Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-7-13: Greg Mattison

Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-7-13: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on October 8th, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Opening remarks:

“Well. This will be an exciting game. We’re really looking forward to going to Penn State. I personally am excited about it. I remember the last time that I was there. We stopped them on a goal line stand. Buster Stanley and Jarrett Irons on a goal line. Orange was the call. I’ll never forget it. It’s a great place to play, and it’s a great place for us to find out where this defense is.”

Do you expect to have Jake Ryan with you?

“Who knows? That’s Brady’s call. I don’t know. He’s obviously been working hard. That’s up to the trainers and Brady.”

Mailbag: Line Depth When, Ridiculous Lewan/Ryan Hybrid, Why Return Punts?

Mailbag: Line Depth When, Ridiculous Lewan/Ryan Hybrid, Why Return Punts?

Submitted by Brian on October 8th, 2013 at 11:27 AM



it gets better

Hi Brian,

This whole Center situation has put me in a funk [ed: I see what you did there] and all I can see in the future is doom and gloom.  Aren't we going to be in the exact same position next year?  I was wondering if you could address on your site the future prospects of this position going forward.  Miller is not cutting it at the moment (or at least that's the popular opinion).  But is this a problem that he's still too young and needs to learn?  Or is it that he's just too undersized for the position?  I've heard zilch about the other Centers on the roster, Burzynski and Kugler.  So what is to happen next year?  Should I just blindfold myself and box my ears for the next year or two?


Sometimes guys just have it, and sometimes they get it eventually, and sometimes they never do. David Molk had no problem popping into a starting lineup as a redshirt freshman and being good immediately. Miller's been done few favors by Michigan's renewed emphasis on the stretch after barely running in the last two years and should become more consistent as he acquires experience with it, but Glasgow seems to be making fewer mistakes than he did at the same level of experience.

The good news is that this year and last should be the nadir for options on the Michigan line. Last year, Miller was literally the only scholarship option other than true freshmen Michigan could turn to if they wanted to make a switch. This year they're in a similar situation except the (formerly) backup option is the oft-injured Chris Bryant; Blake Bars is also an option but looked far from ready this fall.

Next year it's a whole different story. Michigan loses their two tackles and must find a left tackle from Magnuson or Braden; right tackle will be a battle between one of those two guys and any of a fleet of 6'5" guys who can play both tackle and guard. On the interior they'll suddenly be spoilt for choice with count-'em nine options give or take a guy who might be sucked out to tackle. That is worlds away from what Michigan's got now.

They will be young. Michigan will have no seniors on next year's offensive line save Burzynski. They should be able to paper over some concerns with depth in their options.

Wither Washington against spread to run?


In light of our defensive approach to use Black/Wormley as nominal DTs against passing spreads like ND and Akron, should we be concerned against the Buckeyes?  Watching how they call their plays at the line, I would think Urban would have Hyde pound it up the middle anytime we showed that alignment.  Do you see this meaning we will see more Washington than we would typically against a spread team?  Or is sacrificing some beef in the middle with Black worth the lateral speed we gain against their skill players?

The challenge posed by OSU is dealing with not only lateral speed from Miller and their little slot buggers but holding up against Carlos Hyde, who's more manball than any back Michigan has at its disposal. If the defensive line can't hold up against OSU double teams… well, you saw the Northwestern game. It's not pretty for a defense.

I'll be shocked if Michigan has a nickel package on the field against Ohio State on anything other than third and long. Washington is going to a be a key piece against all the spread-to-run teams on the docket, and there are plenty: OSU, Northwestern, and Nebraska plus certain packages Indiana might run with Tre Roberson. With the rest of the schedule filled out by PSU, MSU, and Iowa, we've seen the last of games where Washington is largely a spectator as opponents fling the ball about willy-nilly.

Why bother returning punts anyway?


this massively blocked punt was the difference in NW-OSU (via Eleven Warriors)

This question was prompted by watching Michigan try (and fail) to set up a return when Minnesota was punting from inside their 10 yard line today.

Why not always go for the block?  How is running 20 yards backwards, then trying to find and block someone better than making someone block you in their own backfield?  Best case, you block the punt; worst case, coverage team suffers from having to defend against punt block before focusing on coverage.  If the point of setting up a punt return is to keep would-be tacklers away from the returner, why not make those would-be tacklers deal with would-be punt blockers 40+ yards away from where the punt lands?  I really just don’t get it.


Going for a block is a high variance strategy that rarely brings any reward at all and often results in flags for hitting the punter; used too consistently it's asking to eat fake punts more often than you actually get to the punter. So you've got to set up returns at least some of the time: fourth and five or less, any punt safe situation, times when you don't care to risk roughing the punter because you're up, and enough other times to keep teams from planning a fake punt you'll get strafed by.

Meanwhile, with modern punting formations the only guys who have to dedicate themselves full time to blocking you are the three gentlemen in the shield. For the other seven players, a momentary delay on a guy at the line is good enough. If you're sending guys after the punter all the time that's not going to change the behavior of the punting team enough to help you on returns.

The only thing that will do that is blocking enough punts to force guys back into NFL-style punting, and dozens of coaches working over the course of a decade haven't been able to make shield punting seem more vulnerable than the NFL stuff. I'm with you somewhat, in that so few punts get returned effectively these days that you should slant your prep towards blocking them and go after punters more often* but never bothering with setting up a return is too far in the other direction.

*[especially since it's relatively easy to not get a roughing the kicker call: just avoid the guy's plant foot.]



Hello Brian, Brian's Hair, Ace, Seth and Heiko,

I was watching the network broadcast of the game yesterday and near the end, right around Countess' interception, the broadcast cut to a shot of Jon Falk preparing to open the mail bin that held the Jug. Taylor Lewan was standing next to the bin and I believe one of the announcers called him "Jake Lewan."

Alas, it was a misstatement. But could you imagine if this player existed? Huge. Crazy. Two-way. He pancake blocks linebackers and hurls chipping running backs to the ground. He both protects QBs and turns them into small smears on the ground. I would love to see a .gif of this being in action (destroying the skyline of Columbus Godzilla-style, consuming raw sides of beef lobbed at it by an approving Coach Mattison, charging into the interview room and ripping Heiko's head off after he asks Borges about bubble screens etc. ). I would love to see the Mathlete whip up some sophisticated simulation in R or Stata to project  this mythical player's stats. How many stars would he have gotten on the recruiting trail? (six?) What would his fake forty time be?  Could he eat more than Charlie Weiss? What sort of tattoos would he have? What pet would he own? The possibilities are both endless and fascinating.

Just thought I'd mention it.


The Mathlete started simulating this but desisted when he started noticing small glitches in reality. He swears that carbonation of beverages was rare until he started working on your question, Patrick. The initial results are a little rough, but your answers:

  1. COULD YOU IMAGINE IF THIS PLAYER EXISTED? No longer do I imagine or dream, as the act of doing so now brings things into reality. While I could use this for good, eventually the wrong thing would be thought about and Michigan would have two wins over Ohio State since OH GOD I DID IT DO YOU SEE PATRICK, DO YOU SEE?
  3. WHAT WOULD HIS FAKE 40 TIME BE? Zero point two seconds, to account for human stopwatch vagaries. This would be real, and thus break the concepts of fake 40 times and reality.
  4. COULD HE EAT MORE THAN CHARLIE WEIS(S)? If you are referring to the temporary head of the Kansas Jayhawks, he's had bariatric surgery so most nine-year-olds could do this. If you are referring to some random dude who has to keep correcting everyone who lols at him about decided schematic advantage, yes. This is a large man who is physically active. Charlie Weiss lifts a little bit but cannot compare.
  5. WHAT SORT OF TATTOOS WOULD HE HAVE? Animated ones depicting the rise and fall of Atlantis, both of which were his doing.
  6. WHAT PET WOULD HE OWN? His Excellency The Most Exalted Velocironald The Third The Fourth The Second, Jr.

Monday Presser Transcript 10-7-13: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 10-7-13: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on October 7th, 2013 at 4:02 PM

Boo boos:

  • Jake Ryan has been cleared to play. 
  • Ondre Pipkins tore his ACL.



“It was very good to win this past weekend. Homecoming, the Brown Jug, multiple things that were good. There was improvement, which you want every week. Fundamentally and with technique. We have to continue that with all positions. Two penalties and no turnovers, probably as much as anything besides winning, was very good for us as a football team and something for us to make sure that we pay attention to. I think we do, but the significance of that was huge to be plus two in turnover margin.”

Losing Ondre Pipkins, how does that affect what you guys do?

“Well, Richard Ash … We have some multiple guys. Willie Henry can play the three. Ryan Glasgow. Your heart just goes out to Ondre. Any guy that gets hurts, obviously. It’s something that is a little bit of adversity for him obviously and for our team. Just like anything else, we’ll work together and get through it.”

Is that past the redshirt deadline?

“That’s all something that we’ll have to appeal and do all that stuff with. It’s way too soon to say it is or isn’t.”

Wednesday Presser Transcript 10-2-13: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 10-2-13: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on October 2nd, 2013 at 3:33 PM


  • Offensive line changes. You know this already, but here it is anyway: Chris Bryant to left guard, Graham Glasgow to center. This wasn't mentioned during the presser, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were also changes at tight end and receiver.
  • Jake Ryan is participating in some full contact stuff. Still wearing a red jersey though, obviously.


Opening remarks:

“Good practices. We’ve had that. We’ve stacked them together. We expect that this afternoon. I think the competitiveness and physicalness that we need to play with, we’ve had. I think how we’ve responded as a team last week and this week has been really good.”

Changes to the offensive line?

“Those guys have all done a tremendous job competing. If we were going to kick the ball off today, Graham [Glasgow] would be the center. Chris Bryant would be the left guard with Joe Burzynski and Kyle Bosch being part of that mix at some point possibly. Jack [Miller]’s done a great job competing, but Graham would start and Jack always is ready to go.”

So that would be the lineup Saturday?

“Well, if we kicked off now, that’s what we’d do. You never know. There’s still some days left.”

Chris Bryant To Enter Lineup

Chris Bryant To Enter Lineup

Submitted by Brian on October 2nd, 2013 at 12:19 PM


I may have accidentally typed "Christ Bryant" when attempting to tag this post.

Per all of everyone on twitter but here's Tim because we go back:

Brady Hoke confirms Chris Bryant and Graham Glasgow are the LG and C, respectively.

That was couched in "as of today"-type rhetoric, but you can stop with the rumblings and bumblings now. It's all but official that Michigan's going to debut Chris Bryant on Saturday. Heiko mentions that Hoke also brought up Kyle Bosch and Joey Burzynski as guys "in the mix," along with Miller.

FWIW, I'd heard that Michigan was going to start Bryant against UConn but for a shoulder injury that week in practice. Parsing out how much confidence this gives you about Bryant's ability versus how much terror it gives you about Bryant's ability to remain on the field is left as an exercise to the reader.


Hoke said Jake Ryan has been doing some full contact work "but we're smart with it," in term of letting him do too much.

No return date set, so not this week. Indiana still seems reasonable.

Monday Presser Transcript 9-30-13: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 9-30-13: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on September 30th, 2013 at 5:05 PM


  • Jake Ryan is practicing!
  • There may be a change on the offensive line!
  • DaMario Jones might contribute on offense!
  • Derrick Green might get more snaps!



Opening remarks:

“First thing I want to talk about a little bit is this weekend you saw a lot of the ‘Cure MD’ patches that all the coaches [wore]. The organization has been at the forefront with the cure. We obviously didn't play, so we'll have our patches this weekend, and we certainly want to raise awareness of MD. It affects a lot of children all across the country.

“On the Football side we had a very good week. We got a lot accomplished as a team. I know we as a staff felt that way. I know the players felt that way. In the practices that we had and the fundamental work that we had in all areas at every position. The intensity and the competitiveness was very good. We’re excited to start the Big Ten season. We’re excited to play in the oldest trophy game there is in the Brown Jug with Minnesota. We have a lot of work to do, as you all know. We’ll continue to do that throughout the week.”

Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-24-13: Brady Hoke

Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-24-13: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on September 25th, 2013 at 8:02 AM


  • Jake Ryan! Won't be back for Big Ten opener. Maybe by Penn State. "Mid-october" is the target.
  • The only way Graham Glasgow gets moved to center is if there's a capable guard to replace him.


Opening remarks:

“Good practice today. Back to basics, I think that’s what most of us do during bye weeks, especially the first couple days. Fundamentals, being sound with technique, revisiting technique is always important. I think we did that. We had great intensity. The focus was very good.”

Are there guys that are going to rest this week?

“No. I mean, everybody’s participating, some at different levels than others. Taylor doesn’t need to be out there 30 plays in a practice -- I’ll just use him as an example. You’ll do some of that, but everybody’s doing work.”

For Taylor, has this season been an improvement for him?

“I think he’s playing pretty well. I think he’s been very good as a leader. I think he’s been good fundamentally and technique. I think he’s been pretty good.”

Has he been playing hurt?

“No, I don’t think so.”

Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-17-13: Greg Mattison

Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-17-13: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on September 17th, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Opening remarks:

"Well, here we are again. I might as well answer it before you ask. What about the pass rush? You're going to ask that question and the answer I'm going to give you is one, they kept backs in a little bit more in passing situations than we expected. And the other thing I’m going to tell you is I have to coach it better. Our guys are working hard at it, and I’ll put that on me. We just have to get better at it. And we know that. We started working on it on Sunday already but we will be able to rush, and we’re going to do that.”

MGoQuestion: We haven't seen a lot of the nose tackles the last couple weeks. What's the reasoning behind that?

"Well we were in sub a lot. Some guys are better at playing the run and some guys are maybe better at playing able to play the run as well as rush the passer. We feel like those two guys are 300-and-some pound guys that might not give us quite the movement we’re looking for in pass rush.”

Preview 2013: Linebackers

Preview 2013: Linebackers

Submitted by Brian on August 29th, 2013 at 2:53 PM

Previously: Podcast 5.0, The Story, Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End and Friends, Offensive Line, Defensive Tackle, Defensive End, Special Teams.

Depth Chart
Cam Gordon Sr.* Desmond Morgan Jr. James Ross So.
Jake Ryan Jr.* Joe Bolden So. Royce Jenkins-Stone So.
Brennen Beyer Jr. Mike McCray Fr. Ben Gedeon Fr.

Stupid ACL injuries wrecking everything… well… some things. Michigan loses Kenny Demens to graduation and Jake Ryan to cruel fate, but returns everyone else, adds Brennen Beyer from the stacked WDE spot, and welcomes two freshmen. They have a decent amount of experience, a decent amount of depth, and a ton of promise. James Ross figures to blow up; Desmond Morgan's improvement will be more incremental but now he's at a more comfortable position. Joe Bolden gives both a quality backup.

Even at the depleted SAM spot you've got a fifth year senior and true junior who Greg Mattison says are both playing like starters, and then Ryan is supposed to be back by mid-October… or sooner. Could be pretty good here.

Inside Linebacker

These previews had previously split out the middle and weakside linebackers into their own sections, but the obvious interchangeability of the two spots (Desmond Morgan moves from one to the other, Bolden played both last year, supposed MLB Kenny Demens took the bulk of the TE-seam responsibilities) we're combining the two into an inside LB spot. Differences between the two spots exist, but are thin—according to Mattison, "inside is inside."

Rating: 4


Morgan will hit ya [Upchurch/MGoBlue.com]

hit and shed
gets in, gets upfield
sheds block, slows Bell
no more forward for you
can move
comes from backside to tackle 
kind of Ryan-like here
was young
lost on counter
accepts a block
slashed to the ground
cut like a mofo
read and react
nerfs counter draw
takes on two blockers
sidles all the way
shuts down Martinez draw

DESMOND MORGAN enters his third year as a starter by moving over from the weakside to the middle, as predicted by everyone in the world including myself. This is partly because James Ross demands entry into the starting lineup and partly because Morgan's skillset—thumpin'—was always more suited to the mike. Even when he was at WLB, it was Kenny Demens tasked with following tight ends down the seam. Morgan isn't quite a Sam Sword two-downs-and-out guy, but between he and Ross there's no question who you want dropping into coverage and who you want taking on fullbacks.

The best part of Morgan's game is how running backs stop when he contacts them. Morgan emerged into a bang-you're-dead tackler over the course of the year. Here he takes on a block, sheds it, gets an arm on LeVeon Bell(!), and robs him of most of his momentum:

Michigan would boot State off the field on the ensuing third and short. Having guys like Morgan around makes every first down a battle. Morgan also robbed a Minnesota power back of most of his momentum, amongst other events. Click play and HEAR FOOTBALL!

The guy is a brick.

After his first year this space criticized Morgan's hesitancy (mildly since he was a freshman), something that lasted through the first portion of last season. Michigan would slant the line and get gashed and I eventually pieced together a theory that the linebackers were uncomfortable predicting what would happen on that slant and late to the hole.

As the year progressed (and Washington and Campbell got more reliable with their angles), that tendency receded:

The linebackers are generally more decisive. The Demens see-gap-hit-gap-eat-soul is one part of it; also you can sense Morgan feeling the play behind that. He eases to the playside a bit to give him an edge on someone who might be releasing backside. He's reading the play through, and he shows up to help at the right spot. There's an air of "I am no longer a confused freshman" to him.

Morgan put a lot of previous worries about athleticism to bed last year as he got sideline to sideline effectively and made plays in space against tough customers like Taylor Martinez. Watching his read-and-explode is at times reminiscent of Jake Ryan. At times.

The UFR chart is reflective of this:

Opponent + - TOT Notes
Alabama 5.5 10 -4.5 And this was the best ILB play!
Air Force 8 10 -2 Faded late after strong start, thus setting up allfrosh.
UMass - - - DNP
Notre Dame 5 2 3 Solid tackling day, looked pretty athletic.
Purdue 5.5 3.5 2 Overshadowed with +2, is this real life?
Illinois 7.5 4.5 3 This is relatively bad!
MSU 9 2 7 Remember the athleticism worries with him?
Nebraska 11 4 7 Hit Y on leaping bat that became INT.
Minnesota 11 5.5 5.5 You stop when he hits you.
Northwestern 4 9.5 -5.5 Rough outing with blown assignments; Ross out there on critical last two drives speaks for itself.
Iowa - - - DNP

OSU not done, sorry. South Carolina not listed because it was impossible to tell who was who between Morgan and Bolden, and South Carolina ran the tailback five times anyway.

For inside linebackers, anything above zero is generally good. After getting 'Bama'd and having issues against Air Force's triple option, Morgan started a run of six straight positive games—some very much so.

Of course, a couple games after I proclaimed him a star in the Nebraska UFR he got edged and outran all day by Northwestern. Hey, he's just not the best guy to take on Venric Mark. It happens. Moving him to the middle should mitigate those issues.

In year three, Mattison believes that Morgan has the mental and physical ability to be top notch as long as he fixes one issue:

"He's so smart. He can make the checks, and he's strong. That allows him to be able to strike a blow, punch and get off blocks. One thing our linebackers have to work extremely hard on that was a negative for us was there were too many times they ran into blockers and didn't disengage. That's been a big emphasis."

Morgan got consistently better at this as the year rolled along. He's too much of a blue-collar guy to get the sexy TFL stats to be All Big Ten (also, Max Bullough exists) but he should be a consistently plus player who fends off Joe Bolden all year. He will be an asset.

[After THE JUMP: James Ross! Depth! Jake Ryan as Loki! Cam Gordon! More depth!]

Monday Presser Transcript 8-26-13: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 8-26-13: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on August 26th, 2013 at 6:09 PM


  • Taylor Lewan, Courtney Avery, Jake Ryan, and Cam Gordon are your captains. 
  • Joe Reynolds, Graham Glasgow, and Joe Kerridge now have scholarships.
  • Courtney Avery is out with orthoscopic [MGoI'mGoingToDoSoWellAsAnM3: ARTHROSCOPIC] surgery for some cartilage in his knee. Playing time and experience would say that Jarrod Wilson is the next guy in, but there's probably a three-way battle between him, Josh Furman, and Dymonte Thomas.
  • Derrick Green and Deveon Smith made the traveling depth chart, and they will be expected to contribute either as backup running backs or special teamers. Their redshirts are toast.
  • Starting offensive line is Lewan, Glasgow, Miller, Kalis, and Schofield. 
  • Blake Countess is starting cornerback and starting nickel. Next guy off the bench is probably Hollowell, but both Channing Stribling and Jourdan Lewis made it onto the depth chart, so there may be some competition there.
  • Dennis Norfleet is handling all return duties.


Televised Part

Opening remarks:

"Okay let's get started. Thanks for coming out. We're five days away now. It is game week, and it's exciting. Our players, our staff, everybody involved has worked very hard since January to get to this point. We're excited about the opportunity to see where this team is, and we talk about never getting a second chance to make a first impression, so it's going to be exciting on Saturday. 

"We voted our captains yesterday, and I think the four guys: Taylor Lewan, Courtney Avery, Jake Ryan, and Cam Gordon, are very deserving. At the same time I'll tell you that whole class has done a tremendous job as far as leadership and teaching and helping to help coach young football players. As you all know we are a young football team. We also had an opportunity last night to award three scholarships to guys that have walked onto the program and have set a standard for work ethic and set a standard for their toughness. Their love for their teammates and their love for Michigan. Joe Reynolds, Graham Glasgow, and Joe Kerridge were three guys most deserving. When you have an opportunity to do that as a coach, you always feel good because it obviously is helping their families out. More than that, the guys have earned it. 

"Courtney Avery had arthroscopic surgery Thursday night. Cartilage. It should be a two-week setback, but everything went well. He is in great spirits and he'll be back on the field soon."