Mattison: the next guy steps up (w/video)
That's the scenario the Michigan defense is facing this spring after two years of working with strength & conditioning coach, Aaron Wellman, and hauling in two top-five recruiting classes, said defensive coordinator, Greg Mattison.
"I'm seeing us play faster," Mattison said. "I'm seeing us play a lot faster than I remember my first year here. I think that comes from a number of different things. One, I think our strength and conditioning program. You just don't say in one year, ‘Ok, here you are.' This is the third year he's had these guys. And these kids ability to run and play harder and more consistent is a product of that strength program.
"I think the second thing is recruiting. We've tried since the day we got here to recruit athletic guys who could run. …When I'm standing back there watching, I kind of go, ‘Wow!' This looks like we're starting to get to the football better. And I think it's a product of all those things. "
The Wolverine defense struggled against smaller, speedier teams like Air Force and Northwestern last season, who like to stretch the field offensively. While defense wasn't out of place scheme wise, the lack of speed on defense caused the Wolverines' to struggle on the edge, said Mattison.
"Teams are trying to get on the perimeter, that's the deal," Mattsion said. "You got to have guys that can run and get there. And they have to play fast. A lot of times your forty time it what your forty time is, but guys play a lot faster because they know what to do, they're playing with good technique and those are all things we've been working on a lot this spring."
Four Man Pass Rush
Mattison said he focused on stopping the run when he first came to Michigan. Now, with defensive line run stopping techniques installed, he is switching the focus defensively on getting a better four man pass rush.
"We're working very, very hard," Mattison said on improving the pass rush. "We've spent more time this spring working on pass rush techniques. Working on trying to get pressure with four man fronts then we've ever done."
However, Mattison admitted the four man pass rush is not where he would like it to be.
"You're definitely seeing improvement, but that's a combination of us being not very good at all at pass rush on a four man front," Mattison said "So we're definitely taking steps. Whether it's baby steps or the right steps—we're going to be better at pass rush. That's going to be a trademark of this defense before we're all done. When that happens, who knows? I know one thing, those guys know and they believe it, in a passing situation if they're blocked one-on-one, that they let the defense down."
I want ‘Tacos'
Freshman defensive end, Taco Charlton, has been impressing many at spring camp with his size alone. At 6-foot-6, 265-pounds, Charlton should be finishing his senior year of high school, but enrolled early to get a head start on his Michigan career.
"Taco's name has come up a lot, because if you're 6'6, 265-pounds, and you should be going to your prom and you're here practicing football at Michigan—you're going to like that," Mattsion said "You always want strong, tall, athletic guys. Well he's 6'6, and very strong for his age and he was a great basketball player. So now you have to get the mental part (down)."
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