Ann Arbor— Michigan defensive-line coach Greg Mattison doesn’t work with linebacker Devin Bush Jr. on a daily basis in practice, but he can’t help him but pile on the compliments when asked about the junior.
Mattison always is effusive in his praise of Bush, who leads the team in tackles with 56. He has seven tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and two pass breakups. He is especially appreciative of the fire with which Bush plays.
“He’s a phenomenal linebacker,” Mattison said Wednesday. “And I keep saying it and I mean this, he’s got tremendous character. He’s a great young man. He’s intelligent. After I say that a few times I always go, ‘Cause he’s a Michigan Man’ and I mean that.
“Having been at other schools, I’m telling you what a Michigan Man is, this is him. A guy that has so much invested in his teammates, so much invested in how he plays that when somebody disrespects you, that bothers you.”
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With that, Mattison said he understood and also applauded Bush’s reaction during and after the pregame incident with Michigan State players before the game at Spartan Stadium on Oct. 20.
Michigan State was fined $10,000 by the Big Ten and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and Bush were issued reprimands by the conference.
Michigan players already were on the field — having been told it was clear for warmups — when the Spartans began their regular pregame walk down the length of the field. It is something the Michigan State team has done at all home games since Mark Dantonio has been head coach.
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Several Michigan players were at midfield when there was a dust-up with the Spartans. The Wolverines said they were never asked to move and there was some contact involving a few players. Bush then kicked and drove his cleats in the Spartan logo at midfield and tore up portions of the turf.
After the game, Harbaugh called the incident “bush league” and said Dantonio was walking behind, “smiling the whole time,” to which Dantonio responded with, “B.S.”
The Big Ten said in a statement released several days later that it “determined that Michigan State violated the policy when its football team walked across the field with linked arms and initiated contact with multiple members of Michigan’s team who were legitimately on the field during pregame warmups.”
Mattison said he knows there’s some debate regarding Bush’s reaction, but he supported him.
“I don’t know how you are, I’m not one of those guys when somebody does something like that where I’m just going to walk away, no big deal,” Mattison said. “He showed his emotion right there. Now, whether that was right or wrong, that’s Devin. That’s why Devin is a premiere linebacker in this college football game right now.
“The whole thing happens, when you put as much in to playing like you’re supposed to, like our kids have, when people do that, people disrespect you, people don’t treat you like you feel like you should be, you’re going to show some emotion because you have invested so much. Devin is another example of the guys we work with on this defense and on this team, I’m not singling out offense, I was glad to see it, to be honest with you. Showed how much it mean. Showed how much the rest of his teammates meant to him. That’s all you have to do is watch the film and see how he played. Go ahead and do it again if you want, see what happens. Little better than a pep talk to them.”