Wednesday, February 15, 2012

MGoBlog: Clinic Items - Greg Mattison

Greg Mattison is awesome.
Brian at MGoBlog attended a clinic at which Greg Mattison spoke.  First of all, I'm jealous.  Secondly, though, I loved every bit of Brian's post.  You should go there (if you haven't already) and read it in its entirety, but here I just want to a bit of a point-by-point analysis of what Brian shared.

"Occasionally it felt like it was a college class as Mattison asked the room what player X would be doing in a particular situation."  In my experience, the best speakers are the ones who keep the audience involved.  This isn't news to anyone who does frequent public speaking or is involved in education.  If you're just speaking at people, they often lose interest fairly quickly.

"As I wrestled with how to handle this various coaches in the room told every-damn-body that Mattison said Brennen Beyer was moving to WDE and Craig Roh to SDE. This was explicitly stated."
  This is confirmation of my post from the other day.  Not that I'm a genius - the info was e-mailed to me - but there were some questions about the validity of my info.  I try not to post information I'm not confident in, so I like when my info is confirmed by multiple sources.

"Mattison took the opportunity to point out that this was an example of the corners not coming hard enough and gush over Floyd ("I love this kid") in general and specifically as an exemplar of the Michigan philosophy."
  I think my criticisms of J.T. Floyd often get misconstrued as hating on a kid or holding a grudge.  I've never questioned Floyd's hustle or attitude.  What I've questioned is his overall athletic ability, and I think Brian's comment here somewhat confirms my criticisms.  Floyd hustles and indeed makes a nice play by chasing down Braxton Miller, but one of the issues here is that Floyd helped allow a giant run in the first place, which is acknowledged by Mattison.

"Here he also noted that everyone hits the sled every day and that this was not something the previous coaching staff did frequently, if ever. This is where the bit about "I've never seen such awful technique" came in. Pretty much the only thing negative Mattison said was about the state of the team he was handed."  
The sled is such a useful tool in coaching football.  I know we saw clips of Rodriguez's teams hitting the sled, and I doubt they just did that for the camera.  I think Mattison might be underestimating how often Michigan hit the sled, but still it might be a significant improvement.  Whether it's a blocking sled, a tackling sled, a five-man sled, a two-man sled, whatever, they're the best simulation for live play.  And there's only so much man-on-man hitting you can do before people start getting injured.

"Inside linebackers. The usual: the mike has to be a little bigger, a little stronger, and the will has to be able to adjust to coverage outside of the box. An important difference between the two is the WLB has to be able to run vertically down the seam whereas the MLB can pass his guy off; IIRC this year the guy running down the seam was Demens, not Morgan. Adjustment based on Demens's surprising ability to stick with guys downfield?"  The MIKE and the WILL are interchangeable, especially with a guy like Desmond Morgan, who is essentially a MIKE (albeit young and small-ish) playing because of a void at the position.  I think Demens was often dropping into coverage because offenses flipped the formation's strength.  The inside linebackers don't flip with a change of strength, so then the MIKE becomes the WILL and vice versa.

"Corners. "Corners are corners" but the field corner (Countess) is not involved with "heavy work" and usually just has to clean up plays that have been strung out. The boundary corner (Floyd) has to be a bigger guy better in run support. It's a seven man front; if you go eight you'd "better have a war daddy" at field corner because he's got to cover an outside receiver with little additional help."  This is where the loss of Anthony Standifer hurts.  I really think Standifer, who was committed to Michigan for several months, could have developed into a good run supporter and boundary corner.  Richardson is a lot like Blake Countess, so now Michigan has two young field corners (three if you include Courtney Avery) and one senior boundary corner (Floyd).  I think that's why you're seeing so many big corners getting offered in the class of 2013.  Michigan needs run supporting corners right NOW.  It might also be why incoming free safety Jarrod Wilson might get a shot to play cornerback.

"Brennen Beyer
. Beyer was talked up like a future star. Reportedly up to 250 pounds and will be given an opportunity to win the WDE job in the spring."  This sounds like a good plan to me, because Beyer seemed a little out of place at SAM.

"Departing DL. Heininger "really became a football player." Seems like they think they'll miss him. Van Bergen "really, really played" for M and Martin was of course the best player on the team."  I agree that Martin was the best player on the team.  Yes, better than Denard Robinson.  Heininger is replaceable, and Van Bergen's loss will be mitigated somewhat by the move of Craig Roh to strongside end.  This isn't news, but the biggest loss here is Mike Martin.  As much as I like most of the defense, the loss of such a big-time nose tackle is going to hurt.  Even when Martin wasn't making plays, he was causing the offense to scheme around him or he was making running backs redirect in the backfield.  Teams often improve in the second year of a system, but that might be difficult unless William Campbell and/or Ondre Pipkins has a breakout season.      


  1. Your last comment is dead-on about the loss of Martin. I think losing him, combined with the fact that UM's defense got a lot of bounces in 2011, means I'm not expecting statistical improvement for the defense in 2012. I think they will face better QB's next season too.

    I don't expect big things until 2013, when Pipkins has a year under his belt. And some of the more talented underclassmen get their footing.

  2. I really like the practice incompletions are live on the ground idea.

    That's genius.

    The run on—snap—run off thing struck me as a good idea too.

  3. I'm going to disagree with you on Avery. Avery bulked up quite a bit between his freshman and sophomore years. I think he would be fine being the big man. He's not terribly short (5'11") and from the looks of him I'd say he has to be 190 lbs, the kid got big. I don't care what the roster says (173 lbs).

    You know, I was worrying about our DL last year, playing Heininger and Brink. Now, we have Wilkins, Ash, Q, and BWC, with Pipkins and potentially Wormley coming in as our interior guys. Montgomery Hoke and Mattison had to have confidence in these players if they only recruited Pipkins, with signing Henry last minute. The returning players will all have had a full year of coaching under this all star cast, and I'm sure they're going to be AT LEAST better than average. I think Roh at SDE is an upgrade from RVB, and I loved RVB. Roh has ~20 lbs less, but he has good strength, and good speed. RVB had good strength, with pretty good speed.

    For me, if BWC works on his conditioning, and really hits the weights hard, that'll be the determining factor if our defense is top 30, or top 15. He needs the strength and endurance to go hard EVERY play, not just when he feels it's appropriate.


    1. I don't think Avery is an ideal boundary corner. Would he be better than Richardson? Yes. Better than Countess? Perhaps. But the coaches are obviously recruiting bigger corners, and there's a reason for that.

      I think Roh might be a step down at SDE. Not because I think Roh is a bad player, but because Van Bergen was pretty damn fantastic. There were stretches when, in my opinion, Van Bergen was a more dominant player than Martin.

    2. I agree that Avery definitely beefed up and might have even grown an inch or two. We'll see him more often next year...I'm guessing he's the full-time nickel.

      The ideal boundary corner is Ty Law or Chris Gamble. We don't have anyone like them at the moment.

  4. I think people are missing what Mattison was saying about the sled. He's not saying that RR's teams didn't hit the sleds, or even that they didn't hit them everyday. Read what he's actually saying. He's saying now EVERYONE hits the sled EVERYDAY.

    Sure we saw video of guys hitting sleds during RR's tenure. Those could have been taken in one or two days each week. And they were always of linemen. Mattison is saying LB's and secondary guys are hitting the sled daily as well.

  5. Does anybody know what happened with Anthony Standifer?

    I didn't realize until just now that he still doesn't have a home.

    1. He had academic issues that would have prevented him from getting into U of M.

    2. Sorta like Burbridge but not Norfleet?