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March 31, 2011 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-03-31

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 7A

Mattison expects line Cam Gordon settles into his
to be a strength of 'D' new position, SAM linebacker

By TIM ROHAN like, 'Okay coach, I'll see you
Daily Sports Editor tomorrow, and (I'll) get ready to
go.' They're all that way," Mattison
Every time Greg Mattison takes said.
a look at the big, golden Michigan As Mattison mentioned ear-
Rose Bowl Championship ring on lier this spring, Roh will play the
his finger, he thinks of the defen- "Terrell Suggs position" on the
sive linemen who earned it for him. Michigan defense, to compare this
"I think of Buster Stanley; I situation to Mattison's last stop in
think of Chris Hutchinson," Matti- Baltimore. Roh entered his sopho-
son said. "I think of those defensive more campaign in 2010 with high
linemen that played with incred- expectations to be the team's edge-
ible technique: Jason Horn. pass rusher. But he endured a mid-
"It's been 15 years since I've season position change, playing
seen some of those guys. I can just eight games at outside linebacker
picture them out there in the Rose and five games at his natural posi-
Bowl, playing with the technique tion of defensive end - and he
that we wanted. And that was a finished with just half-a-sack in 13
great night." games.
All these years later, Mattison is "Roh has had some signs of,
back at Michigan looking for more 'Okay, he's kind getting to what we
rings, and nothing has changed want him to do,' where his hand's
- the defensive line will be a key on the ground," Mattison said.
ingredient to the Wolverines' suc- "And to play the position that we
cess on defense. want him to play, he's got to be a
"You can't have a great defense, very physical football player - so
unless you have a really good he's worked onthat."
defensive line. I've never seen one," Mattison would like to develop a
Mattison said. "And in order to play rotation of quality players at every
really, really good defense, your position on the defensive line, and
defensive line has to be one of the the entire defense for that matter.
strongest points - that's a must." Backing up Roh is Black, who
The names have changed - Mattison expects to bring an
Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen, explosion off the edge.
Craig Roh are expected to anchor "Jibreel Black, some days, looks
the unit - and so has the scheme, as good as (Roh), or better," Mat-
with four downlinemen now on the tison said.
field at once instead of the three- Opposite Roh on the line, Ryan
man front Michigan employed Van Bergen is penciled in at defen-
last year under Rich Rodriguez. sive end. And Mattison expected
The Wolverines are expected to be Will Heininger, who tore his ACL
more physical at the point of attack. this time last year and missed most
Leading the charge is Martin, of the 2010 season, to rotate with
the gem of the group at defensive Van Bergen at that end spot.
tackle. When Mattison was nam- But the most intriguing position
ing the players who had impressed up front is the defensive tackle posi-
him through six spring practices, tion next to Martin - Will Camp-
the first name he mentioned was bell and Quinton Washington have
Martin, followed by Roh and fellow been battling for the spot in spring
defensive end Jibreel Black. practice. The two famously flip-
Mattison noted Martin's enthu- flopped in the middle of the season
siasm to learn - as if he were an a year ago, when Rodriguez moved
unseasoned freshman - and spoke Campbell to offense and Washing-
of how willing he was to change ton to defense - essentially taking
his technique. That eager-to-learn each other's spots. And Washing-
attitude has permeated the entire ton did see playing time onthe goal
defense. Roh sat through an entire line defensive unit as an extra big
film session "without (Mattison) body. Now, the two are locked in a
saying a positive thing on his tech- position battle.
nique." "When you see Quinton Wash-
"And when he got done, it was ington and Will Campbell bat-

tling for a position, that says great,
because now we can roll them,"
Mattison said. "I believe in that,
and always have.
"(Washington has) been neck-
and-neck with (Campbell). If one
guy doesn't do quite what we're
supposed to do, the other guy goes
in there."
Washington nearly matches
Campbell pound-for-pound, as he
is listed at 6-foot-4, 315 pounds and
Campbell is 6-foot-5, 333-pounds.
During the first 20 minutes of
practice on Tuesday, which was
open to the media, it appeared
Washington was running with the
first-team defense. Despite a disap-
pointing beginning to the five-star
recruit's Michigancareerhe seems
to be makingstrides this spring.
."Will Campbell is showing signs
at times of being the guy that comes
off the football like we want him to,
and then there's other times when
he doesn't," Mattison said.
"Now, he's like everybody else
and we've got to be more consistent
doing it, play after play," he added.
"I've been real excited with those
guys, the size inthere, the strength
in there and them coming off the
ball. It just has to be more consis-
Teaching guys like Campbell
has been rewarding so far, Mat-
tison said explaining that when he
corrects a player, he usually doesn't
see the same mistake the next day.
But, the unit still has work to do
to get to where Mattison wants it
to be.
"The entire defense has tons of
work to do on basic techniques,"
Mattison said. "But I would've said
that about any team that I've had
because unless they're perfect with
their technique, I'm not satisfied.
This group has to work very, very
hard on just basic, steps, punch,
blow delivery, those kind of things
- the very integral parts of being
that kind of a player."
Then, the ringswill come.
"I assume that any Michigan
player has rings," said Mattison,
who made his son dig up Mat-
tison's Rose Bowl ring when he
took the defensive coordinator job
at Michigan. "Our goal is to get
more of those."

Daily Sports Editor
Physically, Cam Gordon didn't
look much different during prac-
tice on Tuesday afternoon.
He was the same athletic,
6-foot-3, 207-pound specimen
that received a load of hype this
time last year during spring prac-
tice. And he looked just as he did
when he put an exclamation point
on the beginning of the 2010 sea-
son by blocking a field goal in the
first quarter against Connecticut.
Yet, there stood Gordon as an
outside linebacker in Greg Mat-
tison's 4-3 scheme, playing with
what appeared to be the first-
team defense - his fourth dif-
ferent position since coming to
Michigan, having already played
at wide receiver, safety and Rich
Rodriguez's hybrid linebacker
position last season. Mattison
said Wednesday that Gordon had
made the most progress of anyone
during the first six spring prac-
"I really, really have high hopes
for him," Mattison said. "This
is a guy that played safety obvi-
ously, that now is playing a SAM
linebacker up on the line, play-
ing against tight ends. This guy, I
think has a chance to be a pretty
good football player and has a
tremendous attitude, wants to do
everything right. He runs to the
football. He's very physical ... I
think he's a kid you're going to see
a lot of."
When Gordon was moved from
safety to the hybrid linebacker
position before Michigan's game
against Penn State, it was viewed
as advantageous having him clos-
er to the line of scrimmage. Rodri-
guez could get creative in how he
used his athletic abilities. Gordon
finished the 2010 season with 77
tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss, three
interceptions, four pass break-
ups and two fumble recoveries,
including one for a touchdown

against Purdue.
"Believe me, Cam's areallylong
way away," Mattison said. "But as
a coach, you see things ina young
man, you say, 'This guy really
could be one of those really good
players some day.'
"You're talking about a safety
that has never lined up on a guy
this close away and now he's in
there every day battling with guys
a lot bigger than him. His aggres-
siveness and his toughness really
stand out and he's always been
able to run."
Mattison would like to see Gor-
don get bigger, but with one stipu-
"I'd like to see as big as he can
get - as big as he can get and still
run," Mattison said.
When guys come up to Matti-
son and ask where he wants them
to be, he tells them all the same
" 'I want you as strong as you
can get' - we don't believe in sup-
plements, we don't believe in any
of that kind of thing - 'So work
out the way (Director of Strength
and Conditioning) Aaron (Well-
man) wants you to work out and
you'll be where we want youto be,'
" Mattison tells them.
The same advice could apply
for Gordon's counterpart, fellow

linebacker Mike Jones, who lined
up at weakside linebacker spot
during Tuesday's practice with
the first teamers. He, too, is a bit
undersized for the position, listed
at 6-foot-2, 207pounds. He's a guy
that Mattisonnotedhad alsomade
big strides since the start ofspring
as a special teams player his fresh-
man year in 2009, and he redshirt-
ed last year after he broke his leg
against Notre Dame. The unit as a
whole still has its work cut out for
itself, though.
"There's not a lot of minutes
that have been played by those
guys in that scheme," Mattison
said of their inexperience. "You
know, where they have to react,
they have to adjust, they have to
do some things instead of just blitz
a lot -- I think that's what a lot of
them had done. So now, we have to
train them to read run-pass, take .
the perfect steps. And when it is
pass, drop back.
"All of the backers have
improved, they just have to
improve faster than everybody
else. Again, the linebacker posi-
tion in our defense might be the
most difficult - because you have
to do all of it. So that's where a lot
of the improvement will have to




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