Monday Presser 9-1-14: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 1st, 2014 at 10:06 PM


Opening remarks:

“Well, we’re obviously very excited about the next challenge.I know we have a lot of things that we can get better at and our guys will work very, very hard to do that but we’re also very excited about some of the things we saw Saturday out there on that field but now we’ve got to move on to the next one.”

Coach [Hoke] talked about guys getting off blocks and then fits. How much was it of each in the run game when you guys were giving up some yards in the middle?

“Yeah. I’m going to be honest with you like I always am. Some of those runs were on me. There was a situation that was happening where we were walked out and the backer was coming back inside and we had an adjustment and the adjustment that I should have made with them would have been a little different and we did that later and it changed it. I’m not going to put that on our players. That’s something that I should have seen a little quicker and it wouldn’t have been a problem at all.

“A lot of good things from that, though. It shows that we have to get off blocks. One of the biggest things is we have to be able to communicate what’s happening. And I try to tell the guys, not that I haven’t been able to before, but I really trust these guys. I really trust them. But I know that when they’re out there they’re doing everything that they should be doing but if something isn’t happening perfectly then communicate and we’ll get it switched. When I’m thinking maybe this is happening it wasn’t that but we got it squared away.”

Have you guys had a chance to watch any film on Tarean Folston and Notre Dame’s running backs?

“Yeah, we’ve had a chance to watch film on all of them. We’ve spent since that game was really over until just two minutes ago when I came over here we’ve been watching Notre Dame. They have a very, very good football team, like they always do. They’ve got a lot of speed, they’ve got good running backs. They’ve got an outstanding quarterback. [Everett] Golson, he’s a really, really good quarterback and they’ve got good linemen and receivers to go with him so we’re going to get a real test, like you should. Like you should when you play this game.”

I asked Devin about playing against your defense last year in practice and playing against your defense now and asked how was the defense different and he said they were faster and more aggressive. Talk about that comment and are they faster mentally or faster with foot speed?

“I mentioned this and why I’m so excited is these were young babies we had playing two years ago. Nobody cared. Nobody cared who you were playing when you’re playing a redshirt freshman who’s 275 pounds or 215 pounds where two years later now he’s 235 pounds or 300 [pounds] and they’re men now. They play faster when you have experience. When you’ve been out there under the bullets and under the everything that goes on. When you’re a young man playing for the University of Michigan and you’re out there playing in front of 115,000 you better be a man. When you do that at a young age you won’t always do the exact right things on the football field, but every year that you play and every year that you buy in to what coach Hoke and this program is all about you get better and that’s why they play faster and they play stronger. We look forward to them doing that every week that way because it’s going to be another game of experience and that’s why I’m excited about these kids because they have stuck with it and they’ve kept improving and it’s just the beginning. They’re just starting right now and every week will be a huge challenge that way.”

[More after THE JUMP]

You talked Everett Golson. I know he’s got that mobility that makes him a challenge but is there something else that makes him threatening that you’re looking out for?

“To me watching him on tape, and I don’t remember three years ago, he has a really strong arm. I mean, he has thrown so many deep passes on this last game, more than you usually would, that were on the money. I see a guy that’s not only mobile but has a really strong arm and he’s becoming a real complete quarterback in my mind.”

Would like to get your thoughts on linebacker play in general from Saturday. Brady also said that Jake Ryan in particular would have said he would have liked to have played better…

“Both would have. And I say both would have when you talk about Joe [Bolden] and you talk about Jake, both of them came up afterwards [and said], ‘ahhh, I could have played better. I should have played better.’ Well, yeah. That’s right. Without a doubt, when the bar is as high as it is because of your ability, not because of Greg Mattison putting it there, because I think they both have a great deal of ability [and] then you’ve got to play up to that ability on every play. And there was some things- I really believe they tried too hard. I believe that there were some things that they had bought in so much as far as tendencies that, ‘hey, when you see this, this is what’s going to happen.’ And there were a couple times where Joe Bolden, he was pointing over here [points right] and the ball was over there [points left] and I said yeah, that’s because it was something we said might happen and that’s because he wanted to play so well. I’m not concerned at all about that. In fact, I’m glad because when you have kids, backers who want to be the field general and want to take charge out there sometimes you have to be careful that you don’t do too much for everybody else and not enough for yourself. That’s got to be a lesson that they learn from that. Play your position first and then take care of the rest of the defense.”

It seemed like the cornerbacks were playing the receivers tight at the line of scrimmage. Is that something that we can expect to be a staple of this defense?

“That’s part of our aggressive attitude that we talked about. We took a real long, hard look at our secondary a year ago and there were a lot of reasons for it but we felt like we played a little too far off and we needed to challenge more. The thing that you always got to remember is with that comes it’s a little bit tougher out there, it’s a little harder when you’re out there challenging against a good receiver there’s some things that happen positive with that but we believe that’s the way we want to do it. But they definitely did, they played more aggressive on the receivers.”

Can you talk about the play of your noses? Did any of them stand out?

“Well, there’s so many of them that played in there. I thought they all had moments. I thought they all did some really good things. I can name each one of them. I keep thinking, when you say that I keep picturing Chris Wormley in there making a really, really good play. Then there’s other plays we have to get better at. [Ryan] Glasgow, [Bryan] Mone, same thing. Every one of them. But now it’s the consistency. Really, I think that’s the way it is with our entire defense. How successful we become will be determined on how big of steps we take from this game to the next game to the next game. I know that’s a simple statement but it’s really true about these guys. How good do you want to be?”

And then the tackling and gets hats to the ball, were you pretty pleased with that?

“Yeah, I was very pleased with getting guys to the football. And we talked about it. This defense, we should not have loafs. There should never be a person who has a loaf in this defense if he really believes in what we all say we do. I was very please with the effort and the swarming and the celebrating together and all those things. The excitement together. And that was just the first one. Now we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to definitely get better.”

You mentioned press coverage. Being that they [Notre Dame] have a big armed quarterback, they protect pretty well, is this really the test to see where the corners are at against a team that can really challenge them?

“It’ll be a big test. It’ll definitely be a big test because of just what you said. The quarterback has a big arm. They have very fast receivers, very explosive receivers and so it’ll be a big test for us, without a doubt.”

Were you impressed with Jabrill? When he got on the field did he look comfortable?

“Oh yeah. It wasn’t too big for him. You watch him early, pre-game and how he acts and all that. He was just like I thought he would be. And then the plays that he made, a couple of the tackles he made, that’s what I thought I would see. This guy plays very, very explosive. He’s going to bring it.”

This game always seems a little more personal for you. Can you talk a little about that and your,  I would imagine, disappointment that this game is going away.

“Yeah, this will always be a really big game for me. My daughter had a great softball career at Notre Dame, got her degree from there. My son grew up right there. We spent eight years living in South Bend and we had a great experience there.

“It always is a huge game, though, because forever it’s been [holds hand above shoulder] Michigan and [raises other hand above shoulder] Notre Dame. I know there’s a team in Ohio too, I understand that. And there’s a team over there in Lansing too, I understand that. But growing up, those were- I mean, that was football. It’s really disappointing that we don’t keep that rivalry. I know in all my years of coaching and being around football it’s always that game. It’s a big one. Having been on both sides makes it special. I’m really excited about it. I’m really excited for our guys and us taking this team and taking the next step so yeah, it’s a big game. There’s no question about it.”

How do you balance that desire to press on the outside and play them tight with when you do come up against a team with the ability to throw the deep ball?

“You’ve got to say that that’s what you are going to do if that’s what it is. You can’t say, ‘boy, we’re playing this guy and this guy’s really,really fast so I’m not going to do that today.’ I think what has to happen is you have to decide when you’re going to do it in a game. You can’t do it every time. It’s like a baseball pitcher. You can have the greatest fastball in the world but if he throws it every time it’s going to get knocked out. That’s a technique our guys have. That’s a technique that we are very proud of and that’s part of what we want. Now you’ve got to decide when do you do it and you’ve got to known when to do it and that’ll be a big thing. The good thing is you’ve got some veteran. You’ve got some guys that’ve played a lot of football back there and they’ll know when to do it.”

I know coach Hoke had said Jabrill is still slated to be able to play on Saturday. Is his ankle injury going to change the way you use him at all or will you be cautious with him or will you still go with the same…

No. Jabrill is Jabrill and he’s part of hte Michigan defense so let’s go.”

Scout team quarterbacks are always important but with a quarterback like this they become even more important. Can you talk about that and who your scout QB is?

“We do. We’ll have a phase of practice where we’ll take a quarterback who’s more mobile, you know, may not even be a quarterback where we’ll drop him back and get him to take off running or get him to run the option or the read zone like they do so we’ll get some speed. The one thing about it though, since I’ve been here we’ve gone against some pretty fast quarterbacks. One of them was at the game and I said, ‘goll, I’m glad he’s not here anymore for our sake in practice. He made life miserable, Denard.’ And Devin too. Every one of our quarterbacks, they can run and so we get that. We get that in practice. It’s not like we have guys back there that aren’t going to take off. We see that, but we’ll do what you’re saying. We’ll have a guy who will simulate that as well as he can and give us that type of deal.”

“Thank you very much.”



September 2nd, 2014 at 9:24 AM ^

I've learned over the last few years to temper my enthusiasm with Michigan. Saturday should be interesting vs Notre Dame. My crystal ball questions for those that care to partake are as follows...
1) can we stop the run against a good D1 school. Especially one that has a qb can keep you honest with his legs and ability to throw over the top.
2) can we run the ball as we try and figure out our oline.
3) can we win a meaningful rivalry game ON THE ROAD.
4)lastly...and way down the road.....can we beat MSU this year? I know it's early and a lot can happen for better or for worse in the next 5-6 weeks....but what's everyone thinking.

Space coyote and Magnus responses would be a bonus.....

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Space Coyote

September 2nd, 2014 at 9:51 AM ^

And the response above is correct, there isn't necessarily enough data yet, but...

1) I think we'll be able to manage the run game well. I think Michigan will be a bit more dialed with their blitz package in this one and play it more straight (but still aggressive with their reads) with the LBs and force ND to be a bit more one-dimensional. Golson has a cannon for an arm and was accurate on Saturday, but I think you force him to make decisions and the short/intermediate throws with timing and he'll have some issues. You can be dialed with your blitz package, stop the run, and then be aggressive on certain downs. Make them throw to generate a run game.

2) Little less comfortable here. I don't think Michigan will have a great running day against ND. But they can be good enough to keep the defense honest. Expect Michigan to run away from Day quite a bit and make sure they get a hat on Smith. That means they'll have to win against the Nose and the weakside End some. What worries me is that ND is a bit bigger on the edge, and bigger in general. I don't think with the way ND flows that stretch will be as successful as it was against App St. IZ didn't always look great but you can punch it up the middle a bit in the bubbles to generate some. If the Power O is at all worked out, it can be a bit above the "keep it honest" level, but I only expect Michigan to be at the "keep the defense honest" level.

3) I don't see why the hell not. Will it be hard? Yeah, it'll be hard. ND is a good team, they tend to play well at home. It should be a pretty good atmosphere. But Michigan isn't going to lie down because of that, they'll come to play, they'll hit people, they'll do what they can to win the game.

4) Michigan can win any game on the schedule. I don't think they'll win every game, but they can win any game. They have the players, they have coaches that want to put them in positions to win. It won't be easy, but to write off this team, any team, is a mistake. They have to keep on improving, at all positions. They need to continue adding wrinkles to the offense and improving there, and need to clean up things on defense. But I wouldn't write them off by any means.


September 2nd, 2014 at 10:13 AM ^

Thx SC. That's pretty much how I feel with this team. If we can catch a couple breaks here and there, build some momentum....the sky is the limit. We definitely need to get through this week with a win and that buys us time to get the oline and D dialed in.

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September 2nd, 2014 at 10:24 AM ^

My enthusiasm, not tempered. These are always tough, great games. 

1. I think our D is good enough to stop Golson.  He will get a few good runs and they will score some points, but it won't be easy. If memory serves me correctly, didn't Rees hurt us more than Golson?

2. Probably not, but hey, maybe. 

3. Yes. Finally.

4. No idea. If we run the ball half as good as we did against ASU then people are going to get really excited around here.

An Angelo's Addict

September 2nd, 2014 at 9:29 AM ^

I really hope Peppers is ok to play on Saturday! He is really a dynamic and exciting player on the field. Something about the answers in the coaches' press conferences the last couple days makes it seem like they aren't directly saying "yes, he is completely fine and at 100%" or "no, his ankle is bothering him and he may not be at 100% this week". I'm probably looking way too much into it and I haven't seen the video but answering the question with "Jabrill is Jabrill and he's part of the michigan defense so let's go" seems like a weird answer. Hopefully it's just a boo-boo!


September 2nd, 2014 at 9:32 AM ^

He didn't say so and it's kind of unusual but I think Mattison was trying to say that Jake Ryan's play is easy to fix.  It's much easier to fix a guy who's trying to do too much than someone who doesn't get it or doesn't want to put in the effort.


September 2nd, 2014 at 9:54 AM ^

The first big run, 27 yards, was given up when Ryan and Frank Clark were playing side by side behind the line, Ryan on the left.  At the snap of the ball both crashed Ryan's side of the line leaving a huge gap right were Clark had been.

Two big runs were given up when Beyer, untouched, hesitated and watched the RB fly by him.  The one play that Ryan looked real bad on was when he dropped back into coverage, looked lost, and the slot receiver burned them over the middle.  Those three plays were from ASU's 1st drive of the 3rd Q, the first TD drive.

But yeah, JMFR didn't show up much, maybe because Jake Ryan was lost in space.


September 2nd, 2014 at 10:51 AM ^

You're in UFR-land and I get that, but I'm more referring to his lack of presence.  The big plays were largely caused by miscommunication and part of that is on the MLB by default, but that's both fixable and a shared responsibility.

I'll echo Mattison's assessment; he looked so careful out there that he bottled his own thunder.  I don't think the biggest busts were purely on him, but he is supposed to be in the thick of things, and he didn't wreak his trademark havoc either.  As Mattison said, he needs to take care of his position first.  Similarly, I'm not concerned.  It's a problem, but as problems go it's one of the easiest ones to fix.


September 2nd, 2014 at 9:46 AM ^

The corner play was very good last game, and encouraging to see the defense has changed from the "bend but don't break" philosophy. The first real test though will be Saturday vs nd. Lets hope our corners are ready for a very good cornerback with top level talent at WR.



Go Blue!!


September 2nd, 2014 at 10:06 AM ^

I'm prepared for ND to have all of their players available for this game after their "internal investigation". The game is still winnable either way. It just makes smaller room for error with all their players there. On D, I think it's about how they can limit the big play in the passing game, can they get get pressure and hits on Golson. If not, then it's going to be very difficult to win.   


September 2nd, 2014 at 10:58 AM ^

Since this is being handled "internally" at ND, I fully expect to see the statement of:

"The players understand that this behavior does not represent and uphold the integrity we expect of our young men at Notre Dame.  That being said, we believe they have taken responsibility for their actions.  These student athletes have cooperated and completed the necessary corrective actions and punishment necessary for their reinstatement for participation in athletic activities effective immediately."


September 2nd, 2014 at 11:13 AM ^


"The players understand that this behavior does not represent and uphold the integrity we expect of our young men at Notre Dame. That being said, we believe they have taken responsibility for their actions. These student athletes have cooperated and completed the necessary corrective actions and punishment necessary for their reinstatement for participation in athletic activities effective immediately. Because Michigan."

Fixed it.


September 2nd, 2014 at 11:11 AM ^

how effective can they be this week?  Four of the five supposedly have been suspended from all football activities for the last three weeks, the question is then how quickly can they be brought up to speed.


September 2nd, 2014 at 11:05 AM ^

I love the staff's philosophy. Our DBs are now proficient in press coverage, but Mattison says that that's not something they will always do. As fans, we all love man press until we get beat over the top. I love the ability to mix it up and believe that Mattison is a good judge of when to do that mixing.

I really feel like this defense is going to make a big splash this season. By the end of the year, we could be talking about a juggernaut. A lot of it will depend on its success against ND. If we play poorly, I could see the coaches backing off the aggression a bit come B1G play. A lot of it will also depend on the offense, particularly the running game. If we are 3 and out too often, we will hurt our defense. If we can run the ball, sustain some drives, and keep the defense fresh, I think we can have a top 10 unit.