Full Transcript: Brady Talks State

One of Schembechler Hall's two Countdown Clocks is about to go from hit zero. After 10 months of tick-tick-tick suspense, what approach does Coach Hoke take this week? He answers 62 questions about it!

COACH HOKE: No. 1, thanks for coming. Saturday, I think we learned a little bit more about ourselves as a football team, in good ways and bad ways, learning that you can't turn the ball over. That's an important aspect that we have got to do a better job, and the decision making at times, fundamentals at times, techniques at times. The other thing I think we learned is that from a defensive standpoint, you need to get off blocks. That enhances your ability to make tackles. And I think that we learned that if we hang together, good things can happen and that if we play with an aggressiveness, an aggression, then we play a little better football.

Q. Talk about how good your team has been in the second half and what you attribute that to.
COACH HOKE: From the offensive standpoint, I think we see something different pretty much all the time and how people want to defend us offensively and really defend Denard. So I think Al does a tremendous job and his staff, Darrell Funk and Heck and Fred and Dan. I think they all do a tremendous job of getting together and talking during the course of the game, or the first half, and you know, putting their ideas down and making the appropriate adjustments and changes.
I think the same thing, defensively. I think Greg and Curt and Mark and Jerry do a tremendous job defensively. And the kids have been willing and they are listening, and I think they are learning.

Q. What stands out about Michigan State's defense and in particular their defensive line?
COACH HOKE: Well, I think you answered that question. They are extremely talented, aggressive, well coached. Coach Gill was one of my coaches in college. Their defensive line coach, he is a tremendous motivator. He knows the game, does a great job coaching them. Those kids play with a fire to them.
You know, you look at their defense as a whole, and you know, I think the whole team is very well coached, because I have a lot of respect for Mark D'Antonio. He's a defensive coach, and his mindset and vision of how they are going to play defense; I think they are athletic. I think they play with good team speed, and they are going to be a physical presence out on the field.

Q. In the first year as a program, you're trying to establish an identity; moving forward, how much does it help you in that process that you've won your first six games?
COACH HOKE: You know, I don't know, I think you gain a little bit of confidence as long as that confidence is coming through understanding the preparation that helped you move the dial. And from a fundamental and technique standpoint, which we talk about and stress every day, and an attitude to prepare each week for; and how we prepare. So I think we are learning lessons as we go.

Q. How much more confidence does a team get when they overcome adversity versus just win without having to go through what you guys did Saturday?
COACH HOKE: I really think you gain some confidence because of how you stayed together and how you respect each other. That's probably think the most significant thing I've seen out of our guys is that respect that they have for each other, the respect that they have for their opponents and who they are playing, and you know, I think how they have prepared to this point, because you all look for the cracks as a coach. And what might not -- the mentality of your team. You know, sometimes I've gone into games and I go, we are not near ready and we play great. And there's been times when you think you've been ready and you don't play as well as you want. So I don't know if there's any real secrets out there. But it's just us trying to get better every week.

Q. Where were you Saturday going into that game?
COACH HOKE: I don't know, I mean, two o'clock Central time, I thought we were ready. At 3 o'clock, I didn't think we were ready. So it goes back and forth.

Q. From where you thought it you would be -- where are you is this about where you thought?
COACH HOKE: I never judged anything by preconceived notions of where we would be. You know, we just know that we have to go to work every day and that we have got to play Michigan football: Take care of the ball, play physical at the line of scrimmage and play for each other.

Q. You mentioned how you guys are recognizing how defenses are playing Denard. What are the similarities you've seen the first six games and how have you guys combatted what the defenses are doing?
COACH HOKE: Similarities, there's some. I think probably the one that was the most different would be how San Diego State did which you kind of knew that with the uniqueness of what they do defensively. There's some similarities, when they were with Northwestern, they faced that offense all spring, they face it all fall camp and they were determined to make it a perimeter game on both sides of the ball to be honest with you. And then I think Notre Dame, the way they defended us as some people have mimicked to some degree with how they play their safeties.

Q. Not the best memory but if you can take us back to the '01 Michigan State game, your thoughts going into that game? The unusual situation?
COACH HOKE: Well, we lost the football game. Somebody was in charge of substitutions on defense and we had a penalty that helped them get down the field and that was me. We had too many guys on the field. So I remember it.

Q. Can you talk about this rivalry and what it means to you, and to this team right now, having lost three straight to them?
COACH HOKE: Well, I mean, obviously the guys know what the history has been. The rivalry is a tremendous rivalry because of the passion for both schools that people have. The alums, people within the state, you kind of draw the line that you're a Spartan fan or you're a Wolverine fan and that's what makes college football and that's what makes it so exciting.
You know, it's an important part of recruiting. It's an important part in -- because it's a Big Ten game and how that all goes for you, you know, during the course of the year.

Q. What's your most vivid memory of playing up there and what is it like to be in that stadium?
COACH HOKE: It will be fun. It's a fun place to be because of the passion and the fans, on both sides. Obviously there will be some Michigan people there. I mean, that's why you go to places like Michigan and Michigan State; to play in those games and represent your school. It will be fun.

Q. Coach Carr always talked about, this is the most physical game on the schedule, regardless of the others and maybe that's because people knew each other or whatever. Can you sense that from the sidelines? Did you ever get that?
COACH HOKE: Oh, yeah, I mean, it was always going to be a dogfight and every year, it was always going to be two teams that were going to be physical at the line of scrimmage on both side of the ball. It was always going to be guys playing their best football and playing as tough and physical as they could. So I agree with Lloyd. I always thought this game was. And we'll find out where we're at on Saturday.

Q. Michigan State and Ohio State, these are the big games you've been talking about since January; how does your demeanor change on the practice field? Do you do anything differently?
COACH HOKE: No.

Q. How do you assess the first half of the season, the good and the bad for Denard?
COACH HOKE: I like him. I'm glad he's our quarterback.

Q. Can you elaborate on that at all?
COACH HOKE: Good. I think he's done a nice job.

Q. Even though you're in a little bit of a different offense than last year, quite a bit different at times, how much do you look at last year's Michigan State tape and what Michigan State did with the same personnel, same scheme?
COACH HOKE: You know, to be honest with you, I haven't looked at it yet, because I'm looking at their offense right now. But I'm sure Al and that side of the ball have probably been through it.

Q. What challenges does their offense present, starting with Cousins?
COACH HOKE: I think he's as good a quarterback you'll find in this league. I think he runs the offense, manages the offense, gets them in the right things as far as play-wise, and I think he's very accurate with the football. Their runs backs, they have three backs who are all very capable, very good. I love the fullback, Anderson, because he's a prototypical, not hit-you-in-the-face guy, who is going to lead block well, he's going to protect well. Cunningham out at the wide receiver. And I think the tight ends and the use of the tight ends are a big part of it and that presents challenges from a defensive standpoint.

Q. When Mo lost, he said he overlooked the ferocity of this rivalry. How important is it that you have coached…?
COACH HOKE: Coaching in it, I think you know about it. And I think being here for eight years, I think that you have an understanding of it.

Q. When you were here, game after game, the Michigan State rivalry…?
COACH HOKE: That it was a physical football game.

Q. And more physical than any other on the schedule, do you think?
COACH HOKE: It usually always was. I mean, you know, I think, just thinking back, it always was. There were always -- I'm a defensive line coach. They were going to try and pound you off the football and you had to match that intensity. You know they are going to punch you in the mouth and you'd better punch back.

Q. Do you have to be better up front than you were a week ago to Michigan State?
COACH HOKE: Well, I don't think there's any doubt, we have to be better everywhere for us to win the football game. We have to be better at every position. We have to be better coaches, we have to be better trainers in how we tape ankles and all those things.

Q. Because their defensive line is one of their strengths, your offensive line against their defensive line, is that a big test for you guys?
COACH HOKE: I think so. There's not any doubt that their physicalness at the line of scrimmage and their ability to penetrate and all those things and be disruptive are a big part of what they do defensively. Pressure on the quarterback. For us, we have got to play our best game to this point in all areas, but specifically up front.

Q. What happened to Taylor, and is his status in jeopardy? He came out of the game on Saturday?
COACH HOKE: He came out because he was over on their sidelines and he thought that he had to come out because he thought the official told him to get out. The official was just telling him to get out of their sidelines. (Laughter). I'm telling you the truth. It was funny. I don't know what he thought. But it was funny. (Laughter).

Q. Why was he on the sideline?
COACH HOKE: The play, he was blocking, he blocked a guy into the sidelines. You know, finished it, and that was funny.

Q. What's Ricky Barnum's status?
COACH HOKE: You know, he ran around last night.

Q. Worthy as a player, what stands out about him, and have you seen his tattoo, the Michigan-related one?
COACH HOKE: Yeah. It's a tattoo. As a player, I think he's physical. He's a very good athlete. It's funny, because I was watching tape of Northwestern against Michigan State from last year last week and then watching their defense, studying Northwestern's offense, and he's got a great sense in timing from a fundamental side on movements and those things and plays with great leverage.

Q. What do you mean exactly when you say Devon played more like a quarterback on Saturday?
COACH HOKE: Well, there were some more quarterback plays that when Denard came out because his boo-boo, I think he did a nice job of being a quarterback.

Q. The way that he finished that drive after Denard had to come out did, that show you something about his preparedness to play?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, and I think that's all part of it and what you want to see from a guy like him that, any snap could be in the football game. So that was good to see.

Q. Do you think Denard gets too amped up at the start of the games throwing the ball? He seems high.
COACH HOKE: I don't know -- against Minnesota they weren't. Believe me, he's excited and excitable. The big thing is, he's got to let the game come to him sometimes.

Q. Have you felt that more in a game like this this week against Denard?
COACH HOKE: No.

Q. You don't worry that he's amped up anyway?
COACH HOKE: I don't think so.

Q. Woodson's interception, have you seen a better play by a player anywhere?
COACH HOKE: It was a pretty good football play. It was a heck of a play.

Q. Did you have a pretty good view of it?
COACH HOKE: You know what, I don't know if I did or not.

Q. On your sideline.
COACH HOKE: Yeah, and I think it was down further. It was a tremendous play by a tremendous athlete.

Q. Barnum, is he going to be questionable -- do you think he's going to play?
COACH HOKE: I don't know.

Q. What do you like about what Denard's done?
COACH HOKE: I like the way he's handled the offense and the transition all the way through and I think he's improved every week. Because there's always some additions or tweaks that he has to manage. I thought from spring to fall to fall camp to now, I think his growth has been very good.

Q. When an opponent has won a few times in a row against your team, even though you weren't here like Michigan State, three in a row, is that a point of emphasis going into a game?
COACH HOKE: I don't think I'll have to remind our guys what the outcome has been. You know, these are college students, and they are in classes and stuff like that. So I would hope that they are smart enough to understand we haven't played Michigan football the way we need to.

Q. You mentioned Coach Gill. What do you expect out of a defensive line coach like him?
COACH HOKE: The kids will play hard and they will play for him. That's something that's always important. They will execute how he's coached them. He's a very good technique coach, very good motivational coach. I always know Ted -- he did a great job -- and this is 1978, he can coach you out.

Q. Did you have any contact with him?
COACH HOKE: I see him now and then. I see him now and then.

Q. How long have you known Dantonio?
COACH HOKE: I know Mark decently well. My brother and him probably know each other a little bit better. Mark was at Youngstown and my brother was at Kent and both of them being secondary coaches by trade, I think their conversations were always there.

Q. I understand last week, you thought maybe you guys are were ranked a little too high. Do you feel comfortable being a Top-10 team?
COACH HOKE: We are not a Top-10 team.

Q. Why do you say that?
COACH HOKE: Well, you take care of the football, and you -- defensively, you don't give up 300 and whatever it was yards throwing the football.

Q. Are you a Top-25 team?
COACH HOKE: I don't know.

Q. Will you know after next week?
COACH HOKE: No.

Q. D'Antonio has put like a singular focus on this game since he's been there. You obviously have Ohio, as well. Can you talk about how much this rivalry means to you, this game?
COACH HOKE: It means an awful lot. I mean, and it means a lot because we represent a great university. We have got great alums out there. And it's a Big Ten game. It's an important game. So you know, it's a tremendous rivalry in college football, and you can say all of the local, state, regional standpoint, but also a national standpoint. It's Michigan, Michigan State. You know, I kind of get geared up when Oregon is playing Oregon State, because that's a great rivalry. Those are fun.

Q. Seem to be leading towards Blake Countess, especially the second half last week, is he still in, or is Troy still banged up?
COACH HOKE: Sure, he's banged up a little bit. He tweaks his ankle every now and then a little bit, and his hand is getting better, which is a good thing so he can use that more appropriately on fundamentals and techniques. Blake is a young guy who plays at a high rate. You watch him go down on kickoff, he plays at a high rate. He plays fast. Fundamentally he's pretty sound. He has good change of direction in those things and has burst to him. But Troy has been beat up, also.

Q. You've been around this game; what does a win in this game…?
COACH HOKE: Any win is a good win. This game last week --

Q. Does it mean any more, if it were to happen?
COACH HOKE: For us, we have an expectation and goals to win the Big 10 Championship. You're not going to do that by losing a football game.

Q. Have you checked, are both countdown clocks operating properly?
COACH HOKE: They are operating properly, and because at game time, I think it was 12:01, I think we synced it up.

Q. Their offensive line, they have moved some people in and out; what do you think of that?
COACH HOKE: They are big, which is the normal case. They are good-sized. I think they have had some guys get nicked up a little bit from the start of the year. But I think they are physical. They are well coached. When you look at zone stops and combination blocks and doubles, those things, where the shoulder tip is, all of those things; as a defensive line coach, I think they are really well coached and I think they are physical.

Q. Half of your regular season is in the books. Looking at this game, moving forward, what are the No. 1 keys on both sides of the ball?
COACH HOKE: Our keys are, you know, we have got to improve how we are playing football, period, from a fundamental standpoint to a toughness standpoint to how we take care of the football and how we manage the game. And we have got to coach better.

Q. So this isn't just a motivational thing. You really don't like the way your team has played quite a bit?
COACH HOKE: I really don't. Because if it's -- we can't be satisfied with anything. And after every game, I tell them, it's great to win, but there's always a bug. And they know that. They have been around long enough now. We would like to get perfection.

Q. If there was a single biggest thing to fix last week, Saturday, would it be not turning the ball over?
COACH HOKE: That, and our perimeter play from a defensive standpoint of fundamentals of getting off blocks and those things, probably as much as anything.

Q. Was that getting off blocks, the perimeter play, more so the way Northwestern plays offense or is that more fundamental?
COACH HOKE: Fundamental. Fundamental, all the way.

Q. Any particular person or alignment that Michigan has not seen or the players haven't seen this year at all?
COACH HOKE: Say that again, I'm sorry.

Q. Whether it's personnel or alignment, is there something that these players this year haven't seen that Michigan State is going to bring you?
COACH HOKE: Oh, well, they go with five guys on one side of the ball. You know, they did that on a 13-personnel. There will be something. In the kicking game, there will be something -- from an offensive standpoint. There will be something different. I wish I knew what it would be; we may have a chance to work on it. But there will be something, definitely.

Q. Is having a bye week before a game like this an advantage?
COACH HOKE: I don't know. I've been on both ends of it. I don't know. I know one year here we had a bye week before we played Northwestern and we probably tried to out-coach ourselves and do too much and change. I don't know. I really don't. Are you healthier? Maybe. Are you fresher? Maybe. But you know, the schedule is the schedule. Whatever it is, you've got to go play it. And there are no excuses.

Q. Is it good to have a bye after a game this?
COACH HOKE: I don't know. I really don't. Maybe get rested a little bit. If you don't play your best and lose, I can tell you, you want to go back and play, soon.

Q. You mentioned the fullback. Are you worried about their power package when they go to the tight ends?
COACH HOKE: I am. And their tight ends, they are big tight ends and they are big, physical guys. So if they get in 22 personnel or those powers that they run or power pass, I think they do a great job with. Their tail blocks, blocking the edge, fullback in the flap, I think they have got -- they do a lot of stuff that we do, which is kind of nice. But they do it very well and they are physical as they do it.

Q. When you played Minnesota, you brought out the Little Brown Jug. Did you talk about the Paul Bunyan trophy?
COACH HOKE: Sure. But I couldn't show it to them.

Q. Going with the history and the tradition and the rivalry?
COACH HOKE: Say that again.

Q. Do you have anything else planned, the history and the tradition?
COACH HOKE: I don't know. Maybe.

Q. Perhaps?
COACH HOKE: Perhaps.

Q. Michael Shaw had more of a presence last week, was he doing something different in practice or was it the situation?
COACH HOKE: No, be I think some of it's situational, but I think also, he's fought himself back into playing a little more, and he's been more physical.

Q. How did he do that? How did he fight himself back? What did he show you?
COACH HOKE: He just practiced better. We evaluate every day.

Q. Do you counsel or coach your kids on not giving bulletin board material to teams like Michigan State?
COACH HOKE: Well, I think they are 18 to 23. They are excited about playing a great football game. I think that at times, people will take advantage of that because they are 18 to 23. So the answer is yes.


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