Media Day Full Transcript: Coach Hoke

Full Transcript: Coach Hoke on today's (Sunday's) Media Day: Matt Wile, the RBs, Denard, Thomas Gordon, Jordan Kovacs, Ken Demens, Troy Woolfolk (hammy?), Ricky Barnum, McLogan, TEs, the OL ... more

OPENING STATEMENT: Thanks for coming out. It's good to see a lot of enthusiasm for the University of Michigan. We're seven practices in to this point and I think we find a lot about our team each practice and they've had great energy which is an important part. I think there is a sustainability to those practices that we have to have because of how we want to compete late in football games. You win championships late in November in this league and that's something we talk about every day. I think we're pretty healthy from that standpoint which is always good and we'd like to keep healthy. There is a lot of competition and I talked to you all on Thursday so you all know the competition is what's really going to make our program run on a daily basis and our evaluations and how we compete with each other. We have two-a-days again tomorrow and that's when you find out a lot of the struggles and who are the leaders because of the struggles and adversity that we'll have on our football team. We had a good first seven days and we're 20 days away. We're not ready to play and we've got a lot of work to do.

QUESTION: What did you take out of the first hitting practice?

ANSWER: I think guys are willing and wanting. I think that's part of it. As you go through it you always want to see the consistency and if they hit in the morning who wants to hit when you come back in the afternoon. That's why I think this week, we have three days that are two practices a day. We will be in full pads for all those practices and we'll be physical with each other and find out who can consistently bring it.

Q: Do you get another level of energy because of the pads?

A: Yes, you do. I think there is always that anxiousness and they want to establish themselves and come out and really show not only the coaches, but their teammates what they did over the summer how they've progressed from the spring until now.

Q: Brady, how long have you known Matt Wile, your freshman kicker, and what's your relationship with him and his family?

A: Obviously he's a San Diego guy and his dad was our orthopedic at San Diego State. When did I know him? 2009. Matt would come around and you started investigating. Most of these guys have kicking gurus because it's such a special thing and a guy named Lance we had known for a long time on the west coast and he worked with Matt and thought he was pretty good so we proceeded to recruit him. Having Dr. Wile there on game days and practices, Matt would come by and he's a tremendous kid. He's a fifth-generation Michigan man and his dad got his degree here. It all fit pretty well.

Q: How's he doing so far, Brady?

A: He's doing well. I think this is a big stage and he hasn't gone out on Main Street in front of 110,000 people, you got to really see where a guy is at. He's very consistent. He's one of those guys who really knows his technique and fundamentals and can do a good job of coaching himself. I think he's taken all three phases on to some degree right now. Punting, kick offs and field goals. He's done a good job with it.

Q: How comfortable would you be turning that job over to a true freshman?

A: I'd be very comfortable. We've started freshman running backs before, it's not that different.

Q: Denard ran a lot last year. Can you talk about the race at running back and how Thomas Rawls has been doing?

A: Well the young guys have missed some days or time because they're finishing up summer school. Coming here and part of that is to work out and all that, but Thomas has done a good job. As a backfield, we're unsettled and have had great competition and if you look for the consistency that you want to have on a daily basis. We have some older guys who have played a number of snaps here that one day I think we're pretty good and one practice we can kind of slide back. That's the consistency, you're on them about that every day. You can't play great one Saturday and then fall back. That's the evaluation. We're still evaluating. Thomas is a part of that evaluation.

Q: Are you in the same camp where you want one guy taking the bulk of the carries?

A: You may have a situational guy with down and distance but we'd like to have one guy who could tote it 25 times and maybe another guy gets 8-10 and we can go from there.

Q: Does it concern you that no back has taken charge?

A: Yes and no, I'm always concerned. I'm going to be honest. This week is huge for our team. Not just for that position but for the whole team.

Q: Can you put a percentage on what your offense may do or may not do just because of Denard's special talents?

A: I think that's hard to do because you have what you want as a base. Our base run play is a power play and that won't be any secret. That's where we want to start. But depending on the scheme we're facing and the team and how we're running at the tailback position, could be more, could be less. In a real world we probably like to get him 10-15 snaps of running the football and put the rest of it on those guys who he's got behind him.

Q: Keeping Denard on the field and healthy but putting the ball in his hands to make a play.

A: The objective is to win. We have to do what we can to help Michigan win. When you look at it at the end of the day our kids want to win and they practice hard. We've got to give them a plan and put them in a position to win, if that makes sense.

Q: Over the past year you've seen what kind of talent Denard is, has he surprised you with anything?

A: Not really. I got to see a couple games last year. He's just a great kid. I think the thing is by the time you're a third year guy, the leadership quality really starts to stick out more and more. That's what I like what he's done during camp. He's taken charge, he's competitive, he's challenged not only guys on offensive side of the ball but he's challenged some of the guys on defense. But he's doing it the right way. That kind of stuff is fun.

Q: Keeping on that, how has that worked out with seniors taking in freshmen?

A: I think it's been really good. I think all seniors are rooming with freshmen and you get to know them and set the example, set the expectation. I think there are some guys, Kevin Koger is one of the better leaders we have because of his character and his integrity. But I think a lot of those guys are stepping up.

Q: How is Denard fitting into your system and where do you need to see the most improvement as you go on?

A: Well, you know I think he's a great fit in what we do. He's done a tremendous job and we're fortunate enough he has some other things he brings to the table. I think it's progressing and we're installing more and more of what we want to do and what he can do. We're not going to ask him to do things that he can't do. We wouldn't do that to Devin or him. I think he's doing great with it.

Q: With just over three weeks left to put in this offense, do you see yourself adapting the players to this offense or adapting the offense to the players?

A: Well you've got a system you want to run but you're not going to put a square peg in a round hole either. So, I mean, that's what Al has been able to do and if you follow Al's coaching pedigree and what he's done, he always seems to make the right fits. That's why he's at Michigan. He understands playmakers need to have the ball in their hands and they're the ones to make plays for you. But at the end of the day we still have to block up front and knock people off the football to be successful in no matter what you do.

Q: Can you talk about the process of bringing Mattison here and what made you say that this was the guy I need?

A: Well, he's a tremendous football coach and a great leader and he has great integrity. The relationships he builds with the kids, 18-23 year olds and the motivational things and how he frames up what you're defense is. But the daily things like the fundamentals and techniques you want to play with. He's coached a lot of football and coached a lot of guys. He brings so much from a knowledge standpoint to a guy who's going to represent this team with high character and integrity and a guy who's going to pass that along to those kids on defense.

Q: Were you surprised that you could get him away from the Ravens?

A: He's here.

Q: Can you elaborate more on Kevin Koger?

A: Spend a half hour with him and just meet him. His selflessness that you have to have and the sacrifice he'll give to this team to help the team. He's a tremendous guy and I'm talking off the football field because that will take care of itself. He's a guy who has impressed me with what he does in the weight room, with what he does with winter conditioning, what he does all year long. He's always been on point and he's a great kid to be around.

Q: Is there a specific example?

A: No, I'm not going to get into that, but he just leads.

Q: Speaking of leadership, how and when will captains get picked?

A: They won't get picked for two more weeks and the team will vote on them.

Q: You've added a couple of countdown clocks this year.

A: Yeah, they've been there since January. Those are important football games. Those are great rivalries.

Q: How is Al different from other quarterback coaches and coordinators that you've had?

A: We're all different. We all have different benchmarks and expectations. Part of Al's is the guys he's coached and the places he's been. When you're at Portland State where you've got a whole different dynamic then when he went to UCLA and a whole different dynamic when you go to San Diego State. It's just his number one, his knowledge of playing the position. He's worked very hard to make sure he's up to speed on quarterback play. He did that 25 years ago, believe me. You look for the new things or what may be out there, and this is any position. You want to look at technique and whatever it may be or scheme and you go learn about it and make those calls and try to stay ahead of the curve and Al's that kind of a guy. I think he does a nice job about looking at what you have and what you're going to do.

Q: How did you get him to San Diego State?

A: Well. I guess my good looks (laughter). He's a guy that I've known. I was at Oregon State and he was at Portland State. They'd come down and visit with our offense and we'd chat and talk and all that. Just known him for a long time and I thought he was the right guy and he is the right guy.

Q: Can you talk about the schedule itself and Notre Dame coming up. Nice challenge for you guys taking on the Irish team at night.

A: I'll be honest with you. We have 20 days until we play Western. We're all excited, first night game and everything. But for us, it isn't important, it really isn't. September 3rd is what's important. And I'll be honest with you, the practice today after the pictures and everything like that. That's what's important. That's where our minds need to be. I think there's been a lot talked about and said about the first night game and that's exciting but as a team we have to stay on task for what we have to do every day.

Q: Seven days in, how has the defense looked?

A: I don't think we've played to the standard that is going to be acceptable at this point. We need to be more physical at the point of attack and we need to have an urgency in some of the things, whether we're changing the front or changing communication or any of those things. I think that we have to have a mentality of how we want to attack the football. It's coming but it's not where we'd like to have it.

Q: Have you liked anything from the defense then?

A: You know, yeah. Tom Gordon has had a good summer. Kovacs has really taken ownership and Kenny Demens. Having Kenny back, he's done some really good things. A guy named Nathan Brink who we kind of saw at the end of spring, as a five technique or a three technique up front, he's got a lot a real physicalness to him. J.B. Fitzgerald is another guy who stands out as far as his leadership goes, he's been excellent. There are probably other guys who have come on a little bit more but we've got to have eleven guys at a time playing at the same level. There is a fanaticism that you have to play defense with.

Q: Brady can you coach urgency?

A: Yeah, you can. That's just what you accept. If we accept them not to get to the football and we're not chasing them and what we need to do as coaches, you accept a lack of urgency. We're not accepting that. That's not how we're going to play defense. It's a culture where you've always got to stay on top of. That's how we're going to play defense. If guys don't play that way or practice that way then they're not going to play. We'll take 23 kids on defense and go play a game.

Q: You talked about Kovacs, do you know about his backstory?

A: I know all of that. But Jordan is a guy positionally, if you put him in the position, he's a guy who can get things lined up for you and he can attack the football. He has a great deal of pride in his performance and he's one of those guys who has an urgency about getting to the football. I'm pleased with what he's done to this point. I would guess that he won't take a step backwards.

Q: You called this week huge. What do you expect to learn from your team?

A: I'm going to see adversity. Every team has adversity during the course of a season or during the course of a game. We're going to touch on adversity. We're demanding and there's an expectation of how you show up in this building and we're going to see if they can handle that. It's just a struggle, it's part of fall camp. It's got to be hard.

Q: When will you start penciling in a two-deep?

A: Probably the end of the week. We're going to scrimmage pretty good in six days and on Saturday. We're going to put them in a lot of different situations and see how we respond.

Q: You're going to put them through adversity and you have things planned, is that what you always do?

A: Yes. We're going to do a two minute drill today. You talk about pressure from both sides of the ball and that's going to be fun. We're going to see how we react. You've got all kinds of situations that you have to know. As an offensive guy and a defensive guy, you start talking about down and distance and field position and field goals and touchdowns and how you want to play and how you get set and how you get the call from the coach on the sideline and how quickly you can communicate it and how quickly you're receivers get back to the sidelines. That's the greatest drill ever. I'd do full line interior drill just linebackers and the front against the offensive line. I'd do that drill two hours a day so we could run 900 plays at each other and then I'd do two-minute and then I'd go home.

Q: Are Troy and J.T. at 100 percent?

A: Troy, he's another guy I think has progressed well. He's a guy who I think as a senior has taken some ownership and he's done everything. We held him out yesterday at the end because of a hamstring, nothing bad, but we've got enough competition going on there at that position that we could afford to rest him a tad. J.T. is fighting. Courtney Avery is fighting, Terrance Talbott, they're all fighting with each other to see who's going to be the guy.

Q: How healthy is that competition?

A: It's very healthy. I think that's fun. We don't have the greatest competition everywhere, but I wish we did because that would make us better.

Q: How's the competition at fullback and how is McColgan doing?

A: I'll tell you, John is another guy who's shown great leadership through the summer and he's a tough guy and he's going to be, you have to be to play that in a pro-style offense. He's done a tremendous job there for us. We really, when you look at it, he's one of the true fullback bodies that you have. We'll do a lot with Steve Watson and the tight ends which will put us in a 21 personnel package that could help us with the power play.

Q: Is he pretty active in the passing game?

A: Oh yeah, he's what you want in a fullback in a pro-set.

Q: Brady, you have a history with Michigan tradition and history, you talk about it a lot, you know what it means and you know what the standard is. Do you have a feel for where this team is and what the project is going to be?

A: I think there is obviously, without a better indication of where we're at from a teaching philosophy. We'll have to go along with it from where we were in January and there's been a lot of improvement with this team since January. It's the attitude they're coming to work with and you see the closeness and the competitiveness that they're starting to, in my opinion, really take hold of and embrace. I think they're embracing and there is a realization of who we are and who we do represent and how special that is.

Q: What do you say to those who say new coach, new staff, it's going to take a few years?

A: I think I made this comment before, but this is Michigan. There aren't going to be any excuses. If we don't win the Big Ten Championship, we've failed these kids as coaches. Our job is to put them into the greatest position where they can have success. Our job is to put them into a position to where they're doing things the right way in this community and in our campus and the work ethic and the selflessness they need to have. If we don't do that, then we've failed and we have to go back to work.

Q: Elliott Mealer played a lot last year on special teams, where do you see him on the offensive line?

A: You know, he's competing. The left side of our line, with Taylor back and I think Ricky Barnum has done a nice job and David Molk, I think those guys are playing pretty well on that side. I think Patrick has come a long way. I think Patrick and Elliott and Schofield and Mark Huyge, that's great competition. You've got to find your best six no matter what happens, if one guy goes down, who's your best six. That may be taking a guy, and I'll use Ricky as an example of who's a guard and moving him to somewhere else so our best six are out there, and Elliott is a part of that mix right now.

Q: How excited are you for September 3rd?

A: You know, right now, I'm excited for this day to get done with (laughter), and to get back on the field.

Q: Brady, how confident are you in the pieces you have right now to once again establish a power running game?

A: Oh, I think there are some guys back there who can do it. All of them have shown signs of being able to run the ball the way we like.

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