Hoke Likes Progress; Ready for Road Test

Brady Hoke reacts to his team's 58-0 thumping of the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Michigan's headman commented on his club's offensive diversity, the improved play of his defensive front, upcoming road tests, and more.

Question:  Misdirection plays seemed to play a big part of you offensive scheme today, can you comment purposeful and is something that we’ll see more of?

Brady Hoke:  “Maybe we'll see more of it.  It is just kind of the offensive package.  It’s kind of when you have a quarterback (Denard) who threatens people because of his ability to run, I think that is part of it.  That stuff is like the old counter play, which you don’t see a whole lot of people run any more.  It is a lot of attraction one way and going back the other point.”

Question:  As far as Denard Robinson in the passing game is that more of what you’ve seen from him in practice?

Brady Hoke:  “Yeah.  The sky is never going to fall.  We’re going to make it through.  He throws the ball well and we like how he throws the ball and set his feet well and ran good routes and completed some balls.”

Question:  Can you comment on your tackling.  The sacks, there was a lot out there was a lot out there going on.

Brady Hoke:  “I think Jerry Montgomery has done a tremendous job with our front and I think the pride that a guy like (Ryan) Van Bergen and (Mike) Martin have and how they play is a big part of it.  I think this whole thing is a process that the kids are going through and how you do things and it is one of the things that we emphasized and they really did a nice job on some of those things and as far as tackling goes, if you get the defense right and wherever the support is, the cutback player, all those different intangibles you have to have on the defense, you tackle better.”

Question:  That formation with Denard Robinson in the backfield and Devin Gardner under center, talk about all the problems that can create for a defense with all the different actions he can run out of that formation.

Brady Hoke:  “They’re both pretty talented.  I think who’s back there in the backfield with him has some talent.  It is just something that Al (Borges) has had for a while and is something that we thought would be a good thing to do.”

Question:  Obviously Vincent Smith is pretty versatile, can you talk about how he took that to another level today?

Brady Hoke:  “He does everything you want him to do when you look at him as a football player and how he prepares and his toughness and all those things.  Vince is a guy that you can count on.  If he makes a mistake or doesn’t do something as well, maybe it is not because of lack of effort or lack of toughness, he has done a good job for us.”

Question:  I know coach you would never say the word satisfied but how pleased were you with the 58-0 effort to start your Big Ten career?

Brady Hoke:  “It has nothing to do with my career and really has to do with these kids and that (Little Brown) Jug and keeping that Jug in Ann Arbor and us going out and trying to play better football every time we take the field whether it is tomorrow when we practice or it is on game day.  Believe me, we had a lot of mistakes in there from personnel standpoint and we take a doggone penalty and that’s my fault and then have a guy out there on the punt team.  You can’t do that and win championships.  That’s my fault.”

Question:  With all the offensive creativity today, why did you choose this game pretty early to unleash all that?

Brady Hoke:  “You work on it during fall camp, you bet it to bed for a little bit, but you work on it so the kids have a knowledge of it, so when you bring it back out, it was something that we thought was a good time to bring out.”

Question:  What was your initial reaction when Al brought you that package with Devin under center and Denard in the backfield and secondly do you think this is the most complete game that you guys have played this season, is it even close?

Brady Hoke:  “Well Al and I had talked about that package in March, April and believe me Al Borges is very creative and so that is not just that package.  I’m sure his creativity may show up again.  We played probably our best game to this point but the schedule is going away…we’re going away.  We haven’t been on the road.  They don’t know how we like to travel and when I say we, as a staff and expectations.  They’ve got an idea but there is a lot of unknowns out there and there is a lot that we have to get better at.”

Question:  Did you practice any Jug security during the week so nobody drop it and #2, does a game like that when you get some many people in there give you a little boost in practice the next week?

Brady Hoke:  “I’ll answer the second question first.  No question the morale of your football team.  Those other guys, Richard Ash, I don’t know how many plays he got, maybe three or four, but he goes down there on that look team and does a tremendous job down there and has the ability to come out there and play some.  I would think he would feel pretty good about that.  I would think that is always important. You get guys live reps in games and then Jug security is always at a premium.”

Question:  How did your game plan change defensively or if it did at all when you learned that Marquies Gray wasn’t going to play and how did you think your front seven did against a freshman quarterback that obviously is seeing some of the stuff for the first time.

Brady Hoke:  “We really didn’t change it at all.  We do a lot of things by personnel groups, what personnel groups they have in.  So all the calls were based off those groups. So they would have had the same calls if Marqueis would have been in there.  So there was no change at all.”

Question:  You talked about the Big Ten Championship kind of being the expectation here, is the confidence amongst the players, this team, this season high enough that they expect to do that this year?

Brady Hoke:  “I hope so.”

Question:  Are you eager to get this Michigan team on the road and will that give you and your staff a better indication of where this team really at?

Brady Hoke:  “We like playing at home.  Now if Dave (Brandon) can do a ten game home schedule that’d be would be wonderful; it’s pretty convenient.  I’m kind of interested in seeing how we react.  I really am.  To see what we’re made of, see our mentality, our mental toughness, see if we’re business-like in how we go about the work that we have to do, and the preparation and all those things.”

Question:  At the beginning of the season you talked about how the defensive line is not where you want it to be, talk about the progression of where there are today five games in?

Brady Hoke:  “I think they were disruptive and that’s what I like and that’s what you have to do if you’re a guy who plays up front.  As you look at the schedule and you look at teams you’re going to play, I think there’s some offensive lines in this league that are pretty stout.  We’ve got to make sure that we’re making our gains and our progression on a daily basis with great urgency and intensity.” 

Question:  Troy Woolfolk looked like he was limping again at the game, second being what did Denard have done to his arm and third can you talk about (Michael) Schofield’s play?

Brady Hoke:  “I didn’t notice Troy limping, so that’s new to me. Denard had a boo-boo (laughter).  Schofield I imagine did okay in there.  I can’t tell you for sure because of not having watched the film yet.”

Question:  The helmets, going with the numbers on it and who’s decision was that and why did you guys decide to do that?

Brady Hoke:  “That was my decision, and we will have those numbers on there throughout the rest of the season.  When we got into Big Ten play because we want to honor the guys who wore those numbers before and the 42 championship teams.  The guys who have represented Michigan.  It’s important to us.”

Question:  Jon McColgan was out?

Brady Hoke:  “He got banged up a little bit.”

Question:  Is it serious?

Brady Hoke:  “Week-to-week, day-to-day.”

Question:  Could you sense more physicality up front offensively and can you talk about how Fitz Toussaint ran?

Brady Hoke:  “I think, up front, you try and gauge yourself.  (Dave) Molk’s played a lot of football, and I kind of being a defensive line coach I like watching other defensive lines and how they play and how we block them.  I thought there was football being played I think at the point of attack.   Why are you laughing at that?  It was pretty obvious football was being played (laughter).  But you could hear it.  You could feel it and sense it.  When you look at your line and you look at, if the back has to start making his decision and his cuts further from the line of scrimmage – further back, then you’re not doing a good job.  You could see when (Michael) Shaw and Fitz and those guys were coming, they got more downhill across the line of scrimmage more, and that tells you those guys were working hard.  Fitz, I thought he ran well.  He’s a tough little burger who did a nice job.”

Question:  Going back to the package with Denard at running back, how much does it help going forward that opposing teams now have to prepare for all that stuff each week and what is the package called; what name do you give it?

Brady Hoke:  “Uh, you know, two quarterbacks, whatever (laughter).  It doesn’t matter what it’s called.  It really is...yeah, people got to prepare.”

Question:  The play of guys of Courtney Avery and Blake Countess, that secondary seems to be gelling.

Brady Hoke:  “Courtney and Blake, and there’s Raymon Taylor, who’s going to be a good football player also.  Our young guys have done a good job.  It starts in my opinion with Jordan Kovacs and his leadership and his directing traffic out there.  I think they have a lot of confidence in each other.  I think there’s a chemistry.  I think JT (Floyd) has done a nice job.  When he focuses in, he’s pretty doggone good.  I think there’s number one, there’s some competition, because there’s a lot of guys in that room that all want to play and that’s a good thing.”

Question:  Can you talk about the play of Thomas Rawls?

Brady Hoke:  “It was good to get Thomas some carries.  What he means is that he’s a freshman that is learning the game of football at the Division I level.  I think he’s got some skill sets that are pretty good.  I think you saw some of that today.  So it was good to see him out there.” 

Question:  How about Brendon Gibbons going three for three on Main Street and a 38 yarder how that can help going forward in games that are pretty tight?

Brady Hoke:  “Someone has said that he’s kicked really good during fall camp.  Ahem.  Someone did.  We’ve got a lot of confidence in him, and hopefully that injects even more confidence in him.”

Question:  Just the fact of getting Denard off to a strong start, I think he was eight for eight in the first quarter, 11 for 11 before his first incompletion; he is a confident kid, but to reestablish that confidence that he can be a successful passer.

Brady Hoke:  “Yeah, because all he hears is that he’s not.  Not from us, but other people.  I think getting off to a strong start helps us with the run game so much.  People want to put nine guys, and they played a lot of quarters, and they were doing a lot of good stuff with their safeties depending on where the offset back was and then they changed during halftime, which is good coaching.  Bill Miller’s a good defensive football coach.  It was good, and being able to throw the ball was a big part to our offense.”

Question:  Can you win the Big Ten relying on Denard getting the bulk of your yards?

Brady Hoke:  “I don’t think so.  You become too one-dimensional.  People are creative.  We’re going to play a lot of good coaches and some teams with very good personnel and when good coaches get good personnel and they game plan and scheme that can be a problem.  So I think the ability for our running backs to do a nice job running with the football and the ability to do a nice job in the passing game is a big part of it.”

Question:  As a defensive coach, you must love a shut out (Brady Hoke:  “Right.”), but what did you specifically like of what you guys did and also what do you guys need to improve on, on defense.

Brady Hoke:  “Yeah.  They broke two runs outside that shouldn’t have.  Then they fumbled.  We got fortunate at the end.  They fumbled the ball, and the doggone end doesn’t squeeze when the tackle blocked down, just simple, basic football stuff that we didn’t do.  As many times as we’ve done drills and as many times that’s unacceptable, because that’s a discipline that you have to have.”

Question:  How much were you concerned that the defense might have a letdown after building such a lead and what do you do get them focused?

Brady Hoke:  “I think we communicate with them pretty well.  I think Greg and his staff, I think we challenge them because this was a first step to what the goal and expectation of this football program is and has been, and that’s Big Ten championship.  You can’t go out there in the second half and slop around and not tackle well and not have an urgency and not have an intensity.  That doesn’t get you any better.  You go backwards, and we’re not real believers in going backwards.”

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