...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
How are the young kids doing right now on the defensive front?
“They’re a work in progress. I think the one thing with our young kids -- we’ve given them a lot of reps, but they’ve only had one week. The problem with them is having the academics that they’ve had … the two weeks of that, we really haven’t had them as long as you would have at most places. We’ve tried to accelerate our freshmen. They probably have never gone through everything like this with a coach on every step they take. We put them in situations where they’re like a starter, and say get in there with the first unit. With that comes the mistakes that you have that you don’t have if you’ve been there for a long time. We’ve tried to accelerate them and get them as fast as they can to make up for that time.”
(Click "Read more" below to, well, read more.)
Will Campbell at 3-tech?
“No, and the one thing -- and you know our feeling on defense -- one thing we know that with this defense, we have got to play extremely hard on every play. I mean there’s a lot of guys … we only have four guys that have started more than two games, that are in that lineup. So the key for us is that we make sure we have a backup and a guy that could switch to another position and get the best guys on the field. That’s something you have to look at for the entire season, so a guy like Jibreel would be a three-technique and also has to be able to play a rush. You want to have flexibility going in so that something happens to somebody or in the fourth quarter if a guy just doesn’t have anything left, you want to have the next best guy play and the next best player go to that position.”
Is that made easier by Craig and Jibreel having experience at other positions?
“Oh yeah, and there’s a number of guys. That’s the thing you have to do. When you look at Brennen Beyer, for example, he played SAM all last year and he plays a rush now. And now you can give him some reps at the SAM and say, ‘Okay, just in case if a lot of things happen right here, you’d be able to play it.’ Jibreel, playing a three-technique, ‘You played a lot of rush. Let’s go there today.’ So you always have something to fall back on in the heat of the game.”
Have you seen a big difference between Will Campbell between beginning of camp to now?
“Well I’ve seen the improvement. The thing we won’t know about this defense or really any defense, but especially this defense -- you won’t know until you get in that first game. That’s something that, in a lot of ways, you’re excited about. Just to be able to measure this group and to see where they stand. To see where not having Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen, or Will Heininger -- what does that mean? You see some great things in practice, you see some things that aren’t so good in practice. So what you’re looking forward to see is, okay, where are they. Where are they? Because you can’t always tell when you’re going against our offense. It’s a different offense, those kinds of things. That’s what’s going to be really exciting.”
Did you know more at this time last year about last year’s defense than you know this year about this year’s defense?
“No. No. Because I didn’t even know these guys. I really didn’t know them. I think there’s so many guys in that defense that you’re trying to plug in that haven’t played a whole lot of football, that we are very very excited about, that you still never know until you get in there.”
Borges talked about paralysis by analysis in freshmen. Do you see that in Joe Bolden and Jarrod Wilson still?
“I think you see that all the time. I think for sure you’re going to see that with our freshmen. One of the things that happens is our coaching staff is not going to let anything go as far as technique, as far as where you’re supposed to be. And that comes close sometimes to over-coaching. And there’s times where you’ll say to yourself, ‘Just let the kid go. Just let him go.’ But you know what? That’ll get you beat. Down the road, when you let that kid not be in the right gap and make that tackle, and you go, ‘That was a really good play,’ and then he thinks he can do that all the time, and then you’re going to go against a really good team, and he’s not where he’s supposed to be. There’s always a period of that with freshmen. Freshmen always have that where they have to try to learn everything. They have to try to be perfect with everything, and then all of a sudden, boom, there it is. I think they’re coming out of that, though.”
Is there pressure for defensive line to gel quickly because of who they’re going against in the opener?
“Well I don’t know if you’d call it pressure. I think they have a lot of pride. If you have a lot of pride, then knowing the challenge that’s ahead of you is going to -- you’re going to think about it and you’re going to work to be able to stand up to that challenge. I don’t think it’s pressure. Pressure to me is only when you’re not prepared. I think this group is getting prepared. I’m glad we have seven or eight more days, but I think the preparation has been very good. Now if you go out there and go as hard as you can go and play as hard as you can with the best technique, that’s all you can ask, and you go from there.”
How are Keith Heitzman and Nathan Brink progressing on the defensive line?
“Both those two guys, like a lot of our other guys -- you see some really good signs. One of the biggest signs that I see in them that I like is they play so hard. That’s what we’re going to need. Both of them you’d like to have bigger. Obviously. You’d like to have bigger guys. But if you play hard and play with technique, and that’s what they’ve shown. I’ve been very happy with those two guys in terms of their progress.”
How are the younger linebackers progressing?
“They’re getting a lot of reps. A lot of reps under pressure and -- the thing about that going against our offense, and that’s a position that becomes very glaring. A D lineman, you know, sometimes he didn’t know, okay, he did that, he shouldn’t have done that, but he did that … A linebacker, if he’s not where he’s supposed to be, he’s going to have a blocker right in his face, and now the defense isn’t as good. So anything that they haven’t done well shows up quicker than anything else. They’ve worked very hard. They’ve worked very hard and there’s some good talent in the whole freshman class, but that linebacker crew has been getting a lot of reps and just rolling through all of them.”
Does Kaleb Ringer’s injury affect your two-deep?
“Kaleb Ringer showed a lot of great signs in the spring, but he was kind of nicked up throughout camp right there, so you kind of didn’t really plan on him this year. He’s going to be a good football player, though.”
MGoQuestion: How has Cam Gordon progressed as a SAM linebacker?
“Again, he’s like all the other guys, and I’m not being vague when I say that. He shows some really good things, and there’s other days where, ‘I gotta do that better.’ Again he’s a guy that hasn’t played it very much, and he’s not the biggest guy, so he needs to play extremely hard, and he’s got to be very physical. He’s got to play with great technique. When you get tired and you go through a whole camp, sometimes you tend to not play it perfectly, and you don’t play as well. He understands that. But he’s working hard, and he’s really going to help this defense.”
Is there a player that’s been more consistent recently than others?
“Yeah. There’s one that’s always consistent, and that’s number 32. That young man has had a tremendous camp. You talk about consistency, if you graded every play I would like to see that grade because he’s really working hard, and he’s been the most consistent. There’s a number of them that have been very consistent for a practice, and then they have to come back to the next one. I don’t want to name names because I wouldn’t be doing them justice -- but that’s one I will name. I’ll name Jordan Kovacs. He just gets better and better. He’s what it’s all about.”
Has some of that started to rub off on the younger guys?
“Yes. Yes it has.”
Do you think the secondary will have to carry this defense this season?
“… That secondary, when you have a very good pass rush coming and somebody in their face, you can maybe not play as good as you have to and still be okay. If you’re not getting a pass rush, now you better be right on top of it. Again, that’s what the first game and that’s what early games are all about, to find out where are we? Is our secondary improved? I don’t know that yet. You’ll see that. Have they improved? Are they ready to be that type of secondary? At the same time, are we going ot be able to get pressure? Are we going to be able to get pressure with a four-man rush? That’s one of the things you don’t see right now. Maybe you see it one day and you don’t see it another day. You can’t say, ‘Yes it’s there’ or ‘No it’s not there.’ ”
Who would your No. 2’s be behind Kenny Demens and Desmond Morgan?
“No. Don’t know yet. There’s a lot of guys back there. And that’s the thing we’ve been doing. Again, you have to, with this defense, going into this season, who’s going to be the guy? That’s in a lot of positions. Really who’s going to be the two guys? We don’t know that either until you really look at it for the next few days. And then you’re going to know in that game and then you make a decision after that game. And then after the next game.”
How will crowd noise affect the defense?
“I think Brady’s doing a great job with doing that. The noise level there won’t be close to what it will be in Cowboys Stadium.”
Do you mean Ford field?
“Yeah, when we worked on it. I tell you our guys did a really good job of concentrating, and the whole key in that is you’ve got to be able to communicate to your teammates. Don’t assume anybody has it. I thought our guys did a good job of it. Now the thing that remains to be seen is what they do in that situation when they’re tired? That’s what always happens. When it’s real loud and you start getting fatigued, now you have to make sure you’re doing all those little things.”
How’s the communication in the defense? Does having a year under their belt help with communication?
“No question. And us emphasizing it more. Because as we went through last year, we saw that some of the times when we didn’t do as well as we should have, [it] had to do with one guy not hearing the defense or one guy not sure of it, so we made a big deal of everybody communicating and everybody taking care of each other on that defense.”
I've noticed that sometimes these presser recaps have important bullet point summaries placed at the beginning to avoid having to parse the full responses and questions for the substantive updates and other times they don't. Being in a particularly busy season of work, I would really appreciate if those bullet points were consistently provided in these presser updates.
I love having the full content available and the work you all are doing is great - just tough to keep up to speed on things unless I have 20 minutes to spare reading the full update. Thanks again for the efforts you all put into this blog.
"The problem with them is having the academics that they’ve had … the two weeks of that, we really haven’t had them as long as you would have at most places."
Michigan has standards. No one ever said doing the right thing was easy. I will root for them as long as they do.
"If you have a lot of pride, then knowing the challenge that’s ahead of you is going to -- you’re going to think about it and you’re going to work to be able to stand up to that challenge. I don’t think it’s pressure. Pressure to me is only when you’re not prepared. I think this group is getting prepared."
To heck with football; this guy could run anything. I'd work for him if he ran a lemonade stand.
/ who's this "File" guy and why is he wearing Greg Mattison's face
Classes start earlier at Michigan than at a lot of other schools.
Nice article, thanks for the information.
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Coaches always do, though.
Really hoping QW can hold up in that "big" package. If yes, it's going to mean big things all year. If no I think we'll make it work by the B1G opener (once Pip gets more time and we start facing less All-American O-lines), but we're going to need some saving-the-world-from-aliens type play from Countess and Floyd against Alabama. Because Kovacs will be blitzing.
Man, I really hope Kovacs has a great year and is given a chance by an NFL team in the draft. I could see him as a John Wendling type player.
He's a Patriots type player, isn't he?
I think he can play in the NFL. Don't know if he'll ever make a Pro Bowl, but I can see him sticking around and beating out guys who are faster or lift more or have more hype.
" I mean there’s a lot of guys … we only have four guys that have started more than two games, that are in that lineup."
I counted 8 guys (Roh, Morgan, Demens, Ryan, Countess, Floyd, Gordon, Kovacs) on defense that have started more than 2 games...and if he was talking about just the DL, then they only have Roh that has started more than 2 games. Either way, this doesn't make sense.
I honestly can't get enough of these presser transcripts. I love this coaching staff!