Van Bergen Assumes Leadership Role

Michigan sophomore DE Ryan Van Bergen is working hard to step up his game both on and off the field in hopes of being an integral part of the defense this season. The talented youngster met with the media yesterday to discuss his more prominent role, the progress the defense has mad as a unit, the offensive line, and much much more.


Question:  Obviously depth is huge on the defensive line; how do you feel that is progressing?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "I feel like it is progressing really well.  We got a couple of young guys, Will Campbell who is really young.  Overall we are kind of a young defensive line and everybody is progressing really well and hopefully, we'll be able to rotate in seven or eight guys in the games and keep everybody fresh."

Question:  Greg Robinson told the Big Ten Network the other day that you've taken a leadership role on the line out there; what are you doing exactly?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "I'm just trying to complement Brandon Graham.  As a senior by actions and words aren't really his best aspect of his leadership, so I try and fill that gap and basically try to motivate the team, motivate the defense along with Obi (Ezeh) and Donovan Warren.  Everybody is just trying to play a little bit bigger role leadership wise."

Question:  What's your style?  Are you a rah-rah guy or are you a get on them and chew them out?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "I wouldn't say I was a rah-rah guy, but I would say that I try to do my best to keep everybody motivated and to play through adversity because we faced a lot of that last year and we need to learn how to heal and recover and be aggressive on defense even when we are making mistakes."

Question:  We've heard how the offensive line is improved, you guys holding your own on defense against those guys in scrimmages and things like that?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "Definitely, definitely.  Can't take anything away from them.  They have definitely improved.  There schemes and there protections, most did an excellent job checking the blitzes and stuff like that.  That just makes us work harder on technique and it is good for us to work against them this year."

Question:  How much noticeably different is it on the offensive line; how much better are these guys?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "I would say they are leaps ahead of where they were last year.  I don't know how many people can say that they return five starting offensive lineman.  The way they work together, the calls they make, nobody hears the calls they make except for the defensive line.  You can tell that they have everything sorted out presnap and they get to their assignments and now they are just getting on being more aggressive and finishing every block that they have."

Question:  What is the style of the defensive line?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "I would say as far as style, we are a speed defensive line.  I don't know if they let you guys look at statistics, but you got Brandon Herron who is a quick, ran a 4.4.  Brandon Graham ran 4.6 on a bad hamstring.  I ran 4.8 and Mike Martin ran high 4.8/low 4.9.  So it is a pretty athletic defense and the guys behind us aren't any slower.  So we are definitely a fast athletic fit defensive line."

Question:  You said Herron ran 4.4?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "He ran a 4.4.  It's on the charts in the defensive line room."

Question:  What have you seen from Craig Roh?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "Craig Roh is an excellent pass rusher.  I would call him raw.  I think he needs to kind of learn that there is a lot more scheming involved in college football and (with) the athleticism that he possesses, he can be an excellent player.  He needs to gain a little weight, but from what I see, he can really rush the passer and he is very skilled at that."

Question:  Are you going to get a chance to flex out and play end at all this year; what do you see your role as exactly?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "I'll have some opportunities to go out to the five technique.  As far as my role, my role is wherever Coach Robinson puts the X as far as the tackle.  Right now, I'm just trying to learn that, because it is kind of a position change for me.  I'm establishing that.  If he wants to move me back out in the five, I won't have any problem with it.  I want to play."

Question:  How big of a change is it for you?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "It's not a huge change.  Basically you get the same blocks, you have a reach block, down block and everything like that.  You just got to learn to play it with smaller steps because you don't have that outside edge free, you got another tackle or guard out there if you're slanting or something like that.  I've had to make a small adjustment and I'm just trying to keep working and get better."

Question:  What is the biggest challenge for a guy your size to play that position?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "The biggest challenge would be, especially my height would be to stay low.  There are not very many guys that are 6'6" playing inside.  So I've had to work on that and I've actually gained a little bit of weight.  I went from 260 in the spring to 275 to adapt and play the position, trying to keep my speed up."

Question:  How much film have you watched on Western Michigan so far?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "I've watched a lot of film on a lot of opponents. That's kind of my forte as far as coaches expect me to be one of the guys that gets in, watches film, studies tendencies, protections, blocking schemes.  So I've gotten a lot of that in and I've got a pretty good notebook on a lot of the teams we play including Western."

Question:  Pretty good notebook; where do you keep it?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "I keep it in my locker.  I take it out when I'm studying some film."

Question:  (Mark) Huyge in practice, what has he shown to put himself in a position that he is?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "Well I knew Mark Huyge before I came here.  He's from Grand Rapids, just a walk away.  He has actually gotten very technically sound and it took him a little time to put the strength and weight on, but his technique is what is making him a great player.  He just keeps improving, keeps improving.  He is a very hard worker.  He is going to keep getting better as the season goes on."

Question:  So he surprised some onlookers in the spring moving up to that first unit, but you weren't that surprised?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "I knew he had it in him.  I just knew that he was going to have to click eventually.  To be honest, he clicked earlier than I thought he would, because I thought we had some good guys there, but he is very competitive and he has proven to me that he's ready to play."

Question:  Is the shoulder okay

Ryan Van Bergen:  "The shoulders fine.  Just icing it, everybody gets their little bumps and bruises."

Question: What are your first impressions from going two a days?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "Two a days, no one enjoys two a day, but the thing is that we have a big goal as a team to go out and compete for a championship and that attitude and that motivation has carried us through a lot of these practices and I feel like we've had a lot more intense practice.  We've had a lot more guys that are going harder this year, which is really good for both practices on two a days."

Question:  Anyone stand out to you that is going harder?

Ryan Van Bergen:  "I wouldn't say anybody is standing out.  I would say individual groups are standing out.  Offensive line is staying after practice even after two a days to work on stuff.  Today every position group was on their own time working on different things.  We got a lot of guys that are doing the right things that the coaches aren't asking of us to get better as a team."


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