Complete Greg Mattison presser transcript
Written by Matt Pargoff   

With just a couple of practices in hand, Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison met with the media on Wednesday to discuss the progress of the squad. See everything that he had to say about Team 133, with the complete transcript from that press conference.

Opening comment:

“It’s fun to be back out there. Do I look like I’m 25, because I sure feel like it. It’s fun to be out there coaching. That’s what you do it for.”

On how long he hopes to continue coaching:

“I don’t know. Maybe 30 more years. Who knows? As long as Brady [Hoke] keeps me. Who knows – he might not want to keep me very long – who knows? This part of the season is what you really look forward to as a coach. This is the teaching time. This is the molding of your team. [Aaron] Wellman gets the lucky part – he has them more time than anybody with the new rules.  So when we get to have them and get to coach them, and get to be around them, especially when you’ve got some great kids and you’ve got some guys that are fun to coach, that the way the first couple days have been.”

On what he can tell after just a few practices:

“Nothing really, other than they have worked hard in the off-season. You don’t know anything until the pads come on. I think on the defensive side of it though, when you install the defenses, there is carryover. They’re a lot more alert and they understand it better. Last year at this time, it was probably like they were taking a foreign language. Now they kind of understand it. When that happens, then you can get into the little things that make that defense even better, because they do understand it. So I’ve been pleased with their awareness and their interest in learning.”

On what those “little things” are that they can pick up on:

“In every defense for example, you can draw it up and you can say ‘you have this gap, you have this responsibility, you should align like this,’ but when a guy starts understanding really what the whole defense is about, then you can say ‘when they’re in this formation, I can expect this, or when they motion like this, beware of this.’ You’ll hear a corner for example yelling out on the motion to a linebacker now, ‘get ready for the in.’ A year ago, they were just hoping they’re aligned right. They were just trying to play their responsibility. Those are all the things that happen once you’ve had the same group for a couple of years.”

On if it could take a few games for the defensive linemen to mesh together as players said happened last year:

“I don’t know. I’m not trying to be vague. You never know. About your team until the bullets start flying. Until you really start getting tired, getting banged up and hitting – how does a team react then. That’s why Brady runs a very, very physical camp. That part of it is something you’ve got to work through. You’ve got to make sure you can handle it. because that’s the way it is in the Big Ten conference. So we won’t know that.”

On rotating players on the defensive line:

“That’s always been something I like to do. You’ve got to find out who earns the right. It’s always been a deal that you earn the right to be on the field as a Michigan football player. I don’t care what the reason is, or why there’s a guy that should be going in there – you don’t go in there until you’ve earned the right.

“I’ve been at places before where the starter would get after the second team guy, because he wasn’t doing well enough. Because he needed someone to come in for him. If you’re a great football player, you need a little bit of a break every once and a while in a tough physical game, but you don’t want somebody to go in there that can’t handle his responsibility and help that team win. That’s what this is all about – camp. To find out is it 15 guys, is it 12 guys, is it 20 guys – who earns the right to be out there in the heat of the game.”

On if he has gotten a chance to evaluate Jake Ryan at defensive end:

“No, we’ve only had two practices. That kind of goes along with the same idea. You put your best 11 on the field, wherever they are. Obviously if a guy is used to playing one position and you have to move him, you may not be as good. But that other guy coming in, the combination of the two, might make you just as good. You’ve always just got to have the best players on the field.”

On how comfortable he would be with Ryan at defensive end:

“I can tell you this – any time Jake Ryan is on the field, I feel good. Based on how he has worked. Now again, he’s got to go through this camp also, but Jake Ryan has really, really worked extremely hard. I’ll be interested to see how he does. Now it’s not new to him either. I don’t know what he gained, but he had a very good off-season in terms of strength gains and weight gains, and that kind of thing. So it will be interesting.”

On if he has enough confidence in Cameron Gordon’s ability at linebacker to move Ryan down:

“Based on the spring and based on last year, I’d say ‘yes.’ The key again is, everything starts all over today. That’s what everybody has to understand. It doesn’t matter that Craig Roh has started three years. Everything starts all over again each season. You expect a guy that has played three years to realty be advanced in how he plays.

“Cam Gordon went from safety to SAM linebacker – that was a transition for him. He’s gained weight. He’s gotten stronger. Now let’s see how he does when we start hitting and then you’ll know. Then you’re going to know. After camps over, you’re going to say ‘this guy here, I feel confident in him. This guy here, maybe he’s got to get some more work.’”

On if he has seen progress from Thomas Gordon:

“All I can go by is what Aaron said they did in the off-season and two practices. Based on that, I’m very optimistic. Maybe a week from now or maybe two weeks from now, you could ask the question and based on these practices, the answer is yes or no.”

On when he sets statistical goals for the season:

“We have set goals that are written on a board – written on the wall. That’s every year. Those goals are based on Michigan. They’re based on what is expected to be a winning defense. Those goals are set, that if you reach those, then you’re playing Michigan defense. Every team that comes in has to get it to that level to be able to do that. We don’t lower our standards for what we see on the practice field. We have to raise the practice and the talent and all that to get to that goal.”

On how much focus there is on those goals right now:

“Everything you do in the practice – pursuit drill, running to the football, tackling, technique work – all of those are what allow a player to get those numbers that make those goals. That’s our job as coaches and that’s their job as players is to work to get good enough to obtain those goals.”

On what are some of those goals:

“The No. 1 goal is to win. That’s the No. 1 goal on our goal board. There’s a third down goal, which I don’t know the numbers. There’s a point goal. All those things. I don’t talk about those in public. They’re only there for our team. But they know exactly the number of points you would love to hold them under to be successful. But I don’t ever talk about those in public.”

On if those goals are realistic:

“Do you think I would give an unrealistic goal? Last year, I think we probably obtained a number of those goals in a number of games. All I’m saying is, when you look at great football teams, and what it takes to win, you establish set parameters that you have to do. Third downs, redzone, turnover, missed tackles – all those kind of things. And then you set what you have to do to be successful in NCAA football and then they know they have to achieve that. If you do achieve it, you should win. And that’ what the bottom lines is.”

On if the goals have changed in year two:

“You don’t put the goals to what somebody perceives as your talent level. You put the goals to whoever is playing defensive football has to do to be successful. I would imagine out of 124 NCAA teams, a lot of them would have the exact same goals. That’s what kind is the formula for winning on defense. So you as a coach have got to make sure that your players are doing what they have to do to achieve those goals.”

On if Brennen Beyer could relieve the stress of playing without Clark:

“I think you’ve always got to have, no matter who it is, you’ve always got to have a Plan B. You always have to have that. You never go in there with the idea that I’ve got a good guy here – hope he stays healthy. No matter what, you always have to have two, and you’d love to have three deep of guys. And you’re always competing. When you get a great defense, then that guy that’s No. 1, he might want to look over his shoulder, because there’s always somebody that’s going to be there to take that position. I think you always have to go in with that idea.”

On how the off-season weight gain has affected Beyer:

“In the first two practices, again, no pads – the biggest thing probably is that he feels comfortable at that position now. He’s had a whole spring going from the SAM linebacker standing up to having his hand on the ground all the time, and I don’t think it was 20 pounds, it was probably more like 10 pounds and he got a lot stronger. He just seems more comfortable every day there. That’s what he played always in high school and I think he really feels good about that position.”

On if getting to know the players over the last year has made him more comfortable:

“I don’t know if you’re more comfortable – I like these guys. I can tell you that. I like these guys, because all I do is watch them, from when the season was over with, through the winter conditioning, through summer conditioning, in two practices – these are our kind of guys. Whenever you have good people that work really hard and try to be Michigan, then all you do as a coach is try to do everything you can, so they can feel like Mike [Martin] and Ryan [Van Bergen] and those guys did when they walked off the field in that last game. You do everything you can so they can be successful. They’ve been very alert. They’re a fun group to be around. Let’s just put it that way. They’re a fun group. I told them to day when they walked in there, ‘the greatest time of the day is this meeting.’ Because you see all those guys and they’re attentive and everything like that.”

On Hoke saying Alabama’s line looking impressive on film:

“No question. I’m with Brady 100 percent on that. We’ve watched a lot of film on them. We’ve studied them all off-season. You watch them and they’re very, very talented. They’re very physical. And they’re very big. And they’re very experienced. They’re a very, very good offensive line.”

On what he has heard from Wellman about Ondre Pipkins:

“It’s so early. It’s so early. Here you’ve got a guy that a month ago he’s in a class somewhere in high school and all of the sudden he’s here at the University of Michigan. It’s just too early.”

On Kenny Demens taking a leadership role:

“So far, Kenny like the other backers, he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing. Again, when the pads come on and we start hitting and you’re in the dog days and everything like that, now you can label a guy a leader. That’s where you earn it. These two practices right here, that’s just going out and doing what you’re supposed to do. It’s not really where you measure anybody.”

On when they will start hitting:

“Friday … I thought we hit the last two days. I wasn’t sure. That’s the other thing that Brady has done a great job of – when you get a more mature team, or a team that’s been around the same system, they learn how to practice. Nobody on the ground. And you can get a pretty physical, pretty aggressive practice with no pads on, because they protect each other, but still go really hard. That’s what you see if you watch an NFL practice. In the rules, they don’t even allow them to wear pads most of the time. They still get some pretty good practices and that’s the same thing that we’ll try to do more too.”

On the success causing turnovers last season:

“The one reason is because our system, we strip in every phase of practice. So any time a ball carrier is running with the ball, our defense is trying to get that ball out. When you’re not going live tackling, we call it ‘strip.’ So you’re always tugging at that football.

“But the biggest reason why we had more success on turnovers was because guys ran to the football. The reason you get turnovers is because guys are on the ball. Think of how many times you’ve seen a game where a guy fumbles and the ball’s just lying there and you’re going ‘c’mon, somebody get on it.’ That’s a huge part of our defense is effort and running to the football. When you do that, you’re going to have more success tackling and you’re going to have a chance to get turnovers. That’s big for us.”

On teaching the freshman those concepts:

“We’ll do circuits in practice with that and they’ll see it real clear. Our upperclassmen have done a great job of trying to speed up the freshmen on what is expected. So much as when you’re watching a tape and something goes on, a senior may say to them, ‘you don’t do it that way. This is Michigan.’


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