Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-19-13: Greg Mattison Comment Count

Heiko November 19th, 2013 at 6:27 PM

Opening remarks:

"How’s everybody doing today? Come outside and practice outside with us."

“We’re excited about going to this next challenge. This is going to be a definite challenge. We’ve got a chance to watch Iowa a lot throughout the year. They’re very very good offense. They don’t do a lot of things, but what they do, they do really really well. Two good running backs, three good running backs. Their quarterback, nobody ever talks about, but I think he’s 60 percent completion. He can scramble. He’s not afraid to scramble. Their tight ends, I think 87 is the best tight end we’ve played against all year. He’s definitely a Sunday player, so we definitely have a big challenge ahead of us.”

In the last couple weeks, you’ve been good defensively but have given up some last minute touchdowns. What does it mean to this unit to finish strong?

“It’s huge. We talk about finishing, and the thing that when you watch the film – every player on that defense ran as hard as they could to the football almost on every play. And when you start getting that, then good things happen. I don’t care how good you are on defense, you’re not going to stop everybody on every play. Offenses are too good these days and too spread out. I thought our guys did a really really good job. I kind of figured that would happen because they practiced that way all week. All week, from Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, you saw a tremendous effort every day. That’s what we have to keep doing.

"I tell you, the thing that people don’t talk much about, that I want to bring up, and nobody’s told me to do this. The two calls that our head football coach made in that game were really really big. The one people don’t talk about: when we gave them the wind in the third quarter. That game comes down to the fourth quarter with us having the wind. I thought that was an unbelievable call. And then that field goal. I watch them every Thursday. We’ve done it since the day we do there. He starts counting off 10, 9, 8, 7, and everybody runs on and off the field. I think if you look anywhere in the country, you don’t see that. You don’t see them execute like that. Those two things I thought were huge in this game.”

Do defensive coaches like that kind of weather?

“You know, people talk about the weather – the wind on the field was not as huge of a factor as what you thought. You could still throw it into the wind. It wasn’t like – I don’t know what they said it was, but it didn’t seem like it was that bad down on the field. You didn’t go, ‘Oh boy, they can’t throw it at all down here.’ At least it wasn’t cold. I think there was enough that it would affect the kicking game, and it might affect it at some parts obviously.”

It’s going to be cold and windy this Saturday. What does the cold do?

“Cold doesn’t matter. Now you’re in November in the Big Ten, and you go out and play. They’re a hard-nosed running team that runs play-actions and has the ability to throw the ball also. I know what we have to stop, and that’s what we have to work on.”

MGoQuestion: How did using two deep safeties contribute to your ability to defend the option last Saturday?

“It got another run defender on key down in the box. Sometimes when you have one in there – [Northwestern’s players] do a really good job of chop blocking, and Colter is an outstanding quarterback, and he can make you miss. By having two safeties reading and being able to support, it gave us a chance.”

MGoQuestion: Willie Henry had a pretty good game again. Can you talk about his development?

“Willie had a good game. But the guy who had a really good game, and why our linebackers were able to run to the ball so well, was Quinton Washington. There were times there were two guys on there and he was holding the line of scrimmage. Our linebackers were scraping downhill and then scraping back down to where the ball cut back to. That kind of goes unnoticed. A lot of people don’t see that, but when your defensive line demands a double team and doesn’t get knocked back into the backers, those backers now have a chance to go to the run and come back, and that’s what they did. That’s why the backers played very well for the most part also.”

Where are you with your safety rotation?

“Well, I think we’ll keep doing what we’re doing. We probably learned a lesson in the Indiana game. We substituted everybody else, but we don’t substitute the back end. In today’s football, covering the passes you have to cover, the deep balls and all that, those guys need a little bit of a break also. When you ask the safeties to help you on the run, the days of a safety playing every play, and he’s the only guy that does that, are gone. I think we have guys that can rotate. There were times in that game, for example, Raymon [Taylor] was covering a guy way down the field, and he was signaling to the sideline, ‘Give me a blow.’ We couldn’t have done that before. Now all of a sudden Raymon isn’t out there not playing the technique we don’t want him to because he’s a little tired. And that’s a lot of running. I think our philosophy in the back end is the same way now, that we want to get guys in there that have earned it at times.”

I thought earlier in the season you said you didn’t want to do that.

“I don’t think you can do that as much anymore. I just don’t think you can – what has to happen is the chemistry and continuity has to be seven guys rather than four. The way people open it up now and the way they throw it down the field, and what you’re asking the safeties to do on the run, I do believe you have to have the ability to get them out at times also.”

What did Josh Furman and Courtney Avery do that convinced you that this was an option?
“Well just practicing like we demand that they practice, and staying true to the course. With the ups and downs and the things this year – believing and doing what you’re supposed to do every day on the practice field allows you to keep improving. There are a lot of teams, with some of the misfortune that has happened, that would just say, ‘Yeah, that’s it.’ These guys didn’t. They came out and played as hard as they did the week before. The big emphasis was finishing, finishing. I think they all bought into that.”

MGoQuestion: You mentioned Iowa’s tight ends. In past games you guys have struggled defending tight ends down the seam. Which players will you be relying on this week to shore that up?

“Well it’s eye discipline. Whenever that happens, it usually happens because they’re running the football and all of a sudden the guy that’s supposed to be covering them starts looking to try is trying to help out on the run, and all of a sudden they have a guy right down the seam on you. That’s a huge challenge for us this game. There’s no question about it. We have to be able to stop the run and play the run and don’t cheat. On the back end, being really disciplined on your visual keys is so big. As soon as a guy gets tired or as soon as a guy thinks he needs to help or something like that and he takes his eye off his man, that’s when problems happen, and we’ve got to really work hard on that all week.”

Do you and your son go back and forth on this Michigan-Iowa rivalry at all?

“He surprised me by coming to the Northwestern game, because he coaches himself at Mishawaka. They just got beat in the semi states. All of a sudden, he showed up. I didn’t know he was there. He got his tickets through his mother. He’s a Brady Hoke, Michigan fan, and he’s always going to be an Iowa [alum?], but I know where his heart is in this one.”

How much emphasis have you put on finishing these last couple weeks?

“When we practice and we get down in the red zone – our last practice day we move down in the red zone and finish in the red zone. That’s a huge emphasis. ‘Let’s finish this, now. Let’s finish this.’ We go two-minute every Thursday against our offense. Sometimes we do some really good things and don’t finish. That was an emphasis. That’s what everybody was talking about on the sidelines. We all know that to be the defense we need to be here, and it’s expected at Michigan, you have to finish. It doesn’t matter what you do for three and a half quarters. You’ve got to finish. That’s being a defensive player. That’s part of what being a good defense is.”

Was this the best you’ve ever defended the option, and how will that help you against Ohio State in two weeks?

“Well, I don’t know. I know one thing: I think we improved at doing it. We have to get a lot better. There were a couple that broke back inside, but I think our guys understand. I think the effort again, when you play with good technique and do your responsibility, and then have good effort, that’s how you stop the option. If you’re asking a guy in the open field to defeat a block and make a tackle on a guy that has a huge amount of area, you can’t do that yourself. You better get help on your buddies who are running to the football. It all goes hand-in-hand in defending the option … If on a certain defense you were supposed to turn the ball in, there’s a difference between running outside and saying, ‘I turned it in,’ or physically getting on that blocker, throwing him down, staying outside, that’s the difference. That’s where our guys made a huge improvement.”

Thoughts on Taco Charlton?

“He’s improved every week. He’s really understanding the defense now. He gives you a lot of athleticism. This kid can really run, and he’s gotten a lot more physical. He’s really kind of gotten out of the freshman thing now. I’m really excited about his progress. I tell you, it’s interesting because a guy like Frank [Clark], that’s how Frank was as a freshman. And Frank has done a really good job of, while I’m screaming at him, he’s talking to him. [Frank] was the same guy – do something good and then he’s lined up completely wrong. I see Taco improving a great deal. The other guy that really maybe had one of his best games was Mario [Ojemudia]. Mario came in and did some really good things. You don’t see – he’s close to some sacks, he’s flushing the quarterback, he’s running to the ball and making good hits.”



November 20th, 2013 at 7:23 AM ^

Chesson, Funchess, Butt, Green, Smith.

They all play offense. They have all progressed significantly this season. In fact the only offensive positions not progressing are the OL (unprecedented youth and inexperience) and QB (tied to the OL).

Blue in Yarmouth

November 20th, 2013 at 10:53 AM ^

I'm just curious how you know they have progressed? I mean, we got our first real look at Green and Smith this week so comparables are pretty hard to come by. What I did see is that neither were particularly good at blocking (which is the same as they were early on) but they both showed power and a bit of speed when running the ball (which they showed at the beginning of the year.

Then you mention Butt, who honestly has been pretty good all season, but I wouldn't necessarily say he is a lot better now than he was at the beginning.

Chesson is in the same boat as the two RB's, this is really the first we're seeing of him and I don't really think he's a whole let better than at the beginning of the year. 

Funchess has showed all the things he is showing this year last season and still can't block any better than he did previously. His increased numbers seem more a result of increased targets than anything else.

I guess I'm just wondering where all this development is you're talking about because I have been of the opinion that the only group that has seemed to progress is the WR's. You also excuse the oline's lack of improvement on the fact that they are young, but that is when you are supposed to see development and we haven't seen that at all. Even Lewan and Schofield look lost at times and they're 5th year seniors. \

Honestly, I'm not trying to pick a fight with you but I have to question your conclusion that this offense is showing lots of development. Not being a football guru I could be wrong obviously, but I'm just not seeing it.

Blue in Yarmouth

November 20th, 2013 at 1:59 PM ^

just because someone is good, doesn't necessarily mean they have progressed in any meaningful way, sometimes they are just really good. I mean, Lewan was supposed to be a top ten pick last year but has development really been that good? He doesn't seem any better this year than last year to me, but again I'm not an authority of the finer points of football. I just find it hard to believe all this development is taking place when I see 5th year seniors looking as confused as hell on the field.

Honestly, I think the WR's have shown they have made strides. Gallon looks like he runs really good routes, Chesson is coming on etc. but other than that, on the offence I don't see any position group making a jump since this staff arrived.

Fitz hasn't developed in the slightest in my opinion, Thomas Rawls who you would think would at least be able to run through a tackle here and there hasn't done anything. Go down the list and none of our backs have shown that being at UM has done anything for their game.

Again, Green and Smith looked pretty good last weekend, but we have nothing to compare that to so saying they have been "developed" is pretty much a guess. They could just be that good and nothing the coaching staff has done helped them get to this point. Look at Mike Cox. A guy who couldn't even crack the lineup here, tranfers to UMASS (of all places) and ends up getting drafted and playing on Sunday's. 

Across the board on offence I just fail to see any development at all with respect to our players. I think QB is another example. If you consider what happened last year you had a guy who came in after not being touched by the QB coach for the entire season, because he was playing WR.

Through the end of the season he was playing pretty darn good and I wonder if he wasn't getting by mainly on instinct and pure talent than anything else at that point. Regardless, he played pretty well for that limited amount of time and then the off-season rolled around.

During the off-season he goes out and gets taught by one of the best QB coaches in the country and attends some pretty high level camps. At every stop he was praised for how good he was, even Peyton Manning had high praise for him. He was ebing mentioned as one of the top QB's in the country. We were all talking heisman trophy and leaving early as a real possibility.

Then he get back to his QB coach...and look what happens. I honestly have zero faith at in the ability of this offensive staff to develop the players we have. Not because I don't think theplayers have the talent, because believe me I do. They just haven't shown me anything in three years that leads me to believe it will happen. 

Blue in Seattle

November 20th, 2013 at 3:56 PM ^

The freshman would have been on the field at the beginning of the season if the abilities they are showing now were the same two months ago. Where were the freshman for Akron and UConn? Now I am not saying they are less talented. I believe the star ratings in general. But you have to know a lot to apply whatever talent level you have properly. That knowledge only comes from time in practice.

For example, if Green can learn to pick his feet up and stay choppy until he is out of traffic, he will double his yardage output. He is good at hitting shoulder pads, but for some reason, possibly practice, he still gets tackled at the ankles and legs. He is not Mike Hart, he is tall, so he has got to pick his feet up whe the safety dives down to chop him.


November 19th, 2013 at 7:56 PM ^

"I don’t care how good you are on defense, you’re not going to stop everybody on every play. Offenses are too good these days and too spread out."


Is he implying that spread offenses are tougher to stop?  This goes along with the theory that we need to spread it out more.


November 20th, 2013 at 7:27 AM ^

Spread offenses are often higher variance.  It's designed to put quick people in space, and a single missed tackle can break big.  This isn't some off-hand comment about the inherent superiority of one offense vs. another.  A hypothetical zero-variance offense that gets 4 yards per play, no more, no less, on every single down is completely unstoppable.


November 19th, 2013 at 8:24 PM ^

I don't think that the coaches have something against W. Henry but man he deflected that praise right back on Q.  I've noticed Henry as well, not just making stops up the gut but side line to side line. Well at least he's pursuing sideline to side line.  I also don't notice him in a heep or under an O lineman often. He deserves to play more IMHO.  Maybe he gets gassed easily or doesn't put out in practice but more reps for him would be ok by me.



November 19th, 2013 at 8:50 PM ^

Dawson is in line for a red shirt as is Kugler who I thought we may have seen before Bosch. Dawson, Kugler, LTT and Bosch were all big recruits and reasons for every one to calm down and realize our future is bright.


November 20th, 2013 at 2:18 AM ^

The defense has been improving. The defense may help to beat IA if our offense can muster some points and they will probably keep the OSU game closer than most think. The OSU game may be much lower scoring affair, like 24 to 17 due to our improving defense. We should have a great defense next year and this may provide us with another win or two next season, perhaps going 9-3.


November 20th, 2013 at 6:47 AM ^

"How’s everybody doing today? Come outside and practice outside with us."

The band practices outdoors no matter how cold it is.

(They will rehearse indoors when it's raining hard enough, but not for comfort -- the rain can damage instruments, and those things ain't cheap.)


November 20th, 2013 at 7:16 AM ^

"We probably learned a lesson in the Indiana game. We substituted everybody else, but we don’t substitute the back end. In today’s football, covering the passes you have to cover, the deep balls and all that, those guys need a little bit of a break also."

When the facts change, you change your mind.  This is how you make decisions, folks.  I want to punch people who confuse staying the course with consistency.

"If you’re asking a guy in the open field to defeat a block and make a tackle on a guy that has a huge amount of area, you can’t do that yourself."

I.e., Jake Ryan's back, but JMFR isn't quite back yet.


November 20th, 2013 at 8:53 AM ^

Mattison is onto something, I think, with the Safty swapping. I remember watching a predraft show with Bill Parcells and Bill Polian, and Parcells mentiond that if he were a D-Coordinator, he would essentially switch to a permanent nickel package with an extra saftey on the field due to the extra WR's and the faster tempo.  This is thinking along the same lines (even though I don't know how useful it will be agains Iowa). 


November 20th, 2013 at 10:45 AM ^

I find it interesting and promising that Mattison basically admitted that 1) the Indiana pace was something the d-backs physically could not handle and 2) that he was willing to adjust his philosophy to address that.

I still think we should see more of Wilson, but I'm happy to see a concrete example of the coaching staff's willingness to reject "common knowledge" when the facts no longer support it.


November 20th, 2013 at 10:48 AM ^

Two critical things occured to me while reading this

1) We have a lot of guys on the roster with two first names

Frank Clark, Jake Ryan, Willie Henry, Thomas Gordon, James Ross, Desmond Morgan, Jourdan Lewis, Raymon Taylor, Jarrod Wilson, Courtney Avery, Cam Gordon


2) Damn is it exciting that most of those guys are coming back next year to be coached by Mattison


November 20th, 2013 at 11:10 AM ^

He had some wicked blitzes, and had two DL from the same side of the formation (!) drop into pass coverage.  I'm sure that's common, but I haven't seen in the very limited number of games I've DVR'd.  The way he had those DL drop was impressive as well, basically walling off the slant routes.  Mason mentioned during the broadcast that slants were a staple of the NW offense, and clearly M prepared for that.  Rather than having the DL back out into a coverage zone with their eyes on the QB, he had them turn and face the receiver (feet parallel to the sideline), which allowed them to step in front of the receiver and knock them off their slant route and timing.