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Brew Briefs: Greg Mattison discusses growth on defense

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During his session with the media on Monday, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison discusses his position shift and the growth the defense has made this offseason.

Leon Halip

It is not out of the realm of possibility that Michigan could be fielding one of the best defenses during Greg Mattison's tenure in Ann Arbor this season.

Until that happens, Mattison is certainly not hiding his excitement about the upcoming season.

"I'm really, really excited about this defense and excited about these young men we've had an opportunity to work with," Mattison said. "Every day we're around them in camp, I feel more excited. I really like the direction it's going."

The new direction also saw a slight shuffling of the defensive staff during the offseason. With Mattison moving his focus from the defensive line to the linebackers, it allows him to have a greater scope of focus on his defense.

"I thought long and hard about it and in today's football you have to make adjustments during a game and make a lot of spur-of-the-moment decisions," Mattison said. "You need to be able to tweak a blitz or be able to bring pressure and I just felt being with the defensive line you're not with two-thirds of your defense at all times.

"Most of the other times I've coordinated, I've always been with the linebackers in the middle. I just felt it was the best way to go. We also felt very strongly in today's football with so many spread offenses, you need two guys in the back end. That was really a big part of it."

Although the defense is expected to be much improved, the team still return a defense that is relatively young. Mattison also mentioned the fact about how young the team really is, but still expects to play at a faster and more aggressive pace compared to last season.

"I would expect to see guys playing at a faster pace," Mattison said. "Not because they're faster but because they're older and more experienced. People don't realize that even though you're a sophomore and playing, you're still really young.

"I know during this summer I was watching tape and it was right in the middle of the Notre Dame game and I stopped the tape and I counted ten underclassmen with two years or more left out there at one time. You don't think of that as a coach but now when you see them a year older, the things you used to coach so hard with them comes naturally."

A lot of that strength and newfound speed can be credited to the strength and conditioning program.

"We have the very best strength and conditioning coaches in the nation," Mattison said. "Aaron Wellman has worked so hard with our guys. If you could see the pictures we see of the guy when he is a freshman and the guy when he's a junior. He's not the same guy, that's a different person."

Mattison, as well as the defense, is hoping that the "different people" they have on roster pays off.

For more news and notes regarding Michigan Football, follow Joshua Henschke on Twitter: @JoshuaHenschke.