Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-22-13: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on October 23rd, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Opening remarks:

“Obviously we’re not – I’m not – happy with the amount of points given up. The big plays, that’s not our defense. We’ve got some things we’ve got to get corrected. A lot of that is on me. That’s – any time something like that happens, you have to look at yourself, you have to look at the game plan, you have to look at what you had in. I think there are some things we could have done different. But we’ll get it corrected.”

Brady said guys were in position but didn’t execute. How much of it was scheme, and how much of it was execution?

“That’s always the case, but your job as a coordinator is you get guys in the right positions and they make plays. Either we haven’t practiced them enough – obviously that offense, the thing I was proud of and we made a really big deal of not getting our defense all out of whack because of the speed of it, and the speed of it was unbelievable. You had to be there to feel that.

"Throughout the game, if you watched and you saw, our guys were lined up and our guys knew where to be. You see other people play that and they’re running all over trying to get set and it looks like a circus sometimes. One of the touchdowns, the first one, the corner didn’t get the call. That’s what we stressed all week that that’s why they run that offense. To get just one guy to not get the call or to be sure of the call and they take advantage of it. That was one of them. Another one of the big plays, we’re right in position again, and it’s an interception, it’s no question it’s an interception, it turns into a touchdown. That I blame myself for. We have to work harder running to the football. We should have had five more guys around the football. We’ll get that corrected. There’s going to be plays like that that are going to happen. That’s where a Michigan defense runs to the football and stops it for a gain and you have another chance to play.

"For the most part I thought our kids, they hung in there. I think what they did at the end of that game shows that they believed. I mean, you’ve all been around teams before that folded in that kind of situation, but they didn’t. Thank goodness for the offense, which you knew was going to be your advantage against their defense -- our offense did a tremendous job of bailing us out, and that’s what happened.”

Does Channing Stribling need to get stronger?

“You’ve seen the same things in the last two games that we’ve seen all through camp. He’s there. Those are the same ones I mentioned once before. He’s intercepted those. He knocks those down in practice. There are some guys that wouldn’t be there. The thing we have to do with him is make sure he keeps his confidence and keeps that attitude of ‘I’m going to go get that ball.’ That’ll happen. I know that’ll happen because of the kind of kid he is and the way we coach him. When I stopped the film and slowed the film down when I was grading it, it was scary how much that was exactly like the last one. It truly is right here [in his chest]. It’s not like it’s up here [above his head]. He’ll make those plays. He’ll make them.”

Seemed like you missed a lot of tackles too, and guys weren’t there to clean up.

“Yeah that’s what disappointed me. For the first time in three years, I didn’t see every play everybody running to the football like they should. With our ability to rotate at a lot of positions, you can’t say they’re tired. Other positions don’t have that ability, and they play 80 snaps of fast pace. That’s the other part of that offense. They try to get you to miscommunicate so they get a big play, and then they try to wear you down so that great defenses that run to the football every play, maybe one play a guy doesn’t. And then all of a sudden another play another guy doesn’t, and that’s what you can’t let happen. I think another thing that we’ve got to improve and that offense does that to you also, I don’t think we were very good on the run. When you let a team like that be two-dimensional, you’re asking for trouble. There were some plays where we didn’t get off blocks. Again, was it because of the pace? Was it because they were tired? Whatever it was, it’s not acceptable. We’ve got to stop the run when they do run it.”

Do you think rotating in three plays and coming out is a good level for Jake Ryan?

“I think now that you’re into the real thick of it right now, and Jake [Ryan] feels very good I think. He’s got two games under his belt, under fire. And there’s a number of other players that feel that way, too. Now it’s time to say six plays and out instead of three.”

Do you do anything different with Brennen Beyer?

“What you always have to do is get your best players on the field, and that’s our job the next two weeks. See where they fit and how we can get our best players on the field.”

Will you spend the extra week game planning for Michigan State?

“Oh every second. I was here last night just as if we were playing this week. Every second we have will be getting ready for that game. Every second. As if we’re playing it Saturday, and then we’ll have another week. There’s no question about it.”

Will you watch them Saturday?

“I definitely will. I’ll be glued to [the TV]. It’s a great opportunity. It’s a great rivalry. Especially coming off this kind of performance, we’ve got a lot to prove.”

MGoQuestion: Brady said he wanted to see more production from the safeties. With a team like Indiana that attacked you mostly on the perimeter, how do you do get your safeties more involved without becoming vulnerable down the middle?

“Well, the plays that Brady’s talking about is when a safety is down like he was a number of times, and it doesn’t have anything to do with giving up anything in the deep end. When that ball comes, make a play. What you don’t want is any of your players to be in a position and just stand there. Go make the play. By bringing a safety down in the box, you’re putting him in a position to make plays. When you are in that position you have to make them. That’s what he’s saying. ” 

MGoFollowup: Thomas Gordon had two interceptions but no tackles. Should he have been in position to make more tackles?

“Thomas wasn’t down much. And it’s not throwing Jarrod [Wilson] under the bus. Jarrod Wilson was down quite a bit, and there were some times when any safety would have been down should make the play. When you’re a safety that comes down in the box, you’re like a linebacker now. I guess that’s something that’s on me. We have to work on that more so he sees that more. Sometimes as a coach, you put on the board and you know what should be successful. If it isn’t successful, like I said, I look at myself and maybe we didn’t practice enough. One thing I do believe in our players – they’re going to everything and try as hard as they can to win. When we don’t play up to the way we should, I look to me first. We’ll get it corrected.”

Was there a moment where you though Jake Ryan would be back by October? Did he do anything to surprise you?

“Jake? I thought he would be back in a week after that happened, knowing him. I never knew when Jake would be back. I just know, just watching him, from the day the operation happened and from watching him, you guys have never seen a guy work so hard and so diligently at trying to get back as fast as he could. I’m talking about doing everything that the trainers and doctors asked him to do. And he’s a special player. When a guy puts that much into it, the only thing you worry about is when guys have setbacks, and he didn’t have that. Our trainers did a great job, but that’s only as good as the guy is willing to do it. All those extra hours. If he ever truly logged those hours of extra treatment and extra rehab that he has done since the day that happened, I think it would floor you. That he could do that and would do that.”

As a defensive coach, how much do you respect Michigan State’s defense?

“A great deal. They play very physical, they play very very aggressive defense, they run to the football, there’s no question I respect their defense. What they’ve done as far as not giving up points, to me that’s the number one thing. And their number one thing is their offense plays that way too. They’ve done a great job. I respect them. They’re a very good defense.”

Are you confident you can make the defensive adjustments for Michigan State?
“I feel very confident in our guys because we’re going to work every second to do it. I know we’ll have Michigan defense back on that field the way it’s supposed to be when we play that game.”

Are you going to look ahead at all?

“I don’t do that. I know a lot of people say to do that, but to me, it’s always the next game. One game at a time. We’ll get ready for the next one. We’ll get ready for the next one. But to me it’s always been that way where you better win one game at a time. When you start look ahead, you’re going to find yourself falling behind.”

When was the last time your defense played the way they did against Indiana?

“I can’t remember when. Probably 1978 when I was at Northwestern and we were giving up 70 points a game, 60 points a game. 60-some of them were against Michigan one game, and I’ll remember that as long as I live. Your first thought after the game is, ‘Wow.’ But then when you watch the tape, you say, ‘This shouldn’t have been [a touchdown]. If you make a play, that’s over.’ The one where the quarterback scrambled into the end zone, we had the exact defense called where we should have hit him for a sack or no gain. Just little things like that, and that’s what happens with a defense. If you’re not a tremendously experienced defense, and you can’t just walk out there and say, ‘Here we are,’ then everybody has to play together. That’s what that scheme and that tempo got negatively to do. And we weren’t all together like you saw us against UConn, like you saw us in other games where the defense stepped up. That’s a great learning thing for our young defense. We talked about it, we worked on it, we tried to tell them that this is what they’re going to try to do, and it happened. It happened at times. Thank goodness – you have to be really proud of what they did at the end of the game. I have seen other defenses where I watched them and the momentum switches and they fall apart. That’s a lot of credit to our offense, too, to keep the pressure on them. That really helped us.”

How far is this defense from being one that is aggressive and imposes what offenses can and can’t do?

“Well, it’s not there yet. There’s so many young guys that are just trying to do what they’re supposed to do. I think when you really start feeling confident about ‘I can go out there, and if I do all this exactly right, now I can take it to the next step and be really really physical and take it to the other guy,’ And you don’t always want it to be step one, step two. You want them all to be together, but that’s what happens. There’s a number of guys out there that are still just trying to do the right thing. And then trying to get off blocks and then trying to be physical and all that. It’s not there yet.”

As a program, can you accomplish that transformation this season?

“We definitely have to accomplish it this season. No question. The good news is everybody’s still there, and everybody’s logging valuable time. That experience from Saturday, you can’t pay for that. That feeling and them seeing how it isn’t supposed to be. You can’t pay for that. If you’re going to be a great defense, they’re going to remember that for a long time.”



October 23rd, 2013 at 1:59 PM ^

I would love to hear more about why Dymonte Thomas can't get on the field.  He's one of the highest rated players we have on defense, allegedly one of the fastest and most athletic and we've already burned his redshirt but he can't get any PT.  Why is that?  He sure looked fast as Hell blocking that punt against CMU but for the life of me I cant think of another time I've heard his name called.  And it's not like our secondary has been playing so great you couldnt imagine him getting a few snaps.

I truly don't get it.

Monocle Smile

October 23rd, 2013 at 2:03 PM ^

Freshman safeties are generally a bad idea regardless of physical tools. Secondly, the corners might not be great, but the safeties are playing pretty darn well.

I think Thomas will be out there next year for sure. Look at Jarrod Wilson last year. Now think Wilson this year. That's a pretty epic leap, and if we see anything like that out of Thomas, he'll be starting.


October 23rd, 2013 at 2:14 PM ^

You're right. Every freshman comes in ready to be a starter at one of the hardest, most critical positions to pick up in safety, despite playing that safety position 0 times in their life, behind a group of hardworking upperclassmen, with a conservative defensive staff trying to bring guys along as slow as possible.

Look at Wilson self destructing in the Outback bowl. Look at Stribling struggling to make basic INTs. This isn't the RR era in which the flashiest freshman recruits (Sam McGuffie) got playing time over more skilled, established players (Brandon Minor).

Mattison's defense probably takes at least a year to grasp. Seriously, I never want to see another freshman safety here in my life.


October 23rd, 2013 at 4:16 PM ^

Having zero garbage minutes since our first game doesn't help. All our games have gone down to the wire, hardly a place for a a freshmen to come in cold off the bench if you can help it, blue chip or not. Unfortunately, with our schedule, that doesn't seem like it's going to change any time soon. Hopefully we'll get a surprise blow-out along the way and all the freshman that have burned redshirts already (and senior backups too) get some playing time.


October 23rd, 2013 at 2:16 PM ^

I watched Thomas on one particular kick off where he ran down the field, past a blocker, and right past the ball carrier.  It seems to me Dymonte just needs some time to accilmate himself to the intricacies of the college game.  He's no longer the fastest guy on the field that can use his speed to overcome poor positioning.

Monocle Smile

October 23rd, 2013 at 2:00 PM ^

This was a great presser from Mattison. Check out how he blames himself for Taylor's INT whiff and Stribling getting owned by Hughes. Either one of those plays gets made and we're talking blowout rather than somewhat comfortable win.


October 23rd, 2013 at 2:22 PM ^

As frustrating as it's been to see Lewis and Stribling get torched on long bombs this year, it is still encouraging to see that they're on the field in the first place and even in a position to get beat, as opposed to... us in 2010 or Indiana last Saturday where their corners aren't even within 10 yards of the WR.  Next year they absolutely make those plays.

I too would've liked to see Dymonte Thomas get some playing time this year so he's not essentially a freshman when he's a fulltime rotation member next year.  But... we'd have to rack up some blowouts for that to be the case because... yeah, freshman safeties.  I'm still confident in Mattison and Mallory's ability to develop our talented underclassmen.


October 23rd, 2013 at 2:27 PM ^

Did you read what I wrote? I never advocated making him a starter...I said I didn't understand him not getting a few plays during the course of the game. That's a LONG way from the conclusion you jumped to.

Monocle Smile

October 23rd, 2013 at 2:32 PM ^

But Wilson didn't look good at all in limited time last year. I don't see the point in giving Thomas playing time. Where would you put him? Our safeties are too good to take them off the field, and we haven't blown out anyone early enough to get the entire second string out there outside of Central.

Thomas just isn't ready. He's never played safety before. I don't understand the problem.


October 23rd, 2013 at 2:53 PM ^

I was replying to JimBob.  Somehow the response got pushed down so i re-responded in the proper place.

And again, never said he should start.  Never said there was a problem.  Just asked the question why he cannot get any snaps on defense.  That just seems odd to me given his pedigree and obvious speed.


October 23rd, 2013 at 3:12 PM ^

Any other position on the defense, maybe. But not at safety. The risk of being culpable for a big play is too high at the position. A starting safety doesn't come off the field on most half-decent defenses.

I'm sure Mattison thinks that the risk of him giving up a touchdown in his complex defense by being on the field for even several plays is too much. I'd love to give Thomas snaps too. He's such a talent. But we're trying to win games THIS year.

Also Gordon and Wilson have been pretty good this year.


October 23rd, 2013 at 5:24 PM ^

I know we're all curious about Thomas' lack of PT, but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that he's just not good enough. You're not going to hear that from Mattison. Placating a questioning fan base isn't worth the potential damage that calling a promising player out in public can do. Let him practice and take to coaching. He'll play when he's ready.


October 23rd, 2013 at 8:50 PM ^

Safety isn't about speed and athletic ability, though it certainly helps. Marcus Ray wasn't much of an athlete but he was still pretty darn good. Safety is an extremely mental position and your assignment is constantly changing with every formation and every motion and changes post snap depending on routes. You don't expect a freshman playing the position for the first time to get all this down, which is why they ideally wanted him at nickel but reports were he wasn't that great in 1-on-1 coverage. Then safeties also have to make calls and adjustments for those in front of them, so it's probably the most heads up position on D. It is NOT a position where you just throw a person in and say go play fast because mistakes at safety mean touchdowns, mistakes at other positions force your safety to make a play. If Greg doesn't feel like he knows the defense backwards he shouldn't be in there, ESPECIALLY against a hurry up spread team but to confuse you that would identify and pick on a freshman safety every play.


October 23rd, 2013 at 2:55 PM ^

Mattison's remarks about Stribling missing those INTs kind of remind me of Bartlestein talking about how he knew Trey's 3 against Kansas was going in because of what had happened at Ohio State, against IU, etc.  So obviously this means Stribling is going to hit a clutch 3 from long-distance in the NCAA tournament.

Mr. Yost

October 23rd, 2013 at 6:51 PM ^

He had two buzzer beaters nailed in his face, similar to Stribling getting "Moss'd" twice.

You knew if Caris got another shot...he'd defend the play to perfection and he did vs. KU.

Stribling is also a corner who needs to hit the weight room, but the potential is there. He'll get better every day as the game slows down for him. Caris was the same way, I swear he bricked a lay-up back to the free throw line he was moving so fast early in the year. By the time the Tournmanet rolled around, he was really settling in.


October 23rd, 2013 at 7:13 PM ^

Stribling is a kid to get excited about.  He's been in the right place to do some really nice things, but just didn't because of freshmanness.  If he high points the ball against IU or times his jump better against PSU, he has two very nice picks (or at least important PBUs).  Hell, with 10-15 more pounds of muscle, the ball probably doesn't get ripped away from him against IU.  

These are things that will come.  The nice thing is he was in the right place for both of them, which is the hardest part.  

Indiana Blue

October 23rd, 2013 at 3:28 PM ^

Here's a guy, that when a question is asked about the problems of the defense, responds that the problems are his.  Its NOT EXECUTION, its coaching them to be in the right place and then THEY WILL make plays.  That is coaching kids up!  Being positive that these guys CAN make the plays ... he just needs to coach them better.

What a philosphical difference between explaining struggles of the defense versus ... our offensive problems where all we seem to hear is that the players aren't executing.  Maybe the OC was the one not executing when we had offensive problems.

Go Blue!

Sten Carlson

October 23rd, 2013 at 4:30 PM ^

But, it is execution when they're in the right place -- like Stribling was several times vs. IU -- and he simply didn't execute.  Similarly, there are many times when a detailed look at an offensive play shows that the guys were in position, ready to execute, they just simply failed to execute.

Personally, in the case of Stribling, and the OL, I think this is a just a case of youth and inexperience.  The good news is that Stribling was there, several times, he just didn't complete the play he will in the near future.

You really hate Borges don't you?

Blue in Yarmouth

October 24th, 2013 at 8:28 AM ^

but his point is still valid. I don't want a whole rehash of what went on two weeks ago, but Al seems very uncomfortable taking responsibility for the issues on offense while Mattison takes the responsibility whether it's his or not. 

I agree that part of the issues on offense and defense were execution errors, but many of them were coaching errors as well and Mattison freely admits that (even when it isn't the case). Borges almost never does that.

To me the main difference between the two is Greg knows what responsibility he has as the DC. If players aren't in the right position they didn't coach them well enough to be in that position. If players were in the right position but couldn't execute while in that position, he takes responsibility because it's his job to develop these players (or hire position coaches capable of developing them at other positions he doesn't oversee).

The main point is (IMHE) if you look at coaching like you would any business it would look something like this: Head Coach (CEO), Coordiniators (Managers), Position coaches (front-line supervisors). When people on the front line aren't doing their job it reflects on those above them as badly as it does themselves. No, they weren't technically responsible for employee A getting his fingers caught in the meat grinder, but he was responsible for choosing his supervisor who established an environment that was lax on safety that led to that injury, thus he is just as responsible as his supervisor.

You can't always blame the employees. Employers hire them, train them and supervise them. If they aren't capable of doing the job, that has to be recognized and further training given or worse, get someone who can do it. This is how Greg operates. When there's a problem with the defense it's his problem and he teakes responsibility for it. With Al however, it always seems to be someone elses fault. 


October 23rd, 2013 at 3:40 PM ^

My take on the game was very different from my in-person watching to my later, on-the-couch DVR watching.  I was far more impressed/optimistic after watching at home...

Even though we had a ton of points/yards, I didn't notice just how strong our offense looked.  Hell, even Missouri (who is great despite none of their wins coming against currently ranked team, but hey, they're SEC) only put up 45 on IU.

The defense, ok, they didn't look good, but break it down a bit.  You had an IU QB and WR's making plays that they will miss 9 of 10 times.  And they seemed to make them all.  They gained two TDs from sure interceptions.  If we made the basic plays that were in our hands, the "WTF defense" wouldn't be the same refrain.  Anyway, I just don't see a whole lot of concern coming out of this game, especially when our D now gets to face an offense that could barely score on Purdue.


October 23rd, 2013 at 7:14 PM ^

Why we are not playing more press coverage. Don't give me the BS excuse about preventing big plays. We already give up plays with a 10 yd cushion. Play some press and disrupt some routes and play through your mistakes. So sick of the "we are young" line.


October 23rd, 2013 at 9:53 PM ^

We don't play press cause we can't play press, period. We don't have corners who can get up on a man and cover them consistently outside of Blake. Taylor is too inconsistent and will get beat deep and the freshman have been beaten deep playing off coverage. I know people want our defense to look like MSU's but we don't have the personnel to do that, they do, plain and simple. They have better defensive players and therefore a better defense. We can't get away with playing press so we don't do it and there is nothing wrong with conservative, let the other team make the mistakes defense.

Perd Hapley

October 23rd, 2013 at 9:14 PM ^

I don't post much but felt I should comment on how people seem to be giving Striblings a hard time for his performance. The coaches see him in practice much more than we do and see how much of a talent he must be day to day. The people commenting on how bad he is sound like parents of kids I coach that wonder why there kid isn't starting and getting the ball all the time. They just see a small sample size. The kid is in great position to make plays and obviously has a nose for the football. If he makes those two INTs (which he was so close to doing) we would be saying he is the next Woodson or at least the next Blake Countess 2.0 but taller. His knew name would be CMFS. The kid is going to be good and let's give him and the coaches the benefit of the doubt.


October 24th, 2013 at 11:10 AM ^

I think most reasonable people are pretty high on Stribling, including myself...and obviously Mattison loves the way he plays (i'm pretty high on Wilson as well). There are just a cold few that think he should automatically be awesome becuase he is getting a lot of playing time for a Mattison coached defense. I see him as a little underwieght right now, but his upside is huge, like Marlin Jackson huge. He clearly knows how to cover and be in position, something Raymon is struggling with.

I was reading the "touch the banner" blog and he listed Stribling as a player he would like to see less of, and Wilson as one he would like to see more of. Seriously? The two have had damn near identical seasons so far. Both have been in great position, but gotten outmuscled. Stribling just happened to give up 2 sure looking fantastic int's that turned into huge TD's for the other team, even though he did everything else correctly, and even Mattison acknowledges that. The guy is a solid freshmen CB. Remember when Countess looked so good all year then got beat a couple times vs. VaTech, maybe Stribling will have the reverse effect. This teams looks as solid for the CB position for the next 3-5 years as they have ever looked.

How quickly people forget Stribling was a no-name 2 star before Hoke and Brady got their hands on him. I trust this defensive staff knows how to coach players, and knows what players belong in the game in certain situations. They do watch every second of their film and their practices.

Blue in Yarmouth

October 24th, 2013 at 8:35 AM ^

I agree with your general sentiment that people shouldn't be bashing a freshman for a couple of missed plays (though I haven't seen too many people doing that). I also share your enthusiasm for the potential he has and think he is going to be a very good one. What I would point out though, is often what makes the difference between a CW and many other decent CB's is their ability to make the plays Stribling missed, not almost make them

I'm not saying I'm not excited for CS because I very much am. I know he's a freshman and think next year, maybe he makes those plays. I'm just saying that he may never be a CW type who makes those exceptional plays routinely the way CW did. He could still be very good without being CW II.