Mattison Blames Self for Lack of Pass Rush

STORY: U-M Def Coordinator Greg Mattison discusses the lack of pass rush this season. W/ Video

ANN ARBOR -- Throughout spring and fall camp Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said the goal was to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks with four down lineman.

After three games – the Michigan defense has failed to live up to his expectations.

And Mattison puts the blame squarely on his shoulders.

"Our guys are working hard at it," Mattison said. "I'll put that on me. We just got to get better at it. We know that. We started working on that on Sunday already, but will be able to rush and we're going to do that."

The Wolverines have only five sacks on the season and didn't record a sack in the narrow 28-24 victory over Akron last Saturday.

While Mattison admitted he is the first to blame, he also noted that Notre Dame and Akron, Michigan's past two opponents, both used max pass protection by keeping an running back in the back field in passing situations.

"I don't know if I was playing against us if I would max protect, but people are doing it," Mattison said. "Apparently people think if they can hold the ball longer they got better chance. We just got to find a way to get better at our pass rush."

Sometimes the pass rush can come down to simple fundamentals said Mattison, and he also said he possibly tried to teach his defensive line too much in the spring instead of keeping it simple.

"When I look back at it, maybe I have tried to teach them too many things and we got to go back to where were in the spring when we're doing a better job of it. And say, ‘let's go back and do this first.' Again and I look at myself on that first," Mattison said.

"That's the whole thing is beating someone one-on-one, and who cares what the move is? Sometimes when I see good things in the practice field, I say, ‘OK, I'm going to teach you this now. This will even help you more.' You better be able to master the first one first."

Despite the disappointing start, Mattison has vowed to get more pressure on opposing defenses and focus more teaching and being a better coach.

"It's not acceptable with how we are pass rushing," Mattison said. "I said, ‘apparently I am not doing a good job of teaching you and I'm going to do a good job of teaching you, cause we are going to be able to pass rush. And we will, and we're going to work extremely hard on it and the time we have to do it.

"We have to be able to rush the passer."

Courtney Avery

Senior captain Courtney Avery had minor knee surgery before the Central Michigan game in late August. He has slowly come back form the injury, playing sparingly these past two weeks. Mattison said he should be on the field this week at UConn with a bigger role.

"He's right on schedule," Mattison said. "He's right where he should be. As you can see, some programs might have thrown him a lot in these last weeks when they cleared him. We're not going to do that. We're going to make sure a guy is healthy (and) 100-percent.

"I know he is really anxious to get going."

While Avery was injured, sophomore Jarrod Wilson has stepped in as the starting free safety and done a respectful job through three games this season.

"He's had a whole off-season," said Mattison on the growth of Wilson. "He's had a spring. And he has played in all of these games – all the way. He has responded."

And when Avery comes back fully healthy, Mattison said he will most likely split his time between safety and cornerback. However, he didn't name him a starter at either position.

Terry Richardson

Sophomore cornerback Terry Richardson was a highly touted four-star prospect out of Detroit Cass Tech. In his first two seasons at Michigan it has been tough for him to see the field due to his lack of strength for the position said Mattison.

"He's a young guy that needs to get stronger. This is big boy football and he needs to get a lot stronger and that will allow him to play more physically and with more confidence."

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