Brown Looks Forward to 09 Redemption (Part 1)

In part one of Steve Brown's sit down with the media at the annual Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon, the Michigan senior discussses what went wrong last year, the impact of new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, his position switch, and much, much more.

Question:  Was last year really frustrating for you?

Stevie Brown:  "Yeah.  What happened last year was not like Michigan like at all.  I would never say that it was bad to play for Michigan, because it will never, ever be bad to play for Michigan.  That wasn't what we wanted to do out there.  It didn't feel good at all coming back in the locker room after all those games we lost, just knowing that we were breaking a tradition that has been there for so long.  It is not a good feeling at all."

Question:  You mean the bowl tradition?

Stevie Brown:  "Yeah the bowl tradition and only winning three games and everything like that.  It did not feel good at all."

Question:  It never seemed like it snowballed on the negative among the team. Did it? Losing game after game, was it negative among the team at all?

Stevie Brown:  "No I don't think it ever did because people knew we were working hard.  It was never like you're out there and you just saw people who didn't care and you could just point the blame at them.  Because everybody worked hard, everybody was trying to get in and watch extra film and do extra things to try and get a turnaround; it just didn't happen for us."

Question:  Terrance Taylor said at one point that there were guys who didn't buy in; did you get that feeling last year?

Stevie Brown:  "There are always people who resist to change.  Some took a little bit longer to come around than others.  For the most part not too much.  People were out there trying to play hard, practice hard, and do what the coaches asked."

Question:  Do you take what happened last year and as a positive this year?  Do you go on with a (ticked off) attitude?  How do you look at this?

Stevie Brown:  "We haven't really looked at it like we need last year to fuel us for this year.  We just look at this year that we want to get better that we want to be Michigan again.  Everybody is coming in hungry, trying to work harder and do more so we can win more games this year."

Question:  What will be different this year?

Stevie Brown:  "The hunger that everybody has is real strong this year.  It stems…there is player organized meetings now.  People come in just so that they can get some extra film.  I know the DBs and linebackers will meet up together and go through films and call out the defense and make sure that everybody is calling out their plays and what they're supposed to do and everything like that.  I know the D-line still gets together.  The running backs, receivers and quarterbacks, all get together and work on their timing.  Just things that are not asked for people to do, people just want to make sure that they are getting these little things done now, so by the time camp rolls around, we can make bigger battles to get even better during the camp.  By the time Western (Michigan) comes, we will put it on display."

Question:  When did those start, the player organized meetings?

Stevie Brown:  "I know the DB and linebackers one started probably about three or four weeks ago.  We had a seven on seven and we just were not happy with the results from the offense.  So we said, naw, no more of this.  So we came together right then and there and we was like we are meeting now.  We are starting the meetings, so that we can make sure that we have all this because we are not having this any more."

Question:  Do you talk more schematic stuff, attitude; what goes on in a meeting like that?

Stevie Brown:  "It is a little bit of both, but it is more so that everybody knows their technique and what they are supposed to do.  People will play hard regardless of who we have out there, but sometimes they just might not know necessarily where they are supposed to be at.  So you want to get everybody together on the same page, so no one is thinking differently in some aspects of the defense or thinking they fit right here instead of being here.  So we all want to get together so we all know what everybody is thinking and everybody in the back seven can know what each others job is."

Question:  Does that mean the offense was looking better?

Stevie Brown:  "(laughing) Yeah the offense was looking better.  They were doing their thing.  The offense will be pretty good this year"

Question:  Talk about what changed in the spring or your impression of Greg Robinson and the kind of difference he might make in going about your business?

Stevie Brown:  "He just brings a lot of welcome knowledge, to the whole staff, program, especially to the defense.  Just him being around, he has a story for everything.  He can see something that happens to you and then he can show you on film and then he has so much archived film, show you on that type of film too.  With him just being around, it is positive for us.  We know that is something that we can learn from.  He's been through a lot of things.  He has won Super Bowls.  He won Rose Bowls.  He is a winner and he knows how to win.  So you can believe and listen to everything that he had to say."

Question:  Is the tough side of that, a third defensive coordinator in three years, so it is kind of a third system to learn.

Stevie Brown:  "Yeah.  I mean, defense is going to be defense regardless.  You are running pretty much the same thing, you just might have to change the name here or there, or you have different scheme here or there.  It is just the words really that you to have learn for the most part."

Question:  It sounds like all the positional groups are meeting amongst themselves, can you see a difference?

Stevie Brown:  "Yes. You can definitely see the difference between starting to get, especially when going through the seven on sevens later.  People were just more comfortable.  They were on each other if they didn't even like call out the basic call or the play.  It was just more so that we have the communication and stress being on the same page all the time.  You can definitely tell the difference between people when we was out there doing the seven on sevens."

Question:  So if someone messes up, you don't make them run a couple of laps?

Stevie Brown:  "Naw.  We run enough, we don't need to be adding extra running to anybody's work load."

Question:  Talk about your position now; I mean this hybrid, is that the best way to describe it?

Stevie Brown:  "I guess you can describe it like that.  It is more so with a lot of teams running three, four receivers these days until you get to the Wisconsin and Michigan States, is that you usually going to have a little slot receiver out there most of the time.  So instead of having a substitution come in, Coach Robinson wants someone that can come in and play in that area right there all of the time.  So he can just get a feel for everything, so he stays in the game at all times.  It is more so, I'm out there to help add in the pass coverage game with these more spread teams that are out there and I'm still big enough that I can get in there and get in the run game."

Question:  Does this fit you; do you like this new role I guess you can call it?

Stevie Brown:  "Yeah as long as I am on the field, I'm able to help my teammates.  I'll play anything."

Question:  Is it the toughest adjustment for you having more of a nose in the running game up close?

Stevie Brown:  "Yeah it is definitely different for me from playing safety these past years.  I'm up about five yards closer to the line and I got to see that much more quickly and react to things and get used to these big pulling guards and tackles coming after me.  It is a different change from the physical aspect.  Mentally not so much, because I've always been the type that likes to know what is going on everywhere.  Even last year, I knew what all the safeties, corners and backers were doing, so this year I am doing the same thing."

Question:  Will you consider yourself a defensive back still or linebacker?

Stevie Brown:  "I don't know.  It depends on who I'm talking too.  Sometimes I'll say linebacker, sometimes I'll safety, and sometimes I just say I'm a football player.  It all depends."

Question:  If you had to sum up how you think a Greg Robinson defense will want to look on the field, what would you say?

Stevie Brown:  "He wants it fast.  He wants people to pursue.  He wants people to hit hard and cause turnovers.  He wants people to cover very well.  The things that he asks, it isn't like he is asking ridiculous amount of things.  He wants the basics done and he wants them done right.  Whenever you get the basics done right that is when he will start getting innovative and start doing some different things.  He wants us to be the best tackling team in America and he stresses that every single day.  Every day when we were in spring ball practice, we were doing tackling drills, open field tackling drills at that.  We will be the best tackling team."

Question:  How different is that from the past two coordinators in terms of the every day persistence?

Stevie Brown:  "It wasn't that they didn't teach tackling drills, they just don't go into the detail that he goes into teaching tackling drills.  He has us practicing and running 20 yards away from a defender who is making cuts on us.  So he is having us practice to get our angles right and us getting into the proper position so that we can react either way and still take him if he tries to come straight at us.  He goes into more detail.  He spends a lot of time on it too."

Question:  Did you see or experience that from say the start of spring ball to the end putting that much emphasis?

Stevie Brown:  "Yeah I definitely do.  It was like me sometimes I would just take off running and try to just hit somebody as hard I can, which doesn't necessarily work all the time.  So he would try to work with me to make sure that I would get a little bit lower.  He always uses the word ‘positive shin angles' so I could be able to react if he goes right, left or wherever he went.  I felt a lot different, especially out there guarding Tay (Odoms) all the time in practice and trying to tackle him one on one.  Tay is real quick.  When I finally started to get a little bit better at.  I was able to get a lot more tackles on Tay."

Question:  Did you say ‘positive shin angles' like the part of your body?

Stevie Brown:  "Yeah."

Question:  Would you assess that as the biggest problem with last year's defense, is just miss tackles; is it almost that basic?

Stevie Brown:  "Pretty much.  There are a lot of plays that you can see when we went back and would like at film.  It would be like a tackle here or a tackle there would prevent a lot of the bad things that happened.  There were also some miscues like assignments that didn't get captured, but at the same time you still got to make a tackle.  There was some bad tackling."

Question:  You talking about things like Purdue, the end there on the lateral, stuff like that?

Stevie Brown:  "Yeah if they tackle him on the ground, they can't do a hook and ladder on you."

Question:  When you look at the guys, a lot of guys lost off this defense, people say can they be as good?  Then you look at some of the problems that they had, people say they are going to be better; how do you think this defense is going to be overall compared to last year even with the personnel losses?

Stevie Brown:  "I think we should be fine.  Even with the people that we lost, people still have experience.  Mike Martin still played a lot.  BG (Brandon Graham) is still down there.  Boubacar (Cissoko), Troy (Woolfolk) got some time back there, it may not have been a bunch of time and everything like that, but just being able to be out in the game and get a sense of what the game is going to be like adds a lot of encouragement to somebody.  If you got to go in there just fresh and never played a game before, you are going to be real nervous and everything like that.  Since a lot of these young guys did get in some playing time, they are still going to be fine this year whenever it comes around.  Everybody, I just feel works hard.  Like I was saying earlier, the hunger, everybody is wanting to be so much better and do a lot more things this year than last year.  I don't see what people we are losing is going to hurt us at all.   Not to take away anything that they did, Terrance (Taylor), Morgan (Trent), (Tim) Jamison; they were all great players.  Just that the people who are still here now want to prove that we can still do things and we can do things better.  Kind of like a little brother trying to do better than a big brother type deal."

Question:  I want to break that down by position groups a little bit.  You mentioned Mike Martin and Brando Graham, you got (Ryan) Van Bergen up front in the defensive line.  People have questions about the depth there but overall as a group how do you think that is going to be?

Stevie Brown:  "Since I've been at Michigan, I always felt that the D-line has always had great depth and I still feel that way.  Like I said you got Brandon Graham, Mike Martin, Van Bergen, (Renaldo) Sagessee is going to do some good things this year.  I think Will Campbell is going to do some great things this year.  We got a couple of freshman, I can't remember their names right now, but I think they are going to do good.  The D-line position, they are just a very tight knit group.  I feel they all elevate their level of play just being around each other.  That group to me is one of the closest groups that I've ever seen on this defense in all my four years.  They've always been like that.  Just whenever they see one on the field, they all stand there on the field and hyping them up and giving them encouragement to make sure that they play well.  That's why I think the D-line will always be good here."

Question:  We know that Obi (Ezeh) is a vocal leader. Is there another vocal leader on the defense?

Stevie Brown:  "Coach Robinson is trying to get me to be more in that role.  I don't necessary talk much.  I'm more of a just watch me type leader.  That is all I do.  Coach Robinson approaches me all the time.  He wants me to know everything so I am able to communicate from the front end to the back end with the position that I play so that I can be able to talk to everybody and get everybody on that same page.  It is like Obi for the most part.  Obi is the one who talks the most but Coach Robinson is trying to get me more into that role right now."

Question:  Will Obi's experience and (Jonas) Mouton having played help you this year in making the move closer to the line?

Stevie Brown:  "Yeah that helped me a lot.  I can get the passing aspect of this position down, the pass coverage is fine with me.  It is sometimes I am getting in trouble with the run fits, but I can always just call Obi and he'll be like.  It's like Obi on this play right here, I'm looking over and it is not making sense to me right now and he can just explained what I have better details for me with the run game and everything like that.  Obi and Mouton both help me."

Question:  They had Obi lose weight; obviously coming up from safety, is it safe to say that they are looking for a quicker, faster group of linebackers?

Stevie Brown:  "I guess.  I think that is what it is.  I don't know, I think they just trying to get all of the best players on the field that they can and they want speed.  We definitely have speed at the linebacker position."

Question:  Defensive backs, that is a little bit of question mark, especially at safety since you vacated out of there.  You got some younger guys; Troy they feel was a good move for them; how do you feel the defensive backs shaping up this year?

Stevie Brown:  "I think they are going to be good.  I think Boubacar, Donovan (Warren), JT Floyd, these two new freshman, Aiden Witty; I want to say JT Turner.  I've seen those two freshmen get out there on seven on seven with limited knowledge, but they know the defense; they still up there pressing people, getting in people's faces and making plays.  The corner position I think is going to be very strong, and then when it comes to the safety position, Donovan's on them.  Donovan will be on the safety.  Donovan is kind of like how I was.  He is not vocal at all, but when it comes to off the field, whenever we get into film room I will always see Donovan is on them.  Coach Addai will get on people too.  I think the safeties are starting to learn a lot more.  Troy is one of the people, one of my good friends.  Just sit Troy down and be like, Troy this is what you have here, just go into detail when you are talking to Troy and Troy will understand and I think Troy responds every well.  Mike Williams is the same way.  Jared Van Slyke is doing good.  I can't remember all the safeties back there. Yeah Vlad (Emilien) is going to do real well.  Vlad is real anxious. He is one of the most anxious people that I've ever seen in my life.  He always wants to get out there and prove himself, just like get to do more things.  Whether it is just seven on sevens or just watching film, he is always trying to be in there active and doing it."

Question:  You think this defense is going to have a lot of motivation coming off last year; something to prove that kind of feeling?

Stevie Brown:  "Yeah the defensive is going to be a lot better this year.  Everybody wants to be better and they all want to be better for the person next to them.  So that is why the defense will have a nice positive turnaround this year and it is going to be a lot better and a lot more interesting, a lot funnier to watch us this year as opposed to last year."

Question:  How much better are you as a player?

Stevie Brown:  "I think I got better with how detailed Coach Robinson is with tackling.  When it comes to tackling, he wants everybody to be better tacklers.  I always knew that that was something that I needed work on and with his detail in there that is going to make my play go up a lot better.  Also, Coach Robinson, he will talk to me all the time.  He will call me before anybody else on the defense and it is just the trust that he puts in me and how much he wants me to be a leader, he wants me to do things.  I think it is just going to help me raise my play too, just knowing that he is behind me 100% will do a lot."

Question:  How different does the defense look on the field, more aggressive, the hybrid stuff; to the naked eye is it going to look a lot a like?

Stevie Brown:  "Not necessarily.  Because people be joking that I look bigger than Obi anyways.  Everybody likes to make the joke, so I got the linebacker tag. I look like a linebacker now.  I may be three pounds heavier this year than I was last year.  I'm not too much bigger than what I was.  I think the defense is going to be a lot quicker.  Just the position that they are in, it is not going to be something that you've seen too much.  It is not going to be tremendously different or anything like that but scheme wise, it is just going to be a lot more speed out there. 

Question:  What do you weigh right now?

Stevie Brown:  "I am 209."

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