Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-30-12: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on October 30th, 2012 at 2:10 PM


Opening remarks:

“Well obviously I’m disappointed. We’re disappointed as a defense. I don’t believe we played at the same progress or the same way that we have been playing as far as moving forward. And we’ve got some things we’ve got to get corrected and still work towards becoming a very good defense. There were times in that game where we did play, but as a whole, we needed to play better to win that football game.”

Do you feel like you took a step back?

“No I don’t think we took a step back. I think that was the first game where our lack of communication hurt us, and it always will. It wasn’t because of the noise. It wasn’t because of it being loud or anything like that. In a game where you’re playing against a high tempo team, you have to make sure everybody gets set. That’s everybody’s job out there. It won’t hurt you until it does, and it did. When you go at fast tempo, that’s one of the things they try to get done, and if you’re not a tremendous defense, then you all have to be exactly on the same page all the time, every player. If one guy isn’t or two guys aren’t, and they’re not hearing it or they’re not completely set on the check, then you’re going to find little cracks, and those cracks become big. That’s what disappointed me.”

Is that what happened on the first half drive?

“Well it happened throughout the game. I can’t pinpoint did it happen here or did it happen there. We’ve gone a period of about four weeks where we’ve been very pleased with not many missed assignments. When there aren’t missed assignments, it’s not necessarily just that guy not making it, it’s somebody making sure he doesn’t miss an assignment. Everybody’s job is to communicate. Everybody’s job is to take care of them -- if I’m a defensive linemen, I’m going to take care of the defensive lineman next to me. We didn’t do that. That disappointed me.”

Are the missed assignments things that are quickly correctible?

“No. They definitely will be quickly corrected. There’s no question. I mean, that was addressed right away. And I know the guys, when they saw it, they felt the same way. It’s sometimes -- if you don’t feel the urgency, I guess a good example, if you’re out there and you’re golfing with a buddy and he’s a really good golfer, and you say hey, that’s going to break that way, you’re going to save him. But if you think he’s a really good golfer and you’re not going to say anything to him, you don’t say anything to him and he makes a mistake. It’s our job to be ahead of the game. Everybody assume that you didn’t hear it. Everybody assume that you’re not sure what to do. I’ve said this forever, that great defenses, they sound like a boardroom of a great company when you’re out there. Check right, watch out for this, make sure you’re wide enough, that’s what great defenses, that’s when you really feel it. In a walkthrough on Saturday, we were that way. We were that way and up to this point we’ve been that way almost every time we’ve done things. For some reason it didn’t happen and we’ve got to get that back.”

Could you not hear that on the sideline?

“No. Yeah, you couldn’t. You don’t hear it on the sideline. You can’t hear that. You can kind of see it and then when you watch the film, and a guy that has never made a missed assignment has a missed assignment, then that’s something that somebody’s not talking to him trying to help him so that doesn’t happen. It’s a whole bunch of little things that we consider missed assignments when you don’t do it. That has to be an urgency. That has to be a real urgency.”

What was the number of missed assignments?

“I don’t know. Not many. I don’t know a number, but it’s been not very many.”

You’re facing another fast tempo team in a couple weeks in Northwestern. Is the tempo something that you can adequately prepare for?

“Yes. You definitely can prepare for it, you just have to make it a priority in your preparation for a team that has tempo. And in a lot of ways, that’s the first tempo we’ve had in quite a while. And maybe a real strong message has come out that, ‘Okay now, let’s make sure that this doesn’t happen again,’ where you don’t allow something that somebody’s doing to keep you from playing your best.”

Is Quinton Washington’s strength a defining trait?

“He’s very strong. Physically strong football player. But the fact that he’s working so hard and trying to become -- and he’s conscientious about trying to do the right things and become a better technician, that’s a strong trait also.”

Have you seen that change since you’ve come here?

“I don’t know -- I’ve seen a change, and I don’t know if that’s me coming here, but it’s our program. Our program instills that. Our program with Brady, the way we run things, what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable, and if you’re going to be a defensive lineman at the University of Michigan, this is the bar and this is what’s supposed to be done. And he’s bought into that. He’s working everyday to get better at it.”

Can you talk about your redshirt linemen and how they’re buying in?

“Yeah. I won’t name names, but that’s a very talented group of freshmen. Very talented. There’s a lot of them that could play right now. It’s a fine line, and as a head coach that’s one of the things where you say, ‘Okay, he may be ready, he may not be ready …’ You have to say to yourself, ‘If we can play good football with [the current starters], now you have [the freshmen] longer and they’re going to be more mature.’ But I think all of them, again it’s because of the way we practice. Those guys are going against our best players and expecting to go at the same level as one of our [starting] defensive linemen or our linebackers. It isn’t, ‘Oh, that’s a young kid.’ No. That’s not acceptable. If he doesn’t do it right, he’s coached on it.”

Any pass rushers in the bunch?

“I hope! Haha. I hope … Yeah. There are.”

What has Chris Wormley shown you?

“He’s very talented football player. He’s very strong. He’s conscientious. They’re all that way though. And I’m not saying to slight it. That whole group of guys kind of put a smile on your face when you think, ‘Okay, they’re going to get stronger, they’re going to get more experienced, they’re going to be older.’ There’s some kids I think have a pretty good thing going for them.”

Brady said yesterday ‘If they don’t score, they can’t win.’ Can you talk about that mindset?

“No question. No question. That’s not a cliché. That’s not being a defensive coach. I truly believe that. I believe that that defense, that Michigan defense oculd have, if played up to their ability, kept them from scoring. There are some games you know -- you go in there and you go, ‘Oh boy, this is going to be a tough team to keep from scoring.’ And I’m not taking anything away from Nebraska. They did a very very good job. They were really well prepared, and it’s a good football team. But I believed in when you watch the tape that if we played at a higher standard, if we played at a Michigan level, who knows what would have happened. That’s the way I believe. It isn’t because, hey, you’re not supposed to -- it’s because I think we could have measured up to that, and that was disappointing.”

What’s the distinction between a wide receiver running a route and setting a pick?

“Next question. Next question.”

Minnesota’s quarterback? Does he look like a freshman?

“Uh, no. He’s a very talented football player. Gray’s still there, and he’s a big athletic guy that runs the football and can throw it all that, so you think when this guy comes in here, he’s just a thrower. But he’s not. He’ll take off and run as much as anybody. I think they really like him and I can see why. He’s a spark. He’s a real spark to their offense and looks to me like he’s a tough kid and a good football player.”

This is a team that you shut out last year. How have they grown as an offense this year?

“Well, they’re another year together. Last year if you remember, the game started and Gray didn’t play, and it was a gametime decision, so all of a sudden you had another quarterback in there. Now they have a quarterback they’re set on, it’s his third game, it’s his second year in their program, [Jerry Kill] is a tremendous football coach, he’s done a nice job, they’re very sound, they don’t have tendencies ... We have to play. We have to come out and play a lot better than we did on defense.”

For the first time in a long time, the top tacklers at Michigan are linebackers. What have you seen in their development?

“I think they’ve improved. The only thing, and don’t take this wrong, but I don’t always look at tackles. I look at tackles where they happen. Sometimes when a guy’s supposed to make a tackle for one yard or at the line of scrimmage and he’s making a tackle for nine, he still has a tackle. We expect our linebackers to lead in tackling. They’ve improved. They’ve worked very hard. We still -- all of our defense has a long way to go and a short time to do it at every position. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”



October 30th, 2012 at 2:28 PM ^

I actually feel like Greg Mattison is the best DC in the entire country. First time I've probably felt that way about a Michigan coach even when I consciously step back to remove bias.

As in, I love Brady Hoke. In my mind, I think "Brady Hoke, best HC in college football." But there's a strong part of me that thinks "Ok, if I were a 3rd party person I honestly would be starting with Saban, Chip Kelly, maybe Urban Meyer, Les Miles, etc." before reaching Hoke. With Mattison I honestly can't see a strong argument for literally any other of the 119 DCs in College Football over him.

Borges lands somewhere in the vast middle.


October 30th, 2012 at 2:54 PM ^

Mattison is a decorated NFL DC only two years removed from that rarified air.  He's an extraordinary DC and we are darn fortunate to have him.

In a sense, Saban is the same only operating up a notch at HC.

But remember, while Saban is very good at his craft, he is helped by having a stable of talent that is naturally drawn from the south and drawn to southern schools.  He coached at Michigan State and did not fair nearly as well.  His complaint, if I recall, was his inability to get top-tier talent to come to Michigan State.

I view Les Miles as a fractional Saban.  He benefits from having access to top southern talent, but he does not seem to exploit it as fully as does Saban.

Urban Meyer is a good coach.  He's done well at different schools at different levels of the game.  Ditto Chip Kelly, who has made Oregon a very bright star in the college football landscape.

Hoke, I believe, will ultimately settle in the top tier of coaching.  He has issues right now working through talent on hand versus system in place.  His recruiting success so far is very good, and there does not appear any reason to believe that will change for the worse.  It's early, and Michigan under Hoke has not yet proven itself as a team with that top gear that can be gone to when needed.  But I sense it will one day be there.

I like Borges.  I am somewhat mystified of late.  But I still like him.


October 30th, 2012 at 8:07 PM ^

Let me start my comment by stating the fact that I love Hoke and what he brings to UM in terms of integrity, toughness, and recruiting.  But look at those other coaches....  Saban, Kelly, Meyer...  Those guys are (or have the rep of) schematic geniuses.  They are directly calling the shots on O or D and are constantly in contact with the press box about replays/clock managment/scheme.  

Does anyone here think Brady is a schematic genius?  Great clock manager?  I would say not.  For god sake's he doesn't ever wear a headset.  The top-tier coaches in the NCAA are known as perfectionists and detail-minded control freaks.  Obviously not Hoke's style.


October 31st, 2012 at 7:18 AM ^

Hoke attracts his talent -- Michigan talent -- by following through on his word.  This program is about the players, not the coaches.  He seems more content to develop the kids and let them figure it out than micromanage them from the sideline.  When it works, it's tremendous -- look at what RVB did last year, and what Roh's doing now.  Being honest about it, though, this DOES have downsides, and WILL result in losses from time to time.  When the kids aren't ready, like they weren't against Alabama, whoah watch out.  But it's also a program I can really root for whether they wind up undefeated or home for the holidays.  College football is great entertainment, but it's not worth unethical behavior.  If there was any doubt, Penn State should've ended them.

I respect guys like Urban Meyer and Nick Saban like I respect anyone who's dangerous.  I am well aware of how good they are, but I wouldn't take 'em.  Meyer's got a forked tongue and Saban is happy to throw kids under the bus to get the best talent.  Miles was considered for the UM job IIRC, but he didn't seem to give a rat's ass about academics.  There's nothing "natural" about how they attract talent at all.


October 30th, 2012 at 4:39 PM ^

I am acutally really proud of how well our defense played against Nebraska.  I have long thought that college students play the game with more emotion and momentum than the NFL.  There were a lot of times where they would have come out exasperated and not play as well, but they kept trying and working hard to keep the team in the game.  By the end, I think they were just out of gas from being on the field so much.  When they develop more depth, it will not be as much of an issue. 

I have confidence that with Mattison our defense can keep us in any game. 


October 31st, 2012 at 12:39 PM ^

God bless Greg Mattison. I feel like he's taken his knowledge of the game and simplified his schemes for his defense so they don't have to think while playing--they can simply react to action. Remember, we still have most of a defense recruited to play a 3-3-5... wait until we fill out our defense with players better fit to play his system.