Michigan's Greg Mattison frustrated by how pass intereference is called
ANN ARBOR -- Michigan State was whistled for a questionable late pass interference penalty last week. It led to a game-winning touchdown for Nebraska. That hurts.
But Michigan had its own pass interference troubles as well.
The Wolverines were tagged with four in their 35-13 win against Minnesota -- three of which came on the same fourth-quarter drive, setting up the Gophers' final field goal.
Michigan now has been whistled for eight pass interferences this year.
That frustrates Greg Mattison.
The Michigan defensive coordinator didn't directly criticize the officiating in the Minnesota game, but said he's grown frustrated by how liberally it is now called.
“It might get you out of coaching faster, I'll tell you that," Mattison said. "It’s unbelievable. It really is. It’s OK, as long as it’s everywhere called that way, but that’s not my job to talk about the officials. We have to play better technique. And that’s what we talk to our guys about: They called it, it was a penalty.
"But that drives me crazy. It really does."
Mattison's primary frustration is that defensive backs can't play as aggressively as they used to, while at the same time receivers have grown bigger and faster than ever. That's an advantage for offenses.
"You want (defensive backs) to be aggressive, and you’ve got wide receivers nowadays that are 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, and you have a corner who’s 5-9, you know?" Mattison said. "What are you going to do?
"It’s like, roll a ball out on a basketball court and go for a rebound. What are you going to do? You’re not going to do it without touching somebody.
"We just have to get better at it. That’s the bottom line, and they know it. That’s the first thing I say to anybody that gets it. ‘Hey, it’s a penalty. We can’t have that. It hurts our defense.’ ”
J.T. Floyd knows the feeling.
The senior corner likes to play aggressively, but the way pass interference has evolved in his five-year career makes that more difficult.
He was whistled for two of the four pass interference calls against Minnesota, both coming on that fourth-quarter scoring drive. Cornerback Raymon Taylor and linebacker Jake Ryan picked up the others.
"I think just in general, I'm seeing more and more flags," Floyd said. "But it's the nature of the game, and as a cornerback, you have to evolve with the game. It's something all cornerbacks have to take into account and just be conscientious of their technique, their eyes and their fundamentals, and just make sure they're doing everything by the book."
Floyd said he now watches more closely when the offense is on the field, to see how opposing defensive backs are playing and what referees are allowing in that particular game. The more aggressive, the better.
He thinks it's unfair that pass interference seems to be more liberally called, but says it's not his job to complain -- just adapt.
"I'm biased, I'm a cornerback, so I think they should allow us to play for the ball a little bit more," he said. "But ultimately, it comes down to it's a tough job being a referee. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes. It's something that, in the heat of the heat of the moment, can go either way.
"It's something you just sort out over the course of the game."