Full Transcript: D-Coordinator Greg Mattison

Mattison talks about communications issues with the young linebacker corps early in games. He talks about the youngsters in the defensive backfield as well. And he talks about San Diego State's Ryan Lindley and Ronnie Hillman.

Question: What can you do or try to do to help the start? It seems like early on in games, teams are gashing you on the run and kind of getting what they want in the passing game.

Greg Mattison: "Yeah that's a concern. It is not lack of preparation. It is not lack of them wanting to do a great job. It is not lack of hustle. In some ways, it is just them not making the adjustments of something new that has happened that they haven't been ready for. I think I have to do a better job of foreseeing anything possible that something could happen and try to give them that beforehand because there are a lot of guys that haven't played a lot of football that all of a sudden it kinds of shocks them. No defense is good enough to not line up correctly and be successful and I think that showed in a number of their runs. We just weren't lined up correctly. Then we got that adjusted on the sideline and the guys did a great job of understanding it and went back out and did better. You're right, we've got to do a much, much better job of coming out of the box."

Question: Ryan Van Bergen said sometimes they're not making adjustments until they get to you on the sidelines. How much of that is something that seniors need to be able to kind of get people in shape in the middle of the drive.

Greg Mattison: "I think what happens is that the guys that are in charge of the defense out there, the guys that are the communicators have got to really take urgency in communicating. It is never going to be exactly like you practice so when there is an adjustment to be made then guys have to step up and there are some guys that have never done that before. They're learning to do it and they did as the game went on but that will bite us if we don't get that squared away and believe me, we addressed it and we will continue to address it."

Question: Who are those guys that you want to be communicating to other teammates on the field?

Greg Mattison: "You have to do it with linebackers. The safety position is too far away and the D-line won't hear them. You have to do it with linebackers and in the linebacking corps there is Jake Ryan who has never played before. There is Brandin Hawthorne who has never been out there much before and then there is Kenny (Demens). You really can't have one guy do it, you have to have a couple of guys being on the same page doing it and again that comes with experience and that comes with me addressing it and us practicing it. I don't blame them. It is something that has happened and it is my job to make sure that we get that corrected and that's what we've got to work on."

Question: This was not a Big Ten game but are there things like the goal line stand and only giving up three points that you take and try to build on with these guys?

Greg Mattison: "Definitely. The goal line stand since we started that has been huge. In our meeting room there is a sign that says ‘Give me a place to stand' and that's up there and there are not many signs up there. That really means that until that ball crosses that goal line, as long as I have a place to stand they aren't in yet. Our guys believe in that and we had a huge scrimmage I remember in camp and they did a good job in that and they believed in it. Really, we should have stopped the one at Western Michigan. By them doing that it just reinforces to the guys that it's never over. Doing that was good and then to come right back and get what's called a sudden change where we started on the 24 yard line I think and for them to bull up right there and say, okay, come on we got to keep them out of there. I think either made a field goal or missed a field goal on that one. Those are positives. Any time you keep them out of the end zone that's your goal. If you ask me if it was pretty, was I happy with it? No not at all. We've got a long, long way to go on defense. We've got miles to go but the guys are running a race and again they came out today and worked really hard and worked to put in what we wanted to put in and we have to play perfect. You say you can't ask for that, but we have to. We know that. We've got to have every guy doing exactly what he's supposed to do and everybody running to the football and everybody communicating and then we'll have a successful defense."

Question: Going back to your linebackers, how have you seen Desmond (Morgan) progress since camp?

Greg Mattison: "We're really excited about him. Here's a young freshman, I don't think he ever dreamed of playing right now and gets thrown in against Notre Dame and I know he would say that he didn't play great in that game, but we have confidence in him and he practiced hard and he comes back and plays in this game. Every time he plays, he'll get better. That's the thing, we have got to make sure that these young guys keep improving and keep living up to the standard and working up to the standard and then you're going to be fine."

Question: Brady said that Brandon Herron and Cam Gordon have a real good chance of coming back this week. If they do come back, how do you fit them into a defense where Brandin Hawthorne and Jake Ryan have played pretty well the last couple of weeks?

Greg Mattison: "Everything for us is how you practice. You can be a guy that started for three years and if somebody practices better or somebody is close to even with you and he practices better or practices full speed, he's going to be in there. Brandin Hawthorne and Jake and those guys they've played a lot of football now and they've had a lot of growing pains. Until somebody beats them out, they're going to be the guys that are in there."

Question: What did you see from Ramon Taylor?

Greg Mattison: "I thought he showed that he could cover. I thought he really showed the athleticism that we knew. I think he showed a freshman in the stupid penalty. Again, there is another example of a guy just out there trying to survive, trying to do everything that he can do and there are times when he has got to communicate for our defense to be successful and it is hard for a freshman to do that. You've got to make sure that he's on page with that and you don't give him too much too early, but I thought he did a nice job in there."

Question: At what point do you know when a true freshman is ready for playing time because now you've thrown four or five in there?

Greg Mattison: "I think you know they are ready by how they practice, by whether they understand the defense, whether they execute the defense in practice. Whether they do things like a Michigan player has to do it. Then you don't ever really even know until he gets out there. There are a lot of guys that do a great job in practice and all of a sudden they get out there and you see a different person. I was happy for him. It brings another guy into the mix and that helps us."

Question: Who are some of the freshman that might continue to get more and more playing time?

Greg Mattison: "I think Brennan Beyer when he went in there did some good things. Again, most of these freshman and I can name a lot of them, they go in there and you go, oh how did you make that mistake or how did you do that but then you've got to believe in them. You've got to keep believing in them as long as they are practicing hard and sure enough Brennan Beyer comes in this game and plays much, much better than the last time he was out there. That's what you got to count on. If they're practicing like you want them to, when they go back in there that next time you just got to make sure that they don't hurt the whole defense while they're learning and that's kind of what our job is, is to make sure that doesn't happen."

Question: When Raymon Taylor went in, I guess we were a little surprised that it wasn't Courtney Avery. How does that work with Courtney Avery obviously started two games and then wasn't your nickel back?

Greg Mattison: "Courtney has never played nickel and the nickel position is a guy that has got to cover a pretty fast slot receiver and do a lot of moving and things like that and we felt that Courtney is much more suited to be the corner and Raymon could be that guy and that's what we were looking for was another guy. We haven't had two that we've felt real comfortable with because Thomas (Gordon) has been playing that. That gave us to bring another one along."

Question: Do you remember the situation when you came from Michigan to Notre Dame and then you had to face Michigan really quickly, was that weird for you kind of what the other coaches are going through this week?

Greg Mattison: "That's a long time ago, a lot of football ago. I just know this staff that came from San Diego State gave so much to that program when they were there and worked so hard and turned that thing around. You've got to know that these men that came from there, there is a feeling in there. There is something that those guys who are on that team bought into everything and worked as hard as they could and got their reward too. This is also a profession and when David Brandon is your boss and he's the guy that you answer to then you'd better make sure that when the time comes you are coaching for this and you do everything you can and this group will for sure. They have automatically. I think there is some emotion down in there, but I don't think it affects the game at all. If I think back, I guess it was a long time ago, but it didn't affect the game. If anything whenever you compete against somebody you respect you always to do the very, very best job you can. I think that is probably the ultimate of when you want to do a great job is when you're going against somebody that you really respect and I'm sure that is the case with them."

Question: Can you talk about Craig Roh's performance last week and what he showed you. And Ryan said yesterday that this is the best offense that this team will face.

Greg Mattison: "Craig Roh and you guys asked about him I think last week and the week before and I asked about him myself in the meetings last week and the week before. I've really been proud of him. I've been pretty hard on him and I happen to coach him myself. I think at one point, I think he said coach, I've never heard that everything I did wasn't good before. I just said it isn't, not for the level that I want you at. He's really made a commitment. He's a guy that in his mind probably felt like he hit rock bottom and going two games without any production and then all of a sudden, he just kept working and kept working and you could see it happen I think a week ago in practice. I saw a different guy and a guy that said okay, I'm going to buy into everything. Sure enough, he goes out there and he plays like I think you've seen him play before and he knows that he can even play better than that. We're counting on him. We need him. We need him to really, really play because he offsets some of the youth and some of the inexperience.
"As far as the offense we're playing, this is a really, really good offense. You've got a quarterback that will be the best quarterback that we've played. He'll play in the league. He's got an arm that can throw it from hash-to-hash. He's the real deal. The running back, they say he is a Heisman candidate. When I watch the film, I see it. I'm not voting but this is a guy that can be physical, can be really quick and make you miss tackles and has and will run away from you if he gets in the open field. He's got all of those things, so this will be toughest back we've played without a doubt. The quarterback will be the best quarterback we've played against so far too."

Question: Can you tap into Borges' knowledge of these guys?

Greg Mattison: "We kind of go against that offense every day. There is always differences. Al is a much different coordinator than the offense we see on film. They're a really, really good offense. They've got Al, Daryl (Funk), Dan (Ferrigno) and Jeff (Hecklinski) players and they've been coached by those guys for a couple of years so you know they are really well coached. This will be our biggest challenge."

Question: What do you do to simulate what Hillman can do, you talk about the speed and all that sort of stuff. What have you guys done and what do you do?

Greg Mattison: "One thing going good against good like we do in practice. We go against some pretty good running backs in practice too. It's not like some places where you might have a guy that won't ever play that you're going against. We're going against guys that have played here before and guys that have done a great job here. We're going against some pretty good speed in practice right now. When you go against Denard Robinson, he's not the running back, but you're going against fast. It is not like we haven't seen speed. This back is a downhill quick explosive guy."

The Michigan Insider Top Stories