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September 07, 2011 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-09-07

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 9A

FOOTBALL
From walk-on to defensive leader, safety
Kovacs playing just the way Mattison likes

Redshirt junior
recorded team's
only two sacks
against Broncos
By KEVIN RAFTERY
Daily Sports Editor
There's a game inside the game
for the Michigan football defense,
and so far, it's taking a little time
for the Wolverines to catch on.
"We have a big chart up in the
hallway that you get points for
tackles, for assists, for caused
fumbles, all those kinds of things,"
said Michigan defensive coordina-
tor Greg Mattison.
"The walk-
on chip ... I'll
always carry
with me."
Players also receive negative
points for plays that hurt the
team, like missed assignments and
missed tackles.
After the points were tallied
following Saturday's 34-10 win
against Western Michigan, Mat-
tison wasn't pleased with the
results - except for one player in
particular.
"We had too many guys that
didn't have a lot of points," Mat-
tison said. "You had one guy who
had 47 points - Jordan Kovacs."
The redshirt junior safety led
the team in-tackles on Saturday
c e u adcrbck ex t Card
i Qncos quarterback Alex Card-

backer Brandon Herron. It also
gave the Wolverines a comfortable
27-10 lead early in the third quar-
ter. Mattison and Michigan coach
Brady Hoke have talked numerous
times about "hearing" their play-
ers play football.
Consider Kovacs's hit music to
their ears.
"That hit that he came on one
of the pressures, it was what you
tell and what you coach," Mat-
tison said. "Put your face right
into hischest, wrap himup, eyes
up, and he put his helmet right
through the football. The thing
that people didn't see on that is
he was in the end zone almost
the same time as Herron after
he had caused the fumble and
made the hit.
"That's what Michigan
defense is about."
Kovacs later defined what it
means to play Michigan foot-
ball: "Michigan football, defen-
sively, is about big hits, making
big plays, and just flying to the
football. That's what I hope
(Mattison) means."
Just more music to Matti-
son's ears.
Kovacs, a former walk-on,
burst onto the scene as a redshirt
freshman in 2009, finishingsec-
ond on the team in tackles with
75 and earning Sporting News
Freshman All-Big Ten honors.
He followed that perfor-
mance by leading the Wolver-
ines in tackles last year and
earning All-Big Ten honorable
mention.
It was a tremendous season
for Kovacs, but Michigan would
rather not have him lead the
team in tackles again this year.
"When your safety is mak-
ing a lot tackles, that's not a
good thing," Mattison said. "It's
a gooq _ y aas:
Kovacs, but that's not a good
thing (that he led the team in
tackles). That happened a num-
ber of times where ifa lineback-

er was where he was supposed to
be, he would've made that tackle.
"The great news is Jordan was
where he was supposed tobe."
Kovacs has gone from an
unknown walk-on to one of Mich-
igan's biggest defensive forces
- and arguably one of the best

safeties in the Big Ten.
But though he's officially been
on scholarship since last season,
the Ohio native won't forget where
he started.
"The walk-on chip on my shoul-
der is something I'll always carry
with me," he said. "I'm proud of

being a walk-on. It's nothing that
that I regret or nothing that I'm
disappointed about. I think it's a
special thing."
And if he burst onto the scene in
2009, then he looks ready to blow
right through it this year - not
to mention continue to lead the

defense in points.
"He's a football player," Matti-
son said. "He's a Michigan football
player. If you had ateam of eightof
him, you might sit ina lawn chair
and watch the game."
That might complicate things
on the pointsboard.

MaRInc Mp.LaI/aly
Redshirt junior Jordan Kovacs is one of the team's more experienced players.

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4esirt junqJordan Kovacs has bees one of Michitan's only defensive piapy-
Io -impress defensive coordinator Greg Mattison this season. Kovacs record-
ed 10 tackles on Saturday atainst Western Michitan.

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