Roy Manning: As you look at the physical make-up of the team you always say, ‘guys, this looks like a Michigan offensive line’ or ‘these look like Michigan linebackers.’ It’s really refreshing not just as a coach, but as a former player to see that. Now the challenge is getting the done on the football field which is completely up to us as coaches to prepare those players, and them to go out there on the football field and perform. That gives you a fighting chance at least. And that’s why the recruiting aspect of it is so huge in college football. You can say all you want about coaching, but players win the game. So you need good players and you need good kids and I’m excited about the ones we have.”
Question: So you’re looking around and kind of getting that old-time feel?
Roy Manning: “Oh, no doubt. I don’t want to put lofty expectations on anybody, but I know this…we have enough to win. So we just have to go out there and get it done.”
Question: So coach, Cam Gordon…he’s been, at least for the first week, kind of the last man standing. What have you seen from him in one week of practice thus far?
Roy Manning: “Cam has been playing like I expected him to play. He had an excellent, excellent summer. I mean, you see his body [and] how it’s continually transforming. He’s into it mentally, helping guys out. He’s playing fast football. He’s playing the way I expect him to. I don’t like to pump guys up too much because I say, ‘Man, this is the standard. This is how you should play.’”
Question: So when you kind of break down Cam’s game, what are the attributes does he brings to the table? What does he do well right now?
Roy Manning: “I think Cam is a versatile guy, you know. He’s moved around, played different positions here, which helps him in the mental aspect of the game. But, he’s just a really athletic kid. I mean, he can run, he can change direction. He’s really good…he’s got loose hips. He’s got all of those things. In today’s football game, you need guys like that. Teams are spreading it out. They say ‘pace and space.’ That’s the name of the game now. So, you need athletic guys that can do those things. I think he, and all of our guys, if you look at the make-up of our football team, we’re a pretty athletic football team as a whole."
Question: So, let’s move behind him. Before he got injured, what were you kind of seeing from Brennen Beyer?
Roy Manning: "Brennen Beyer? Well, he was just making the move back to linebacker. So he’s moved positions now two straight years and you can definitely see he’s more comfortable now in camp than he was in the spring making that move. [He’s] a really smart kid and really heady kid and I rarely have to correct him out there on the football field. It’s more fine tuning. It’s the same with Cam because they’re older guys and they kind of get it."
Question: And then Allen Gant, the new guy in your position. He has some weight to gain. But so far what has that been like?
Roy Manning: "It’s been good. And I’ve said he’s a quick learner. And kudos to Coach Mallory for having him the last couple years at that back end because now moving down, he gets what’s going on in the back end. Like you said, it’s just a matter of gaining weight and getting stronger and things. It’s a big difference playing on that line of scrimmage than it is playing on that back en. So, he’ll be fine and he’s really into it. Really up-beat. A positive kid. You’ve always got a chance with someone like that."
Question: I know Jake [Ryan] isn’t all padded up but what is he doing with you guys right now or is it just rehab all the way for him?
Roy Manning: "Don’t tell Jake he’s not padded up. (Laughter) He’s just a football player. It’s been great having him around. He’s been helping me out a ton. He helped this defense out a ton during the summer just being out there, you know. He didn’t isolate himself like some guys may tend to do when they’re injured [and] kind of internally focus. He’s been out there with the defense doing everything with them. The seven-on-sevens…all those deals. All those voluntary deals they do in the summer. So, Jake’s done a great job and I’m pulling for him to get back as soon as he can because I know how much he loves being out there."
Question: Do you think it’ll be October like Brady was guessing?
Roy Manning: "I hope so. I hope it’s August. (Laughter) The sooner the better. But it’s a matter of him just feeling comfortable, him feeling healthy enough to get out there and play at a high level because the thing I know we’re not going to do is put him out there until he’s ready. Obviously, until the doctors have cleared him but until he feels comfortable. So, that’s the good part about having some depth on the football team. You have guys that can go in there and get the job done."
Question: Roy, speaking of different recoveries and different abilities, why is Jake more equipped to make it quicker than it sounds like he’s doing than other guys?
Roy Manning: "I think, as much as it sounds crazy, I think some kids are just wired different where, you know, they’re so strong mentally…the mind controls everything. So, they’re just so strong mentally that they just will themselves to getting back. I always use the example of Adrian Peterson. Why did he get back so quickly last year for the Vikings? It’s just a different kid. So I think Jake hates being out and I think that drives him more than anything and I think he really enjoys football."