Sam Webb: So coach, one game under your belt coaching the position, kind of take me through it, what was that first game experience like for you?
Roy Manning: “It was exciting. It was exciting. I was really looking forward to it, a little bit nervous but not in a bad way, just anxious to get that first one going and out of the way. It went well for us.”
Sam Webb: Let’s go back to before the first game because early in camp, Brady and obviously you had talked about Jourdan Lewis and how he had done. There was Jabrill that was in the scrimmage and then the last week heading into the game and then the game itself, the two veterans were the guys that were out there in the starting lineup in Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor. What did you see from those guys that had them rise up and get back into their starting spots or did they really have them all along.
Roy Manning: “I think just consistency. We had great position battles between Jourdan, Blake and Ray, really those three guys kind of set themselves apart a little bit and I knew it would come down to game week to make that decision. At the end of the day those guys have been the most consistent and the guys that I think myself along with Coach Brady and Coach Mattison felt like we had the best chance to win with. We’re lucky to because we really in our mind three #1 corners.”
Sam Webb: So when you look at their play starting first with Blake, he had the hernia surgery there. Was it just a healing process for him to get back to that level, was it more than that then anything else?
Roy Manning: “I think so. I think everybody kind of had to knock the dust off. We took a little different approach this year headed into training camp. Every guy at different points in camp showed flashes of this is the guy that we’re going to go into the season with. I think again at the end of the day those two vets really came through at the end.”
Sam Webb: I’ve known Ray for a long time and tell me if you see the same thing, but it really seems to me that your coaching style is a style that really…some guys respond back to that better than the soft, hey, how you doing kind of style. Have you seen that with your interaction with him?
Roy Manning: “A little bit. I think the biggest thing is that we changed our whole scheme. The way we want to play football this year, more aggressively, I think helps all those corners, and all those guys on defense hand loose a little bit more and be able to go out there and play the type of football that we want to play. I wouldn’t give myself the credit. We’re just doing whatever it takes to win.”
Sam Webb: One of the things that Brady said was that you guys made it a point to change things up to put guys in positions of stress to see how they respond. A lot of it is competition, but another part is response. With JD, he was running with the 1’s in spring, running with 1’s through most of the fall, still plays a lot, but how did he respond when he wasn’t with the 1’s in the game?
Roy Manning: “All the guys responded way, even dating back to the spring. We changed it up a bunch that lineup, these two guys going in one series, another two in the next series. I think those guys realize, hey I’m in legitimate competition each and every day and to be honest with you, they still are. At the end of the day, we’re going to put the best two guys out there on the field on Saturday. I think these guys have learned what it’s going to take to be out there and play at the level that we need to play.”
Sam Webb: You’re saying that no starting position is etched in stone, that could change at any given moment.
Roy Manning: “Always, this is Michigan. So there’s always competition and you’ve got to earn your keep here and so we want to keep that competitive edge and keep guys hungry and I think at the end of the day that’s what makes us a better team.”
Sam Webb: Assess as much as you are willing to publically how you’re guys did in game one. What did you see that they did well and what did you see that they need to improve upon.
Roy Manning: “They did well as a unit. We’ve got to communicate a little better out there, but I think that’s just part of that first game and getting those little jitters and stuff like that out. The biggest thing I was happy about was that we played aggressive. I don’t remember too many balls getting over our head. Those are the two biggest things that I probably harp on, is being aggressive and being sound in our technique. If we could continue to do that this week, I always like our changes.”
Sam Webb: You played a lot of guys, we saw Delonte, who obviously got a lot of run. We saw Spider out there. You got all your guys much needed time on the field.
Roy Manning: “This is a new year, a new team and you’ve got guys that have stepped up and some guys that has really understanding that we’re only going to be as good as everybody. So everybody is kind of taking more responsibility to be better individually and for us as coaches that’s what you want. You want a bunch of guys that you can kind of look at and count on.”
Sam Webb: This is a different opponent. Obviously the magnitude of the game rises ten-fold. It’s an environment that is like few others out there, but you’ve got guys that have been in environments like that before. Like you said, you’ve got some veterans. How big is that in your room for guys that have been in that type of situation before?
Roy Manning: “It’s huge, it’s huge understanding what it means to go down there to South Bend. It’s going to be a crazy environment, the fans and the band and everybody and playing on the road. This will be our first road test this year. So we’re looking forward to it, looking forward to the challenge. I think the biggest thing is that you can’t get too caught up in the hype because it is a football game and this is what you do in practice for us. Hopefully, we embrace that environment more so than let it get us distracted.”
Sam Webb: The last time that Michigan saw Everett Golson, it was not a great game for him by him, hell neither quarterback did well in that game. I remember Denard being quite down after that game. Evertt Golson is back and an opportunity to play against Michigan. What did you see against him in week one against Rice; what did you see from the Notre Dame offense.
Roy Manning: “You’ve got to keep him in the pocket. He’s a special player. He has a tremendous arm. The thing that I think showed up the most on film was the way that he extends those plays once he gets out of the pocket. Those guys back on the backend have to stay eye discipline and plaster on their receivers. We’ve got a heck of a challenge, but again I think we’re excited for us and I think the guys have worked extremely hard this week and so there is nothing left to do except go out there and play the football game.”
Sam Webb: One of the thing that Coach Mattison said or maybe it was Coach Hoke, one of them said that in this game this week, they didn’t go too much in depth into the whole game plan, but you don’t press these guys as much. Is that because of the speed they have on the perimeter or is that because of Golson and you don’t want to be caught with your back turned to him in man to man so much with a guy that can escape like that.
Roy Manning: “I think it is a combination. Last week they scored on some big plays, so you always just want to be sound in your alignments and things like that, making sure these guys don’t get past you. So we’ve just got to find that balance as the game goes on because we want to be aggressive in everything we do and also be smart and give our guys a chance up front. We’ll figure that out as the game goes on, but again just looking forward to the challenge.”
Sam Webb: I had you talk about their offense from the quarterback perspective, a lot of fans focused on who they don’t have at receiver with DaVaris Daniels possibly being out of that game. What do they have at receiver in his absence, who are some of the other guys and what have you seen from those guys on film.
Roy Manning: “They’ve got a nice group of receivers that are very talented. Robinson is their bigger guy, gets after it. Fuller, one of the guys that definitely can beat you deep, has great speed. You can see that on film. You’ve got Brown in there who’s played football, leading returning receiver from a year ago. So you’ve got some experience in there mixed with a little bit of youth. We respect our opponents because at the end of the day, it’s Notre Dame, so their going to have good players just like we are. So we’re never going to slight anyone just because they may have a player or two out. We know the next guy is ready to step in, same way that we expect the next guy here to step in. Again, we understand who we’re playing and what that’s all about.”
Sam Webb: You sad to see this one go away?
Roy Manning: “Definitely, definitely. I just love college football, love the rivalries. I think it’s a great rivalry and we’re looking forward to it. We’ll see, hopefully, we come out with a win this weekend. That’s what I’ll be looking forward to.”