PULLMAN – The process has been a gradual one, but Andy Mattingly is getting the hang of this defensive end thing.
“Actually he is,” Washington State defensive line coach Malik Roberson said this week. “The key to him making the plays he did (last week) is because he was getting off blocks. He was a little more aggressive out of his stance than he usually has been.
“When you see that, that’s a sign of comfort and him getting a real good feel for the position.”
Mattingly exploded off the line of scrimmage against Oregon State and shed enough blockers to make a season-high 11 tackles, almost duplicating his total from the first six games (13).
“It was just getting off blocks,” Mattingly said. “I was just staying on blocks the previous weeks too long, not getting off them and making plays. It isn’t quite second nature yet, but it is something I need to make second nature.”
It’s not surprising Mattingly is still developing the skills needs to play defensive end. When he started at the position last spring, it was the first time he had ever played football from a three-point stance.
As he’s progressed from a Mead High safety to a college linebacker to defensive end, Mattingly has had to make adjustments. The first this season was mental, coming to grips that he wasn’t going to play linebacker any longer, a position he admits he looks back at fondly.
“He’s learning how to use his hands and protect himself so he can get off blocks,” Roberson said.
To use Mattingly’s terms, is seemed almost second nature to him against the Beavers.
“He’s really starting to understand what leverage is,” Roberson said, saying that means staying low and getting separation. “His strength is his ability to cover a lot of ground once he’s off blocks.”
Getting off blocks against Oregon State is one thing. Today the offensive linemen across from Mattingly are going to be bigger, faster and better.
“They are extremely athletic, they’re fast,” he said of the Trojans’ line. “They’re just a good football team all the way around. They’re well-coached, they prepare well.”
But that’s OK, because Mattingly expresses a love for a challenge, whether it’s facing a huge tackle, landing a steelhead, learning a new position, or putting on muscle for the future.
“An opportunity to play a Top-10 team in the nation at home … that’s one of the coolest things to be able to do,” Mattingly said. “To be able to say you played against them, to be able to go out there and compete and try your hardest and, hopefully, come out with a win, that’s one of the coolest things.”
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