Mon. Presser Full Transcript: Coach Hoke

Coach Hoke on the status of Woolfolk, Barnum, Cam Gordon ... on the D-line and LB play ... on Minnesota ... on not blaming the passing game on Denard ...

COACH HOKE: It's good to win football games; it's bad to lose games. So it was good to win. I thought from a perspective as a team, I thought we played as well as we have to this point for the first quarter and, I don't know, three quarters. Then I think we struggled a little bit for one reason or another. From an offensive standpoint, can't turn the ball over four times. That does nothing for you as a team. I thought defensively they hung in there and played hard. I thought our front played probably their best football to this point of the year. It's got to bet much better as we get into Big 10 play. And offensively, three and outs and turnovers in the third quarter, you know, time possession affects you as a football team in a lot of ways, momentum and all those things. So we've got to do a much better job of executing, being more consistent, blocking at the line of scrimmage, and so we've got a lot work ahead of us. In the kicking game, I thought Matt Wile did a nice job punting the football, and I thought his kickoffs, he really placed the ball well. He had one kickoff that was in the middle of the field, but everything else I thought he did a tremendous job. That was a sign of a guy who is maturing as a freshman.

QUESTION: Is Will (Hagerup's) suspension over and does he have to compete to get his job back, or do you expect him to punt?

COACH HOKE: Well, they'll compete. I mean, we're gonna compete in everything we do. You know, I think that's an important part of your development as a program, and I think that's how you improve as a program. So they'll compete during the week.

QUESTION: Cam's injury, he sat out again. At this point is it more conditioning or the injury lingering?

COACH HOKE: I think he's just not 100% yet. You know, I think he's just not where he needs to be yet.

QUESTION: You're 13/13 in the red zone this year. What's been the constant once you get into that zone?

COACH HOKE: You know, I don't know if there's magical answer. I mean, I think part of it is always you got some pretty good luck, you know, if things are going well. But I think we're blocking it decent. I think the different options that Al presents to some degree within the offense, it makes it a little tougher to defend.

QUESTION: You had said after the game that on Denard's throws… you were going to look at the tape and see if it was not all him. Did you see more?

COACH HOKE: It's definitely not all him. I mean, route running, we blew two routes and didn't convert on another route. You know, that's part of it. You know, he's got a lot of pride, and he's going to also help himself with some of the technical, technique, and fundamental parts of being a little more patient with his feet and doing a good job of that.

QUESTION: Brady, scoring 14 pins the first quarter obviously helped. You had a couple days to think about it. What led to the strong start this week and how do you replicate it going forward?

COACH HOKE: You know, it would be great to replicate it every week. I think we had a great week of practice. I think our preparation good. I think from a defensive standpoint, they really good did a nice job of preparation. I thought Greg did a nice job with the plan, and I thought Al did, too.

QUESTION: First thing is how is Troy (Woolfolk's) ankle again?

COACH HOKE: He ran last night; did everything we normally do.

QUESTION: With him, because he's been so hurt between the ankles and the hand, is there a point to where it gets to maybe a point of diminishing returns with playing him as much because he's clearly not 100%?

COACH HOKE: I don't think so. I haven't seen that yet from a coach's perspective. I mean, I think he's being physical, which is always one of the first things when guys are a little beat of you worry about. But I think he's being physical and doing a nice job of breaking on balls. Fundamentally and with his techniques he's been pretty good, so I don't think so.

QUESTION: You guys broke out the option a couple times. Is that a result of anything you saw Army do?

COACH HOKE: No. We've worked that since spring. I mean, we've run that against each other, and it was really because if they're going to play a lot of man coverage, which weigh thought they would, it's a way to really back people off from man coverage. Because if you've got your pitch man and whoever is going to take the quarterback, all those things . When you're gonna play man and you're gonna blitz, you gotta be right.

QUESTION: Obviously starting up the Big 10, it looks like there isn't an unbeatable Big 10 team. Can you just assess what you've seen in the league so far and what you tell your guys about the chances of competing?

COACH HOKE: I haven't seen a lot, to be honest with you. You know, we pretty much put the blinders on with what we got to do, John, and that's the truth. You know, it's a great league. It's a competitive league, and it has been. This is an important game because it is a league game in our expectations as a program. And then I would say the other part is, you know, that Brown Jug, it's pretty important to us. We would like to keep it here in Ann Arbor.

QUESTION: You spoke a little bit about the Brown Jug. This is your first rivalry trophy in Ann Arbor. Do you do anything special with the team or are you going to talk about the history of the trophy?

COACH HOKE: We have. We did that last night. Once again, it's one of those important traditions, you know, when you're involved with the University of Michigan football team. We talked about the history, we talked about, you know, it's the oldest trophy when you look at trophy games in the history of college football. It was the first. It means an awful a lot. We want to keep it in Ann Arbor.

QUESTION: Talk about how being at home for five straight games has helped you and how odd it's felt not to have to leave Ann Arbor at all to do your job.

COACH HOKE: Well, I don't know if it's helped. It's always good to play in this great stadium with the passionate fans that we have. I don't know if it's that much different, you know, and that doesn't sound quite right. But being at home is great. Has it helped us as a team? Maybe youth-wise and all that. But we like playing here.

QUESTION: Do you know Coach Kill very well, and can you address the situation they have with the unsettledness?

COACH HOKE: Well, Jerry and I obviously competed against each other at the MAC level, and he and his wife Rebecca are two of the finest people you'll have ever be around. Our prayers for him and his family are there. He's great person and a terrific coach.

QUESTION: Talk about Jeremy Gallon what you've seen so far as a punt returner, and in addition to just his play-making how good it is to see him catch every ball, how confident you guys are that he's going to catch everything?

COACH HOKE: He's very consistent. He does it all in practice and all that kind of stuff. He's really consistent. I think he has a nice feel for it, hand-eye coordination, all those things to go along with it. We're real comfortable with him being back there. We are about a block away from springing him again for a decent return, and I think all that will happen. I think that punt return unit really worked their tails off last week, and it showed in where we were at as far as having things set up for him.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up question about the home games. How difficult is it to get a true read on where your team is right now when you haven't gone and played on the road yet?

COACH HOKE: I don't think we'll find that out until we get there. I mean, until we leave Ann Arbor, then we'll find out where we're at.

QUESTION: Have you ever had a season where you started five in a row at home considering where you've been, even as an assistant?

COACH HOKE: No. This is unusual.

QUESTION: Take me back to spring or fall camp, the linebackers then as opposed to now. Do you like what you're seeing now out of them?

COACH HOKE: I think we need to play better there. I think Jake (Ryan) has improved a lot since spring, but I don't think we're playing near as well as we need to at that position. I think Kenny (Demens) gives you some great leadership and does a pretty good job playing downhill. I think Hawthorne has come on. He missed some fall camp because of an ankle, which set him back. Desmond Morgan is a guy who has a very bright future, I think. You know, really I think we were better a week ago, but I think we've got a long way to go at that position.

QUESTION: You seem to really challenge your defensive line a lot. Do you feel like they're taking that to heart and are responding to that?

COACH HOKE: Well, I don't know. I think they have a lot personal pride and pride in ownership of who they are. So when you have guys who have that kind of pride, you know, their expectations and our expectations kind of meet and you get a little better. So I think we're making some progress. I thought Mike and Ryan played their best games of the year to this point. Was it good enough? No, because we got to play a lot better.

QUESTION: Mike Martin said you guys had had a great week of practice and that's what helped get off such a strong start. How much is that them finally understanding what you guys want from them in practice?

COACH HOKE: Well, I think that's always a transition you go through. You know, how hard you want to practice, how physical you want to practice, how demanding we are from a fundamental and technique standpoint. There are a lot of things that we have demands of 'em. So I think that and their personal pride helps.

QUESTION: Can you talk about Ricky Barnum's status?

COACH HOKE: We'll see. He twisted the ankle up and went back in the football game. He's sore.

QUESTION: How do you feel about the status of your backup quarterbacks if Denard had to come out for a series or more?

COACH HOKE: I feel pretty good about Devin. I think we all do. I think Al does, too. I think he's had a very good fall camp, and I think to this point, you know, he's conditioned himself and prepared himself to play. That's what that guy has to do. You know, I think that he's talented and gifted and smart and can do a good job running the offense.

QUESTION: So doesn't look like tailback by committee. Looks like Fitz and Vincent…?

COACH HOKE: Well, those are the two that got the snaps the other day. I mean, they both practiced well. Vince played well; Fitz played well.

QUESTION: Are there situations with those two back that you play different play them in different plays? Do you run different plays?

COACH HOKE: Not necessarily. There are some protection things with Vince we have liked for a long time, but I really think that Fitz has done a really good job. He's a tough guy, and he'll stay in there is and take a guy on.

QUESTION: What do you say to your team in terms of this game in particular in terms of like respecting Minnesota who seems to be struggling and not getting too excited about your record?

COACH HOKE: Well, I think your consistency as a coach in how you handle everything weekly. You know, one week is not different than another. For us, you know, we play for the Big 10 championship, and obviously this is the start of the Big 10 part of the schedule.I don't think there's any secrets that we've got to play a lot better than we have within the Big 10. You know, Minnesota got to beat by North Dakota State, who is as good a football team as you -- you don't want to schedule 'em, I can promise you that, because they're well-coached and tough. They always play well. I don't know how many national championships they've won. Then they get beat by SC 19 to 17 out in the Coliseum. I did know SC has a lot of athletes.

QUESTION: What do you see from Minnesota that your guys have to respect?

COACH HOKE: I think MarQueis Gray, their quarterback -- and they're using two quarterbacks. I think he's averaging almost right at 100 rushing the football. He's talented. We tried to recruit him out of Ball State out of Indianapolis. He's a big guy who has got very good feet. They're playing two guys at times in there. You know, they move the ball. I think they're averaging 179 yards a game, and almost 170 throwing the ball. You know, it's something in that range. But they got a lot of talent and play very aggressive defensively.

QUESTION: Do you have a scout team quarterback in mind?

COACH HOKE: Well, we'll use the guys who have done a good job for us. Jack Kennedy has done a good job down there, Russell Bellomy came down and did a nice job for us last week.

QUESTION: So you're not going to use Denard to kind of simulate any of that?

COACH HOKE: We see enough of that from our offense. I mean, we go one-on-one all the time.

QUESTION: What's the difference between the two quarterbacks?

COACH HOKE: Well, Gray is a big guy. I mean, he's 6'4" probably, 6'5". He's a bigger guy. Probably more physically like Pryor. He's a bigger guy when you look at him physically. They both have good feet. They both read the play very well.

QUESTION: Different styles at all?

COACH HOKE: I don't know. I don't know if I would say they're different styles. They're -- I don't think so.

QUESTION: Justice Hayes was not on the dressed list. Why?

COACH HOKE: He had a bump. He'll be okay.

QUESTION: You talked about running the option. In what situations do you run a more traditional option as opposed to the... ?

COACH HOKE: Well, we don't have the midline, you know, the true triple. We're not built for that, nor do we run that, so it's more of a speed option.

QUESTION: Not that you spend a whole a lot of time thinking about it, but what are the differences now in the feel in playing Michigan Stadium than when you were here before?

COACH HOKE: Definitely a little louder.

QUESTION: You spoke with Minnesota this off season. What that ever something that you pursued?

COACH HOKE: No. No.

QUESTION: Were you interested?

COACH HOKE: No.

QUESTION: You mentioned you guys talked about the Jug history a little bit. Did you have Jon Faulk come in and actually pull out the Jug?

COACH HOKE: Oh, we had the Jug there, oh, yeah. It was there.

QUESTION: Were they excited about playing for it?

COACH HOKE: You know, I think. I think they know it's an important part of the legacy of Michigan.

QUESTION: How has Hagerup punted during these few weeks practice, and do you feel...? COACH HOKE: What do you think?



QUESTION: Oh, yeah, that is pretty much all we get to see.

COACH HOKE: So what did you think?

QUESTION: He stretches really well, too. (Laughter.) I'm asking you.

COACH HOKE: You seen him.

QUESTION: He's pretty good. I mean, do you think after this four-game suspension for whatever it was for, that he has a different attitude and approaches practice...?

COACH HOKE: I think we all grow up and we all mature in life and everything else. I think he's done a nice job of coaching and helping Matt. Those guys all have a little uniqueness to 'em about where the ball is when they drop it. I try and watch and try and give 'em a hint now and then, but I think he's done a nice job.

QUESTION: If Will is your punter, does Matt spend more time with field goals or does that competition open back up?

COACH HOKE: That's open every week. I mean, it's always open. He kicks field goals; he punts; he kicks off.

QUESTION: So you had some words with Gibbons after he missed his. Where is his mindset right now?

COACH HOKE: He's fine. He's fine.

QUESTION: How formal were talks with Minnesota?

COACH HOKE: I'm not going to talk about that. That has nothing to do with anything.

QUESTION: You said that you felt confidence if Devin had to come in….?

COACH HOKE: Yeah.

QUESTION: There is nothing that can simulate game snaps.

COACH HOKE: I don't know,…the way we go after each other, he gets used to the speed of the game. I mean, we go one-on-ones probably 25 minutes a day. It's physical. So I don't know. That's why we do it… to prepare guys.

QUESTION: Are you frustrated by the lack of consistency from the offense? Do you wish you could have got him snaps at Michigan Stadium in front of the crowd and everything else?

COACH HOKE: You know, it would have been great to play a lot of guys. Quinton Washington I would have liked to have been played a little bit more as a defensive tackle. It's just not one position, and so there are a lot of guys would have liked to get to that point with, but we haven't.

QUESTION: You talked a little bit about Denard's passing game. After watching the film, the interceptions in particular, were those bad decisions? Poor throws?

COACH HOKE: The one was a pretty good break-up by their guy and a nice effort. The other one, you know, should have got to the smash route.

QUESTION: How did you think Blake Countess did?

COACH HOKE: I thought he did a nice job. You know, I think he's a talented kid and I think he'll be a really good player for us. He's smart and understands the defense and has a good feel for it.

QUESTION: Did Countess show you enough to push Avery, to push Floyd?

COACH HOKE: They're always pushing each other.

QUESTION: How likely is it that Ricky will be back for the game on Saturday?

COACH HOKE: I don't know.

QUESTION: What about Schofield's play? He's sort of plugged in there…

COACH HOKE: Well, and he's done that before, you know, so Michael has got experience. He's a good athlete.

QUESTION: What players on defense or what numbers jump out to you when look at Minnesota on defense?

COACH HOKE: Well, I haven't looked much at their defense yet. I know Royston. I think that's their safety -- what's his name?

QUESTION: Kim Royston.

COACH HOKE: Kim, he's a football player. He sticks out. Linebacker, 51 sticks out.

QUESTION: How much is emotion feeding off improvements each week and that they're all sort of feeling it now?

COACH HOKE: I think that's part it of defensively, offensively, kicking game. This is such a mental game. It's played from the neck up. This part in the year, you know, you've done all your heavy lifting and you've done all your conditioning. It is now time that, you know, knowing your opponent, knowing what the game plan is, knowing your reaction, where your eyes, all those things should be. So that's a big part of it.

QUESTION: Is nickel corner back a position that Blake can learn?

COACH HOKE: Yeah, I mean -- you're talking about corner or nickel?

QUESTION: Nickel.

COACH HOKE: Corner is a little easier than nickel because of the adjustments that you have to make and some coverage aspects of it.

QUESTION: Do you make your nickel cornerbacks line everyone up? What are the responsibilities of the nickel cornerback?

COACH HOKE: It can depend, from blitzing. You can do a lot of different things.

QUESTION: Getting back to red zone offense, how much do you think your offense changes when you get in the red zone?

COACH HOKE: Well, we've been in jumbo personnel; we've been in heavy personnel, we've been in 11 personnel; been in 12 personnel. So I would say it changes.

QUESTION: How good of a job has Denard done as far as how you want him to avoid contact as best he can?

COACH HOKE: You know, as best he can. I mean, he's done all right. He's gotten out of bounds at some opportune times, but he's a competitor. First play of the game, he went after the guy who was going to be locked on him. I mean, he's a competitor.

QUESTION: Because of the way that your offense works with Denard, has this been a more drastic change when you get in the red zone?

COACH HOKE: No. We been in I-backs down there; we've been in three tight end. We've done a lot of different things.

QUESTION: You said Denard the first play of the game, sought out a safety and blocked him well away from the play. Do you tell him to avoid that?

COACH HOKE: Well, probably be a wise thing for a guy to tell him, but the guy is a competitor.

QUESTION: Have you had to temper them at after a 4-0 start, or is this a senior class that's been through and seen...

COACH HOKE: I don't think we've been any different since the season started.

QUESTION: Is that from you?

COACH HOKE: I think it permeates through the program.

QUESTION: I know, but you got a chance to see a lot of your former staff. Can you reflect on that?

COACH HOKE: From the last game?

QUESTION: Yeah.

COACH HOKE: Yeah, it was good to win the game, and it was good to see a lot of those kids.

QUESTION: What did you think of the cutouts (that SDSU used to relay signals)?

COACH HOKE: Oh, Rocky had told me they were doing it before the game. It was good. It was clever. (Laughing.) It was good.

QUESTION: Should have put a red shirt on yours.

COACH HOKE: Yeah, yeah. They knew I wouldn't wear it then.


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