"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Spring Practice Presser Transcript 4-4-13: Greg Mattison
“We’re so proud of those guys. We’re so proud of that basketball program. I mean, what they’ve done with that young team is so special. We’re pulling for them just like everybody else.”
What do you see from Jarrod Wilson?
“I’ve seen him since the day he got here, and he’s one of the first we brought in at semester. He’s very mature. He’s a young man that studies the books, studies exactly what he’s supposed to do by position, has great pride in the way he plays, and he’s a very good athlete. All he needs now is just continued reps in game-like situations, and that’s what we do in practice a lot. He’s a very consistent football player, too. A lot of times young guys will show flashes of why you recruited them, and then you say ‘Aw man’ when you step back.”
How comfortable are you with your linebacker situation right now?
“I’m fine with who we’re playing. You can’t do anything about it. Hopefully our program is getting to the point now where you just look and the next guy is waiting his turn. I’ve been very pleased with how Cam has worked at the position, and Brennen Beyer -- it’s a great thing that he played as a freshman at that position. He’s such an intelligent young man and again a prideful kid. He moved right over just like nothing and has really done a good job. You’ve got the two of them as one. We just go on and keep going.”
Why did Beyer move to WDE after his freshman year?
“What we did with Brennen, the reason we moved him to SAM linebacker is to spread out the wealth, so to speak. You had Jake, and we always trusted Cam, and we had Brennen, and we could only play one of them at a time. WE said Brennen is a perfect candidate to put his hand down and be a pass rusher because he was bigger and stronger and Jake had already proved himself at the position. Now, because of the need and again, numbers -- you’ve got Frank, you’ve got Mario, and you’ve got Taco at that position. Now we can spread it out again and get the best players on the field.”
Any of the younger kids stepping up in leadership roles?
“I don’t know what the leadership role is like in the meeting room when we’re not around. I don’t know how much you can see leadership on a practice field. I think the word would be consistency. The word would be competing. A lot of time freshmen have the big eyes and you’re wondering what they’re doing. I’ve seen a lot of young kids make it not too big for them. ‘Okay, this is practice, and I’m going to do this, and I’m going to get better at it.’ I’ve really liked the intensity and the wanting to be a better football player out of this group.”
Quinton Washington said he liked the speed of this defense. Do you see evidence of that?
“I’m seeing us play faster. I’m seeing us play a lot faster than I remember my first year here. I think that that comes from a number of different things. One, I think, our strength and conditioning program. Wellman -- you don’t in just one year you say, ‘Okay, here you are.’ Now this is the third year he’s had these guys, and these kids’ ability to run and ability to play harder and more consistent is a product of the strength program. I think the second thing is the recruiting. We’ve tried since the day we got here to recruit athletic guys that could run, and when you’re there and watching Mario or watching Chris Wormley, who everyday feels better about his knee, you see James Ross … I could keep going on guys. You can see Ondre Pipkins who’s down about 30 pounds since the day he got here and now all of a sudden he’s running full speed to the ball. Willie Henry running full speed to the football. Jeremy Clark -- I don’t want to leave anybody out, but when I’m standing back there watching it, I go, ‘Wow, this starts to look like we’re getting to the football better,’ and I think it’s a product of all those things.”
What have you seen out of Desmond Morgan and James Ross?
“I don’t think a player ever says, ‘Jake’s gone, now I have to play better.’ You hope those two guys know what the bar is to play linebacker at Michigan, and that’s got to be better anyhow. I don’t think that happens -- I think they know that ‘all of us together can make up for Jake not being there.’ So everybody’s got to say, ‘Okay, I’m going to play as hard as I can, and I’m going to try to make sure I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do on every play.’ ”
How is your pass rush looking?
“We’re working very very hard. We’ve spent more time this spring working on pass rush techniques, working on trying to get pressure with a four-man front than we’ve ever done. You’re definitely seeing improvement, but that’s a combination of us not being very good at all at pass rush in a four-man front. We’re definitely taking steps. Whether it’s baby steps or the right steps, we’re going to be better at pass rush. That’s going to be a trademark of this defense before we’re all done. When that happens? Who know? But I know one thing: these guys know, and they believe it, in a passing situation, if thye’re blocked one on one, they’ve let the defense down. We’ve never talked to them that way and we’ve never approached it that way because you’ve seen us pressure a lot and bring people and all that. Now we’re saying, ‘Okay it’s your turn now.’ That gives the linebackers and the secondary a little more relief. It allows them to be able to play their position a little better.”
Do you agree with Frank that he needs to get a little lighter by fall?
“Tell Frank to let coach Wellman and coach Mattison decide what he should weigh. Just tell Frank to keep playing like he’s playing when he’s playing like he’s supposed to. Now Frank, that’s a great example of a young man that wants to be really good. He wants to be a pass rusher. He sees that as a fun part for a defensive lineman. Sometimes you get a little more tired carrying that extra weight, but when he’s lined up against Taylor Lewan, I think he would love to have those five pounds. You’ll find out it’s not the best thing in the world to be real light in that situation. I love what Frank’s doing this spring. He’s trying to be a leader by the way he’s playing. In fact in Tuesday’s practice, there were a number plays when he ran 30 yards downfield. He looked like a sprinter. That’s the point that we bring up that we all have to do that.”
MGoQuestion: How would you assess the mental aspect of his game?
“I think [Frank] comes in every day. I think he thinks about football day and night. I think this kid really really wants to be a very very good Michigan football player. I think that’s real high on his list.”
MGoFollowUp: Have you seen him improve in terms of defending option plays?
“Oh yeah. Well, our offense has always got that component in there. One thing about Frank Clark and all of our guys -- we’re not going to be undisciplined. You’re not going to have a guy here that you say is a playmaker. You want guys to make plays, but they have to make those plays in the scheme of the defense because otherwise someone else is getting hung out to dry if you don’t.”
Have you been able to observe Devin Gardner’s growth?
“Oh yeah. I love those kids. You’re the quarterback at the University of Michigan. That’s a huge, huge role. That’s a guy that everybody in the country knows who you are, so I really respect what he has to do and the microscope he’s under every second he does something. They know my respect for those guys. They really do, and that’s why I like to tease them because you don’t want any of them to get bigger than the program, and they’re not. I’ve seen Devin really try to embrace that. I’ve seen him understand that, ‘Okay, it’s my turn,’ and what that means. Al does a great job with him. I’ve always had that -- I think back to even Elvis Grbac and Collins and the whole group. When you’re on defense all the time -- I can’t do that with our offensive linemen because they might get mad and beat up on my guys, but the quarterback can’t do much but do what he does, so I’ve always picked that guy out to do that with.”
Do you feel like speed is more important in football now than it was 10, 20 years ago?
“No question. No question. And if you look back at the Air Force game last season, for example, I mean, schemes? Fine. Guys were playing hard and everything like that. And Northwestern’s a good example -- teams are trying to get on the perimeter. That’s the deal. So you have to have guys that can run and get there and they have to play fast. A lot of times your 40 time is what your 40 time is, but guys play a lot faster because they know what to do, they’re playing with good technique, and those are the things we’ve been working on a lot this spring.”
How is Chris Wormley doing and the competition on the defensive line?
“That’s a great question. In my meeting room we’ve got the ends and the rushes. There are four ends and three rushes. What we do is rotate first team, second team, first team, second team. On Tuesday practice, I told everybody there’s only one first time in this whole room. Everybody else rotates one and twos, I’m going one, two, three, four at the end position and one, two, three. So you just keep rolling every play all the way through practice. You earn the right not to be in rotation. My goal is to have a defensive line where you can put anybody out there and he goes so hard that it doesn’t matter his age, his experience, his size, anything like that. It was interesting because you saw more energy and more guys going, because I told them, I said, ‘Here’s the rigor of practice. Practice is a long time. You’re going to have 18 full-speed reps. If you can’t go 18 full-speed reps, how can you get ready to play in the league we play in?’ They really bought into that. When we watched the film you saw guys running harder to the football than thye’ve ever done. I want them all to compete as if they’re the starter. You might be the starting first string guy or the rotating first string guy or the third rotating first string guy. If you get your talent level where you want it to be, then if one guy who’s older is playing hard and he gets tired, one guy younger playing hard makes up for that.”
MGoQuestion: Last season you were really excited about the younger defensive linemen and their pass rushing ability. How would you assess their ability now, and who are they?
“I’m excited about it because one, we’re working really hard at it, and there are techniques that they’re using that they’ve never been coached on before because we worked so hard on just stopping the run. Now we said, ‘Okay, we can do that, but we have to become pass rushers.’ Frank, Mario, Taco Charlton -- I mean, he’s the prototype of what you’re looking for in pass rush. Brennen Beyer has probably improved more than any young man on this team as far as being a pass rusher. I worried about him a year ago being a pass rusher. This year, in a lot of our drills, he’s the fastest guy off the football. Inside, Quinton Washington, Ondre, Willie, you could name every guy inside. All of them are trying to do what we say to do, so you’re looking at four guys that, ‘let’s go now, let’s get there.’ I think every one of them has improved up to this point. Now we’re not ready yet. Like I said, I envision the day where you say, ‘All right, it’s third down --’ I’ve told the guys I want a defensive line that comes to me and says, ‘Coach, don’t blitz. Let us get there with four men.’ When you have that, then you have your defense where you want it.’ ”
Are there any positions you’re still not comfortable with in terms of depth?
“We always need more people to step up, and you’re always excited about that really good recruiting class you just signed coming in. Who’s going to be that Jarrod Wilson, for example? Who’s going to be that James Ross? Who’s going to be that Chris Wormley before he got hurt last year? You can go on and on and on. That’s what you hope happens in recruiting. Now you just add another guy to be able to rotate. You add another guy that says, ‘Okay, now we have another guy that we can put in there.’ They are who they are. This isn’t the NFL. You can’t trade guys and you can’t go out on a waiver wire. But what you can do is hope you’ve done a great job, which I think Brady and this staff has done, with recruiting and now coaching them so they can become as good as they can be. Now you have an exciting thing happening.”
Taco Charlton’s been mentioned a lot. You said he’s the prototype. What do you mean by that?
“Taco’s name comes up a lot because if you’re 6-6, 265 and should be going to your prom and you’re here practicing football at Michigan, you’re going to like that. You always want strong, tall, athletic guys. Well, he’s 6-6. He’s very strong for his age, and he was a great basketball player. Now you have to get the mental part. He’s one, for example, it’s very interesting -- he’s one of the guys that doesn’t understand that at Michigan we run to the ball hard every play. And he sometimes thinks he’s going hard, but that’s maybe hard for where he was last year, not hard for where we are in this program. And he’s getting better and better.”
You were joking about McGary, but in all seriousness, could a guy play both sports these days?
“Could he nowadays? I think it’d be really really hard for a guy to play that position. I think it’d be hard for anybody. I mean, those basketball players, they practice longer than we do probably. You couldn’t -- I don’t know if you could ever do that anymore. But don’t tell McGary. Tell him any time he wants to come see me I’m open arms. You couldn’t do that anymore. It’d be too hard. But I know one thing. You could take a basketball team and say, ‘I’m going to recruit him, him, him, and him.’ I mean, think of Trey Burke as a corner. Ffffwow. I think he could lock somebody down. That’s why they’re where they are, you know. They’re great players.”
We had subs. It was crazy.
That is all I have to say.
"I mean, think of Trey Burke as a corner. Ffffwow. I think he could lock somebody down."
That just makes me smile. :)
It's funny to think of Trey as 'short', but if they put him at corner, he would actually have pretty decent size; better than most of the roster.
...Burke, THJ, GRIII, McGary and Morgan all could have a role or a position.
Burke - Slot/CB
THJ - WR
GRIII - Flex TE
McGary - TE/SDE
Morgan - SDE
...if like was a video game and you could turn injury and fatigue off, I'd love to see those guys out on the field at 100% to see how good they'd actually be.
Between "Ffffwow" and "We had subs, it was crazy," I am really liking the new catch phrases being released by our coaches these days.
MGoShirt Idea: A T-Shirt was a pic of Burke's #3 Jersey in the middle, a final four banner, and the word "Ffffwow" written across the top of the shirt.
I would buy that shirt
Outline of Trey Burke in basketball uni skying to make an interception a la Woodson vs. msu. Caption: Fffwow.
GR3 would make a nice wr I think
points to start a thread, but very nice to see Wilton Speight on the UA roster.
PG: Jeremy Gallon/Blake Countess
SG: Devin Gardner/Jehu Chesson
SF: Amara Darboh/James Ross
PF: Taco Charlton/Devin Funchess
C: Logan Tuley-Tillman/Taylor Lewan
PG: Trey Burke
SG: Tim Hardaway Jr.
SF: Nik Stauskas
PF: Glen Robinson III
C: Mitch McGary
Mattison quote of the presser for my liking:"there are techniques that they’re using that they’ve never been coached on before because we worked so hard on just stopping the run. Now we said, ‘Okay, we can do that, but we have to become pass rushers.’'
Does anyone else think Mattison sounds like Bill Walton at times. I've thought that every since he got here.
Should be another solid denfensive year, probably better. It sounds like Taco will be pretty special someday down the road. My only worry is that the LB group, now with Ryan gone, is a little on the light side.