Talk about Aubrey Solomon and what he’s improved?
“Yeah, Aubrey’s steadily since he got here has improved every day. Again, it’s really like it was in the past, which we take great pride in, is the older guys have really mentored him. I mean, you can see it every day. You get Bryan Mone coaching him on what he should be doing, you’ve got Mo Hurst—guys are watching the film and you’ll hear them say ‘That was really good’ or ‘Step this way’ and he’s really a great young man. I mean a great, great young man that wants to be good, and so he’s gotten the opportunity and when he’s gone in he’s played very well.”
How often did you interact with Aubrey during the recruiting process?
“A lot. A lot. Obviously you want a great player like that to come here so you have to. There’s always going to be an opportunity, so that was the big thing he saw and wanted to come.”
How was it building that relationship during the recruiting process.
“Good. I mean, it’s the same as it is with any player. You’ve got to be yourself. You’ve got to be fortunate enough to be at a school like Michigan where, to me, when I recruit, it’s a no-brainer for a guy to come here. I really believe that in my heart.
“You’re going to have a great head football coach, you’re going to have a great football program, and you’re going to have an opportunity to play because we play the best players, doesn’t matter, and you’re going to get the greatest degree in the country. So what else would there be? If you like weather that’s not hot, you’re in great shape. But—so it’s not hard.”
How has Kwity Paye not only improved since he came in but how far can he go as far as what you can see?
“Kwity Paye’s another one. Kwity Paye is just like Aubrey. I mean, he has just daily improved. Again, I’ll sit there and just before I’ll say something to him you’ll hear Rashan or you’ll hear Chase say ‘No, you’ve got to step this way’ or ‘You’ve got to be lower here.’ He’s the same way; he listens in meetings, he’s got great pride, he wants to be a really good football player, and so the same thing’s happening with him. Every time he takes a rep, I sit there and say this guy’s gotten better. He gets better every day and he’s gon’ be a special player.”
[After THE JUMP: maintaining rush lanes, rolling eight deep, Chase gonna Chase]
Rashan also said he’s vocal even telling people what to do and everything as far as directions when he comes off the field. Is that a maturity that you expected of him?
“Yes, yeah. You do that with any of your starters. I mean, your starters have got to own their position, and they’ve got to feel so proud of being in that defense that when a guy comes off and they’re watching—one thing you’ll notice if you’re watching Michigan, and if you saw us in practice it’s the same thing, is a lot of people, when the second unit’s out there, they’re not really paying attention. At Michigan, every play you’ll see the starter watching the younger guy and he’ll be saying the same thing, you’ll hear him yell out ‘Good job’ or ‘That’s good’ and then when he comes over, he’ll tell him. They want two groups or whoever’s up there with the varsity, they want them all to do as well as they can do.”
Those guys in the secondary have praised your guys up front for making their job easier. Can you just talk about what you’ve seen from those guys on the back end?
“Well yeah, that’s—I would say the exact same thing. There’s nothing worse than when you’re a defensive line coach and you’re rushing the passer and the ball comes out and the receivers aren’t contested. Our defensive secondary does such a great job of aggressively covering, and when you’re playing man-to-man on a wide receiver and that quarterback doesn’t have somebody right there to throw to wide open like they do a lot of times in zone, now you’ve got a better chance of getting to the quarterback.
“I’ll say it the other way: our D-line understands totally that we’re allowed to be really aggressive because of what they do.”
Have you had a guy inside who’s played as explosive as Mo has through nine games of the season? Is he about as high on the list as you’ve had?
“I don’t know if I’d get into comparisons, but I’m really proud of him. Mo Hurst has great ability, and I think the one thing that Mo has shown more this year than any other year is consistency. You just said it: week in and week out. There’s been times in his career where he’ll play a great game and maybe not as great, not bad, but not as great. He’s really, really stepped it up trying to go each week taking a step forward. I think he’s improved every week.”
What did he do from a guy who was playing limited snaps to now he’s playing a ton? Did he change his body or just the mental thing to get himself to a mode where he can handle all this now and be as consistent as you said?
“Well, he’s a senior. I mean, I think if you looked at last year you’d say the same thing about Glasgow. He played a lot of snaps and you’d say the same thing about Godin, where Mo was behind them. There’s going to be more snaps for the guy who’s ranked as the first guy and a few less for the second. Mo got a lot of snaps last year, too, because it was very close between he and Matt, but now this year, he’s the guy and therefore as long as he plays like he can, because of not being tired, he stays in.
“And I trust him. When he doesn’t feel like he can go as hard as he can go or has to go, it’s very simple: come on out, and we have people that can go in for him, I think. You’ve got Lawrence Marshall, who’s really improving, and you’ve got Mike Dwumfour, who’s really stepped up and has gotten a lot more play. So now you’ve got the guy who can go in for him and give him a rest, and that’s where we were last year.”
How much, with all the man that you guys play, importance is there on maintaining the rush lanes?
“Well, that’s hard. It’s hard. There’s no question about that. And that’s something, there’s kind of a—it’s a very small area in there, a gray area, where you’ve got to be really, really aggressive, but be careful now, you don’t want to open up a rush lane.
“That’s why I’m proud of those guys for being unselfish. If you’re a selfish football player, you go try to sack the quarterback no matter what and don’t care about rush lanes where our guys understand the defense; there are rush lanes that open if you get too deep behind the quarterback [or] if you get too wide. They understand that and they’re doing a good job of that.”
With this group of freshmen incoming class of defensive linemen, what are you most pleased about so far as far as their development and their learning curve goes?
“Well, I mean, I’m most pleased because they’ve kept doing what our guys have done before them. They’ve come in and decided that hey, for us to be a really good defense, we’ve got to have a good D-line. And a lot of people going into this season said you’re really young there, you don’t have the depth there you did before. Well, the starters have stepped it up even more, and the guys behind them have now become great depth. I think that really shows well for us in the future.”
Do you think you’re at that eight-man spot now?
“Yeah, I believe we’re at eight. I believe we’re at eight and maybe more. Guys keep coming. They know every day they’re evaluated and you’re either one of those eight or you’re not. They want to be that. They want to do that.”
Chase joked yesterday that every week it seems like his stats are being revised down. Some may care about and some may not. Does that speak to his character and how he is?
“Who is that?”
“Oh, Chase. Chase is an outstanding football player and Chase puts everything he has into the game. Now, sometimes he says things that I don’t hear. Let’s just put it that way, okay. But I know when that ball’s snapped. you’ve got a guy out there who’s giving everything he has to being as good as he can be, and when that happens, then you take that. He’s had a heck of a year and he’s going to have a heck of a future. He’s continuing to do well.”
What kind of challenges does Maryland present? You know, they’ve had like 15 quarterbacks play.
“Well, I’ve been watching them a lot, Angelique, and they’re a very explosive, very fast offense. I mean, they’ve got two running backs that I think are very good. The one kid, no. 2, I mean, he looks like he’s down all the time and he’s not down. He keeps going. He’s going to make sure we have to swarm him and get a lot of guys around him or he’ll make you pay for that. And they’ve got two really good wide receivers, two very, very good wide receivers. I think their offense has a chance to challenge you. I haven’t seen any other parts of it but I’ve watched a lot of their games and they’ve done some pretty good things this year.”