Q&A: Stevie Brown feeling comfortable after move to linebacker
For three years, Brown started at safety, finding both success and failure in a position that often left him in one-on-one situations. He played 38 consecutive games, making 13 starts with 106 tackles and three interceptions. But the times he got beat in the open field often defined his play.
So over the off-season, Brown was moved to a hybrid linebacker spot by new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, who saw the opportunity to use Brown's athleticism and speed in a new way.
Last week against Western Michigan, Brown was named one of Michigan's two defensive players of the game by coach Rich Rodriguez after Brown made five solo tackles. So much for any opening-game jitters for Brown, who Rodriguez said Monday has "really taken" to his new position.
Here's Brown's take on the move.
Q: So after playing so much at safety, what's the biggest change been for you in your new role?
A: It's a little more physical (at linebacker), and I have to deal with the offensive linemen a lot more, but it's not too bad.
Q: Did your change of position force you to spend a lot more time in the playbook?
A: Yeah, because I have never played linebacker before in my life, and so I have to go back and re-look at a lot of things and see how things are. I spent a lot of time talking to (linebackers) Obi (Ezeh) and (Jonas) Mouton, and so they've helped me out a lot with the linebacking aspect of things.
Q: If someone would have told you two years ago, there would come a day when you would be playing linebacker, would you have believed it?
A: People used to tell me that all the time. When I came in here, I was kind of big, but since I've been here, I've managed to keep my weight down. But as far as me playing (linebacker), I would have never believed it.
Q: Do you feel a little more insulated more than you did in the past?
A: I know where my help is now and that's a good thing, that's a plus. I can cover what I need, but I know if I need a cover, I know where my help is. So that works out better for me.
Q: Clearly, there is going to be more contact when you're going up against offensive linemen in practice. You said this summer you may need to spend more time in the cold tub to sooth some of the soreness that comes with contact. Did that end up being the case?
A: I definitely felt it with my body a little bit more. I’m still not a cold tub guy. That’s too cold for me. I’ll do extra stretching and get off my feet real early. But I definitely did feel the difference this year in my body.
Q: OK - tell the truth. Who talks better trash? The wide receivers you had to cover in practice or offensive linemen?
A: If you're going up against Greg (Matthews), he's going to talk to you all day, but offensive linemen - they really don't talk too much. They're more worried about me running around them than them talking trash to me.
Q: Oh, so it's a matter of you giving them some grief rather than you hearing it yourself?
A: I just tell them that they hold too much (weight), and they're too slow and they can't block me. But I'm not in the box all that much, and so I don't hear that much of it.
Q: So now that you have been in your position for a while, do you miss playing safety?
A: I mean, yeah I miss playing safety. Safety is what I came here to play, but at the position I'm playing right now, I'm playing so well and so as long as I am playing and I am playing well, that's all that matters.
Jeff Arnold covers sports for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at 734-623-2554 or firstname.lastname@example.org