COACH HOKE: It was good to start the season winning the game on Saturday. It was good to get the jug. I think the score got painted on it this morning. It's good to have the jug here in Ann Arbor. Everything gets tougher. It gets tougher. I think Northwestern, they're 2-2, as you all know, lost a heartbreaker down in Champaign last week. But they have a football team that's very well-coached. Pat is probably as good of a coach as there is in this league and a guy who feels strongly about that program, being an alumnus of Northwestern, being a tremendous player there. I think you also look at they're a team that's going to play physical, they're going to play 60 minutes of football. Defensively they run very well to the ball. Offensively Dan Persa was back, played most of the game, was pretty productive. But Colter, Kain Colter, is also a guy who has moved them offensively and done a nice job. So when you look at it, playing away, we haven't been away, will be a little bit different for us because we've been fortunate enough to play five games in Michigan stadium.
QUESTION: Does tied for second in the country in points allowed per game mean anything to you? More importantly, what are the tangible things that you're doing better defensively from last spring till now?
COACH HOKE: It's like anything else, it doesn't mean anything right now. I mean, none of those things matter. We're 1-0 right now. I think when you look at our front the last two weeks, I think they've been a little more disruptive. I think we put a little more pressure at times on the quarterback. We still don't blitz worth a dog, period. That's going to improve. Guys are playing together. I think they're understanding their roles. I think the defensive staff has done a very good job in preparation. The guys are doing a good job of preparing themselves.
QUESTION: Looking at the film, how did Denard look mechanically? Was there a difference between the first four weeks?
COACH HOKE: I think mechanically he was better. I think the routes were better. I think the timing might be off . I thought it wasn't bad versus Notre Dame either. I think he's a competitive guy, he takes a lot of - I don't know what the word is - he wants to be good for his teammates.
QUESTION: You said on Saturday things change when you go on the road. For you, what do you do differently on the road when you take a team on the road since you haven't done it here before?
COACH HOKE: I don't know if it's different or not. We'll find out. Just the demeanor that we travel with. This being a night game. I think we have a good blueprint for that with how we'll do walk-throughs, all those things.
They're out of sort of their security of the campus. There's a lot of familiarity there with a lot of guys, especially guys who have played a lot of football here. So, I mean, it's all those distractions that are out there that you may not have when you're here.
QUESTION: You mentioned demeanor. What type of demeanor?
COACH HOKE: Business. We have goals. This is another one of the 12 guaranteed games that we have. It's a Big Ten game. We've got to go out there and play our best football and improve.
QUESTION: With Persa banged up a little bit, right now not sure whether or not he's going to play, what does that do game prep-wise if anything?
COACH HOKE: It doesn't do anything. Same offense. They've recruited well. So it's all the same offense.
QUESTION: On another strong game by the running backs…?
COACH HOKE: I think part of the runningbacks being successful is also how we're blocking up front, how we're giving them some downhill space, when you look at combination blocks. The thing that's always different is the targeting for how people are going to play you. Everyone is going to play us a little differently within a concept they have defensively because of what Denard gives you as an athlete. When you're targeting up front, from the five guys up front to maybe play-side receivers, if they can get in there and carve out the strong safety or whatever it might be, that's all part of it.
I think the adjustments that have been made, I think Darrell, Al, those guys on offense have done a real good job from game to game, from series to series because we never know how people are going to defend us.
QUESTION: On if the game plan changes if Persa doesn't play…?
COACH HOKE: I don't know if I've seen enough totally. I haven't looked at every game yet. Went through a lot of different cut-ups of things that we like to look at. You know, I don't see a whole lot of difference. When you look at the athleticism of the quarterbacks, the ability to throw the football, there may be an experience factor somewhere, but when you look at both guys, they're both great dag-gone productive.
QUESTION: What impresses you about Persa, though?
COACH HOKE: Number one, I think he's a tough-minded kid. Looking from a year ago in the off-season, he's a guy who is not afraid to tuck the ball running, take a hit, deliver a hit. I think he has a very good handle and management on the offense, getting them the right plays and all those things.
QUESTION: Al last week said he wanted to get Denard in a comfortable spot. He was going to do a much better job as a play-caller to do that. How much was Saturday, short routes, to try to get him more comfortable?
COACH HOKE: I think that's always important. We took a couple shots, one shot for sure, downfield on a first down. But I think getting the rhythm of the game, the tempo of the game, confidence level, whatever you want to call it, I think that's an important part of getting your quarterback started.
QUESTION: Did you like what you saw out of the package when Devin slipped in at quarterback? How do you balance maybe developing some things you can do out of that with working on your 'normal offense'?
COACH HOKE: That's always a give-and-take. You've got to make a good decision how you manage it. I think there's some positives what we gain from it to some degree. Part of that positive is people now work on it. That's just one more thing as a defensive coach, you only have so many hours in a day, you only have so much time on the practice field, that it's another piece.
QUESTION: Blake felt like a guy you could feel out there again. How has he emerged the last couple weeks? Is he in the mix with Floyd and Troy and Courtney Avery?
COACH HOKE: Those four guys and I think Raymon Taylor. I think all those guys are competing every day.
Blake made some plays, then there's some things, from a coverage aspect, when talking about coverage aspect, maybe competing a little closer to a guy that he needs to be better at.
QUESTION: You talked a little bit about going on the road. This weekend's practice, is there anything you do to try to help with the communication aspect, noise levels?
COACH HOKE: You know what, we've never really had a problem in that part of it. It hasn't been previously. Al, he doesn't do a lot with it. We've got silent counts and everything else that we already use, so it's not as big of an issue.
QUESTION: Before Notre Dame, didn't do a lot of nighttime practices. Are you going to do anything different this week to shift things around?
COACH HOKE: I don't think so. We've done that. Does anybody know, it's 6 over there. We'll kind of blend into it as the night goes on.
QUESTION: You said before that you're not going to necessarily work on the communication. Are you talking about San Diego State was never an issue or Ball State, or are you talking about the five games here?
COACH HOKE: I think San Diego State, being with Al.
QUESTION: On how Stephen Hopkins performed at fullback…?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, I think so. I think what he did in the course of the game, probably one of the better plays was when he blocked the edge on one of the play-action plays. I thought for his first time in there at fullback, he may have played one other game a snap or two there, but I thought he did a pretty good job. I think when you get in the split backs a little bit, having that ability with a guy who can run, he's also not afraid to block. That's always been a part of what Al likes to do.
QUESTION: On the kickoff return coverage, what are you still seeing there?
COACH HOKE: Well, I think we're better than we were the last time we had this problem. The one they ran back, there was obviously a hold that was called. There was a couple holds in there. We still need to compete off blocks better. I think some of it is always placement, ball placement, hang time has to be a part of it. Then we avoided the wrong way, two guys did, on one of the other ones.
There were three pretty good coverages and then I think there were two not-so-good coverages that we can't have.
QUESTION: You've showed confidence in Brendan Gibbons. Does he walk around a little bit differently yesterday or this week?
COACH HOKE: Not really. Hopefully he has a humbleness. Look, we played five games. We all signed up for 12 that we're guaranteed. So he's got a long way to go. I've been pleased with how he's handled himself, how he's kicked all summer, fall camp long. But he's like everyone else: there's competition daily.
QUESTION: On if there's a particular reason Roy Roundtree hasn't had many passes thrown his way the last few weeks…?
COACH HOKE: Nothing. Just the way games have played out.
QUESTION: On Ricky Barnum's -- the health status of Ricky Barnum…?
COACH HOKE: He's fighting. He's fighting every day to get back. Kind of going be a daily deal.
QUESTION: (After the game Saturday) you said you wanted to watch the film to see more about Schofield and how he performed?
COACH HOKE: He did pretty good. He hung in there pretty well.
QUESTION: When you look at what you have to do defensively against a mobile quarterback, how much has having Denard helped that and made your defense better prepared?
COACH HOKE: Well, seeing a lot of the looks, even though there's some differences with their zone, it's more midline. But seeing a lot of the looks we get from our offense from time to time is always a benefit.
Both Persa and Colter are very good athletes and can run well. The same thing when it comes to getting in the pocket and scrambling and finding that opening. So I'm sure Greg and the defensive staff will have a few things that will hopefully shore us up and help us.
QUESTION: Do you think it gives the defense more confidence because they've had to go against Denard and had to try to run him down?
COACH HOKE: I don't know. It's a good question. I've never asked them.
QUESTION: What has been the biggest defensive improvement you've seen week-to-week?
COACH HOKE: Well, I think our preparation is part of it. I think the front, the aggression that they're playing with, disruptiveness, fundamentals, techniques. I think our support system, whether it be from an outside backer or a nickel or strong safety or free safety, I think it's a little better.
QUESTION: You mentioned preparation. Do you feel like Al and Greg are getting a better sense of the players, how they can best use them?
COACH HOKE: It's a good point. Probably is how much they can handle. We can know all the football we need to know, but if they don't know it, it doesn't do any good.
I think scaling things back at some times is a plus.
QUESTION: Do you have any examples of that?
COACH HOKE: Well, we've scaled some things back a week ago because of a lot of the movements and trades that they had. Better to have 11 guys in position than maybe that great defense that you think you may have called and have guys confused.
QUESTION: Is there a frustration in having to scale things back or is it just reality?
COACH HOKE: No, it's just reality. If your guy's going to play hard, play aggressive, play with fundamentals and technique, I'd be happy if we could run four defenses, two coverages, as long as we could play it at our highest level.
QUESTION: On how Will Hagerup performed…
COACH HOKE: He was okay. There were some wind issues to some degree. He only had to punt twice. But he was okay.
QUESTION: Did something happen where he wrestled the job away?
COACH HOKE: I think Angelique, when she watches that part of practice, I think she really tipped the scale (smiling).
QUESTION: When you're running what you ran with Denard and Devin, is there some discussion when you want to use that? You don't want to give defensive coordinators too much time to work on something?
COACH HOKE: You mean during a game?
QUESTION: No. In your game-week preparations…?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, but the other part of it is, what is the flow of the game, to some degree.
QUESTION: That was the start of the game…?
COACH HOKE: I know. It was a good flow (laughter).
QUESTION: You're giving defensive coordinators something to think about?
COACH HOKE: Right, right. That's good. And really at the end of the day it's about the execution. I mean, it's great to have tricks and all that kind of stuff. If you don't execute it, you might as well not have it. So it's the execution.
QUESTION: You said on the Big Ten Network special that you do not eat on game days all day….?
COACH HOKE: No. Obviously I eat. Let's all be settled on that. But no.
QUESTION: You don't get light-headed on the sidelines?
COACH HOKE: No, I'm usually light-headed (smiling).
No, I don't. It's just a habit. I didn't as a player.
QUESTION: In the past when Michigan was running replays, they tended not to block the backside. In this offense, I have a hard time when I'm watching seeing who you're optioning. Seems like mostly linebackers. Is that correct?
COACH HOKE: At times.
QUESTION: How do you make that decision?
COACH HOKE: Well, it depends. Some people are going to have the backside linebacker or linebacker back bounce. Some people are going to fast flow him and have the end on the quarterback. Some people are going to take the frontside safety or the backside safety, or they'll take the frontside linebacker, he'll cross-key it.
There's a lot of target issues that we have to deal with because everyone does it differently. Minnesota, Bill Miller, who I think is a tremendous football coach, tremendous defensive coach, we had to target the frontside safety. Now, how do you do that? You bring a receiver in? You cut a split a little bit? You motion him in to try to get him that way or do you do it on the line of scrimmage or do you do it with that split zone theory, that offset tight end or back?
QUESTION: That is something you recognize prior to the game or something they have to do on the fly?
COACH HOKE: It's usually on the fly. Because of Denard's skill set, they're going to have a different way of trying to do it. Some of them will be the same depending on what your base is and what you're doing.
That's where Al and Darrell Funk and Hecklinski upstairs do a tremendous job of seeing and communicating with the kids.
QUESTION: The defense went from 110 in the country last year up to 31st now, and second in scoring defense. What do you attribute that to?
COACH HOKE: Kids playing hard. That other stuff doesn't matter. None of it matters. We just got to play hard and play better. I'm being honest with you. I'm not trying to be a jerk. But it doesn't matter. That stuff doesn't matter. Winning matters.
QUESTION: I would imagine the AP ranking doesn't matter either?
COACH HOKE: Nope.
QUESTION: Do you know what it is?
COACH HOKE: Yeah. Dustin told me.
QUESTION: Did you have any thoughts? Overrated, anything like that?
COACH HOKE: Yeah.
QUESTION: Did you vote for Michigan again?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, we did this week.
QUESTION: First week?
COACH HOKE: Yeah.
QUESTION: Where did you put them?
COACH HOKE: Somewhere in the 25 teams. I only have to tell you one week, right, and that's at the end (laughter).
QUESTION: Did you think you were overrated?
COACH HOKE: Yes.
QUESTION: How much?
COACH HOKE: I don't know. We're going to find out. I told our team that, too. I'm not telling you anything I didn't tell them yesterday.
QUESTION: Is there any reason why you feel that way?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, because we're not playing the football that we need to play. We're not playing well enough. We're not finishing things well enough. I mean, there's a lot of fundamental things.
We get two penalties that bring us back. There's six to eight plays in a game that are going to determine the outcome, period. That's going to happen, especially when you're playing in a conference like ours. You never know when those six to eight plays are going to happen. So you have to play your best every play, whether it's covering a kickoff, whether it's blocking a three technique, whether it's taking on a double-team. You have to play your best every play.
QUESTION: How important is it to remind them of that?
COACH HOKE: I don't think I have to. Our seniors, they know. And if I don't have to, that's good.
QUESTION: Seemed like there was more misdirection, counter plays going on on the offensive side. Is that going to be a package that is extended as the season goes on?
COACH HOKE: I think it's part of an offense that I'm sure will be in there. I thought it was effective. Again, it goes back to what he's talking about in zone reads, everything else, sprint plays, trying to take advantage of something.
QUESTION: Overall, are you reasonably pleased with the relatively low number of penalties, and in particular it seemed like Lewan is he avoiding some of the things he was doing in the past penalty-wise?
COACH HOKE: I don't know what he did in the past. I think we understand that we've got to play the game of fundamentals, techniques and discipline, have great poise and composure in how you play. That's all part of it.
QUESTION: Have you ever had a player like Vincent, 5'6", 172, that tough?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, yeah.
QUESTION: You have had?
COACH HOKE: Yes.
QUESTION: So he's not unique?
COACH HOKE: No. I think he's a guy who loves football. I think he's a guy that's a tough guy and works at it hard. I think there's guys like that out there. I'm just glad that Vince Smith is playing at Michigan.
QUESTION: What does that do for a team when they see a guy like that searching out the biggest guy on defense?
COACH HOKE: I think it inspires you. I think it's your mentality.
QUESTION: Your impressions of Jeremy Ebert, the wide receiver for Northwestern?
COACH HOKE: He does everything for them. He's sure-handed, quick, good balance, good hand-eye skills. He's a big part of their offense. Put him in some different positions, different alignments to let him maybe get away from some press man at times, also utilize what he can do. He's a good football player.
QUESTION: Do you expect Barnum to play? Was I making that up when I saw Woolfolk limping off the field?
COACH HOKE: He ran yesterday.
QUESTION: So I made it up?
COACH HOKE: I didn't say that, you said that.
QUESTION: Do you expect Barnum to play?
COACH HOKE: We'll take it one day at a time.
QUESTION: It's been a while since you've coached with Mattison, even though he know him very well. Watching him on game day, is that something that's been interesting to you to see based on the places he's been since he's been with you?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, it's an interesting question because it's Greg. I mean, I've coached with him obviously, talked a lot of football with him over the years. It's just Greg being Greg coaching.
QUESTION: What did you see out of Carvin Johnson? He has been jockeying with Robinson. Is Carvin taking that stuff?
COACH HOKE: I don't think I can say that yet. I think he's improving. I think the competition there is always pretty good. There's signs that he's doing things maybe more complete.
QUESTION: With a little more experience does he pick that ball off instead of just getting his hands on it?
COACH HOKE: I hope he does, no doubt. We talked about it on the field. Play it at its highest point. I think he realized that.
QUESTION: On John McColgan's availability…
COACH HOKE: He should be ready.
QUESTION: Cam Gordon dressed again but he didn't play. Where's Cam at (health wise)?
COACH HOKE: He's going to practice more this week and do more.
Monday Presser Full Transcript: Coach Hoke
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