Coach Hoke was just in here and he talked about how he’s still not happy with the production up front and stopping the ground game. Can you guys just talk about where you think are at this moment in terms of stopping the rushing attack?
Will Campbell: I mean like Coach Hoke said, we’re not where we need to be. We’re not playing like a Michigan defense. We need to step up every day. We need to play better with our hands and more physical and knock them back defense.
Why haven’t you guys been able to do that? Do you feel…now you’ve played three opponents with varying levels of talent and competence.
Will Campbell: Since the first game, we have been making improvements, but we need to make bigger strides in the defensive front and the front seven and we’re working every day in practice to do that and trying to get our coaching points in and step up.
Will, is there any one thing in particular, maybe a bad habit you keep falling back to when you’re struggling up front. Is there one thing you’ve pinpointed that you need to get rid of to move forward?
Will Campbell: I can’t speak for the entire D-Line, but as far as myself: thinking too much, trying to look in the backfield too much and not just playing my keys and playing knock em back ball like the coaches tell me to.
Thomas, Brady mentioned that he’s not pleased with the lack of turnovers you guys have caused. You were a guy last year that forced a lot of fumbles and got some interceptions. What do you do as a defense to get back to that and create some more opportunities for the offense that way?
Thomas Gordon: I just think it comes down to more people getting to the football. You’ve got to play with intensity to create turnovers. Once you get more people to the football and get people in that pile trying to get the ball out, you’re going to get more turnovers, and obviously, we haven’t been doing that so far because of the lack of turnovers, but we’re going to get there.
This is for either of you, in the second quarter, UMass capitalized on a couple of mistakes your team made, how important was it for your team to make that recovery and how did your team respond in your words
Thomas Gordon: When the offense or anybody makes a mistake, when the defense is on the sideline, we preach about sudden change and defense coming out there and getting a stop because that’s a big momentum shift when you can stop their offense after a turnover or something like that. That’s big momentum and that’s what we preach on.
For either or both, in a 50 point win, some will wonder, what can you gain out of this? Will, maybe start out with you, what did you feel like you gained out of this win?
Will Campbell: Of course any win is a good win and any game, nobody is going to have a perfect game, so everybody’s going to have mistakes we can capitalize on and correct for next week because if we play like we did today, we will not win next week. We need to come out and play like a Michigan defense and our offense needs to play like a Michigan offense.
Coach Hoke talked about team morale when you get a lot of guys in the game. Thomas, can you just talk about, here it is, the 4th quarter, you guys are up big and you get to see a lot of your teammates play, what that does for you, and was there a moment today that really got you amped up defensively?
Thomas Gordon: Definitely. When you get to see some of those young guys who were on the practice squad, on the scout teams like that and you get to see them in a big college game getting some plays in, that should boost your morale and moments out there like some of my teammates back at Cass like Terry and Delonte, both of those young guys out there producing for the defense, you know, I’m happy for them, you know, because I was once in their position and I’m happy to see them out there.
Last week, talked about 3rd down conversions, even 4th down conversions, getting off the field, Brady even stressed it again in this game. Why is it a problem on 3rd down, because you seem to be pretty good on 1st and 2nd, but 3rd down still seems to be a bit of an issue, is that just overcommitting, too amped up? Why is the defense having trouble getting off the field.
Will Campbell: I take that on the front four, because if we get pressure on the quarterback, they won’t have to cover as long, so we need to get home for the defense to be successful on 3rd downs.
Thomas, do you think, maybe part of your defensive struggle is that you guys have been playing such varied opponents as far as offensive styles, skill level, Really, you’ve run the gamut so far. Is that part of the issue you think at this point?
Thomas Gordon: You can contribute some of it to it from playing a physical team like Alabama to defending a triple option like Air Force, but it really doesn’t matter which scheme we go up against. As a Michigan defense, we’re held to the expectation to produce no matter what offense we’re playing, but that has played some part to it, but it’s still on us to produce.
For either one of you, your practices, could you describe each practice, you’re each getting better in your respective positions, the line is getting better, and how do you correlate that with the play out on the field today. Do you see yourself getting better in practice and see yourself getting better each game?
Will Campbell: Yes, as I said before, every day at practice, we go out, like, our first day of practice for the week we’ve got a new scheme. We’re going against a new offense, so of course there are going to be some bumps and bruises within that scheme and we need to fix ____ throughout the week, so of course we’re going to make strides and week in and week out, we’re going to make strides as far as us playing what we need to do, us playing our technique and coming and getting off the ball with our hands and throwing off blocks, so yes, we have been making strides as far as that.
Getting back to the younger guys question, how much fun is it on the sideline when someone like Justice Hayes scores a touchdown?
Will Campbell: It’s a lot of fun cause you see they put in the same work we do in summer and winter conditioning, and to see those guys get out there and have their moments on the field just like we do, it’s a joy to everybody on the team. They get in the locker room and everybody’s happy for them and that’s what you live for playing on a team.
Seemed like a lot of guys after the game kind of huddled around Mike Cox, can you just talk about what that was like to see him? He obviously had a pretty good game against you guys.
Thomas Gordon: I was just happy to see him out there playing. He was one of our brothers here and Michigan and seeing him on the other team, getting a lot of action, I’m happy to see him out there playing.