Hoke Sees Improved Physicality in Team 134

Michigan headman Brady Hoke reflects upon the "physical camp" his team just completed, the emergence of the veteran tailbacks, the battles at center and left guard, the injury situation heading into Saturday's match-up with Central Michigan, and more.

Brady Hoke:  “Thanks for coming out.  We’re five days away, but it is game week and that is exciting.  Our players, staff, everybody involved has worked hard sine January to get to this point.  We’re excited about the opportunity to see where this team is and we talk about never getting a second chance to make a first impression, so it is going to be exciting on Saturday.  We voted our captains yesterday and I think the four guys, Taylor Lewan, Jake Ryan, Courtney Avery and Cam Gordon are very deserving.  At the same time, I’ll tell you that whole class has done a tremendous job as far as leadership, teaching and helping to coach young football players.  We also had the opportunity last night to award three scholarships to guys who have walked on the program and have set a standard for work ethic and set a standard for toughness and for the love of their teammates and their love for MichiganJoe Reynolds, Graham Glasgow and Joe Kerridge were three guys most deserving and when you have the opportunity to do that as a coach, you always feel good because obviously it is helping their families out and more than that the guys have earned it.  Courtney Avery had arthroscopic surgery on Saturday night on cartilage and it should be a little bit of a set back but everything went well.  He is in great spirits and he’ll be back on the field soon.”

Question:  Coach any other injury updates?  Jake Ryan is he still on schedule to come back in October?

Brady Hoke:  “I think so.  It is hard for me to say, but I know Paul Schmidt and the people who are with him day to day, as far as working him out and seeing him move around.  He is doing some drill work with the outside linebackers, a little bit of pass rush at times with Coach Mattison.  We don’t want to get him too far ahead without being careful with him at the same time.”

Question:  Without Courtney who was leading at safety, what is the ripple effect?

Brady Hoke:  “Josh Furman has been a long time, he’s had a good fall.  Dymonte Thomas is a young freshman.  Jarrod Wilson has played a lot of football.  That’s helped us.  What we want to do back there as a group.”

Question:  Is Josh the first guy in?

Brady Hoke:  “He’s battling for it.”

Question:  As much talk as there was about the young guys, it looks like the veterans held up quite well in fall camp.  Can you talk about how you are looking at that?

Brady Hoke:  “I think #1, those veterans guys, they have some personal pride.  We recruited two freshmen, who we are very proud to have here and be really good football players.  Drake Johnson has really done a tremendous job all through his time at being at Michigan.  We were fortunate enough last year to redshirt him and the job he did on the look team down there and the job he did during bowl practice, we thought this guy has got a great chance.  Thomas Rawls and Justice (Hayes) have all competed at a high level.  Fitz is back and you can see it on Saturday.  Just some of the things we did and we didn’t do a whole lot and then on Friday he looked very good again and he feels good.  It is what it is right now.”

Question:  Have you defined the passing down back yet?

Brady Hoke:  “I think all these guys.  Fitz is really good at protection and really good out of the backfield, so is Drake.  I think they’ve all shown that capability, so I don’t know if it is clear cut as it has been in the past.  We feel better about the characteristics that they all bring to our running back position.”

Question:  You’ve mentioned a few times over the years that the goal is to win the Big Ten.  Now that you’ve gone through fall camp and you’re heading in, what do you like best about that team that is forming before your eyes?

Brady Hoke:  “I like how they’ve practiced.  I think we as a staff like how they’ve come out every day.  We just got done with a walkthrough and it is a fast paced walkthrough.  How they’ve learned from the offensive side of it.  I think the physicalness up front is better, even though there is some targeting issues with young guys who haven't played a lot.  Targeting the right guys and maybe the footwork and some of the fundamentals that we need to keep cleaning up.  Defensively, I think the depth especially up front.  The four guys who will start for us up front, there is only 17 career starts between all four of them.  Frank (Clark) has played a number of plays.  Quinton Washington has played a number of plays and Jibreel (Black).  Keith Heitzman hasn’t played a lot of plays and neither have any of the guys who are behind all those guys.  The way they’ve come out and worked and been physical.  This has been a pretty physical camp.”

Question:  You’ve talked the last four weeks about Jack Miller that he was going to be the center at some point and he is now on the depth at center.  Can you talk about what he’s done the last four weeks and what has Graham Glasgow done that he is your starter at left guard?

Brady Hoke:  “I think both of them have played well.  They’ve executed well.  I think both of them are intelligent young men and that is huge especially when you’re the center because of the calls and communications that you need to have.  Both of them have been physical.  Chris Bryant has fought hard and so has Ben Braden but Graham just came in here and the five best on the field at the same time and he is one of the five.”

Question:  Last year, how many times did we talk about the offensive line last year and it was not your favorite subject to talk about.  Do you look at this group, your five that you have, are you convinced that they are going to produce and give you the kind of running game that you want?

Brady Hoke:  “We really like them.  I liked the guys last year, don’t get me wrong.  I really like how Taylor (Lewan) and Mike Schofield have done a really good job of pushing these guys and teaching them as much as anything.”

Question:  You mentioned physicality and you talk often about hearing football, where else are you able to see this in this camp, how much more physical this team has become?

Brady Hoke:  “Whether we have pads on or we don’t have pads on, the way they play and the speed that they’re playing with together.  I think you get used to each other a little bit.  That is where they’re at right now.  They’re ready to play somebody else and have a benchmark of where we’re at and I’m sure we’re not going to be where we want to be after Saturday.  It is just how they’ve all come to practice and the tempo of our practices.  I think it has been a really good teaching month for us and that’s the upper classman doing a lot of good teaching to the young classman.”

Question:  Is physicality something that you’re emphasizing more this year?

Brady Hoke:  “I don’t think so.  I think we’ve always wanted to be a physical football team.”

Question:  Four captains is a bit of a rarity, what decides on  how many captains are chosen each year?

Brady Hoke:  “Their teammates.  They’re the ones who decide.”

Question:  If four guys have much more votes than the other ones?  Is there some sort of criteria?

Brady Hoke:  “Honestly, it is the way the votes came out.”

Question:  You have Blake listed at two positions in the secondary does that mean that Channing Stribling, does that mean Channing is the first corner off the bench when you go to that nickel package and if so, how has he grabbed that position?

Brady Hoke:  “I wouldn’t say that that is a for sure deal with Channing.  I think he is a guy who is competing for that.  (Delonte) Hollowell is competing for it, I think Jourdan Lewis is competing for it.  It could be any one of those three guys.”

Question:  You’ve been saying for quite a while that this is a young team, a young team to try almost temper the enthusiasm, but in college football can you still use that as an excuse, because they are grasping things much faster now than they did previously?

Brady Hoke:  “I think a lot of it has to do with guys coming for summer school and being on campus, understanding the expectations in the weight room, in the conditioning.  The older guys, the seniors doing a great job of teaching what cover-6 is or whatever a route is.  I think that helps some, but at the same time, freshman are going to hit a wall some time.  The stress of the academics, being away from home and playing on a big stage.”

Question:  A redshirt freshman won the Heisman Trophy has people saying let us accelerate the maturation process faster than it should?

Brady Hoke:  “I don’t think that has anything to do with it, I really don’t.  Obviously, Johnny Manziel won the Heisman as a young guy.  There are a lot of factors, that football team itself and what they did is part of it.  I don’t know if that comes in.”

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