Hoke Breaks Down Team 133 (Part 2)

In part two of this four part interview with Brady Hoke at Big Ten media day, Michigan's second year headman discusses Denard, BWC and his penalty, night games, Devin playing 2 positions, Kovacs, Barnum, the RB situation, more.

Question: Can you talk about what Denard means and what kind of improvement you expect in year two with you?

Brady Hoke: "Well, I obviously now Denard's our quarterback. So any team that year quarterback is an important part of. I think his manner how he has grown and matured from a mental standpoint and then the manner in how really you look at the way his mechanics and understanding in offense. I think all of those things have been real positive. "

Question: You talked earlier about how Will (Campbell) came into your office, is that a measure how you use to determine guys who get to know who or how guys will operate either on the field or off the play whether they are voluntarily coming and they want to have a relationship with you?

Brady Hoke: "I think those relationships are always probably the most important. Because at the end of the day this game is mental. Your approached at how you prepare and everything else, is mental. I think in Will's case I think he is a guy who has continued to mature. I think it's a guy who I think he is the youngest of the seniors age wise, but he is a guy that just has continued to grow. I think when he sees the hard work pay off and his development I think that is important."

Question: Have there been more guys doing that this summer, I guess pop in with you than last summer? Do they feel more comfortable with you?

Brady Hoke: "They all have been pretty good since day one to be honest with you. Obviously, they know us a little better. They know who we are and what are expectations are so we probably have a few more."

Question: Coach, I'm from Nebraska, the last time you coached at Memorial stadium, you upset the Huskers.

Brady Hoke: "Yeah, 41 to 40. Yeah, Dante Love ten yard line."

Question: Can you talk a little bit about coaching at Memorial stadium?

Brady Hoke: "Oh, I tell you it's a great atmosphere. I mean you are talking about people who are passionate and they will be all red, that sea of red. It's a great facility. They will have a great football team. I mean Bo (Pelini) does a great job. So it will be fun. It will be fun walking through the crowd. They still do that through, you kind of walk through the crowd to the field.

Question: Yeah, a little bit.

Brady Hoke: "That's kind of cool."

Question: Do you have where you coached at Ball State is that one game where you remember vividly, that one?

Brady Hoke: "Well, you know in I think it was 1989 or 1990 I was at Oregon State, and we came out two years in a row. So it was a place where the people really respected good football. They knew football, and they respected the football and so you know going back there in 2006 or 2007, I don't know which year, 2007, yeah I think it was, but that was fun."

Question: That is one of three night games. What is your feeling about that?

Brady Hoke: "Well, I think we have got four. What's the feeling?"

Question: I know Lloyd Carr had his opinion about night games. What is your opinion about night games?

Brady Hoke: "You know, number one, my opinion does not matter as you know because. I think if you deal with them the right way and we kind of got a little bit as a staff because my last year at Ball State we had I think seven night games because (we were in the) MAC and weekdays. So we got a pretty good blueprint and formula of what we do. You know to help the guys as much as anything. That's a long day, so we really like what we are doing there. Then at San Diego State, you played in the Mountain West, quite a few night games, so I think the blueprint from what we used from an itinerary night before and day of game is pretty good. The negative is when you get back from Dallas at 4:00 a.m. and you're getting ready for your opponent on Sunday."

Question: Your kids, do they have an issue with it or not?

Brady Hoke: "Well I think it is hard on them. I think it is an issue. I mean these are students. You kind of look at what you do on Sunday. Really the issue becomes Sunday. How much do you do? So, I think later in the year maybe you do less. The less you do earlier in the year helps you in October and November from a health and body standpoint. So it is a double-edge sword. So do I think them? I would like to play at noon every Saturday."

Question: Sort of like Bo, one o'clock.

Brady Hoke: "Yeah, that's right.

Question: When you come into a this school because you've done this a couple of times now. How long does it really take for a program to become you and become your program and becomes your kids versus players that you have inherited?

Brady Hoke: "I think it is all different. I think every situation is different. It is no different than you have got twelve inside linebackers that are all going to be different. They are all going to react to certain things differently as a coach, to their coach and to what's going on, so I don't think you can ever put a measure on it because you will start with your senior leadership and how fast those guys who are your leadership components are on your football team. How fast they come together as a group."

Question: Here how long did it take?

Brady Hoke: "Shoot, I don't know. I don't know."

Question: Do you feel like it is now though?

Brady Hoke: "I don't know if I'll ever feel like it is."

Question: Why not?

Brady Hoke: "It's just how I work."

Question: Last year, you guys did try to add in some of that stuff right at the beginning similar to the 1997. Did you keep that going through the year or was it like a one time thing?

Brady Hoke: "We talked about it a lot. You know there were three (Navy) seals came in Wednesday night before Nebraska and presented our team with their tridents, what they had earned. Believe me we, I don't know what the right word is, but we embraced that culture."

Question: Now is that going to be a yearly thing where you have a theme every year or is that the theme for the program?

Brady Hoke: "We'll see.

Question: Do you have a theme for this year?

Brady Hoke: "We'll see.

Question: Why did you make that determination?

Brady Hoke: "Maybe I have. Maybe I haven't."

Question: The evolution of how you used Devin (Gardner), Al (Borges) talked a lot about that this spring, what about now? I mean how much can you do slash type stuff with it and still have him be your primary backup quarterback?

Brady Hoke: "You know because he has been in the system Sam now going on two years really basically, I think he is a smart guy to begin with. He is a very intelligent kid. I think that is a big part of it. I think there is a maturity that he has gone through that you know they all do. So I think him looking at how he can help his team and be a teammate is important to him. So I think that gives you a little more that you can do. I think one of the positive things is Russell Bellomy, we think is capable of doing some things so I guess it allows you to work Devin a little bit more at some different things and different positions where he can help the football team."

Question: Ideally how much would you want to see Devin at other positions?

Brady Hoke: "I don't know yet. I think because we did a little bit and I know through summer they have been doing some, when they are out doing seven on seven, but again until we get hands on or with them I think then we will make a determination."

Question: Did you and Al go and talk to anybody or have you had a player that has done that before? Are you and Al going to talk to guys who have done that?

Brady Hoke: "No, and I don't know how much Al has either. I mean it's a little different what we did with Woodson in 1997 is much different than what you do with Devin because of the position."

Question: Brady, can you talk about Jordan Kovacs? We talked about his desire to wear the winged helmet and going through the two walk-ons, how much valuable leadership that he can bring you this year?

Brady Hoke: "Well, I think any time you got a guy who is that passionate about his school and his teammates how he comes to work every day. How he comes in our building and what he does in the back end with the guys as far as not just getting them lined up, but he is very similar to being a coach on the field. He has a great love for the game and love for his teammates."

Question: Coach where have you seen this program come from one year to the next, what have you liked from last year to this year out of this group?

Brady Hoke: "I would say the first thing I probably think is, I think we know how to practice better. I think that always takes a little bit of an adjustment and so the physicalness with which we practice pads on or no pads on I think is important. I think them knowing what we are doing and having a better grasp. Like Jordan said the first time he will be through the same defense two consecutive years."

Question: How many coordinators are we talking about those kids have gone through?

Brady Hoke: "You know what Sam, what would it benefit."

Question: Some of them though that this was the third one for some of them.

Brady Hoke: "So, I mean which is hard for me to fathom to some degree."

Question: Have you seen drastic improvements in your players? Obviously, you have, you would have to say you have seen from one year to the next year?

Brady Hoke: "Yeah, I think their efforts I think in their accountability to each other I think we always want to be a team that is going to play with a toughness. I think we are a little tougher. I don't know if we're tough enough. You know were not physical enough. We have got a long way in my opinion to go that way."

Question: Brady I know you have had the question came up last year and I still get it. What is the process for Devin's red shirt? How does that happen? When does that happen?

Brady Hoke: "Well you know we will compliance in our trainers. We will send all of the information in and go to the league office first. Then in the league office usually what happens because of our league and all of that if they think it is okay then they will award him."

Question: Now is that something that happens next year or this year?

Brady Hoke: "Well we will start and Sam I don't know the whole timeline, but I think we will start sometime in mid fall, but again, for me to sit here and act like I am an expert…now I can coach nose tackles and that's about it."

Question: Can you tell me about your offensive line and the emergence of that? You got Taylor Lewan coming back with some of the other kids. I hear there is a lot of competition.

Brady Hoke: "I think that one has some moving parts to it. I think Ricky Barnum did a nice job in the spring at center. Obviously, David (Molk) was a very good center for us for a number of years, but I think the growth of Pat Omameh, who has played a lot of football, but he is bigger and stronger. Elliott Mealer who has played some. (Michael) Schofield at the other tackle played a lot of guard, more of a tackle though kind of body. I think it is a work in progress. I think there are four freshmen that are there right now."

Question: Can they realistically play? Because Bo would always say that is such a tough position, it would take you three years.

Brady Hoke: "I think it is, but at the same time if we start a freshman against Alabama by November, he will be a pretty good football player."

Question: Will Campbell was sentenced today, three months probation and community service, restitution, does that end his stuation with you?

Brady Hoke: "Yep."

Question: What else did you have him do?

Brady Hoke: "That's not your business."

Question: ESPN in Nebraska. I guess we will start off with you did have the off field program problems here. How much do you look forward to getting back on the football field and just getting into practice?

Brady Hoke: "Well I think we all want to get into practice. I think every guy here is itching to get back on campus and be with your kids. I think that is one of the things with the rules with the academic year. The academic year has changed because all of our kids are in school all year long. I think that is something that we need to look at as American Football Coaches Association to the NCAA. You look at basketball now. They get hours to work out with their guys and so they are in touch every day. I think that is an important part that we can be in touch every day with our guys."

Question: What do you do with the running back position now as you enter camp?

Brady Hoke: "Well we have got three guys and then two guys coming in who I think all are athletic. I think Vince Smith and Thomas Rawls, and Justice Hayes; all three of those guys have done a good job through the spring. I think Vince has played a lot of football for us. We will see as Fitz continues through the suspension. Attitude is everything. The things that we'll go through with him."

Question: You will obviously have people in when you have fall camp. Do have people come in and address discipline issues?

Brady Hoke: "Oh, you always do. I think we all do that. I think we all do a good job of it. You know they are eighteen to twenty-three years old. Some of them make bad decisions that aren't the standard of performance or the expectation."

Question: Tell me a little bit about getting to work with Denard the first year when you take over a program that it is nice to have somebody like that that can lead your program?

Brady Hoke: "Well it is. I mean it is always nice to have a quarterback who has game experience. Denard has so many qualities that there is a lot of that out there from an athletic standpoint that can change a game pretty quickly. I think his growth within the offense, I think his growth within the maturity and the leadership, I think he has done a nice job."

Question: Can you talk about what you think about the competitiveness was like your first year in the Big Ten?

Brady Hoke: "Well I coached in the league for eight years so it has always been competitive. I think it's a great league. I think when you look at the schools that are in the league from an academic standpoint, how we play football and how football is coached I think and the product that we put out there. I think it is a great conference and it's competitive.

Question: What was the one thing that you have to attack right away in fall ball from an experience standpoint or a position standpoint?

Brady Hoke: "Well I think both our lines, kind of a work in progress. I think if you would ask any of our coaches I think up the middle defensively, up front when you lose a guy like Mike Martin who had ability and played very well for us. Will Heniniger and (Ryan) Van Bergen, we got to replace those guys. I think Craig Roh and Jibreel Black moving inside has helped, but I think that part of it. Then I think our offensive line, I think it's the kind of had the bell cow in here with Molk for a number of years. Ricky Barnum has done a nice job through the spring, but we have got a lot of competition. Joey Burzynski is a kid out of San Diego that walked on. He is a good football player. Pat Omameh and Elliott Mealer, Mike Schofield and obviously Taylor, I mean we have got some freshmen kids and some younger kids who have made some… Jack Miller made some strides in the course of the summer."

Question: The dynamics of the special team has always been something of tradition at Michigan and I imagine it will be again this year. Pretty darn good.

Brady Hoke: "Well, we have got to do a better job in the return game. I mean kickoff returns, we were not very good. You can gain some first downs for your offense if you can move the ball down the field, but that is a big part of it. I think when you look at we'll have some competition punter with Will (Hangerup) and Matt (Wile). I think that is healthy and that is good. (Brendan) Gibbons came out last year and had a good year and made some great improvement. Now we will see again through the competition in fall camp where he is at."

Question: Obviously, Nebraska fans remember your last trip to Memorial Stadium and that epic ballgame that was put on. How much do you remember that and how much are you looking forward to returning?

Brady Hoke: "Well number one it's a great atmosphere. The one thing about Nebraska fans, they enjoy good football. That stadium is a great stadium. The sea of red that will be out there and walking from the locker room through the crowd a little bit is fun. It is a great place to play.

Question: Talk about the defense and where they are at as a unit at this point this year compared to last year and how much that year under the current coaching staff has helped?

Brady Hoke: "Well I think they are playing the same defense for two years in a row so I think that's kind of important, but I don't know if we can say where we're at yet until we get back into fall camp because we have so many moving parts up front. I think that is a big part of how we settle in and how we come together as a defensive front, I think will be important."

Question: Talk about the wide receiver group. Of course, you lost Junior Hemingway last year. Has anyone really stepped up into that role as the big Michigan wide receiver that we are used to?

Brady Hoke: "Well you know, I think Roy (Roundtree) is a guy that the year before had 72 catches or whatever. Is that right? Something like that wasn't it (71). So he has proven himself. He epitomizes the work ethic, being coachable, and a leader and all of those things and the toughness. I think (Jeremy) Gallon obviously emerged a little more last year. Jeremy Jackson has played a lot of football so. Drew Dileo has played a number of big snaps and made some big plays in critical situations. Then we have got other guys who are working hard and trying to prepare."

Question: You mentioned Roy; he had that success in a very specific role. Do you think you need kind of that game breaking, stretch the field kind of guy?

Brady Hoke: "Well, I think we will find out. I know he is long. He has got length to him. He has made some big catches. I think he does a nice job getting down the field and running routes. I think that is one of the things Jeff Hecklinski has done a tremendous job with our group and those teaching concepts and recognizing coverages and all of that and so I don't know why he couldn't."

Question: Brady I now you're an individual guy, but those jersey numbers we ask you all the time with numbers are legacy. Have you talked to the kids about this at all? Have you guys had any special discussions about what that will mean to these guys? I know that you don't like to put individuals ahead to the team.

Brady Hoke: "Well yeah, with Roy. Yeah, no doubt." Question: With all of the other ones too. I mean with the whole team, address this with them.

Brady Hoke: "We'll address it when it is appropriate, yeah."

Question: Do you like this concept?

Brady Hoke: "Yes."

Question: I mean what about it?

Brady Hoke: "Do I like?"

Question: Yeah.

Brady Hoke: "Well I think in this day and age number one it's we have got so many great players through our tradition that have been part of Michigan. I think it is a way to keep their legacy out there and I think it also is a way to pay tribute."

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