You probably have an interesting relationship with Kirk, given that your son played there an everything, um, kind of tell us a little bit about how that has unfolded. Is it different because you're a parent?
Well, I just, really respect him, I respect their program, you know, any time you allow your son to go somewhere you have to have a lot of faith in them, and his experience there couldn't have been better, you know, it was a tremendous fit for him. It was a tough decision at that time, because we had recruited him at Notre Dame, and I just felt that it was important that he go somewhere away and you know, not have to put up with his dad being his coach and it was a great decision, and he, you know, as much as he is close to Brady and he loves what's happening here, he said all along, ‘Dad, there's only one game I won't cheer for, and that's an Iowa game.' He's a big fan, so that was a great experience for him though, and that's a great program.
Did he want to play for you and you said no?
Yeah, yeah. I just its one of those things in parenting is different than coaching, it's hard when you would be, I would be coaching him myself, and, and I just I didn't feel he such a strong willed guy and he's such a competitive guy, that di didn't want him to have to put up with the politics of that locker room, when you got to go to the coaching part of it to that part of it, and you know, it was a better fit for Lisa, it was great to be at Notre Dame but he likes to wear that camouflage jacket, and the hat on, and all that, and it was a perfect fit for him that way.
Michigan State and Northwestern attacked the edge of your defense, and it seemed like Purdue early in the game attached the defense and then sort of just stopped. Did you guys do something?
You know, I mentioned last week, we understand that that is a place where we haven't been real good at and uh we worked really hard last week at it. We knew that that was an area that they were going try to attack and uh for the most part in that game I think our guys did a good job, and really what that entails is a secondary guy beating a block, you know, and again, it's a position when you play the secondary, you have to re-run paths first and then when you get that reaction, you have to come and be the guy who's blocking and a lot of times you're being held, and in the rules, out there in open spaces you don't have time to be able to not have perfect technique, and I think our guys improved on it, but we still have a long way to go on that. That's a place where we have to become a lot more physical and that's on the perimeter.
On the short passes from the secondary is it more of an initial read to get up there, or is it aggression to beat the stalk block?
It's a combination of both. When you're a young, inexperienced guy, you have to be totally locked into your keys, and that goes throughout our defense, you know, same with linebackers, same with anybody that hasn't played a lot of football. If you take a bad read, if you don't concentrate, now you've become a very slow football player, and if you're not the biggest strongest to go along with that, now you're really behind, so that's why being focused and really getting your keys on defense for us right now is critical.
What do you see outta guys like Blake Countess, Desmond Morgan in fall practice that lets you know these guys are going to be able to do it this year.
Well they're wide eyed, aggressive, you know, they're football players, you know. You could see it the first time they went out there, it wasn't too big for ‘em, you know. They both have tremendous pride, they both want to be good. They both want to be coached. It hurts them when they don't do it right, and they're both very intelligent, so they know before you even say it what they were supposed to do and as long as they keep that attitude then they've got a really big upside. There's always a learning process for a freshman that becomes successful to what happens that next year. And, I talked to them about that, you get better, you get better, we'll find out how you are next year. Because that's where you see a lot of guys that have had a pretty good freshman year have that dip, and we can't allow that here, and I don't think that will happen with them.
Is there a chance you're taking, as someone who's done this for a long time, to have a freshman like that, or is that something you've done with regularity throughout your career?.
No, I've always believed play the best players, you know, once you get in the college, now everybody's equal. You've got four or five years to play. Best players play. If you're a scholarship player at the University of Michigan then that must mean you have talent, and if you have the mental part and you've done all that kind of thing, then you're ready to play.
Coach, what went into the decision to move Troy to safety, and how might his skill set be better suited for that?
Well, the one thing, it's a combination of things. One, Troy is a very fast football player. He can run very well, he also, he plays with a lot of experience. We felt we needed a little more speed back there, and uh that along with Blake showing us that he is more and more ready all the time and our thing will always be here to put the best players, best 11 on the field, and, having Blake and Troy rotate wasn't really necessarily having the best eleven out there, so that's why we did that, and the combination of him and Jordan back there you know should be very good, you know, it should help us that way, so you know, that's why we did that.
When J.T. was hurt this spring in practice, did you anticipate him being able to do what he's doing this year?
Yeah I expected him to be back. We always have communication with our trainers and everything like that. Again he was another example like Troy who were limited but did everything they could up to that limit. They weren't, like we say, milking it. They wanted to be out there, and that kind of gave you a sign that yeah, these guys want to play, and they've got talent, and they've improved, and they've accepted coaching, and you know, gotten better.
It seems like teams just aren't throwing at him, did you notice that when you were breaking down tape throughout the course of a game?
No, no. Um, you know, I don't really, haven't looked to see, they're not going throw to this guy, they're throwing to that guy, you know, I think the one thing we do have to improve on is those two big plays. I mean, both of those should ok been tackled. That's unacceptable you know. If you want to be really real with it, you know. That first touchdown should have never happened. That was a bad pursuit angle, and the last one, I mean, we had three or four guys just stood there and watched, and we don't play football that way. So, those are all things we have to improve on, you know. So whether they threw to ‘em or didn't throw to ‘em, bottom line is when you're a member of the secondary, your job is to get the ball down and tackle it, and give us a place to stand. And when we have a place to stand our guys have been pretty good about that, about fighting as long as they as the ball's not in the end zone.
Is there any drop off in communication when Jordan is not in there?
Well, I was worried about that in that game, because Jordan is a coach back there, and , they did a really good job. Thomas Gordon did a great job of trying to get everybody lined up, and Troy, I mean, they, that's one of the maturing things in think you're seeing in our defense. And Desmond Morgan wouldn't say a word, and now he's talking, and everybody's starting to talk more, and I think they're feeling comfortable with their defense. I talk to them all the time is once you put in the defensive scheme, it becomes their defense, and they're the ones that have to run with it, and, we don't make a lot of changes each week either. They've got the package now, and they've got what we're going to run, and now it's about everybody getting everybody in the right spot, and then playing hard, and then, I was really happy with them as far as the communication. In fact, I screwed up a couple calls, and there was one of them where they were running all over the place, and that wouldn't have happened in the beginning of the year. And I was watching the film I said that's good, you made me look better on that one. That was a bad deal on my part. I was supposed to call right and I called left, and uh you could see ‘em all looking, and they just ran over there. Earlier in the year, there would of been guys going like this, so you can see that part of it was good, because God knows I've made some mistakes too, you know.
What's Troy's role when Jordan does comes back?
He's in the secondary, you know, he's in that secondary, and he, you know, he'll be doing just what he's doing, and both of those two guys will be playing safety and uh you know, both be in there.
Would he be ahead of Thomas Gordon at that point, or no?
Thomas Gordon has a lot of roles for us, you know. He plays some nickel for us, he plays some safety in certain situations, so you kind of look at all three of ‘em being in there, just when they play.
So you can see Thomas maybe moving into the nickel on those situations?
You know, and Courtney Avery's done a really good job of that, so you know, you've got to have more than four guys, and, you know, so they'll all get a lot of play.
Hoke said he's been pretty pleased with the linebackers, what do you think about that Coach?
Well, obviously I wasn't very pleased at all early games, and, I really, really was upset with them, and I didn't feel like they were doing what a linebacker at Michigan had to do, and I tell you what, over the bi-week and this last week, I thought they made a huge jump, and it's as much as little things, like when you watch the linebackers, if they're reading their keys correctly, they don't take false steps, you know, they're not stepping this way when the balls going that way, and these are little things you can see but they really have made a concerted effort to get better, and this game will be a big key coming up. You know, the linebackers, you can't take false steps against these guys, your're going to have to be honed into your keys and steps, but I thought this last game they really stepped up, and I think that was one of the reasons why we did some things well at times, was because of the way the ‘backers played .
Do you emphasize that for Iowa, that they really can't afford to make mistakes.
Yeah we've emphasized almost everything about Iowa in the short time we had. This is, this is going to be a real test for our defense.
Coker had 252 yards in that game. Is there something he did differently in the game against Minnesota that he hadn't done earlier in the year?
No, he just, he ran real hard, and there's a lot of times where he ran over secondary guys, I mean, he's a big strong running back, and he's a really good back.
They throw that fade to McNutt a lot. What's the best way to defend the fade when you've got a guy that's 6'4, 215 and feels confident coming down with the….
Sack the quarterback. No, he's a very good receiver, and the big thing is I think you've got make sure you're staying really really tight to him. Don't look back. When a guy catches a fades a lot of times is because the guy's right on him, and he happens to look back for the ball, and that's just the separation that's needed for him to catch it, and we're going to have to do a great job against him. They do a good job on that fade, on him on deep passes.
Do you have a most vivid memory of coaching out in Kinnick?
No, I don't have a, I have a lot fo them, but I have a number of memories being there as a fan and as a father, you know, but, you know as far as I know one thing, I guess maybe, I do remember one time coaching there, and I made a call and I swear the guy was standing right next to me that was sitting in the stands, and he was saying, that was a dumb call, and he really say it in that language either, but I swear sometimes they're in your huddle. It's a very tight deal. It's a great place to play. It's a very aggressive, very tough place to play, and it'll be a great test for our guys.
What's your favorite memory as a parent?
Well, you know, just seeing Brian get a sack, or you know, playing well, that kind of thing, you know. You never realize it that the best thing, the hardest thing in the world is being a parent sitting in the stands watching your son. You can coach him all you want and hit everything, but when you see him out there, you live and die every play. But there were some really good memories in there, watching him.
Speaking of aggressive and tough, Mike Martin on last Saturday, was that, do you think, his best, best performance?
Yeah, but the thing, Mike Martin has played very, very good in a lot of games, and it just happened, and if you keep doing like Mike's doing, you're going to get rewarded, and there are so many times when he's done a really, really good job in there, and somebody else made the play, and I was just happy for him to see him get the reward, because he's really worked hard.
Coming back to the linebackers a little bit, it seems like Kenny Demens, sometimes he's flying around you know, he's everywhere, sometimes it seems he's a little hesitant. Are you pleased with his performance, or what do you see for him?
Yeah I think hes one of the guys that stepped it up last game. In his defense, you'd like to get him out. He plays 60-some plays, and a linebacker's got to play secondary and defensive line, you know, and, you'd like to be able to get a guy in there for more, but he's kind of the most experienced of all of them, and our games haven't been exactly runaways, you know, and for us on defense, so he's had to play, and um, you know, I think he played better this last game, and if we can still try to get somebody in for him at times to give him a blow that would help.
Who would that be?
That'd be J.B., you know.
Coach, Brady talked about how physical this games going to be, and Van Bergen talked about how they just run right at you. What kind of different look is Iowa going to give you with their offense?
It's not going to be any different. It's going to be downhill zone running, and they're just going to wait for your defensive line and your linebackers to not be where they're supposed to be with the right keys, with the right precision in what you're doing, and then when that's all done, you've done all that correctly, they're going to wait to see if you're going to get more than one or two guys to the tackle, and you know, so we've got to get guys off blocks, and we've got to get more than one guy tackling, and swarm, and play Michigan defense that way.
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