Sam Webb: Coach, we talked to Brady earlier in the week and he kind of called the performance against Miami one, where the guys in the secondary kind of bounced back and your position in particular. That meant the return of Delano Hill and kind of Jeremy Clark as a guy back there where they are charged now with doing some of communication that you had charged Jarrod with. Those guys had to do that last week, how would you rate the performance of your guys overall and how did they handle the communication part of it?
Curt Mallory: “Like you said, it was a great challenge and they stood up to it. I was pleased. Both young men have been in the program, both Hill and Clark. I was excited about them getting in there and really getting their first experience in a full game where they were making the checks and making the calls and thought they did well. We still got to continue to improve.”
Sam Webb: Does it fall on one of those guys than the other, is it more on Delano versus Jeremy or vice versa?
Curt Mallory: “We take care of our sides and whatever side you may be on, we’ve got to make sure the corner and the linebacker on that side are on the same page. That’s what they continued to do. When things were moving fast and things were getting loud, you want to make sure that your side is lined up and then you’re ready to play.”
Sam Webb: Let’s back up a bit because those guys and just going off with what Brady said, they were kind of embarrassed by the performance at Notre Dame. When you take them into the room after a contest like that, is it drilling them, showing it to them over and over again or do you just kind of turn page, how did you handle that, how did you move past that and move on to Miami?
Curt Mallory: “Number one we wanted to identify the mistakes and were they had to improve. They understood where they could get better. Also identify some of the things that they did well and build on those. Not to repeat the mistakes but build on some of the things that they did well because, there were some goods things on there that you could build on, but there were also some things that we had to learn from and get improved, and I thought they did that.”
Sam Webb: When you looked at them in the Miami game, what were some of the improvements that you saw out there?
Curt Mallory: “I didn’t think they were as tentative. I thought they were playing faster and more confident in making the checks. They were getting lined up, they had their eyes, their feet and everything was set ready to go so you could play fast. I could see the confidence more throughout the week and just meeting with them and going over things and just tell how confident they were in making the calls and just how confident they were in making some checks, just getting lined up. There was just a lot more confidence in being out there and you get that with experience and you can’t put a price tag on experience and that was a great learning experience and something to build from.”
Sam Webb: Where is Dymonte in the mix? How is he figuring in right now?
Curt Mallory: “Dymonte did some really good things last week. You’re going to see him out there. Those guys have all been in the mix and done a wonderful job. I love Dymonte’s effort. He showed up a lot last week and look to see him in a big part today as well.”
Sam Webb: The game plan was a bit different against Miami. You played more base defense. We saw a SAM on the field much more. Then when you did go to nickel, early in the game you had the same personnel on the field that you had against Notre Dame and then later on you switched. You kicked Blake inside to nickel, was that a temporary thing or a long term kind of plan moving forward?
Curt Mallory: “No, we’ve got the ability to get in there and play both. Whether we play with a linebacker at that position, whether we play a nickel at that position, we just got the availability to do that. Sometimes the nickels are playing better in certain situations and sometimes it’s linebackers, sometimes we’ve got to use them both and that is what is really occurred is that we just needed to mix it up.”
Sam Webb: I meant from the standpoint of going from playing Blake outside and playing him inside where you had Delonte playing. Is that something that we’re going to see more of going forward or was that just a one game thing?
Curt Mallory: “It could be a one game thing. Delonte is a very valuable part of this team and this defense and you’re going to see him participate in a lot of ways. Blake can play. Blake’s played the nickel. You’re going to see them both in there. I wouldn’t say it is temporary, you’ll see them both.”
Sam Webb: Is that something because Blake has played there before that it is a luxury, does he have to practice there much for you guys to be able slide him into that position?
Curt Mallory: “Yeah, yeah. We still keep him practice up there and obviously Blake has played a lot of football for us and has great awareness. He’s instinctual, a very good football player. He with experience has been able to jump in there and do well, yet maybe not have as many reps, but yet we keep him rolled in there, so he is oiled up and ready to go.”
Sam Webb: So who are all the guys that you would say that you have competing at that nickel spot for time?
Curt Mallory: “We’ve played quite a few guys. You want to keep that number high because it’s along season. We’ve had Delonte in the mix. We’ve had Dymonte Thomas in the mix at times. Blake Countess has been in the mix at times. We had a young freshman in there at times with Brandon Watson, so you’ve had some guys in there that have been able to roll in there throughout camp and throughout the early season.”
Sam Webb: Let’s talk about this week’s opponent. They seem awfully potent on paper. They are averaging nearly 60 points a game. I’m curious if there is any team that maybe fans may be familiar that you could compare them to that can put in the mind of what this attack will look like and just what you’ve seen from them on film so far.
Curt Mallory: “Their tempo reminds you a lot of Indiana. They go fast. Indiana had very, very good skill on the outside a year ago. Both of those guys are in the NFL and they have two caliber wide receivers. That’s a good corp. You see tremendous skill that we’re going to see today with both Scott and Anderson, both of those guys are tremendous, tremendous wide receivers. Their quarterback has great command. He’s a good thrower, a good runner and they do a great job.”
Sam Webb: The thing with Indiana and that seemed to be the case and you tell me if this is true and if this is true of Utah. It seemed as if they would come in and have two or three plays called already. So they would run a play and then they were already up to the line running the next play, not like some tempo teams where you see them run a play and their back to the line, but their looking to the sideline for the next play. These guys seem to have two or three plays called already. Is Utah in the same way in how they do it?
Curt Mallory: “Yeah. They’re going to go fast and they’re going to have their plays set and ready to go. Coach Christianson has done a great job wherever he’s been of having a great tempo and a great scheme, but they definitely go fast and do a great job.”
Sam Webb: When you face a team like this and I remember talking to Coach Mattison after the first game, he talked about varying coverages. Is that key against a team like this and another thing, it seemed like you guys did more of last week, it looked like you worked more on disguising coverages. Giving them a look pre-snap and then changing right before the snap. Was that something that you made a concerted effort to do in the Miami and is that something that is important moving forward?
Curt Mallory: “A lot of it goes back to guys feeling comfortable back there and the experience that Jeremy and Delano have gained and of course Dymonte too. With those guys in there, you’re able to feel comfortable so you can move around and hold your disguises. That’s just another example of those guys feeling more relaxed back there, feel like they can still get to their work, be it move around a little bit and that’s what you saw a little bit.”
Sam Webb: Looking at today’s game, the keys that you guys kind of stressed as a position group and as a unit when it comes to facing an offense so potent and that goes at such a fast pace, what are the keys to the game for you guys?
Curt Mallory: “We’ve got to communicate. We’ve got to help each other out. Communication is going to be so key because you’re going fast. You’ve got to get the call in and we’ve got to help each other out and that’s where we didn’t do a good job a year ago, was helping each other out, whether it is a safety to a corner or vice versa. We’ve got to echo the message, echo the communication of the defense. Because things are going to get fast and we’ve got to get to our alignment and play our responsibility and play with great eyes and then it always comes down to keeping the ball inside and in front. That’s going to be the main emphasis, communication and keeping the ball in front of us.”
GBW Game Day Intel: U-M DB Coach Curt Mallory
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