Michigan DC Jesse Minter Impressed By Alabama
Michigan defensive coordinator Jesse Minter met with the media covering the Rose Bowl Thursday morning in Los Angeles. Here's a look at what Minter had to say about his defense and the Alabama offense it will try to slow down Monday afternoon.
On if he thinks Alabama's offense is the best Michigan has faced this season:
"Yeah, I do."
On Trying To Simulate Jalen Milroe in Practice
“(Backup QB) Alex (Orji) has a unique skill set that we can try to simulate (Milroe), but to say we can simulate him to a T, probably not fair to him and how well (Milroe)’s played this year, but Alex has done a great job trying to give us the best look.”
"It's really an 11 on 1 mentality. He's capable of every play, not only playing the first play and having to defend the first play but also like what we call the second play. His ability when he drops back to, one, scramble to throw the ball really, really far downfield or to dump the ball off to the speed guys, but also his ability to take the ball himself. It's 11 on 1. We've got to do a great job up front with our rush lanes and integrity of that, but at the same time, our guys have to go play fast. I think there's times where you can over-coach those guys of sitting there waiting to see what he's going to do, and then there's times where you've got to let those guys roll, maybe have somebody else there if they screw it up. But I'm looking forward to our guys facing that challenge and confident in our players' ability to go out there and have some success."
On comparing Milroe to Lamar Jackson
Jalen is a first-year starter who is playing at a super high level, playing with a lot of confidence, has the ability to really throw the deep ball well, has the ability to make those second plays and take the ball to the house. I do think both of their abilities as scramblers, there's some similarities in their ability to drop back, nothing is there, take off, and then once they take off, it's like Reggie Bush running the ball. It's not like a quarterback that's scrambling and he's going to slide and make sure you don't hit him so you don't get a penalty.
"This dude is going to run like a legit tailback or like a legit slot receiver once he's in space. I think that's the biggest difference in both of those guys, how they -- once they run, they become like a bona fide weapon. I think that's the comparison. But like I said, they're their own guys. Jalen is having a phenomenal season, probably has a bright future at the next level, as well, with his skill set, and probably could do some similar things to Lamar. But Lamar is one of one who's about to be a two-time MVP and a Heisman winner. Both those guys are exciting to watch."
On prepping for SEC teams like Alabama or Georgia
"I sort of put those two together. They're kind of built from the same cloth, they play the same style, and you know what you're going to get when you play one of those teams. You're going to get great defense, you're going to get great play at the line of scrimmage, you're going to get complementary football that the offense is going to play to the defense and vice versa.
"And then you give them a month to prepare, you're going to see some things that maybe you're not ready for or that they hope you're not ready for, and so we look forward to the challenge, and nothing but utmost respect for Coach Saban and how he's had success in the playoffs and really look forward to the challenge."
On what stands out on film about Alabama
"I think anytime you've got a first-year starter at quarterback, you kind of find as you go what they do really well, no different than if you have a first-year starter at safety and you're trying to figure out the things that maybe he does best. As they've gone, tailored the offense to his skill set, his ability to throw the ball downfield, his ability to make those plays, his ability to get involved in the run game, I think in key moments this year they get him involved in the run game when they need to, and that's their ability to create an extra hat in the run game. It shows up in big moments and big games.
"Expect to see it. But I just think he's got more comfortable as he's played more, Coach Rees as has gotten to Alabama, got a new school, got all his new pieces, gotten really comfortable with what he has, and then I think they've -- earlier in the year he might have turned the ball over a few more times. I know it's like 28 to 1 over the last -- his touchdown interception ratio recently, so he's done a great job taking care of the ball.
"They've run the ball well. They've helped their O-line a little bit more in certain situations. Yeah, just done a great job getting better as an offense, which is what you want to do. You want to get better as the year goes. I think they attest of that, and they've peaked at the right time and played really well against Georgia when it mattered most."
On what previous opponents this year Alabama reminds him of
"I really don't, for this year. I think there's elements of different teams for each position. You obviously look at like a receiving corps with speed, you think about Ohio State and their talent level back there, you look at a quarterback -- we haven't played a quarterback like Jalen Milroe. We haven't played an offensive line this big and physical. Penn State had a good O-line. Ohio State played well at times on the O-line. But we haven't played an O-line like this.
"I don't think there's anybody we've played. I think you trust that the long course of preparation that began last January has you prepared to play a team like this, and the most comparable team is probably our own team and a team that we get to practice against all the time. That's probably in my opinion -- a physical, downhill running game, offensive line that has the ability to move people, various schemes in the run game.
"At some times the ability to run the quarterbacks, particularly all the different quarterbacks we have on our roster. I think in certain elements, it's our own offense and the quarterbacks' ability to extend and make plays and scramble and do those certain things. Once again, you hope all those spring practices, all those training camp practices, all the times we do good-on-good, you do it for these moments right here when you're playing against an elite team like Alabama."
On the challenge of playing tradition-rich Alabama
"I think as a defensive coach coming up, Nick Saban is the guy, right? He's the defensive guy that became a head coach that has been successful at every level, that is sort of -- has sort of rewrote college record books over his career, LSU, even Michigan State did a good job and then LSU, Alabama. So yeah, I think there's an automatic like respect for that, but at the same time, you embrace the challenge.
"You embrace the opportunity that's there. Like it's an opportunity to play against the college team over the last 15 years, the team that's won all those national titles and been in these situations a bunch. I think for us, for our guys, the disappointment creates a mindset that this is the opportunity you want, and let's embrace it. Like I said, let's hope those practice moments prepared us and go out on Monday and see where we're at."
On adaptations Saban has made over the years
"I think a sign of a great coach is fitting what you do to your personnel, not the other way around. I think you have a system and you have core foundational beliefs of how you think winning football is played, which Coach Saban has, but then you take the pieces that you have and you try to maximize each piece and utilize everybody different.
"They've had Mac Jones at quarterback where you're going to drop back and throw it a lot and he's an elite thrower and elite skill, now you've got a guy that can run and do both. They've had Heisman Trophy tailbacks there. They've had all these offensive linemen. They've had every different position, they've had guys, Heisman winner at receiver. Much credit, much respect to him for being able to do that.
"I think you see the foundational pieces of their offense on tape even when you look back at years past, games, and you really just try to say, hey, this is this guy's skill set, maybe these are the things they're going to do, and then you try to do the same thing for us. You've got to have the ability to adjust, got to be able to make on the fly adjustments against guys like that where maybe they throw something completely new at you. But our guys have a lot of trust in each other, have a lot of trust in the backbone of our defensive system to hopefully be able to adapt and adjust and handle anything they throw at us."