COACH HOKE: Thanks for coming out in the interest of Michigan football. My guys, I thought, played their best football game as a team on Saturday. I'm saying that from the kicking game to offensively and defensively. I thought they all complemented each other well. We had a great day yesterday as far as putting that game to bed and moving forward, you know. This is a special week, because you play in the greatest rivalry there is in sport. When you get the chance to play or coach in this game, it's always a fun week.So we've got a lot of work to do, because we're not where we need to be in any sense as far as the team that we envision ourselves being and we expect to be.
QUESTION: What does this senior class mean to you and this program and how much special will their legacy be even more special if they do win Saturday?
COACH HOKE: Well, the seniors always are out in the forefront. This is a group of guys who have been through a lot. They've hung together well and done a nice job of preparing weekly. Just not preparing themselves, but their preparing their teammates. So they've got to keep that up and be consistent in what we do and how we prepare.
QUESTION: Can you remember the first time you ever watched this game and said to yourself, I want to be a part of that?
COACH HOKE: Wow. Boy, John, I can't remember how old I was or anything, but, you know, my dad had a chance and played for Woody Hayes and loved Coach Hayes. You know, I just that game, you always you're always watching it. So I can't tell you how old I was or anything else, but it's always been a special significance at 12:00 noon that last Saturday in November or the Saturday before Thanksgiving when it used to be played then. You were watching that football game.
QUESTION: Why do you call them Ohio instead of Ohio State? Any message you're sending there?
COACH HOKE: No. Always have.
QUESTION: You always have?
COACH HOKE: Yeah.
QUESTION: Since when?
COACH HOKE: Always. So whenever always is. (Laughter)
QUESTION: When you took over at Michigan, did you spend any time studying what Bo did in 1969, either how he transitioned to the job or what he went through that season? Did you take any notes?
COACH HOKE: You know, no. I think I probably was well educated before, you know, being here for eight years and Bo still being with us.But, no, you know, there is a significance. We all the biggest thing is the respect that those two programs have had for each other for years. I can remember Bo always talking, and Lloyd and Mo, you know, of the great respect. That's what makes it such a great game, I mean, because of how both teams will come in prepared, how both teams will play. It's a hard hitting, clean, football game. Always has been. You know, you can be the favorite and the underdog, but none of that matters in this football game. It never does.
So it's special because of the pridefulness that both teams have.
QUESTION: Do you remember where you were the last time Michigan beat Ohio State back in 2003? And how motivated is this program to end the losing streak?
COACH HOKE: I have a problem remembering what I did yesterday. I don't know where I was. I was probably coaching a football game. Yeah.
QUESTION: You said you've called Ohio State Ohio forever.
COACH HOKE: Always, I said… not forever.
QUESTION: Always. Did that mess you up at all when you were in the MAC and you were actually playing...
COACH HOKE: Bobcats. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Is that seriously what you did? You called them Bobcats all the time?
COACH HOKE: You know, I had two nieces who went to school there.
QUESTION: Talk a little bit about how quickly things can change? This time last year Michigan was struggling and Ohio State was riding high. Now roles appear to be reversed. Talk about how quickly things can change?
COACH HOKE: Well, I think it's in life. Things change every day. You know, babies are born; people die; things happen all the time.It's just how things are. I mean, you know, our teams are different every year. We'll be a different team next year than we are this year. Good or bad, I have no clue.But I just think there are things, and when you're in athletics and the competitiveness and the chemistry and everything that's part of successful teams, you know, it just changes. Changes a lot for one reason or another.The one thing I do know though: This game is a game that's played by people who care about their institutions, the guys that are out there, the guys who played before 'em, and they'll care about either school in the future. That's what this game represents, because of the respect.
QUESTION: Coach, with what you just said about this game, is it fair to say that if you lose this would be considered maybe a disappointing season although you won nine games?
COACH HOKE: Well, look, our goal is win the Big 10 Championship, period. That's an expectation. It's an expectation at Michigan.You know, we've got one more guaranteed opportunity, and we started with 12. This is the 12th one. We've got to prepare like we have and play our best football.
QUESTION: Talk about the countdown clocks and the days since the last win over Ohio State, how that idea game about.
COACH HOKE: You know, you want to motivate your players on a daily basis. It's just a reminder. It goes back to the great rivalry that this game is. You know, there is a clock for the great rivalry when we play Michigan State.
So those two games have always held a significance in Michigan football history, and they will continue to.
QUESTION: With all the excitement and with all the momentum that you guys have, how hard is it to keep emotions in check throughout the week and keep your guys' focus?
COACH HOKE: I can only judge from what I've seen to this point. It seems like we're a pretty grounded right now. Hopefully we'll do a good job as coaches, you know, of making sure that our guys worry about the things that matter. That's how you line up and compete on every play and how you execute on every play. That's our job, and the job of our seniors, also.
QUESTION: Did you expect to see any of that chippy-ness in practice that you tend to like?
COACH HOKE: I hope. I always like it. So if I like something, I like to see it, you know.
QUESTION: Is there a single moment or a single game from in this series from when you were here as assistant coach that has always stuck with you?
COACH HOKE: Well, you know, sure, John. Yeah, there are some good and some bad, you know. The '97 game was obviously memorable because of I think the competitiveness of both teams. Then I think and I can't remember the year going up there and Clarett made a great play late in the game to really secure the win for them.
QUESTION: Since you got here, you've talked about November is championship football. What does it mean that this team put together its best game last week and this late in the season heading into the big one?
COACH HOKE: Well, I don't know if it means anything until we see how they play this week, you know, I mean, how we prepare and how we go out there and play.We hope to get better every week. That's part of what we believe in as a staff. We hope we get better every day and improve from a fundamental side and technique to demeanor that we want to play the games with.
So you can't answer that question until probably about 4:00 on Saturday afternoon.
QUESTION: Brady, you talked about how you guys talk about the game ever day. Can you talk about how you guys put emphasis on it throughout the whole season and maybe what special you're going to do this week. You talk about the Brown Jug when you play Minnesota.
COACH HOKE: Yeah, we just talk about playing Ohio.
QUESTION: On that first day, I asked you a question and you went on the, This is Michigan thing.
COACH HOKE: You're the one who asked that?
COACH HOKE: I was wondering who asked that. I couldn't see so good. (Laughter.)
QUESTION:Yeah. That was me. On that day, if I would have told you that you would be on the verge of potentially ten wins, a potential BCS Bowl, would you have believed me on that day?
COACH HOKE: Oh, I don't know. Look, I don't look too far in the future about anything besides handling the business at the time.So I don't know. You know, I think the one thing is this senior class that's been through an awful a lot: three head coaches, three assistant coaches, you know, as far as positionally, some of 'em four.
The credit goes to them in how they have responded and how they've led. You know, I'm proud of this class. So I couldn't tell you speculation about anything or hypotheticals.
We're just trying to get better every day as a program.
QUESTION: While we're looking back to that day, you were pretty fired up, pounding the podium talking about Ohio. How much of that did you know you were going to do in terms setting the tone about that was the game and how much of it just kind of came out?
COACH HOKE: Well, believe me, if you remember, it wasn't scripted. Somebody asked me a question. I answered a question.
QUESTION: As a follow up about the seniors, sometimes transitions aren't so smooth.
COACH HOKE: You know, I can't tell you that it was quick. I think we have done some things together from a trust standpoint throughout winter conditioning and that whole semester, spring ball and those things. I think that's all part of it. I think our honestly, which sometimes is tough love and sometimes is kissing guys on the cheek when they do things right has been a part of it.So I just think they also, as a group made, a decision that they're going to stay together and they were going to have a purpose and a purpose for Michigan.
QUESTION: You mentioned the importance of games like Michigan State, Ohio. For these seniors, some of them have never won a game against either. Do you sense they feel like their legacy is on the line?
COACH HOKE: You know, I think to be honest with you, I think some of 'em probably are putting a little too much on themselves than they need to. All you got to do is go out there and play for the guy next to you and play as hard as you can and with the greatest toughness you have. Let it go. You know, win or lose, they're going to go out and play hard. Both teams are. Because that's the character of both these programs. So that's what makes the whole week exciting. It makes it fun. Because you know at 12:07 or whenever we kick off here, there will be two teams on the field playing for the pride of their schools and the tradition of those programs and what it stands for.To me, that's what makes it the greatest rivalry.
QUESTION: They obviously have a quarterback who can move around a little bit.
COACH HOKE: Yeah.
QUESTION: Talk about the job of containing him.
COACH HOKE: It's a tough job, I think. I've got to watch I think five games now, or four games. He's impressive. He has everything coming out he's a Wayne High School guy. They used to be in our league when I was in high school.But he does a great job for 'em. I think the way he handles himself, I think how under pressure he's played, I think he throws the ball, has a great, strong arm. I know his percentage isn't what it will be or would like to be, but I think he's done a tremendous job. We've got our work cut out. Then you put Herron in there, I mean, he's a great back.
QUESTION: When you took over the job and started recruiting in Ohio, what was the reception you got going into schools the first time? What were they saying and what did you think you had to prove to them?
COACH HOKE: Well, I don't know. You know, I'm fortunate enough that I've recruited that state at two different schools and being from the state. There is a lot of those high school coaches I've spent love of time with either from a recruiting standpoint, clinic standpoint. A lot of come up to our clinic for years during spring ball. You know, talked a lot football with 'em when I was here for eight years as the defensive line coach. Then being in the Dayton area, there are a lot of guys I know down there. So I know the quality of football in that state and how it's coached. It's always been an important part of Michigan football, those guys who come play up here in Ann Arbor.
QUESTION: For a few years before you got there, Ohio did a pretty good job of keeping the borders closed and not letting a lot kids up there. When you come in with the Michigan logo on your chest, what sort of uphill battle did you have to face?
COACH HOKE: You know, I can't answer if there was an uphill battle or not. We're just going to be who we are. You know, be honest with people and those kind of things.
QUESTION: Obviously when you came in, you established you wanted a physical, tough team. How much of your philosophy with that was sort of shaped by coaching in this game and even just watching?
COACH HOKE: I think it was shaped earlier than that, but this game yearly, I think on the Big Ten Network this was before the season they were showing some of the great classic Michigan Ohio games. Just how hard those guys played, you know. We had that bad turf and everything else in the stadiums. But it was the physicalness that they played with. It was fun. It was football. They're running ball and stopping the run.
QUESTION: You mean from the '70s, those kinds of games?
COACH HOKE: Oh, yeah.
QUESTION: Everybody knows I think the streak that Ohio State has right now is seven straight. How much do you emphasize that? How much does that hang over you, do you think, going into the game?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, to be honest with you, I haven't talked about that at all with our team and probably won't. We've got educated young men that are here. We're a great university. I think me telling 'em that would probably insult them in their intelligence.
QUESTION: We didn't see Vincent Smith on Saturday. Is it an injury?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, his shoulder is banged up a little bit. He could have played. Just got to a point and Hop did a nice job in there in some pass protection stuff. You know, which stuff I think is really coming on in a lot of different areas.So it was one of those decisions, third quarter ish, that you know, let's just see.
QUESTION: He'll be back this week.
COACH HOKE: Oh, yeah.
QUESTION: How well do you know Luke Fickell, and does the human side of you at all have empathy for the situation he got thrown into?
COACH HOKE: Well, it's always tough. Luke is a guy who I have a lot respect for. When we are at Ball State we went up and talked defense with him and Haycock and all those guys. They were always very open and really good people.
QUESTION: Do you get excited to play another defensive minded coach?
COACH HOKE: The one thing, Luke is not playing and neither am I. So really that has nothing to do with it, to be honest with you. Neither one of us are playing. It's preparing our kids to play their best.
QUESTION: You mentioned that it doesn't matter if you're the favorite or the underdog in this game, but once you're on that field, how much does momentum play in this game?
COACH HOKE: I think it's like every game: you've got to take care of the football. You can't give the football to the opponent. You know, ball security. The decisions that you make. Reducing the number of big plays, you know. Your field position that you gain or lose in the special teams. I mean, to me, it's all that kind of stuff.
QUESTION: A lot's been said about the improvement of your defense and the scheme being used. What do you see that the defense is doing better yourself than when you took over in the spring?
COACH HOKE: Well, I'll tell you what they have done: Number one, there are four coaches over there doing a great job at teaching. There are seniors like Martin and Van Bergen and Woolfolk, J.B. Fitzgerald, that have done a tremendous job of understanding that you start with the fundamentals, you start with the technique, and start with your discipline that you're going to play each one of those things with, with your eyes. Then the ability to get 11 hands to the ball and the demeanor that they're going to play with in that way.
QUESTION: On how they'll prepare for DeVier Posey without much film of him from this season.
COACH HOKE: Well, like you said, you've got to you know, there are some good receives in this league that have done a nice job; there are some good receives that we've played. He's right up there with all those guys, so, you know, really it comes down to because you can study all you want but it comes down to how you actually play, especially in the back end, with the discipline of your eyes and alignments and your feet.
QUESTION: You guys are 9 2 and have had a good season. Of course a lot will be defined by this game. How do you handle the pressure of that not just for you but for your team to know that you've already accomplished could be changed, altered somehow by the outcome of this game?
COACH HOKE: Be consistent. Be consistent with how you've coached all year long. I think that's one thing we've always tried to do. Win or lose on a Saturday, we do the same things. We practice the same. We have the same expectations in practice, in their film study, in their preparation. You know, I may look at this different, but this is fun. I mean, are you kidding me? Our kids, this has got to be fun. You know, it's hard work and it should be, because nothing you do that comes easy you know, it's hard. So it's fun for 'em.
QUESTION: Do you think they'll find it fun this week?
COACH HOKE: I hope so. That's a good question for them. But it's fun.
QUESTION: You talk about coaching consistently. This week, does it get more intense at practice, or do you just kind of let it go as if you were preparing for Nebraska?
COACH HOKE: We've been intense pretty much all year in how we practice. I know one thing from being here before for eight years: You don't have to do a whole lot of coaching thins week. You don't have to do a whole lot of butt chewing and getting a guy to run to the ball or take on a block. Not this week.
QUESTION: I know there used to be blocking pads. Are those out in practice this week?
COACH HOKE: Nope.
QUESTION: As a fan of the rivalry and a guy who participated in it, are you at all angry about the seven game losing streak and being outscored 120 24 the last three seasons.
COACH HOKE: That's not very good. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: No, it's not.
COACH HOKE: Well, I agree with you.
QUESTION: Which part.
COACH HOKE: That it's not very good.
QUESTION: You said that.
COACH HOKE: But you agreed.
QUESTION: I do agree. I think. Who's on first... For you as a coach, a guy who's always loved this school, does that make you angry looking at with where the rivalry has gone?
COACH HOKE: For me to be angry about it doesn't do anybody any good. It is what it is. I think it's 21 29.
You know, there's a lot of guys who have played here in this program and there's a lot guys who will play on Saturday that we have to make sure we're giving them every opportunity to play their best football as coaches.
So my emotional state doesn't help anybody. I'm in a very good emotional state right now. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Do you bring up the BCS with the guys at all?
COACH HOKE: No.
QUESTION: And what a win would mean?
COACH HOKE: It's not important. Number one, we don't make any decisions. Secondly, it's not important.
What's important is what we do today when they come in to look at some film on the opponent. Then how we practice Tuesday; how we practice Wednesday; Thursday; how our meetings go on Friday night and the walk through Saturday morning. Those are things that are important. We have nothing to do with we don't make the decisions. We had 12 guaranteed opportunities. We've got to finish. That's what this game is. it's a finishing game.
QUESTION: Do you change up the practice schedule at all this week?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, because of Thanksgiving we're going to go in the morning on Thursday. Then we've got Thanksgiving dinner, about 500 people because parents are coming in and all that. Going to be a lot fun.
Monday Full Transcript: Coach Hoke
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