COACH HOKE: Finishing fall camp on Saturday morning, I think we were very productive in what we wanted to get done. You're never going to be satisfied and it's never going to be as good as you'd like it to be. That's just part of being competitive. And but I think we developed as a team and became closer as a team. When you look at it as a team, I think we are excited to get going, and you know, have that first opportunity. We have 12 opportunities and we have made that known to our players. We want to play obviously 14. But the 12 opportunities we have, we start with the first test this weekend.
We voted on captains last night as a team and I know Justin released that last night. I think our players understand that our seniors will always be, you know, our leaders, and the three guys with Mike and defense -- Mike Martin, Kevin Koger and David Molk on offense I think have demonstrated an ability to lead. I think they all three bring a lot to our football team. When you look at the leadership roles that they play, and you look also at the roles from a production standpoint and those kind of things.
You know, Western Michigan is a well-coached disciplined, tough football team and I've had a little bit of experience with Coach Cubit and how his teams play. Offensively and defensively. And they, you know, play in a great conference. And I say that not because I played in that conference, believe me, or coached in it, but I think that conference you see coaches do a great job of developing kids and Bill is one of those guys who has done that over the years.
Offensively they are led by a great quarterback in Alex Carder and when I say great, I do mean. That he's as impressive as anybody that you'll turn tape on the entire year; with what he did a year ago and 30 touchdowns, over 63 percent in completions. I think their offense starts with him as most offenses do, but they are really a very, very good football team when you look at them. Jordan White, the wide receiver, a sixth year of eligibility, he got I believe 94 or 97 balls a year ago. So he'll be something for our secondary to contend with obviously and then up front offensively, Anthony Parker, their left tackle is a guy who kind of spearheads that offensive line unit that's a big unit, and physical. They lost some guys from a year ago. But they really have some pieces. They have got a couple junior college transfers that Bill went out and recruited who I think they are pretty happy with.
You don't know until you see them, obviously, live, and we looked forward to that on the third.
Defensively, I think maybe some of their strength of their team is their defensive line. Has everyone coming back. Their secondary, they feel is one of the better ones in the mid-American conference, and they have always had guys back there who are -- who are going to be physical and going to attack the football. So we are excited. We are not near ready to play, and I'll probably say that on Friday. We are not near ready to play. But, we get to play and that's a good thing. We get to see that first test where we are at as a team and as a program and to get out there and I guess not beat on each other, but you get to play with somebody else.
QUESTION: Looks like running back, corner, kicking, punting… those are still or situations in terms of starters?
COACH HOKE: I think there's just great competition, Larry. I think running back, Fitz has done some good things... Michael has done some good things... convinced Smith is a guy we talked about being a guy that would be a third down back for us for multiple seasons -- but I think there's still some great competition there. And I think with J.T. and Troy, and you look at Courtney Avery ... I think Blake Countess is a young guy who has played pretty well, and Raymond Taylor -- I think, you know, all of those guys are competing, and Greg Brown. So you know, I would suspect that J.T. and Troy would be the guys who would start the football game, but when we get into in this case he will, then we get into some other situations.
QUESTION: On Will Heininger earning the starting defensive end spot?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, I think it is, more than anything else, I think it's more his experience. We like what Nathan has done, and you know, he's practiced very well, played well, been productive. But Will at the same time has done a good job, Will Heininger. And the other guy who has come on a little bit is Will Campbell. So I think that would be fluid up front. Because we want to play six guys during the course of a game so we can keep guys fresh and keep them healthy.
QUESTION: Are there guys who are questionable (health wise)?
COACH HOKE: No, health-wise, we are in great shape. As good as you can be coming out of fall camp. We had a pretty physical fall camp. And so I'm pretty pleased. Mike Jones had a little bit of a fever and pneumonia the other day, but just saw him on the way here, in fact and it feels pretty good.
QUESTION: The fact that you are playing Western, a program that you are familiar with, does that help at all going into the first game for you?
COACH HOKE: You know, I don't know if it helps, but you know -- because you've got to go back to the tape that you had from a year ago. First games are always a little different as far as when you start to study; do you take the last four games or the first three from a year ago to see what they taught within their offense and defense. And then the last three games, you know, as far as when you start breaking an opponent down and looking at it.
So you know, I really am impressed when you watch them play on the tape and you're, you know, being a defensive guy. I always probably look at more offensive film of an opponent than I do defensively. But I'm very impressed with Carder and how he handles their offense.
QUESTION: Talk about what you think it will be like to go out of that tunnel in the middle of the pack with that team for the first time?
COACH HOKE: You know, it's a special place, being at Michigan. So I'm sure that will be very humbling. But the end of the day, we are playing a football game, and our consistency as coaches is important and so we'll move pretty close, pretty quickly, Larry, and you know, what we have to do. I'm hoping we get to the sidelines the right way, and you know, you're always -- as a new staff, you're doing things different. When we go to dinner on Friday night, we'll practice at 5:00 on Friday night, and all those things are different than what have been done in the past. You know, I mean, those things I'll be worrying about until the game's kicked off.
QUESTION: Being able to prepare for them, you said you watched tape. They are not in that same position and have no idea what you're going to do on offense and defense. Do you see that as a pretty good advantage?
COACH HOKE: I'm sure, you know, they are a good football staff, and I'm sure that they have got a hold of all the San Diego State film they could from an offensive perspective. I think defensively, it's always a little harder to get any kind of NFL film, but usually and especially a guy, Bill has been around the block a long time, he's well thought of, I'm sure they have been able to see, you know, remnants of what we are trying to do.
QUESTION: How much of Saturday's game will be a continued trial for your running game? Do they still have something to prove come game time?
COACH HOKE: I think they all do, it's not just the running backs. We want to evaluate them every day, you know, and if a guy doesn't meet the standard or expectation that we need to play with, and it could be any position, if he doesn't meet that standard, then we have got to find somebody else.
QUESTION: Is the evaluation process different for a game than it is in practice? Does it give you more evidence of stuff they can do in a game situation?
COACH HOKE: I don't think so. I'm a big believer in you -- when you prepare and when you practice, you know, you're going to play that way. So if we have got great intensity getting to the football, our wide receivers are sustaining blocks and harassing corners, we expect that to be done during practice and that's a demand that we have, because I believe you play like you practice.
QUESTION: With the punters and kickers, would you give them both a shot in the game to see how they do with fans in the stands or do you want to pick one guy?
COACH HOKE: Right now Gibbons is going to handle the field goals and if we get into a long field goal situation, I think Wile or Poloski would be next in line for that. You know, Matt will kick off, and Matt's going to punt.
QUESTION: Since you got here in January, obviously it's spring and this camp, how has your offense evolved?
COACH HOKE: I think, you know, his knowledge of what we are trying to do as a whole package, you know, and I know there's still some things Al has not added to the mix, but I think him and his grasp of it is at a higher level than it was in the spring. I think when you put that together where he doesn't have to think as much and now can be settled in his fundamentals and techniques, I think that's where the growth has come, and that his growth as being a leader, you know and that maturity level, is at a higher place.
QUESTION: The Gibbons and Wile situation…what's the range there where that changes?
COACH HOKE: I think when you start getting over, let's say, I would guess from my observation, 43,44, something like that, you know, Matt's just got a little, I don't know if it's a bigger leg, better leg. He's got the opportunity to hit the ball more cleanly. You know, everybody attributes and compares it to golf, and I can't tell you about golf. If you've seen me golf, you would know why. But it's kind of, you know, that sweet spot that he hits it with.
QUESTION: Going back to the offense for just a second, has it transitioned to what you envisioned when you first thought about it coming in, or is it more tweaked towards what Denard does well?
COACH HOKE: I think it depends, I really do. I think, you know, the basic plays of a pro-style offense, you know, are a big part of it, the playaction game, all those things. There are some things out of the spread that we are obviously going to stay with. But kind of overlap a little bit, you know, with how you want to block at the point of attack and those things. But you know, it's -- we are still going to lineup and run the power play a bunch.
QUESTION: What are your instructions to Denard in terms of staying healthy compared to what you would tell a normal or typical quarterback?
COACH HOKE: I think it's the same. You don't want him to take needless shots and we would not want Devin to, either. We want him to be aggressive and always know what the stakes are but we don't want a guy to take needless shots if he can help it.
QUESTION: Looking at your lineup, you have quite a few seniors and juniors in the lineup; sometimes in a transition, coaches like to put in younger guys or their own guys so to speak. You have a lot of experience; do you like the level of experience that you have on this team?
COACH HOKE: I think that's an important part of it to some degree. I mean, believe me, if we thought those younger guys were at a point where the older guys are, and were better, the younger guys would be playing. I think we are growing with some youth and probably more so on the defensive side of the ball, there's some guys that have a better chance to play than on the offensive side.
QUESTION: How much of those guys listed did start last year and can you talk about what they did to earn this spot collectively and maybe you think how hungry they are to have the success is Michigan is used to?
COACH HOKE: I hope they are hungry, first and foremost. This is a competitive game. This is the winningest program in college football. So I hope they understand those expectations. I think we had good competition. I guess that's what I would say. I think we have had really good competition, and you know, it's easy to see, our depth on both sides of the ball up front are not exactly where you would like it to be. And that's okay, because it's always an expectation for who is playing the position. And it doesn't matter if they are a fifth-year guy or a guy who is a true freshman. You have to play to a Michigan standard.
QUESTION: Were some of those decisions made in those scrimmages? You talked about seeing them in the stadium and in competitive situations would determine those things?
COACH HOKE: Every day they are evaluated, and it doesn't matter, in the weight room, I talked to Aaron every day, how did he do, because we are looking for an attitude. We are looking for a team attitude first. If a guy goes in there and doesn't do what he needs to do to help his teammates, then we are going to have a problem with it. And so it all starts there, and you know, obviously when you are in those situational things that you do, you know, with the football aspect of it, you are expecting them to play at a fast level and fast tempo and with an enthusiasm for the game.
QUESTION: Is Van Bergen pretty much looked into the tackle spot?
COACH HOKE: He's one of those guys that can play a lot. He can be over the center, which he is at times, you know, and I'm talking about nickels and dimes and those kind of things. But you know, he can do that, and he can swing back out to the five. So, you know, Ryan brings a lot of intelligence to the game, and being an older guy who has been around football a lot, it really helps him out and helps our team out.
QUESTION: You haven't played a game yet but you've been here seven months. Do you feel like the transition has been what you thought? Has there been more that you thought you would have to change or less?
COACH HOKE: It's about what you think it would be. You know, it's really just trying to have a focus on what Michigan is all about, and starting there. I don't know if it's any different or not.
QUESTION: Leaning on history and tradition?
COACH HOKE: That's important, and important accountability that we have.
QUESTION: Between all four punt returners… is that decided or will it be fluid going into the game?
COACH HOKE: It will probably be fluid. I would not be surprised that we probably had two guys back there to try and -- I mean, switching them per punts, you know to, see who we think may be be the best playmaker out of it.
QUESTION: This is obviously the first game. Do you have special superstitions, traditions or anything you could share?
COACH HOKE: I would not share them with you if I did.
QUESTION: Are you doing the Victor's Walk?
COACH HOKE: No.
QUESTION: You said in Chicago you thought you would do it.
COACH HOKE: Nope.
QUESTION: Okay. I just wanted to clarify, on Shaw and Toussaint… Fitz could conceivably still win the starting job.
COACH HOKE: Sure. No question.
QUESTION: As game time gets closer, do you get more nervous?
COACH HOKE: My nervousness only comes that we are doing things -- all the I's and crossing all the T's. We talked as a staff, No. 1, have a great plan for them and that's our responsibility, that we have a plan on both sides of the ball, in the kicking game. That's going to help these kids be successful. And that's what you think about constantly. You know, did we cover this; have we covered this enough. Taking a safety, you know, from a punt formation, with 13 seconds left on the game. You know, what's the punter do, how do you -- I mean, there's a lot of different ways you can do it. You know, but that kind of stuff, I don't know if it's a nervousness, you know, because once we are here, on Saturday, it's fun.
QUESTION: How will the captains work? Are you meeting with them before the game?
COACH HOKE: I meet with the seniors every Sunday and every Thursday. So they will be part of that group, obviously. The captains, I'll meet with them periodically when I feel there's a need.
QUESTION: On Frank Clark…
COACH HOKE: Frank is a guy that we think can do some things in those nickel and dime packages. Blake I think has got an opportunity to be a very good corner here, very good feet, you know, and he's got some makeup speed that corners need to have. He's tough. Both of them are tough. So I think they both from a defensive mentality, we don't want to overload them, you know, so that they go out there and paralysis by analysis. We want to be able to go play the game.
QUESTION: A lot of new coaches and systems come in to make the transition, you need time to install it all. Will it take some time for us to see the full breadth of the Brady Hoke system?
COACH HOKE: I think it always does. I've done this at two other schools, and you know, every week is a learning experience. And when I say that, I'm going back to every week how we travel, or how -- you know, we are playing at home, but it's still, you know, we are going to the campus and how we meet and all that stuff, it's a learning experience every week. And you know, the sooner that we feel -- I don't want to say comfortable, but that's basically what it is, then the faster we'll start playing; then the more physical we will play football with.
QUESTION: You talked on the radio about the corn chowder?
COACH HOKE: Clam. That guy said corn. It was clam chowder (smiling).
QUESTION: Are there any other traditions that you're bringing that are important to you this week?
COACH HOKEI don't know. I don't know what was taken and don't -- what wasn't done.
QUESTION: What are you doing?
COACH HOKE: Well, we practice later on Fridays, and it will be more of a -- there will be a little bit more intensity to it than maybe other programs have had, because I'm a big believer on that mental practice that we'll have. You have to have an intensity in how you do it, because then you're going to play fast, and I keep saying that, but that's -- at the end of the day, you've got to play fast in this game. So that part of it's different.
You know, I don't know what else.
Full Transcript: Coach Hoke Presser
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