Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-4-11: Coordinators

Submitted by Heiko on October 4th, 2011 at 10:31 PM

Al Borges

Thoughts on Denard’s improvement? “We worked on it pretty good, you know. And he took it to heart. He was stressing that he wasn’t throwing well. He’s a better passer, I’ve told you that before. Like I said, part of it is we had to get him some throws that he could make early and then he got into rhythm, and it was lights out after a while. Yeah he was feeling good. But his fundamentals were so much better other than two throws, okay -- there were two throws and both of them were pocket movements to the left where I think he didn’t get turned very well, and part of that was protection. But he got his screws in the ground pretty good and transferred through most of the throws, and he was pretty much on the money. And he touched a few balls nice, too. He dropped a couple balls in, and the key to passing is it’s a finesse art.”

How did you come up with the diamond thingy and what can we expect to see from that in the future? “Well I’m not going to tell you that. But it’s something -- Devin Gardner’s a talented kid, and we just wanted to give him a chance to feature him a little bit in a couple of deals. [With] Big Ten play, we’ll empty the drawer more as we go now. Our first four games, we’re still learning the offense. That’s still a work in progress. We’re going to have our deals. They’re not all going to work. Some are going to be good, some of them aren’t. But that was just one of them.”

Is it based off anything or did you just kind of pull it out of thin air? “Well, it goes way back. There was a series [that the] Chargers ran back in I think was the 80s or early 90s with Buford Jordan, where he was a quarterback in college and we took a piece of that and expanded it a little bit. I think Dan Fouts was playing back then. Part of that’s kind of old Ernie Zampese would have done that. The other piece is that we just kind of built some stuff off it that they didn’t do back then. The option part of it was a piece from the past.”

(more after the jump.)

Hoke said you guys started talking about it in March or April? “Oh yeah, yeah. We talked about it a little bit and after spring football it became apparent Devin was a skilled kid, we just tried to figure out a way we could use him. It’s hard, without literally giving quarterbacks series, and I know they did that here in the past, I’m just not a fan of breaking the starting quarterback’s rhythm by taking him out for another guy. So either you do that or you find ways to use your other quarterback within the body of the game outside of putting him series by series.”

Any change to preparation since Ryan Field is grass? “Well other than we’re practicing on grass. We’ve been practicing on grass all the way through. This isn’t news. Brady likes practicing on grass. It’s easier on kids’ legs. As long as the field stays in decent shape, you can do that. I think the big thing about that is just don’t make too much of it. It doesn’t make that much difference. It’s like when you play on grass all the time and play on turf, if you make too much of it, guys find an excuse to fail. We don’t make too much of it.”

That Chargers formation, did you just kind of have that in the back of your mind? “Well, I’ve got an archive of football plays. I’ve been doing this 25 years, and an archive of football plays that go way back even before I was coordinating. That was before I started coordinating. I think every coach has got it. I’m not unique. You keep things and you pull them out. As soon as you see something that fits your personnel, you tap it and see what it looks like. It may not fit today’s football -- that was a long time ago -- but maybe it does.”

Is there a balance to devoting practice time to trick plays and regular plays? “Yeah. That’s a delicate balance. You have to justify it, and if you're going to use it, you have to practice it. And if you're going to practice it, you have to use it. We were going to use that in the opening play, so I made sure that it got called.” Did you have to dig deep to come up with that play? “I’ve got a steel trap -- no. I mean, I don’t know. I just -- something occurs to you, and you use it. We used it years ago, and we did it again. I remember being at Auburn when we had Ronnie Brown and we were trying to figure out ways to get Ronnie some fullback plays. And boy I went way back on a couple of those. I pulled a few plays out from 15, 20 years ago.”

Any particular reason you busted that out against Minnesota? “No, no particular reason. Just because we thought that would be a nice wrinkle. Nothing more than that.”

Talk about the counter play and other misdirection plays you used to take advantage of teams keying on Denard? “That’s one of them, yeah. We have a part of our offense, within the scope of our offense, where we have plays to exploit overplay on Denard or any other player. But Denard tends to get the most overplay. They’ll overdefend him, so you have to have a portion of your schematic that is dedicated to defenses that want to overkill stopping him. And certainly if I was coaching defense, I would lean that direction and make the offense play left-handed. Make somebody else beat you.”

Is Roy Roundtree struggling as an outside receiver as opposed to working in the slot? “No. Not really. Within the game plan, we have x amount of balls that go to the split receiver. If they go to him, they go to him. There’s going to be games you catch some balls, there’s going to be games you don’t catch any passes. I told these kids that from the beginning. I don’t have any special goal -- unless a player is Jerry Rice-type, okay -- I don’t have any special goal to make sure a player catches X amount of balls. I don’t and won’t ever. Now if you have some phenom, then you owe it to that phenom to see to it that you get him the ball, but as long as we’re balanced -- and Roy’s a heck of a player, but we have a lot of other guys. Jeremy Gallon’s a good player and so is Junior Hemingway and some of the other kids. Certain games you’re going to catch more. You’ll see, Roy will have a bunch of catches one game, and another game he won’t have as many.”

When you used the 2-QB formation, did you use it to make sure it worked, or did you want to just have something for opposing defensive coordinators to think about? “Yes. Yes. Yes to all of the above. You answered the question. That is exactly what you want.” I can’t quote myself, though. “That’s exactly what you’re trying to do, you’re just trying to -- there’s so many reasons. You’re trying to explore the talents of certain players. You’re trying to give the defense another wrinkle, something else to think about, those types of things. It’s not to be fancy or cute, I promise you that. I could care less about that. I’m way past that, okay? 20 years ago I would have thought that was pretty neat. But today, we’re just interested in winning. And if it helps you win, I’m interested. If it doesn’t help you win, I ain’t interested. I thought that was something that would help us win. I think we ran what, four or five plays? Half of them worked, and half of them didn’t.”

What did you see from Northwestern? “They play as hard, if not harder, than anybody we’ve played. And they play smart. They make very few mistakes. They find themselves in the right position a lot. Their scheme, it is sophisicated within itself, but it’s not flamboyant -- a bunch of exotic blitzes and all that stuff, but it fits what they do. Their defensive coordinator is an excellent football ocach. I’ve coached against him before. He puts them in good position. Vince Brown, the defensive end, excellent pass rusher and a good playmaker. They run to the ball. They just do all the things that you coach in defense well.”

How important is it to have an experienced center when you run fancy plays? “Helps. A lot. And David makes that happen, it really does help. He can handle a lot of thigns that they do up front. The center is the quarterback of the offensive line. David Molk certainly fits that mold. He’s a great athlete, and a smart kid that loves to play football, and he can get us working in the right direction. The answer to your question is very, very important, and we’re lucky because we’ve got one.”

When did you realize he would be a guy you could lean on? “Just watching the clips from last year. And then talking to him. Smart. Smart kid. Picks things up fast. He’s what you’re looking for, really is. And he’s taken on a leadership role, too. Really has. I’m proud of him. Because he didn’t know us. He was picked as a captain, he didn’t know us when we came in here, and he’s bought into what we want. I think he’d tell you, he’s enjoying it.”

What have you seen from Mark Huyge? “Mark has been as consistent has any offensive lineman we’ve had. He’s another one. He’s a lot like David. He’s smart. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He’s got good range, he’s a good pass protector. Few to none mental errors. You count on him. As a football coach, I just appreciate guys who do what you tell them to do and they’re consistent doing it even if they’re not the greatest athletes. Mark’s not a bad athlete, but all we ask as coaches is to do what we coach you to do the best you can. I know that eventually they’re going to improve. Mark is one of those guys that has fit in to what we want to do.”

Are you more comfortable with Toussaint/Smith combo? “Yeah. I am. I am. You guys know where I stand on that. And we’re using Vince Smith exactly the way we -- I thought we were going to. Fitz has come around. Fitz is really running the ball hard and tough. As is Mike Shaw. He’s done a pretty good job. But our combination of backs is working out -- at this point anyway, I may change my mind in three weeks, -- at this point pretty good. I see no reason at this point to change how we’re going about it. I’m going to say it again. I’d prefer the other way where there’s a guy.”

Is there any advantage to having multiple backs? “There definitely is. You have change-up backs. You have guys that bring something different to the table and you don’t beat the hell out of them, which is huge. There’s an advantage.”

What was the thought process behind throwing mostly short to intermediate routes? “Well part of it was getting him off. Getting him some completions. But you can’t play quarterback in today’s football just throwing short routes all the time. They won’t let you do it. Certain teams are not going to allow you to do it. There’s a point where you’re going to have to take the ball down the field. Particularly because we’re running the ball pretty well now, it becomes ciritical that you can take those bites. That’s part of it. We’re going to throw the short and intermediate throws, but we can’t depend on that every single down knowing that there’s a point when they’re crowding the line of scrimmage, the ball’s gotta go over somebody’s head.”

Was there anything different about the way Denard practiced this week, and how are you looking to develop the passing game? “Well, just build on what we’ve done. Look at the few throws that weren’t very good, see if we can’t cure that. But he’s a prideful guy. He takes pride in his ability to throw. He does. A lot of people don’t think that he does because he’s such a good runner, and a lot of times that’s taken for granted, but he takes pride in his ability to pass. I told him when I came here, ‘We’re going to see what we can do.’ And I knew there was going to be some developmental pain here because it’s so different the way we coach a quarterback, but as he gets his feet on the ground literally and figuratively, you’re going to see he’ll make more and more headway as we go.”

Do you audition your running backs (i.e. Vincent Smith) to make throws? “Yeah, and they get fired fast. They do. Last year at San Diego State I fired Ronnie Hillman after one throw. He told me, ‘Coach, that’s too much pressure, just one pass!’ I go, ‘That’s tough. It’s like Donald Trump, man, you’re out.’ Vince threw a good ball the first time, so okay, you get to throw one more. He threw another good one, and he won. But we actually have a couple guys who can throw pretty good.”

Do you talk about NFL with Denard and his passing? “Yeah, a little bit, but not too much. I think you beat that stuff up too much. You lose perspective on what’s straight ahead of you. NFL is the residual effect of being a good college player. So we make him a good college player and let the chips fall as they may. But I don’t want to talk too much about that. That’ll happen if it’s supposed to happen.”

Greg Mattison

Opening remarks: “I guess I’ll just start out by saying, this will be our biggest challenge by far. We’re going to be facing a really really good offense, I believe. It’s got the same components that D-Rob gives you. This quarterback is the real deal, Persa. You get out of your rush lanes in any way or you rush too far upfield or you aren’t doing what you’re supposed to do, and he’s going to turn a pass opportunity into a 15-yard gain at minimum. This guy’s a really really good football player. We have our work cut out for us this week.”

Your numbers and stats look great, but Hoke said that doesn’t mean anything right now. “Brady and I feel exactly the same about it. That’s all fine. That’s nice for the kids. That’s nice. But they’re the same numbers that, when you win a game and don’t have good numbers, don’t mean anything either. The bottom line is we have to win. There were some good things, and there were some things that we have got to improve on or we’re not going to be where we want to be. Our players know that. We played hard. I think that’s one thing that I didn’t see throughout the flow of that game where you had a lull. I was happy about that. But as far as the technique by everybody, the execution by everybody, that’s not even close to where we have to be. We started out today working on it. Again the good news is this team comes out every day trying to get better. They have to for us to be where we want to be.”

You decided to simplify the defense. What went into that decision and did that fix some of your early-game problems? “I don’t know if you’d say 'you simplified it.' I think now, and I’ve told the players that, it’s their defense now. I don’t know if simplifying it is the right … I think we had the same amount of calls we had the first game. We’re making the same kinds of calls. Our ready list, I would say is exactly the same calls, but now it’s their defense. They can take ownership in it. When you call the defense now, they know what that defense means. They know what it’s supposed to stop and may be the negative of it is or the weakness. That’s what happens with the team when it becomes theirs, and I think that’s probably more what’s happened.”

Did they have to get better acclimated with the defense? What did it take to get there? “Well I think what happens is there are a lot of variations to every defense. And maybe the simplifying part of it is, you say we’re not going to do that variation. We’re just going to do this one, and the offshoot will come later. I think now, I really believe when a defense is called, I think everybody that gets that defense goes, ‘Okay, I know exactly what I’m supposed to do on this.’ Whereas when everybody’s new and the bullets are flying out there on that field, then if you’re not completely sure, there could be a negative, and I’m sure that’s probably what’s happening.”

Is that unique to your defense, that people have to know what they’re doing, or does that apply to all defenses? “All defenses. I don’t ever like to say it’s my defense. I really don’t. It’s our defense. It’s the Michigan defense. And I’ve mentioned this before. I invent nothing. Those defenses have been run by a lot of people. It’s just the defense that we felt as a defensive staff was best for this team. There’s a lot of different ways to go. It’s obviously something I feel very comfortable with. I feel very strongly that it can be successful, but it’s not my defense, it’s the Michigan defense. It’s Ryan Van Bergen’s defense. It’s Mike Martin’s defense. It’s the backers’ defense. It’s the secondary’s defense. That’s how it’ll always be here.”

It seemed like there wasn’t as much blitzing on obvious passing downs. How much do you trust the front four to generate pressure? “That’s a great question, and that’s a natural progression. You can’t be successful if every down you blitz. You just can’t (Ed: Unless you’re Michigan State). Offenses are too smart, and they’re going to get you (Ed: Unless they’re Ohio State). I think either the combination of people worrying about us blitzing and when we don’t we get pressure with a four-man front or the improvement of some of our guys in a four-man pass rush and our secondary doing a better job of covering allows us to be able to go back and forth. Pressure. No pressure. Pressure. No pressure. Or make it look like pressure and it’s really not pressure. That’s what you want, when you can get all that going, then you’ve got a better deal.”

How do you cultivate a pass rush from a four-man front? “It takes a lot of individual time. It takes a lot of practice. You don’t just tell somebody, ‘This is what I want you to do on a pass rush.’ It’s like any other skill on a defensive field. You have to practice it. You have to do it against bags. You have to do it against offensive linemen … I think Jerry Montgomery’s done a really nice job working with those kids, and there’s a time when they buy in totally and say, ‘I’m going to do it this way.’ And then they have success and then you say, ‘Okay, here it is.’ I think it’s a lot of effort from the players, a lot of time spent on it.”

How much did you have to teach Jerry? He’s still a pretty young coach. “Jerry’s way older than his age. I mean, Jerry is -- you say young coach. That’s because I’m an old coach. Jerry is way, way ahead of his time. We knew that when he was hired here. He is very very intelligent, and he’s a really really good teacher. And that’s what you have to be. And the players, everywhere you go, if they know somebody will help you become better, they’ll listen. I think they figured that out pretty quick with Jerry Montgomery, that he can help them be better players.”

Is Craig Roh starting to trust the coaching now? “I’m proud of what he’s done improvement-wise. I’m not, by any means, totally happy with him. I don’t think he’s still where he has to be in order to be a really big time rush. But I’m really really happy with how he has bought in. He has worked extremely hard. And you see what’s happened in the games. I think he would be the first guy to tell you, ‘I can do better. I can do better.’ And my answer to that is do it next week, and really, I think he, like a lot of other players, wants to be really good. They really do. It’s a matter of them just doing the work to get there.”

You spent a couple years coaching at Northwestern. What do you remember? “All I remember is going out recruiting and I would see a young man, and they’d say, ‘Well, what’s your record?’ And I’d always go, ‘Oh … ten and one.’ And they’d go, ‘Good record!’ No, it was 0-10-1. My record -- and I’ll say mine -- my record at Northwestern was 1-30-1. To be honest with you, it drove me out of coaching for a year. I actually went into the sporting good business, and I lost every penny I ever had doing that, and I begged to get back in coaching. It’s the best thing that ever happened. But Northwestern was a great place, it really was. That’s a long time ago, but it was a good place except on Saturdays back then.”

Are you surprised at how well they’re doing? “I’ve followed them, and over the last 20 years or so, boy they’ve become a very very good football program.”

Who did you beat? “We beat Wyoming and tied Illinois. I remember that explicitly.”

Assess your secondary, and are you pleased with the fact that they haven’t given up the home run yet? “I’m proud of that. That is the only thing that is acceptable here. They know, and another guy that’s done a great job is Curt Mallory. They understand totally that giving up big plays is not acceptable in the back end. You must keep the ball inside and in front. And I think they have totally bought into that. The other thing you see happening is because of how they’re cupping the football right now, you’re not getting a lot of plays that are breaking through the secondary. And knock on wood, that can happen. Curt has done a great job of caoching that. I think the players have really bought into that. They understand that totally. They work extremely hard, also. If you watch them on a practice day, they really go after it, and Curt demands that. The thing about the secondary -- you’re only as good as your next game. You can say anything you want about the secondary, but you’re one big pass away from not looking like you should look, and they understand that.”

Seems like Will Heininger is doing well. What do you see in him? “Yeah I think the thing that has helped our defense more than anything is the play of the guys up front. You’ve heard me say that for as long as you’ve known me. You’re only going to be as good as you are up front. You cannot have a good defense unless you have a strong front. I think those guys have really bought into that. They take great pride in that. They’ll be really tested this week. They’ll be tested because they’re going to have to get off blocks to be able to try to run this Persa down and to keep him in the box and all that kind of thing. When you have a defensive line that is knocking people back and getting off blocks, then you have a chance to have a pretty good defense.”

How good is Blake Countess and how quick of a learner is he? “Well, he’s young. He’s very young, so you really don’t know yet. All I know is that when he’s gone in there, he’s played without a conscience. And I think when you’re a corner you have to play that way. You’re out there in front of 110,000 people, and everybody knows if you don’t do something right. They don’t know if Mike Martin doesn’t do his job, but they know if that guy doesn’t. I think he has that ‘it’ factor [where he thinks], ‘Okay, I’m going to go out there and I’m going to do what you tell me to do, and if it doesn’t go right, then I’m going to come back the next play.’ You can’t have a secondary guy, that if he makes a mistake, his head goes down, because you know you're really going to get beat then. I don’t want to comment on Blake yet. I knew about Blake coming out of high school because he grew up right near where I lived in Baltimore. We knew he had a lot of talent. Ask that question after next game and after the next game and after the next game. That’s kind of how we judge everybody, especially freshmen.”

Comments

Wisconsin Wolverine

October 4th, 2011 at 11:26 PM ^

I like these guys.  Borges sounds like some kind of evil genius schemaniac, & Mattison seems to have distilled the concept of defense into its essential elements.  I'm happy that we have a group of coaches that appear to be a deep well of football knowledge & leadership.

treetown

October 4th, 2011 at 11:34 PM ^

Maybe it is the fact that both coaches have been around a long time and so have a deep well of coach-speak to draw upon but both really having been saying things which only gives confidence to the general public.

Borges willingness to adapt to the personnel he has and to acknowledge that some of his preferred plays may not work with his existing team is very refreshing. Likewise Mattison seems like an inspiring guy and has really improved the defense and its confidence.

Interestingly, neither of these guys seem likely to bolt if the team really become successful (e.g. 9+ wins, in the title game) unless the offer is really amazing (head coach at a top place).

Of course this is still a long honeymoon afterglow - there will be some tough times but as Captain Renault said in Casablanca, this may be a start of a beautiful friendship.

BradP

October 5th, 2011 at 9:56 AM ^

Disagree with you a bit there.

I don't think they have only provided confidence.  In fact, at the beginning of the year, they were extremely realistic about talking about their difficulties in coaching this team.  It isn't a big confidence booster when the coaches are naming four defensive players they know they can count on at openning weekend.

The confidence comes from the performance of the  defense, not the words of the coaches.  We can see the issues on the field, and I have to say that I didn't have a whole lot of confidence in the first three weeks in part because the coaches were very honest about the defense not being where they want it to be.

However, what the coaches did always do is maintain honesty about the state of the team and were matter of fact about what they needed to do to fix it.  Seeing these players respond and improve along the way is what gives me confidence.

So if you are going to credit someone with building confidence, credit the players, the coaches are just being honest.  I have a feeling that is what each one of the coaches would say too.

funandgun

October 4th, 2011 at 11:49 PM ^

Borges - classic line that several running backs can throw.  Doesn't want to give anything away....probably isn't true, but may be.  It keeps people on edge for sure.  The look also is a nightmare to prepare for.  I hope they keep using it several times a game.  Great for Devin, fun for the fans, but ultimately could be great for the final score. 

Mattison - If my kids weren't already born, I would name my next one Mattison. 

All in all, it seems like the tide is turning in the OSU-Michigan rivalry.  I live in Toledo and you would be amazed at the number of Michigan jerseys being sold these days. 

uminks

October 5th, 2011 at 12:01 PM ^

I think we match up well against their weak offensive line! I know they will target DROB and Borges will have some counter plays. As long as we don't turn the ball over we have a chance to beat them. I guess I'm more worried about NU since they have a good QB and offense! The team should just take one game at a time and do not overlook any B1G team!
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bryemye

October 5th, 2011 at 2:17 AM ^

That Chargers formation, did you just kind of have that in the back of your mind? “Well, I’ve got an archive of football plays. I’ve been doing this 25 years, and an archive of football plays that go way back even before I was coordinating. That was before I started coordinating. I think every coach has got it. I’m not unique. You keep things and you pull them out. As soon as you see something that fits your personnel, you tap it and see what it looks like. It may not fit today’s football -- that was a long time ago -- but maybe it does.”

 

God that's wonderful. FIt the scheme to the players you have by running stuff you actually understand. It's just so beautiful.

GoBlue4ever

October 5th, 2011 at 6:31 AM ^

I feel very strongly that it can be successful, but it’s not my defense, it’s the Michigan defense. It’s Ryan Van Bergen’s defense. It’s Mike Martin’s defense. It’s the backers’ defense. It’s the secondary’s defense. That’s how it’ll always be here.

Sent a chill down my spine when I read this. In fact, I got chills down my spine reading every single presser thus far, from the very first presser. Coach Hoke - "This is Michigan."

Good lord I love these coaches and players.

The Team. The Team. The Team.

Go Blue!

OneFootIn

October 5th, 2011 at 6:59 AM ^

I am feeling these guys during the press conferences...I love reading what the coordinators have to say every week. It's something in retrospect that might have helped Rich Rod and Co. get better engaged - and maybe Rich Rod would have listened to Gerg and realized what an ass he was.

Blue in Yarmouth

October 5th, 2011 at 8:04 AM ^

Honestly, it has been a while since we had a coaching staff that I felt completely comfortable with. From top to bottom I believe this is one of (if not the) best coaching staff's in the nation and it will pay dividends with NC's in the future, I am sure of it.

Their recruiting, combined with their knowledge and ability to teach it to their players is what makes me sure this staff is going to turn UM back into the powerhouse it is supposed to be.

 

jaws4141

October 5th, 2011 at 8:58 AM ^

RR is the greatest coach in the history of Michigan football.  Lloyd Carr didn't support him and left him with terrible players.  It also didn't help that the FREEP made up lies about RR.  Michigan would have won three straight national titles under RR if Lloyd Carr would have helped him.  After all RR is an offensive genius.  DR right,  DR left,  DR middle,  repeat over and over.  Just look at RR's offense against the top 25.  Michigan averaged 16 points a game and the margin of defeat was only 26 points.  Trust me it would have been allot worse if someone else were the coach.  If the new coaching staff ends up being  successful it will because of the foundation that RR built while he was at Michigan.   Al Borges is a copy cat and doesn't deserve credit for the offense he's currently running.  Greg Mattison is using the schemes from RR's 3-3-5 defense that would have been awesome if Lloyd would have publically stated that RR was the man.  I wouldn't be surprised at all if Michigan was using RR as a consultant to help Hoke. 

Six Zero

October 5th, 2011 at 8:41 AM ^

is quickly becoming the most addictive element in my life.  I want nothing more than a Greg Mattison talks Michigan Defense app.  I want the Mattison Talks Michigan Channel.  YES.  The MTM Network.  I want to be able to customize my Garmin with Greg Mattison's voice, but instead of saying turn left he'd be saying "Hit the Weakside Gap" or something like that.  I want Mattison to start doing audio books in the offseason.  "Moby Dick," as read by Greg Mattison and using nothing but football terminology.  I want to one day see a Jordan Kovacs  movie starring a future Hobbit that at one point stands up in the UM locker room and recites entire Greg Mattison speeches like it was a dream come true.  I want a Greg Mattison Christmas album.  I want IMAX movies about Michigan football narrated Greg Mattison.  I want IMAX movies about Greg Mattison narrated by Greg Mattison.  I want to get a solid grip on this before Ohio State week, because Greg Mattison talking about the Game is going to be a magical, magical thing.  Is that too much to ask????????

Quag77

October 5th, 2011 at 9:23 AM ^

...top 3 recruiting classes for years to come.  We start bringing in top talent and then teaching that talent...whew!

What recruit (and parents/H.S. coaches) wouldn't want to be a part of this TEAM?!  Coaches  are very careful not to make anyone out to be a star but part of a unit.  A true family of players/coaches.  Love it!

 

mgotom

October 5th, 2011 at 9:32 AM ^

Both of these guys have a nice sense of humor that you don't always hear from coaches.

"What's your record?" "Oh ... ten and one".  I almost spit coffee all over my laptop.

M-Wolverine

October 5th, 2011 at 10:16 AM ^

I know there was a sizable element that wanted the next new young hot innovator in here rather than old bald coaches, and while there's certainly something to be said for that, how great is it to have someone who has a knowledge of the history and variety of college football, can adjust to it, and is willing to, and hasn't become too set in his ways.

And I think Mattison hits on a couple of major differences in the defense. First, you absolutely know, no matter how bad things get, that they're going to stick with this system, because everyone is on the same page, and they know it will work. So even through the bumps, the players can grow with it (as they have shown week to week), and get better, and won't be learning defenses on a yearly basis (or sometimes twice yearly).  Yeah, they's tweak it and try different things, but a player isn't going to get lost out there in confusion.  Which leads to the second point...the most maddening thing about the defense was it gave up big plays.  We all know the fear that 3rd and long brought. Which isn't the absolute end of the world if you're attacking and causing mistakes on the other side. But when you're letting teams move it up and down the field on you, taking little chunks and papercutting you to death, you shouldn't be giving up the big plays too.  We did both. We're still doing the former a bit, but we've mostly stopped the latter. Yeah, nothing will ever be 100%, so some good team is going to burn us. But sometimes it seems like we were 100% likely to give up both before.

oriental andrew

October 5th, 2011 at 10:23 AM ^

As another poster mentioned, I like their honest responses.  They're mentioning players by name and saying, "Yeah, he's good, but he still needs to improve."  I don't get the sense at all that they're throwing kids under the bus (read: Gene Smith), but that they're being genuine in their assessments of their kids while also continually challenging them.  I'm sure what they say in the pressers about individuals is not any different from what they say to the kids.  It's so refreshing to hear people not try to tiptoe around these questions with generic and bland coach-speak, or to deflect blame from themselves to the players.