“On the offense last year, they had great spacing. That’s what I remember. Great spacing, great shooters, like Nik Stauskas, who’s not there right now. But they always have someone to fill the roles. They have a cutting offense, kind of hard to guard.”
Just the sheer number of passing yards you allowed; was there a consistent breakdown you saw or…?
“Well, you’re right. The numbers- anytime you give up six big plays, and you know our stand on big plays has always been we can’t have that to have a successful defense. I don’t ever remember giving up that many big plays, and one of them was for 80 yards, I believe, [and] another was for 50-some. The numbers will add up pretty quick when that happens.
“The quarterback had a great game. He made some really, really great plays. We busted on a couple. We didn’t keep the ball inside and in front, and when that happens 30 yards gains could become 50 yards or bigger and we’ve got to get that corrected, and that’s me. That’s up to me to make sure that doesn’t happen again and we get it corrected and we’ll start on it right away.”
Was it one player or-
“No, it was the defense. It was the team defense. It’s never one player. No. And it’s like, you’re playing really, really good and then something happens like that and then you get back to doing it again and again and sometimes the first down that is third-and-10 is as big as a fifty-yarder. And they all seem to be the same things, where you’ve got to make a tackle, where you’ve got to keep a ball inside and in front, where you try to pressure, when you pressure and all of a sudden you hit one and it’s a sixty-yarder. So it’s a matter of different things. Six big plays, different things at different times that we’ve got to get corrected.”
Where are your defensive backs in the process of being able to recognize a situation and say, ‘We need to switch things’ on the field and make a change?
“Well, I think everybody- I don’t think it is the scheme of the coverage. I think it’s a different person not executing the coverage. I think it’s a different person not getting the sack when he had a stunt that said that this was what was going to happen and if you do it we’ve got one. It’s never a corner, it’s never a safety, it’s never a defensive end, it’s never a linebacker, it’s everybody. That’s what your job is, to make sure you get those corrected and get those handled and the thing that’s frustrating is that hasn’t happened before. It hasn’t happened, and we’ve got to get that nipped immediately. And the thing I do say is this quarterback, with his feet and with a couple of the receivers, with their skill all coming together showed that six or seven times and we can’t let that happen.”
MGoQuestion: Can you walk us through what happened on the 80-yard touchdown pass?
“Yeah, I know exactly what happened on the 80-yard touchdown pass is we called a defense where a safety would be lower than usual to be able to help with the run and we didn’t get inside enough with another defensive back, and knowing the whole scheme of the defense, knowing where you’re a little bit weak- whenever you call a defense there’s always somebody that has a little bit more on his plate than everybody else or otherwise you’re going to run just straight generic defenses all the time, and it’s just a matter of everybody being focused in at that time to say, ‘Okay, I’m the one that can’t do this. I can’t bite on this out route right now. I can’t bite on this route because we’re a little bit weaker here’ and they happened to have the perfect call. They called a play-action pass. The guy- we bit on it and they hit. And that’s what happened.”
[After THE JUMP: Mattison needs his defense to hit, and he isn’t referring to tackling]
News bullets and other items:
Derrick Green broke his clavicle and is out for the season
No update on Jabrill Peppers or Desmond Morgan, which only means they haven’t been ruled out for the rest of the year /waves world’s tiniest flag
The coaches spoke to the Big Ten about Amara Darboh’s catch that was ruled an incompletion. Hoke doesn’t seem to agree with what they were told, but said there’s no reason to dwell on what can’t be changed
Shane Morris is practicing
“Alright, thanks for coming out. Number one, on Saturday I thought our guys were united. I thought they played hard together. I thought they fought, and sometimes that doesn't guarantee you anything but their effort as a team was something I was proud of, and I was proud of those kids. I know I said that on Saturday, but that hasn't changed. Sometimes fighting alone doesn't get a victory, but I think we need to change those results and execute a little better, coach a little better. It always starts with me and us. There was some good progress that was made and we want to really emphasize those things.
“Yesterday we didn't practice and that was already determined we weren't going to. We got back at– I don't know. I got home at 4:15 so I'm sure they got home late. We wanted to give them rest because rest will help you heal. We had good meetings yesterday. I think from the standpoint of corrections and emphasizing the things we want to see repeated I think were important.
“You know I don't talk about injuries unless a guy is going to miss the year, and unfortunately that's what Derrick Green – he broke his clavicle late in the football game. Nice run on our sidelines, but Derrick's attitude is very good. He knows there’s an expectation of him to help coach those young guys and coach guys and be integral and what we’re trying to get done. And so we are going to miss him, but DeVeon and Justice Hayes and Drake Johnson are three guys who need to step up, and two of them are guys that have a lot of game experience and played a lot of plays, so [we] feel good about that. And we’ll miss Derrick, but this is like anything else in competition in sports; the next man's got to stand up.”
[After THE JUMP: try to read the tea leaves]
News bullets and other items:
It’s all in the statement
We don’t talk about injuries
Devin Gardner will be the starting quarterback against Rutgers
“Number one, thanks for coming as always. We appreciate you being here. Secondly, it was good for us as a team to get back on the field yesterday. It's always nice to get back to work, I think, coaching football and our guys getting together. They enjoyed the practice and what we got done. I think there is very much a competitive spirit and they’re excited about the opportunity to go to Rutgers and play. This is the two oldest FBS teams who play football, so I think that's an added plus.
“Rutgers [is a] very well coached football team, I think. They’re hard-nosed. You watch The tape, you watch them run around and they are 4-1. They had a close loss at home to Penn State early in the year. Led by a quarterback in Gary Nova who has broken the school record for touchdowns. Leads a very talented offense, very explosive. They have five returning starters on the offensive line back, so the experience level there. It's a physical team. Averaging 160 yards – 176 yards a carry [Ed: He meant per game. You’d think it’s been a long week or something] right now rushing and 30 points a game. Very active defense. They lead the Big Ten in sacks. They have some guys who really do a great job of chasing the ball. I think their quickness at the line of scrimmage is something that we’ll have to contend with and will present some challenges, but we’re excited about the opportunity. Playing at night is going to be a lot of fun and a great atmosphere.
Listen, there have been several apologies and statements that have been issued from the University, pledges to do better in certain areas including communication. To what extent do you feel you share in the responsibility and can help improve sideline communication?
“Well, I think from the start when you're a leader you’ve got to take responsibility, and I take responsibility for our student-athletes and I take it for their health and welfare. But I'll also make it clear that I don't make decisions when injuries [occur], and that shouldn't be a coach’s decision. That's why we have some of the best trainers, some of the best doctors in the country. We are fortunate here at Michigan because those are the type of people we attract and they will unchallenged have the authority to make those decisions.”
Hey coach, were you caught off by Dave Brandon's statement? It just seems like some of the information he released totally conflicted with some of the stuff you said on Monday.
“I don't think so. I think they worked very hard on getting it right in the statement. I think when you talk about evaluating the different things that we need to evaluate, I think that was all handled in the statement.”
[After THE JUMP: Statements about The Statement]
Frank Clark, Jake Ryan, and Joe Kerridge
Joe, you’re obviously part of the offensive group. Did you notice anything different about Shane in the huddles after he took that hit and through the rest of the game when you talked to him?
JK: “With Shane, I was on the sideline. I was focused in trying to pay attention to the game. I really didn’t have any communication with Shane throughout that part of the end of the game, so I wasn’t aware of any of the symptoms or anything like that.”
Have you noticed anything, seeing him around the building the last two days, that’s been unusual?
JK: “No. I haven’t seen him in the building, but that’s a question for coach Hoke.”
This is a question for Frank and Jake. Does the team get together after a loss like that and the fallout from it and has there been a team meeting? Does there need to be? Do you guys talk about it, and what do you do going forward?
JR: “I think just us as leaders need to bring guys up and get people’s heads up. After a loss like that that’s what you need to do, and we came in and we did what we needed to do. We got our film in, we got our practice in, and it’s just about keeping guys up and keeping guys focused.”
This is for any one of you. I’m wondering how much communication there is between yourself and maybe coach Hoke on the sideline when you see someone get injured or if you see something happen; if you can go up to him and say something or what that’s like on the sideline.
FC: “I feel like really that’s out of our power. If someone gets injured or things aren’t going in our favor, that’s our coach’s power. He controls everything at the end of the day, [and] we just follow the rules.”
Then if you have an injury, say, on the field, how much of a say do you have in getting back on the field? Are you able to simply tell them, ‘I’m fine’?
FC: “We play football. It’s a difference between being injured and being hurt. Anybody can play hurt, but not many people can play injured. But if you want to play football, if you want to go back on that field as a player he’s going to allow you to go back on that field if it’s not too bad.”
[More after THE JUMP]
Could you please identify yourself for those of us who don’t know you?
“Oh, okay. Greg Mattison. I’m the defensive coordinator.”
Coach, you were playing in your half of the field the entire third quarter. That drive right before the half: talk about in terms of what it did maybe getting the momentum-
“Well, I don’t think it changed anything when we went in at halftime. I was disappointed in that. The thing I was looking at there was that if we could stop them and had a timeout left we could possibly get the ball on a short field for our offense, and that’s my mistake. We didn’t get it done and whenever we don’t get it done I look at myself first, and as I looked at the tape- you know, third down…that’s why I don’t believe in stats a lot. Our third downs were adequate. They were adequate.
“There were some second downs we had to do better that we gave up some chunks of yardage [on], but to answer your question you’re exactly right. As I was making the calls, as that was happening I said to myself, ‘We’ve got to stop them here and get that ball for the offense. They’re going to have a heck of a shot at possibly having a short field.’ And then they hit the screen, which they did twice, which was just a very well-educated play and that comes down to one guy making a tackle and the guy made us miss.”
Greg, Joe Bolden after the game Saturday talked about kind of a lack of execution and said that was a big problem. [He] mentioned wrapping guys up with David Cobb. What can these guys learn from that? He was really the first guy to run over you guys this season?
“I don’t know if he ran over us but he did better against us than we want anybody to do. He’s a very good running back. I’ve already addressed that with our linebackers and with our defense. We’ve got to play a lot more physical. That was the first time that I felt that we weren’t the leaders in being physical against that offense, and it was guys not getting off blocks, it was guys punching and things that we’ve worked very hard on all camp and just not being physical. I didn’t feel we were as physical as we should be and have to be and we’re working on correcting that right now.”
Is that a defense-wide issue?
“Yeah. It’s total defense. Not just one position, it was total defense. I just didn’t think…you know, we take pride and have all year, take pride in being a very physical team on defense and I just don’t think we did as well as we should have there in that game.”
[After THE JUMP: Greg Mattison scouts Rutgers]
In hindsight, and this has nothing to do with an injury, should Devin Gardner have played earlier in the game on Saturday based on how Shane was playing?
And why not?
“Well, I think you’ve got to give a guy an opportunity to play. Shane prepared very well. We talked about it for several weeks, you know, his preparation leading up to the game. He deserved that opportunity to play and we were going to let him play.”
Doug, what was your perspective on the Shane Morris hit that’s kind of been a question after he had the hit to the head? It looked like you kind of saw him struggling on the field. What were you saying to him and what was your take on this?
“Well, I didn’t see the hit. You can’t see- everything was lost in the field of play and the guys upstairs, you know, it was third down and it was an incompletion so I was thinking- well, they say, ‘We got a roughing penalty. We’re up.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay.’ So the first thing is okay, what are we doing now? It’s first-and-10 from a playcaller’s standpoint, and then I look up and I see Shane limping. ‘Are you okay? Are you okay?’ and he waved me off, [saying] ‘I’m fine.’ Okay. I didn’t know at that extent what had happened, really. You don’t really know because you couldn’t see from our vision on the field and Shane’s a tough, tough guy, man.”
Did you talk to him when he came off the field, and what was sort of his state of mind and clarity at that point?
“I don’t really recall having a conversation other than ‘Are you okay?’ and then you’ve got the flow of the game and everything else that was going on.”
Coach, is it going to be difficult for either quarterback or whatever quarterback you have in there until this offensive takes a few more steps forward in terms of pass protection and things like that?
“We’re all disappointed in our performance. We needed to perform better. We needed to play better. We needed to coach better. That’s across the board, not one position. Like I said, we’ve got to coach better and we’ve got to play better. We’ve got a lot of work to do, obviously. The only thing we can do is go back to the practice field. We went and put some pads on yesterday and worked on some things, worked on some fundamental things to try and get better at every position.”
Do you know who will be the starter next weekend?
“We’ll go through the week and we’ll evaluate it.”
Is it a question of- if Shane were 100% and nothing had happened injury-wise would that still be the case this week, or…?
“We’re going to challenge and compete at every position, like we say every week and see where we’re at and evaluate every guy. We’ve talked about it numerous times, [we] want to create competition at every position. Both Shane and Devin have done some really good things and we look forward to watching them compete and allow each other to be pushed and get better.”
With how, from our perspective- with how long it took for the final decision to made going into last week’s game…first of all, when was that decision made that Shane was going to be the starter?
“Well, I don’t think that when that decision’s made is really relevant. What’s relevant is that our players are pushing each other every day to get better and that we’re putting the best players at each position out there every Saturday.”
[More on Shane Morris and the hit after THE JUMP]