Full Transcript: DC Greg Mattison

Mattison talks a lot on Martin, VanBergen, Roh and the D-line; and he makes Nebraska sound almost unstoppable ...

Well, we've got a big one ahead of us, you know? This next one – I guess you'd say that every game is really really big – but I think this one will pose a real challenge to our defense because they're like three offenses in one, you know? They're a power attack…the running back is a really good downhill runner. They go from that to being able to be an option attack with the quarterback. I think they've got four-thousand-some yards and three-thousand-and-some of those are the quarterback and running back. Have to have a counter for those too. So you see where their offense is, but it makes their defense have to be sound in all phases. You can't load up and play the power because you may be getting option. And you can't go in there with the idea of being a finesser or an assignment totally…you're going to get the power run right at you. So this is going to be a big test. And he can throw it – he can throw it well enough to – you know, he's put some yardage on people. And then the last thing they do that makes it – that challenges your defense – is that they have a fast pace, you know? So they do that to try to get your defense so they're not in great alignments, you know, just to be a little sloppy, because they hurry up, and if you're not a real disciplined defense you don't get set correctly, and you know as well as I do we're not good enough not to be perfect in our alignments and our assignments; so that's going to be a big challenge for us.

After re-watching the film from Saturday, are you still as happy…?
Yeah, there were some…you know, I was watching the film, and we're very very critical obviously when we watch the film, but Michigan defense is built on upfront, you play aggressive, you knock 'em back, you're physical, you rush the passer. Secondary, you challenge receivers, and as a defense you swarm and tackle. And for the most part, our guys did that in that game. And it's never perfect, obviously coach always wants us to have a number of clips good and bad to show the whole group on Sunday, and I could probably find enough bad ones to be able to spend more time than he gave us, but there was improvement. There was improvement, and I was just really proud of how hard we played. And to be able to go back out there and stop ‘em again and stop ‘em again, that's Michigan defense, and that's what we're going to be called upon to do if we're going to be a Michigan defense.

You talked about tempo a little bit. Some teams have found some success against you guys pushing the tempo. How big of a concern is that, and with the defense still learning it…?
Yeah, that is a concern. That's a concern. You know, any time a team tempos you, you're going to find out how mature your defense is. You have to be a very disciplined defense, and you have to be a tough-minded defense to know that you're going to get the call in the spur of the moment, and then you're going to be able to line up in the spur of the moment, and then you're going to play. So that's something that our guys – we've already addressed with them.

Does chasing Denard around in practice prepare these guys a little for him, and…?
Yeah, you know, it's a different deal though – it's…chasing Denard is really – that's after the fact. It's a different play. For us it's going to be getting set. Player assignment. And then if you have to chase him around, chase him around. And that's why it's different, you know? Brady does drills with our guys every Tuesday after practice, chasing the rabbit drill with our defensive lineman, you know? And that's emphasizing what you have to do, but it doesn't happen like that in a game all the time, you know? But you know, it's a lot better playing against a Denard than it would be playing against a drop-back guy all day, for sure.

Does it help that you guys – because Northwestern runs something somewhat similar – at least they did against you guys. Does that help…can you go back to that?
Yeah, there are a number of teams we played that run parts of that, you know? And that's one thing you find when you play teams that run a form of the spread, you know, that you're going to those components, that there's some carryover. But like I said, this team, they'll line up in the eye and run power – their favorite running play is the power, you know, or the sweep, so you going to be ready to play that also.

Coach, Van Bergen talked about how he freelanced a little on the inside. Can you talk about what he was doing with Mike Martin in there?
Yeah, I've always done this, and when you have guys that have earned the respect, and earned the trust – I shouldn't say respect…I always respect these guys…I guess it's trust – trust to know that they're not going to put themselves ahead of the team, and that they're a very very intelligent team. Well, Mike Martin and VanBergen are as vested in this defense as any player. They're the ones that have gone the long road, and stuck with it and battled, and now have become the leaders. So we said to them in a game, ‘you know, I would call possibly a four-man pass-rush game, and that might waste two guys', so you always want feedback from guys like that, and Ryan and I have a very open relationship, as Mike and I do that, you know, ‘guys, you're out there playing, and I'm not. And if there's something that you see, then let's talk about it'. And he came up and he said ‘coach, we can call games or not games just inside the two of us, and you don't have to call four-man, or…' Great, great go ahead, you know, and they did a great job of it, you know?

Is that what happened on the safety that Mike Martin got against Purdue?
No, that was just great technique by him and him coming off the football.

I think he mentioned that Ryan Van Bergen tipped him off too.
Well, that's the maturing process that you're seeing. Great defenses, if you're ever out there with them, it sounds almost like a stock market. I mean, guys are saying ‘this guy's up, this guy's up, tight split, tight split, close split, close split you know, that's – and you got the linebackers saying ‘the back's far or the back's near' – that's great defense. And then the secondary is talking about ‘cut split, this guy's... Well, first few weeks it was like a morgue out there – come on talk, you know, and our guys going, ‘oh my god'. Now you're hearing it. Now you're starting to – when they get the signal, you can hear guys talking about ‘hey this guy's here'. Well they're putting in time, they're coming in whenever they can, legally, and sitting down with their coach, and going over film one-by-one. I mean, that's the thing you mentioned after the game, why I was so proud of this team; because they're becoming a football team – they're becoming a defense. We're going to show it again Saturday, we've going to do it again Saturday. We all know that, but where they've come from to becoming a defense – becoming a defense not just knocking somebody's head off out there – its talking and taking care of your buddy, and when you make a mistake, not hanging your head, coming off getting ready for me to rip ‘em, but saying ‘ok coach, I got it', and then you not having to yell at them because you know it means something. That's what happens when you have a group that's come together, and that's what this team is starting to do.

…back in the spring you showed Martin lined up at several different spots across the field, and that's kind of shown up in the last couple weeks more and more. Is that part of that trust process, and kind of that you're moving off from the base…?
No, that has nothing to do with trust; it has to do with scheme. You know, we always try to get our – we want to put our best guys at the best place where they can best help that defense. And we figured out that Mike Martin playing some certain different positions than just over the center might be harder for the offense. And he's always been intelligent enough to do it. He showed it in the spring right away when we first got here, and we really didn't want to do that all year, you know, you kind of want to save some things, and gradually kind of throw something in every once in a while that you don't really want to give a team the exact same thing. And we try to do that, where there's always something just a little bit different that causes them problems, you hope.

Are there games that the linebackers and the secondary can play, or are they not at that point of development?
You don't ever want to do that with linebackers and secondary. Secondary you can do it a little bit by, you know, changing where you align and then going back, but you do it more with the defensive line. And the linebackers, you have to be almost in a perfect alignment to get your job done, you know? Secondary can disguise a little bit, you know, but I don't know if we're ready for that yet, you know? I think you just gradually – you still want to play really really sound football, and I kind of like – sometimes I like to get out there some game and call the same defense about 30 straight times and see how good you can be. Then you know you really have a good defense, you know? But offenses nowadays won't let you do that anyhow, so…

Has J.T. Floyd evolved as the season's gone on, because obviously this game he was noticed and impressive throughout the game. Was it a unique game, or is…?
No, there have been a lot of plays throughout the year. JT Floyd's been out on an island all year playing against usually the best receiver all year, and you know, there's been some good and there's been some that haven't been so good, and this happened to be one of them that's a real credit to him. You know, here's a guy that, you know, every step he takes he gets coached on the practice field. Every time he doesn't go hard he gets coached, you know, and all of a sudden, you know, everything went pretty good for him. It wasn't perfect, but it went pretty good for him, and he'll be another one we'll find out what happens this next Saturday, you know? You're really really a good player and really really a good defense when you do it week in and week out.

Is it different that you're going to be playing two teams that haven't shown ability to throw the ball quite as consistently as some of the others?
You know, I mean, yeah, they're not going to be – you wouldn't say they're going to throw it all over the park, but then it makes JT be a run defender, and now we'll find out if you're that kind of a football player. And it's the same thing, you know, he's going to switch gears and go now from being just a cover guy to being a physical football player, because one thing these wide receivers are is very very physical. Almost to past the limit, you know, so that'll test us.

How do you assess how Kovacs has played over the past month? Has he been…?
Yeah, pretty darn well. I mean, he – like I mentioned Mike and Ryan in the back end – there's Jordan, you know, he's one that I think if you heard that, if you were out there in the middle of the field during those games, you'd be hearing him talking almost as if he's a coach out there. He's the guy that is real vocal as far as where to be, how to get lined up, and there's a guy that – maybe some guys might have just came back this week where he's played a couple weeks already. He's a tough kid.

Is that more important than his actual production?
I don't think you'd ever say it's more important, I think that allows the guy to play up to his ability. You know, intelligence is one of the biggest things a defender has to have, and it allows him to play at his best ability.

Coach, what growth have you seen of VanBergen throughout the season? It seems like his plays picked up the last couple weeks. What have you seen?
Well, I think the whole group – I think if – I wouldn't use Ryan just as an example. I'd use that whole defensive line. We preach it all the time – technique, technique. I mean, you sit and watch him in the games, and the same way they hit the sled, the same way they do their drills is what you see on film. And that's football, you know, and nobody in this league is good enough to play without technique; us especially. These kids work on it more – I mean, Jerry Montgomery does a good job with the defensive line, and they got the head football coach at the University of Michigan coaching a position – that's a pretty good deal. And Brady happens to be one of the better – if not good as there is – defensive line coaches there are. So you got a guy – you've got some pretty good emphasis right there.

With Martinez's skills and the option game, how much of a focus is gap integrity, and containing the…?
Huge. Whenever you have an option team, responsibility in doing your job is critical. I mean, you saw it last week – we had a couple of times where we didn't take the quarterback. Well, those two kids that that happened with took it probably 70 times in practice. I mean, after practice, individual, and did it perfect. And then all of a sudden there's that moment in a game where that back looks real intriguing, and they just want you to bite on that cheese, and they did. And the quarterback kept it, you know, so you're going to have to be really disciplined in playing a game like this.

Coming back to Van Bergen – you talked earlier in the season about how hard you were on Craig Rowe. Did you have to do any of that kind of stuff with Van Bergen, or was he already sort of…?
No, just be consistent with – you know, the difference with Craig Roh is I have him one on one, you know? One thing that you appreciate about this defense – and they know this is how it'll always be here – you can't have skin like a baby rabbit in our room now. I mean, if you do, you won't make it, and we even put up a picture of an armadillo early in the year, because you better have that kind of skin. Because you know it's never personal, but I don't care if you're a four-year starter and an All-American. Bottom line is what you seen on film – it is going to be corrected. And it is going to be addressed. And that's what you kind of appreciate about these guys, is you know they've gone through the transition of not having their feelings hurt, and they go ‘I got it coach, ok, here we go', and you move on. That's Michigan football, you know, that's - Brady does it with the coaches. You better not have skin like a baby rabbit around him – he's going to tell you ‘you didn't do a good job on that', and that's all you ever want I think , when you're working, is to be told what you can do to do better, and that's the way it is.

Was there a moment you had to do that with Van Bergen?
Oh yeah, Van Bergen sat in that meeting, and he's heard us all say ‘that's not good enough, why are you doing that, that's not good technique' – oh sure. Every guy – there's not a guy on that defense that's had a100% on their grade sheet yet, so there's going to be some corrected.

Is that interesting – Brady I assume has done that to you?
Oh yeah.

What's that like when you guys were never you know – him as your boss before this year?
I know one thing, if he ever does it with me, he's doing it to help this team, and that's all we ever care about, you know? That's – it's never where he – he's not going to say ‘that's the worst job I've ever seen'. Now he probably could…but he's going to, you know, he's the boss, and thank goodness, and he says ‘what do you think about this blitz, and why, or why do you do…' Ok, you know, you're going to listen. That's how you do it.

Is it weird because you were his boss at one point?
No, it's not weird a bit. Not the job he's done, are you kidding me? No. he can say – whatever he wants to say, I'll listen, you know? We're here to try to make this successful and win games.

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