Hoke: "It is (a rivalry) for us"

In Brady Hoke's Q & A session with the media Monday he made very clear his feelings about the significance of Michigan's rivalry with Notre Dame.

Brady Hoke’s Opening Remarks:

Brady Hoke:  “Thanks for coming out. I know some of you would rather be on a boat on a lake, but it's football season so you don't have that opportunity. You know, as far as last weekend, I was pleased we won the game. At the same time there were a lot of things that we’ve talked about as a football team, and as a staff, that we can do better. There’s a lot of work. There’s no excuse for some of the penalties we had from a coaching standpoint and a playing standpoint. We had a couple returns that Dennis (Norfleet) did a nice job on, but obviously were canceled out. The turnovers - can't have three turnovers. We lost five games a year ago, and we had 18 turnovers in those five games.  From a defensive perspective, we got two turnovers, but we need to get more. There were a lot of good things, but for us to be a championship football team we have to do a much better job in how we play. I thought the tempo in the first half and a little bit of the second quarter from an offensive point of view wasn't really what we needed. I think they got a rhythm and they started to do some very good things. Obviously Devin (Gardner) has a great ability, either running with the football and throwing the football, so I think he helped us a ton at times in there. When we settled down a little bit, we got into the run game pretty well. I thought the defense stood up well in some sudden change situations. We got to play a lot of guys. I think there were 11 true freshmen and 14 redshirt freshmen who played in the football game. So that was good because they need the experience.  As you know and I know, this is a different week. It's a great rivalry game that's been played starting in 1887. It's a great rivalry game, and it's always a lot of fun. The atmosphere here, if you were here for the first night game, the second one should be just as fun. So with that, any questions?”

Question:  Derrick Green was fifth on the depth chart headed into last game, he’s second on this weeks.  What did he show you?

Brady Hoke:  “Well he ran the ball very well. Don't put all the stock in all the depth charts all the time. There's going to be a lot of guys who are going to handle the football. But I thought, and Fred (Jackson) though, and Al (Borges) thought that he did a nice job on the carries he had. He missed a read in there one time that we would have liked to have a little better. But at the same time I thought with Fitz (Toussaint), it was good to get him back on the field. He made some really good cuts. He did a good job in protection. And we thought De'Veon Smith did a nice job. And (Thomas) Rawls he had a good run in there. So there are a lot of guys right now that we're counting on.”

Question:  In my review of the tape, the tight ends didn’t block particularly well. Was I wrong?

Brady Hoke:  “I thought A.J. (Williams) did better. I thought he got better as it went on. (Devin) Funchess, we don't ask him to as much. The one thing on the stretch play, (Central Michigan) they really targeted it differently with their linebackers. They really, depending on the formation shift, really stretched the linebackers. You have different calls at the line of scrimmage. Some are interior, some are exterior. Exterior would be outside, right? Right. (Laughter) Exterior for the support systems and how you want to handle that. Second time through, we got on them pretty good.”

Question:  You wanted to see how the interior line played together on film; what were your thoughts on that?

Brady Hoke:  “You know, for the most part, and not entirely obviously, they did a pretty good job. They're a pretty stout group, especially the two guards. So for their first time out there with live bullets, I think they did a good job.”

Question:  Brian Kelly said yesterday that he felt like this was a good historic college game, not a historic rivalry for Notre Dame.  What do you think?

Brady Hoke:  “Well I think you just said it, For Notre Dame.”

Question:  So it is for you?

Brady Hoke:  “It is for us, yeah. Everybody looks at everything differently.”

Question:  What do you like about Channing Stribling, in that when you go to your nickel defense, he comes in and Blake Countess moves down to cover the slot receiver.  What do you like about that set up?

Brady Hoke:  “Two things. I think number one, when you have a guy who's athletic like Blake that can cover slot receivers, I think that's part of it. The other part, I think Strib and Jourdan Lewis both have had pretty good fall camps. They both battle, and they're competitive. Strib's 6’2” and he's long and he's got long arms, and he's got a lot of leverage.  We think he's a pretty good football player. ”

Question:  You don’t have any concerns with putting him on an island this early?

Brady Hoke:  “Gotta get there some time.”

Question:  You obviously think of this as a true rivalry.  What are some of the elements that you think of when it is Michigan-Notre Dame that make big and the reason you don’t want to see it go away?

Brady Hoke:  “Number one, I think it's great for college football. Gameday's been here six times for this football game. That's pretty significant if they're coming to this campus or the campus in South Bend. It must have some sort of national appeal. I think also from the standpoint….coaching a lot of places, maybe it's just me, but I know one thing when Michigan and Notre Dame was on TV, I was going to be watching it. I know people out in Corvallis, Oregon are going to be watching that game for one reason or another.”

Question:  Talk to me just a little bit about with a young team, if you want to build up that big game kind of hype, is it good? Is there a kind of balance that you have to tread there?  What is the biggest thing that you would like to see your team improve on from last week on both sides of the ball?

Brady Hoke:  “Does that make you a little nervous when you have a young football team? You know, them playing in this environment? I think the best thing we do is we try and educate them. What it's going to be like. Started that last night. They're off today. So Tuesday we'll talk more about the atmosphere and have some of the older kids talk about what that atmosphere will be like. That's part of it. With technology today, you can show them it and then you talk about not being distracted. Taking care of your job, being accountable to the teammates on this team.  Offensively and defensively, from a defensive standpoint, Central had a drive in there where they ran the ball. They ran the ball, in our opinion, too well. There are some things... when you look at how you fit a defense, who's taking care of double teams or combination blocks so a linebacker can get over the top.  It's those kinds of fundamental things. Also we gave up a third and 17 and a third and 20 for first downs. The coverage was not exactly where it should have been, or we didn't break on the ball, multiple reasons, but that bothers you. Offensively, we have to start faster. We need to start a little faster. We need to do a better job running the ball this week. Their front seven and their front guys are going to be bigger guys. Guys we had some problems with a year ago. We have to be much better in that area, blocking the line of scrimmage.”

Question:  I know you guys try to look at every game as a game no matter what, but the fact that this is the last Michigan-Notre Dame game scheduled at Michigan Stadium; does that change anything for you?

Brady Hoke:  “I don't think it changes because the significance of the just the rivalry itself is so good. I don't know if that changes anything from our outlook of how we'll go about our business.”

Question:  You won't go into it any differently? Personally?

Brady Hoke:  “No. Not really.”

Question:  Will Courtney Avery play? Joe Reynolds? Can you talk about the pass rush?

“You know, I think Courtney's close. I can't tell you if he will or not. Joe should be fine. He feels pretty good each day, gets a little better. Pass rush, I would say at times we were pretty good. I was really thinking through some of the different calls that we made. We messed up a couple inside gains that we need to do a better job of executing. Getting a guy's hat into a crease and all those things. It was okay.”

Question:  Three sacks, 4-1/2 tackles for a loss, force fumble and a pass breakup that’s what you got out of your SAM linebacker position on Saturday.  How much do you attribute to just the type of kids that Brennen Beyer and Cam Gordon are; how much is the role that that position occupies in your defense?

Brady Hoke:  “I would say this, because they played multiple roles, they played on the line of scrimmage with their hand down, they played up over a tight end.  Personally, I think a lot of it you've got to give credit to them because of how hard they've worked and what they've done from a physical standpoint, lifting and all that stuff. And I would also say Roy Manning's done a really good job with those guys. Roy being a former outside linebacker, I think he speaks the same language and has been there before and so I think that's helped.”

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