The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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minute drill. Craig���s thing is, he loves that spin move. He loved it in high school ��� it was unreal. ���He got up on me, so I turned my shoulders. He spun, and instead of coming back to it, I spun with him, and we rolled off each other. We landed right in front of each other, dumbfounded.��� ���It was like, why is he spinning?��� Roh interjected, chuckling. Senior Mike Martin (center, shown celebrating after recording a safety versus Purdue) is Michigan's veteran leader on a stillimproving defensive line. Photo by per kjeldsen The laugher still bubbles up on some days. Perhaps more importantly, Roh���s smile has returned, dovetailing with his understanding of where he and Michigan are headed on the defensive side of the ball. He���s ready for the journey, even after a disappointing setback against Michigan State. ���The character of the guys on this team is amazing,��� he said. ���All these guys have been through so much already. They know what this feels like, they know what they want, and they know their goals. I think we will be able to shake this off. ���We can still win the Big Ten championship. We can still go to Pasadena. I fully believe this team has the ability to do that.��� ��� Defensive Line Still A Work In Progress Michigan���s defensive line needed to absorb a lot of teaching in a short span. Greg Mattison represented the Wolverines��� third defensive coordinator in four years, and clearly presented his own ideas about how the front should shape up. U-M line coach Jerry Montgomery likes the way the Wolverines are responding, although he certainly sounds the warning echoed by everyone working for Brady Hoke: it���s not good enough. ���They���ve really, really come a long way,��� noted Montgomery, in his first year of coaching under Hoke. ���They���ve matured as far as technique goes. We���ve done some things this fall that we hadn���t done in the spring or fall camp. After game two, they really started believing in the things that we���re teaching. You could see it on film.��� Game seven ��� in East Lansing ��� gave the Wolverines a reminder of what not to do in order to keep progressing, Montgomery noted. The buildup to that showdown may have proven a bit much. ���We had a little relapse against State,��� Montgomery said. ���The hype about the game got to them, but they���ve come a long ways and I���m pleased with the progress. We���re still not where we need to be. We need to be more consistent on a daily basis.��� In the loss at MSU, Montgomery noted, Michigan���s men up front got away from what had allowed them to move forward in a positive manner. It���s all about fundamentals, he insisted, but sometimes those get lost in the surging, deafening arena of battle. ���You get into a big game like that and, at the end of the day, you fall back on your techniques,��� Montgomery said. ���The hype gets to you a little bit, and the crowd noise, and you stop looking at your keys. You stop playing technique, and you start just playing football. ���That���s not how we do things around here. We want you to play by the book all the time, and that���s where we fell off a little bit in that game. But we���re back and doing good things in practice.��� Senior Mike Martin continues to lead the pack. Martin started the season slowly, but has drawn increasing praise from Hoke and Michigan���s coaches for his prowess in the trenches. ���He���s playing fundamentals, being sound, coming off the ball and hitting people in the mouth, being disruptive,��� Montgomery said. ���He���s playing to his level all the time. He���s always had it in him, but now he���s playing on a consistent basis with technique, which makes him even a better player.��� Meanwhile, fifth-year senior Ryan Van Bergen started Michigan���s first two games at the other defensive tackle position, but fifth-year senior Will Heininger���s emergence allowed Van Bergen to move back out to defensive end. Both are improving, Montgomery said, with Heininger battling back from a knee injury to perform this season. ���Heininger is more stout and bigger inside,��� Montgomery noted. ���He���s a pretty sound kid, and he���s come a long ways.��� Junior Will Campbell, while not fulfilling the hopes of some to become a starter at defensive tackle, has continued to improve, Montgomery noted, along with redshirt sophomore walk-on Nathan Brink. ���Will Campbell has gotten better,��� Montgomery said. ���He���s a guy that has rotated in. Nathan Brink is always impressive doing some things. We���ve really got to get more weight on him, but he���s a tough kid. He plays technique. We���ve just got to get him knowing the defense better.��� Overall, Montgomery is encouraged heading into the final month of the season. He���s seen big strides, but expects more ��� enough to potentially put the Wolverines into an elite category up front. ���I���m a firm believer that if they do what we ask them, at a high level, they can be as good as anybody in this league, as a group,��� Montgomery said. ���I feel strongly about that. But you���ve got to be consistent. You���ve got to do it on a daily basis. If you can, we can get those things done. If not, we���re going to be up and down.��� ��� John Borton November 2011��� ������ the wolverine��� 39

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