Graham says Defense Relishing the Pressure

Michigan Jr. DE Brandon Graham sat down with the media after practice yesterday to shed light o the progress of the defense, the strides he has made in conditioning, how the linebacker battle is shaping up, which freshmen have caught his eye, and more.

Question:  Do you feel different than you have been the last couple of years?

Brandon Graham:  "Yeah I feel like I am in the best shape of my life right now.  The whole team is.  Everybody is freaks right now. That is what Mike (Barwis) calls us, beasts.  We all say freaks because everybody wouldn't think we would doing this right about now at 6 months."

Question:  Last year you said you got gassed a lot... that you came in and out on plays. Is that different this year?  Is that going to be because of the conditioning?

Brandon Graham:  "It is a lot different because we condition every day.  After practice we run, we lift.  We get stronger every day.  It is something different.  My body is changing a whole lot.  The whole team's body is.  The whole line don't even have guts like they used to.  Running around, I wouldn't really be getting tired like that no more. They keep pushing us to the limit every day.  I feel like it is going to be a good outcome this season."

Question:  How about the offense? Any concerns at all about the way you guys are dominating these guys?

Brandon Graham:  "I just think that our defense is so good, it is going to prepare them.  It is going to prepare them for this year because we fly around and that is big. Coach Shafer, he is real big on getting to the ball and stuff like, just like Coach E (English) was, but it is like if you really don't do it now, you are going to have gassers after practice."

Question:  How do you guys stay shape?  Do you still do as much running as you used to do now that are you in camp; how do you stay in shape for this season?

Brandon Graham:  "We stay in shape every day.  I feel like, man, when we be out there, I am going to be running 100 yards downfield all day. I feel like that is just how much in shape we are going to be for this season."

Question:  How much running do you do after practice?  Do you guys do gassers and stuff after practice no matter what or how does it work?

Brandon Graham:  "We condition after practice every day if we don't get it in during practice.  Like if coach feels like we was a little behind, he makes sure we do what we got to do after practice so that we won't lose nothing.  We run every day.  I am prepared every day to run.  That is something that I don't like to do, but I bought into it and I see we all progressed and everybody is getting better every day.  Everybody getting stronger. We're going to be good this year. I can't wait."

Question:  Are all the changes positive?

Brandon Graham:  "Yes.  They are positive because we are building a family.  It is just like Coach Carr... when he was here he talked about family.  Now Coach Rodriguez comes in and it is all about family. That is everything.  That is going to his house, eating with him, stuff like that.  They are preparing that for Sunday... going to the position coach's house, get to meet his family, his kids, stuff like that.  You know, I never really been over coach's house like that and I really feel like it really is a whole family thing.  They try to bring everybody together so that we can fight for each other."

Question:  Has Coach Carr stopped by any practices at all?

Brandon Graham:  "Naw.  I haven't seen him.  I saw him at the Union; he was happy to see me, but I don't really see him a lot now."

Question:  He doesn't keep an eye on you guys or anything?

Brandon Graham:  "Naw, not really.  I know he misses us, but he probably can't be around I guess."

Question:  How much are you guys relishing the fact that because where the offense is, the defense is really going to be relied upon this season, maybe the whole season not just the early part?

Brandon Graham:  "I feel like that is what we want anyway.  We want it to be on our back because I feel like we just work that much harder for it to be on our back, and the offense is going to get it together.  By the time it is time for Utah, I think they are going to be clicking and once we get that clicking, there is nobody that is going to be able to stop us this year."

Question:  You know what a good offense looks like just based on what you have seen the last couple years and the guys you have had; obviously they are not the same guys, we haven't heard of them, so how do you have that confidence?

Brandon Graham:  "I just put it like this.  The old guys gone and there is always somebody new that step up this year. I just can't wait to see who it is that step up."

Question:  Nobody has done it yet?

Brandon Graham:  "Oh everybody isstepping up, but I am talking about when it is really time... like when game time gets here. We will see who has the mental toughness and I feel like this is just what we do and everybody is going to get it done on offense."

Question:  You guys talk a lot about the preseason rankings?  Is that a motivation for you guys?

Brandon Graham:  "We do a little bit, but we just say that we are going to shock the world.  That is all we are going to do.  We don't really vibe on it, because it is not really positive. What we want it to be, we wanted to be #1, but we will just have to fight for it.  We (are) going to show it this year in the season."

Question:  Have you seen a progression in Terrance Taylor from last year to this year?

Brandon Graham:  "Yeah that boy shaved off some pounds.  He (is) looking like a beast out there.  Yeah, he is looking real nice.  I can't wait to see him out there, because I know his drive.  His drive is real strong and he brings everybody together.  He has always been a vocal guy.  I am just starting to be out there talking a lot, because I like to show better than I can talk, but I see that I have got to be a vocal leader with experience out here and bring the young guys in.  Mike Martin, he has proven himself too.  He is out there trying to step it up, because we are going to need everybody on the D-line because that is our strength right now… the D-line, and the linebackers too and the corners; well the defense period.  Our whole defense is kind of big and veterans."

Question:  What linebackers have caught your eye so far?

Brandon Graham:  "John Thompson and Obi (Ezeh) and Austin Panter... he comes to work.  Everybody comes to work.  I aint ever seen it like this to where everybody really bought in to what Coach Rodriguez said and you really don't have any choice really to buy in and you saw all the people who left, they didn't want to buy in, but everybody who is here, they are working hard, working their tail off; we going to get it done this year."

Question:  Do you see John and Obi as natural middle linebackers?  Could one of them move over to the strong side?

Brandon Graham:  "Yeah.  I think that is what they are going to do.  I don't know which one it is, but I know Obi is fast and John is fast and they know both positions, so we will see who put them there.  Because they both can play the MIKE and the SAM."

Question:  Are either of them more fit for one of those positions?

Brandon Graham:  "John fit for the middle and Obi fit for the SAM because of size.  John is a little bigger than him and Obi is a little slimmer and a little quicker, but yeah, I think that is how it is probably how it is going to do.  Obi at SAM and John at MIKE."

Question:  You talk about how the team has bought in, can you pinpoint one moment?

Brandon Graham:  "Like what?"

Question:  One moment where you saw that everybody had in fact bought into all the changes that was brought on.

Brandon Graham:  "Once camp started, the first day when everybody had a lot of questions on what he had planned before he even gave us a schedule, a lot of people was really like, 'man, I can't wait to get it done to see how it is going to make me better.' Everybody is trying to get better.  Now that they see they don't have any choice but to get better,  they are like...  I am just trying to be great."

Question:  Is the offense making any plays on you guys?

Brandon Graham:  "Oh yeah.  You know it is kind of scripted… because coaches know… it is back and forth.  They know what plays are called, they really out there; they going to get it together.  Right now, the defense is just the defense, we flying around.  The offense is going to get it done.  Like Coach Rod said, they are going to be ready when the time comes."

Question:  Have any of the freshman caught your eye?

Brandon Graham:  "Mike Martin on the D-line.  Those two slot receivers, #7 Terrence (Robinson) and #9, I forgot his name….oh yeah Martavious (Odoms).  They both quick.  Boy, they are going to bring a lot to the table this year I feel like.  Who else? Boubacar (Cissoko), a corner, he is locking them up.  You see him running with the twos right now.  Yeah, he is going to get it done too."

Question:  Do you think he will be the nickel back?

Brandon Graham:  "I don't know.  We don't know how it goes.  I just go with what the coaches say.  That is who I see standout from the freshman."

Question: Has (Sam) McGuffie tried to jump over anyone yet?

Brandon Graham:  "He did after practice.  He jumped over I think it was Obi, like he just did a frontward flip over him.  Cleared him.  He is nice.  I didn't really believe it at first, because I wasn't all on Youtube looking at him and stuff.  I said I will see him when he gets here, but he did a frontward flip and cleared up, like didn't even touch him standing straight up."

Question:  Did somebody put him up to that?

Brandon Graham:  "Oh yeah, everybody talked him into it.  Because, we all was talking about just flipping. I can do backflips.  So they was like, 'McGuffie go ahead out there and do a front flip.'  He went out there, he cleared him.  I was like, man!"

Question:  Is he pretty proud of that skill?

Brandon Graham:  "Yeah, he is pretty proud of it.  I would be, I know if I could do that."

Question:  What day was that?

Brandon Graham:  "That was two weeks ago, before we left for break, before we got here."


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