"What we're looking for is trying to get the best four guys to be available to play inside," said Mattison. "Q's had a real good camp. Will's had a good camp. You kind of interchange those two to see which one makes that defense better, whether it's one of them at a three and the other one at a nose. With so much trading and shifting and things like that, they both have to play the same position when they slide over. So it gives you an opportunity to hopefully make yourself stronger rather than having a true nose and that's all he can play."
Both Hoke and Mattison made it clear the move to add some weight on the defensive line wasn't based solely on the size and strength Alabama possesses up front. With Jibreel Black now able to slide outside once again, it's clear that that was part of it as well.
Mattison noted the tremendous combination blocks Alabama employs offensively and although its something they prepare for everyday no matter who the opponent is, it'll be key against the Crimson Tide.
"That's always a part of practice that we work on, because in our defense we'll always be in a position where those kind of blocks will happen," said Mattison. "So we've always worked on that."
The offensive line for Alabama isn't the only position posing challenges for Michigan defensively. The Crimson Tide also have a well put together and versatile tight end, as well as several skill position players that give Mattison plenty to think about and prepare for.
"They obviously have great speed at the wide receiver," said Mattison. "Anybody in the SEC will always have great speed, but Alabama shows that they have great speed at the wide receiver. They have a tight end that's 280 pounds and he's a returner—I think he's got 20 some starts in his career. He's obviously a very established football player that can also catch the ball. Whoever they put at running back, whoever the running back is going to be, it's Alabama. That guy is going to be the next guy, and we know the offensive line is a very strong point. The quarterback is a very good football player, and the other guys are very good players also."
One player in the winged helmet that helps prepare Michigan for some of the SEC speed they'll see Saturday is senior captain Denard Robinson. Coming from the NFL, Mattison quickly realized in order to stop Robinson, blitzing him in practice wasn't necessarily the best way to do it.
"Last year I think the first time we brought blitzes on Denard," said Mattison. "I think when we first got here I went, whoa, you don't see that in the NFL. I said, well, we're going to keep blitzing and so you keep blitzing and he keeps (going). It's kind of neat because the officials, Brady will tell them or Brady will blow the whistle, and he'll say to the official he would have been tackled … and when you look at it on tape you're going I don't think so."
As the Wolverines prepare for a more traditional, although somewhat mobile quarterback in A.J. McCarron, preparing with Denard can be a little tricky.
"The hardest thing is you don't ever know if you're getting pressure or not, because that guy who doesn't tie his shoes all the time just takes off running and it makes what you're doing—you go, well I don't know if that was successful or not, but against him I don't think it will be," said Mattison.
Mattison and the Michigan defense have four more full days before the lights come on at 8pm at Cowboys Stadium.
To watch video of Mattison from earlier today, press play below.