Question: What does Coach Mattison say to you guys about you guys being responsible for in game adjustments? Obviously when you come to the sideline he'll tell you what to do differently, but he said he is looking for you guys to look more on the field yourself.
Thomas Gordon: "He's looking for us to step up. Me and (Jordan) Kovacs be leaders and kind of direct that back end because he look for us to be talking the most on the back end and that's what me and Kovacs have been working on."
Question: Do you think it has been successful so far or has it been all him (Coach Mattison) and his chalkboard?
Thomas Gordon: "No, me and Kovacs have stepped up our communication but it always can get better. We always can keep talking and keep alerting for certain things and that's what we're working on."
Question: What are your keys defensively this week?
Thomas Gordon: "Just come to work. We know this is a good team that we're about to go up against and it is going to be a good test for us. We're in the film room every day and we out there practicing and we're looking forward to a big game."
Question: You think the defense is getting better?
Thomas Gordon: "Oh yeah definitely, but we still got room to improve, but yet as a defense as a whole we're coming together but we still got a ways to improve."
Question: Talk about the impact that Coach Hoke has had on you. You talk about how you rededicating yourself to football. Did he sit down with you, did you guys have a conversation about what you needed to do to get better?
Thomas Gordon: "Yeah. At the end of the spring, Coach Hoke had meetings with all of the players and one of the keys with me, he just wanted me to get my weight right, be dedicated to football, get in the film room, be a football junky basically and that's where I dedicated myself this whole summer and it is finally paying off."
Question: What did that mean to be a football junky, what did you do differently than you had done before?
Thomas Gordon: "Stayed at Schembechler 24/7. In the film room, working out, seven on sevens with the players, just being around football and being more of a student to the game."
Question: What had you done previous years when you weren't doing that? Were you just playing video games?
Thomas Gordon: "I do love video games. I just think more mature as a young man and as a football player. It is just a big difference."
Question: More mature, did it take just this summer to get there or was there a change before that?
Thomas Gordon: "I think just coming off of last year, I was just hungry to get better and I understood where Coach Hoke was coming from. So I just really dedicated myself to following his words."
Question: Did you Coach Hoke say anything to you, did he say I see it in you; did he offer any encouragement like that?
Thomas Gordon: "Oh yeah. He always said that to me. He knew I was a good football player, he had to bring it out of me."
Question: What is your impression of San Diego State's Ronnie Hillman?
Thomas Gordon: "He's a real explosive running back. We're going to have our hands full with him this week. Coach said that he was leading the nation in rushing right now or close to it. We're going to have our hands full. We've got to tackle as a defense. We've got to rally to the ball because one person is not going to bring him down."
Question: You talk about swarming to a guy like that because he's shifting and he's got good balance, what can he do if you don't?
Thomas Gordon: "If we don't take the proper angles, explosive plays, big runs that is going to hurt our defense. Rushing is a big thing, we have to stop the run going into this game that's going to be the key."
Question: Is he the best back you guys have seen on film so far this year?
Thomas Gordon: "Oh yeah definitely."
Question: What have you seen from Ronnie Hillman, how do you stop him?
Craig Roh: "He's a very quick guy, very fast. We just got to play our technique and play good defense."
Question: Are you adjusting to playing with the weight now, are you feeling better about it?
Craig Roh: "Yeah I actually feel real strong right now and I feel like through my technique I'm playing a lot better as well. The weight just helps a lot because now I can take on that base block and throw a guy off and make a play."
Question: How much did it take to get used to that?
Craig Roh: "Just during the summer when we were doing conditioning, just as you're playing there is no distinct point where you're like, okay it is okay now. It just improves more and more."
Question: Is it harder to be coached by the defensive coordinator specifically because he is always watching you?
Craig Roh: "Sometimes it is harder. You just feel a real sense or reward when you do do what he's asking you to do because you know that's a guy that has orchestrated the entire defense. Another thing, being coached by him, you understand what is going on throughout the entire defense, because he tells you, the corner is coming down right here. You just get a better understanding of your place on the defense."
Question: Greg said he was very hard on you. Did you ever feel singled out?
Craig Roh: "Yeah some days (laughter). I've become a lot better of a player because of it. I really thank him for that. It's tough and I still need to improve a lot more."
Question: We asked Brady on Monday what is the one area that he would like the whole team to improve on going into the Big Ten and he singled out the defensive front seven. Is that his mindset, his emphasis?
Craig Roh: "He has always had a emphasis on the D-line. He has such high expectations for us. We still have a lot of improving to go. We've improved a lot and we still need to improve more. To go to a Rose Bowl, we need to continue improving and keep playing physical and playing with great technique and San Diego State is another great opportunity to show our improvement."
Question: How many Big Ten games do you watch and do you think to yourself, everybody has got some issues and we can compete with this team or that team?
Craig Roh: "Really all I'm concentrating on right now is San Diego State."
Question: Greg said last week, he noticed something in you change, he knew that you were going to play well last week. Did you detect something last week that was different?
Craig Roh: "Just kind of had an epiphany about football and life. That's kind of what I detected. It was just a change and I thank Mattison and I thank god for it. I just have such a more positive attitude coming into practice and it really has helped me with my play."
Question: Was the epiphany one specific thing?
Craig Roh: "It's a journey. It started in camp and coming to fruition in the season, which is great."
Question: Does that have anything to do with being back at defensive end rather than linebacker?
Craig Roh: "Yeah. That's part of the journey as well. They just coach technique so well and there is always more to improve and more to learn and we're improving and learning every day."
Question: You told him that you really hadn't been criticized much in the past and all of a sudden…can you expand on that a little bit?
Craig Roh: "I'm a perfectionist, so I like to think that everything I do was perfect. Football was one area where I could be perfect once Mattison came in, I wasn't perfect anymore (laughter). I was just completely imperfect in every way, shape and form. God helped me through that and my parents. I really have come out a more mentally strong football player."
Question: He described that as hitting rock bottom.
Craig Roh: "Yes. I definitely hit rock bottom that's for sure."
Question: What is hitting rock bottom?
Craig Roh: "Just breaking down."
Question: Like in front of people or on your own?
Craig Roh: "With my parents probably for the most part."
Question: After games or whatever?
Craig Roh: "Yeah. Just during camp, camp was tough. We went almost every day full pads and it is tough and when you don't perform….the first game I didn't perform that great. I just had that breakdown after the first game and since then it has been going upward. I thank God for that."
Question: Specifically what did the epiphany entail?
Craig Roh: "It entails, and this really relates to the Christian belief, that I am a sinner and I am not perfect and it is okay for me not to be perfect because God has a plan for me. Going forward with that, god has put football into my life because he wants me to enjoy it. After that, it was like any criticism that I get from Mattison doesn't tear down my whole entire world. He is just trying to make me a better player. Because of that, I come in with a much more positive attitude even when he does get down on me. I just thank God, thank my parents and thank Mattison for that."
Gordon on Shemmy 24-7, Roh on Rock Bottom
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