Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-17-13: Greg Mattison Comment Count

Heiko September 17th, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Opening remarks:

"Well, here we are again. I might as well answer it before you ask. What about the pass rush? You're going to ask that question and the answer I'm going to give you is one, they kept backs in a little bit more in passing situations than we expected. And the other thing I’m going to tell you is I have to coach it better. Our guys are working hard at it, and I’ll put that on me. We just have to get better at it. And we know that. We started working on it on Sunday already but we will be able to rush, and we’re going to do that.”

MGoQuestion: We haven't seen a lot of the nose tackles the last couple weeks. What's the reasoning behind that?

"Well we were in sub a lot. Some guys are better at playing the run and some guys are maybe better at playing able to play the run as well as rush the passer. We feel like those two guys are 300-and-some pound guys that might not give us quite the movement we’re looking for in pass rush.”

MGoFollowup: After looking at the film, will you continue to do that?

"Yeah. You'd like to get faster guys on the field in passing situations. Like I said, I don't know if I was playing against us, by the stats, that I would max protect, but people are doing it. Apparently some people think that if they can hold the ball longer they have a better chance, and then we just have to find a way to get better at our pass rush.”

You emphasized winning one-on-one battles. Are you happy with how that's going?

"No, and I mean that seriously. When I look at myself first on that. Our guys are working extremely hard on pass rush. I mean, they’re trying. They’re looking at film. When I look back at it, maybe I’ve tried to teach them too many things and we’ve got to go back to the way we were in the spring when we were doing a better job of it and say, ‘Okay, lets go back and let's do this first.’ And again, I look at myself on that first. That’s the whole key -- beating someone one-on-one. Who cares what the move is? Sometimes, when I see good things in the practice field I say, ‘Okay, I’m going to teach you this now, this will even help you more.’ Well, you better be able to master the first one first. That’s what we’re going to go with.”

We've seen a lot of Delonte Hollowell and Jourdan Lewis. Is that because they're doing particularly well in practice? Did you feel like you needed to push the starters?

"Every day in our defense, you have to do it the right way and if you’re not 100 percent consistent then the next guys going to get his opportunity. I think our guys in the back end have done some good things, but they've also done some things that we can't accept. Back there, it becomes highlighted. You see it so quick. You have to be a really disciplined guy that concentrates back there. You cannot go out on a practice field or go out in a game and say, 'On this play, I'm not going to go as hard or do it as perfectly as I can,' because you're going to get beat. Until we get guys that do it every time right, then we won't be happy with it. It's always that way on our defense. The film doesn't lie. Our practice film doesn't lie. Whoever does the best that day is going to get his shot. Those two guys are very talented. They're young kids, but they're talented. The only way you can bring a guy along is to get him in game situation.”

Are you hoping to have more of Courtney Avery this week?

“Yes. Definitely. We’re looking forward. He’s right on schedule. He’s right where he should be. Some programs might’ve thrown him in a lot in these last two weeks when they cleared him, but we're not going to do that. We're going to make sure a guy is healthy 100 percent. I know he's really anxious to get going and we're anxious for him to be in there also.”

MGoQuestion: What position would he play when he comes back?

“Either safety or corner. Either one. He’s a guy that can go either one. It really depends on who’s playing the best. I think Jarrod Wilson has done some real good things in the last two games. And Thomas has [as well]. If you say you have to move a guy or have a guy play a position, I think he'd be working some at corner and at safety.”

MGoFollowup: What about nickel? 

"Well the nickel position, Blake's done a real good job for us there, so we'll keep him there and the next corner up would go at the corner."

Is Jarrow Wilson one of those guys who you didn't know was going to perform as well as he has until you got him in a game?

“Well we knew last year. He did play some last year. Now last year you’d say to yourself, 'Man he’s a freshman,' just like these other freshmen you're talking about. Well he's had a whole offseason. He's had a spring. When he has played in all these games all the way, he has responded. One thing I'm proud of Jarrod for among a lot of other things, is he's become very studious. He really spends a lot of time making sure he knows the checks, knows where he's supposed to be. That kind of held him back his freshman year, because it was all new to him.”

Blake Countess has had three interceptions. Is that an indication of how well he's playing, or has he just been fortunate?

“Blake is getting better every game. He’s playing better every game in my mind. Is Blake back to where Blake wants to be and where we think he should be? No I wouldn't say that. Of course, you'd say that about every guy. But Blake seems more and more comfortable every game that he's in there ... There's some times where you see him just a lot tighter on a guy. That comes from having confidence. That comes from just really feeling comfortable out there. I mean, for Blake to come back from a whole year off and to do what he's doing, I'm pleased with that."

James Ross said he didn't deserve to start because he didn't practice well. Are you seeing a lot of that accountability in the team this year?

“They have to. They don’t have a choice about that accountability. I think the thing they know that our staff is going to be totally honest with them. There's no favorites, there's no, 'Hey we're doing this to try to get you to play harder.' We don't do that here. It's film. We talk to you the first time. If something happens and your'e not playing up to your expectations -- his expectations as well as ours -- then you don't have the right to be in there as a starter. He understood that. I'd be interested to see him this week now. He has a lot of pride. He's a great young man. He has a lot of talent. Every position is evaluated every day in practice.”

Hoke said the soft coverage wasn't intended and was a result of a lack of focus. What did he mean by that?

“In the secondary, you have a job. For example, you might have the flat or you have the deep third or you have a quarter of the field. If you don't take that responsibility and do it on every play, there's going to be sometimes when you're supposed to be in the flat that you're not tight enough to them. I think that happened to us in there. We lost concentration and started playing all of it, not what our job was. That's why at times we were definitely too soft on guys. There were other times we didn't concentrate and we got beat on big plays, which is unacceptable on our defense. That can't happen. When you look at that game, in the first half I was very pleased with how our kids responded. Our kids went out there in sudden change numerous times and really played hard. Red zone defense again was very good, but to give up big plays -- when you give up a big play on defense in our defense, there's no way you can have a good game.”

Are you surprised to see some of these mistakes given the number of veterans?

"I'm never surprised. I'm disappointed. We can't have that. They know that. If there's ever one thing we preach in our defense, it's keep the ball inside and in front. That has to be nipped immediately or we won't have the kind of defense we expect to have.

Was the game plan for Akron similar to the one against Notre Dame?

“No. No. We were going to play our base defense, which is the pressure, which is the rush four, which is to play coverage – that mindset wasn’t in there at all. In fact the two big plays we gave up were base defenses. They were defenses we play every day. That was just not concentrating.”

MGoQuestion: Hoke said he knew what the last defensive play call was going to be before it was called. He said it was "Cable zero train." What does that mean?

"That means 'cable zero train.' Heh. That means it's all out blitz. That means we're bringing everybody. Everybody has a responsibility. Everybody has a gap. Everybody has to execute that defense perfectly, and they did. That's zero coverage, meaning man-to-man, no help, no free safety. Brennen Beyer and Jibreel Black are the two guys inside and they both executed their technique perfectly. In that defense, if you take a false step, you're a second late. That one has to be, 'Okay, I know what you're going to do. We need to be there right now. If you take a false, step, if you don't step exactly perfectly, then you have a chance of putting that secondary in a real tough position, because there's no help."

Brennen Beyer has been able to time his blitzes pretty well. What has he been doing well that other people could look to?

“Same thing I’ve said every time everyone asks me about Brennen. He’s a Michigan man. He comes out to practice every single day. He's a very intelligent football player. He's a very tough minded, physically tough football player. And he just does what he's coached to do every time. When he doesn't, he will tell you before he doesn't. That's what we want in a Michigan defensive player, and that's what he's responded to do week in and week out, play in and play out.”

He's spent a lot of time with his hand in the dirt. Once Jake Ryan gets back, do you see Beyer playing more rush end? 

"No. I don't know. We haven't even looked at that yet. No. Brennen Beyer has done a great job at the SAM linebacker position, and he would always do it, just like Jake did, put his hand in the dirt in pass rush situations. We'll put the best pass rushers out there on the field when that time comes."

What's Terry Richardson's situation?

“Young guy that needs to get stronger. This is big boy football and he needs to get a lot stronger and that will allow him to play more physically and with more confidence.”

Do you tell the players that the lack of pass rush is on you?

“Definitely. In fact I told them that on Sunday. I said, ‘It’s not acceptable how we’re pass rushing.' And I said, ‘Apparently I’m not doing a good job of teaching you and I’m going to do a good job of teaching you because we’re going to be able to pass rush.’ And we will. We’re going to work extremely hard on it in the time we have to do it. We have to be able to rush the passer.”

Do you simplify now? 

"The way we put it in in the spring and emphasized it in the spring starts with stance, get off, all that kind of thing. As they got better, and the mistake a coach makes is that you assume that's what they look like every time, and that’s why it’s my mistake because we started standing up, we weren’t getting off like we got off in the spring and we weren’t going A-B-C, we were just saying, ‘I’m going to get to the quarterback.’ So, that’s me and that’s why were going to get back to doing it A, B and C and get it right.



September 17th, 2013 at 5:00 PM ^

I wish someone would ask Mattison why we tip off so many blitzes and give the opposing QB the opportunity to check to a different play. Is that by design? Or is that a mistake and something they are working on?


September 17th, 2013 at 5:03 PM ^

I hope we go back to the okie package to disguise who is dropping into coverage and who is blitzing. It always seemed to me that even if they only rushed four out of the okie, there was still more pressure on the offensive line due to the uncertainty of which gap was getting blitzed. Right now I just think we are telegraphing pre-snap where the blitz is coming from, and it's much easier for offenses to adjust.


September 17th, 2013 at 7:18 PM ^

Okie leaves holes and mismatches in coverage.  The gamble is that the confusion gets a guy through unblocked, blowing up the play before the QB gets a chance to find where the hole is.  It relies on confusion and there are only so many variations.  The less opposing OCs see it, the better.

As such it's greatly effective when used sparingly, like a vicious changeup, which is precisely how Mattison uses it.  Use it regularly and it's like a major league pitcher throwing 75mph.  What should be deceptive winds up being, "Hi, thank you for the BP fastball."


September 17th, 2013 at 5:07 PM ^

The comments about pass rush are very interesting. I thought while watching the game we were getting too fancy and not committing to simply beating the guy across from them with speed and strength and good technique. They were throwing a lot of fancy stunts and twists and just trying a variety of moves to see what worked which resulted in a lot of dancing around. By the time someone got free the ball was already gone.

Painter Smurf

September 17th, 2013 at 5:29 PM ^

The Tackle/End loop stunts are way overused in passing situations and not working.  I think Black's best skill is jumping the snap Jerel Worthy style and knifing straight into the backfield.  Also would like to see Clark and Ojemudia flash some speed rushes.  That would help their bull rushes and inside stunts work better.  But the OT's are not getting tested to the outside when a slower DT loops around and the interior OL are just waiting on the DE's to crash down.

Despite what he said, Mattison should still reconsider taking out Pipkins on passing downs too.  The guy can collapse the pocket a couple yards on a bull rush on darn-near every play.  That will open up some things for the other DL and blitzers.  It's better than no rush from the nickel DT's they are using.


September 17th, 2013 at 6:33 PM ^

Clearly, fast guy who can get around people and to the QB is better than slow guy that has to bull his way through people. But slow strong guy is better than fast guy who CAN'T get around people. The difference between theory and practice is that in theory, theory and practice are the same.


September 17th, 2013 at 5:15 PM ^

Heiko, did you consider mentioning getting beat over the top in the nickel and why our best defensive back isn't out in coverage?

I almost felt bad for Mattison in those exchanges but then realized the $$ he pulls in and the fact that he's fielding questions from a medical student.

Blue Since B.C.

September 17th, 2013 at 5:39 PM ^

Agree.  I don't think Mattison should be blaming himself when the Dline can't beat their opponent one-on-one, but he certainly should take the blame  if he's not coaching them how to audible after the offense's audible.  Teams like Northwestern and Ohio are going to have a field day if we can't adjust and re-adjust.


September 17th, 2013 at 5:35 PM ^

First time I've heard Terry Richardson's name mentioned the entire year by any of the coaches. GIven he hasn't played this year and Mattison's comments, it sounds like they may actually redshirt him this year. He played last year so he could redshirt this year and still have three more seasons left. He was regarded so much higher when he came in so was a little surprised he fell below Hollowell, Stribling, and Lewis.


September 17th, 2013 at 5:51 PM ^

I think a large part of the problem was bad game planning.  The 300 lbers should have been in on first down.  Akron was eating up 5-7 yards on 1st down runs over and over again.


September 17th, 2013 at 6:28 PM ^

disappointing that he thinks the tape reveals that the lighter guys were getting better push than the NTs.  i'm obviously a novice, but it doesn't appear that way to me.  also somewhat disappointing that Avery won't go back to his old role at nickel.  our defense seemed to work much better that way.


September 17th, 2013 at 6:30 PM ^

I'm not going to question Greg Mattison's coaching but as mentioned above already there are some seemingly dissapppointing themes going where a change would be applauded but it's likely they're not going to happen.  Countess remaining at Nickel and the true DTs continuing to stay on the bench are the frustrating mentions.  For all we know this is coach speak and changes are already occuring.  I'd personally like to see Pipkens and QWash (obviously he's battling a boo-boo) see more time on the field as pass rushers this week.  Let's see what they can do down after down for a few drives at least.


September 17th, 2013 at 7:16 PM ^

So...the nose tackle can't generate rush? I dunno in the short time we have seen Pipkins/Henry the last 2 games they have been better than whatever SDE or 3Tech we keep throwing in the middle when were in nickle.


September 17th, 2013 at 7:38 PM ^

Countess playing nickel, and Pipkins not playing. I'm trying to convince myself, that that is part of some great plan by Mattison. However, doubts are starting to creep in.  What the hell is going on? This doesn't make any sense.


September 17th, 2013 at 7:45 PM ^

Not surprised about T. Richardson as they said he needed to bulk up coming into the program. I just hope Mattison doesn't spend half the season trying to fine tune the dline with the current starters if they keep performing like this. I expect the team to perform better vs. Uconn but that will not suffice.


September 17th, 2013 at 7:46 PM ^

"We feel like those two guys are 300-and-some pound guys that might not give us quite the movement we’re looking for in pass rush.”

I don't know a lot about football but does ND take out Nix on pass plays?


September 17th, 2013 at 8:03 PM ^

All I know is Wormley, Godin, and Heitzman have shown no ability to disengage from a blocker and get to the QB. Young guys, but I don't see the quickness or athleticism you need to excel in the Big Ten


September 17th, 2013 at 8:07 PM ^

What's people thoughts on the constant IT'S ME with our coaches? I'm all for how they coach and the coach taking that on themselves to a degree. But I wonder, when do you say, hey players your not getting it done, your not learning like you need too

El Jeffe

September 17th, 2013 at 11:04 PM ^

It probably doesn't matter much one way or another in terms of doing better the next time, but I roll my eyes so hard they almost fall into my brain pan when I hear coaches take 100% of the blame for shitty performances. I mean, cumong, man.

I prefer honesty and not treating fans like they're slavering 7 year olds who don't understand anything about anything. I know there is difference of opinion from reasonable people on this, though, and I also don't see any reason to call out individual players.


September 18th, 2013 at 11:42 AM ^

Yes I agree with both of you. To me in this weeks press conferences Borges does a better job, I would just like to hear hoke and mattison say the same. Again I'm sure behind closed doors it may be different. But for a coach to say it all me, I've gotta coach better I'm not sure. Borges called it for what it was, I love the "we had good plays surrounded by alot of garbage. And yet he did say he could coach better too. But it's players and coaches. Like they always say, THE TEAM THE TEAM THE TEAM, and that's coaches AND players


September 17th, 2013 at 8:19 PM ^

i wish someone would ask about Countess in Nickel and why we pulled Pipkins and Q. I just don't understand either. Possibly Countess isn't 100% confident yet??? I can't figure it out. Also, I'd be interested in the whole tipping our blitzes...seems like an easy question. Also still confused on the whole CB giving too much cushion and the reasoning for this is "lack of focus?" It happened many times, seems like this would have been an easy fix after a punt, if they don't get it after one time, put somebody else in..."lack of focus" seems odd. Just wondering if the coaches have ZERO faith in our secondary and that is a nice way to say it. I'm starting to become concerned, not sure if it's the coaches though or the players.


September 17th, 2013 at 8:36 PM ^

You really think this coaching staff is going to let the press in on what they're thinking? These are all empty answers designed for public consumption. If they've decided it's a mistake to take QWash and Pipkins out or if they've decided to change coverage schemes, we're never going to hear about it in the pressers. We'll see it on Saturday. Ft. Schembechler is back in full effect. About the only thing they answer with specificity is Heiko's precise questions about what the thinking was behind particular plays.


September 17th, 2013 at 9:33 PM ^

Oh, I totally agree with your observations. I just doubt we're ever going to hear, from this staff, what they plan to do in relation to particular issues. They're quite open (Borges in particular) in discussing why they did or called something, but they do very little in terms of suggesting their future plans. And when they're asked, they're really good at giving nothing answers.

My assumption also is (like yours, I think) that if I see something, they've seen it for a couple of weeks.