Question: When was the last time you cut your hair?
Mike Martin: “The last time I cut it was a month before camp. My hair grows fast. Some of the guys are jealous about it.”
Question: Is it a winning streak thing, is it a I’m not cutting it until the end of the season thing?
Mike Martin: “Jake Ryan started it actually before the bowl game last year. He mentioned that he was going to grow his hair out and then (Ryan) Van Bergen said it and then a few other guys and I just said alright I’ll join the crew. So we’re all just growing it out.”
Question: So everybody else goes down and you just go…?
Mike Martin: “When it gets wet, it curls up.”
Question: What do you think of Van Bergen’s look these days?
Mike Martin: “It’s nice. I like it. He calls it the ‘Flow’, so it works well for him. He likes to pull it back into a ponytail, that’s his style. It works for me, I like it.”
Question: Ryan talked the other day about the legacy for the senior class right now is 0-3 against Michigan State; what does this game mean for the senior class to come out with a win on Saturday?
Mike Martin: “It’s huge. It is something that we’ve thought about it and it is a huge goal for us this Saturday. When you come to Michigan, guys, alums and your legacy here at Michigan is how you do in big games against your rivals and how you do in the league. So Saturday is a big step for us as a team going away. It’s going to be a great test for us and I’m excited.”
Question: Do you think this defense is more ready than it was a year ago to stop some of the big plays that Michigan State had that hurt you guys?
Mike Martin: “I know for a fact that we were prepared and today is going to be another step in practice. Wednesday is huge for us and we had a great day yesterday. Us being prepared is the biggest thing for us and I’m very confident and I know the coaches are and the rest of the guys are that we’ll be ready when Saturday rolls around.”
Question: Craig (Roh) talked yesterday that you guys are looking forward to a team that wants to run at you that that is a challenge for the defensive line. Is that something that you guys have discussed that that is something about Michigan State that is appealing?
Mike Martin: “Oh yeah. I get excited when we run into a team that wants to run. Defensive line, you’ve got to thrive on that. You’ve got to be excited about a team wanting to say we’re going to run at you every single play and we’re going to see if you can stop it. That’s a big challenge for us and we’re going to step up to the plate and I heard the past 41 years that the team in this game who won the rushing battle was the team that came out and won the game in the end. 38 wins to three that’s what it has been. That’s interesting and it is not surprising to me. That’s what this game is about. It is a physical game and that’s what this game is all about.”
Question: You are a much better run defense than you were obviously at the end of last year, what do you think is the biggest difference, a lot of the personnel is the same?
Mike Martin: “I think it is a mix with mentality that we have as a defense, just knowing that we’re confident that we can stop the run if we execute and if we’re assignment sound. That’s the big thing for us, if we’re not going to be assignment sound, it is not going to work out no matter what coach puts in on the scheme, you got to be able to execute and that’s what we’ve done a good job with so far this year.”
Question: What kind of problem do their running backs pose?
Mike Martin: “They do a good job. We’re going to see three different backs that are all very talented. They all offer a different type of run I guess you would say. Each of them are good at what they do. Watching film is big for us and just making sure that we’re strong at the point of attack and getting off blocks so we can get to the ball and make tackles.”
Question: Everyone has talked about how excited they are for this game but how important is it to tow the line between allowing that excitement to fuel you to have big plays and not let it over excite you to make mistakes?
Mike Martin: “Yeah I think especially me and the seniors, we’ve been in this position before playing in big games. It’s important for us to talk to the younger guys and calm them down a bit, especially in the beginning of the game. Pregame warmups, guys start getting going and you need that, but you also need to be calmed and control. Controlled anger I like to call it. Being able to use it, smart and be able to execute it what you need to execute on the field. Just doing that, I think the guys will see how the seniors act around it and then we’ll just follow.”
Question: So you find that you need to pull guys back at the beginning of games, is that something especially with Denard who has been really excited at the beginning of games recently, you’re going to talk to him about it?
Mike Martin: “Yeah. I actually talked to Dave Molk about it and kind of how he prepares mentally. You guys probably heard that he grabs a freshman and he head butts a freshman to try and get his anger out because he can’t go out (laughter)….you probably haven’t heard that then (laughter). He has got to get his anger out, so when he goes out there and snaps, he can’t have bad snaps and he has got to be able to step and execute. So it is a little different on his part. For me as a D-lineman, you got be very aggressive and very amped up the whole game. I guess it is a little bit different for each position and the quarterback obviously you’ve got to be very calm I’m guessing. You got to be able to make throws and read keys.”
Question: Is that with helmet or without helmet?
Mike Martin: “With helmet…I think….I don’t know Dave is crazy, you never know with Dave.”
Question: Do any of the freshman kind of run away, is it like a specific time and people try to move away from him at that point?
Mike Martin: “No they know it’s coming, you can’t get away from him. I think he likes to grab Curt Graham (long snapper) and he really can’t get away from it and it is something that is going to happen.”
Question: Do you feel like the defense has established an identity here in the first six games and if so what do you feel like it is?
Mike Martin: “I think we’ve established the fact that we’re going to swarm around the ball, play hard with 110% effort and executing is huge for us. When you watch film, you notice guys being assignment sound and not doing too much because when you have it on defense, guys get out of gaps and then the offense attacks those and you can’t have that. I think we’ve established this aggressive style of play and also a smart assignment sound play.”
Question: Last year, it seemed like you were having a productive season until the Michigan State game where you got injured, I think your ankle and your production kind of fell off, what do you remember about that game?
Mike Martin: “It was a physical game and that’s how football is. You can’t really control those types of things and I knew it was down on the goal line, so that is when you’re in close quarters and things happen. Just try to do the best I could to do get back in, but for this year, you can’t go out there thinking about that. Any football player will tell you that, you can’t go out thinking about our you going to get hurt. That’s the worst thing you can think about. So going out there and playing your hardest and making sure you’re playing with 110% effort is the most important thing.”
Question: With the physicality of this game and the hate that the two teams play with, are you kind of preparing yourself if there any cheap shots…?
Mike Martin: “I love the game of football and it is physical. If you don’t like that part of it, I wouldn’t be sitting her talking to you guys right now. I get excited talking about it. Worried…I’m not a worrying type of guy. I’m always walking around with a smile on my face. I feel like worry is a fear type of feeling and I think playing with no fear and I think anything you do in your life, not being worried, but being prepared and knowing what is coming up is most important. Like I said, being prepared is huge for our team.”
Question: Is there part of you that likes playing in front of a crowd that dislikes you that intensely?
Mike Martin: “I absolutely love that. I love away games and Coach Borges actually yesterday told us a little quote about Dick Butkus. He said he loved away games because when the opponents would yell at them or say whatever they would that would make him play better. It would get him angry and he was able to channel that into his play and that’s something that I’ve been really trying to do. Northwestern was a good first test for us and this will also be a great, great test for us. It’s important for our team to be able to feed off of that and really use it so that we can take our play to the next level.”
Question: What’s the worst thing you’ve heard directed at you or someone else?
Mike Martin: “I hope nobody says anything bad about me. I don’t like people not to like me. I don’t really know if I’ve heard. If you want to tell me it, you can tell me it.”
Question: I meant on the field?
Mike Martin: “There is all type of stuff that’s said on the field and probably 100% of that I can’t really repeat. Me, I don’t talk on the field. I’m a quiet kind of guy on the field. I really just play.”
Question: What do you use as motivation for this game? You’re an instate guy, your friends talking to you, maybe something that happened in a previous game?
Mike Martin: “If you need motivation for this game, I feel bad for you. I’ve been a Michigan fan my whole life. This has always been a big game for me. If I was eight years old watching it or now if I’m playing. It’s exciting. I’m really excited for this game and I know that eyes are going to be watching on us in this game, it is a big weekend, but really we’ve had struggles in the past, but we’re on to a new year and it is exciting. It is a chance for us to play as a team and get better, get tested and see how we react.”
Question: When your teammates talk about what you do in the weight room, what are some of the things that stand out when you’ve done different types of pass with it, bench pressing and things like that that have been some of your top marks? Forty—isn’t that the number of times you can do 225?
Mike Martin: “Yeah that’s a pretty popular thing that people ask. This with Coach Wellman…he has a system. So if you do 225 - 25 times you go to 275; if you do 275 – 25 times you go to 315; so I got to 315. He said that he never had a guy get 25 times on 315. He said when they first got here, I think, because he never thought I would get there. He said if you get to there you never have to work again. I’m like oh alright, so I’m telling the guys that and we’re all laughing joking and a few months into training I ended up getting close to that point and we were going to test on that again and he wouldn’t let me test on that. He’s like, ‘Hey Mike, I don’t want you to strain a pec or get hurt or anything.’ I’m like, ‘Coach I’m fine. I’ve never done that before.’ I think in the back of my head he just didn’t want me to break that 25 mark, because he knew what he said he was probably going to have to eat those words. Me and him joked about it, but I did 225, we did it right before camp stared, we all did it. All the guys went up in their reps, I did as well and actually hit 40, which is exciting.”
Question: So you clearly think you do 315 – 25 times?
Mike Martin: “Yeah and I’ll tell Coach Wellman…I’ll walk down there right now and tell him that.”