Full Transcript: Coach Hoke Monday Presser

Almost a double-session of questions Monday on the performance Sat., on injuries, on specific players who did well or who struggled, and on EMU.

COACH HOKE: Thanks for coming. Saturday was obviously very exciting in a lot of ways: The crowd, the passion, how I think both teams played 60 minutes of football. It was a neat environment, fun, all those things. Obviously a record crowd to see a college football game, and it was good to have the outcome the way it did. It was hard-fought, not a perfect game, when you look at offensively and defensively things that we need to get a lot better at if we are going to be any kind of football team. We need to focus in on those things and as a team, we have got to do a good job of coaching, No. 1 and teaching, and then playing. Our expectations are high and we won't get that way if we don't possess the ball enough offensively to help the defense, and if we don't do a better job in third-down conversions from a defensive standpoint.

Q. Talk about Brandin and Will Campbell
COACH HOKE: I thought Brandin got in there and did a nice job and made some plays. I think it was good to see him be productive in that role and part of it. I think he did a nice job of reacting and seeing the ball and focusing in on keys and those things and then finishing plays. That was good to see from him. He had been banged up about the last week of camp a little bit. He practiced but he had an ankle problem, and still does to some degree, but it was good to see him play at full speed.

Q. You talk all the time about overcoming adversity. Is there more adversity in wiping out a 24-7 deficit or responding in the last 30 seconds to drive 80 yards?
COACH HOKE: Probably both. Our team stayed together. At half-time we went in and just talked about -- asked a pretty simple question: Have we played our best football; are we playing our best football; are we coaching our best football. And it was a unanimous no. And I think Al and the offensive staff did a good job in some adjusting that they did. You have to give Notre Dame a lot of credit. They are a pretty good football team. Their biggest Achilles heel right now is they have turned the ball over, and you can't do that. And I'm not coaching them, but I'm sure Brian is sick about that. But I thought the guys complemented each other as a team and they stayed together.

Q. What did you say to the team yesterday to get them to move past Notre Dame and focus on Eastern and what would you advise they do with the legacy jerseys they get to keep?
COACH HOKE: We were going to spend Sunday cleaning up -- talking about the things that we did and didn't do, did well and didn't do. Then we are going to move forward. Eastern, obviously, they are 2-0. They are a confident team. I think Ron has done a nice job. They are averaging 331 yards per game rushing the football. That's pretty impressive. I don't care who you're playing. I think you've got a staff over there of guys, when you look at it with Mike Hart and Kurt Anderson, Steve Morrison, who are all products of this program as players, and understand about coaching hard and doing those things. And you know just from being around those guys, that's how they coach their kids and you can tell; with Ron's influence as a defensive coach and defensive-minded guy and that aggressive personality guy, that's the way they are playing football. They are impressive. They have got 10 sacks in two games. They are doing a lot of good things.

Q. Did Denard have a rough game, great game or a little of both?
COACH HOKE: I think a little of both. He made some plays when we needed to get some plays made, which a guy of his capability and caliber can do, but also we need to make a little better decisions at times. He was the first one to come off the field on one and say, "My footwork was bad." So that's good to see. So the whole thing is a process to some degree, but we are learning every day.

Q. What is Fitz Toussaint's status, and is there any concern, because in his career he has had some injuries?
COACH HOKE: I don't know much of his history, nor do I -- what's important is we are doing today; it's what we are doing tomorrow. I think he'll be okay. He just bumped up his shoulder a little bit against Western and didn't see as much as what we would like to for him to be able to be ready for the Notre Dame game.

Q. Obviously you guys are blitzing a lot, are you concerned that that is taking your linebackers out of the running game? Seemed the middle field was open to Notre Dame because of the blitzing?
COACH HOKE: Honestly, it shouldn't have been. It's open for a second and then we have got to execute a little better on closing it off. You can get hurt no, question. I mean, if they want to take that gamble, depending on who they are, depending on down and distance, they could check into a run, and sometimes you want them to. But you've got to execute the defense when you want them to. Does that make sense? Does to me.

Q. With the kind of pressure you're getting from the front four, if you had to be more aggressive with your blitz calls than you would like to be?
COACH HOKE: I think, yes, we have had to be more aggressive to answer the question. But I think at the same time, we have -- you've got to look at your matchups pretty hard, and what you're going to do to your guys in the back end and how you feel about that. So I think that's all part of it. It all goes together.

Q. What was the post-game like for you how does a coach wind down after such a crazy emotional victory like that? What time did you get to sleep? Did you sleep at all?
COACH HOKE: I have a lot of family in the Midwest, believe me. We had 35 or 40 people at our house: Nephews, nieces, brothers, sisters, in-laws, whole deal. So everybody found a place on the floor and went to bed. But it was late, 3:30 maybe by the time you say hello, talk to everybody and be as gracious as I can be.

Q. To what extent can you update the health of the team and is there anybody that you can say definitively right now won't be there this Saturday?
COACH HOKE: You know, we are pretty healthy. We have got some Nicks and those kind of things. But trying to think of Brandin or Cam, Cam is going to see what it feels like tomorrow. He feels better. Brandon Herron felt better, but we'll see what he's like. I think Fitz is going to be fine. I don't think we are in too bad of shape.

Q. When Denard started throwing the ball downfield more, you were down 17 points, was that offense Al was calling, was that what he wanted to do, what Denard did last year? What kind of play calling was that?
COACH HOKE: Well, one of the key plays in the game was McColgan's catch, coming off the play-action and we didn't run a whole lot of play-action as i-backs and all that. It was really what you want. A lot of the stuff is just being basic third down offensive stuff, being in the gun anyway in third downs. So it was a good mix I would say.

Q. You talk about Denard staying within the framework of the offense, on the last drive or last two drives, how much of that was within the framework of the offense and how much of it was Denard being Denard?
COACH HOKE: Well, the rush lanes kind of went like this, and he did what he's coached to do, step up, step up in it, and keep pushing the pocket up when you feel it on the perimeter. And it was pretty open. Now, they were spying at times, one of the linebackers, but in that situation, they were playing pretty far off, so it bought time -- for Gallon, and it really brought time for the sell routes to cross and take and suck their secondary that way and Alan was there by himself.

Q. Obviously two games in, very early, but how much are you still trying to figure out who your playmakers are defensively? We saw Robertson, Will Campbell, Hawthorne came in, how much are you still trying to identify who those guys are?
COACH HOKE: I think we still are. That's a great question. We still are. Practice and all that stuff is one thing but game time stuff is a little different. So I think who plays with the lights on, you know -- won't have lights this week, 12 o'clock always is good, but we'll see. I think we are trying to do that. It was good to get Will some snaps and again. It's good competition. Like I said, they are a good football team. They have got good personnel. And you know, right now, the difference for them probably is turnover margin.

Q. What is exactly going on with him?
COACH HOKE: He's got a little bit of a leg problem.

Q. And how many linebackers right now do you feel comfortable with? It seems like there's just been this huge rotation of them.
COACH HOKE: I think J.B., all of those guys would feel pretty comfortable. I think it's who you identify who is going to take most of the snaps. You work through. Kenny is pretty solid in what he does and J.B. has an opportunity to get in there and rushed Kenny a little bit, which is important in the fourth quarter. I think at the Will, Desmond started the game, Herron came in and did a good job and Mike Jones is a guy who has played both, Brandon when he gets back. There will be a rotation and it really depends some on what package we are in, if we are playing out of a base front or if we are getting into our dimes and in this case he wills.

Q. Following up on the question of playmakers, how do you evaluate the defensive line so far and have you seen things in practice that have encouraged you that have not translated yet?
COACH HOKE: I think we are not near to the expectations that we have. I think the kids feel the same way at that position. We have got -- I think there's things that Ryan Van Bergen has done at times really well, and I don't want to get specific, but I think we have got to feel those guys more. We have got to be able to get a little more pressure with four guys rushing the quarterback, so you don't put J.T. or Courtney out there on an island. So I think we are a work-in-progress in a lot of degree. Some of it is because of a little difference schematically and how you tackle on scrimmage and tackle on blocks and get off blocks. We would think we would be further along.

Q. Guys are five or five scoring touchdowns in the red zone, what has been effective for you in those situations?
COACH HOKE: I think we have got a pretty good package down there. The kids are executing. I don't think it's any more than that. I think certain teams defensively always are going to have certain things they like in the red zone and I think the kids have been executing what the plan has been.

Q. You've had three third and shorts stopped -- what was the key to those successes versus maybe what didn't translate to the rest of the run defense?
COACH HOKE: Well, I think we have executed. We executed; guys got off blocks. Jake Ryan on the one did a nice job of coming off the outside and they didn't have a guy to block. They just couldn't. They did a nice job of bending to the hip of the back; instead of running up the field, he bent to the hip and makes a good play on the same play. Will knocks the tackle back about two yards, which really hurt the polar -- it's a split zone or plunge play, hurt the polar. So he couldn't kick out the other guy coming off the other edge. It was a good call by Greg, but they executed it. I think that's the biggest thing; we have got to consistently -- how we play up front, getting off the blocks, and making plays, gap fits and all that stuff, are always part of it, but we have got to be -- play with a little more aggression in how we are doing it.

Q. Can you talk about the catch that Wile made on the first punts -- the punt snap and how he's held up for you in these two games?
COACH HOKE: I think Matt's done really a good job. I think he -- I thought his kickoffs were really well done. He has a swift kick at the end. I don't know if it could have been any more perfect for where we wanted the ball and the track that it took. Coming down, Tommy was a little high on the snap it, kind of shows you the athleticism he has. And then on the one kickoff return, and our kickoff coverage was much better. Matt makes a tackle on that and does a good job of getting down the field?

Q. After Denard's fumble running a touchdown and the next kickoff, Wile pushed it up high and it stopped at the 11. Was that something designed?
COACH HOKE: I would be lying to you if I told you we designed it that way. (Laughter). So, no, it wasn't. He just got a little bit too much under the ball, and there's always that confusion, the guy up front or the guy in back who is going to take it, and is -- it was a good kick.

Q. What's the situation with Marrell Evans and when will that clear up?
COACH HOKE: I don't know when it will clear up but he's doing a great job being the best scout team linebacker in the country.

Q. Is it an academic situation?
COACH HOKE: I don't know when it's going to clear up.

Q. The jerseys do you want them to give it to their parents to get them out of sight and mind? Is that part of moving on or you don't mind?
COACH HOKE: I think it's something special.

Q. With you being a defensive-minded coach, you talk about the expectations with the defense, how hard of an expectation was that for them to meet in your mind?
COACH HOKE: I would hope they would have the same expectations. We set the bar pretty high. Greg does; that whole defensive staff does. I don't know if it's too high. But we have got to play better.

Q. How much of a test is this of the maturity of your team to go from the high-high of Notre Dame to Eastern Michigan and treat it just the same?
COACH HOKE: Well, I can tell you one thing. Eastern is 2-0. They have not been 2-0 since 1989. They have 331 yards rushing a game. If that doesn't get our attention -- I think they are well -- I would hope there would be enough maturity in that room with those seniors to understand we are going to correct mistakes and do all those things and then we have got to move forward fast.

Q. How much are some of the defensive line issues you guys are having, the fact that they are really doubling it seems almost every down?
COACH HOKE: I don't know if that's an issue.

Q. There were a couple longer runs where Martin dropped back into coverage. What's supposed to happen?
COACH HOKE: Well, I think there was one of them when he was dropping out.

Q. What's supposed to happen there in the middle?
COACH HOKE: Zone blitz.

Q. Was it just lack of execution?
COACH HOKE: Pretty much.

Q. The non-production in the running game outside of Denard, is that a concern or was that more of a function of falling behind as early as you did?
COACH HOKE: Well, I think that -- falling behind a little bit was part of the thinking going in. I think we have played a total of 89 offensive plays this year. So there isn't a whole lot that we have gotten to get any deeper into the offense. So I think that's part of it, also.

Q. Two games into the season, is there a reason -- something you can point to as to why you have not been able to field a defensive line?
COACH HOKE: No. We've got to coach them better.

Q. Following up on the base rushing, how many plays within a game would you like offensively to be able to run?
COACH HOKE: How many plays would we like offensively? Oh, I'd like to run 90 offensive plays a game. Now, that's what I'd like to do. Reality isn't that. I don't know what the average is any more, the way games are played and the time and all. There's probably 67 to 73 plays average-wise. If we play 90 plays a game offensively, it's really going to be good, because our defense is doing a heck of a job. Watch them.

Q. In the preseason, you stressed the importance of ball control and the time of possession, but that wasn't there Saturday.
COACH HOKE: Hasn't been there either week.

Q. What do you have to do to --?
COACH HOKE: Move the chains. First downs. Stop them in third down.

Q. How important is building a running game besides Denard?
COACH HOKE: Well, I think it's always important. It doesn't matter if you're a pro set or you're a spread. You've got to have somebody besides your quarterback running the football or you're not going to have your quarterback very long. So it's important in either. I thought Al did a great job of adjusting to what they were trying to do to Denard, especially in the zone read stuff. I mean, they were not going to let him run the ball outside. I think that's happened the year before and they were not going to let it happen and they did a good job.

Q. Have you seen enough from Will Campbell to merit more playing time?
COACH HOKE: I think he did some good things in there. We'll see how he practices.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about walk-ons having an impact on the team, especially with Jordan's Kovacs' play the last couple of weekends and the last year, are you planning on holding any more open tryouts?
COACH HOKE: Not during the fall. We won't do that during the fall. We'll do it in January, because I want to see him go through the strength program first.

Q. After the game, Denard talked about how he was playing too fast in the first half, maybe excited for the atmosphere?
COACH HOKE: He's excited all the time.

Q. How do you avoid that in the future?
COACH HOKE: I would rather try to break a bucking Bronco than a lame mayor. We'll play within the framework and play within the offense.

Q. Can you talk about Troy Woolfolk, did he take a kick to the face?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, his nose is just a little torn up.

Q. He came in with a cast.
COACH HOKE: He's fine.

Q. Were you concerned? He looked like a little hobbled ankle.
COACH HOKE: He's fine.

Q. Is Odoms still bothered by his hand?
COACH HOKE: I think that's put him back a little bit during camp, put him back a little bit and saw -- I think that's part of it. You know, he's getting more and more involved, engaged, and the special teams, too.

Q. The play Roy made, the block on Kellen's touchdown, sealed the guy, just making plays --
COACH HOKE: Well, that's an important thing. Receivers have to be guys on the perimeter, and that's what springs big plays, either big runs -- Denard had a chance to go the distance if we stay on a guy earlier in the game. But that's an expectation. There's just not going to be guys that catch the football.

Q. Can you talk about the NCAA deciding not to acknowledge the statistics in the Western Michigan game?
COACH HOKE: That's their decision.

Q. Did you need an explanation?

Q. Do you care?
COACH HOKE: No. It's a W, right?

Q. Do you need permission from the NCAA for the Desmond Howard patch the #21 jersey?
COACH HOKE: I think do you, and I think we did that through compliance. I really don't know. I like it.

Q. Does that change how you maybe give out certain jerseys maybe going forward?
COACH HOKE: I think there will be a thought process through it. I think there will be a thought process.

Q. Is it likely that will always be a receiver?
COACH HOKE: Probably a good opportunity that that would happen.

Q. Does Raymon Taylor have a patch?
COACH HOKE: No. I don't think so. That's a good question. (Laughter) I don't think he does. That's a good question. That's one I'll ask.

Q. Are there plans to give other numbers -- No. 1, perhaps?
COACH HOKE: We'll see.

Q. Were you happier with the special teams play, the coverages?
COACH HOKE: Kick coverage I thought was good. Punt coverage I thought was good. We had another opportunity on the punt coverage, had a heck of a collision, but I think we thought the guy gave a fair catch signal, and we kind of broke down, which we never want to do. I thought that was much better. I think, you know, statistically speaking, I think it was like 14 yards a kickoff return, which is drastic from 31.6.

Q. When Gallon makes a play like he did at the end of the game, what does that do for his confidence going forward?
COACH HOKE: I think it's got to help him. That probably helped him and it also helped him as when the guy intercepted the ball, over the top. And it's a great coaching/teaching moment. You've got to become a DB when those things happen. And it was good for him to see that and learn that.

Q. Receivers in general have made big, big plays so far through two games, but you mentioned earlier -- some dropped balls, working with them to get more consistent.
COACH HOKE: Say that again?

Q. What do you work on this week to get them more consistent? They made big plays and there were some drops, can you talk about working with the chains?
COACH HOKE: We work all the time with catching the ball and how you catch the ball, thumbs up, thumbs down, palms in, finger tips together, not together. Look, none of us here are perfect. I mean, we all screw up once in awhile, and you don't want to. I know I don't like to screw up, but I do it daily. We just want them to play their best for their teammates and play their best for Michigan.

Q. Acknowledging the logistical preference for noon games, for the recruiting, for the exposure, everything else, would you like to see at least one night game a year?
COACH HOKE: That probably is a pretty good deal. One a year.

Q. Would you like to see more of a short, mid-range passing game develop?
COACH HOKE: I like getting vertical down the field. We had a couple dig routes that had opportunities.

Q. You had Jake Ryan at a 5-technique with his hand down, was that anomalous, or something you may be evolving to?
COACH HOKE: In our nickel package, our sub-package, he plays one of those ends. He's not a bad pass rusher for a young guy. He's got some abilities there. He may be in that position at times.

Q. You smiled when you said Denard was excited; did you see that on his first two three-and-outs? Did you say something to him?
COACH HOKE: You guys dissect it and see it a little differently than I do, because he's always excited. We are going to go practice tomorrow and he'll be running around out there and having fun.

Q. Are you concerned about (Craig Roh's) play? He had zero tackles in two games.
COACH HOKE: We are concerned about everybody's play for us to play better.

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