b> Question: What has impressed you about Carvin Johnson?
Mike Martin: "He's a smart football player. He's always around the ball. He's a young guy, but he's a hard worker, a real humble kid and just wants to get out there and prove that he is a good football player. I've been really impressed with him this camp and he is doing a great job."
Question: What makes you believe that this defense will be significantly improved maybe from last year?
Mike Martin: "A lot of different things. I think we're a more well-rounded defense. We have a lot of different guys that can step up and make plays. It is not per se, we don't look for one player or a few players to make plays. We have a lot of different play makers on the team and it is really going to help us out. We also have depth on the defensive line, guys that can come in, rotation and play and be impact players. That's what you need."
Question: How key will the pass rush be to help out the inexperienced secondary?
Mike Martin: "As a defensive line, we take pride in getting to the quarterback and we've been working really hard this camp with that and our technique. With me and Greg (Banks) and Ryan (Van Bergen) and the guys that are backing us up, I think we're going to do a good job of doing that this year."
Question: Do you feel added pressure just because there is not a lot of experience back there and if you guys don't get to the quarterback…?
Mike Martin: "I'm not worried about those guys. They're going to hold their own back there. They're going to do a good job with coverage and we're going to do our job with getting a rush. So together, we are going to be fine this year."
Question: What is the loudest crowd that you can remember in the Big House and how loud do you think it will be on Saturday with obviously a bigger crowd and the stadium complete?
Mike Martin: "The loudest game I think was Notre Dame since I've been here and second to that was Wisconsin, my freshman year. The Notre Dame win is just huge for me. I haven't have the experience of going to a bowl game yet being a Wolverine. I think that is one reason why we're so hungry as a team trying to get to a bowl game and do well this season. This game coming up on Saturday, I think it is going to be huge. The rededication of the Big House and Brock (Mealer) leading us out of the tunnel, which is going to be great and we're just excited to play."
Question: What concerns you about Connecticut?
Mike Martin: "They're a good team. They are going to come in here and play hard and we're going to do the same thing. I know they've prepared for us and we've done the same. I'm just excited to see how the game is going to go and both teams are going to play hard and we'll see who gets the W at the end."
Question: Entering your junior season, do you think you're taking more of a leadership role on the defense?
Mike Martin: "Yeah. I'm not much of a talker, ‘oh rah' guy. I just kind of go out there and play hard and every now and then just talk to guys on the sideline and stuff like that. We got some seniors on the defense, (Jonas) Mouton and Greg Banks that are doing a great job of pulling guys together. I'm right there behind them and got their backs and just trying to play as hard as I can this year."
Question: A lot of teams like a rotation on the defensive line, but it sounds like you may not come off the field too often; how ready are you for that type of workload?
Mike Martin: "I'm definitely ready. Last year, I think Brandon Graham played just under 700 plays in the season and I played six plays less than him. So I was out there pretty much every time he was out there and I was used to being out there for 6 plays out of a game. I'm ready for that workload. I have Adam Patterson and Will Campbell that I have great confidence in if I need a blow or something, a breather. They're going to come in and step up."
Question: Is there an ideal amount of plays that a defensive lineman should be in that rotation per game? What's a lot or what is average for you guys?
Mike Martin: "I think it depends on the position too. Nose tackle, I don't really think you see a lot of nose tackles playing 70 plays a game. It is kind of rare. I take pride with Coach Barwis just being in great shape. We ran five fifths after our ‘Beanie Bowl' and the defensive line was making them 15 seconds before our time that we had. We're in great shape and I think we'll be able to go for the long run during the games."
Question: I do not know how much you know about UCONN's rushing game yet; can you just talk about the confidence in the defense to stop the run overall?
Mike Martin: "We've done a good job of getting to the ball and having gap responsibility this year. We have more experience on the D-line and our linebacker corp and everything. Guys are more conscious on what they have to do. Their minimum assignment, which Coach Robinson talks about, getting in your gap and then playing football from there. Guys are doing a good job of doing and then just getting to the ball."
Question: You are going to have quite a few true freshmen play on Saturday, can you talk about Carvin Johnson and what he's done in camp to really kind of impressed some folks just to move up first on the depth chart?
Mike Martin: "Yeah. He has been doing a good job. He has been getting interceptions, laying the wood on tackles and he's just a hard player. He doesn't say much and just gets up and plays the next play, which is what I really like about him. He just comes to practice every day ready to work. I'm excited to see what he is going to do this year and I hope he continues to do better because everyone on this defense has room to improve and that is what we need to do."
Question: Will you talk to some of the freshman, because you have a lot on defense that will have a chance to play. Will you say something before the game to understand that they have a big role to play for this team?
Mike Martin: "I think they know that, but if I was to say something before the game it would be to calm them down a little bit because I remember how I was my first game ever here. The emotions are running and this is a big game. There are going to be a lot of people here. So just get them calm down. Playing secondary, you can't be as much riled up as playing D-line because you got to calm down a little bit more back there. Just getting them relaxed and just getting them ready to play and I think they are going to do a good job."
Junior defensive lineman Mike Martin is bigger, stronger, healthier, and hoping to help his defense…