December 26, 2013

Mattison seeing some maturity

Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has been sounding a theme about a maturing defense through bowl practices. That take hasn't changed since the Wolverines arrived in Arizona.

The veteran DC continues to see signs he likes among his defenders. He said the move forward might not be typical of all bowl practice sessions for teams, but it's true of those who have invested in getting better and are passionate about the pursuit.

"I like this defense. I like these kids," he said. "They're growing up. We'll see what happens in the game, but if they keep practicing like they're practicing, I think good things are going to happen.

"It's almost in the last three weeks, either the young guys have really figured it out or they're saying, 'OK, we're not young anymore.' There's no longer where you really have to yell at them, correct them. They go hard and they try to do the things that you're asking them to do."

They'll need some maturity on Saturday night, Mattison indicated, when taking on a Kansas State offense that can give multiple looks and averages 33.4 points per game.

"They present a challenge in that 15 [Jake Waters] can throw it and he's mobile," Mattison said. "Four [Daniel Sams] can run it and he can throw it enough to keep you honest. You've got a combination of two pretty good things right there.

"They've got a good offensive line, and their offensive line has started 40-some games each. They've got a good running back. It's going to be a good offense. Their wide receiver, [Tyler] Lockett, if you don't do a good job on him, he's going to get a quick one. They've got a very good offense."

Sams' mobility will test the Wolverines, Mattison noted, but he also cautioned that many of his defenders have seen a pretty decent mobile quarterback in the not-too-distant past.

"We were lucky enough to play for two years here against the best there is," Mattison said. "Our quarterback two years ago was pretty darn good, Denard [Robinson]. So we're going to see the speed in there. We faced some really good quarterbacks in the Big Ten. I don't know that you go into a game in the Big Ten where the quarterback doesn't have the ability to make it hard on you. We played against some good ones."

Mattison allowed that a comparison with Northwestern's quarterbacks isn't far off.

"I'm a real strong advocate of the Northwestern quarterback [Kain Colter]," Mattison said. "I think that kid is really good. And I think this kid's really good too, No. 4 [Sams]. The Northwestern kid is so quick, he'll make you break your ankles … this guy's a little bit faster, but with some quickness."

After a rough outing against Ohio State, especially against the run, the Michigan defense gets to demonstrate it is indeed taking steps forward going into the offseason.

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