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August 08, 2019 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily

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Thursday, August 8, 2019
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com

Notebook: Josh Gattis talks offense at the start of fall camp

At Big Ten Media Days last month,
Maryland coach Mike Locksley
made headlines in characterizing
the workload distribution between
himself and Josh Gattis.
coordinators at Alabama last year,
also included the receivers. When
Locksley got the Maryland job, he
originally intended to bring Gattis
with him, per reports at the time,
but then Jim Harbaugh got involved.
Gattis instead went to Michigan,
taking sole responsibility of the
Wolverines’ offense.
“(Gattis) was very helpful as an
assistant in our program,” Locksley
said last month. “He had an
opportunity to see me call every play
and put together game plans.”
On Wednesday, speaking to media
for the first time since Michigan
opened fall camp last week, Gattis
confirmed that he wasn’t calling
plays for the Crimson Tide, as he

will for the Wolverines. However,
he took some exception to the latter
part of Locksley’s comments.
“Mike Locksley can say I watched
him call every play, but ask him
where the game plans usually come
from,” Gattis said. “So I’m fine with
that. He did call every play, and I’ve
got a notebook upstairs with all the
game plans written down in them.
But I’ve got tremendous respect for
him, obviously.”
the mammoth task of satiating
expectation that has only grown
since the spring. Michigan’s offense
returns most of its starters, including
senior quarterback Shea Patterson,
and with Gattis running the show
and implementing a spread, it’s
expected to buoy the Wolverines.
It’s the first time during the Jim
Harbaugh era that the comfort of
the fan base rests on the offense.
Gattis — as well as the experience
that comes back — is the reason why.
“Shea is playing the lights out right
now,” Gattis said. “I was a little bit
worried about him because he spent

so much time on the golf course this
summer. But his playmaking, his
ball placement, his footwork in the
pocket, I’ve been really pleased. He’s
playing at a really big-time level,
so he sets the standard. The other
players around him can really see it.”
That’s the kind of thing you expect
to hear about a senior quarterback
in fall camp — all positive. Given
that Patterson is coming off the best
season a Michigan quarterback has
had this side of Denard Robinson,
and is now playing in an offense
tailored to his skill-set, there’s no
reason to doubt Gattis.
• At running back, the biggest
question mark going into the year
for the Wolverines’ offense, Gattis
said Michigan likes all five of their
options: Tru Wilson, Christian
Turner, Zach Charbonnet, Hassan
Haskins and Ben VanSumeran.
Realistically, the battle for the
starting job is between the first
freshman, being perhaps the most
intriguing option.
“Zach’s maturity stood out right

away to us, as did the way he is
always in the weight room and the
coach’s offices,” Gattis said. “He
missed all of spring ball but still
hasn’t made any mistakes in fall

receiver, little surprise after the
throughout spring ball. He also made
sure to mention Cornelius Johnson
in the same breath. Johnson, a
freshman from Connecticut, has the
kind of physicality to compete in the
Big Ten already. However, it would
be a surprise to see him earn real
playing time given Michigan’s depth
at receiver.
• Unsurprisingly, Gattis didn’t
name a starter at right tackle,
only praising both Jalen Mayfield
and Andrew Stueber. Given the
Michigan shouldn’t be expected to
give away who the starter is before
the Aug. 31 opener against Middle
Tennessee State.
• Donovan Peoples-Jones has

been practicing through a groin
injury, though Gattis didn’t say
whether the receiver was at 100
percent. In the spring, Harbaugh
said the injury could go into the
season, so take this as a positive
“He’s been making plays and
has dnoe a really good job kind
oof taking it over and learning the
details and techniquest that we
learn at that position and applying
them this camp,” Gattis said. “He
missed all of that this spring, but he’s
done a nice job catching up.”
• As for the defense, coordinator
cornerback Ambry Thomas hasn’t
returned to practice, nor did he
specify a timeline. The nature of
Thomas’ injury is unclear.
• Brown also said that senior
defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour
is practicing, though still working
his way through a torn plantar fascia
suffered last season in a win over
Maryland. Luiji Vilain, who missed
two full seasons with knee ailments,
is practicing as well.

Managing Sports Editor

Depth in front seven allowing room for healthy competition at camp

Losing a majority of starters
from his top-five defense, Michigan
defensive coordinator Don Brown
stood in front of the media five days
into training camp, reflecting upon
how last season could have gone
“The first 19 minutes of the
regular season were not very good
for the Michigan defense,” Brown
said. “The next 10-game stretch was
pretty damn good and then we got 19
minutes left (in the final game), and
it’s a 7-point game, 8-point game.
And the last 19 minutes weren’t very
good. If we would have just squeezed
out the first 19 and the last 19, which
is probably the result of the things
we can control, it might have been a
historic year.
“That means mentally you gotta
be tougher, that means from a
preparation standpoint, we gotta
be better. That means from my
standpoint, we have to be better.
So, you know, that’s really the
But perhaps an even greater
challenge for Brown is figuring out a
combination of 11 guys who can line
up on the same side of the field and

replicate what last year’s defense
And though he didn’t give many
specific answers as to who the clear-
cut favorites are at each position, his
answers did often include a plethora
of contenders, specifically within
the front seven. They showcased the
most important thing any defense
needs in order to be successful all
season long — depth.
With the departures of Rashan
Gary and Chase Winovich, the
trenches lost the most star power
of any unit on defense. Though
pass rushers like junior Kwity Paye,
sophomore Aidan Hutchinson and
junior Donovan Jeter were already
expected to step up and follow their
predecessors’ footsteps, Brown was
most impressed with the guys right
behind them.
“Probably the most improved guy
that I can speak on behalf of is Carlo
Kemp,” Brown said. “Stronger, way
faster, confident. Just body language
and the whole deal, leadership,
really playing at a high level. Ben
Mason vastly improved, obviously
was a former running back but we
put him into that mix, and we feel
good about him.”
Brown also mentioned that senior
Michael Dwumfour is continuing to

recover from his injury that ended
his junior year campaign but he has
practiced already as well, making
that six guys who are in a position to
win four starting roles.
The linebacker squad suffered
perhaps the greatest loss as middle
linebacker and defensive anchor
Devin Bush declared for the NFL
Draft. And with the SAM being
one of the weakest positions in last
year’s defense, Brown has his hands
full trying to figure out the best
fits at each spot. But once again, he
preached the depth in the middle
unit starting with junior Josh Ross,
going as far to say that all of his
contending linebackers are some of
the best in the nation.
“It’s not a challenge to coach
Josh Ross — he’s the brightest
linebacker I’ve been around in a long
time,” Brown said. “Ross, Cameron
McGrone, (Jordan) Glasgow, Devin
Gil, and Jordan Anthony can play a
lot of places in this country, let me
just tell you that… this is probably
the most depth I’ve had.
“Let the competition just go. Isn’t
it a beautiful thing when we have
five guys who can play all three
positions? So, if you’re not playing at
your best, sorry.”
For Brown, this philosophy won’t

stick to just the linebacker unit,
though. With the depth he has, it’s
starting to become a central theme
of fall camp.
Summer Managing Sports Editor

Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown is ready for the competition at fall camp.

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