Monday Coach Hoke Presser: Full Transcript

Coach Hoke on Denard's wrist, on ball security, on Fitz Toussaint, Odoms, Schofield and Barnum, Van Bergen, Morgan, Troy and T-Gordon, Morgan, Gibbons and Hagerup ... and a lot about what the have to do versus Nebraska.

COACH HOKE: We are really proud of our kids and how they played on Saturday, how they went out there as a team. I think we really complemented each other as a football team in a lot of ways. You know, offensively, taking the ball down in that first possession and scoring always helps you from a mindset and your enthusiasm when you play the game. Defensively, I thought our defense played awfully well and played together. We had, you know, a 4th and 26 that was completed on us that we don't like at all, and then we needed to play a little better in the one drive in the fourth quarter, but I think it was a team. And Matt Wile did a tremendous job on kickoffs, especially into the wind, I thought that field position and you're talking about those things are important and Jeremy Gallon did a nice job in the putt return department. And the thing I want to mention is those guys on that team really did a nice job, and so that was a big plus. You know, when you look at some hidden yardage, that is always important in a football game. But proud of the kids, how they bounced back, how they reacted, how they stayed together, how they complemented each other. And obviously we've turned the page after yesterday to a very good opponent in Nebraska, traditional, one of the traditional football powers in this country, and we'll have our work cut out for us.

QUESTION: I know you didn't put any limitations on the defense coming in, but is this what they're doing maybe more than what could reasonably have been expected going in?
BRADY HOKE: You know, we always have high expectations. And I think, you know, the part of it that you like is -- and this is probably more a coach would see than you may, but when they come off the field, whether it's good or it's bad, how they banded together, stay together, they listen, and I think Greg and the staff on defense do a tremendous job of making the adjustments that may need to be made, or I think they do a tremendous job, the guys do, of keeping each other on that edge. And that's part of it, and I thought they did a nice job staying together, no matter what happened.

QUESTION: When Illinois has negative rush yards at half and they only get 37 total, how does that change what they want to do offensively, just to have that kind of dominating performance?
BRADY HOKE: Well, you know, obviously when you can get a team to be one-dimensional, if you can do that, you know, and we were able to. I think the interior of our defense really shut down some of the zones and what they wanted to run, and so when you can get them in those down-and-distance situations that are advantageous for you, we were able to do that, and we were able to get some pressure. I thought the back end did a nice job of keeping the ball inside and in front, you know, which is a big part of it, so the capacity for big plays wasn't there as much.

QUESTION: How do you get them to carry over, the defense, how do you get them to carry over the good things that they did and the things that they put together on Saturday into another weekend, into the final weeks of the season?
BRADY HOKE: Well, I mean I think our guys have done a tremendous job of wanting to improve every week. We went out last night and had a tremendous 25-minute fundamental and technique practice. You know, the intensity of it, their focus. I think they're mature enough, and the leadership of the senior class has done a really good job of moving to the next game and what can we do better as a team, and how are we going to do it better. And they understand for our seniors they have two more opportunities to play in this great stadium, and they understand that the expectations are to go out and play better every week.

QUESTION: With the exception of the 4th and 26, was there anything you saw that you did not like?
BRADY HOKE: You know, the whole last drive. I mean you don't want anybody to score their last drive down the field. I think it served some purpose a little bit eating up the clock, but I'd rather have the ball with us eating up the clock. So there were some third downs in there that we need to do a better job with as far as our conversions.

QUESTION: Quarterback questions, Denard, any limitations at all this week?
BRADY HOKE: No. No. He threw the ball very well last night. He's fine. He just got a little sprain on his wrist, and he's in good shape.

QUESTION: And after watching the film, thoughts on how Devin played?
BRADY HOKE: Devin did a good job managing the game, and Al did a nice job, I think, in calling the game. I think it was conservative and it was for us to -- the way our defense was playing, to play to your defense and then I thought the kicking game did a nice job for us.

QUESTION: Brady, kind of getting back to the defense a little bit, how much of this is all Greg really and what he's able to do? And secondly, you've worked with Greg many places. Is this maybe one of the better jobs you've seen him do?
BRADY HOKE: Oh, I don't know. I think whatever we do, it's the kids executing it. We haven't gone out and played one snap. We haven't taken on a block. You know, we haven't done any of that. It's the kids and their sense of pride and their sense of knowing the expectations of being at Michigan. I think that whole staff does a good job, and the entire staff of teaching fundamentals and techniques, and that's where it starts. And as a team, I think our mentality of how we want to play football is an important part of it, you know, on both sides of the ball.

QUESTION: Following up on that, was there a point earlier this year where you maybe saw it turn and you were like, this has the potential to be a good defense?
BRADY HOKE: Oh, I don't know. We got two pretty good opponents left, you know, and Nebraska is a good football team. So I don't think we're in any position to think that we're the Chicago Bears of '86. Is that the right year?

BRADY HOKE: '85. I was close.

QUESTION: Denard really hasn't had any kind of a big issue with fumbles this year up until the last couple of games. Did you see anything on the film from Saturday that played into that?
BRADY HOKE: Well, you know, I believe it was the first one. I mean there was a lot of pulling, scratching and all that kind of stuff. I mean the play itself seemed to last forever, you know. A guy hits the ball right or you're trying to get some extra yards or you're trying to make a play, and you know, you lapse a little bit in your ball security. But no, he's been good that way. I think as much as I thank John, you gotta give them a little credit because they're trying to strip it and do those things, but he's gotta do a better job as far as ball security issues.

QUESTION: If there's one maybe weakness on this defense, it's been perimeter play so far this year and you've got Nebraska coming in whose option team is going to try to get out on the edge. How much of a focus is that going to be this week and how much do you stress that to especially younger defensive ends and linebackers?
BRADY HOKE: You know, we'll stress that a ton because of what they like to do, you know, and we'll prepare for it, and they'll have a wrinkle either formationally or something different that we maybe haven't seen, trying to take advantage of leverage. But it will be one of those things that we've gotta be highly disciplined. Whenever you're playing option football teams, you've gotta do your job, and that's an expectation. So it's an important part of it.

QUESTION: Brady, with the emergence of Fitz, the emergence of the defense, how does Denard's role change on this team? Does he become more of a game manager?
BRADY HOKE: Oh, I don't know if it changes. I think it's kept him healthy for a lot of the year, healthier than he's been. I think, you know, it's another option, you know, if we're going to block at the line of scrimmage and do a good job there. I think it really comes down to, you know, how well we're blocking at the line of scrimmage, how well the backs -- you know, if you are Mike Shaw or Vince, how they're seeing the holes and their balance and burst through. And you know, it's different every week how people want to defend because of Denard, so he's part of the formula for Fitz, even though he didn't throw one block in the game for 197 yards or whatever he had.

QUESTION: Brady, can you talk about the opportunity this team has in front of it, closing at home to make it a really good or a special season in some regard?
BRADY HOKE: Well, you know, we always start with our seniors, I mean and that's what we talk about. You know, when you sit there and they can't believe how quickly their four or five years have gone by and that they're at the last two years, that they have an opportunity -- last two games -- at home to wear that winged helmet. I mean that means something. And for us we just gotta keep trying to improve in everything we do, you know, on a daily basis so that we can be the best Michigan team that we can be.

QUESTION: Can you just talk about Nebraska and the threat that they pose?
BRADY HOKE: Well, you know, Nebraska's always been a very physical football team. You know, for numbers of years, and they take great pride in their football. Taylor Martinez has done a tremendous job of executing when you look at what they're doing offensively, Burkhead is a guy that is a good running back. You look at the statistical information between both teams, which you know, I'm not real big into, but there's a lot of similarities, and their rushing offense and scoring and defensively, and you know, they're a team that's going to play with great passion. I think Bo does a nice job, the black shirt defense, the physicalness that they want to play with. It's going to be one of those games.

QUESTION: You and Bo are both defensive guys, both Midwest guys. Do you have any connections to him growing up or anything?
BRADY HOKE: Not really, no. Not really. I know him, obviously, but have not -- different parts of the state of Ohio.

QUESTION: Brady, they're going to run the option. You guys have seen the option earlier in the season. What did you take from your inability to defend it or your ability to defend it earlier?
BRADY HOKE: I think it all starts with the type of option that you're going to see. There's varying degrees. There's some speed option you'll see. There will be some zone read option parts of it as you find out. But the discipline of what your job is. And if you're a guy who's got the quarterback, then you've gotta make sure, you know, there's always a pitch key for every option, and you've gotta do a great job of doing your job there. And then if you're the pitch player, which if they're loading it or arcing it or whatever, how you get all blocks, and the flow of the ball. I mean your inside-out flow to the football has to be a big part of it.

QUESTION: What has Tay Odoms done the last couple weeks to work his way back into the line up with you guys?
BRADY HOKE: That's a good question.

QUESTION: How exciting was it to see him after everything?
BRADY HOKE: Well, you know, and Tay has done a tremendous job, and he probably would have made more progress earlier if he wouldn't have got beat up in fall camp. You know, he had a forearm that I think was a break. I forget what they call those.

QUESTION: Fracture?
BRADY HOKE: Yeah, it was a fracture, but it was one of those hairline kind of deals, and it affected him, you know. He had a cast on it, and hard to catch the ball, especially when they moved it on his hand a little bit. So that part of it. But the one thing Tay has done like most of these seniors is he's come to work every day and he's done a nice job of leading, and he's done a nice job of coming to work and competing.

QUESTION: On the Floyd interception is that that situation where he gets some kind of a signal that he can take that shot or is it simply him reading it and making the play?
BRADY HOKE: Well, believe me, that was him doing a nice job of what he did all week preparing to play the game. You know, receivers, there's splits that tip you to a couple different things. There are break points in routes, and one thing J.T.'s done, he's done a nice job of really working at being a corner, you know, from the preparation of film study and those things.

QUESTION: One guys whose production has really dropped off this year is Roundtree. I was wondering what you see with him. Has he been healthy all season?
BRADY HOKE: He's fine. He's fine. He's doing what we want him to do.

QUESTION: Which is?
BRADY HOKE: Go out there and block when you need him to block and run good routes.

QUESTION: You obviously want to have depth at every position, but how key is it now to know that you have two quarterbacks who can manage the game, make plays?
BRADY HOKE: Well, I mean I think it's always nice to have, like you said, depth at every position, and we've been pretty fortunate because we're not very deep at some of them. And I think both quarterbacks have done a nice job. I think they're learning in a process and in a system, and I think they both get better every time they take the field.

QUESTION: Do you like the rotation with Gordon and Woolfolk?
BRADY HOKE: It seemed to work out. You know, I think it seemed to work out pretty well Saturday. You know, it still comes down to how they practice.

QUESTION: How is Troy?
BRADY HOKE: He's okay. You know, he gets banged up a little bit here and there, but he's fine. He did everything last night.

QUESTION: If you win Saturday, you'll help Michigan state win the division. I was just wondering what you thought about that?
BRADY HOKE: Doesn't matter. We care about winning.

QUESTION: Brady, do you have any memories of playing Nebraska? That was a huge really game kind of for you when you were at Ball State.
BRADY HOKE: Yeah. It was fun. It was fun.

QUESTION: Did you feel like that maybe kind of cemented your status a little bit as an up-and-coming coach? Was that about five or six years ago?
BRADY HOKE: I don't know. I don't know when it was. It's fun. Games are fun. It's supposed to be fun.

QUESTION: As far as the punt returner making the decision whether to come up hard on a short ball like that, how difficult a play is that? What are they taught there?
BRADY HOKE: Well, you know, the one rule they always have if they don't feel comfortable about trying to field the ball, then get away from it. I mean first and foremost, they have to know that. At the same time you're telling them to catch every ball. Okay. So with the wind and how that was affecting some things, I think Jeremy was more on the side of cautious because -- there were two other ones I thought at the time that he could have fielded, but after looking at it on tape there was probably one that I think he could have fielded. But you know, I'm not going to second guess that too much because, you know, he wants to do the right thing for his team.

QUESTION: What are your impressions of Will Hagerup lately and what do you need to see him?
BRADY HOKE: I think he's made some progress at times. He had a pretty good punt and then he had a couple that weren't as good for Will. You know, and I think it's just being consistent, and what happens, and I don't know if anybody golfs around here. I try not to, but you hit into the wind and you think you gotta swing harder. Right? I mean that's the worst thing you can do. And I'm a 35 handicap, so I'm giving you golf lessons, but my point is I think he's so competitive that sometimes he overkicks, and that's something that him and I talk about every day. When he's not talking to Angelique about how to punt.

QUESTION: I don't think we saw the two-quarterback formation on Saturday. Is that something you decide on during the week?
BRADY HOKE: It was just Al didn't think it was where we wanted to go this week. I mean I think part of it is we were very conservative in how once we saw how our defense was playing, we went very conservative with trying to keep things going in the right direction.

QUESTION: Is that a fine line to balance between being conservative?
BRADY HOKE: I don't think it's a fine line. I think it really comes down to -- you know, it's like at half time, we left some points on the field, and you know, the kids all knew it and they were kind of down offensively to some degree because they felt that -- but I reminded them we're winning the game. We've scored 14 points, they've scored none. We're winning, and we just gotta go back to what we normally -- make sure you're fundamentally sound in everything you're doing and finish some blocks if that's the case and correct the things we didn't do as well in the red zone.

QUESTION: Was there a common theme in the red zone, things that didn't work?
BRADY HOKE: No, not really. One play this guy overshot or didn't pick up the movement. The other play, you know, it could have been the other guy. And that's what happened because we just gotta be more consistent.

QUESTION: How much does defense dictate what you do offensively? Al always talks about making adjustments in game, but what the defense is doing, how much does that impact what Al calls?
BRADY HOKE: You talking about the opposing defense?

BRADY HOKE: Oh, it's huge. It's huge. I mean every school has a base defense. You know, our is under which is weak side reduction. That is going to be our base, but you're going to try and stop people, what they do, because everyone has four running plays they like to hang their hat on and probably four route combinations. And those are the things that you need to stop. Same thing happens with us offensively. People have a base defense you may see all week, but when they get to how they feel with Denard, because the 197 yards that Fitz got, you know, he didn't just do on his own. He had some pretty good blocking, and the threat of Denard still is a threat. So I don't even know where I'm going with this now, but they have to -- everyone has a different way how they feel they want to really defend him. Does that make sense? Made sense to me.

QUESTION: Talk about Desmond Morgan kind of playing beyond his years at linebacker, and Burkhead, what kind of challenge he presents to Morgan and the rest of them?
BRADY HOKE: Obviously he's a challenge to all 11 guys out there and coaches and everything else because he's a guy who runs downhill, runs hard, and he's got enough acceleration and movement to him that he's tough to tackle. He's really a great slicing style of runner. You know, Des, there's expectations for the position at Michigan, and he's a true freshman. He's done a nice job, and I think he'll continue to do a good job.

QUESTION: After Desmond had a maybe up-and-down game against Iowa, did you say anything different to him?
BRADY HOKE: No. I mean the kid's prideful. He does a nice job of studying his craft, and he probably was a little better versus Iowa than I think I initially felt.

QUESTION: Greg got pretty emotional talking about the defense after the game and Van Bergen said it's rare to have a coach that passionate about it. How much is this defense feeding off Greg's emotion and his passion?
BRADY HOKE: You know, I think that's always part of it, you know, Angelique, but our seniors have been -- Mike Martins and Van Bergens and Woolfolks, the other guys on that, Will Heininger, I think with the way they go out and play and how they work and how they prepare, that's part of it, too, but you know, I think it's really that whole group wanting to be better every week.

QUESTION: Al has said at times you guys are running 80 percent spreads, something more than that. The way Fitz has played the last couple of weeks, the way the running game is coming along, are you guys moving closer and close are to more pro style? Do you know what percentage you were at this past week?
BRADY HOKE: I don't. I really don't. You know, I don't know. We're style trying to -- whatever fits us to win, I think that's kind of where we're going.

QUESTION: That's a week-by-week thing?
BRADY HOKE: It kind of is, to some degree.

QUESTION: With the game coming up this weekend, what are your thoughts having Nebraska in the Big 10, in your division?
BRADY HOKE: I think it's good. It's good for college football. It's good for our conference. I mean they're traditionally been one of the elite programs in this country, and I think it's great for us.

QUESTION: What did Schofield look like on film?
BRADY HOKE: Yeah. Yeah. Michael's learning. I think he's getting better. I think he -- with every position, but offensive line wise, you know, you've gotta make sure that your fundamentals are the biggest part and that starts with your feet, but I think he's doing a good job.

QUESTION: Big 10 announced this morning that they're taking Paterno's name off the championship trophy. I just wondered if you have a reaction to that?
BRADY HOKE: My reaction is we'd like to be playing for it.

QUESTION: Did anything that Devin did give you more confidence going to him if Denard does have turnover problems?
BRADY HOKE: Yeah, I think, you know, he grows up more and more every time he's out there.

QUESTION: Is there any way you could simulate Burkhead in practice at all?
BRADY HOKE: You know, there's a couple guys. Mike Cox for us does a nice job, and he's big like that. Jihad Rasheed does a real good job, even though he's a little shorter guy, but he's thick. There's some guys down here, they give us fits some time. I mean that's a good thing.

QUESTION: You had mentioned one of the players told us last week you asked -- I guess Martin told us you asked the offensive scout team to hold the defensive players. Is that something that you do a lot of that during the year, like different things each week to try a different type motivation?
BRADY HOKE: Yes. Well, yeah. Yeah. I run the scout team, and I love running the scout team because I'm with those big guys up front. You know, those offensive linemen who are developing, and there's some times when I think it's important that the guys who are going to play in the game, make it as hard on them as possible.

QUESTION: Is that in reaction to the fact that your defensive line has improved so much that you needed another challenge to push them more?
BRADY HOKE: No. You know, when we do that, when we go against our defense, we want to score, because we're competing. And whether it's your look team or whatever, we want to win. And so if it helps out the look team a little bit, so be it, because we want to win.

QUESTION: Talking about the pregame festivities, do you get excited about the stuff on military appreciation day?
BRADY HOKE: Yeah. I want to tell you, it's awesome. It's what we all are thankful for those who have served this country and those who are serving, because coming from San Diego and having the relations that we were able to have with the Marine Corps and the Navy and you know, it's humbling for what they do for our country and for us, to be able to sit here today and get asked questions, some good, some not so good. But it is.

QUESTION: What's Darryl Stonum showing you?
BRADY HOKE: Oh, yeah. Yeah. He's -- yeah. I like Stonum.

QUESTION: Brendan was one for two on Saturday. What did you take from him?
BRADY HOKE: I thought he responded really well. And he laid the one out there a little bit too much. He just pushed it, you know. Because the snap, the mechanics of everything else, snap hold were all good. And that's what he said when he came off, you know. And I don't usually talk to them once they first come off, because he'll figure it out, you know. And he did a good job.

QUESTION: I know you were a little concerned in camp with his range. What have you seen?
BRADY HOKE: You know, I kind of want to say it's improving, to be honest with you. You know, I went out early just to watch our punt both ways and watch us kick into the wind, and he hit one, I don't know, it was 48 yards or something like that, and I was a little surprised, but he hit it right. You know, he hit it right. So I think I feel probably a little better about his range.

QUESTION: If you had to attempt a 50-yard, would you do it?
BRADY HOKE: Could be. Could be. I mean I couldn't tell you until the time comes. It's kind of instinct and feel.

QUESTION: That was 48 yards with the wind?
BRADY HOKE: Into it.

QUESTION: Into the wind?

QUESTION: Can you talk about Van Bergen's growth this season? He's defensive player of the week.
BRADY HOKE: Yeah. I think Ryan's done a really good job of each week, Angelique, I think he's improved. I think and when I say that, I'm talking about from a technique side and the visual keys that he has, and he's always wanting to do the extra so that he can be as good as he is, can be for his teammates.

QUESTION: Even though there's not a lot of captains, he seems to be the real team spokesman for the team. What do you think of him in that role?
BRADY HOKE: Yeah. He's earned the right, you know, as far as when you look at the work ethic in the off season, because that's where a lot of it starts, and how he prepares every week, how much film study, so guys see that, and how hard he practices.

QUESTION: Was there any light bulb moment with him, because it seems like, especially maybe in the Big 10 season he's really picked his game up.
BRADY HOKE: You know, I don't know. I mean that happens with guys, I think. You know, I've been around this enough to know that some guys all of a sudden they really get it, and maybe that's what happened.

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