Mattes Loving Life at Offensive Line

Brian Mattes, sophomore offensive tackle, came to the Irish as a heralded defensive player. Coming out of Wyoming Valley High School in Plymouth, Pennsylvania, he was selected All-State as a defensive end his junior year and All-State as a tight end in his final year. Brian did not see action as a freshman and this past spring, he was switched to the offensive line. Irish Eyes caught up with Brian as he came in from practice and we talked with him concerning his progress this year.

Making the move from a defensive end to an offensive tackle position can be intimidating and we questioned Brian about his progress, "I think I'm making pretty good strides just by my performance on the practice field," said Mattes. "Every day just go out there and try to do one thing a little better and, keeping that in mind, I think I am making good corrections."

He also said the hardest thing in making a position switch was "everything." "The biggest thing is that on defense you are so used to playing on your toes, like going out and making contact, like being on your toes and the way you're running and everything. Now on the offensive line, you have to play more like flat-footed and more on balance so that you don't get thrown." When asked to compare run blocking to pass blocking, Brian said "Pass blocking is definitely an art form."

W

e commented to Brian about the improved offensive line play in the last few games and asked what had brought this about and without delay he said, "Definitely hard work on the practice field. Our coaches, Denbrock and McDonell, come in here every day and preach to us that you can't get any better unless you put your time in on the practice field, and that is definitely what we made an effort in doing. Every day we go out and bust our hump as much as we can and that is what we attribute it to."

When Mattes mentioned the help from Coach McDonell and Coach Denbrock, we asked if any veteran player had given him help. "Jim Molinaro definitely has been a great help to me from the first day I got moved over to offense. He tells me what to work on and how to work on things as he also switched a couple years ago from defense to offense. So he has been very helpful to me."

BYU comes in this week with a reputation of being a passing team, but we wanted to know what the Irish could expect from the BYU defense. "A lot of different looks. They like to run guys around and their biggest thing is to try and confuse the offense. We just can't let that happen. We have to come off aggressive and hopefully everything will sort out as we go."

The Irish line has been outstanding in preventing sacks and Brian said this is the result of, "basically just doing our jobs out there. The quarterback is supposed to have time in the pocket. As the season has gone on, everybody has gotten more and more comfortable as a player and playing as a unit and understanding the system."

Although this is Mattes' first year in the offensive line rotation, next year he will be considered a veteran and we asked him what he will do to help the younger players. "I just have to take from what I have learned and pass it on to them. The biggest thing as a freshman coming in, you can't let the younger guys get discouraged. Everyone coming here is used to being the big-time high school player; then they are on the scout team and other stuff. You just have to keep telling them their time will come. You don't know if it will be next week, it could be a year or two from now, but you just need to keep pushing and help them with the new techniques and everything."

We finished up by asking Brian what he felt he needed to do to improve his game. "I still have to put weight on and I think just improve my techniques. You can get away with being a little undersized if you have absolutely great techniques, but you can never have your techniques improved enough." Brian was listed at 266 pounds during spring ball but he is now up to 280 pounds.

The coaching staff has a lot of confidence in Brian's play and potential. Irish Eyes agrees with this assessment and believes Brian will be an impact player for the Irish in the very near future.


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories