Were you pleased with your defense during the scrimmage on Saturday?
"I think there were some good things. I think we started off doing some real good things in the different situations that Brady put us in. The black zone, coming out, moving the ball. And then we had a kicking break and we did a lot of the kicking. I wasn't real happy with how we came back. It may seem like a little thing to a lot of people, but I relate that to coming out of the locker room at halftime. When you're a young team, all of those things have got to be addressed. You can't assume -- a veteran team, you'd know, 'Okay, let's turn it up guys. Here's the switch coming out.' You can see when you have a young team, they do a couple things good at times and then all of a sudden, you have to make sure they're hungry and they have to understand how to do it. They have to make sure they do their job every time."
Frank Clark has been playing some 3-tech. What does that do for the defense?
"Just like I mentioned the last time we got together, we are going to make sure that an injury or anything that happens to this defense, that you aren't hamstrung [Ed: ?]. You have to know when you play here that the best four players or the best three players, whether there's a three-man front, whatever -- are going to be in there. I don't want to get into a situation in the middle of the season where all of a sudden, [you say] 'I'm going to move you inside right there,' and he hasn't had a rep at it. I'm trying to look ahead to say, 'Okay, let's say this piece went this way and this piece went that way, we have to have that.' And that's what we're doing. We're doing the same thing in a lot of positions in the secondary. It's just to make sure that as things go on in the season, a physical season, that everybody's ready to do different things."
What's the competition like with Quinton Washington?
"It's the same competition I think we have for end, for three-technique. Every one of those positions, you're competing every day. You're competing every day to see if you're the first guy on the field, and you're also competing to make sure you have earned the right to rotate. So all the guys that are playing that nose guard position with Quinton, every one of them is competing every day."
What about next to him?
"You mean behind him?"
At the other tackle spot.
"Oh the tackle position. Well you've got Jibreel [Black], you've got Tom Strobel, who has done some really good things. Ryan Glasgow has done some good things. Willie Henry has done some good things. Every one of those kids has done some good things. Now when we decide who is going to earn the right, it's what you've done time and time again. That's what we're looking at."
Is Jibreel practicing?
"He was in today. Jibreel's fine. Jibreel will be -- we're looking forward to him."
MGoQuestion: What about the three-tech position keeps a guy like Ondre Pipkins from consideration?
"Our whole thing -- and you've heard me talk a lot about pass rush -- in a four man rush, one or two guys are one-on-one blocked. Somebody's got to be able to beat a guy one-on-one. That's the first thing. The second thing, when we did get pressure last year on the outside, we didn't get push up the middle. To be a good pass-rushing team, a lot of people say it's because you have great ends. Well that's not the case at all. You've got to have good ends, but if you don't get good push up the middle, the quarterback just steps up and that's what he sees. Too many times, in evaluating the past, we've given up open windows for the quarterback to make an easy throw. Whereas this spring we worked very very hard on getting your hands up and we blocked a lot of passes. A lot more than we have in the past, and that's the steps we have to take. That's why we do that. You want to have all of your four be great pass rushers, but you have to have guys that can cause problems one-on-one."
Sounds like Jarrod Wilson is battling at free safety. Who's competing with him?
"Again, it's everybody. We've moved Courtney [Avery] to get some reps there. We've got Thomas [Gordon], we've got Jarrod, we've got the young guys, [Jeremy] Clark, we've got Delano Hill. Again, with 10 practices left, it's every day, you find out who's most consistent. The good news is we have viable numbers at a lot of positions. Our job as coaches now is to put enough pressure on them in competition situations to find out who is going to be successful so that it's either yes or no now, not in that first game or the second game or the third game."
Brady said he's looking for consistency with Jarrod. What do you think he means by that?
"That would be everybody again. You just hit on what keeps a guy from being that guy or what keeps a guy from being the first guy to go in the game. Does he makes the checks? Does he align like he's supposed to? Does he execute his technique? And does he run to the football like he has to at Michigan. That's part of the puzzle. Sometimes if you're young and a lot of things are happening, you might not make the checks as fast. Sometimes you do, and that's the thing that we're trying to get -- all those things to decide who plays."
MGoQuestion: Has Dymonte Thomas been able to push into that conversation?
"Yeah, Dymonte is a big part. He's played safety, he's done a lot at safety. Does a lot at nickel. Dymonte, as he did in the spring, again, he's continuing to improve. We're very pleased with what he's doing right now."
Sounds like Raymon Taylor has made some of the strides you were looking for?
"Ray Taylor. We're counting on Ray. When you've started 10 games or nine games, you've got to count on him. Guys in this defense that have started games here in the past that have worked hard in the offseason need to [take] the next step. If they stay level, if they stay equal, then they aren't what you're looking for. They need to take the next step, and that's what a lot of guys are looking for now."
Do you enjoy the challenge of rebuilding a defense?
"Yeah, it's fun. You wouldn't be in the coaching profession, I don't think, if you didn't love challenges. I think that's something that every -- to me, a coach coaches because he loves to teach and he loves to take a young man from point A to as far as he can take him. If you don't embrace the challenge, then you're not going to be very successful as a coach. Now you might not coach for a long time if you have too many challenges. That's the thing. That's part of it. The good news is we have a lot of guys -- more guys than usual -- that you can say, this is a challenge, but I think he can get there."
Ryan Glasgow has been mentioned a lot recently. How hard is it for a walk-on to get into that mix?
"The thing you have to understand is sometimes when you get a walk-on, that walk-on had scholarship offers at other places. The only thing that a guy that comes to this program as a walk-on means, is he's not getting his schooling paid for. We hope -- and I think you all remember Jordan Kovacs. If you would have said, 'Oh, he'll never play. He's a walk-on,' Jordan Kovcas wouldn't be playing right now today. I'm not saying that Ryan is him, but I'm saying that you always have guys in a program when your program gets better and better like I think ours is, you're going to get kids to come here that may say, 'I've always wanted to come to Michigan' that are talented. The one thing about our program here, every kid is coached exactly the same, whether he is the highest recruited young man in the country or he's paying his own way. It doesn't matter. When they respond, then best players play. It doesn't matter."
What was Blake Countess's road to recovery like?
"Blake's been very good. Blake has been healthy now, like you said. He could have gone in the spring. I think the thing that Blake is doing a good job of is he's really trying to be vocal. He's trying to be the veteran who's played a lot of football. When the checks are made, he's the guy making the checks a lot of times. He's taken that step further. When you've been out for a year, there's always that under-the-lights [feeling] that you have to get back out there and do it again. It's been a year. I think he's working through that right now, too, but I think he's doing a very good job."
What have you seen from the competition at SAM?
"Again, Cam Gordon and Brennen Beyer are doing very well this spring. They are both competing like crazy. I don't think if you asked them they would say who's first string today. I don't think they would say that. I think they would both know that they are both equal. They both are going to be a really really good part of what we do on defense. That position, I've been very very pleased with. I would expect that from them, because they've been around here and they've played a lot of football."
Jake Ryan took a vast majority of snaps at SAM. Will that be different for Cam or Brennen the first couple of games?
"Yeah. I could see very easily those guys rotating equally throughout the game. Again, remember when Jake was here, Cam was one year removed from -- was he a safety or was he a wide receiver? Was he 218 pounds as compared to 235. Now all of a sudden you have Brennen who was a rush [end]. That was a different situation. Now I think that's a real plus for us to have two good, hard-nosed kids like those two competing and trying to get better every day."
Cam made a lot of plays in the scrimmage highlights. Is it starting to feel like he's a very different player from the one you first saw when you got here?
"Yeah. I mean he's the 235-lb version of a guy who's played the same position since we've been here. Not an ex-safety or ex-wide receiver. He now understands what he's supposed to do. He understands the physicality that has to be played at that position. You see it all the time."