Michigan Football Preview 2013

2013 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 131 of 267

Mattison will be coaching Michigan's defensive ends this season, looking to help the Wolverines improve on their average of 1.69 quarterback takedowns per game in 2012, which was tied for 78th in the nation. photo by per kjeldsen He's such a leader. He's got so much talent. He's been there. Delonte Hollowell had a very good spring for us. He pushes Raymon [Taylor]. "The same thing is happening at the safety position. There are a lot of guys that could play that position. It's the same deal. The next guy is waiting for his shot, so don't screw up your shot. "You can't rotate secondary as much, because of the continuity of everybody, and they don't need to, because it's not as physical a place. A guy that had a great spring for us is Dymonte [Thomas]. He's going to be a heck of a player. Ross Douglass coming in early really helped him. That made the depth better." The Wolverine: Your veteran players are saying this is the fastest Michigan defense they've seen since being here. Is that accurate? Mattison: "Yeah, and that happens two ways. It's recruited athleticism, and it's knowing the defense and knowing where you're supposed to be. Instead of just beating a block and, 'Okay, what do I do next …' "These guys have had the same components of the defense for three years. The kids that are juniors, they've got it. We've tweaked things and we always change some things, but they understand it. "Even the guys who are sophomores, the redshirted kids — and there are a lot of them — they all had it, because we practiced them all year as if they were going to play." The Wolverine: Your linebackers coach, Mark Smith, noted generating turnovers wasn't stressed any more in 2011 than it was in 2012, but the results were significantly different. Will the upgraded pursuit factor into improving that area? Mattison: "I really believe it will. The other thing that happens is, when guys are in position — and it goes back to knowing the defense, getting off blocks, being more athletic — now you can get there and not just survive and tackle. You can say, 'Okay, I'm here to make the tackle, now let's strip the football.' Those are the things you could see as they keep progressing." The Wolverine: There has been a lot of talk about establishing a better four-man rush. Where did that stand at the end of spring practice, in your estimation? 130  ■  The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview Mattison: "I was seeing that we can be a four-man-rush team. There were times where I would never have said that. At times in the game, we aren't going to have to blitz as much as we have in the past, and we can say, 'Okay, if you four are as good as we think you're going to be, and you want to be, then you go get the quarterback.' "I made the statement to them, and told them, there have been great defenses I've been a part of, where I've had defensive linemen say, 'Don't blitz, Coach, we'll get there with four men.' When they can truly do that — say it and do it — then you've got a defense." The Wolverine: What will be your biggest area of emphasis in fall camp? Mattison: "It will always start with no big plays. That comes from cupping the football, everybody running to the ball. That will be a huge, huge deal, because of what happened at the end. We've got to get that cut off right away. "We'll continue to work very hard on a four-man rush. We're going to really, really work hard on being a pass-rush team. We've always got to stop the run. That will always be foremost for us, but you have to work on it, and you have to become a four-man rush team." The Wolverine: Who are the potential leaders on this defense? Mattison: "You like to have leaders in all phases — in the front, in the backer position and in the back end. Then they all lead together. "I think you've seen Quinton Washington become a leader. Jibreel [Black] has become a leader. It's easier for big guys to do that, when they become more talented and become comfortable, and that's what they've done. Frank Clark has shown very good leadership on the edges, with the young guys there. "At the linebacker position, you're seeing Desmond become more of a leader. He understands the position better. He's no longer just surviving. "At the back end, Thomas has become a leader, and Blake. Those guys will be the leaders." The Wolverine: You often mention the standard of becoming a Michigan defense. How close is this group to getting there, and when will you know? Mattison: "I won't know if we're a Michigan defense until the season is over. A Michigan defense goes all the way through that season and gets better, does what it has to do each game. "That's when the great Michigan defenses arise. When it came down to championships and came down to winning games, they did it. That's what we'll find out." ❏

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