Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-3-13: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on September 3rd, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Opening remarks:

"All right, here we go. It's a big one. This has always been a big game. I probably know this game better than most people, having been on both sides of it. This is a rivalry game. This is a big game. We're looking forward to it."

Does it mean more to you since you've been on both sides of it?

"Every game means a lot to me. Any time you go out on the field and represent the University of Michigan is big. I've always looked at this. I think everybody looks at this. There are some big games, and Michigan-Notre Dame in my eyes has always been a big rivalry game."

In what ways will this be a litmus test for this defense?

"Well, you're playing against a very talented opponent. Notre Dame has a lot of talent. They're a very good football team. Now it's the next step. In the second game, did you correct the mistakes? Do you play harder or do you improve? Every time you're a young team, you must improve every game. If you don't, then you're taking a step back. We're looking forward to improving."

After watching the film, what were some of the mistakes you saw?

"You know, I think it's the same things that separate really good defenses from average defenses. You've got to get off blocks. You've got to communicate. You can't have any mistakes where you're not int he exact right place where all 11 aren't on the same page. That always happens in a first game and a young team. Any time there's one of those, in my mind it's too many. I think our kids understand that."

Did you like what you saw from your pass rush?

"Yeah I think there were some good things. I think there were also some sacks left on the field or quarterback hits left on the field. We've got to constantly improve on that. In the passing situation, you cannot be blocked one-on-one. The hardest thing to do in football is to pass protect. If you're going to be a great defensive lineman, if it is pass, you've got to beat that lineman one on one, and I don't think we did that all the time. That's something that we need to continue to address and continue to improve on."

How did you think the new SAM linebackers did?

"Well, I think the SAMs played well. I think both Cam and Brennen showed just like they have in the spring, just like they have in summer camp. They bring it every day. I thought for the most part they played very very well."

When you went to Notre Dame in '97, how different was it seeing it from that perspective with regard to the Michigan rivalry?

"In the eight years that I was there, we didn't play every year. I think we played four or five times, but I know one thing. When we got ready for that game and we played that game, we knew it was going to be a physical football game. Maybe because I had so much respect for Michigan too. But I think everybody that's ever been in that game has respect for the other opponent. It's college football. It's two of the best programs for years and years. It's a big game."

Personally, what will you miss about this game when it's gone?

"The rivalry. I look at the Ohio game, I look at Michigan State, and I look at this game, and those are three games that you can be in any other team in the country and you can be in any other conference in the country and you don't get a chance to play this game. I mean, this is a special deal when these two teams meet and decide to play. Here you go."

Having been on both sides of this recruiting-wise, do you meet Notre Dame on the trail now as often as you met Michigan on the trail back when you were at Notre Dame?

"Yeah. Yes. I think so. I think when you're at where we are, at Michigan, being able to recruit the very best student-athletes in the country, there's only a few teams that can do that and walk in and say, 'Hey, we have a great football program, we have a great academic program.' You're usually targeting the same guys a lot of times. There's a handful of teams that that would be the case with."

What jumps out about Notre Dame on film?

"Very very explosive. Very very good receiver [DaVaris Daniels]. Appears to have very good hands. He's definitely a threat."

How did Jarrod Wilson play in his first start? What about the secondary in general?

"Jarrod made some very very good hits, did a very good job of tackling. Again, there's mental things. There's things that a young guy has got to get corrected. All the young guys in that secondary were kind of the same way. They did some very good things, but back there one mental mistake is that that's a bad deal. We've really had to approach that and we will again this week."

You mentioned some of the breakdowns in communication two years ago. Is there something you're doing this week to prepare for that?

"Well hopefully -- we're not approaching it any different, but we're in the third year in our program. That was the second game, I think, that we were all together. Every single defense was really new to them. Now this is their defense. This is the Michigan defense. This is the players' defense. They take tremendous ownership in that. Now they have to know that any checks and anything we're doing, they've got to say, 'That's me. That's what I do.' It's a totally different deal now three years later."

Does the atmosphere and the noise create an issue?

"I don't hear it. You do pregame, you do maybe when you come back out at half, but when that game's going on, maybe it's because the headset's on, but it's going to be tremendous atmosphere. It always is here. This will be a special ball game."

Is it hard to use last year's film because Everett Golson's not there? 

"You have to be very careful because he was such a great football player. I mean, watching the games that we break down on them, he improved so much. He was just so dynamic with the ball in his hands, and he became a very good thrower also. Tommy Rees, we respect him. He's a very very good quarterback, as you know what you did last year to us at the end of the game. Tommy Rees is a very good quarterback. As far as your question, coaches will tweak their Philosophy according to who they have. They also still have their same things that they like to do."

MGoQuestion: After last game, Brian Kelly said he was glad he didn't show too much on offense. In contrast, Urban Meyer said he was happy that they did so much because it would give teams more to prepare for. From your perspective, which strategy is actually more effective?

"I really don't believe what anybody says. I mean, really. Did we show everything? Let's see. To me, when people say it like that, you have to go by what they've done in the past, what they've done over their career, what their philosophy is. What you show in one game, if you went into every game, especially early, and prepared for only what you saw right there, then you'd be making a big mistake. If you said you showed everything in the first game, well then there's really good coaching going on because there are some young kids that aren't ready to do all that. I don't ever read any of that. I don't ever believe in it. All I do is know what we have to look at from film from past games, from past history, and get our team ready."

MGoFollowup: One thing that was kind of interesting that they did show last week was putting Tommy Rees in the pistol formation. He's not really known as a much of a runner, so what do you think they're trying to accomplish?

"Well one, Tommy Rees can run. He's not a guy that's just standing back there. You do have that component. The thing that the pistol does for you different than the shotgun is that it makes it so that you have to defend both sides of the center. A lot of the time, in shotgun, the ball can go only one way effectively, whereas when it's right behind that quarterback, it can go either way. You don't always have to have the component of a quarterback running it like Denard or like Devin. You do have to prepare for the quarterback on every one of those play."

What do you like about the nickel package in terms of bringing in Channing Stribling and moving Blake Countess inside?

"Well, the one reason is Blake is a very heady football player. He's a tough football player, and he gives us an advantage a lot of times covering that slot receiver."

How much does it change in the back end getting Thomas Gordon and maybe even Courtney Avery?

"Thomas Gordon has been a great young man here. He's been a leader. He's been in there since I've been here. When you look back there and you see Thomas Gordon back there, you say to yourself, 'Okay, this is good. This is really good. This guy knows the defense like he's supposed to know it. He's going to play extremely hard. So obviously we're really excited to have a senior back there."

How did Josh Furman do?

"He made some very good plays. He played hard. He made some tackles. Again, there were some mental things that you have to correct that you can't make back there."

What did you like about Channing Stribling?

"He made some plays. He has the athleticism to be able to make plays. Sometimes corners, or defensive backs do all the right things, but can't make a play. You saw him make plays. Again with him, he's a young freshman. There were a couple things where you'd say, 'Boy I hope next game he doesn't do that.' That's what he's got to get corrected next week."

Those third and long conversions that Central got, were those the safety mistakes you were talking about?

"Yeah, that was very disappointing. To me, the biggest disappointment in that whole game was the two third and longs. You just can't do that. That's a huge momentum breaker. That was something that our guys saw very clearly. You can't make those mistakes. If you're going to decide not to pressure sometimes and try to get there with a four-man rush, then you better also play coverage. Those two plays, it was like they gave up 60 points. Those are the things you can't let happen to your defense."

How much more improved is Brennen Beyer?

"Brennen Beyer, since the day he got here, has been in my opinion a Michigan Man. He comes out every single day and goes as hard as he can. He switched without saying a word from being a guy that was going to play a lot at rush end to SAM backer and didn't miss a beat. Brennen Beyer, like I said, he's a Michigan Man. He'll continue to get better. He'll become a better pass rusher, which has really helped us. If you have a whole team of those guys, you're going to have a lot of fun."

Comments

OneFootIn

September 3rd, 2013 at 6:25 PM ^

I thought the D looked a lot livelier on Saturday than most of last year (JFMR aside), even taking in to account that it was CMU we were playing. Lots of pop, lots of aggressiveness, sacks, etc. I thought the D played well enough last year to keep us in the ND game; I'm pretty confident Mattison's gang will do the same this year.

robmorren2

September 3rd, 2013 at 6:40 PM ^

I'm excited to see what GMat dials up when he has one (or both) starting safeties in the game. Obviously you'd be less inclined to bring heat when your last line of defense is suspect. I saw some very good speed in Gordon, Ross, and Morgan. I think Mattison may just have some tasty blitzes in store for Tommy, and despite what he said in his presser, Rees is a sitting duck. Rees just another ND QB with awful feet (Clausen, Quinn).

eschaton811ydau

September 3rd, 2013 at 6:34 PM ^

that picture is awesome. Mattison looks like so disdainful. somebody should photoshop that pic with photobombing Brian, or with GERG and Demens and the stuffed animal, or with Miley Cyrus twerking.

markusr2007

September 3rd, 2013 at 6:54 PM ^

I think the ND running attack is so-so.

Michigan was very fortunate to win in 2011 (fumbles, blown coverages, the Denard X-factor).

But I'm feeling more confident this year.  Year 3 under Mattison is going to be a huge plus for Michigan.

Mr. Yost

September 3rd, 2013 at 9:28 PM ^

...but it's Gordon that helps. Jarrod Wilson played fine. Josh Furman made a couple plays, but got burned or was out of position at least 3-4 times vs. CMU. We're instantly better on the back end with Gordon and Wilson. I'm not sure Avery would start over Wilson after last week's game even if he was suspended vs. injured. Personally, I think we'll toss Gordon in there over Furman and Avery will play "as needed" (either at FS, CB or NB). From Furman's freshman year he should've gained 20 lbs and played WLB.

dragonchild

September 4th, 2013 at 6:59 AM ^

At safety, one play can even cost the conference championship, a bowl game or even the national title.  It really can come down to one single play.  Safety is a huge, huge position for mentally disciplined, error-free football.  It's an underrated position, IMHO.  It's more analogous to goalkeeper in soccer.  People think it's all about athleticism, but it's really 99% being in the right place at the right time and 1% athleticism -- and no position is more visible when it comes to mistakes.  Yes, you have to be athletic enough to make plays (especially in the NFL), but there's a reason why a walk-on became the best safety Michigan's had in at least a decade, and it wasn't because he had elite athleticism.

Youngsters here could be a bit spoiled because when you have a damn good safety like Kovacs, you can start getting aggressive with them.  So they're used to seeing Michigan's safeties doing Ed Reed like things, flying around all over the field.  But that says more about the Gordon/Kovacs duo than the fundamental responsibility of the position.  The first priority is always being the last line of defense, preventing a 5-yard gain from becoming a 60-yard TD.  Kovacs and Gordon not only had that licked, they were able to take on more and more responsibilities because they were just that good.  But even if your coverage is shaky and you can't make the reads they make, the #1 responsibility of a safety is you never, never, never, NEVER let the ball get behind you.  You want your corners cocky, but I like my safeties like elite bodyguards -- watching everything and would take a goddamned bullet to keep the ball out of the end zone.

Kovacs was a damned good safety, Gordon's ceiling is even higher, Wilson has improved, but no, Furman isn't even passable at this point.  When Mattison says that's like giving up 60 points he wasn't kidding because with safety play like that against a good offense you WILL give up 60 points.

NoMoPincherBug

September 3rd, 2013 at 11:54 PM ^

I was happy to see Furman get some reps.  He has been here for so long and has not really seen the field other than special teams.  Yes he made a couple coverage errors in Cover 2 that need to be corrected...other than that he was physical and tackled well.

That said...Thomas Gordon is the man..

maizenbluenc

September 4th, 2013 at 9:40 AM ^

Sure, no Jake Ryan (5 tackles) and no Jordan Kovacs (7 tackles) - but way more depth in the front 7. So, put me down as skeptical that we will see a shootout like UTL1.

Our offense (and particularly running game less Denard) versus their defense is the big question mark for me. I think we'll do better. (We put up more on Alabama, and more importantly Ohio State and South Carolina once Devin was playing last year right?)

Would really love to see a beat down, but expecting a lower scoring win by less than 14.

SamIam

September 4th, 2013 at 10:20 AM ^

28 - 14 Michigan Win

Michigan will not turn the ball over 6 times this year. Their offense will not keep up with Michigan's.  Notre Dame's defense is over rated.  They had the shamrock shoved up their tail pipe in several games last year thus inflating their defensive lore.  Every team gets a little luck here and there and I understand in some cases your defense causes some of the "luck" but they really seemd to have more than their share of furtunate bounces, throws, and calls.

dragonchild

September 4th, 2013 at 11:01 AM ^

They were lucky against us, but Te'o was legit.  If anything he became UNDERrated after Alabama between the blowout and Girlfriendgate.  Consider we had the same problems against Alabama, and lost by a similar score, for the same reason -- what's a middle linebacker going to do when the D-line is overwhelmed?  But Te'o is gone, and we won't turn the ball over 6 times.  I don't expect to be held to under two TDs again.

Our defense should be fine.  It looks like we're playing at a high level in most positions.  SAM looks fine, we have depth at WDE even if Frank Clark is overrated, and Gordon should replace Furman.  We're probably not ready to go four-man rush all game, but at least now Mattison has enough depth at enough positions to use his creativity from a position of relative comfort.

The real question mark coming out of fall camp, and still largely unanswered after CMU, is the passing game.  Gardner shook it off as "rust", but in the end we really did throw three picks against CMU.  Piling up yards against CMU's undersized line is, with all due respect to them, an expectation.  The part I'm not too keen on is that we had a lot of scrambles and tough catches against a defense I felt we should've burned.  ND's defense doesn't scare me as much this year but we can expect them to be better than CMU's at all positions.  What's really tough to predict is whether the passing windows will be smaller or not be there at all.  Damn, a UFR would really help here.  Is it Thursday yet?

dragonchild

September 4th, 2013 at 11:27 AM ^

If the interior line exceeds my expectations it won't be a contest.  It's the only thing Fitz and Gardner need to shred a defense, and our offensive upside is higher than theirs.  My tempered expectation is that the interior line can't hold up (at least not consistently) and we need Gardner to open up the running game with a combination of long passes & scrambles.

The other thing, and I admit this is a hunch, is I think ND will look to contain the running game first.  So our interior line could even be vastly improved from last year and I still don't expect to gain a bunch of yards on the ground.

KBuck

September 4th, 2013 at 12:38 PM ^

I hope you are both right. They certainly have the front seven to think that's the best option, but admittedly I don't know much about the other 4 on the field...

I think Gardner has some magic in those legs. I just don't want to see too many picks... Can't handle that again... Last year still hurts.