With great purpose, Greg Mattison took to the podium throughout the 2014 season passionately speaking about former coach Brady Hoke and the future of a defense he felt was on its way to being dominant.
Fast forward to March of 2015 and Mattison is still coaching the Michigan defense, only now he’s solely focused on the defensive line, Jim Harbaugh is now the man in charge in place of Hoke, and former Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin is now in charge of guiding the Wolverines.
Still, Mattison’s passion for the game and the players he helped bring into Michigan’s program remains the same.
“The one thing is D.J. Durkin is doing a tremendous job,” Mattison said. “And I think the defensive coaches; it’s exciting because you see some of the things we’re doing.
“The kids are more experienced, the kids are picking it up, and it’s exciting to see it moving forward and it’s exciting to see kids really getting coached and wanting to be coached.”
The transition from most important person in the defensive meeting room, and the one answering to the head coach, to now focusing 100-percent on one position has been seamless according to Mattison.
During his time as defensive coordinator, Mattison often reiterated how important the four men up front are to a good defense.
“I’ve coached defensive line my whole life,” Mattison said. “I started out as a D line coach; I’d hate to say how many years cause that would giveaway how many years I’ve been coaching but I do know I’ve coached defensive line probably a lot longer than linebackers.
“I really like the defensive line. It’s a place where technique and teaching and you can get guys to be better and make improvements through technique and hard work so I’m excited about coaching the D line.”
When asked about possibly running or transitioning to a 3-4 defense this season, Mattison simply said, “we’re exploring everything,” but the goal is to find schemes that best fit Michigan’s personnel.
For Mattison though, he’s fitting right into a very experienced coaching staff, enjoying the opportunity to work with Durkin after years apart in the coaching profession.
“Coach Durkin and I are very close friends,” Mattison said. “We coached together a long time ago at Notre Dame. I traveled down there two years ago, back to Florida, to talk to him about what they’re doing and he’s done a great job where he’s been.
“But I’ve known D.J. a long time and I’ve always felt he’s a tremendous football coach and some of the things he’s done at a young age at Florida is remarkable. And I knew that. And that’s why it’s exciting to work with him. It’s fun because we’re not just coaches together, we’re friends, and I’ve always liked to be a part of some of that.”