Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-11-12: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on September 11th, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Greg Mattison


Opening remarks:

“I guess the first thing I would say is -- happy that we got a win. You know, not pleased the amount of yards that we gave up and not pleased with the option responsibility at times. You just want everybody to know -- I’ll take the blame for that as a coordinator. One thing we always talk about with our defense is we will always have enough bullets and always have enough in our package to be able to stop anything that somebody does. You know I think for a number of reasons, we maybe didn’t have enough or enough adjustments or I didn’t adjust soon enough to take away what they were doing. As far as the players, I really am proud of them for how hard they played. That game could have been disastrous had they not played as tough as they did on a number of situations. The thing watching the tape, in the crunch time at the end of the game, I looked out there at the end of the tape, we had seven freshmen and sophomores in there at one time, right during the heat of it. But I don’t fault our players. I know there’s things they could have done better. That’s always the case. Technique-wise, if anything, I point to myself as far as not having a little bit more expansive plan going into that game.”

Re: Getting pressure from front four, does that just take a while to develop in your scheme?

“This game -- every time they’re in third down, you just keep seeing the films that you watched where they ran the option and you’re trying to run a fire zone blitz or something like that where you’re trying to get pressure. Everything in that game, if you notice, we were a lot tighter squeezing, we were trying to line up tighter so we could squeeze the blocks and that keeps you from getting great pass rush. The thing that happened at the end of the game when they knew that we were going to throw it, you saw what we hope is in the future our ability to get to the quarterback. That game you really can’t judge by the pressure part of it because it’s -- even when you do pressure, you’re kind of holding your pressure that they’re not running an option. Whenever you do those pressure or any pressures, you’re really taking a chance on an option team.”

From a defensive standpoint, what can you take from playing an offense like that?

“Well I think the thing is, if we were doing it again, I would probably have a couple more defenses ready. And again, everything we do is to try to get our players to play the best they can, and I just felt in my heart that [against] an option team, if you give them too many things to do, they’re not going to do anything right. And option is completely 100% assignment. And then once you get past that assignment, then you’ve got to make sure you’re disciplined with your eyes so you don’t get caught and things like that. Like I said before, I looked back and I told the players that. We won’t go into a game plan like that again where I’m not going to give you enough bullets. And that’s what we did at the end of the game, if you noticed, we kind of went back to our base defense and played what they have played, and they played it -- it helped us. It would be one of those adjustments that you would have done, and we just did it because we had to at that point.”

MGoQuestion: Speaking of eye discipline, it looked like on the first play Thomas Gordon got blocked by the inside receiver because he was caught looking into the backfield. Would you have rather had him focus on the receiver instead?

“Oh yeah. We practiced that all week. Jake and Thomas were the exact same position in our scheme. A lot of people play the same scheme. You’re focusing totally on the slot. When he takes a certain course, you have to focus 100% on his helmet because if you don’t he’s going to cut you. Jake got cut one time on the exact same thing if you remember and so did Thomas. The thing that happens is you only have so much time to be able to practice that, and when we came back from Dallas, you’re right into it and you’re trying to practice that. They knew right away they had to be eye disciplined in everything they did. When we started playing it better at times, they did do a great job with their eyes. You saw a number of times when the safety came right down and made the hit one on one. Part of that also is whenever you’re getting one-on-one, which this offense makes you do, then you’ve got to tackle. That’s why that offense is a good offense. Plus they’re doing it every day of their life. That’s it. That’s that offense. Teams that run that, they’re doing it every single day. You’re trying to put in a defense to try and stop that in two days. Again, I’ll say it again, I could have done a better job. That’s why I’m proud of those players. I can’t say it enough when you watch the tape, stopping them to field goals two of three times, stopping them on fourth down, that tells that that defense has a lot of character. That tells that the defense has got something inside of them and we have to build on that.”

You mentioned the cut blocks. The rules on that changed a little bit this year. What are your thoughts on that?

“[How] they were doing it was totally legal. Anytime you come from inside out, you can cut. That’s part of that offense. If they were to come from outside in, then it would have been illegal.”

Is that dangerous?

“That’s football. That’s football. That’s what you’re taught hopefully as a young kid that you have to get your eyes on your key and you can’t overlook it and look in the backfield or you’re going to get chopped.”

Thoughts on how Bolden and Ross held up and whether they have a serious opportunity to get more playing time?

“That’s part of the group of the young kids that you were very very pleased with. They weren’t perfect, but Joe Bolden and James Ross went in that game and gave you a spark and made some plays. Now there were some things they didn’t do perfectly, but that’s young guys. But they keep getting better and better. And yes they’re definitely in the mix. Another guy that was in there maybe 17, 18, 19 plays was Mario Ojemudia, and he did some things. And like I said, when you look at it, just to look out there and to count eligiblity-wise, to have all seven of your front seven guys [be] sophomore eligiblity or less, and playing pretty darn hard. You look at Jake, I thought he did some really good things. I mean, everybody out there at times did some really good things. It’s just that consistency that we’re lacking right now. We’ve got to get going pretty fast. We understand that. We understand the urgency of it. We understand it as coaches. We’ve got to get going.”

Early last year, edge contain was an issue. Looked like it happened again on Saturday. How do you combat that?

“That was the scheme. The whole thing in playing that kind of offense, if you don’t squeeze the down block, he’ll block your linebacker all day, so we felt that it was important to tighten our guys down and to squeeze it, and they went to what they do. They started zoning us so they got to the outside. Again, those are the things you’re touching on that I should have done quicker of saying, okay, let’s loosen these guys and let’s see if the fullback can beat us. But it’s great to be able to look at that and get a win, and that’s the most important thing here, to make sure that the guys that did positive things see how they can build on those positive things.”

Do you see that as potential for growth?

“Yeah I think it’s a very positive. It’s what I kind of believed. I believed there’s -- watching these guys in the offseason, knowing a lot of these guys being a part of recruiting them, it’s in there. It’s in there, I believe that. Now it’s a matter of getting the technique to allow that to come out more, because if you don’t play with technique, all of that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter, and that’s what we have to continue to get on is to get our technique, so that our inner athletic ability and the inner Michigan heart is allowed to be that defense.”

MGoQuestion: A lot of times Air Force came out with two receivers lined up on the line of scrimmage such that the slot was an ineligible receiver. Do you coach your defense to use that formation as a run key?

“Yeah. We knew that. We knew that. In fact, if you watched that, you would have seen J.T. Floyd come over to him and know that he didn’t have to drop, and he didn’t. He became another run defender over there.”



September 11th, 2012 at 4:27 PM ^

I was going to say this same thing.  If you look at the pressers closely, Heiko (and MGoBlog generally) is the only reporter that is asking specific, technical questions.  All of the other questions are "fluffy" and much more broad in nature.  In my opinion, everyone reading these pressers (here and elsewhere) learns so much more from the coaches with the specific questions being asked by Heiko.  Good work, sir.



September 12th, 2012 at 6:57 AM ^

The question about last year's edge contain wasn't Heiko (assuming there's no mistake).

I do think Heiko deserves credit for pushing the group out of the gossip fluff drama crap.  It's obvious this blog leads by example, and when you ask technical questions to get the coordinators' eyes to light up, eventually everyone else figures out, "Hey, maybe instead of asking about Fitz's suspension for the eleventillionth time I should ask a real question and maybe I'll get more than a two-word answer."

1989 UM GRAD

September 11th, 2012 at 3:40 PM ^

It's tremendous the way he publicly takes responsibility for poor performances or when mistakes are made.  Never places the blame on the players during interviews, when speaking with the media, etc.


September 11th, 2012 at 3:57 PM ^

I'm consistently impressed with how the coaches, but especially Mattison, always knows all the details about the exact play Heiko asks him about. If you watch the videos, there is never any hesitation in knowing exactly what happened.


September 11th, 2012 at 4:40 PM ^

I sense a genuine confidence and excitement in Mattison's transcript.  Last season, it seemed like the Illinois game was when the defense really turned a corner.  I just get the sense in reading though Mattison's remarks that he feels like this group is not that far away. 

Also, I echo the sentiments of others re: the quality of Heiko's questions and the resulting answers from Mattison.  Great job as usual.


September 11th, 2012 at 5:37 PM ^

For all the silly hand wringing by our fanbase, this defense has a lot more talent/depth than last year's squad.  Kenny Demens is still here (as is Mike Jones).  Morgan/Hawthorne are still here.  Kovacs/Gordon and Furman/Robinson are still here.  We've played 12 guys at the five SLB+DL positions up front in both games, despite Ash and Clark each missing one game.  If young guys are playing, it is because they are as good or better than the guys who played on a fairly highly rated defense a season ago.  This isn't a bad thing, and isn't close to what has happened here in recent years where there literally weren't any upperclassmen on the roster. 

This group has faced a trial by fire, but pretty soon we are going to see a fantastic defense that can rotate a ton of players without missing a beat.



September 11th, 2012 at 8:45 PM ^

Last year we gave up over 600 yards of offense and 31 points to a mediocre ND team that finished 8-5.  WMU moved the ball up and down the field on us aside from 2 turnovers.  EMU rushed for over 200 yards against us.  Northwestern put up over 400 yards of offense and had a 24-14 lead at halftime until a pair of turnovers and some great offense won the game for us.

This year's defense is much better and way ahead of last year's defense if you actually look at what the two groups are/were doing.


September 12th, 2012 at 3:56 AM ^

 Not so fast my friend. Last years defense was picking up a new scheme from their 3rd set of defensive coaches. It took time for them to gel but they where solid against the run especially in short yardage situations. Yea northwestern led 24-14 at the half we had three picks thrown in the first half and after the half not only was it great offense that won the game but the defense did not allow a single point to northwestern.


September 11th, 2012 at 7:20 PM ^


They are from Brian, who is currently UFRing

That's one of those eternal questions: Can UFR be used as a verb? If UFR serves only as a designator for Under Further Review, then the verb form would be RF (reviewing further). If however UFR has become its own standalone term, then UFRing is indeed the verb form.

It's analogous to the RBI debate: Should the plural of RBI be RBI or RBIs? The answer depends on whether RBI is anyting on its own, or whether it's just a practical designator for what it stands for



September 12th, 2012 at 12:32 AM ^

The debate centers around to what extent the practical designator of a concept in fact becomes its own concept. I suppose the same thing could be applied to words (is it possible to pluralize "everything" when the idea behind "everything" means it can't be pluralized?) as well. Analytic philosophy at its finest



September 11th, 2012 at 11:19 PM ^

Usually when acronyms are made plural, an s is put on the end, even when it's not the last word that is plural, like RBIs instead of RsBI.  Other examples would be MPGs and TFLs.  

And yes, UFR is a verb, it comes from the Spanish ufrir, which means "to review further."  So if Heiko were posting on this blog in, say, Guatemala, he would say "Brian esta ufriendo."


September 12th, 2012 at 4:08 AM ^

I think no matter what the out come of the game people tend to sound like they arecrying when they complain about uncalled penalties. I would have complained about some of the very generous spots Air force was given more than the penaltys. A few critical plays in the first half the refs added a yard to the final run with the spots.


September 11th, 2012 at 7:54 PM ^

has progressed. Last year for the Ohio game Mattison prepared a defensive scheme based on his expectation that Ohio would be a run first offense. When they surprised him, he made a few adjustments, but felt that he could not insert a different defense during half time, because he was concerned about the ability of the defense to effectively execute a completely different defense.

Against Air Force he changed the entire scheme in the fourth quarter, and in this presser takes responsibilty for not having prepared an additional one or two defenses should they be needed. Also the defense executed the new scheme, taking it in stride and winning the game.

At this point the team has issues on both sides of the ball, but in terms of understanding and executing what Mattison wants on defense they are well ahead of where they were in game two last year. 



September 11th, 2012 at 11:46 PM ^

think it was a little odd that the UM DBs played so far off the AF receivers?   A few times Michigan DBs were 10 yards+ off the LOS.  It seemed like UM was actually playing the pass like they would vs.a team like Alabama.   I understan a defense always has to respect the pass but this was during obvious running downs and it was AF not Alabama.   I don't know shit about defensive packages so if anyone can offer an explanation that would be great.  In fact, one of the DB recruits at the game said the same thing.


September 12th, 2012 at 3:28 AM ^

By keeping the corners back, Michigan is creating a strategic advantage for itself.  In the 4-3 under defense, it is very easy to run a cover 2 look with the corners up on the WR and the safeties playing back covering the back halves of the field.  This seems like an appropriate defense to play against a run heavy team because it allows the corners to re-route the WRs and then quickly get involved in run support.  However, this defense limits what Michigan can do with its safeties.  By having the safeties back covering the deep halves of the field, it makes it extremely difficult for them to come up and be alley run defenders in the running game.  By keeping the corners back it gives Michigan more flexibility in two ways.  One, it allows the corners time to read if it is a run or pass play.  If it is a run, they have space to run up and beat the WR to a spot on the field where they can be a contain player or help out in run support.  If it is a pass play, they have the space to not get beat deep and give up a big play.  AF will get their yards running the ball; do not let them get big plays in the pass game. Second, it allows Michigan to move their safeties around to create different 8 man fronts.  If the safeties are back in a cover 2 and begin to move up for run support, then there is no help over the top and you are opening yourself up for big plays in the passing game.  By allowing  a safety to drop down you can have multiple 8 man front looks and can play different games with the offense.  You can change up who has the QB and pitch on option and try to confuse the blocking assignments and/or mix up your underneath cover to take away quick slants or other short routes in the passing game.  Having the corners back does not mean they abandon run responsibility.  They still must contain runs and make tackles when given the opportunity.  Keeping the corners back was a strategic move to give the defense more options while limiting the offense to big plays.  A good defense understands what the offense is best at and what it wants to do.  The defense then goes out and  takes away or limits the best it can what that offense wants to do.  Michigan recognized what AF wanted to do and set up their defense to put players in the best positions and situations to stop the offense.


September 11th, 2012 at 11:48 PM ^

I never once had a coach take any responsibility, publicly or privately, for not having us perfectly prepared for the opponent. I have so much respect for Mattison taking responsibility publicly for not being fully prepared. Even if it isnt true (and it may not be), he is protecting his guys and leading by example. He is demonstrating how to stand up and be accountable in the true spirit of, "no coach is bigger than the team".

As a former player, I can remember several times where my teammates and I felt we got out-coached (usually by Purdue) and then were told in the locker room that it was all our fault (sometimes accompanied by profanity).