Full Transcript: Mattison talks the D, ND

Coach Mattison on what it was like to go from U-M to ND, on defending Tommy Rees vs Dayne Crist, on several Wolverines: Troy Woolfolk, Craig Roh, Brandon Herron, Jordan Kovacs. And -- on the U-M D getting better.


Can you share what's it like to be on both sides of this rivalry?

Greg Mattison: "It is a great rivalry. You're talking about two of the greatest schools in college football in athletics. I don't think there are any better when you look at the whole package of it. I know it is a huge rivalry for everybody involved in it. That's what it is. It's Michigan. It is Notre Dame that's what it is." Question:

Was it weird when you went from Michigan to Notre Dame?

Greg Mattison: "Yeah it was hard. I can tell you that was hard because it was Michigan. I can honestly say that I don't know if I really even knew what a big rivalry that was. I never grew up being a Notre Dame fan. I'm Lutheran, I'm not Catholic, all that kind of thing. When you do the decision based on family and all that kind of thing once you've made the decision, you kind of go whoa. I had a great eight years there. I got to see my family through school and my daughter in college there. That made it a really good deal." Question:

Can you assess the early goings of that game; how your defense played and then how you adjusted and reacted to what they were doing?

Greg Mattison: "The thing that happened is what you kind of worried about happening when you had so many guys that hadn't played a lot of football. You probably got the toughest scenario that you could get because it was a very fast pace. They were switching personnel groups in and out without us really being able to see what they were. You got defenses that you're playing for certain personnel groups that you had against a different group. This young group needs to see everything. Then it goes down to when a team hurries like that and speeds up the pace, communication is everything. That's something that we've harping on. With a young group of guys and young linebackers that haven't played a lot. The communication is the first thing when it all happens that goes. Then when they got done in that drive, there were a number of things that we weren't aligned correctly on and we're not good enough to do that. We're not good enough to be perfect and what we're doing and once they came off to the side and we settled them down. We just said, hey listen, there is a whole ball game ahead of us. If we get these things corrected we'll be fine. Then we get the interception and the momentum picked back up again. That's what happened. The pace…for some of them it could have been a slow pace and that would have been fast. That kind of a pace with what happened is why a lot of that happened." Question:

Do you have a favorite story of being on both sides of this rivalry, any particular game that stands up?

Greg Mattison: "I don't have any game stories. I will tell you this, the players I had when I was Notre Dame, it was like 100 yards from the softball field to the practice field where I had the defensive line and the game would be going on and they would know I was listening to see if #25 was going to get a hit or not. So finally after a while, the defensive lineman would say, coach let us just stop for a second and see if she get a hit or not. Then when she would get a hit it would be over the loud speaker, they would say okay, you're going to have a really good practice now, let us go. That was the greatest part about that to be there with your daughter on a softball scholarship and her having the career that she had there. You got to go to every game and be right there. Then during practices you could hear everything. That was probably…as far as game wise, no." Question:

Did the Irons boys give you some grief, both of them back and forth?

Greg Mattison: "Yeah. Jarrett was our captain in our Rose Bowl team and I had recruited Grant and coached him. I'm fortunate enough to be very close to that family. That's a wonderful family and that's really what college football is all about. That's why you always talk about recruiting. When you get those relationships and you have young men like the Irons family, it doesn't get any better than that to see them go all the way through what they went through and then to know you had a little bit of a small part to do with that. That's what makes it special." Question:

Brady said he wasn't overly happy with the defensive line play; what stuck out most to you that you didn't like?

Greg Mattison: "Neither was I. I wouldn't just single out the defensive line. I know when we looked at that tape, I knew what I would see. That is not totally how we want to play defense. The first thing, our whole thing is stopping the run. Some of those runs were me. I'm calling pressures to try and get after the quarterback and he runs a draw and we didn't fit our gaps right. That kind of thing will happen. Others, they weren't and we have to be able to stop the run. Any time a team runs the football on your defense, you can't have a great day. That's the way it will always be here. I think a lot of our fits, our backers fitting, our defensive line knocking them back and playing real physical every snap. All those things have to improve. One of the very positive things in the entire game though was we kept the ball inside and in front for the most part and that's what we really talked about. We can't allow a big play, a homerun play and that quarterback is a big time quarterback and that wide receiver is a great wide receiver so our guys did keep the ball inside and in front, so we were allowed to get more guys on the tackles." Question:

What does Tommy Rees do that maybe Dayne Crist does not?

Greg Mattison: "I think they're both very good quarterbacks. The one thing that you got to understand with Rees is that he was the starting quarterback the last four games and they won all four. Then he goes in this game in a half and throws for 300 and some yards or whatever. So obviously, he's a guy that when he goes in ball games, he does a great job. I think both of them are very talented. You wouldn't be at a school like Michigan or Notre Dame if you didn't have talent. I think they both have good arms. I think they both appear to be very, very intelligent and they both have a great wide receiver. I think that makes your quarterback." Question:

When you get the defensive line up to where you want it to be are you going to be blitzing as much as you did in that shortened second half?

Greg Mattison: "It depends if a team is going to throw as much as they threw. It all depends on what the team does. We won't sit back and play zone coverage until we have the ability to get a rush with a four man front and that comes from technique that comes from a lot of things. It is not fair to that secondary and it is not fair to that underneath coverage to let a quarterback like that that has the arm that he has hold it. Any time we get into a situation like that, we'll always try to do what's best for the defense. I'm not going to say I'm a guy that goes out and blitzes every down, but when it dictates it then I think you have to." Question:

Is Craig Roh healthy and can he give you more than he gave you on Saturday?

Greg Mattison: "Definitely. He has to play better. One of the things that we addressed is we had too many players in that defense did not get production. We have a big chart up in our hallway that you get points for tackles, for assists, for caused fumbles, all those kinds of things. Then you also get minus points for missed assignments, missed tackles that kind of thing. On our defense, we had too many guys that didn't have a lot of points. You had one guy that 47 points – Jordan Kovacs. We've got to get more guys getting production and Craig is one of those guys. We've got to get more of him and I think he knows that. He understands. He saw the film himself. He understands that he is a better football player than that." Question:

People mention Kovacs is a nice story, came without a scholarship that sort of thing, but talk about what makes him very productive?

Greg Mattison: "He's a football player. He's a Michigan football player. If you had a team of eight of those, I'm not going to say 11, eight of those, you might sit in a lawn chair and watch the game. This guy, that hit that he came on one of the pressures, you saw the picture probably, it was what you tell and what you coach. Put your face right through his chest, wrap him up, eyes up and put the helmet right through the football. The thing that people didn't see on that is he was in the end zone almost the same time as Brandon Herron, after he caused the fumble and made the hit. That's what Michigan defense is about. The same thing happened as a positive. Jake Ryan on his tipped and he hit the ground after he tipped it, he was the first guy down there next to Herron. That's what we've been talking about. That's a great sign. Now we got to keep doing that all the way through a ball game." Question:

How much do you think the night game will help recruiting if any?

Greg Mattison: "I don't know. Right now, recruiting is not something we think a great deal about. Right now it is this game and if you're football player that has an interest in Michigan, it doesn't get any better than this. Right now, we're more into this game rather than worrying about that." Question:

Was Herron just circumstances that he was in the right place at the right time or was he doing things to put himself in those positions?

Greg Mattison: "He was doing things. He can run. He was where he was supposed to be. He executed the defense and good things happen. Thank goodness he is fast. It never looks like he is running that fast, but he doesn't have many people catching him." Question:

Before the season Kovacs said in this new scheme that he is not going to get as many tackles as he did last year, it is going to be the linebackers, things funneling to them, but he led the team in tackles on Saturday. At what point is that going to stop?

Greg Mattison: "I hope soon. Really you hit it right on the head. When your safety is making a lot of tackles that's not a good thing. It is a good thing we have Jordan Kovacs, but that's not a good thing. That happened a number of times, where if a backer would have been where he was supposed to be, he would have made that tackle. The great news though was Jordan was where he was supposed to be and I think at times when I've watched, he's been up in there too far because he is trying to make it and all of a sudden if he misses a tackle, it's gone. That's what was the good thing about this game." Question:

Having an experienced guy like Jordan back there, does he let you do more with what you want to do on defense?

Greg Mattison: "It allows you to call it without wincing. I have great, great confident. I have confidence in the entire defense. I wasn't pleased with our performance. I was pleased with a win. I was pleased with the turnover margin, but as a defense I can't say I was pleased because I really, really believe in my heart we can be much, much better than this and we have to be. That's the bottom line. We have to play better defense than what we did." Question:

How do you defend Michael Floyd?

Greg Mattison: "You'd better make sure #1 that you're playing with great technique on him. If you don't in the backend, if you don't play with perfect technique or great technique, you're going to get exposed. I think the second thing is that you can't allow the quarterback all day to throw to him. I think you have to give him a number of different coverages, so he doesn't know all the time what he's getting." Question:

Do you plan on lining one of your corners up against him all game?

Greg Mattison: "No." Question:

Brady talks about being able to feel guys out there and Kovacs obviously, do you think Troy Woolfolk was on pace for that kind of thing and has he shown that in practice?

Greg Mattison: "Yeah. He made some very physical hits on those bubble screens, which that was great to see. I would have loved to have see him play that whole game and he needed that. That's the thing, the game got called and everything like that, I would have loved to have that thing go four quarters. We needed it. We need every second of playing under pressure that we can get, but I'm glad that we got out of there like we did and we got a victory and now we just got to improve more." Question:

Your son Brian Mattison made the 53-man roster at Baltimore?

Greg Mattison: "Yes he did." Question:

Is that his first time?

Greg Mattison: "He was active the first six games of last year, but he was on the practice squad for the beginning part of the year last year so this is a big year. There is no practice squad for him. He has a great offseason. He started all four games in the preseason. It was a real good, he's a hard worker and he's done everything. He's moved…he was a defensive lineman his entire life. In fact, when he made the switch from defense to offense, I was the one who said that he might want to think about doing that and he looked at me like I was a traitor because all the time at our supper table, I'd always say that if a guy can't play defense, he can always go to offense (laughter). When I said that to him, he looked at me like you got to be kidding…you did this to me. I reminded him the other night, I said, boy I'm glad you made because I would have really felt bad if you wouldn't have." Question:

Was Troy able to go full go in practice today?

Greg Mattison: "Uh huh." Question:

Will you lobby to keep him off of special teams?

Greg Mattison: "No I won't. Honestly, I will not…special teams play a huge, huge part in our defense. If you saw where we started on defense after a number of those kick offs. There are three equal parts. I've seen too many coaches that will say I've got to have that guy, okay fine, then put in another guy who doesn't do as well and you'll see how fast that ball comes back. We really believe in that here." Question:

Coach Hoke said that he likes to have the headset on when the defense is on the field. What type of things do you guys talk about?

Greg Mattison: "He doesn't have it on." Question:

He said he likes to have it on when the defense is on the field.

Greg Mattison: "I don't even know. To be honest, he probably can hear everything I'm saying without the head sets on (laughter). Brady is tremendous on the sideline. After the first drive, he is a great defensive coach, he was over there saying the same things I was saying to those guys and we were right…a lot of head coaches, they might not have reacted like he did and that pays dividends. We trust these guys. We believe they are going to try as hard as they can, now we got to get their technique better, we got to get a lot of things better as coaches, but they're going to try it and they're going to do it. Just like today's practice, there was a whole bunch of mistakes of things adjustments and stuff, but you know what, they went hard. We'll get those corrected and we just got to keep eliminating those mistakes."

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