Greg Mattison Presser Notes

Submitted by Tim on March 30th, 2011 at 3:48 PM


General Thoughts

Scheme installation: "Originally, I wanted to get all of it in. And I'm not going to say spring has been a success or not a success based on how many defensive calls we have in." They have scaled that back a bit to make sure the players fully grasp each scheme before moving on. "Their grasp of the defense probably hasn't been as fast as I thought it would be, but their want-to and their desire to do it has been really good." Even though installation is going slowly, "There is no disappointment whatsoever in me. I get excited and more enthused every day we meet." They get to mold the players into what they want to see, and the players are all excited to learn.

Talent: "I'm really encouraged by the attitude and the 'want-to' of the guys that we're working with." There hasn't been any moping or negative attitudes, guys come in wanting to learn. When the coaches make corrections, the players demonstrate those by the next day. The entire D has tons of work to do on basic techniques. "But I would have said that about any time I've had, unless they're perfect with their technique, I'm not satisfied." First step, punch, etc. - all the basic techniques need work.

Brady Hoke is hands-off in determining D schemes, though he's a defensive coach. He works with the SAM linebackers. "Its not Greg Mattison's defense. It's the Michigan defense." All defensive coaches can bring ideas. "It's the Michigan defense and we all have input."

It's great if the O score quickly: "I hope we score in 3 plays every time they're out there. Because our job is going to be to get off the field in three plays." As long as the offense isn't turning the ball over, they'll help the defense. The defense earns their own rest by getting off the field on third downs. "Your job is to do what you're supposed to do on third down to get off the field." They have started installing the nickel/3rd down package, because stopping third downs is so crucial.

Talked with Urban Meyer yesterday. They knew each other at Notre Dame, and Mattison was defensive coordinator at Florida for a while. "He's a great head coach and a great friend."

Michigan's coaches don't believe in supplements, but if players do what Wellman says, they'll grow. They want every player to get as big and strong as they can without sacrificing speed.

On wearing his Michigan 1997 Rose Bowl ring - "I use that as a reminder of how excited I am to be here." He made his son get it from the house in Mishawaka immediately when he took the Michigan job. "That was a special team and our goal is to get more of those."

Big Ten Divisions - "I love the conference playoff." It provides incentive to play for something on top of a bowl game. "That championship playoff game is bigger than any bowl will ever be." Aside from playing for a National Championship, it doesn't get any bigger than a conference Championship game. He learned that coaching in Atlanta with the Gators.

Denard - "If the darn kid would throw the ball rather than run all the time. Anyone can scramble (laughing)." He can make your defense pay if they aren't disciplined, no matter what D is called.

Defensive Line

Standouts: "Mike Martin, obviously." He's already had success at Michigan, but he still comes to practice like a rookie hungry to learn. Craig Roh has shown some signs of wanting to improve and be more physical, Jibreel Black can be an explosive guy. "All the guys have had their good moments." They aren't executing perfectly, but all of them can realistically hear "you're still in the mix to be a good football player here. Now you've just gotta keep going."

Campbell is coming off the football better at times, but not always. Quinton Washington "has been neck and neck with [Will Campbell]... When you see Quinton Washington and Will Campbell battling for a position, that says 'great, because now we can roll them.' Because I believe in that, and I always have." Will Heininger has stepped up, and can rotate with Jake Ryan. Jibreel Black looks as good as Craig Roh on some days.

DL has to be a strength of the D "You can't have a great defense unless you have a really good defensive line." In the next 9 practices, they'll find out whether their defensive line can reach that standard. Going forward, they'll recruit great defensive linemen because the philosophy is to have good defensive line play.


Kenny Demens is out with shoulder injury. He's probably most experienced LB. He's looked good in no-contact drills, is picking up the scheme. Returning linebackers haven't played a lot of minutes in games, and definitely not in the new scheme.

A lot of the experienced guys have mostly blitzed, now they need to learn run/pass reads, take pass drops, know who to cover, etc. ILBs will always be interchangeable positions. WLB and MLB can always play both.

"Mike Jones has shown some great improvement from where he was Day 1." Isaiah Bell wasn't moving well on the first day, but now that he understands the D a bit better, he's able to move faster.

"The one guy probably that has improved the most and I have really become excited about him is Cam Gordon. I've really got high hopes for him." He's playing SAM backer, and has a chance to be good. "Has a tremendous attitude." He has safety athleticism, just need to get bigger. "Cam's a really long way away, but as a coach you see things in a young man you say 'this guy really could be one of those really good players some day.'" He's battling guys much bigger than him right now, and they want him to get as big as he can while still being able to run.


"I've been pleased for the most part with that group... I hate to name [individual] guys because you're leaving somebody out, but that position to me has done a pretty good job." There's more carry-over for those guys from the previous scheme. Carvin Jonson has has some good days. Thomas Gordon has done a good job. "The one thing [Thomas Gordon] has done is he's now working at the nickel position for us, which is a real credit to him, because it shows he can go from playing safety to all the adjustments that have to be done at that position."

On missing Woolfolk and Floyd - "It's difficult if we were playing a game today, but I tend to look at it as a positive." Those guys have already shown they can play, and younger players get to develop, and improve depth.

Right now, the safeties have to be able to pay both spots.

Marvin Robinson has had class during one of the in-week practice days. He's starting to understand the defense and make plays. "He's got the range, and he's got the ability to run, and he hits." Now he just need to learn the schemes.

Courtney Avery - "He's another one of those secondary guys that I think is really improved. He's working extremely hard with Kurt [Mallory]."



March 30th, 2011 at 4:44 PM ^

Why would you assume that its Ryan Van Bergen if Jake Ryan is in the quote?


I always call players by other players names. Hey Jake Ryan get over here! No, not you Jake Ryan, I need Van Bergen dammit! 


March 30th, 2011 at 4:46 PM ^

I mean, I could be wrong. Maybe Jake Ryan did move from LB to DE...but when theres another 'Ryan' who is expected to be the starter at SDE, where Heininger is the likely backup, it doesn't seem crazy to think there could just be a typo or miscommunication between coach and reporter.


March 30th, 2011 at 4:50 PM ^

I understand where you are coming from. It would make sense since Mattison is on the older side. My dad always did that with us kids. He wanted one of us and would run through every name but that persons before he actually got to us.


I was just being a wise ass.

Clarence Beeks

March 30th, 2011 at 5:32 PM ^

"Why would you assume that its Ryan Van Bergen if Jake Ryan is in the quote?"

It wasn't in the quote.  It was in the part that was paraphrased, so the pertinent question would be whether it was a miscommunication between what Mattison said and what Tim wrote down (e.g. if Mattison just said "Ryan" and was referring to Ryan Van Bergen, but Tim inferred it as Jake Ryan).  Not saying that's what happened, but since it's not in the quote itself, it's worth considering.


March 30th, 2011 at 4:01 PM ^

As Ish said, I thought it was odd that he talked about Ryan at D-line.  With that said, I'm really excited to see how a lot of players on the defense perform, especially both Gordons, Marvin Robinson, and Josh Furman.


March 30th, 2011 at 4:09 PM ^

Ughhh what in God's name was Gerg doing for 2 years besides putting his thumb up a stuffed animal's ass?  I realize what his next quote is, but Gerg still pisses me off.


March 30th, 2011 at 4:17 PM ^

1.All coaches teach things a little differently.

2. Most of the defensive players have not had time to go thru a lot of the basics.   All of our freshmen arrived last summer and were thrown in the mix. 

3. Coaches love talking about fundamentals.

That's your fundamentals answer.

Greg Robinson was teaching fundamentals and he is not an idiot.   I think he did a bad job at Michigan, but based on what he had to work with I think he was forced into making some hard decisions and he made some bad choices on what the direction of the defense should have been, but that does not mean he was an idiot.   You can scream all you want, but you are not a coordinator for 2 Super Bowl teams and not know about teaching fundamentals to a defense.


March 30th, 2011 at 4:20 PM ^

I'd contend that the degree to which college players need instruction in fundamentals (like tackling!) and the degree to which pros need it are very, very, very different.

In other words, his ability to come up with schemes that seasoned pros could execute doesn't mean that he excelled at teaching tackling, a swim move, or a back-pedal.

And his last 5 years as a pro DC were fucking abysmal anyway.


March 30th, 2011 at 4:40 PM ^

I can't speak for everyone, but I'm of the mind that Rodriguez deserves blame for being a meddler (e.g., forcing the 3-3-5) and mismanaging the D from an administrative standpoint (e.g., firing Shafer, hiring Robinson).

Robinson deserves the lion's share of the blame, though, because there were clear problems that fall directly under his purview. Players were clearly lacking in fundamentals that have nothing to do with scheme (e.g., tackling). He repeatedly had players in positions that they didn't belong in (e.g., Roh at LB, C. Gordon at FS). And though this is certainly an outgrowth of him running a scheme he wasn't familiar with, a lot of players clearly didn't know their positions and assignments on the field.


March 30th, 2011 at 5:44 PM ^

I'm also in your camp.  I often wonder how our defense would have looked if RR and the 3-3-5 coaches didn't have input into our scheme.  For some reason I felt like Tony Gibson was the root of our defensive problems.  The loyalty that RR showed him was very bothersome for me.   


March 30th, 2011 at 4:41 PM ^

It was a staff-wide failure.  GERG had more schematic flexibility in 2009 and turned out to be a one-trick pony, with ultra-predictable blitzes that never worked.  Then RR tried to reign him in by forcing his bastardized version of the 3-3-5 on him last season.  In any event, no one on the staff was going to be the solution.


March 30th, 2011 at 5:48 PM ^

1. "All coaches teach things a little differently."

I am calling BS on that.  Tackling is tackling.  Pursuit angles are pursuit angles.  Even casual fans were able to see that our D had no fundamentals last year.  The only "difference" in the way that GERG and Mattison are going about teaching is that Mattison is actually teaching fundamentals - apparently GERG and his staff did not.

2. "Most of the defensive players have not had time to go thru a lot of the basics.   All of our freshmen arrived last summer and were thrown in the mix."

What about those 15 extra bowl practices we heard so much about.  Sorry, they had all of summer / fall, the season and the bowl practices.  You might want to try teaching tackling.  It is sort of important in tackle football.

3.  "Coaches love talking about fundamentals."

Because it is important.  The number of comments by Mattison regarding the players lack of fundamentals evidence his belief that our players lack fundamentals.  Who is that on?



March 30th, 2011 at 9:25 PM ^

But it still boggles me that as a guy who played defense, and was so smart on offense, could seem so clueless in the construction of a defense. It almost seemed like he kept pushing back to his comfort zone of when his defense worked with a guy who wasn't with him anyone. Sigh. I do understand the wishful longing of people like Brian. I've just been longing for a defense that reminds me of '97 even more...


March 30th, 2011 at 4:12 PM ^

That you can score too fast. Get off the field fast, score fast again. (Which joker asked that question? I couldn't hear.)
<br>And I think the Rose Bowl ring he was talking about/wearing is from the 1992 ('93 Bowl), when he was D-Line coach, since he wasn't on staff in '97, having gone to ND.


March 30th, 2011 at 4:56 PM ^

Some with merit, a lot more with little to none, but this one was always silly. Far better to complain about moving the ball and not scoring than scoring too quick. Score all you want. Just stop somebody, then rest.


March 31st, 2011 at 12:37 PM ^

Mattison is saying that his defense will get stops. But if you don't think your D can stop the other team then of course your offense can score too fast. If your offense scores on half it's possessions and your opponent scores two thirds of the time, you will lose most games. So if your opponent's O is more efficient against your D than your O is against their D, then by all means you should do whatever is possible to limit your opponent's possessions. In other words, each of your opponent's possessions has a higher expected outcome than yours do, so you should limit their possessions by controlling the clock and playing more slowly. Every coach knows this. Only teams whose D can get stops benefit from playing quickly over the course of a game.


March 31st, 2011 at 12:52 PM ^

If the offense is "scoring too fast", it's scoring. Nothing was said about scoring too fast, then going 3 and out.  If you're actually scoring at a high clip, you want MORE possessions, so your offense can offset your bad defense. The situation is the opposite of the one you posit. When your offense scores 3/4 of the time, and you defense gives up scores 50% of the time (still bad), you want as many possessions as possible (and to avoid turnovers and end of half/game situations that unequalizes the scoring chances). He said nothing about an offense leaving the field too fast, without any reward for it. Sure, playing fast is bad if you don't capitalize on it. But if you're SCORING, which is what he was asked, then no, you can't SCORE too quick (unless it's all FGs...which is kinda funny, considering our team). You can be taken off the field too quickly, but you can't score too quickly. By definition, if you're scoring, your offense is efficient. So, no, your D doesn't have to get just need an offense that can score more than the other team's can on you. Key word - score.


April 1st, 2011 at 9:50 PM ^

Although your response does not directly answer the question of whether an offense can score too fast, you have actually conceded the point that it can. If we take your example, namely that the more efficient offense should score as fast as possible to offset the weak defense, then that team's opponent should probably adopt the exact opposite strategy. If you are that opponent, you want to keep the more efficient offense off the field. And for that team you can certainly score too fast.

But the point of football is to score more points, not to score your points fast.

A review of the 2010 season statistics make this point clear. Michigan scored its 32.8 points per game in 27 minutes of possession, which is 1.2 points per minute of possession. Our opponents scored their 35.2 points per game in 33 minutes of possession, which is 1.07 points per minute of possession. So while we scored more points per minute of possession, we also scored fewer per 60 minutes. Which stat would you rather own, scoring more or scoring faster?

I also note that our points per game drops to 27.7 and our opponents' points per game rises to 36.5 if we exclude the very weak UMass, BGSU, and Indiana. That is a difference of 8.8 points per game, and it is thus no surprise that we were 4-5 in the rest of our games. So while we were still scoring fast, we were more than a TD behind for the rest of the season. What does it all mean? Over the course of our season scoring fast did not equate with scoring more than all but our worst opponents.


March 30th, 2011 at 4:27 PM ^

Mattison was given a ring for the Rose Bowl?  He was at ND at the time.  Or was that Hoke talking there?

(EDIT: I think M-Wolverine nailed it here.)


March 30th, 2011 at 4:26 PM ^

Must be Spring, the Cam Gordon hype is in the air!

I kid, I kid. I think Cam has the physical ability and the attitude to be a killer on D. All he needs is some work on fundamentals and a better understanding of his position, and I really think he'll tear things up.

The Rake

March 30th, 2011 at 4:29 PM ^

the Big Ten Championship game will be bigger than any bowl game can ever be? Mattison needs to step back from the ledge there. How about a National Championship game? How about a Rose Bowl win? Seriously dude.

The D will undoubtedly be better, if for no other reason outside of their age. The offense is what has me concerned. I don't like the change in scheme and putting Denard under center. His feet are his greatest weapon and he needs to be afforded the opportunity to use them. I really wish they would ahveekpt RR or brought in a spread HC when it comes to the offense.

I feel like Hoke is in a win-win situation. His team should be better and capable of getting 9 wins or so. Hence he'll be hailed as a great hire, even though RR could have done that too. I still hate Brandon for this hire. I can't get over it, til Michigan is a continuous Big Ten champion and national championship winner. I don't care if those are high hopes, thats how I feel.


March 30th, 2011 at 5:11 PM ^

You didn't listen to him when he said that a national championship is bigger.  He did not touch on a Rose Bowl but other than those two I would totally agree.  In the scheme of things the bowl games are meaningless besides a reward for the players, extra practice, and extra exposure. 

Playing in a Big Ten Championship game against familiar competition w/ build in rivalries for a Championship is huge.  We will not understand until we are there. Go Blue!


March 30th, 2011 at 5:13 PM ^

I'm fairly sure the Big Ten Championship is more important than the Alamo or Outback Bowl. And you usually need that championship before considering getting to the Rose Bowl, let alone the NC (the only two bowls more important than the B1G championship)

I'm pretty confident the offense will be fine, and with Mattison I expect some significant progress on Defense (as in, having his players actually understand what they're doing and why! That alone will equate to more 3rd down stops). I know many are "worried" because Denard was extremely stubborn to scramble last year, but I see it as a good problem to have...and it will improve, between a year of experience and the coaches (hopefully) teaching him at what point to scramble. I think it's much better than having a guy scramble at the first hint of pressure, which just leads to mass chaos all the time (Tate, I loved your moxie, but you were a bit of a spaz at times).

It could just be me. I have a hard time being worried before a season starts, especially with this team has so much potential to improve even with learning new schemes.


March 31st, 2011 at 12:36 PM ^

For what it's worth he was on the sideline in 1996 as MIchigan DC.  The defense was awesome (Woodson, Glen Steele, Sword, et al.) and as a senior, I had the pleasure of sitting on the 30-yard line near the Michigan defensive bench area.  We loved watching Mattison's passion and enthusiasm while coaching and encouraging the group after they came off the field from yet-another defensive stop.  Definitely one of the highlights of my 4, 8-4 seasons (1993-1996).