“Well, first of all, you saw the game, and obviously we weren’t pleased as a defense. A lot of things we stand for and the things we set out to do each year, we weren’t successful in a number of those situations. The biggest thing is missed tackles. We can’t have that in our defense. We had way way way too many missed tackles. And another thing that led to missed tackles as you watched the tape was we had missed techniques. We’re not good enough right now to be able to not play perfect technique, and when you don’t play great technique, somebody’s going to have to make an open field tackle or somebody’s going to have to make a tackle that you hope the ability of everything to stay inside and in front would take care of. That’s really a lot of what happened in the game.”
(After the jump, Mattison talks about the secondary, Alabama's offense, linebacker technique, Air Force's offense, and the defensive line)
1. Is the defensive line going to survive?
Son of a bitch. I told you not to ask that. I don't know, man. I don't know.
On the face of things it's not completely dire. Michigan starts two seniors and two juniors. They're big. The backups aren't freshmen, for the most part, and when Michigan's in the nickel package they'll lift the dodgiest parts of the line for what promises to be a stunting, slanting, pressuring Ryan-Roh-Black-Beyer/Clark group. The starters are all touted recruits save Black. Meanwhile, Michigan has three DL coaches and coached Will Heininger up like whoah last year. BONUS: If you squint it kind of looks like "QWash" looks like "quash."
They're unproven, and the lack of playing time last year is a cautionary note. Defensive linemen rotate, and rotate a lot if their coaches have faith in them. Washington hardly existed last year. Campbell did, though, and to a lesser extent so did Black.
A potential problem is the swing in strategy Michigan has to undertake as they transition away from the best penetrating nose tackle at Michigan since NTs ballooned into the 300 pound range. Quinton Washington may turn out all right; he's not going to be Mike Martin. This means the linebackers have to take big steps forward, beat guys who are (hopefully) releasing late after Washington and Campbell shove them back, and fill impeccably. The linebackers' jobs should actually get easier since Michigan has a pair of guys who can demand doubles (hypothetically); they'll have to make a quantum leap in consistency if the rushing defense is going to tread water.
Add to that a non-nickel line that looks like it's not going to get anywhere near the quarterback and you've got a recipe for frustration, or at least a lot of bending as Kovacs and company make tackles to extend drives and the front four tries to put opponents in passing downs.
Verdict: meh, but no worse.
[After jump: more defense, more Mattison, more PANIC?]
Can you talk about Quinton Washington emerging at nose tackle and moving Will Campbell to the 3-tech?
“What we’re looking for is getting the best four guys to be available to play inside. Q’s had a really good camp. Will’s had a good camp. So you kind of interchange those two to see which one makes that defense better, whether it’s one of them at the three and the other one of them at the nose. With so much trading and shifting and things like that, they both have to play the same position when they slide over, so it gives you an opporutnity to hopefully make yourself stronger rather than just having a true nose and that’s all he can play.”
Brennen Beyer is third on the depth chart. What does he have to do to move up?
“That group of three right there is never etched in stone. Brennen Beyer, I think, started out camp not as -- I don’t want to say tentative -- but not really realy playing as fast as I wanted him to play. Now the last week, though, he showed signs of being the Brennen Beyer of the spring. You’re going to see him play a lot. There’s no question about it. We got a group right there of guys, again, in the opening game, I don’t know how many plays you’re going to play -- you better have guys that can go in there, especially at that position because there’s a lot more running there. That’s a position that’s a defensive lineman sometimes and it’s a linebacker at other times, and he’s always got to run the farthest to chase the ball down … he has to be a guy that can run.”
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.)
“Well. I can tell you this. It’s fun to be back out there. Do I look like I’m 25? Because I sure feel like it. Tell you what, it’s fun to be out there catching again. It’s fun. That’s what you do it for.”
How long do you hope to keep doing it?
“I don’t know, maybe 30 more years. Who knows? As long as Brady keeps me. Who knows, he might not want to keep me very long. Who knows. I tell you what, this part of the season is what you really really look forward to coach. This is the teaching time. This is the molding of your team. Wellman, he gets the lucky part. He has them more time than anybody now with the new rules. But we get to have them and get to coach them and get to be around them. Especially when you’ve got some great kids and you’ve got some guys who are fun to coach, and that’s how the first couple days have been.”
What can you glean from just a few practices?
“Nothing really other than they have worked hard in the offseason. You don’t know anything until the pads come on. I think on the defensive side of it, though, when you install the defenses, because there’s carry-over -- they’re a lot more alert. They understand it a lot better. Last year at this time it was probably like they were talking a foreign language. Now they kind of understand it. When that happens now you can get into the little things that make that defense better because they do understand it. I’ve been pleased with their awareness and their interest in learning.”
What do you mean by little things they pick up on?
“Well, like in every defense, for example, you can draw it up and you can say, ‘You have this gap, you have this responsibility, you should align like this,’ but when a guy really starts understanding what the whole defense is about, then you can say, ‘Okay, when they’re in this formation, I can expect this.’ Or ‘when they motion like this, beware of this.’ You’ll hear a corner, for example, yelling out on the motion to the linebacker now, ‘Get ready for the end.’ Well a year ago they’re just hoping they’re aligned right. And just kind of trying to play their responsibility. And those are the kinds of things that happen once you’ve had the same group for a couple years.”
Last year it took a little while for the defensive line to gel. Will it be quicker for this group?
“I don’t know. I don’t know, and I’m not trying to be vague. You never know about your team until the bullets start flying, until you start really really getting tired, getting banged up, hitting. How does a team react then? That’s something why Brady runs a very very physical camp, and that’s why that part of it is something you have to work through and you have to make sure you can handle it, because that’s what it is in the Big Ten conference, so we don’t know that.”
MGoQuestion: Have you bought into the philosophy of rotating defensive linemen?
“That’s always something I like to do. You have to find out who earns the right. It’s always been a deal that you earn the right to be on the field as a Michigan football player. I don’t care what the reason is or why there should be a guy going in there. You don’t go in there until you earn the right. In fact I’ve been at places before where the starter would get after the second team guy because he wasn’t doing well enough because he needed somebody to come in for him. If you’re a great football player, you need a little bit of a break every once in a while in a tough, physical game, but you don’t want somebody to go in there that can’t handle his responsibility and help that team win. That’s what this is all about, to find out who -- is it 15 guys? Is it 11? Is it 12 guys? Is it 20 guys? Who earns the right to be out there during the heat of a game.”
Have you had the chance to look at Jake Ryan as a rush end?
“No. We’ve only had two practices. That goes along with the same idea that you put your best 11 on the field wherever they are. Obviously if a guy’s used to playing one position and you have to move him, you may not be as good. But that other guy coming in, the combination of the two might make you just as good.”
How comfortable are you with the thought of him playing there?
“I can tell you this: any time Jake Ryan is on the field, I feel good. Based on how he has worked and -- now again, he has to go through this camp also, but Jake Ryan has really really worked extremely hard. I’ll be interested to see how he does because now it’s [not] new to him either. I don’t know what he gained. He had a very very good offseason as far as strength gains and weight gains and that sort of thing, too.”
Do you have enough confidence in Cam Gordon to move Jake Ryan down?
“Based on the spring and based on last year, I’d say yes. The key again -- everything starts all over today. That’s what everybody has to understand. It doesn’t matter that Craig Roh has started three years. Everything starts all over again every season. You expect a guy that has played three years to really be advanced in how he plays. Cam Gordon went from safety to SAM linebacker. That was a transition for him. He’s gained weight, he’s gotten stronger, now let’s see how he does when we start hitting, and then you’ll know.”
Has Thomas Gordon been able to pick up where he’s left off?
“Again, all I can go by is what Aaron says that they did in the offseason and two practices. Based on that, I’m very optimistic. Maybe a week from now. Maybe two weeks from now …”
You set statistical goals for your defense. When do you start talking about those as a team?
“We have set goals that we have written on a board, written on a wall -- that’s every year. Those goals are based on Michigan. Those goals are based on what is expected to be a winning defense. Those goals are set so that if you reach those, you’re playing Michigan defense. Every team that comes in has to get it to that level to be able to do that. We don’t lower our standard for what we see on the practice field. We have to raise the practice and the talent and the level and that kind of thing to get to that goal … Everything that you do in a practice: pursuit drill, running to the football, tackling, technique work, all of those are what allow a player to then get the numbers that make those goals. That’s our job as coaches and that’s their jobs as players is to work to get good enough to obtain those goals.”
What are some of those goals?
“Well the nubmer one goal is win. That’s the number one goal on our goal board. There’s a third down goal. I don’t know the numbers -- there’s a point goal. All those things. I don’t talk about those in public. They’re in our team, but they know exactly what the number of points you would love to hold them under to be successful.”
Are they realistic goals?
“Do you think I’d give an unrealistic goal? Let me just say this: I think last year, I think they probably obtained a number of those goals in a number of games. Again, I don’t mean to say anything -- all I’m saying is when you look at great football teams, and what it takes to win, you establish set parameters that you have to do. Third downs, red zone, turnovers, missed tackles, all those kinds of things, and then you set what you have to do to be successful in NCAA football. And they know they have to achieve that. If you achieve it you should win, and that’s what the bottom line is.”
Do those goals stiffen in your second year?
“No. You don’t put the goals to what you [or] somebody perceives as your talent level. You put the goals of whoever is playing defensive football has to do to be successful. I would imagine, out of 124 NCAA teams, a lot of them would have the exact same goals. That is kind of what is the formula for winning on defense. So you, as a coach, you have to make sure your players are doing what they have to do to achieve those goals.”
How much more responsibility does Frank’s absence put on Brennen Beyer?
“I think you always have to have -- no matter who it is -- you always have to have a plan B. You always have to have that, and you never go in there with the idea of, ‘Okay, I got a good guy here. I hope he stays healthy.’ No matter what, you always have to have two and you’d like to have three deep of guys -- and they’re always competing. When you have a great defense, then that guy that’s number two or number one, he might want to look over his shoulder, because there’s always somebody that’s going to be there to take the position. I think you always have to go in with that idea.”
MGoQuestion: How has Brennen Beyer’s weight gain (20-30 lbs from spring) affected his speed?
“In the first two practices, again, no pads -- the biggest thing is probably he feels very comfortable at that position now. So he’s had a whole spring going from the SAM linebacker standing up to have his hand on the ground all the time. I don’t think it was 20-some pounds. I think he was like 10 pounds and he got a lot stronger. He just seems more and more comfortable there. That’s what he played in high school, and I think he really feels good about that position.”
The players say they’re more comfortable with you. Are you more comfortable with them?
“I don’t know if you’re more comfortable. I like these guys, I can tell you that. I like these guys because all I do is watch them from when the season was over with through the winter conditioning through summer conditioning, in two practices -- you know what, these are our kind of guys. Whenever you had good people that work really hard and try to be Michigan, then all you can do as a coach is try to do everything you can so that they can feel like Mike and Ryan and those guys did when they walked off the field that last game. You do everything you can so that they can be successful. They’ve been very alert. They’re a fun group to be around. I told them today when [I walked] in there, I said, ‘God, the greatest time of the day is this meeting,’ because you see all those guys and they’re attentive and all that.”
What have you seen from Alabama’s offensive line on film?
“No question. I’m with Brady 100% on that. Watched a lot of film on them. We studied them all offseason. You watch them and they’re very very talented. They’re very physical, and they’re very big, and they’re very experienced. They’re a very very good offensive line.”
What kind of reports have you gotten from Aaron Wellman on Ondre Pipkins?
“It’s so early, you know. You have a guy who a month ago he’s in a class somewhere in high school, and then all of a sudden he’s at the University of Michigan. It’s just too early.”
Has Kenny Demens stepped up to his leadership role as senior middle linebacker?
“So far Kenny’s been like the other backers -- he’s doing what the’s supposed to be doing. Again, when the pads come on and we start hitting, and you’re in the dog days and everything like that, now you can kind of label a guy a leader. That’s where you earn it. These two practices right here, that’s just coming out and doing what you’re supposed to do. It’s not really where you measure anybody. ”
When will you hit for the first time?
“I don’t know. Is it Friday? Friday, full pads. I thought we were hitting the last two days -- I wasn’t sure, ya know, we were … That’s the other thing that Brady’s done a great job of. When you get a more mature team or a team that’s been around the same system, they learn how to practice. Nobody on the ground. And you can get a pretty physical, pretty aggressive practice with no pads on because they protect each other but still go really hard. That’s what you see if you watch an NFL practice. In the rules, they don’t even allow them to wear pads most of the time. They still get some really good practices. And that’s the same thing that we’ll try to do more, too.”
How do you explain last years’ turnover success?
“The one reason is because in our system, we strip in every phase of practice. So any time a ball carrier is running with the football, our defense is trying to get that ball out. When you're not doing live tackling, we’re doing strip--you’re always tugging at that football. The biggest reason--the biggest reason why we had more success on turnovers is because guys ran to the football. The reason you get turnovers is because guys are around the ball. Think of how many times you’ve seen a game where a guy fumbles and the ball’s just lying there and you're going, ‘Come on, somebody get on it!’ Well a huge part of our defense is effort and running to the football because when you do that, you’re going to have more success tackling and you’re going to have a chance to get turnovers, and that’s big for us.”
And is that something you have to teach the freshmen?
“Definitely. We’ll do circuits in practice with that where we’ll practice that, and they see it real clear. Our upperclassmen have done a great job of trying to pseed up the freshmen on what is expected. So much as where you’re watching the tape and something goes on, a senior may say to them, ‘You don’t do it that way. This is Michigan.’”
Sponsor note: SPORTS POWER WEEKENDS will get you to a road game with POWER. /Herbstreit
Check them out to help the blog.
Pro combat. Via Tremendous, freshman OL Erik Magnuson and Kyle Kalis in a dorm hallway:
Magnuson should wear that on gameday. DEs would speed rush the wrong way.
Liveblog status update. I've checked out the comments left on the Liveblog Conundrum post and things seem split 60-40 in favor of CIL, but a couple of misconceptions may have swung that. To clarify:
- The embedded twitter feed hypothesized in the previous post would not be unmoderated. We would not be relaying the results of a hashtag. We would create a separate gameday twitter feed that would be part of the list that would exclusively retweet comments sent to it, a la CIL. There would be a base set of feeds like Ace, Heiko, Seth, myself, and Grant Wahl that would be in the list, and then various people who wanted to contribute to the list as commenters would send tweets to the gameday account.
- Kickstarter requires a deliverable, so their platform doesn't work for raising money for a service like this. We could do a generic donation drive for these things, but… it's moderated chat software. Paying these sorts of prices seems insane. Various people have brought up the idea of spinning up our own version, and I agree that is an attractive long-term solution but it's August and that is not an option for 2012.
- I don't see the "I might annoy people following my feed" and "I might not be as anonymous as I would like to be" issues as real problems. If anything, that kind of drag on posting would be beneficial to the over-stressed moderators. If you'd ever been in a CIL trying to figure out what to give an approve to you'd know. Caring about that sort of thing seems like a benefit.
- A commenter mentioned P2, a wordpress theme that turns a front page into… well, SB Nation comments. This would be great. It does not have a Drupal equivalent. I could try to incorporate it as a subdomain (live.mgoblog.com) but again, it's August and at this point it's time to embed or die.
Does that change any opinions?
Mattison in for the medium haul. I don't think it's a surprise that Mattison is planning on retiring at Michigan…
"The good thing that happens when you're older and you've been a lot of places is, a lot of (coaches) want to win so they can move on," Mattison said. "Me? Hey, this is my last stop. I just want to win because it's Michigan."
…but maybe Borges saying the same thing is news:
"Now that I'm here, not really -- not like I did 10, 15 years ago," Borges said in a recent interview when asked if he still hoped to be a head coach. "I never say never, but by the same token, I don't go looking for them. Used to be I did, but I'm done hunting down head coaching jobs. I'm in a place where I'm very happy and I just want to make this job the best job I can make it.
"This is a great place to coach and to be, and for someone to leave here, you better be able to justify it. And I just don't see any scenarios that could justify me leaving the University of Michigan."
How long would these guys be in place? Well, Mattison is 62 and Borges 56. Norm Parker just packed it in at 69 due to health issues and Mattison says he'll keep going as long as those don't prevent him from doing his job:
"At first, I thought I might do this for a few years," he said. "But after this last season ... my wife, she said it me, 'What else are you going to do? You are going to go golfing for about two weeks, and then you're going to go crazy.'
"'I said, 'You're right. I'm going to coach, as long as my health holds up, and as long as they want me, and as long as I can still keep doing the job.' "
So this staff will probably hang together until someone gets poached to be a coordinator elsewhere or Mattison retires.
We're serious now you guys. Glad to see that John Infante, the Bylaw Blog guy, also had a problem with UCF's wrist-slap penalty for its athletic director paying a street agent(!) and that I'm not a bloodthirsty maniac. Or if I am I'm not a lone bloodthirsty maniac. Infante:
What UCF was accused of was, on its face, one of the worst packages of NCAA violations in recent memory. Not only were both of its revenue sports using a runner (among others) to help recruit athletes and that runner was providing benefits to student-athletes, but all of this was with the knowledge, encouragement, and even active participation of the athletic director.
For all that, UCF got off relatively light. Twin postseason bans, scholarship losses and major recruiting restrictions are not a slap on the wrist. But considering the conduct, it could and should have been much worse. The NCAA would have been justified in laying to waste both of UCF’s most prominent sports for the rest of the decade
Infante hypothesizes that the COI is waiting for the new enforcement structure coming down from on high before doing anything serious to someone. Well, it's here:
A program found to have made a "serious breach of conduct" with aggravating circumstances could face postseason bans of two to four years. In addition, the program may have to return money from specific events or a series of events or the amount of gross revenue generated by the sport during the years in which sanctions occurred - fines that could cost a school millions of dollars.
If this sounds familiar, it should. After the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal at Penn State, the NCAA barred Penn State from playing in a bowl game or the college football playoff until after the 2016 season and levied a $60 million fine - the rough equivalent to a year of gross revenue from the football program.
Coaches, too, would face new guidelines. They would be presumed responsible for any violations committed by their staffs. If they cannot prove they were unaware, the head coach could be suspended from 10 percent of the season to the full season.
The board also approved a provision that would publicly identify individuals responsible for the violations if there is a finding of lack of institutional control or failure to monitor.
It won't be real until October, but it should be real then. Hopefully UNC and Miami are first on the chopping block.
I can foresee no problems with this. This is part of a generally sensible move towards slashing out big chunks of NCAA rule minutia:
Boosters would be allowed to contribute directly to the compensation of coaches, potentially controlling more of the terms under which coaches are paid, if a new NCAA proposal is adopted.
Under the plan, described in a 12-page NCAA document obtained by The Chronicle,boosters could come up with their own bonuses instead of giving their money to the athletic department and hoping that they would have the influence to get it written into a coach’s contract, one NCAA rules expert says.
I'm not sure who thought the problem with booster influence was that it was too restricted. I would like to tell this person that they're not right. The rest of the proposal seems fine by me: removing a bunch of recruiting restrictions implemented to maintain a "level playing field," including the contact restrictions men's basketball has already dumped.
Here's a person who is sane:
“The playing field is not and has never been and never will be level,” said James F. Barker, president of Clemson University and chair of the NCAA working group that came up with the proposed changes. “To say the NCAA should try to create a level playing field is impossible and is not a wise path to take.”
Here's a person who is not:
“I do not know if the proverbial ‘level playing field’ can ever be had,” Bill Zack, head women’s rowing coach at the University of Portland and president of the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association, wrote to the working group through an NCAA feedback form. “But I think it is problematic to outright acknowledge that it is OK to have institutional financial advantage."
There's a place for that, and it's called DIII.
shooters are shooting in code
Irvin hype. Rod Beard checks in with 2013 basketball recruit Zak Irvin and in doing so touches on the most remarkable aspect of Beilein's recruiting thus far:
"Irvin is probably the most improved kid in the state this year. He had a great year in high school and he's carried it over to AAU. He can really shoot, he's athletic at 6-7 and he's a lot like Hardaway," said Dan Dakich, who coached at Indiana University and now coaches an AAU team in the state.
"He's a better shooter than Hardaway coming out, but he's got that kind of length and can handle the ball and is comfortable on the perimeter. Beilein likes length and shooting ability and certainly those two kids can do that. I think they got two really good ones."
Over at ESPN, a couple of analysts confirm Dakich's assessment($). Paul Biancardi votes for Irvin as the best player he saw across two dozen AAU events…
His long-range jumper is accurate and if a defender gets too close, he will drive to the basket with a long first step. Plus, he has the size to score over defenders in the painted area. … Overall, he is a clutch performer, arguably the best player in the state of Indiana and the best player who helped his team win I saw all summer.
…and John Stovall plugs him as the guy most likely to rise in ESPN's rankings:
The Michigan commit has improved to the point where he is the best player in Indiana and one of the very best in the Midwest. He can play either wing position (SF or SG) and is a solid athlete who is much better off the dribble now with his improved handle. He can create space off the dribble and hit shots from midrange all the way to 22 feet. He is also better as a defender. He has nice length and athletic ability. Irvin is easily a top 50 player now and should be ready to play immediately at Michigan.
Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Glenn Robinson III, and now Irvin have all seen surges after their commitments as they pass various players Beilein has not recruited. (Hardaway and Burke had to wait to arrive on campus before getting the bump.) That's quite a streak. Talent evaluation: Beilein has it.
BONUS: rumble has it that Scout, the lone remaining Irvin skeptic, is about to come around whenever they update their rankings next.
We'll be seeing you in Michigan Stadium this fall. Congrats to Tyler Clary, the former Michigan swimmer who nailed down a 200M backstroke gold medal by beating favored Ryan Lochte last night-ish, then live-tweeted the replay.
We might not be seeing you in Michigan Stadium this fall, at least not early. Frank Clark's pretrial date is September 11th, which is after the Alabama and Air Force games. If Hoke goes by the Josh Furman precedent Clark will be out at least that long, but hopefully he won't since having Furman sit out spring practice for a piddling offense that was eventually dismissed seems detrimental to everyone.
Requirement: three people should have this jersey. The Wisterts' #11 is back in circulation as a legends jersey. Don't give it to Kovacs. Or Denard.
Minor hockey rule changes. Hand passes are now illegal everywhere, and defensive zone hand passes are subject to a no-change rule similar to icing. Deflecting a puck into the net with your skates is now cool as long as it's not kicked. (This rule will be changed within five years, because it always changes.) And defensive players slightly dislodging the net will not cancel goals like Michigan's second against Cornell last year. Which, like, finally.
Thumbs up on all of these. I think they should move the kicked-puck rule to a bright line: if the skate stays on the ice for the whole process, it's legit. If it comes off, it's not.
BONUS thing: Canadian university Simon Fraser is the NCAA's first international member. They'll enter at DII and will hopefully wrangle themselves a DI hockey program as soon as possible.
Etc.: NCAA widens bowl eligibility to 5-7 teams if they have a top five APR, which, just… come on man. Every bowl that would ever consider taking such a team is stealing money from college football with ticket guarantees to games that will have no one at them. Countdown To Kickoff kicks off. Also counts down.