Full Transcript: D-Coordinator Mattison

The U-M D-Coordinator on the D-line and the DB units .. on Blake Countess and Will Heininger ... on what challenge Northwestern presents ... and when he coached at NW.

Coach Mattison: "This will be our biggest challenge by far. We're going to be facing a really, really good offense, I believe. It's got the same components that Denard Robinson gives you. This quarterback, (Dan) Persa, is the real deal. You get out of your rush lanes in any way or you rush too far up field or you aren't doing what you're supposed to be doing, he's going to turn a pass opportunity into a 15 yard game as a minimum. This guy is a really, really good football player. We've got our work cut out for this week."

Question: Your numbers look so good from points surrendered to turnovers and everything else, Brady said that none of that means anything right now…?

Coach Mattison: "It doesn't. Brady and I feel the exactly same about it. That's all fine. That's nice for the kids. That's nice. But they are the same numbers that when you win a game and you don't have good numbers don't mean anything either. The bottom line is we've got to win. There were some good things and there were some things that we've got to improve on or we're not going to be where we want to be. Our players know that. We've played hard. I think that is one thing that I would say that I didn't see throughout the flow of that game where you had a lull. I was happy about that. As far as the technique by everybody, the execution by everybody that's not even close to where we have to be and we started out today working on it. Again, the good news is that this team comes out every day trying to get better. They have to for us to be where we want to be."

Question: Brady talked yesterday about how you guys decided a few weeks ago go to simplify the defense, why did you make that decision and what was the result of that? Is that what kind of cured your early game woes?

Coach Mattison: "I don't know if you would say you simplified it. I think now and I've told the players, it's their defense now. I don't know if simplifying is the right…I think we have the same amount of calls we had the first game. We're making the same calls we had. In our ready list, I would say it is almost exactly the same calls, but now it is their defense. They can take ownership in it. When you call a defense now, they know what that defense means. They know what it is supposed to stop and what maybe the negative of it is or the weakness and so that's what happens with the team when it becomes theirs. I think that is probably more of what has happened."

Question: Did you have to get acclimated with the defense, did you have to get know them better, what did it take to get to that point?

Coach Mattison: "I think what happens is that there are a lot of variations to every defense and maybe the simplifying part of it, you say okay we're not going to do that variation, we're just going to do this one and the offshoot will come later. I think now, I really believe when a defense is called, I think everybody that gets that defense goes, I know exactly what I'm supposed to do on this. Where as when everybody's new and the bullets are flying out there on that field and if you're not completely sure, there could be a negative and I think that is probably what's happening."

Question: Is that unique to your defense that people have to know what they're doing or all defenses?

Coach Mattison: "All defenses. I don't ever like to say it is my defense, I really don't. It's all defense. It's the Michigan defense and I've mentioned this once before. I invent nothing. Those defenses have been run by a lot of people and it is just the defense that we felt as a defense staff was best for this team. There are a lot of different ways to go. It is obviously something that I feel very comfortable with. I feel very strongly that it can be successful, but it is not my defense, it is the Michigan defense. It's Ryan Van Bergen's defense. It's Mike Martin's defense. It's the backers defense. It's the secondary's defense and that's how it will always be here."

Question: On third and long, on obvious passing downs, there wasn't as much blitzing going on in this game; how much are you starting to trust the front four and how there progression coming along in terms of pass rush?

Coach Mattison: "That's a great question and that's a natural progression. You can't be successful if every down you blitz, you just can't. Offenses are too smart and they are going to get you. Now I think either combination of the people worrying about us blitzing and when we don't we get pressure with a four man front or the improvement or some of our guys in a four man pass rush and our secondary doing a better job of covering, allows us to be able to go back and forth, pressure, no pressure, pressure, no pressure, or make it look like pressure and it really is not pressure. That's what you want. When you can get all that going, you've got a better deal."

Question: How do you cultivate a pass rush from a four man front; how do they learn to do that?

Coach Mattison: "It takes a lot of individual time. It takes a lot of practice. You don't just tell somebody this is what I want you to do on a pass rush. It is like any other skill on a defensive field. You have to practice it. You've got to do it against bags. You've got to do it against offensive lineman. It is almost like after you've practiced enough, you feel that bank up and then it is time to start withdrawing. I think Jerry Montgomery has done a really good job of working with those kids and there is a time when they buy in totally and say okay I'm going to do it this way. Then they have success and then you say, okay here it is. I think it is a lot of effort from the players, a lot of time spent on it."

Question: How much did you maybe have to teach Jerry when he got here because he is still a young coach?

Coach Mattison: "Naw, Jerry is way older than his age. Jerry is…you say a young coach, that's because I'm an old coach. Jerry is way, way ahead of his time and we knew that when he was hired here. He is very, very intelligent and he is a really, really good teacher. That's what you have to be…players everywhere you go, if they know somebody will help you become better, they'll listen and I think they've figured that out pretty quick with Jerry Montgomery that he can help them be better players and therefore that's where it all happens. But no, he's way older than his birth date."

Question: Is Craig Roh starting to know that now that you can help him? Where is he in this process?

Coach Mattison: "I'm proud of what he's done improvement wise. I'm not by any means totally happy with him. I don't think he still is where he has to be to be a really big time rush. I'm really, really happy with how he is bought in. He has worked extremely hard and you see what's happened in the game and I think he would be the first guy to tell you, I can do better, I can do better. My answer to that is, well do it next week. I think he like a lot of other players want to be really good, they really do. It is a matter of them doing the work to get there."

Question: You spent a couple of years at Northwestern way back when. What do you remember that was a really down time for them?

Coach Mattison: "Really?!? All I remember is going out and recruiting and I would see a young man and they would say what's your record. I would always go, oh, 10-1 and they'd go good record. No it was 0-10-1. My record at Northwestern was 1-30-1 and to be honest with you, it drove me out of coaching for a year. I actually went into the sporting good business and I lost every penny I ever had doing that and I begged to get back into coaching. It was the best thing that ever happened. Northwestern was a great place. It really was. It was a long time ago. It was a great place except on Saturday's back then (laughter)."

Question: Are you surprised at what've they been able to do?

Coach Mattison: "I've followed them and over the last 20 years, boy they've become a very, very good football program."

Question: Who did you beat?

Coach Mattison: "We beat Wyoming and tied Illinois. I remember that explicitly."

Question: What are your thoughts on the secondary and how they haven't really let up that homerun play yet?

Coach Mattison: "I'm proud of that and that is the only thing that is acceptable here. They know and another guy who has done a great job is Curt Mallory. They understand totally that giving up big plays is not acceptable on the backend. You must keep the ball inside and in front. I think they have totally bought into that. The other thing you see happening is because of how they're cupping the football right now, you're not getting a lot of plays that are breaking through the secondary and knock on that wood, that can happen. Curt has done a great job of coaching that. I think the players have really bought into that. They understand that totally. They work extremely hard also. If you watch them on a practice day, they really go after it and Curt demands that. The thing about the secondary is you're only as good as your next game. You really are. You can say whatever you want about the secondary, you know what, you're one big pass away from not looking like you should look and they understand that."

Question: It seems like Will Heininger is doing some good things on film, can you talk about that?

Coach Mattison: "I think the thing that has helped our defense more than probably anything is the play of the guys up front. You've heard me say that for as long as you've known me. You're only going to be as good as you are up front. You cannot have a defense unless you have a strong front. I think those guys have really bought into that and they take great pride in that and they'll be really tested this week. They're going to be tested because they're going to have to get off blocks to be able to run this Persa down and keep him in the box and all that kind of thing. When you have a defensive line that is knocking people back and getting off blocks then you have a chance to have a pretty good defense."

Question: In the last couple of weeks, it seems like Blake Countess has missed an assignment or something one play, the offense doesn't feed him that way again for the rest of the game. How quick of a learner is he and how quickly is he picking up what you guys want?

Coach Mattison: "He's young. He's very young, so you really don't know yet. All I know is that when he's gone in there he's played without a conscience and I think when you're a corner you have to play that way. When you're out there in front of 110,000 people and everybody knows if you don't do something right. They don't know if Mike Martin doesn't do his job, but they know if that guy doesn't. I think he has that IT factor, okay, I'm going to go out there and I'm going to do what you tell me to do. If it doesn't go right, I'm going to come back the next play. You can't have a secondary guy if he makes a mistake his head goes down because you know you're really going to get beat then. I don't want comment on Blake yet. I knew about Blake coming out of high school because he grew right up where I lived out there in Baltimore and we knew he had a lot of talent. Ask that question after the next game, after the next game and after the next game. That's kind of how we judge everybody especially freshman."

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