- Adam Glanzman/Daily
By Liz Vukelich, Daily Sports Editor
Published September 10, 2013
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison says he’s not a betting man, nor an expert on wide receivers. But if he did gamble, he’d put all his money on Michigan whenever fifth-year senior wide reciever Jeremy Gallon is on the field. And just because he’s mostly concerned with what happens on the other side of the ball doesn’t mean he can’t appreciate the game Gallon had against Notre Dame.
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“That guy, he’s as tough as there is,” Mattison said. “He just comes to work every day, does everything you ask, has a smile on his face. He’s Michigan. I’ve got so much respect for him, it’s unbelievable.”
But as much as Saturday night was Gallon’s game, offensive coordinator Al Borges is more concerned with making sure the rest of the receiving corps is capable of having the same kind of big night.
It’s undeniable that Gallon and redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner seemed to share a brain last weekend. But other receivers need to have that same chemistry with Gardner too.
During the early days of their Michigan careers, Gardner, Gallon and senior Drew Dileo — who caught a touchdown pass on Saturday — spent hours practicing with each other as backups. That dynamic was briefly disrupted last season when Gardner was used as receiver, but Dileo said the chemistry picked right back up again when Gardner’s position was cemented at quarterback.
So, when Gardner starts to scramble during a game — which it doesn’t come as a surprise to Gallon and Dileo anymore — they instinctively know where he’s going to be.
“It’s being around Devin,” Dileo said. “Devin scrambling, you’ve seen him in practice for a couple years. What you see on Saturday is what we see on Tuesday, Wednesday (and) Thursday. It’s not like he goes in the game and decides to scramble.”
I DREAM OF JAKE RYAN: Mattison lies awake at night, smiling from the scene that continuously plays out in his mind.
In the scenario, redshirt junior linebacker Jake Ryan has completely recovered from his torn anterior cruciate ligament, and Mattison smiles to the media as he makes the announcement that Ryan is ready to start the upcoming game in his usual position at strongside linebacker.
Then, Mattison snaps out of the fantasy and has to remind himself that Ryan is still in recovery. But that doesn’t stop him from gushing whenever Ryan’s name is brought up.
“Jake Ryan is beautiful,” Mattison said. “Every time I see Jake Ryan, I smile. We won’t play him early, but he’s working extremely hard. When the doctors say he’s ready, he’ll be ready.”
Whenever the date of Ryan’s return arrives — his timetable is mid-October — Mattison still isn’t quite sure how he’ll fit into the position now that junior Brennen Beyer and fifth-year senior Cam Gordon have started to make a name for themselves by rotating at SAM.
“Brennen and Cam are doing a nice job,” Mattison said. “A lot of other people would have said, ‘How are they going do this?’ But no, those two guys, they’re playing really good football. It’s their position. We just have to see what happens from there.”
A YOUTHFUL ‘D’: So much of Michigan’s matchup with the Fighting Irish was focused on how the interior line stood up next to the likes of Notre Dame’s big boys opposite the ball.
But that’s completely ignoring how the Wolverines’ own defense fared against the Fighting Irish’s veteran offensive line.
Mattison noted that the the biggest issue was the technique of the front four and the performance of the pass rush, but that inexperience was the biggest factor. They had trouble pressuring quarterback Tommy Rees and didn’t register any sacks. Upon reviewing game tape, the coach noted just three upperclassmen were on the field for Michigan, with the rest being freshmen or sophomores.
“(Youth is) not an excuse, because you don’t need to make an excuse,” he said. “Our game plan was not to sell the farm a lot. We didn’t want to put our secondary in a position where a big play could get us.”