The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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136 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW defensive line can't get to the quarterback consistently. You have to do both to be as aggressive as we want to be back there, and in the spring, we saw those two working in tandem together." The Wolverine: What did sophomore Jour- dan Lewis do to emerge as a potential starter at cornerback, and where does redshirt junior Blake Countess now fit in? Mattison: "Jourdan had a really, really good spring, and Jourdan loves playing that kind of football. He's more confident now. He's older. He's stronger. "Blake Countess is, potentially, at the nickel, and with so many teams playing the spread against us, you need a really good corner to be able to play on the slot. The guy on the slot sometimes is your most valuable player because he has to be able to blitz, he has to be able to cover man to man, and he has to be able to run support. He has to do a lot of things." The Wolverine: Where do you envision playing incoming freshman Jabrill Peppers this fall? Mattison: "We're talking about that as coaches. It's been brought up to play him on offense, but I immediately squelched that. Wherever we put him, we have to put him in a position where he can be on the field early, and second, that it's a position where he is on the field all the time. "The other thing you have to do is put him at one position. As a coach, it's easy to say, 'I'm going to make him a nickel and then make him a safety in a regular defense.' But that will hurt his growth because you don't give him a chance to be really good at that one thing. That's still a discussion about where we will start him. "The good news is that he will be here in June. Our players can work with him and put him in different spots this summer, and get a feel for where he fits best so we have some idea when camp starts." The Wolverine: What does it say about your confidence in your cornerbacks that you will likely start him at nickel or safety? Mattison: "[Senior] Raymon Taylor had a very good spring, and Raymon has played a lot of football here. You have him, you have Jourdan Lewis, you have Blake Countess, you have [sophomore] Channing Stribling. You have some guys that have really showed up. "The place that there is still a lot of com- petition is at the safety position next to Jar- rod. You have [sophomore] Delano Hill that has great talent and really showed us some things. You have [redshirt sophomore] Jer- emy Clark, and you have [sophomore] Dy- monte Thomas. You have three guys com- peting for one position. That is a classic example of where every day a different guy may have started in the spring. "Whoever comes out of that position in the fall — and it could be Jabrill — we don't know the answer to that yet." The Wolverine: How motivated are you to restore this defense and this team to what Michigan stands for? Mattison: "Really motivated. I don't know if I've been this excited in a long time about a season. These are all kids we recruited. These are kids we've bled with. We've had some good moments with them, and we've been so close with them. To see them do some good things this spring, you just say: 'We have a chance.' "Their attitude is tremendous. When you have a feeling where you're excited to see your kids every day because they're excited, because they have enthusiasm and love for each other and love for Michigan, now you have a chance. "Sometimes when you don't have that chemistry, or that feeling that, 'We're all in it together,' when you see them they might duck you or head the other way. These guys are always stopping in my office to tease me, to talk to me. If you've done this as long as I have, you can just feel it, and there is a really good thing that's happening right now." ❑ Mattison said of his motivation level for the 2014 campaign: "I don't know if I've been this excited in a long time about a season. These are all kids we recruited. These are kids we've bled with." PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL 134-136.Defense Q&A.indd 136 6/19/14 2:53 PM

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