April 5, 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan football junior defensive end Frank Clark (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville) recently spoke with the media during spring football. In 2012, Clark started four games and had 25 tackles, two sacks, three pass breakups, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and finished second on the team with nine tackles-for-loss.
Q: With Jake (Ryan) going down how much pressure do you put on yourself, knowing you have to be the guy making more plays than you thought you would have to make?
A: You know, with Jake going down, it's unfortunate. As a team as a whole it brought the team together. Jake was one of our leaders on the defense last year and it hurt all of us, but it forced all of us to come together as a team and as a group.
Q: Was there a discussion amongst the veterans about what they would do with Jake out?
A: No, we didn't have a discussion amongst the veterans; we already knew what it was. We knew going into spring ball as an 8-5 team from the last season what we had to do to prepare us to make us a better team for the future. That's what we did, and that's what we currently are doing.
Q: What is your goal for this spring and going into next season?
A: My goal is to basically help my team out as much as possible in whatever position and whatever aspect they need me to do and whatever my coaches need me to do. I am here to help my team out. Whether it's producing on the field or in the classroom, I'm here to help my team out.
Q: You gained quite a bit of weight you're up to 277, where did that come from?
A: I gained weight so I can see if I can play with that weight, so I can see how mobile I can be, see how that would affect me on the field, how if that would affect my speed. Basically that's why I gained weight, but I plan on dropping down in the future though so I can play lighter.
Q: What weight would you like to play at?
A: I really don't have a weight set yet. But I'm feeling comfortable with my body right now and doing things of that nature.
Q: Have you lost any speed or are you the same guy?
A: Coming in my freshman year at 215 or 220 and coming up to 270, I believe I lost a touch, I lost a little bit of speed, but anybody would when they gain 50 pounds from when they were as a freshman to a junior. Basically I lost speed, but I gained technique, that's how I see it.
Q: Is that something difficult to deal with coming in being so fast then gaining weight and losing that speed?
A: I mean it was weird, but as I said before I came into my body. I learned how to adjust; I learned how to use my body. I had to get stronger, I had to get bigger. We are playing big time football here. It's not high school anymore.
Q: Looking at last season, you had a great month in November, had a big sack against Ohio State and Braxton Miller, how do you get that to carry over from week to week?
A: Unfortunately we lost the game. But that game and that whole season I wanted to go for my teammates. It was for my teammates, my coaches and my family. I don't play for myself; I don't take self-accolades for what I do on the field. It's all at the end of the day to help out my teammates, my coaches and help my family.
Q: Do you think that player we saw out there against Ohio State can be replicated every single week?
A: Yes, it can be replicated. I just have to do what I have to do on the field and in the classroom. As long as I do what I have to do in the class and on the field everything will be all right.
Q: Can you believe Braxton held onto that ball?
A: Braxton is a good player, he is a great player, one of the best quarterbacks in the nation this year and I'm sure for the future, and I look forward to playing against him again.
Q: We've heard a lot about the defense being really fast this spring, what's your take on that?
A: I believe we are a faster defense, I can agree to that. But we work hard though; we worked hard starting right after the bowl game. We started working, we came back to work a week later. I believe our defense being faster is true. You can tell on the field, you can tell with the new players coming, all the younger players and Taco (Charlton) and Mario (Ojemudia) at my position, the great players coming in young, and they are learning fast.
Q: Tell us something you like about Taco and Mario.
A: I love how driven they are to work. I like how Taco and Mario came in and they were just ready to learn. Mario playing from last year, he's trying to step up and be a leader even as a sophomore. And with Taco coming in, he's coming in under me and Mario and he wants to learn. He is a big presence in the classroom, the classroom meaning in film study and things. He just wants to learn, he wants to be the best player he can be.
Q: Coach Borges talks about feel fast and time fast; do you keep track of times at all?
A: We did a little bit of that in winter conditioning, but not really. You know if you are losing the touch, you know if you are losing a little bit of speed. As far as being fast, we are keeping track of things; it's all competition at the end of the day. If you see somebody in your position group or on the opposition on the offensive side, if you see somebody working hard it's going to drive you to work hard. That's what we do here at Michigan.
Q: Do you know what your 40 time is?
A: I would hope it's somewhere in the high 4.5 range.
Q: Jibreel (Black) was talking the other day about you being a 'freak', and when I asked him what that meant he said you think you can go out and play receiver right now and run routes. Is that your mentality right now that you can play any position on the field?
A: I mean as I told them before, if they told me I had to make a switch, I would do it just for the sake of my team because that's what I'm here for. I'm not here to gain any personal accolades for myself. I came to Michigan to win championships, and that's what we (are seeking) to do.
Q: And the freak thing, that's a compliment right?
A: I mean, Jibreel, he's a great player. When I came in as a freshman, he was one of the guys that took me under his wing being an older guy. He was a sophomore when I came in, but he took me under his wing and explained things and helped me understand what type of player and what type of student I needed to be in order to be successful here at Michigan.
Q: Quinton (Washington) said on Tuesday that the goal for the defense is to get back to that run style, get to the quarterback style. Do you see that type of playmaking from the defense front?
A: Yes. We made up a phrase, kind of like a little slogan, we call ourselves the "Nasty D." That is something the whole defense is starting to take grasp of because for the last couple of years we have been trying to build the defense back with Coach (Greg) Mattison and the new coaching staff coming in. And like Quinton said, we want to become that run stop and pass rushing defense, and like coach tells us all the time, we want to become a four-man pass rush team so you can allow every other player on the field to do what they do. And that's basically our goal this summer.
Q: Since the injury to Jake (Ryan), have you put more pressure on yourself to be that guy to get to the quarterback?
A: I want to be that guy that encourages everyone. I want to have a sack party at the quarterback. I want everybody on the field, on the defensive line to be at the quarterback. If I'm there I want Jibreel, I want Quinton, I want (Brennen) Beyer, I want Cam (Gordon), I want everybody there with me so we can all have fun. Like I said, we can have a sack party at the quarterback.
Q: When did you come up with the slogan (Nasty D)?
A: We came up with the slogan during winter conditioning. Me and Jibreel were sitting down talking, we said we need to come together as a defense. The recent great defenses here at Michigan when Charles Woodson was here, when you had LaMarr Woodley, when you had those guys, Michigan was known for their defense. You knew all of these great players on defense, so that's what we want to bring back. We want to be known as that team or that group of guys who brought the Michigan defense back to the way it used to be. We want to make everything easier on Coach Mattison, our defensive coordinator, and we want to make everything easier on our offense so they can produce.
Q: Did you have T-shirts made or anything like that?
A: T-shirts? Not currently, but hey, maybe in the future. It may come to works. That's something to talk about. We actually never even talked about that. That's something to talk about with the older guys in the group.
Contact: Justin Dickens (734) 763-4423