Brady Hoke Opening Remarks: "We had a good day yesterday, I thought, on both sides of the ball. One of the big things in this football game is going to be field position and turnovers. They're plus five and we're plus seven. They're taking care of the football, and they've done a nice job defensively of creating some opportunities. The other part of it is the field position in the kick game, when you look at their returns on punt and on kickoffs, they're significantly higher than the average. Both of those things I think are a big part of it. We had some struggles with kickoff coverage last week. We haven't done great in kickoff returns. I think we've some opportunities in the punt game punt return wise, but we have to be better at those two things to create some things for us offensively. Obviously defensively, when you look at helping your offense out so they can get another/steal another possession."
Question: How much do you physically do you practice on the return?
Brady Hoke: "We always do coverage teams on Tuesdays, plus return games on Wednesdays, plus we always do another five-minute segment with the punt because that's such an important play in football. Statistically, if you believe in statistics, and you look at teams with a punt return against them or a punt block, your percentages go way down to win a football game, so we work pretty physical with it. We're going to do some kickoff live at the end tonight, and we've got to send a message. We've also got to do a better job of coaching and teaching."
Question: How much success on kickoff coverage is location of the kick?
Brady Hoke: "I think it's always part of it. I think that's definitely part of it and when we've had really good locations, usually we've had good coverage. I can think back to last week, there were three of them that were really located pretty dag-on well. A nd then two of them, one of them was in the middle of the field where we didn't want it, and the other one was more I want to say, if I'm coming down the field right-middle, which wasn't far enough. There's all kind of things you look at. I think their returner is very good, quick, and he does punts and kickoffs. So we just got to be more sound."
Question: You pitched a shutout on third downs defensively last week. What would you like to get that number to roughly, the percentage of times?
Brady Hoke: "I think if you can be successful defensively 63%, 64% of the time, maybe a little higher than that, but I don't know where we are right now. I don't really look at that stuff much. I don't think we're where we need to be. I think last week helped, but that's an anomaly a little bit."
Question: How much is Junior Hemingway limited by arm wrap?
Brady Hoke: "He's all right. He's just got a little boo-boo on his elbow. I mean he's fine."
Question: In the game he will be fine?
Brady Hoke: "Oh yeah. We did punt yesterday and he's one of our wings and did a great job protecting. We serve them live bullets."
Question: On Monday, you said that the players don't really know how the coaching staff likes to travel. Have you talked to them about your expectations?
Brady Hoke: "A little bit. We'll talk more about it tomorrow. It's more when we, on Thursdays, you cover some more of those administrative things of where they sit on the plane, all those kinds of things that go along with it. How we'll dress, getting to the hotel, knowing where you're at, knowing where the stairs are, because that's important. Elevators sometimes don't, you know, bode too well."
Question: Looking back at the tape, it looks like third and longs are obvious passing downs, you weren't blitzing as much as you have in the past, more relying on a four-man front to get pressure, how important is that and how can that change what you want to do defensively that now you can kind of rely on those four guys?
Brady Hoke: "That's a good point, if you can generate and it doesn't have to be sacks, it has to be hits and pressures and all those things. If we can generate that with four guys than we'd like to because then you've got a chance to have maybe a little better coverage and be a little more creative in some coverages if you want to take a guy away. That would be great, but I think at the same time you want to be multiple enough where it gives that guy back there some problems in trying to figure out what you're doing."
Question: Just a variety of different looks you can give?
Brady Hoke: "Yeah. I think that always helps. With this team, it will be a little more difficult because of how their management of the game goes with the coach upstairs and what he looks at. We haven't been great all season about holding looks long enough and then either coming out of something or going into something else."
Question: The first couple of weeks that front four wasn't doing a great job of getting pressure in the pass game, how do you work on that and how do you get those guys better?
Brady Hoke: "I think Jerry (Montgomery) has done a nice job. Again, you go back to fundamentals and recognizing protections. I think that's part of it. I think you go back to fundamentals of when you're running your games whether it is a two man or a three man game. The specific technique and fundamentals that we have to do. We ran some the week before, but we didn't run it well enough so it wasn't as clean for the second man through."
Question: You can knock on the table there but are you pretty pleased with how healthy this team is given how physically it has practiced?
Brady Hoke: "Yeah, yeah. No question about it, and I will knock a bunch. I think they've come out with an understanding that Tuesdays are going to be heavy work days and today will be a heavy work day where we're going to get as good as looks as we can, as physical a look as we can so that the reactions on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game are what we want come Saturday. A mentality of how you play."
Question: Is Barnum out for Saturday?
Brady Hoke: "No, I don't think he's out. "
Question: How much is he practicing?
Brady Hoke: "He didn't do much yesterday, but today's Wednesday."
Question: One of the first thing you did was install the countdown clocks have you caught anyone talking about Michigan State this week?
Brady Hoke: "No, heck no, no way, not even…the seniors have done a nice job. They've done a nice job."
Question: Up front it looks like Will Heininger has done some good things for you, can you talk about his play a little bit?
Brady Hoke: "I think Will has come along when you look from the fundamental side of playing the position and what we ask those guys to do up front. He has always wanted to do it. I think there is a confidence thing at times that he had in my opinion, he had to kind of push through. Being a little more confident of this is how we're teaching this and how we want you to do it from a physical standpoint. But I think we do some two-on-one live drills on Tuesdays and Wednesdays that are really good for our guys up front on both sides of the ball."
Question: It seemed like Craig Roh dropped back into coverage a little bit more this week, what does his versatility give you on defense?
Brady Hoke: "I think it helps. When you have a guy that can do a couple different things, it can keep an offense off balance. Craig's probably greatest asset is he's a smart kid and he's a smart football player. He picks up things well, and he has good recognition of if he has to wall the second receiver or if he's on what we call train and he has to take the guy out of the backfield. I think he has a good understanding of it."
Question: Do you see the guys getting a better understanding of Coach Mattison's defense at this point; how have you seen them grow more comfortable with it?
Brady Hoke: "I would say the last two weeks they feel more comfortable. I think this week we have a different challenge because of pace and tempo that we'll get from Northwestern. They're going to snap the ball at times with 30 seconds still on a 40-second clock. So that's getting to the line of scrimmage and making a decision. At other times they're going to slow it down, so all those things that are things that disrupt you defensively, and that's where our discipline, our communication, our urgency to look into the sideline and then getting set, that's all part of it."
Question: Greg talked about players taking ownership of the defense. What does that mean to you?
Brady Hoke: "I think there's a lot of pride. There's a unit pride by position. I think it's always important. I think the personal pride you have. I think how much you really study the game and study the opponent and look at tape and all of those things, I think they've done a pretty good job of that."
Question: What might any effect have that the fact that a third of the crowd on Saturday might be dressed in Maize-N-Blue; will that have any impact on you?
Brady Hoke: "I think it's always nice to play in front of folks that are behind you. It may help a little bit with crowd noise if we have a lot of Michigan people there. I know there's a ton of alums who live in the Chicago-land area, so we welcome them all."
Wed. Brady Hoke Presser Full Transcript
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