Mattison: Freshmen Likely to be in Rotation

Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison sat down with the media to discuss the 2012 recruiting class. GoBlueWolverine was there as he discussed Ondre Pipkins, Willie Henry and freshman playing early, and more.

On the rise of Ondre Pipkins.

  • "When he played in that Army all-star game, he play like we evaluated him. He did the things we thought he could do. That allowed a lot of other people to see him also. That is the one positive thing about all-star games... players get to showcase their abilities, as well as have some fun and see the country. "

On playing the incoming freshman defensive linemen.

  • "Like Brady (Hoke) said, with the graduation of Mike Martin, Will Heininger, and Ryan Van Bergen we knew we definitely had to get more depth on the defensive line. I think the guys that we recruited ... and it didn't used to always be that way... and guys that in our system are guys that can play. So now they are all going to have an opportunity.  And I think you saw this year what our philosophy is, once you come to Michigan there is no freshman, sophomore, junior, senior. It's the best player is going to play, and they (incoming recruits) have great opportunities."

More on playing freshman early.

  • "Usually it is very difficult at great programs. The thing that is different about this group is the defensive players are all talented. They all come from very good programs. They have been coached very aggressively to this point. We feel more like the NFL in a way... you're a rookie and a lot of rookies play. I think with our players understanding the system that are here now it would be easier for them to able to show (the freshmen) what do also.  It isn't just like their learning it all... they already understand it. Now they can help the younger guys get their chance real fast."

On the 2012 recruiting needs being met.

  • "I know one thing, we definitely we felt like we needed to help ourselves with defensive line. We needed line backer and we needed secondary and we were four, four, and six. So you know that is pretty good numbers. "

On recruiting top defensive linemen.

  • "They are very difficult to get. And if you look at the teams that are very successful you will see that usually have great defensive lines. The one thing that we have always believed in... and it has always been a philosophy of mine... I believe  a freshman or sophomore and anybody can play compete. As long as you don't make them play a long time.  And I have always liked to be able to rotate players. And a young man coming in that is very talented, if he can go as hard as he can go for four plays, and he is tagged off by another good player, the two of them can make themselves junior or seniors. That is why I am not worried about the age of the players. Like I said, they are rookies. Their coming in now, they made the team. Now let's see how good you are.

On having depth on defense.

  • "Two usually, two per position. I really like to get to the point where you as a coach don't have to say 'hey you  you're in.' You go into the game and you say 'you two guys are playing' and the older guy plays six plays and the younger guy plays four. And when those six play are over, just go on in and you come on out. But they have to earn that trust.  And I think you saw that happen in the bowl game with Frank Clark for example. He earned the trust. And therefore during that game I said, 'hey you just start rotating with Jake (Ryan) Jake is tired.' When you have a defense that can do that, now you have the ability to get guys to play as hard as they can. A lot of people are very equal talent wise. it's when they get fatigued  that you see the level of ability go up and down. If you have depth you can rotate guys. Iif they trust they system... which they have to here... there is only one way to play it and that is as hard as you can. Then you have a chance to play pretty early. "

On the late recruitment of DT Willie Henry.

  • "Well the thing is we were looking at our numbers . We would like to have another defensive lineman and we watched the tape on him. This guy right here is a young man that really developed. His film jumped off the screen to us. This is a guy we want. We were fortunate it was Michigan. We were able to get him. I think he is another one of those guys in that mix, that if you go as hard as you can, you are going to have an opportunity. "

The Michigan Insider Top Stories