Ezeh Sees Defense Taking Shape

Michigan Jr. LB Obi Ezeh discusses adjusting to his third defensive coordinator in as many years, how far along the defense is in installing Greg Robinson's system, Steve Brown's new role, the positive difference in morale this spring compared to last, and much much more.

Question:  What are you learning that's different with this defense under Greg Robinson compared to past years?

Obi Ezeh:  "I feel like Coach Robinson, he brings a couple different schemes with him.  We haven't really been able to open things up because we got a lot of young guys.  Right now we are putting in a lot of our base packages, but I'm excited to see what we can get in in these last couple of practices."

Question:  How different are the base packages?

Obi Ezeh:  "They're different from Coach Shafer because it's more of a 3-4 look.  I've been here with Coach English and we were kind of running the same thing but not really.  I've been around, where most defenses kind of look the same to me -- you rearrange the parts a little bit."

Question:  What is Coach Robinson in terms of his on field approach and how he directs you guys?

Obi Ezeh:  "He's real hands on when it comes to it.  On the field, he's telling guys what (to do) to try to help guys out.  He's in your face when he needs to be and he'll bring you aside and talk to you on the side when he needs to.  He's got a lot of experience and so he knows when to do what and what is necessary."

Question:  As a player, how do you adjust being here and having to learn three different systems?

Obi Ezeh:  "You can't really control any of that so you just kind of got to take it one day at a time.  I just try to wake up and try to do my job, just like going to work.  You never really know what is coming at you.  It's just like going to school, -- you are learning something new every day.  You just bring that same approach to the field.  Three different guys, three different defenses, it's a challenge, but its fun and its part of the deal."

Question:  Coach Robison recognized early on that fundamentals needed some improvement based on last year.  Are you seeing that improvement and what are he and the coaching staff doing a little differently this year to work on those issues?

Obi Ezeh:  "Yeah.  I do see some improvement.  We still got a while to go, but it is good that we got a lot of time still.  We are just working on fundamentals, a lot of tackling, new techniques and new drills to work on open field tackling and just getting ourselves in the right position to make the tackles.  We do a lot of stuff with the big porta pits out there.  Just getting guys a lot of reps just tackling.  A lot of time if you are like a two or three, you don't get a lot of those first hand reps."

Question:  How is spring going for you personally?  Feel like you're having a good one?

Obi Ezeh:  "I always feel like there is things that I can improve on, so I just try to…I feel like I'm real critical on myself but one thing that I want to try and do is be more consistent.  I can't really say that right now, I have to wait until spring ball is over and kind of look back at it as a whole.  I feel like I'm off to a good start, kind of slow start.  I hurt my ankle a little bit in the beginning but now that it is back to normal, I feel like I am good to do."

Question:  Did you meet with Coach Robinson at all when he came in before spring practice started?

Obi Ezeh:  "No I didn't, but I spoke with Coach Rodriguez about him.  I kind of was in the loop, but ultimately it wasn't really my decision.  It is the head coach's decision."

Question:  So Coach Rodriguez did consult you guys a little bit before he made the decision?

Obi Ezeh:  "Yeah he did."

Question:  What have you noticed going against the offense that you didn't see last year?

Obi Ezeh:  "A lot of new faces.  They're a little bit more confident.  I feel like they know they can move the ball on us and so we can't go out there and just expect that they are going to go three and out.  We have to stay heads up and be aware that they could pull a fast one on us."

Question:  Particularly have you seen some changes in the offensive line after a year of playing?

Obi Ezeh:  "Definitely.  They are a lot more experienced.  Last year, they were real young, so they were kind of tentative at times and that is kind of the deal with young players.  Sometimes they think too much and with O-line, it's a lot to take down, so you got to know when to block who.  I feel like they are a lot more experienced and it is enabling them to just play and be themselves."

Question:  With Jonas (Mouton) and some of the guys lost from last year; how has the competition been at linebacker?

Obi Ezeh:  "Jonas is out with an injury, but he's ahead of schedule and he'll be back for fall camp.  They brought in some young guys and with the defense and we kind of rearranged some parts on our back end.  We kind of split up the linebacker groups, just inside linebackers and outside linebackers.  Now there are just a handful of guys.  There is still a lot of competition because a lot of the young guys from last year are getting kind of settled in and starting to really come alive."

Question:  Who's impressing you out of the group?

Obi Ezeh:  "Out of the young guys, J.B. Fitzgerald is getting a lot of good reps and Kenny Demens is doing a lot of good things when he gets out there on the field."

Question:  What's the biggest difference between this spring and last spring?

Obi Ezeh:  "We've been outside a lot more.  The weather has been a lot nicer."

Question:  Like the team's attitude, do you feel like there is a difference?

Obi Ezeh:  "You feel like the slate has kind of been wiped clean, so the morale is still high.  I think we're excepting to go out there and have success, as opposed to just kind of hoping for it."

Question:  What was your take on the first scrimmage?

Obi Ezeh:  "I felt like the defense dominated.  That's kind of how I like things to go.  I thought it was good intensity, a lot of guys with good enthusiasm and a lot of guys flying around making plays.  I kind of like that.  It was our first scrimmage, we kind of didn't know how things were going to go and I thought it went well."

Question:  What did see you with the guys up front?  You have to replace a few guys who started last year?

Obi Ezeh:  "Well BG (Brandon Graham) is still here, so he's still doing his thing out there and there are a handful of young guys who are able to make plays out there.  Mike Martin got a lot of playing time last year and he'll be big for us this year.  There are still younger guys just coming in.  I know Will Campbell is doing a lot of good things when he gets in.  Some of the guys who were here last year and didn't get a lot of playing time like Greg Banks and Renaldo Sagesse.  So all those guys are getting in there and Adam Patterson is looking pretty well too."

Question:  Steve Brown's a guy whose role has kind of changed a little bit; how has he adjusted and what have you seen from him?

Obi Ezeh:  "I think we've adjusted really well.  I think that position kind of suits him.  He's brought down in the box, so he likes to joke around that he's another linebacker. I told him he wasn't a linebacker until he comes and does individual with us.  I think he can really come alive with that role.  He's fast and he's strong.  He can match up with those quick guys that they put out there and he can still get his nose dirty in the box."

Question:  Do you feel like after a year with Coach Rodriguez that you guys know what is expected of you in this program?

Obi Ezeh:  "Yeah I do.  When he came in, it kind of took him a while to install his standards.  You can't just throw the book at everybody at first, so it kind was a gradual progression.  I just feel that time allows people to get more accustomed to what's expected."

Question:  How much of last season was trying to make those adjustments? 

Obi Ezeh:  "I feel like the whole season you're trying to do that on the run while running the team.  So he had his hands full and it is amazing how he did that."

Question:  Are you personally excited about the increased attention of the spring game and all the extra…?

Obi Ezeh:  "I'm excited just to be out there playing football.  I really don't get caught up with all that.  It'll be nice to be back in the Big House that's for sure, but other than I'm excited to go out and play football."

Question:  When you guys are together, how much do you take from last year and how much do you try to forget?

Obi Ezeh:  "You want to kind of forget it, but you don't really want to ever not remember it I guess.  You just want to learn from it I guess.  With last year, it was a lot of growing pains and I feel like we've kind of gotten through that.  We still got another new defensive coordinator, but I think team morale, I think it'll be a smoother transition just because we got a lot more guys buying in."

Questions:  You mentioned that is more of a 3-4 look that you're working on; do you feel like that better suits the guys that you bring back?

Obi Ezeh:  "I don't really know.  Time will tell.  I haven't really been able to see a lot of the guys who are playing right now, out there in game situations.  I think they brought the technique, which they thought would best suit us.  We'll see if it works, but I'm pretty confident in it.  In most defenses, it is all about being on the same page with everybody else."

Question:  You mention guys buying in.  What sort of things tell you that?

Obi Ezeh:  "You hear it in the locker room.  You hear less of it, complaining about this and complaining about that and just guys know whenever we walk through the doors just get ready to work -- no complaining just get after it and do your job."

Question:  Was that part of the problem last year, people complaining about what they have to do?

Obi Ezeh:  "I mean it's always there.  I just think the way things went last year -- it just kind of made it easier for those things to spread."

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