"Well, it's about time to start, isn't it? We're excited about it and can't wait to see what this defense plays like. I'm excited about how they've prepared, how they're working, and now we have to get that first game."
What has Channing Stribling done to put himself in position to play?
"Made plays in practice. Practiced very hard. Has picked up the defense quicker than a lot of freshmen. He's a very competitive young man. He's got good range. He's done very well."
He had good instincts in high school football. Have you seen that?
"The thing about him is he came from a very strong high school program. That high school program that he's from coaches like we coach. He understands that everything he does will be critiqued and coached and he moves onto the next one. That sometimes separates freshmen from when they play or don't play -- understanding the toughness and the scrutiny that they go under to make sure they're ready to play."
People keep talking about how much faster the defense is. What do you think?
"We're going to find out. We're going to find out. I do feel like we have guys that run well for their size. This is a young, young defense as everybody knows. This defense must play extremely hard on every play. It can't be a defense that's going to say, 'Okay, I'm going to take this play off.' If we play that way and run like I think we can run and keep the ball inside and in front, it can be exciting to watch them. That's our goal. That's our goal, to see if they are what we think they are."
The defense gets younger without Courtney Avery.
"There's no question about it. He's a veteran. He's a captain. You know, I look at it positively. Thank goodness it's not something that lasts a whole year. Thank goodness he's going to be back. There's no question he's been a guy that you could always count on. Now somebody's got to step up. It's always been the case here and you know that. That's part of football. That's why I said earlier when we talked that you've got to plan ahead. You've got to move guys around. You've got to have guys that get in a position so that if something happens it isn't like jumping off a cliff."
Who are the next candidates behind him?
"There's a handful of them. Jarrod Wilson, obviously, has shown some good things. Josh Furman has been in the program a long time. You know, [Jeremy] Clark, it's time. It's time. Dymonte Thomas -- all those guys have gotten reps and have been trained throughout camp. So now it's just how they finish out this week and decide who will be the two guys."
MGoQuestion: You say you don't like rotating in the secondary. Does that mean once you name a starter you're going to keep him in there rather than keep putting guys in to figure out who does best?
"You know, hopefully in that position, that guy has to stay in there. That's a position that you don't like to rotate. That's a position where -- that and the corner position -- you want to keep the continuity back there and keep that because they all work so closely together. They all have to have this thing where they're communicating together and understand what the checks are and stuff like that, so you don't want to do that. I'm saying it's going to work out. That's how we're going into it. It's going to work out. These guys have prepared very hard and they're working very hard."
MGoFollowup: Will that decision be harder then when Courtney Avery comes back?
"Well yeah. When Courtney comes back, again, you're going to throw it up for who's the best player. Who's got the most experience. Who's playing the best. It always goes to that. You'd like to keep your continuity, but if one guy is playing better than another guy, he's going to be in there. That's always the way it is here."
Ryan Glasgow is above Willie Henry. Warum?
"Ryan has had a very good camp. Willie Henry shows flashes. Shows plays that you say, 'Wow.' The big thing with him is he's got to make sure he gets the consistency play in and play out. Ryan Glasgow is just a tough, hard-nosed kid that just plays hard on every play. Tom Strobel is another guy like that. Those two guys, when you're watching the tape -- we keep running the ball to tag off on it -- those two guys are running 40, 50 yards to get to the football. That's the makeup of them. That's what allows them to be in the mix, because we know they're going to play hard like we talked about."
You mentioned rolling out a second or third unit on the defensive line. How many ideally do you want to rotate consistently?
"As of today, I think three deep at those positions have earned the right. As of today. They have gotten all the reps rolling through, as of today. A veteran like Quinton, a veteran like Jibreel, those guys may be five plays to somebody else's three, but there's still going to be a rotation. Sometimes guys earn the right to be in there longer because it shows they can go as hard as we want them to go longer. Then when they get to the point which we decide, then the next guy goes in, and he keeps it coming the same way. It's never four defensive linemen rotating every three plays. It's rotating, but some are different -- five plays, four plays, that sort of thing."
Is there another team you've coached that you had this much depth for a rotation?
"Yeah. We did this at Florida I believe in the year we had six first-string guys and five of them were drafted. They all earned they right. They tagged themselves out. I know Brady's done that at San Diego State. That's something we've done at other schools, too, where it's never maybe this many, but that's a positive. It's not because of a default. It's a positive that these guys all seem to be so even in how they're preparing and how they're practicing."
What will the first game tell you about your defense?
"Well it's going to give you a big test because of the youth. I mean, first games are always -- there's always times in those games where that game could go either way. It's always [been] the way forever. When you have a young team, you know there's going to be times where this is going to be the first time this young defense has had to step up. This is the time when this young defense has to say, 'Hey, there's something bad that might have happened. How are we going to respond? We need to get a turnover. How are we going to respond? Go get a turnover. We need to get four-man pressure. We're not going to blitz this play. You've got to get there.' So those are the tests. Is this defense going to buy in to our number one creed, and that's to keep the ball inside and in front.
That's what you don't know about a young defense. The first game is the first time it really tests you. Out here in practice, when Brady gives us the competitions and he says this is a competition day, we try to make that [competitive]. Our kids have responded to that. You either win or lose, but it's different in front of 115-, 120-thousand people. That's the thing. I'm looking at it as a positive. I think this team will be tremendously excited because they have invested a lot. They want to show that they want to be a Michigan defense, so I think this is going to be an exciting day for them to be able to go out and start doing that."
What have you seen from Central Michigan's tailback Zurlon Tipton?
"Very very good running back. Very good running back. I'm talking about a very good running back in the country, compared to other good running backs, not a good running back compared to the Big Ten or compared to -- he's a very good running back. The backup running back, [Saylor] Lavallii, is also a good running back. They've got an offensive tackle by the name of [Jake] Olson that didn't play at all last year that a lot of people said he was in the same boat as the young man [Eric] Fisher that got the No. 1 pick. They're a very well coached offense. Very well coached offensive line."
What about the tailback impresses you?
"Great cutback runner, and he is a very physical back. He earns a reputation. You watch him, he's running down the sideline and a lot of guys would step out of bounds. He turns back in to try and hit somebody. He's a very physical running back."
Remind you of anyone?
"Any good running back. You know me, I'm not going to build a guy up. This guy here, I watch him, I go, 'Okay, this guy here, he breaks tackles, he runs with his pads down, he's a good athlete. They have a real good running back there."
In your mind, which freshmen are most likely to play some early snaps?
"I mean, I think you'll see Stribling early. I think you'll see him early. I would say Stribling, maybe Jourdan Lewis, depending on how he comes on the rest of this week. Ben Gedeon has had a very, very good camp. He just gets better and better at linebacker. We're really excited about what we see in him. As the season goes, you'll be able to see how guys mature, like Delano Hill and some of these other guys. But those are the ones that have kind of stuck out as far as saying, 'This guy is a little ahead. This guy seems like it's not too big for him right now.' "
Is Dymonte Thomas on that list?
"I don't count him as a freshman. Taco I don't count as a freshman. They came early. But those two for sure."
They don't count as freshmen just because they came early, or is it because they don't play like freshmen?
"No no no. Because they came early, and because they're not playing like a new freshman, too. Those guys have a whole spring under them."
What kind of camp did Ondre Pipkins have?
"Good. Ondre's getting better and better. Ondre's going to play a lot of football. Ondre's gotten much, much better. For him it's going to be keeping it at the same intensity every play. Now he's very talented, and he's learned the defenses. He's a student of it. One thing about Ondre -- he wants to be very very good. It really means something to him. Just like most of our freshmen. He's going to be good."
Would you be in favor of a preseason exhibition game similar to what the NFL does?
"I would love that. I would love that. If you're at a school like Michigan, your practices are physical. When you're going against our offense, you better bring your game or you're going to get it. I would love to have the NCAA say you could play an exhibition game or you could take your guys and go practice and scrimmage like you do in high school. You'd love that, just to see -- sometimes I know our guys look at Taylor Lewan and go, 'Oh, geez, another day of going against Taylor Lewan.' Well that's made Frank Clark a heck of a better player, but I know he would love to go against somebody else. But that's up to the NCAA. That's not up to me."