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Michigan Defensive Tackle Willie Henry Has High Praise For Greg Mattison, DJ Durkin

The defensive lineman spoke to MnB at Michigan's media day on what he can do to improve, the importance of Greg Mattison on the staff and carrying the load on that side of the football.

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan redshirt junior defensive tackle Willie Henry is one of the team's leaders on the defensive side of the ball and has been a dominating presence up front at times.

He likes the work that the team has put in since last season ended and praised the guys on the roster for their mentality since Jim Harbaugh's arrival in Ann Arbor.

"I feel good. Everybody works to be a starter on the team," he said. "The work ethic is tremendous from the seniors to the freshman. We all work hard to go out there and play on Saturdays."

But the Wolverine lineman knows there are things he can do better and has taken the steps to improve throughout the off-season.

"From watching film, as a defensive line, especially myself, we need to react faster to play action," Henry said. "I feel like I was slower in that area than I needed to be."

In regards to new defensive coordinator DJ Durkin, Henry had nothing but praise for his impact so far heading into fall camp.

"DJ Durkin brings a lot of energy and a new defense with new concepts," he said. "Overall, he's been a great and I love him as a coach. If I had to give him a grade, it would be an A-plus."

Someone that stuck around on the coaching staff from the Brady Hoke era is Greg Mattison, who has made the move from coordinator to defensive line coach. Henry likes that he is still around and says he is a big part in correcting some of the flaws in his game.

"He has a tremendous track record, as you guys know, and has coached a lot of great defensive lineman in his years," he said. "He brings a lot of knowledge and wisdom to the game, so a lot of times he can help with things like my play action reads and stuff like that to help me become a better pass rushing defensive lineman.

"It was important for us to have someone from the last staff we were familiar with. He has been here since I have been around, so he’s not a new face and is someone I am comfortable talking to and asking questions about the defense. He is a great guy to talk to, so it has been a help having him from the old staff with the new staff here."

The defense may very well have to carry the load while the Wolverines get up to speed offensively. Henry has belief that the offense will do its job, while the defense does theirs.

"If we do what we need to do on the field, teams can’t score if the defense plays well," he said. "The offense is going to do what they have to do on Saturdays.

"If we don’t allow anyone to score, I believe we can win every game."