What coach said this about facing what team and quarterback?

Quiz time:

“Well. We have another big one ahead of us. This next one, I guess you’d say that every game is really really big, but I think this one will pose a real challenge to our defense because they’re like three offenses in one. They’re a power attack . . . . They go from that to being able to be an option attack with the quarterback. . . . You see where their offense is. It makes the defense have to be sound in all phases. You can’t load up and play the power because you may be getting optioned. You can’t go in there with an idea of being a finesse or assignment totally or you’re going the power run right at you. This is going to be a big test. And he can throw it. He’s put some yardage on people. The last thing they do that challenges your defense is they have a fast pace, so they do that to try to get your defense so they’re not in great alignments. Just to be a little sloppy because they hurry up and if you’re not a real disciplined defense, you don’t get set correctly, and you know as well as I do that we’re not good enough to not be perfect in our assignments and our alignments.”

The answer is after the jump.

If you guessed that it was Michigan defensive coordinator (and former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator) Greg Mattison as his team prepares for Nebraska and their quarterback Taylor Martinez, you get the winning cookie. But you get bonus points nevertheless if you guessed Jets coach Rex Ryan as his defense faces the Tim Tebow-led Broncos. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m not super-confident in the Broncos ability to be really smart about integrating the reads and options into the pro game, but it’s still fun to watch defensive coordinators struggle to defend this stuff since it’s so foreign. And as Mattison describes, it’s not as easy to defend as the commentators try to make it sound, as Mattison — a rather experienced guy — well understands.

Below is another good quote of general interest from Mattison’s press conference:

“That’s the maturing process that you’re seeing. Great defenses, if you’re ever out there with them, it sounds almost like a stock market. Guys are saying, ‘This guy’s up! This guy’s up! The tight’s split! Tight’s split! Closed split! Closed split.’ And you have the linebackers saying, ‘The back’s far, the back’s near.’ That’s great defenses. That’s what happens. And then the secondary’s talking about ‘Cut split! This guy’s split!’ Well, first few weeks it was like a morgue out there. I mean, come on, talk! And the guy’s going, ‘Oh my God.’ Now you’re hearing it. Now you’re starting to, when they get the signal, you can hear guys talking about, ‘Hey, this guy’s here.’ Well, they’re putting in time. They’re coming in whenever they can legally and sitting down with their coach and going through film one on one. I mean, that’s the thing you mention after the game why I’m so proud of this team. Because they’re becoming a football team. They’re becoming a defense. Now, we have to show it again Saturday. We have to do it again Saturday. We all know that. But where they come from to becoming a defense not just knocking somebody’s head off out there. It’s talking and taking care of your buddy, and when you make a mistake, not hanging your head, coming off and getting ready for me to rip them, but them saying, ‘Okay, coach, I got it.’ And then you not having to yell at them because you know it means something. That’s what happens when you have a group that’s come together, and that’s what this team is starting to do.”

There’s a lot to building a great team or even side of the ball, and it’s this kind of communication and meaning that is so difficult to coach but is what really makes success.

  • Joshua Quist

    What Mattison has done to the Michigan defense is incredible. They have gone from a team that couldn’t stop a 3rd and 20 to statistically one of the nation’s best. Now obviously the ineptitude of the Big Ten has a lot to do with it and their two biggest tests are yet to come, but there is definitely reason for optimism.

  • Carcajous

    Joshua, Nebraska and OSU are far from the toughest offensive tests for Michigan this year.  Northwestern and Notre Dame are better than Nebraska (offensively) and almost everyone is better than OSU (offensively).

  • Joshua Quist

    Sorry for the confusion, I didn’t specifically mean offensive tests, just tests in general. Nebraska and OSU will bring it offensively, though. Option and power by Nebraska will be difficult to defend, and OSU have Herron and Posey back and Herron is averaging 5.4ypc.

  • Cbyhm

    OSU can’t complete a forward pass.  They will be lucky to score more than 7 against PSU this weekend.

  • Anonymous

    I think Mattison should be a top candidate for the Broyles Award, though I know he probably won’t get it with Michigan out of contention for the B1G title.  

    What has really been amazing is the improvement of individual players on that defense.  The best example is probably JT Floyd.  He spent the last two season getting burnt toasty by just about every receiver he faced, now he’s one of the better cover corners in the league.  Last week he dominated AJ Jenkins and got a game-sealing pick.  I think what it shows is that, in addition to Mattison himself, Michigan just has a much better defense staff from top-to-bottom.

  • Mr.Murder

    Flex one D lineman to make their zone read fuzzy all game and it sets in order all kind of timing problems coming off double teams to get past him. That allows one interior defender to move laterally in new ways.

  • Daniel Andrews

    Flexing a D lineman is a bad idea against a Zone Read team.  Against offensive linemen at the D1 level its probably a huge mistake. 

    If you flex the 3 tech (typically strong side DT) as this would be the best possible place to flex the only thing you did is schemed them out of midline zone read, but likely give up an extra yard or two on inside zone read give and on zone dive plays.  You also are giving up both the weakside and strongside Power as the strongside guard now can pull weakside without threat of the 3 beating the tackles down block.  In the absence of a great 1 tech or 2i nose and MLB combination you are likely set up for failure as they can go after you with every play but a midline zone read.

    Haven’t seen someone play the original Eagle defense with a flexed 0 tech nose with two 3 techs (double eagle).  This is the only way to flex the Nose without getting destroyed on traps, dives, or a midline zone read.  However, if you play a 4-3 you are better off in your regular defense as a MLB can read his keys open window or closed window on zone read plays or the fullback in two back sets allowing him to play inside dive half to qd on options other than inside zone.  The OLBs can crossread backs (counting qb as back) with qb responsibility on options and being forces.  An unblocked DE should be squeezing to prolong the mesh as long as possible or force the qb to commit to the dive early and often.  If you play a 3-4/5-2 scheme you eagle down the weakside E/T or go double eagle (bear).

    If you flex the ends, then you are going to see a lot of belly, counter, and outside zone plays at the flexed end side and away from them as well.  Not only that you are allowing a tackle trap play which will start playing with everyones keys.
    It comes down to playing sound football and executing, believing you can out-execute and being more physical than they are.  You have to play all 8 gaps if they play double tight or tight with a wing and hoping they go with predominately zone blocking on tosses, dives, and off tackle plays because it makes it easier for your defensive ends/OLBs to contain and pursue if there is no clear winner at who controls the LOS.   Play predominantly cover 5 with weakside corner the force player on weakside or go cover 3 with the free safety playing the alley hard on weakside.  The difference between Nebraska beating Penn St. and Michigan St. and losing to Northwesten wasn’t control of the LOS by the opposing defense, Northwestern committed an extra man per gap to the run against mostly zone blocking and gave up medium pass routes and Penn St. and Michigan St faced more belly and power plays than Northwestern and tried to out technique Nebraska.  Northwestern didn’t let Nebraska control the clock, but Penn St. and Michigan St. did allow Nebraska to control the clock.  Norwestern gave up more up yards and points, but forced Nebraska to pass more from more passing situations which resulted in less rest for Nebraska’s defense which allowed Northwestern to score more points.  


  • Mr.Murder

    D linemen gap exchange on the flex just like ILB would. That is why the AzSt flex was really messing up reads. They read the keep as an end pinches down and here comes a big defensive tackle looping around that to the keeper while he sees the outside man staying with the pitch/give. Everyone is covered and you made their mind up for them, now your quarterback can just move the pile when he’s facing an unblocked interior defensive lineman.

    Players on the line also exchange so if you run from the flexed guy so their guys who line up in two tech can hold the blocker to play side on them it will free the flex to finish it up.

    This is unblocked D linemen you’re talking about, and if you double on their LOS guys to play side and the other front side guys step down it is a huge train wreck for a keeper read as well. You are talking about a parallel tackle and probably a scrapingstrong side backer still free to finish the play.

    The flex guves up some pass rush. You need a couple of dominating pass rushers(Harvey Martin and Randy White) to make that work, and at least one other guy who can hold the point(think of a reach DE like Too Tall Jones). Flex should kill any cutback and dive reads and remain sound at the point of attack. Cut block rules changed, in the Niners early days they would high/low those down linemen and get off them quick enough to reach the flex. You have to pretty much stay high hat these days so unless you have personnel great enough to control and come off doubles like Stanford’s mismatched interior had happen on them well sure then you can dominate them.