Interview by Sam Webb
Story by Josh Henschke
For Michigan's sake, having defensive lineman Maurice Hurst return for his redshirt senior season was a major victory for the defense. In Hurst's sake, he could've likely declared pro as the option certainly was available.
Playing mostly in a rotational role, Hurst had his best season so far and, at times, appeared dominant on the field. Now that his role is increasing this season and will be the leader on the defensive line, his coach Greg Mattison is also expecting his game to step up as well.
Mattison says Hurst's history with unfortunate injuries has slowed him down a bit but he must stay healthy in order to compete.
“Mo Hurst is a very talented football player and Mo Hurst has paid his dues here and done some very good things," Mattison said. "The biggest thing with Mo is he has got to stay consistently healthy. He comes up with a lot of small injuries that have slowed him down, right when he is going really, really strong, something comes up."
Mattison also says that Hurst must realize when to take chances on the field. Everyone saw how effective he was as a rotational player, but when his snaps increase his coach says he needs to take more risks.
"The next thing he also has to do is know when he can take that chance and make a great play, knowing that if I don’t make it, there is a chance I’m going to give up a play," Mattison said. "He did that this last year, very talented. There is no question about it and he needs to have a great year. The big thing he has to do is stay consistently healthy throughout the year.”
Another player that is expected to see increased playing time is sophomore Rashan Gary. Gary, like Hurst, saw rotational snaps to get his feet wet at the collegiate level. With talent and the ceiling high, Gary is setting himself up to make a statement and live up to his high school ranking.
First, however, Mattison says he also needs to work on his consistency.
“The one thing I will say about Rashan, he was very technically sound also for a high school kid becoming a big time major college football player at Michigan," Mattison said. "The biggest thing is more the mental, knowing the small adjustments, the responsibility on every play that you can't just go and try and make the play. The five play in a row or sixth play in a row in this league and the people we played. Your first play might be really, really good and your second player is okay. The thing you have to see is the consistency on every single play and that’s what I think he saw more than anything and improved more than anything on.”