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2014-08-08

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Quotable: Doug Nussmeier, Greg Mattison at Michigan Football Media Day

Allison Farrand/Daily
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By Jake Lourim, Summer Managing Sports Editor
Published August 10, 2014

Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier

On competition among the offense: “We’ve created some really good competition on our team, and we’re getting better and deeper as far as creating competition at different positions. We’re moving guys around to create competition.”

On the running backs: “When you talk about (sophomore De’Veon Smith), you talk about how physical of a player he is. He’s a tough, tough guy, and really day in and day out he’s a guy who puts on his hard hat and brings his lunch pail.

“Drake looks really explosive coming off the injury from last season, did a great job with rehab. (Sophomore) Derrick Green has done some really good things, and (redshirt junior Justice Hayes) has done some good things also. There’s a group of guys there. We’re really looking for someone to separate from the group.”

On sophomore wide receiver Amara Darboh: “He’s an extremely physical player. He’s played extremely physical and made some really nice plays for us. You’ve got to set a standard of excellence and you’ve got to perform to that standard every day, and he’s just been a guy who has consistently come out every day and worked hard for us.”

On fifth-year senior Devin Gardner: “I can’t say enough about Devin’s buy-in to what we’ve asked him to do. He’s done an outstanding job. He’s gotten better each and every day, and when you look at the progression from day one the first practice of the spring … to see where he’s gone in the first week of camp, we’re really pleased with his progress.”

On accounting for Gardner in the new scheme: “You never want to restrict a player’s ability. You’ve got to play to the player’s strengths. We talk about all the time in the staff room, it’s our job as coaches to put our players in the best possible position to make plays. He has great natural playmaking ability, so the focus has been to let the system work for him, and then when things break down to let him use his natural athletic ability.”

Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison

On the pace of practice: “We practice at a higher level than most teams in the country. A lot of that is going to pay off when you get in those games. The pressure that we put in practice will be the same thing they get in games.”

On moving fifth-year senior Jake Ryan to middle linebacker: “The reason I moved Jake to the middle is you want him on the field the whole time. We’re playing so many spread teams, and we try to play our base people against spread offenses just to keep Jake out there. That’s not fair to Jake, he’s a 240-pound linebacker playing against a wide receiver. So your next thing is to put a nickel in, now where do you put Jake? Jake now becomes a defensive end, so now Jake’s a 240-pound defensive end when you really want to be bigger there. He’s played linebacker before, and we wanted to get a bigger, stronger guy in the middle.”

On Ryan’s communication: “Tremendous. Jake Ryan has unbelievable pride. He knew the second that happened that it’s going to be important to take charge of the entire defense. That’s one thing we’ve really put on our linebackers, that we’re going to only be as good as you guys are. You guys gotta get everybody going right away.”

On last season: “I can’t remember last year. All I’m looking at right now is I’m looking at this first football game. There’s one game right now, and that’s Appalachian State. Judge our defense, judge these kids by what they’ve done in this offseason. When that season was over, it was over. We feel very strongly about this defense. I feel strongly by how they’ve practiced, how they’ve worked and the chemistry. We’re excited about that first game.”

On freshman defensive back Jabrill Peppers: “Any freshman that is getting reps with the first or second unit at the University of Michigan is obviously going to be better than a freshman that’s not. He’s talented. Let’s just face it, he wins the state (title) in the 100 and 200 and that tells me he’s fast. He started and played great football for two or three state championships. That tells me he’s a very good football player. Him coming to Michigan, now he has to prove that he’s a Michigan football player.”

On Nussmeier’s offense: “They’re going to come out every day, and they’re going to try to knock you off the football. If there’s something that isn’t working for him, don’t get too complacent because there’s going to be something that works the next day. We have great competition in practice. I’m really excited about what Doug brings to this program.”

On pressure on the quarterback: “When you say you want to get to the quarterback, the thing that happened last year was three-step drops a lot of times. It wouldn’t have mattered if there was nobody in front of them, they wouldn’t have gotten to the quarterback. The ball is getting released so much faster.”

On the defense’s toughness: “You see it in the first ballgame. You see them come out every practice and have seven or eight competitive periods against the offense, and you see guys going after each other like crazy. That’s where you see toughness.”