Roundtable Transcript: Brady Hoke

Long transcript of Coach Hoke yesterday. Jim Delany talking to the coaches, Denard and the offense, if Hoke personally coaches more on O or D, RB Coach Fred Jackson and the RBs, the kicking, freshmen, which receivers have impressed, the #1 and #2 jersies, recruiting other teams' commits, much more.

Question: Yesterday, (Jim) Delaney, after we saw you, he talked about how he had a meeting with all the coaches earlier in the morning and he said that he spoke directly to you and Luke (Fickell) about the violations. What was the mood of that?

Brady Hoke: "I don't know if it was directly. It was towards all of us about how important the Big Ten brand is and how we want to respect that brand and how we want to operate and do business and I do not think that is any different than a CEO of the company telling you that this is the state of the union or whatever. I think we all do that to some respect. We had a meeting on Monday when we got back to work and it was about the direction and making sure that everybody was on the same page. I think it probably was something that we all needed to hear to some degree, but at the same time that he felt as the guy who leads this conference he needs to make sure that we all were on the same page and understood that."

Question: It did to seem that unusual to you though?

Brady Hoke: "Not really. I've been in three other conferences, I think every commissioner has had his chance to kind of set the direction and parameters if you want to call it that – no."

Question: Do you think with all the changes that the Big Ten was going through that it was good time to do that though to kind of reestablish?

Brady Hoke: "You got new coaches. You got a new divisional play, championship game. So I think it is probably as good as time as any to do that."

Question: You singled out the defensive line leaders yesterday as doing a good job over the course of the summer. Have you heard of other areas that you've been pleased with?

Brady Hoke: "I think the wide receivers as a group from what I can digest coming back have done a good job. I think the O-line has done a good job. I think there are a lot of prideful guys there. I can't tell you a group that has not done a good job. But it is hard when you do not have the contact as much as you would like and that is something when you look at what is the academic year, where does that fit. Football now at this level for the good or bad is 12 months a year. You're guys are there. They are going to summer, APR, all those things. The academic year really is the year."

Question: You talk about not having the hands on contact, certainly Denard (Robinson) wanted to make the big jump and getting into your system and all. What could you give him before you broke to help him to get ready for the summer?

Brady Hoke: "#1 you give a guy like Denard who has played a lot of football and has a voice on our team, you give him that responsibility of okay, you guys need to throw, you need to do seven on sevens, you need to do all that. You got to organize and the strength coaches can help in that regard, but you got to organize it, you got to make sure that the guys are here and see what their leadership and their influence and that's what you are really starting to see in your team. It is amazing because in fall camp that line of who is the guy, who is the leader you'll see that even more."

Question: Can you evaluate the overall level of talent on defensive that you've inherited?

Brady Hoke: "I don't think that is fair to do yet still. You're playing in a different scheme for a couple of years. You may be taught differently. The techniques are different, the fundamentals. That's not fair. I like our kids. I like how they've reacted to a transition. I like how they have started to really bond as a team and be accountable to each other. That's about as far as I can go with it right now because we're not near a finished product or even close."

Question: You spent so much time on fundamentals in the spring is that saying that they were not fundamentally sound or not fundamentally prepared?

Brady Hoke: "I think all of us have different ways of coaching and different beliefs. For a defensive lineman you can do a jam move or a long stick or whatever you want to call it, an inside movement and teach it a lot of different ways. That's what I'm talking about. The fundamentals and techniques that we want to employ in our system and how we want to play."

Question: Was some of it a matter of different terminology or was it kind of an overhaul?

Brady Hoke: "You always and like I told our coaches, when we start on the 9th (August) assume they know nothing. Because you can get yourself in trouble. I know I did in '98. I had three starters back out of four on the defensive line, assuming that those guys knew the expectations and technique and fundamentals, so got a little more involved in scheme then the fundamentals and we lost our first two ball games. We got beat by Notre Dame down there in South Bend and then Donovan McNabb, we made him a top five pick really and I blame myself for that till this day. I had Renes and Williams and Hall and assumed that they knew how to play the game. You can't assume it. In fall and in spring, we will never assume those guys know. I don't care if they (have) played 35 straight games and started, we can't assume that. That's kind of where we come from."

Question: Is any of that because Glenn was enough of a leader and you didn't appreciate that you needed a leader?

Brady Hoke: "No, it was more the fundamentals and technique and not doing a good enough job there."

Question: When you made your defensive scheme change, what kind of scheme do you intend to run?

Brady Hoke: "You always got to look at your personnel and what you have. It is like us offensively and use the analogy that we got a guy who is pretty terrific with the ball in his hands and if it is blocked right and all those things, he is even better. We're still going to keep some elements of what the spread gives you because of his ability, but we're going to move to the pro style offense, which it happens he is pretty good at that too. So we're lucky. Defensively, you've got to look at your personnel. You got to look at where guys need to go, if you need to put a guy down, a linebacker, a big linebacker. Jake Ryan was an inside guy who really plays well off the edge and can do a lot of different things because of the fanaticism that he plays with. Because believe he's not perfect, but he loves to play and he plays at an unbelievable level. When you look at your scheme, you got a scheme that you want to recruit to and you want to get to. At the same time, you've got to look at your personnel and you can't ask guys to do things they can't do. If you do that, you're going to fail and that's something that we talked about in that Monday meeting when we got back. We got to identify the guys who are playmakers, because I don't believe we still know. I still don't think you in 15 days you figure that out totally and we've got to put those guys in position where they can be successful."

Question: You know pretty early that Mike Martin was a guy…?

Brady Hoke: "Mike has played a lot of football. He has that versatility because he can run, he's got good change of direction and all those things as a coach that you look for and he is a pretty intelligent football player. There are things that Mike Martin at the point of attack and this is the defensive line coach coming out that he had to work this summer on and he has got to do a great job of showing me that he has grown that way in the fall."

Question: Has that made you a lot more involved in the process, just because of the struggles that the defense had last year?

Brady Hoke: "No. Honestly, I coach the same way I did at Ball State and San Diego State. I'm always going to look at the defense and we've got great coaches on defense but that's my expertise. For me to go over and be with the offense and do all that, that would be a mistake. I hired great people and we got a great staff. Al (Borges) and I meet twice a week offensively game week and talk about what he sees in his plans. For me to go in and tell Greg (Mattison) we need to do this or to Al that we need to do this, when they're doing 50 some hours of breakdown in film and all that of an opponent that would be a mistake. Now attitude and those things and my expertise on defense, especially up front, I'll be a little more hands on with. Jerry Montgomery is a tremendous defensive line coach but part of it is my sanity. I cannot walk around that's why I'm going to coach part of the special teams. I'll have a group to coach and individual drills, I'll be with Jerry and we'll split the D-line up a little bit and through individual stuff I'm going to do that. I would crazy, I'm telling you. I did, I did it for one year and I cannot do that."

Question: What did you do, break things?

Brady Hoke: "I'm not happy."

Question: On the other side of the line, how do you work in conjunction with Fred (Jackson) to say hey this guy looks like he may be our lead back or maybe we can go three deep in the rotation…?

Brady Hoke: "We'll have those conversations. I have the upmost respect for Fred and how he has developed backs over the years and how they've played and all that stuff. We'll always have those discussions with Fred and the offensive staff and myself and Al and we'll do the same thing on defense. At the end of the day I'm going to give the coordinators a lot of lead way, but I'm also going to try and help make the decisions that are best for the program and best for Michigan."

Question: There didn't seem to be one guy at that position in the spring to where you said, hey he's our guy. Is that a concern?

Brady Hoke: "You would like for somebody to grab it and go with it, you really would. Is it a concern? Yeah a little bit. If we're three weeks into fall camp and no one has kind of put themselves out there then I'd be a little more concerned. At the same time, I think there is great competition. I know competition is what makes us a better football team."

Question: Are you in the same kind of spot with the kicking game do you think that you really haven't seen anybody emerge?

Brady Hoke: "No question. No question about it. We got the young kid in and we'll see how he performs. Kicking on State Street is different than kicking on Main Street. We got to make sure all those guys and how they're going to perform and there is a 110,000-113,000 people. There is a psychology to all of it. Kickers get that a lot but every position."

Question: Do you think that more so this year just because it was such a struggle with field goals last year to try and break them of just forget about last year?

Brady Hoke: "You have to. I was talking to Bo Pelini a little bit and he had to build a confidence in the defense. We have to do that too. The only way you can do that is by stopping people. The only way you build that confidence you make the case. At the end of the day that's where it comes to."

Question: Who coaches the kickers?

Brady Hoke: "Dan Ferrigno."

Question: Has he always done that, he did that at San Diego State with you?

Brady Hoke: "Yeah. He's studied the kicking game. He's studied the fundamentals and techniques and all these guys have a guru out there."

Question: They all have their own you're saying?

Brady Hoke: "Yeah and we always try to encourage, I do, meet with that guru during the summer a couple of times, visit with him, sit with him, kick with him, whatever. Punters are the same way. I want feedback from them. I think I can coach punters. The only thing I can see is that I can see if he doesn't hit it right. If the ball is one way or the other after you watch a guy enough. I won't proclaim ever to be a punting guru, but just giving them that feedback."

Question: Do worry about throwing a true freshman out there in front of 110,000 people?

Brady Hoke: "No not really. He'll grow up fast. That's part of it. What I know about Matt (Wile) and obviously we know him pretty well. I've known him for three years. He's got some sand too him and that's good."

Question: Do you have a philosophy on playing true freshman, would you prefer to avoid it?

Brady Hoke: "I'll play the best players, period. Doesn't matter."

Question: Where you surprised when you came out of spring and one back hadn't really established himself or disappointed?

Brady Hoke: "I don't think I was surprised nor was I disappointed. Part of that is that those guys are learning a whole new system and when you run the power play and you want to be an A gap power play team, the different things that can happen. They spike the three tech down inside or whatever, the vision part of it and not run, because we ran some power the last couple of years, but not from the I position. It takes a little bit of time."

Question: You said you have been impressed with the wide receives, what have you seen or what have you heard to feel that way?

Brady Hoke: "I think there are some guys who are pretty tough guys and that's where it starts for us on any position. I think Junior (Hemingway) has got a chance to be really a good player. I like Roy's (Roundtree) work ethic. I like Roy's attitude. I like (Martavious) Odoms' attitude. I know there are more guys there, Jerald Robinson has done some things that I'm a little more pleased with and now we'll just see how it goes. I think there is great competition."

Question: Can you talk a little about the goal of the receivers and how it changes from the spring to the fall?

Brady Hoke: "I think it is more the route running, the precision of the route running. I think they have the ability and I've seen it that they'll get down the field and block because that's a big part of it. That's what creates big plays. I think it is really the timing of everything is a little bit different. A pro style offense, the measurement of the route and all those things."

Question: You always reminded Lloyd (Carr) on game day. That first game, you're coming out of the tunnel as Michigan's head coach, will you be so locked in on the game that you won't…?

Brady Hoke: "I'll have fun."

Question: How about the emotion level?

Brady Hoke: "It is Michigan Stadium #1 and it is game day. It is fun. We got to do the job and obviously game day you got a job to do, but the Sunday through Friday that's where the intensity of making sure we're doing everything that we can to help the kids win and put them in the best position to be able to win. Game day has got to be fun and that's why when we practice, it's going to be hard. It's going to be physical and there is going to be attention to detail in how we're going to practice every day and it makes game day a heck of a lot easier."

Question: You talk about tradition, have you had a conversation about the #1 jersey with anybody?

Brady Hoke: "No. They got to earn it. They're going to have to earn #2 after Vince (Smith)."

Question: Do you expect somebody is going to wear #1 in the fall?

Brady Hoke: "Nope."

Question: Will it always be a receiver if somebody does wear it?

Brady Hoke: "Yeah."

Question: You mentioned #2, if somebody is earning that will it have to be a defensive back?

Brady Hoke: "Yes."

Question: What does that mean so much to you, keep things kind of how they were meant to be maybe?

Brady Hoke: "You answered it. How it is meant to be."

Question: Do you anticipate any position changes from the spring?

Brady Hoke: "I do not think so. If it is, maybe it is a guy that we've recruited in this class. These young guys who are there that maybe can help us on defense or maybe it is a defensive lineman and can go over and play offensive line and be developed. Again, we do not have the luxury of being with them and watching them and seeing all that. To me that is hard to make any kind of switch."

Question: With the few guys that you loss in attrition and then a couple of medical guys, what are your numbers right now, scholarship numbers, are they low?

Brady Hoke: "I don't know. I do know but I get confused. It is maybe 81."

Question: It is not a concern level?

Brady Hoke: "No."

Question: You're doing such a good job of recruiting the state of Ohio, how much do you chalk that up to being from the state of Ohio, being born and raised there or does not have much to do with it?

Brady Hoke: "There are a lot of familiarity. Being from there and recruiting the area, Ball State so hard and then having our assistants with us who have recruited. Mark Smith has done Southwest Ohio for 20 years. There is a lot of familiarity and then there is a lot of familiarity with Greg up in the Cleveland area and that area."

Question: We now see a lot of Big Ten schools now recruiting each other's verbal commitments. Ohio State has done it, they did it with an Illinois kid. Illinois has done it with Ohio State. It is going back and forth, was there a time when you felt that was unethical, maybe long ago? It is obviously not now. Was there a time when that was an unspoken rule not to do that?

Brady Hoke: "I do not know how people look at it. We have a signing date for a reason. That's the first Wednesday in February. I know in the past and I can tell you right now, the contact of guys who have broken verbals or whatever has come from them first. That's kind of what that is."

Question: The fact that you played the defensive side of the ball when you were a player, how has that influenced you as a coach as you have seen the game and as you…?

Brady Hoke: "I think when you play on that side of the ball and I was fortunate enough to play linebacker. It helps you in your teaching with your players. From pre-snap reads to formations, backfield sets, splits on the offensive line to game planning and looking at what people like to do. You pull some of that, but I just think you have maybe a clearer vision."

Question: When you were getting into the coaching business and having played on defense, is it strange and difficult as you go about trying to gather the intricacies of the offensive side of the ball or is just the whole game?

Brady Hoke: "Coaching defensive line for such a long period of time you learn an awful lot about the offense because of the offensive line position. Those two positions are the most important two positions on the football team. We all want to have a great quarterback but if you can't knock people off the ball or you can't stop the run and get the ball back for your offense then you've got a problem. I think all that and you visit with guys, you interview guys, you talk about fundamentals and techniques, you talk about scheme. I think it is all part of it and there is no way that I'm going to say that I'm a guy who's my expertise is not in offense and never will be and that's why we have a great offensive staff."

Question: The fact that you said the two most important parts of the game are the offensive line and defensive line, coaches who played quarterback when they played the game, do they still think that too or do coaches who played quarterback think quarterback is it?

Brady Hoke: "I think Al Borges will tell you that our offensive line has got to be the lead for our football team."

Question: Do you expect J.T. Floyd and Troy Woolfolk to be healthy by the camp?

Brady Hoke: "Yeah. Their both moving around and doing everything. Our trainers are happy with them and so yeah, they'll be ready."

Question: You mentioned Jerald Robinson, what exactly has he done?

Brady Hoke: "I think he's matured. You know 18-23 usually those young guys have some maturing to do. I think he is more focused on football. I think freshman when they come in and even into their sophomore year, they've got all this free time to some degree, which they think is free time, which really shouldn't be free time and they don't pay attention to details as much as they should. I think that has helped him with his ability. He is letting his ability really work for him."

Question: Coach Funk had talked about wanting to get the line bigger, needing to get the line bigger. Are you pretty pleased with the gains that you've seen over the summer?

Brady Hoke: "Yeah. We'll weigh them in when they get in on the 8th (August). I've seen some of the guys obviously in the office and upstairs and all that and they've…Taylor (Lewan) is 304 or 305, something like that. By the time he's done, he'll be a 317 pound left tackle, 320. I think they've all done a good job. (David) Molk is bigger, looks great. (Ricky) Barnum, (Patrick) Omameh, Elliot Mealer really looks good. I think we've done that. Will Campbell has dropped about 17 or 18 pounds. Hopefully, he doesn't eat it all back in the next ten days. William has done a good job and I'm proud of him."

Question: Why did you think it was so important to bring Fred Jackson back into the fold?

Brady Hoke: "I've known Fred for a long time, but coaching with Fred and watching him develop backs and how his kids have played on a daily, weekly basis, there is no better running back coach in the country. They are accountable for what they do."

Question: What is about him that has allowed him to survive so long?

Brady Hoke: "#1 he is a good man. He has got great character and he cares about the kids. When you do those things I think you can go a long ways."

Question: When you got the job there was speculation about whether Denard would stay or he was looking for a spread offense, did you feel like you had to re-recruit him?

Brady Hoke: "Not really. His first conversation with me, was coach I'm not going anywhere. He had talked to his dad about getting a degree from Michigan and he even said whether I play quarterback or not, I'm going to help this football team. The media makes a lot of things are more dramatic than they are, but it was a conversation that him and I had and I told him how we were going to do things in the offense and at the end of the conversation, ‘Coach, I'm not going anywhere'."

Question: Nothing to it then?

Brady Hoke: "Not in my mind."

Question: Al has said that he is going to run him more because he is such a special talent, probably than he has with any other quarterback, how much of that depends on the emergence of your running backs?

Brady Hoke: "I think that is a big part of it. I think if one of these guys really steps into it and can really carry the load and then have two other guys that can maybe help us out and do some things. I think that would be huge and that would determine a little more."

Question: At the end of the day does it really matter who is running the ball, you guys always had ten mile wide holes to run through, whether it is Denard or the backs, does it really matter?

Brady Hoke: "No because it is those guys up front. It is just guys up front and John McCoglan is a tremendous lead blocker as a fullback, a tough guy. He is what you want in a fullback. Depending on personnel groups and all that to me it doesn't matter who it is of all those guys, but we would like to have somebody be able to do it and be the lead guy."

Question: I always thought it was weird to compare Michigan to Ball State, does this offensive line really do what you got that line to do at the end of your tenure there?

Brady Hoke: "We're going to find out. We got a lot of unanswered questions in my mind."

Question: What is the biggest one?

Brady Hoke: "How physical we're going to be on both sides of the ball up front period because that's where the game is played."

Question: Can you talk about being in so many different places, you've had to recruit so many different areas and recruit different ways geographically. In the Big Ten, what do you feel is important for a school like Nebraska coming in or you coming in, is it just about placing emphasis on certain regions now or do you recruit differently in the Big Ten?

Brady Hoke: "I don't think you recruit differently. I think regionally, there is a piece to it and for us in the state of Michigan, state of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Illinois are going to be places where we're going to do a lot of work, but we're also very fortunate that we're a global education and we have the ability to recruit nationally. We can do that part of it also. So no, when I went to San Diego everybody said those California kids were soft and they are not soft. Kids aren't soft, if you let them be soft, let them be undisciplined, let them be immature, because kids still wan structure, they still want discipline and they want people who care about them. At the end of the day that's what we have to do."

Question: You've talked about that, you've been to different states outside the Big Ten region, what do you think are the most important states outside nationally are?

Brady Hoke: "The state of Georgia is pretty good in high school football and the emphasis, obviously Florida, Texas, California. I think those states are always big and we'll always have satellite recruiting what we call it in those different states. I wouldn't say one is bigger or better than the other." <


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