VIDEO: Ulbrich Evaluates His Performance

Dec. 12 -- Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich evaluates his performance this season, talks about Eric Kendricks winning the Butkus award, and much, much more...

On the Butkus Award presentation to Eric Kendricks:
It was awesome. In my young football career, probably one of the most special moments I've had on the career. It was so cool, just to see his response. As we all know, he's well deserving of the award and an amazing human being. Its been an honor to coach him and an honor to be there and witness that.

On how it went down:
We had been told a couple day prior, that it was happening. I'm not good at keeping secrets. Although I did. We're all on the road recruiting but Coach Mora made sure I got back. We had a light workout and Coach Alosi had them on a knee and their back to the gate. As he starts talking, here comes Dick Butkus. I'm watching EK and EK sees him. It was so cool. So cool for him and his family and all that he stood for. What a great way to be recognized.

On if it was special given he'd been overlooked for awards in the past:
Yeah, I think there are a lot of awards that are based upon the hype, the splash plays, the SportsCenter plays. You look at the guys on this evaluation committee, its real guys, linebackers. Guys that understand the position and defense at a high level. Its showing up and being the same guy and EK embodies that.

On if they're using that in recruiting:
Yeah. It doesn't hurt recruiting. The guys have created a tradition of excellence at the linebacker position. Having a No. 9 pick overall and a potential defensive rookie of the year and to have EK back that up with a Butkus, they take a lot of pride in that and its cool to see.

On his facebook post for Linebacker U:
Somebody said it. And it was private amongst them. Then it went public and the fans started blasting the players. As a coach, it was my opportunity to stand up for them. A lot of people cling to the past and our guys are trying to start something today. And they're doing it. They're making an argument for that and its fun to be a part of it.

On self-evaluating his first year:
It was definitely a learning process. We came in early and thought we could be very simple and as they went, I gave them more tools and more answers and they embraced it being on their terms a little more. They grew and I grew. The regular season didn't end how we wanted to, but we have a great opponent. They are a great challenge.

On if it took longer to click:
It was a deal, Coach Mora has a lot of influence on me on defense, so do guys like Dan Quinn in Seattle. Their philosophy and scheme in calling a game is putting it in the players hands. Understand at a high level. College football is different because you're seeing a lot of exotic stuff on offense that you have to balance it by being exotic in your own right to keep them off balance. I gained a better understanding of that as the season went on.

On if there is a game where it clicked:
This might sound crazy, but it really started the Utah game. Prior to that mobile quarterback coming in, we were doing well. But I thought that was a turning point.

On replacing Eric Kendricks after having to replace Anthony Barr:
It will be just as difficult. But that means you're doing something right. Hopefully it means we developed a guy. It should be like that every year. How do you replace Myles, how do you replace Kenny Young. It will be difficult. Its obvious. He'll be hard to replace.

On replacing Anthony Barr:
It was kind of by committee. In the past couple years, we never brought pressure because you could bring four and Anthony was so dominant as a rusher. You had a guy like Cassius too. People forget about him and Keenan Graham had like seven sacks. They weren't getting them with stunts, they were getting them with four rushing. We had to do some different things. As the season wore on, there were some guys who stepped up. Deon, the addition of Tak was huge for us, Owa started playing at a high level. Those guys will get better, they all come back minus Owa.

On Tak McKinley:
He's one of those guys where Contra Costa, they work hard. Coach Alosi, in my mind, is one of the best strength coaches in the business so it will be interesting to see his body respond to Coach Alosi. If he doesn't put the weight on, he has the athleticism to play outside linebacker.

On hearing Mora's name open up for jobs:
I don't even listen. I get texts. "How is Ann Arbor?" I dont pay attention to it. But Coach Mora, I'm convinced, loves it here and is in it for the long haul. He has a beautiful home in Manhattan Beach. Everything would indicate to me that he's staying. We're excited about that.

On Kansas State's offense being like Stanford:
Stop saying that. But yeah, our guys love that and embrace that. They're frustrated with how things ended. They are similar in some ways, but at the same time, they're different and unique. They do a lot of interesting things. It will be a great challenge for us. It is hard. New age offense that they started to do. Take away the dive, the pitch, the quarterback and all the sudden you do that, and you abandon the curl and he pops it over your heard. Its the quadruple option. We have to be ready and know them in and out. Great preparation. If this morning is an indicator, I'm excited about it.

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