Greg Mattison says pressuring Connor Cook is key for Michigan's defense.

Michigan has played a dominant brand thus far this season, but the Wolverines know they'll be facing their stiffest test to date when Michigan State comes to town Saturday.

While Michigan's defense has enjoyed pitching three consecutive shutouts and receiving the national praise that followed, inside Schembechler Hall the message remains the same.

"I don't look at shutouts," defensive line coach Greg Mattison said. "You try to play the best defense you can and do what you're supposed to do and everybody be on the same page and then good things will happen.

"Sometimes shutouts go hand in hand with special teams, hand in hand with offense and it's not always just the defense that gets that shutout, it's the team."

And right now Michigan's team is sitting at 5-1 with a massive opportunity for even more as No. 7 Michigan State heads to Ann Arbor Saturday.

The past hasn't been good to the Wolverines, losing six of the last seven to the Spartans, currently undefeated at 6-0.

A game often decided at the line of scrimmage, Michigan's defensive line will have it's hands full with an experienced, yet injury riddled offensive line for Michigan State.

"All the guys up front have tried really hard to use their technique, to do what fits them," Mattison said. "A lot of people when they talk about pass rush, they see all the fancy type things the NFL uses and all these different types of moves. Well, some people aren't built for all that.

"What these guys have embraced is moving the pocket and doing what's best for them and what's best for the defense. Sometimes to be a good pass rusher, you have to be selfish where you don't care about rush lanes and you got to get a sack. But there aren't many sacks. You need to stay in your rush lanes or get to the quarterback or put stress on the quarterback in another way."

Michigan State senior quarterback Connor Cook is off to an efficient start to the 2015 season, completing 60-percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

"He's a very good quarterback," Mattison said. "He gets rid of the ball quick, he sees who the receiver should be by the coverage very well, and I think that's a lot of him as a quarterback, getting rid of the football."

"He's a tall kid, a tall athlete, but anybody you play against, when they're getting the ball out quick, you want to get your hands up," added Mattison.

In charge of this Michigan defense as the defensive coordinator for four seasons under Brady Hoke, Mattison is as familiar with the unit as anyone.

Watching this group grow into one of the premier defenses in the nation in just one season, Mattison believes he knows why.

"The kids are older," Mattison said. "This is a group of guys up front that's played a lot of football.

"Some of them played before they should've played and they've worked very hard on their technique. The other part of it is it's never just one group."


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