Question: The second half -- to shut them down and shut them out, talk about the feeling there of just being able to get that done.
Mike Martin: “We practice a lot of things in practice. You can’t look at everything. They did a good job in the first half with attacking us on the perimeter and making some plays. We made some minor adjustments at halftime and we executed them and that’s was the biggest thing for us was executing what coach had planned for us.”
Question: What was the message at halftime, what was the environment like in there?
Mike Martin: “We knew as a team that we were having adversity and it was a chance for us to step up. This was a big game for us, being away and being down and having adversity and knowing that we needed to come back and make some plays. We complemented each other well as a team. The offense and defense did a good job of working together and it came out the best for us in the end.”
Question: Do you feel as though the tempo of Northwestern’s offense bothered you first?
Mike Martin: “It was something to adjust to. I feel like if you asked them, they had some things to adjust to too. The game is all about adjusting and kind of tweak things a little bit. They did a good job with speeding things up and getting us out of balance a little bit. I think we did a good job with reacting to it.”
Question: What is the difference in this years team?
Mike Martin: “Specifically as a defense, the mentality. We know as a defense that if we’re assignment sound and we take care of our job and we run to the ball, good things are going to happen for us. I think Ryan Van Bergen told me, I forget where we were ranked red zone wise for our defense but that is a big thing for us. Give us a place to stand on the field and we’re going to make a stop.”
Question: How much did the road factor in as far as that adversity and just a different environment?
Mike Martin: “It was different for us, it was new for this team, new for a lot of guys, younger guys and things like that. We did a good job. We have a lot of good leadership on this team and kept guys focused and kept their minds where they were supposed to be and being focused on the task at hand.”
Question: How much of the success in the second half was due to getting more hits on Dan Persa?
Mike Martin: “We knew as a front four that it would come down to us. We watched the Penn State game against Northwestern last year and Penn State was the same situation really. Their front four stepped up and we knew that we had to get to the quarterback so that was huge for us.”
Question: Are you to the point now as a defense that you guys know when you go into halftime that you are going to make the necessary adjustments?
Mike Martin: “Yes. We have total confidence with Coach Mattison and the rest of the guys. They do a great job with letting us know what we need to do and we practice each and every week with executing those. We’re all in this together, so the coaches and the players working together is huge.”
Question: How much did that first touchdown in the third quarter really spark you guys? You come back out and you’re down by three now and it seemed like you were a different defense.
Mike Martin: “We had adversity and being able to come out when there were turnovers and situations where it is just as easy to go out there and be like dang why does this have to happen. We went out there with excitement and we were excited to play defense and I think that was a big part about it mentally.”
Question: How big were those two takeaways in the second half?
Mike Martin: “It was huge. We knew the one drive in the second half was going to be huge for us and we knew that we had to get a stop to get the ball back to our offense and make sure that we could get the momentum going in the fourth quarter.”
Question: Was there a sense that those turnovers were going to come, as they happened kind of later than usual?
Mike Martin: “Yeah. We pride ourselves on turnovers this whole year as a defense. I don’t want to say that…we’re very confident in our abilities to get turnovers and the reason why we do that is because we run to the ball and we get hats on the ball. If you get a lot of guys to the ball good things are going to happen and that’s what coach has been preaching since day one.”
Question: What was it about their offense that was so successful in the first half?
Mike Martin: “They did a good job of keeping us off balance and weren’t in position a lot of times at the snap of the ball. Guys were confused maybe a little bit and weren’t in the right position presnap. That hurt us a bit definitely. We made sure we got the call, we got our hands in the dirt, guys got in the right position to make plays.”
Question: Did anyone say anything specifically at halftime, because you guys looked like two completely different defenses?
Mike Martin: “We knew we had to come out and make a statement in the second half. Coach Hoke never says much because he knows were strong mentally as a team and the biggest thing was that we made key adjustments as a defense. Coach Mattison does a great job and we did a great job of executing.”
Question: When you guys made first three and out in the second half and you guys stopped the option was that the belief that worked?
Mike Martin: “Oh yeah definitely. There has always been a confidence and a belief. There has never been any doubt. That’s why we’ve had success because you can’t have doubt as a defense. Everyone is supporting each other. Everyone is out there playing for each other and the coaches do a great job and we just execute it.”
Question: Brady talked about you guys complementing one another, three turnovers by the offense in the first half and no finger point … talk about that.
Mike Martin: “Yeah they were struggling and there are going to be times when we struggle as a defense and that’s what a team is all about having each others back and every time when they came to the sideline we were keeping them up, guys keep on playing and they’ve done the same thing to us when we struggle. We’re all in this together, coaches and players. There is going to be adversity and we did a good job with having the offenses back and just playing until the end of the game.”
Question: Can you talk about getting to the six-win plateau at this stage?
Mike Martin: “That’s big for us as a team. That’s definitely something that we thought about it and to come away and be on a road trip was big for us as a team, especially to have adversity and get that experience was definitely great for us. We’re just going to focus on what we have to do next and make sure that we execute.”
Question: What do you say to Denard Robinson after he throws three interceptions, do you say anything to him?
Junior Hemingway: “I tell him just to keep his head up and keep poised, but I know Denard will be there. You don’t have to say too much to him, but as a teammate just say keep your poise, keep your head up. He knows we got his back.”
Question: How did you feel when Roundtree caught his deep ball?
Junior Hemingway: “I knew that somebody else had to make a play and it just so happens that Denard scrambled out of the pocket and threw it to Tree (Roy Roundtree) who caught it.”
Question: What does it do for the team now that you’re getting him involved (Roy)?
Junior Hemingway: “He is not really even worried about it. We’re just going out there and blocking like we never blocked before and just making plays when it is time to make plays.”
Question: You guys went crazy on third downs, 14 of 17, something like that; what was the key to that?
Junior Hemingway: “Just doing what we’re supposed to do, executing our plays, making the blocks that we’re supposed to make and making the catches.”
Question: The way they were playing you early, could you tell that you were going to get opportunities in the passing game?
Junior Hemingway: “Yeah you could tell. Just waiting on the right play call at the right time and depending on if there was pressure or depending on what Denard was seeing, you don’t know who is going to get the ball.”
Question: Teams say you often learn a lot about yourself on the road, what do you think you guys learned tonight?
Junior Hemingway: “We had a lot of adversity in the first half. We didn’t really play good football in the first half. We threw three picks, just went into halftime and we knew that we didn’t play Michigan football, so we had to come back out and play Michigan football, playing football how we knew how to play football. We came out and did that.”
Question: Is it that easy to flip a switch at halftime?
Junior Hemingway: “Oh yeah I think it is especially when you know that you’re better than that and you know that you’re capable of doing those things. Just coming out and executing and play for each other. We know each person has our back.”
Question: What was Coach Hoke’s demeanor at halftime?
Junior Hemingway: “He just came in and talked to us. He said what we did that first half was not Michigan football. He said we worked too hard to go out and not play the way we were capable of playing. He said he came out in the second half and do what we got to do, play Michigan football.”
Question: What did you think of Devin Gardener’s performance?
Junior Hemingway: “I expect that. Everybody on the field expect that from him, from Devin, Denard. Devin came in the game and we just know that he is going to be able to make the play. He does the same thing in practice.”
Question: Because of Notre Dame, do you guys have more confidence because you’ve come back on teams?
Junior Hemingway: “Yes that played a part. We were down 21 I think it was at halftime against Notre Dame and we knew that we had the players, the poise and the fight to go back out and finish the game.”
Question: The long ball can you tell me what you saw, just another jump ball?
Junior Hemingway: “Yeah. I’m running and see Laces moving up in the pocket and I was running and I was wondering if he was going to run, but he threw it and I was like oh man. I just made a play on it because I know we needed it.”
Question: How does it feel to be at the important six win plateau at this stage of the season?
Junior Hemingway: “It feels real good. It feels real good because in past years we got to that sixth game and we couldn’t follow through. It was basically a test for us and see what this team was going to do and we came back out and fought.”
Question: The fact that your sixth win came on the road when you’re down at halftime, how much does that mean something to you guys going into week seven?
Junior Hemingway: “It means a lot. We know what we have as a team and we know that we have that fight and we know we have that poise and we basically supported each other. The defense came out and got a big fumble and the offense came out the first drive, drove down and scored. The second drive, we did the same thing. It just shows that we have a lot of fight.”
Question: Take us through your big play on the strip and fumble.
Thomas Gordon: “It was a bubble screen, they got outside Jake Ryan and he did a good job of turning it back in and he didn’t see me come back in. Coach always puts an emphasis on getting to the football and trying to get the ball out and I just stripped it from him. He had it loose and it came out.”
Question: Did you think he was down?
Thomas Gordon: “I was just getting to the football and he was still up. The coaches tell us to try to get the ball out and that’s what I did.”
Question: Why does this team play better in the second half?
Thomas Gordon: “We go into the locker room and make improvements and we know what we have to do to come out and play hard. That’s what we do, we’ve got to win the second half.”
Question: Was there a lot of confidence in there even though you are down ten?
Thomas Gordon: “Yeah definitely. We never hang our heads, we always know that we in the game. We just came in at halftime, we made adjustments and we encouraged each other like teams are supposed to do and help.”
Question: What did you think at halftime?
Thomas Gordon: “We just have to play more physical.”
Question: How hard is it to playing against an up tempo offense like that, it seems like they were getting the ball quick to the line?
Thomas Gordon: “It’s always hard to go against an up tempo team. You got to hurry up and get lined up because they are trying to get you off guard, not get you lined up in the right places and that’s how they get plays.”
Question: Did you feel like you were ready for that going in?
Thomas Gordon: “Yeah in practice, we knew that was going to be a big part of their game especially during the first half, trying to get us off guard and get us out of place.”