He did what he was supposed to do, Heiko.
Niko Porikos grew up in an NTDP billet home. Cool story.
"Well, we're ready to go out for the next one, I guess. That was an exciting game. The thing I'd say is that I was very proud of how hard our kids played and how they were very resilient. The biggest thing -- we've talked about it all since we've been in it, is red zone defense is critical. If you can keep teams from scoring seven down there, you're going to win. There were so many opportunities down there, which is not always a great thing or a good thing, but that happens when you play a good football team, and I was really proud of our kids, the way they played down there."
How much do you take into account how good Notre Dame's offensive line is when you judge your defensive line?
"They're very good. They're strong, they're big, they're experienced. But I still believe that we should win the battles we're supposed to win. A couple times we gave up yardage that we shouldn't have given up because guys got out of their gaps. Guys didn't play the technique. When you're a young player, you have to play great technique. That's the only chance you have. I think a couple times we didn't do that. We weren't gap-sound a couple times as far as fitting our gaps. When you look at our tape, you're sitting there going, 'This should have been a hit.' I go back to the fact that they all stuck together, though, and they all played so hard during the game. Now it's time to move on to the next one."
Is that a youth thing or is that not an excuse?
"Oh it's definitely -- I looked, I think one time when I was watching the tape, I believe out there in the heat of the game, there might have been one senior, two juniors, and the rest were all sophomores or redshirt freshmen. That's not an excuse, because you don't need to make an excuse. That just -- you kind of went, 'Wow, those are some young guys out there right now.' But that's us. That's where we are."
You talked a lot about front four and getting pressure ...
"Some of it was technique. Some of it, when you get in the game sometimes, you just try to get after the quarterback and you don't use the technique that you're supposed to. It's not just the effort. It's a work in progress. You're not all of a sudden going to be a great pass rush team. It's like everything else. There's technique involved in it. And there's obviously recruiting involved in it. You've got to be an athlete. But at the same time you have to work great technique to do that. Another thing that happened is when you do allow them to bleed you and let them run it a little bit, sometimes the mind set is, 'Well, is this pass or isn't this pass?' That played into it. We have to improve. We have to definitely improve and we will improve. Our game plan was not to sell the farm a lot. We didn't want to put our secondary in a position where a big play could get us. That secondary, I thought, did exactly what we hoped they would do as far as the game plan of keeping the ball inside and in front."
How much patience does it take as a defensive coordinator to watch them go up and down the field while waiting for them to make a mistake?
"A lot. You know, everybody has a lot of pride as far as their defense. I have more pride in these guys maybe than I've ever had in a group because they're so young. When you sit there and you hear that voice saying, 'Get after them! Get after them!' I just kept saying, 'No. No. We're going to be fine. This is going to work out.' We just have to hold them to no big plays and then when the field shrinks, now you have to hope that [your players] do what they're taught to do and how they've been practicing, and that's what they did. The only thing that ever, ever matters is the W. You know me well enough, I'm not a big stats guy. I know you can learn from that, but to me, if you can get the W and make corrections from it, you're heading in the right direction."
Can you assess James Ross after two games?
"Well I think James Ross, if you asked him, he would say he's played better than he did in that game. Not effort -- effort, he played as hard as he could, but it's just being where he was supposed to be at times in the run and the pass. A lot of it was being overanxious. A lot of it was, 'I really want to make this play' or 'I really want to do what I have to do' instead of just being patient and saying, 'Hey, it's going to come to me.' "
MGoQuestion: Do you think stopping the run on third and short early in the game deterred Notre Dame from doing that later in the game?
"I don't know. I think that was a real big thing for us, for them to come out and first of all, to take the opening kickoff and elect to receive it and us to stop them, three and out, three and out. I think that gave the young guys the confidence at that point to say, 'Hey, we're good now. We're fine.' I don't know. Maybe it was the score, too. Maybe they felt that they couldn't mess around. They had to try to get a big one on us. I don't know what their thought was."
MGoFollowup: On the second third-down stop, Mario Ojemudia shot inside and ended up making the tackle, but it looked like he gave up the edge in doing so --
"That was a called game. He did what he was supposed to. The three-technique is ripping outside and [Ojemudia] is coming under him. That was called. And the backer will fill opposite him if it bounces."
How does tempo affect that rotation up front? Notre Dame played a little faster --
"Nothing. Nothing, because all that means is you might miss a rep but as soon as the ball gets over to your side, they tag themselves out. They just know that the rotators have to get in there but don't ever get in all the way across the hash to take a guy out. That's just understood."
Ray Taylor seems to be playing with confidence. Would you say that's fair?
"I thought he played -- when you're a corner in this arena, you have to have no conscience. I could get on him harder than anybody in the world and he'd look at you and smile. That's part of being a corner. Everybody in the stands, all those people know who that guy is. They don't know who that defensive tackle is very often, but they see that and I mean, he made some very good plays. I thought our secondary as a whole kind of came together. Coach Mallory, he did a great job of working with them, just making sure they understood what was going to happen. Those kids did a super job of executing the game plan."
How is Jake Ryan doing?
"Jake Ryan is beautiful. Every time I see Jake Ryan I smile. I think he's going to start this week. I think he's going to practice -- I'm kidding. I'm just kidding. I wake up every night thinking, 'Come on, Jake. Come on, Jake.' No but Jake's doing great. We won't play him early -- we won't do that with him -- but he's working extremely hard. Smitty and our training staff is doing a fabulous job. When the doctors say he's ready, he'll be ready."
Do you know when that might be?
"I don't know. I really don't know. Like I said, I hope it's tomorrow. He'll be there when they say."
He'll be able to come in immediately when he gets cleared?
"Well the guys playing SAM linebacker right now, Brennen [Beyer] and Cam [Gordon] are doing a nice job. I think they've played well. Obviously they all can get better and they know they can get better, but to play that game, if anybody would have said, 'You're going to play that game with Brennen and Cam,' I would have said, 'Yeah. Fine.' A lot of other people would have said, 'Ho, how they gonna do this?' But no. Those two guys, they're playing really good football. It's their position. We just have to see what happens from there."
As a defensive coordinator, do you have an appreciation for a guy like Jeremy Gallon?
"Oh man. He just goes and goes. Who knows? I don't know what the injury was or what -- but I know one thing, if I was a betting man, I'd say there probably was way more [success with him in] than not out there. I mean that guy, he's as tough as there is. He just comes to work every day. Does everything you ask. Has a smile on his face. He's Michigan. I've got so much respect for him it's unbelievable."
"He did some really good things in that game. The one thing I believe that both safeties have to do -- they both had missed tackles, I think. One missed tackle, for a safety, you can't have. That's a position where you cannot miss a tackle. Jarrod, one time, he just didn't wrap up. Of course he was trying to wrap up a 6-7, 270-pound tight end. But he's still got to get him down. Thomas [Gordon], he was trying to hit the guy so hard, he was trying to blow him up than tackle him. He's got to understand the scheme of the defense, you know, 'This is your job as a safety to keep the ball inside and in front.' "
You said you didn't want to put your corners on an island. Where's your confidence level with Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor and Delonte Hollowell?
"My confidence level is very high with them, but anywhere, in the NFL, any great program. You take a wide receiver against a corner in the open field one-on-one and they could win as many as they could lose. Or win more. The team, the defense, didn't need that. We wanted them to make any play they could make, but what we needed them to do was keep the ball inside and in front, and get a chance, like Raymon did a great job of reading that hitch and making that big hit on third down, causing them to go to fourth down and stopping them. Okay, that was a great play. Now we didn't all-out blitz or play man coverage. He just had a great read. My confidence level -- they've got to improve every week. They've got to understand that. They're not anywhere near where we have to be or where we're going to be, but it was great to see us do some of the things we did in that game. This week will be key to see if we correct the things we didn't do well. If we do that, then it would be good. If we don't, then we've got to address that."
He did what he was supposed to do, Heiko.
Heiko, are other reporters every mystified/confused/bewildered by your questions? They are always so much more intelligent and specific compared to all the other questions. I realize different reporters are going to ask different questions based on their readership, but I was struck by the difference between your second question here and "Jarrod Wilson?". I would really like to know what goes on in the minds of the other reports when you ask a question (I picture many black stares and some rolled eyes - from the Drew Sharp types).
On that same thought, I'm interested to know what Mattison and Borges think when they get questions about the intricacies of specific plays. (I realize this has been somewhate revealed in the case of Borges.) I can't imagine that they've ever experienced such questions at a press conference before in their career.
The process for beat reporters is
1) Pick player
2) Get quotes about player
They could very easily not watch the game, or even read the box score. Where as the MgoBlog staff watch and re-watch the game, do UFRs and analysis, and ask questions like that to help understand certain plays.
Heiko has said before that the questions are not always an exact transcript of the questions that are asked. I think he might take a little more time in typing out his own questions. The Jarrod Wilson question, for example, was "Brady talks about Jarrod Wilson still having to shore some things up. Where do you still need him to improve?" It wasn't just a name and a bewildered stare....
Oh interesting, thanks for pointing that out. I still believe that almost every time, the MGoBlog question is severely different than anything a typlical media member asks. I imagine for the coaches it's like they have to switch from a typical press confrence to how they might answer a question in a coaches clinic.
Beyer is the starter and is getting significantly more snaps than Gordon. I, for one, wanted to see more Gordon on Saturday. I think his speed may have helped us.
"Jake Ryan is beautiful. Every time I see Jake Ryan I smile."
Potential MgoBlog banner title?
Looks like GM has a mancrush on Jake Ryan also.
That's better than:
"I wake up every night thinking, 'Come on, Jake. Come on, Jake.'
All the points MaizeRage82, all the points.
I don't see the problem with that quote.
I do. Jake isnt playing right now nor is he 2-0. I think its a slight disservice to those players who worked all season long
It sounds like you're saying Jake Ryan hasn't put in any work coming back from his knee injury in only six months.
Just checking, but you didn't mean it like that did you?
I guess Mattison needed to finish that line with /s
I need to hear the audio of this. I'm sure the tone is key because, to me, it doesn't read well.
during ND possessions, Michigan respected Rees' ability to read coverage and audible to favorable matchups that might lead to big plays, and Michigan seemed determined to prevent that from happening.
So, with that principal at work, patience on the part of the offense and defense in terms of determining which side would give in first, became paramount. Michigan won the patience match.
In his Michigan Monday column, The Ozone's Tony Gerdeman thought that Kelly was too in love in with the pass when his team had success moving the ball through the gut of the Michigan defense. I noticed this was particularly true when QWashington was not on the field. Rarely, did ND run up the middle when he was at nose tackle.
But even so, I don't think they went up the middle based on the Michigan Dline rotation, but on safety alignment.
ND sold out on max protection. I think they mostly ran three receiver sets and in the red zone when Michigan did play cover zero and had the entire defense five yards from the LOS, Michigan had Countess at nickelback or the corner opposite TJ Jones. Michigan didn't want to get beat by the fade, which explains why they went to high leverage red zone looks forcing Rees and Kelly to respect the all-out blitz with more guys coming than could be blocked.
As Mattison pointed out, Michigan missed gap assignments that led to decent runs, but Kelly and Rees expecting more pressure from Mattison than they ever really got, kept throwing short and to the sideline, failing repeatedly. Either Atkinson has terrible hands or the velocity of Rees's throws were too much for his receivers. It was hard to tell. But he was high and outside on a lot of outside throws to backs and receivers.
The other point that ought to be made is that Michigan while may have missed serveral tackles was swarming to the ball defensively and guys did make some hard hits on Jones in particular, sending him off the field at one point in the first half.
I thought for the most part the DB's tackled really well. I can't remember very many short plays that were turned into decent gains cause the ND receiver got away from the first defender.
How the hell do you remember all of this? All I remember is drinking about 11 ketel one and sodas and running around my livingroom screaming like a lunatic.
Where are we supposed to keep the ball?
I can think of no greater compliment.
I wish they handed out the general gameplan for both offense and defense to fans at the gates upon entry to the stadium (silly, I know). It sure would have helped knowing that the defensive gameplan called for allowing the short, quick-hitters to receivers in front and not allowing the long completions (the old bend-but-dont-break defense). I about lost my mind after a half of watching completion after completion. I thought we were making Rees look like an NFL guy out there by playing terrible coverage but, it turns out, that was purposeful. Whew!
As a knowledgable football fan (I'm assuming you are one) you should be able to watch and see whether the defense is by design or not. The absolute key to the "Bend-don't-Break" defensive strategy is great tackling to limit Y.A.C. If you're going to give the underneath routes to protect the back end, sure tackling is an absolute must, and GMat's boys sure did that. I cannot recall one completion to an ND player which resulted in the uber-frustrating death by Y.A.C. as we've seen in years past.
I love that fact that Hoke & Co. all repeat the same mantra, "we're nowhere near where we need to be, nor where we will be." They make no bones about the bar being set extremely high for Michigan football, and they seem to go about getting the players to reach that bar in a very positive, yet demanding way. There is an art, IMO, in motivating people to achieve excellence, while keeping them positive in the face of what is an almost constant failure to achieve the expectations. I love this coaching staff more every week, and I am so happy that they are recruiting kids that understand that at Michigan we expect excellence, and Hoke & Co. will lead you there.
I like to think I'm knowledgeable but I had a hard time figuring out what was going on. Of course, being there in person for the first time in 2 years didn't help my cause. What with trying to decide whether to put my bracelet on steady blue light or switch to flashing, constantly having to look up to see what celebrity was making an appearance, and craning my neck to watch flyovers . . .
I was chewing on my seat cushion watching the "prevent" defense. I was having 'Nam flashbacks to prevent. A courtesy heads up would have been great
like Denny Green. "They are who we thought they were!!"
So I feed you an MGoQuestion and what happens? You let every other reporter ask it the wrong way. Daw.
Oh well I think we got our answer: there was a technique issue with the pass rushers.
Jake Ryan is beautiful, and he is waiting in frozen animation until the MSU game.