Full Transcript: DC Greg Mattison

Coach Mattison gets to talk mostly about what's going well -- VanBergen, Roh, Martin, Ryan ... and Blake Countess.

Question: Can you talk about MarQuis Gray a little bit and whether or not having Denard Robinson helps you simulate him?

Greg Mattison: "Gray is a very dangerous quarterback. I'm not going to say he's Denard, but the guy has the same kind of mentality where he's going to run the football. He's a big strong kid as well as having pretty good speed. If there's nothing open, and if there's a rushing lane, he's going to take off scrambling. That always puts pressure on a defense, but the games that we've watched of him, I'm impressed with him. The kid can make some plays. They've got an offense that you have to be ready for and you have to make sure of what he's playing at a high level because at any time he could break it, just like ours. So we're going to have to be ready to go."

Question: Can you talk about the shifting on the D-line pre-snap, it happened a lot during the San Diego State game. Was that adjusting to what they were doing on offense?

Greg Mattison: "That was totally what we wanted to do. We'll always do that. In defensive structure, when you technique players like we do, where one person's always an end, and one person's always an open side end, and one person's a three-technique and a nose, they'll align according to a formation. When they traded their tight end, then we traded our people. I was very pleased with the way our guys handled that. I know sometimes it looks like chaos out there, but there's always time for them to get set. We addressed that the week before, and the guys did a very good job of getting set, and got set with urgency. That's what happens sometimes, they try to get you…the whole purpose of that is to try to get your defense to not get in a perfect stance or not get in a perfect alignment, and our kids did a disciplined job of that. I was proud of them for doing that."

Question: Brady talked to today about there to being any consistency on defense. Is that a big concern for you right now that you're seeing kind of spurts of good play and then struggles?

Greg Mattison: "Well there's a lot of concerns, you know, there really are. Any great defense is going to come out every series and play at a high level, and they're going to play with great technique, and they're going to play sound defense, and that's been our M.O. so far, is that we haven't really play-in and play-out played the we're supposed to play. I think another really big concern that I have is we have to get better on third down. You can't always pressure on third down. We've got to develop a four-man pass rush where we can get to the quarterback at a consistent level with four men and then be able to come with pressure. And that's what we're working on. But third down is a big concern for me; the two most important phases in my mind are third down and red zone. We've got to get better at third down."

Question: With four-man pressure, how important is Mike Martin to have the kind of game that he did have a week ago?

Greg Mattison: "It's really important because whenever you're rushing four and they're sending a tight-end out, for example, somebody's one-on-one, and you've got to win the one-on-one matchups. That's what we've got to get better at, so that whoever that one person or the two people are that are one-on-one, they've got to get to the quarterback. Sacking the quarterback isn't what measures your pass rush, it's harassing him and getting to him right when he throws. We haven't had enough of that where we're hitting him right when he throws, and we've addressed that."

Question: You see that your third in the country in turnovers forced, I think you have 13, does that tell you something is working that you're trying to get through to these guys on defense?

Greg Mattison: "It tells you that your guys are running to the football. Somebody asked me that question before. Is there luck? I don't ever talk about luck. To me if you've got guys around the ball; Ryan Van Bergen, for example, that play that he made really epitomizes what you want to be as a defense. You don't ever want them to break, but if you watch Ryan on that play, from the time he attacked the blocker until the time he caused that fumble, he never let up one time. When you watch linemen run to the football, you'll see a change of speed. In fact, we use that as a way to measure whether it's a loaf or not. If you change speed running to the football, that's a loaf and Ryan Van Bergen went full speed all the way, and right next to him was Jake Ryan, and right next to him was Jordan Kovacs, and there was a bunch of other guys coming. That is what we have to do. We're not a good enough defense right now to think, oh, well this guy's going to get it tackled and we've got to keep doing that. The turnovers, that's been a real bright spot, and it's because guys have been there, and we've got to keep doing that."

Question: Do you feel like Craig Roh has continued to turn that corner and he is still kind of getting better?

Greg Mattison: "I believe Craig Roh is making a concerted effort to get better every time he goes out on the field. I think a lot of our guys on the defense are going out there everyday in practice and every game that they're playing in and saying I've got to get better, and this is what I've got to do to get better and are working to do that. Craig as you can see by his production that he's starting to do that. That's how you have to measure guys who are in certain positions. Mike Martin, for example, the job he did in that game in the middle of that defense was one of the big reasons why we were able to stop the run at times. We still didn't stop it as much as you wanted to the whole time, but Mike Martin, and he may not get as much production, but there's other guys that have to get production because of the job he's doing. Craig Roh's at a position where he's one-on-one a lot and that's why he's considered the rush end, the guy on the open side. He has to get production. If he doesn't then our defense is not going to be successful."

Question: The fact the was able to do it two weeks in a row instead of just being a one week flash in the pan and regressing again, is that maybe more of a sign that it is consistency sticking?

Greg Mattison: "Ask me seven weeks from now, eight weeks from now. I expect him to do it every week and he expects himself I think now to do it every week. He knows what he is being measured on. We talk all the time and it is not a corny thing, there is a bar and the bar for the rush backer is high. He's got to continue to work to get there and he is, he is working hard."

Question: In Western Michigan game, Alex Carder had a few key runs from the quarterback position. How do you plan on using that against Gray and I guess how are you going to play Gray?

Greg Mattison: "…and in the Notre Dame game. In a couple of our overload blitzes that we put out there, as a coach you're saying, come on, drop back and pass right now, we'll kill ya. They're not stupid. All of a sudden they see four guys on both sides, they check to the run. Obviously, we have to have in our package, when we do get a check, to be able to check back. We're working on that. We can't allow those kinds of runs. There's no question about it, but at the same time you can't sit back either. We can't play a defense of what-ifs. We want to be the attacker, and then some of those things we can tweak and we can help ourselves to make sure that doesn't happen."

Question: Jake Ryan has been used a lot in blitzing situations. Is that the position he plays or is that just his skill set that you just like him going after the quarterback?

Greg Mattison: "Jake is also on our starting Wolverine package, which is against the big boys. Jake just happens to have a lot of ability in our minds and he's one of those guys that has speed, and he has a lot of aggressiveness. So he's playing in both of those packages. When you're fast and you're aggressive, you're going to have the opportunity at times to do that. Jake, at the end of that game, I wasn't real happy with. I think that's where he has to really take over, when he knows it is pass, and we've addressed that."

Question: Did Blake Countess earn a little trust out there on Saturday?

Greg Mattison: "Both the young kids, but Blake, I tell you he's got a lot of grit. It wasn't too big for him out there. He came out and made some plays. We're looking for him to get better and better each week."

Question: A guy we heard about in fall camp/spring camp. Marrell Evans, do you know when you're getting him back?

Greg Mattison: "I don't know what the ramifications of that are. I don't know that."

Question: Would you say you were pleased with the front fours played on Saturday?

Greg Mattison: "Yeah because it was an improvement. Was I pleased? Maybe I misspoke when I said pleased. I was really excited about the amount of improvement that they made. I mean this sincerely, we have so far to go - so far. They know that, but I think there was some fire there. I think when it started out, they decided to take the ball, I think it said a lot about our guys. You could see the look in their eyes and we kind of emphasized that look in your eye too. We said, we wait a minute, they're going to take the ball here and our guys kind of stepped up. But don't get me wrong when I say that, we have to be better. We have to get better. They know that, and they're going to work to do that."

Question: Is it fair to evaluate the defense based on points scored?

Greg Mattison: "That's the only thing that ever matters to me. You use other statistics always to see what you have to do to improve. The points allowed will grow if you don't take care of those other statistics. If we can continue to be real, real stingy about letting them in the end zone, then we're going to give our offense a chance. Like I said, the third down, the rushing defense, the number of sacks, all those kind of things, we've got to get better at. But keeping them out of the end zone is your number one goal."

Question: So that is your measure of success though is the points against?

Greg Mattison: "My measure of success is winning. That's what I measure it on. I've never been a stat guy. I really haven't and I never will be. I use them like I said to see where we have to improve the most. The bottom line is win and that's all that really matters."

Question: What do you attribute not to give up the home run ball to? You've given up chunks but not the long 40 yard touchdown.

Greg Mattison: "I wish you wouldn't have said that. I really do. I think we have emphasized that from the very first day we ever met that you have to keep the ball inside and in front and that was the very first thing we addressed the defense on the day we got here. We cannot allow the ball either to run through us for a touchdown or to go over our heads. That's something that'll kill your defense. Our guys, they truly understand that. Now we've got to always work on that because it's going to come up and bite you if you don't. I think that's the way Curt Mallory is coaching our guys. I think it's our emphasis, and I think our guys are buying into that, that we can't give up big ones."

Question: How pleased are you with tackling through four games?

Greg Mattison: "The tackling, I think, has been fairly good. I go by missed tackles, and we haven't had big numbers of that. Again, you'd like to go through a game with no missed tackles. Again I think that's because our guys are running to the football. We had some missed tackles in the last game, but there was somebody there to make up for it. We have to get better at that. We've got to be a team that all those little things that you guys are mentioning we improve on and we do. That's us. Because we're not the biggest, strongest, fastest defense, so we have to do all those other things and thank goodness that it's only week five. We have to get better every week."

Question: Obviously, you guys practice red zone offense and defense in practice, what do you see out of Coach Borges red zone offense, what is unique about it. They have been perfect on the season so far?

Greg Mattison: "He has a really, really good offense as far as I'm concerned. Some offenses you can really get a tendency on and you can just say okay, in this personnel group they're going to do this, and in this personnel group, they're going to do this. Coach Borges, now, if you're playing against him, just when you think they may run it, he's going to throw it. Just when you think that he's going to be in this, he's going to spread out and be in that. I think that it's because he's so sound in every group, where some teams aren't. He's tough to play against."

Question: Does facing a mobile quarterback affect how often you blitz?

Greg Mattison: "No, no. That won't affect how often we blitz. We're going to be an aggressive defense. I think what it does affect is the angles at which our players go. I think they got to be very conscious of that. Just like you mentioned about getting beat deep. It's the same thing there. You can't let a guy get outside. You can't open up big lanes inside to let a guy run inside of you. That's where this kind of quarterback makes it harder on you. If a guy's not mobile, then you just say, go get him, we'll run him down. This guy here's like Denard in a way where, all of a sudden, if a guy rushes too high up the field, he's going to break it up the inside. You can lose contain outside and inside. Sometimes you see those big holes open up, that's losing contain. Yeah that's something we're going to have to address. It's going to be a big part of the game."

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