Mike Martin talks about the improvement of the defensive line, about the senior leadership, about MarQueis Gray, about "sudden change" after turnovers, about BWC ... and about Touching the Jug.
Question: Watching the film, how pleased were you with your performance and the D-lines performance as a whole?
Mike Martin: “We definitely improved last week, but the big thing for us is we’ve had a good day or preparation yesterday and we just got to continue to build on that. It is Big Ten season now and the real stuff; we’re playing Minnesota and getting into our league. We’re excited about it. This team is and this is a big week for us to get ready and prepare for Minnesota.”
Question: As a leader are you approaching guidance into the Big Ten season differently this year than the last couple of years where it hasn’t worked out as well?
Mike Martin: “We had great leadership. We’re doing well as a whole leading this team and making sure that we’re prepared and ready to play. Like I said for us to have a great week of preparation that is the biggest thing for us, so having a lot of energy, excitement and wanting to improve and get better when we head into practice and in the meeting rooms and paying attention and being focused, being attentive. Doing whatever we can do, paying attention to details and just making sure that we can prepare ourselves the best so we can prepare the best and play the best on Saturday.”
Question: Did something click mentally when you get into Big Ten season just because you know, especially with all the emphasis on a Big Ten Championship?
Mike Martin: “Yeah that and us playing physical and the physicality of the league. Minnesota’s offense line, they play with great pad level and they’re physical up front. So for us, it has always been a big emphasis but especially this week and going on from this point on, playing as physical as we can as a defensive line up front is huge for us.”
Question: You obviously want to win your division, do you find yourself rooting for teams from the other division a little bit against in games against your guy’s division?
Mike Martin: “I don’t get caught up in other teams really. I don’t really honestly watch ESPN much at all. I don’t read stuff. I’m worried about this team and how we perform and what we do and our record. Whatever we can do to make sure that we get to what our goals are, which is to do well in this league and be competitive and compete is the most important.”
Question: What has the defense line done to prepare for a quarterback like MarQueis Gray running the ball?
Mike Martin: “Yeah Marqueis is an awesome player. He has a lot of ability. He does a great job with their offense. For us just preparing well and making sure we know tendencies and the little things that can help us. Really, it just depending on how we play on Saturday and leading up to that day is our offense giving us the best look they can so we can prepare and just doing whatever we can do to make sure that we prepare the best that we can for Marqueis Gray is huge for us.”
Question: Does having a couple of dual threat quarterbacks on your team give you a little bit more confidence in handling a dual threat quarterback on the other team?
Mike Martin: “It helps us, giving us a look like I said. Whenever you can get as close of a look to your opponent is going to help you just prepare. Really it is depending on how we play and how we come out on Saturday and defend Marqueis Gray and the rest of the offense.”
Question: How much would you say that the improvement on defense is scheme?
Mike Martin: “For us up front, it’s not much of scheme. Coach Mattison, the defenses that he picks, it sort of changes a little bit from week-to-week, what he chooses to put in and take out and tweak a little bit. It changes a bit from week-to-week but really up front, we get the defense and play ball. We recognize backfield sets and tight end sets and things like that, but we don’t really get into up front. A lot of things with wide receivers sets and getting to all that but really it is just putting our hand in the dirt and playing and knowing the basics and playing physical up front.’
Question: What has quickened for you guys as a defensive line. It seems like what you and Ryan (Van Bergen) are doing are really freeing up Craig (Roh) to make plays; what’s going well for you guys?
Mike Martin: “Just playing hard I think. We play really physical. We’ve stepped up our game on that end of it and it is really as simple as that. It is something of having a mindset that no one can run the ball on us as a defensive line and being confident with that and that’s huge. With how we play at the start of the game finishing the game. For us as a unit, it is just having a swagger out there and knowing that we can do is stop the offense.”
Question: Was it a wake up call for you guys last week? Was there a point where you were saying the previous weeks weren’t good enough up front?
Mike Martin: “Yeah. I don’t think we were as happy at all with our play. I knew that we knew that we had to improve so leading up to San Diego State, we wanted to make sure that we could play the best game we could up front as a unit and like I said, we improved and coach was happy with it. The film was better but each day we’ve got to keep getting better. That’s not the peak at all of where we can be and we’re going to continue to get better each week.”
Question: You don’t want to see your offense turn the ball but was it almost a good thing for you guys to face those situations in that third quarter to get that experience?
Mike Martin: “I believe and I know the rest of the defense believes that is when defenses really makes a name. When sudden change occurs and the offense fumbles the ball or whatever it might be. We can’t control that on our side of the ball so for us to come out with excitement and to play defense. Whenever you get a chance to play defense you got to be excited about it. That’s what we have scholarships, we play defense that’s what we do. Whenever we have a chance to play some defense, it has got to be fun for us and having that mindset of excitement of not being down, oh man, whatever happened, happened. To come out with excitement and play hard and that’s what it is all about.”
Question: Since time of possession is a little bit better than it was last year, do you feel the difference in freshness when you go out there later in games?
Mike Martin: “Yeah. Coach does a great job. We have good depth at defensive line. Coach has a lot of confidence with guys being able to come in and catch a few reps and do a good job. For us with the rotation and things like that and I know they do it a bit at linebacker, it keeps us fresh from beginning to end and being able to play as hard as we can in the time that we’re out there.”
Question: Are you noticing a difference in the fourth quarter?
Mike Martin: “Definitely yeah. Guys are busting their butts to the ball every since play. We don’t have loafs, so that is a huge thing.”
Question: How did San Diego State’s line compare to Notre Dame, Eastern and Western Michigan?
Mike Martin: “I don’t really know if I can say it is different comparative wise. They play really hard. They never quit during the whole game. I give it to them. They were the whole time from first snap to last snap. So they play with a lot of toughness, which I knew they would come out with because of Coach Hoke’s mentality and their mentality of their head coach. I know Minnesota is going to have that same thing. From watching film up to this point, they are a bit more physical up at the point of attack and that’s what the Big Ten is all about. They play with good pad level, so we got to make sure that we play with good pad level as well.”
Question: Can you talk about Will Campbell and what he has to do to take that next step. Brady talked about how he has to get lower and play with better leverage?
Mike Martin: “Will does a good job at the point-of-attack but sometimes he tends to stand up a bit and look for the ball. It is something that Coach Hoke always talks about is that block is going to take you to the ball, you’re going to feel it. He needs to break the habit of maybe looking for the ball and finishes plays. That’s something that we’ve all across the board have had trouble with at some point. Will has done a great job of improving up to this point. I know coach would agree. There is always room for improvement so that is something that he has to work on and getting to the ball. That’s something that we all have to work on.”
Question: Has Jon Falk given out his warning about not dropping the Jug and breaking it if you happen to retain it Saturday?
Mike Martin: “He hasn’t said it yet, but we have it up in the team room. I always rub it and look at it for a little bit before I sit down in my sheet. It is nice and shiny and nice and pretty. Got to make sure that we keep it in Ann Arbor.”