coach. What have you seen from Frank that allows you to put him in the rotation at 228 pounds? You look at him and you think, no way a 228 pounder can play up front, but low and behold he is right there for you guys.
Jerry Montgomery: "He is bigger than 228. He's about 230 something. He is a great athlete. He's got some natural physical thing that he brings to the table. A thicker lower body, physically I think he's ready to go, but athletically when you see him run, it is pretty impressive for a kid to run like that and we'll see. If he learns everything the way he's supposed to and if he gets that opportunity we'll see if he takes advantage of it."
Sam Webb: Is it true on the practice field, we know there is a difference between State Street and Main Street, but is it true what they say about his get off that his get off might be the best or at least one of the best on this team even as a freshman?
Jerry Montgomery: "Yeah, he's got a great get off, definitely, great first step. Now we just got to get him to learn how to use that first step. He can get off the ball and it is pretty comparable to some of the guys that are on the team now."
Sam Webb: Jibreel Black, he's a guy that Coach Mattison talked about at the beginning of fall camp, hey you know what, there is a consistency that we want to play with. You talked about sprinting to the football, wanting that consistent intensity. You don't have any lazy players on the team, but that mentality that you guys are trying to instill. He talked about him and the entire defense needing to do that, but have you see that maturation process sort of take hold with Jibreel?
Jerry Montgomery: "One thing Coach Mattison brings to the table is that he is not going to take any nonsense from anybody and with that being said, a loaf is a loaf. If there is change of a speed during the play that's a loaf. We grade that every practice and when you know you have certain kids that have certain abilities and they're not playing to their potential, coach can call you out on it, because we're here to help you, here to make you better. We would be wrong if we didn't tell you that you weren't doing those things. A lot of those kids will overcome those things and have worked extremely hard and have taught them some good habits. Jibreel was one of those guys at one point that had some tough days, but the kid is a great athlete. He brings a lot to the table and he is working harder than he's every worked and again, he's a guy that I'm excited to see what happens on Saturday."
Sam Webb: Let us talk about Jerry Montgomery, he played in the Big Ten and he now coaches in the Big Ten. If we were to get a scouting report on Jerry Montgomery the player, what would that have read like, what would they have said about Jerry Montgomery the player?
Jerry Montgomery: "For one, I come from a similar background, as far as philosophy that we teach here. I would like to think that when you think of Iowa defensive line, you think of physical, imposing your will, kind of prickish, nasty. I'd like to think those characteristics. So that's what I try to bring to the table as a coach, but I'd like to think that is what people would say about me is that he was a physical, tough kid. He was a smart player and he had fun.'
Sam Webb: When you turn over to being a coach are you more of an in your face type of coach or are you most of a teacher where you're concentrating more on the technique; how would you characterize yourself as a coach?
Jerry Montgomery: "I would say I'm a younger guy. I like to motivate. I run around, I fly around, high energy. I am a teacher. I learned from a great teacher in Ron Aiken, but at the end of the day some days you have to be an in the face guy because guys are not getting done what you need to get done or they're not running to the football. They got to know that you mean business, but at the end of the day, all the kids know that I care about them and I would like to think that my kids would run through a wall for me because they know that I care about them, I'm passionate about them. I'm passionate about the game. I'm passionate about the position and just again a high energy guy, has a great relationship with my players, a great teacher on top of that and when it is time to take care of business, it is time to take care of business. When it is time to have fun, we have some fun."
Sam Webb: Big tough guy like you, do you get butterflies especially when you run down that tunnel for the first time?
Jerry Montgomery: "I guarantee you I will and this camp has been one of the toughest camps I've ever been a part of and there are some days where you have some knots out there because you want your guys perform so bad. You don't want to let anybody down. I don't want to let Coach Mattison down or Coach Hoke down. I want my guys to perform on every single snap and I take that stuff personal. That creates some butterflies out at practice. That creates butterflies through game day. You want to make sure that you've prepared your guys to do the things that you want them to do."
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