ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Depth in any sports is a luxury. In football, well, it can be difference between a good team and a great team. On Michigan's defense, especially its front four lineman, U-M has the depth that defensive line coach Greg Mattison covets, and says now they just have to prove how great they can be.
“They’ve heard me say it 100 times, they know it, you’re only as good as strong as you are down the middle,” Mattison said. “You look at any great defense you find out down the middle they’re strong. So they want to prove that they deserve that."
His group has the ingredients you look for in a defensive line, they are experienced, talented, fast, strong, and have plenty of bodies to go round. His two-deep consists of two first strings basically, led by Chris Wormley, Ryan Glasgow, Taco Charlton, Bryan Mone, Taco Charlton, Maurice Hurst Jr., Chase Winovich and highly touted freshman Rashan Gary.
“And again, we’ve really tried hard and this group really allows us, this group really has a first and second string – that's how we look at it,” Mattison said. “That’s how we looked at it last year, that you earn the right to rotate. How you practice and how you play the game before will determine how you’re going to play.”
Adding: “The goal is, let’s all do what we are supposed to do and therefore I can go play four plays as hard as I can possibly,” Mattison said. “And I’m going to come out and rest. And my buddy is going to go in for four and play as hard as he can play, and then I’m going to go back in. So you kind of earn the right to be in that rotation.”
By embracing this concept, Mattison says his backups are really looking at the big picture – and that’s winning ball games.
“And when you have that type of rotation, guys want to be starters, guys want to play a lot and all that, but truth be known – they want to play real good,” Mattison said. “... That’s our goal, that’s what we’ve been trying to work towards this summer.
Mattison said he also expects Galsgow to be back in full health anchoring his defensive line. Glasgow, of course, suffered a season ending chest injury against Rurgers last fall.
“Ryan is 100 percent and totally cleared to play,” Mattison said.
However, Mattison did note he’s expects Glasgow to be tested by Mone, who is coming off a season ending knee injury of his own, for the starting defensive tackle spot.
“Both of them are very close to each other, they both feed off each other,” Mattison said. “They both want to the guy who plays that position to be really, really good.”