Brady Hoke Presser: Week 2 Full Transcript

Coach Hoke is asked about injuries, about the play of Denard, Kovacs, Schofield, the play of the D-line, about blitzing ... and more.

COACH HOKE: Thanks for coming. It is a holiday, but when you're in your profession and our profession, you really don't have holidays, so that's okay. As far as last Saturday, it was good to win. The weather, you can never anticipate what happened and all that stuff. But it was good to win the football game and we think we learned a lot team-wise. When you look at where we need to really improve, it was good to get out and obviously play someone else besides yourselves because we did that for four weeks. But there is a lot that we can learn from the film. There is a lot that we can continue to learn from the film and improve on. Hopefully we've got to make a great improvement because the test obviously gets much bigger this week. This is a great rivalry game and one that we're excited about. Obviously, there are some other things that go along with this game this year with playing at night, the first night game, and the throw-back uniforms and all those things. The one thing we talked about as a team is we can't get caught up and distracted and all those things. That field will still be 120 yards long when you include the end zones and 53 point something yards wide, and that's not going to change, and that's where our focus has to be and how we prepare this week to play our best football and make a lot of improvements.

QUESTION: Troy had an injury. Obviously, Cam (Gordon) was out with an injury. Can you update those guys?

COACH HOKE: Yeah, Troy just sprained his ankle… his other ankle. And it felt better yesterday. I think emergency-wise, he could have gotten back in on Saturday. He's doing a good job, and Paul Schmidt, our trainer is doing a good job with treating all of those things. Cam, he tweaked his back early in the week. Felt better, but still just didn't feel good enough. You know, there was no sense for us to try and put him out there where he could prolong the recovery process, I would say.

QUESTION: Anyone else that was not held out for injury?


QUESTION: Do you anticipate those two guys playing?

COACH HOKE: Yeah, I do.

QUESTION: How would you evaluate your safety play? You only gave up two offensive plays with 20 yards or more. How would you evaluate those guys…(Thomas) Gordon and Marvin Robinson that came in, and Kovacs?

COACH HOKE: Obviously, Kovacs played a terrific football game. Even though when you look at his production and the things that we asked him to do, I thought he played pretty well. He missed one tackle in there, but I think he played well. I think Marvin is getting his feet wet a little more and in game atmosphere kind of situations. There is a lot with the communication that we need to have going on back there. He's got to be more vocal. He's not a real vocal guy anyway. I think Thomas played well, but there were some things that he wasn't satisfied with that he needs to improve upon. But I think he's had a tremendous camp. We asked him to do a lot, because obviously when Troy went down, he moved into nickel, and in that situation I think we were okay there. I think there's a lot that we need to do a heck of a lot better this week.

QUESTION: Notre Dame's quarterback situation is up in the air right now. How does that change maybe what you want to do? How much did you scout both of them?

COACH HOKE: Well, to me it doesn't change anything in our preparation. I mean they both with the style of offense that Brian runs, I think they're very, both very talented. I think they'll make the decision that is best for the team, and we can't worry about that. We've just got to worry about how we prepare. I don't think it changes the offense in any way at all.

QUESTION: Coach, what is the most memorable Michigan-Notre Dame game that you've ever been directly involved in?

COACH HOKE: You know, I was looking at that, and I think I was here in those odd years. We played Washington two years and didn't play them. I think we played UCLA two years, and didn't play them. I think those two years. I think in '97, when they were inside the red zone three times and defensively those guys stood up and didn't let them get any points.

QUESTION: Earlier in the week, it didn't look like Herron or Avery would start and then they did. Did they catch the guys in front of them? What happened there?

COACH HOKE: No, some of it has to do with what kind of defensive set we were in. Courtney was the third corner coming in, Troy goes to nickel, Gordon comes on the field. So I don't think that played a part in it, just what subgroup you were in. The other one was when Cam started hitching up with his back a little bit. We had to get another guy who had some experience, some reps in the design of the defense that we were in. And I keep going back to that because it depends if we're in a dime or a nickel or our base where they all lineup. But that was really the only reason.

QUESTION: You've got countdown clocks for Michigan State and Ohio. What puts the Notre Dame rivalry on a different level than those two games?

COACH HOKE: Those are Big Ten Conference games, you know. I think that's always part of it. I think in-state rivalries and obviously the rivalry in the last Saturday in November is pretty special. This is important as anything. I think this has always been a game where you get -- for both teams -- I remember Coach Schembechler always talking about you get a gauge on where you're at as a team because it's always been -- it's going to take the national spotlight. And it is an environment where you have expectations of how your guys are going to play.

QUESTION: Historically is this a game Michigan always looks forward to because of that national spotlight?

COACH HOKE: I think so. I think so.

QUESTION: You said you learned a lot. Was there one thing you were happy with, and one thing you were really unhappy with?

COACH HOKE: Well, there are probably a lot of things I was very unhappy with, but we'll leave that for later. Here's what I thought. Rushing for 190 yards in three quarters of the game, that was a good thing. I think once defensively, and the defensive staff made some adjustments that needed to be made. And the pressure on the quarterback pretty good at manned coverage. We've got to be much better this week because of the talent that Notre Dame has. But I thought there was a flow to the game then. Herron takes the ball back, and we come back out and it's a three-and-out. So we were starting to get some flow and momentum.

QUESTION: You said at the top that you learned a lot of what you need to improve on team-wise. You touched on it a little bit, but can you elaborate?

COACH HOKE: We've got to play run defense. We've got to play tighter coverage and zone. We've got to be able to pressure the quarterback with four guys at times or three guys at times. From a defensive perspective, we had some missed alignments that were based on communication that you can't have or lack of communication, so that's a big part of it. I think from an offensive standpoint, we took care of the football which was big and always will be big. But there were a couple of decisions that we need to make better decisions with. We've got to do a better job staying on some blocks down the field because there are some opportunities for some other bigger plays in the run game. Our routes, we broke a couple of them off early, which our receiver has to be more disciplined within the scheme, especially when you're in a timing phase of your passing game. And then in the kicking game, our kickoff coverage will get a lot of attention from where we place the ball on the kick to how we get off blocks going down the field. So that's huge. Obviously, we're going to give a lot of attention to PAT and field goal protection on the inside. You can't get knocked back, and that was part of the one that got blocked, a big part of it was because we got knocked back out of there too much. The other part of it would have been the snap was a little high. Took Gibbons a little longer to approach the ball because of that. And I could go to the punt team, and I could go on and on. Kickoff return, better decision than taking the ball in the end zone, getting on guys a little better. I mean, this could be a marathon. But I know I don't have the time for it, and neither do you. (Laughter)"

QUESTION: On the kickoff coverage, will we see different personnel out there, perhaps?

COACH HOKE: Well, you could. Obviously it's competitive and you're evaluated. If we're not doing the job we think we have from a competitive standpoint. Because part of getting off blocks is being competitive and having the intensity of what you're doing. So that part of it, believe me, was addressed yesterday, and will continue to be addressed during the week. But there could be some different faces on there. You know, it will be a fun week. Let's just put it that way.

QUESTION: You said previously you want to lead your defensive line. Do you feel they led the defense on Saturday, and can you talk about how they played?

COACH HOKE: You know, I think we played okay. You know you guys have heard me talk about hearing football. You also want to feel guys during the course of a game. I felt No. 32 during the course of the game, you know, an impact. To some degree, I thought J.T., you could feel him out there a little bit. I never felt our front like we need to, you know, not to be specific. So I think we played okay, but I think we need to play at a higher level and a higher standard.

QUESTION: You ran 39 plays on offense Saturday. Is that enough to answer some of the questions coming into it or is there any frustration that some of these things weren't resolved?

COACH HOKE: I think it's a little bit of both. I think there are some things that are still out there in talking to Al and the offensive staff. I think there are some things that we didn't get to in the offense that maybe we'd like to have gotten to a little more. Yeah, it wasn't many plays. So I would say yes. We also saw some things that we wanted to get done too.

QUESTION: On Mike Schofield's first start on the offensive line…?

COACH HOKE: I thought Mike did a nice job. It wasn't a perfect game by any means. But I think he answered the bell, and I think that he did a great job. I think Ricky and him will obviously compete this week like we normally do. But I thought Mike handled himself very well.

QUESTION: Feeling a player is pretty self-explanatory, but when you say "I felt a player," how do you define that?

COACH HOKE: You feel the presence on the field. You see it, you feel it. I don't know. I mean, that's just me.

QUESTION: Will Troy play special teams if he plays this week, and what is your thought that best players playing special teams as opposed to risk of starters and that kind of thing?

COACH HOKE: It's one-third of the football game, and I think we're crazy if we don't have any segment of the game, the guys who can perform what they're asked to do at the highest level not out there on the field. I mean, that's part of it, you know? You hope to be able to find some of those guys, depending on what you're asking them to do, that can really perform at a high level. And maybe it's not a guy who is a starter for you, but it's a guy who is going to give you great production in the position.

QUESTION: The last two years I know you weren't here, but you guys have needed a pretty large performance from your quarterback to win in final drives and what not. What is the difference between this team that maybe they won't need that?

COACH HOKE: I wish I could really answer that, because with only playing 39 plays, you know, and all that I don't know if we know that yet. Obviously he's got a skillset that's different than a lot of guys, but I don't know if I'd have an answer for that yet. This week will be a good test. They gave up 254 yards to South Florida, and had 504 yards total offense. They're playing good defense, and they have a lot of guys back, so we'll find out.

QUESTION: You lost a quarter, but are you going to try to keep it vanilla pretty much on offense?

COACH HOKE: I think we're going to do what it takes to win.

QUESTION: In the 39 plays, did you like the comfort level from Denard with his grasp on the offense and what you asked him to do?

COACH HOKE: Yeah, I thought he made good decisions. He threw the ball well. It was good to see some vertical runs by Fitz and Michael when he was in there. And Vince had a nice seven-yard run in there off the lead play, so it was good to see that part of it. But I thought he felt comfortable. I thought his timing on -- I think there was an out to the field to Gallon that was well-timed and well-thrown. The ball, he threw the one he led Koger a little too much was a good throw though and a good catch by Kevin. You know, he did some things, setting his feet, getting the ball off on time, all of those things.

QUESTION: Coach, in your experience, how different are night games in terms of the game and atmosphere? Is it difficult to keep players focused?

COACH HOKE: Well, we talked about that yesterday about being distracted. As a coach or a player, it's a long day. Because we all have a nervousness to us, butterflies, whatever you want to call it, so it's a long day. What you try to do is have enough involvement with them that they're just not laying in their hotel room all day so you get them up, you take walks. You do walkthroughs, you watch film, you do all kinds of things to occupy them. At the same time, it's a thin line giving them time to make sure they're relaxed and getting their mind right. We've done a lot of this. We did San Diego State night games. We did the last year at Ball State we had seven night games, and they were Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday kind of deals. So I think we have a pretty good plan for how we'll do it. Again, this is a new group of guys, so you've got to communicate and go through that plan.

QUESTION: Do you change how you prepare this week? Do you practice at night?

COACH HOKE: No, we won't do that. Never really have. It really is just how you structure the day. From how you eat breakfast, when is pregame meal, when is chapel and devotion. I mean, it's all that and walk-throughs and all that stuff.

QUESTION: Did you find that you had to blitz more to get pressure on the quarterback than you wanted?

COACH HOKE: You know, you'd like to get more pressure. If you can pressure a guy pretty good with four guys, that would be good. Now to their credit, there were a lot of three-step games in there where that ball was coming out quick. And as you get those down and distances a little longer, you know, especially in your money downs, your third downs, you get those a little longer, then the five-step, seven-step drop stuff becomes more of a factor. But part of when you go to pressure them, you've got to be able to play manned coverage, and we were able to play a little tighter manned coverage than we were in some of the zone blitzes or whatever you want to call it.

QUESTION: Do you actually like night games?



COACH HOKE: No, but I have no say, which is okay too. But I like 12 o'clock games, and so do you guys. You don't like night games. I know exactly where you're at with it.

QUESTION: Did either Fitz or Shaw make (make a strong enough impression to be named the starter against Notre Dame)?

COACH HOKE: I think we'll probably go with Fitz to start things out. I think Michael did a nice job too. They both handled themselves pretty well. Fitz tried to deliver to people, and Mike did too on the one sideline. He's got to keep his head up and not his eyes down. They're both physical at the point of attack.

QUESTION: He averaged about eight and a half yards per first down play. Did you like the mix of what was being called to start the series?

COACH HOKE: John, I do. I like how Al calls the game. You know, we went a little fast-paced that one series in there. There was a little bit of a changeup. It didn't go as well as we'd like to. But Al will change things up. I think his mix of personnel that are in the game, you know, from either four wides or 11, 10, 22, whatever. I think he does a good job on it.

QUESTION: What are some of your impressions of Matt Wile the first game?

COACH HOKE: I think he handled it pretty well. It can be daunting for a young guy. I thought his kickoffs were pretty good. We'd like a little more location, and then I thought he did a nice job earning punts.

QUESTION: Are you planning on doing an honorary captain?

COACH HOKE: We'll have an honorary senior captain for every game, which is a representation of the rest of the senior class.

QUESTION: We saw you spend some time on the sideline without the head set on. What is your role on the sideline?

COACH HOKE: It can vary. You know, game management to talking to guys, coaching guys, teaching guys. I mean you're not done on Friday. You know, keep coaching and teaching. That's what I like to do. I usually have the head set on with the defense because, again, that's where my expertise is, and that's where -- and I just listen, basically to make sure I know what the calls are so if I've got to grab a guy or whatever. Then offensively I'll have it on situationally.

QUESTION: What do you think of what Jake Ryan did? Does he stay on the field even if Cam Gordon comes back?

COACH HOKE: Again, it's a weekly, everyday battle. We'll see. How did he do? He did some good things. Then he needed to do a couple of things better. It's like on our whole team.

QUESTION: What is your biggest concern facing a Brian Kelly offense, and this offense with Notre Dame?

COACH HOKE: I think number one, their personnel. They've got personnel. I think their three wide receivers and both quarterbacks -- even though I know the one young man struggled a little bit. Crist struggled a little bit the other night. But they're both proven. Their offensive front, there are four out of five guys back who have played a ton of football for them. They're a physical front. Cierre Wood, the running back, I think is a really good running back, and the guy behind him, gray is very good. The tight end is a guy we tried to recruit at Ball State out of Ft. Wayne, we thought he was really talented. If we had gotten him, that would have been a great coup for us. But they're a talented football team.

QUESTION: What does Kovacs do to get the most out of his abilities?

COACH HOKE: He's smart. He's a smart football player. He understands the game. He can dissect the game. He studies the game, and he approaches it in a championship manner to how he wants to play. You know, he studies it well.

QUESTION: What is your impression of their safety, Harrison?

COACH HOKE: He's a good football player. Their whole football team is talented. They're good. He's good.

QUESTION: How comfortable do you and Coach Mattison feel when you have to go man-to-man and bring a blitz?

COACH HOKE: I think there are some guys who have shown some abilities, you know, to play man. I think the thing we have to be is multiple enough though, and we have to be multiple enough in what looks we give also pre-snap. That's another thing we need to work on.

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