Hoke's Roundtable – Week 1

Michigan headman goes in-depth on his running back depth chart, Devin Gardner's camp showing, Central Michigan, and more.

Question:  Talk about (special teams)…

Brady Hoke:  “I think Matt (Wile) and Kenny Allen both have done a really good competitive good job in the punting game.  Matt obviously will be the guy who punts.  I think having Scott Sypniewski in here as a backup snapper is really, really a great thing for us as a team.  Sometimes people don’t put the value on how important those guys are in the punt and field goal part of it.  Gibby (Brendan Gibbons) has been very good.  He has done a nice job.  Matt who is still part of the kick off and long field goals.  In the return game, there are a few more guys, but having Dennis (Norfleet) getting comfortable with the punts and catching punts.  They are much more different than kickoffs.  I think that has been a real plus for us.”

Question:  Will Jeremy Gallon still be handling punt return duties?

Brady Hoke:  “Norfleet will handle both.”

Question:  You got all six running backs on the sheet here, how many are in play the first game?

Brady Hoke:  “There are six on there; if six travels, six will play.”

Question:  You think all six will get snaps on Saturday?

Brady Hoke:  “Special teams, whatever it might be.  I don’t think all six will carry the football.  If they are going to travel, they have to contribute.”

Question:  How do you deal with the issues of expectations?  You set expectations here, but then going into this Big Ten season, Ohio State is a huge favorite in everybody’s mind, obviously you don’t feel that way.  Do you deal with that with your team, the expectations you expect even with seemingly a huge favorite in the Big Ten?

Brady Hoke:  “I don’t think we really worry about anybody else.  If we do that then we’re losing site of what is important and that’s us.  We have high expectations.  We have 42 Big Ten Championships that have come before.  We talk about that every day.  We’re trying to be the team that wins the 43rd.  I’ll be honest with you, we have got to worry about ourselves.  If we do a good job not having distractions, do a good job the way we come to work every day and the way we come to Schembechler Hall, then we’ll see.”

Question:  Obviously you use the same preparation process for every game, but after all these years is still something special about the opener for you?

Brady Hoke:  “It is not always the same.  Camp is not always the same.  It depends on what kind of camp you’re having.  When I say that, is the attitude right.  Are the guys coming in with energy, are they competing in everything that we do.  This camp was a little bit different than last year camp because you could feel that more.  I thought we gave them a little more time off.  We officially broke camp so mentally they could be 18-22 year olds for eight hours and then get back to work, and they earned it with how they practiced every day.”

Question:  Blake Countess told us last week that he is not on special teams this year.  Have you guys made any philosophical changes because of what happened to him?

Brady Hoke:  “No.”

Question:  Starters are still….?

Brady Hoke:  “There are still quite a few starters still up.”

Question:  It was just him?

Brady Hoke:  “He’s a backup and he can do those things.  #1 he is coming off the…even though he is completely healed.”

Question:  Two years ago you used mostly odd fronts and last year there were a lot more even fronts, especially against Ohio State, is that right and I was wondering why?

Brady Hoke:  “No.  I think really if you look at it, when we start getting into our sub packages, nickel, dimes, even though we have a base out of even, we have a base that we also use out of the odd.  Certain teams depending on their personnel group, depending on what they like to do out of those personnel groups and formational, you’ll be a little bit of both.”

Question:  During this camp was Devin Gardner everything you thought more or less?

Brady Hoke:  “I thought he had a very good camp.  Is he a good quarterback?  Yeah you’re darn right he is.  Has his leadership grown?  I don’t think there is any question.  Now it is a matter of the decision making every time and that has been better, but make sure that we’re making the right decisions, throwing the ball out of balls is a really good thing then trying to make a play because you have that ability, which he does, but you have got to be calculated in that.”

Question:  Does his decision making come down more than anything else to whether to run or throw?

Brady Hoke:  “It is probably more throwing the ball late over the middle, trying to force a throw to a receiver and maybe not going through progressions.”

Question:  Obviously, this year is kind of different for him because he has had a full fall camp to prepare for this start.  Have you seen a different mental side to him?

Brady Hoke:  “Yeah.  I think we all think, #1 he loves the game.  He loves to study the game, he loves to talk about the game.  He is an intelligent guy.  I think as he’s grown and matured that those elements and intangibles are there.  For him, I think he had a very good fall camp.”

Question:  Last week he said whether he got voted captain or not, he still needs to be a leader on the team.  What has he done to kind of stand out in that aspect?

Brady Hoke:  “I think you become natural to some degree when you’re playing that position.  You’re the one talking in the huddle, you’re the one who is front of everybody.  I think there is always a demeanor that you want to have for that guy whether he just got sacked or he threw a 19 yard first down, whatever it is.  The constant and consistency of the demeanor that you have to show and I think that has been improved upon.”

Question:  You talk a lot about offensive and defensive lines setting the tones for games.  Specifically offensive line, what kind of tone have they set, this group in particular these five?

Brady Hoke:  “We’re going to find out real quick, but I think they’ve really wanted to be a group that wants to pound the line of scrimmage and can open up creases and can get movement.”

Question:  Anything about Central Michigan stand out to you?

Brady Hoke:  “They’re well coached, I can tell you.  Dan does a nice job.  You look at their offensive line and the pad level they play with, defensively how they get to the football.  Their back is a 1500 yard back, which I think is always nice to have.  I think they’re well coached.  They beat a good Western Kentucky team.  If you look and follow the path of that team in the bowl game.  They are a Mid American Conference school, they’ve got a lot of pride.  They should, they’re a good program.”

Question:  How many carries would you like to see Fitz Toussaint get, not just Saturday but throughout the season, is there an average?

Brady Hoke:  “I don’t think we’ve narrowed that down.  I think if we can get 18-25, 30 runs that would be productive.”

Question:  There is a school of thought that says teams with spread offenses have soft defenses, is there any correlation between having power punishing run game and nastiness of a defense?

Brady Hoke:  “I think it helps your defense tremendously because of all the combination blocks from power football, lead plays, power plays.  It helps your guys up front when they have got to defend it every day.”

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