Hoke's Roundtable – Week 3

Brady Hoke likes his quarterback's superhero antics, but within reason. Even they understand that they have weaknesses... a message which passed along to Devin Gardner. Michigan's headman also discusses the performance of the offensive line, gives an injury update, and more.

Question: How are the injured guys doing, and can you assess how the injured guys are?

Brady Hoke:  “Well we need every man, believe me. AJ [Williams], we'll see how he goes along. I think the rest of them are going to be fine."

Question: A.J. [Williams] had an ankle, right?

Brady Hoke:  "Yeah."

Question: How many doughnuts do you think you'll have to buy Saturday?

Brady Hoke:  "Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes."

Question: Are you handing any out?

Brady Hoke:  "No. I don't think so."

Question: When you play a team like Akron or Central Michigan, what does the program gain from that – with the college football playoff approaching do you see those kinds of match ups falling by the wayside?  

Brady Hoke:  "Well if you look at our schedule in the future, we're trying and we are in a lot of ways transitioning, but when you say that, look at Akron, I look at a team that's got 22 transfers and coached very well, and 13 of those transfers are playing significant snaps. Two offensive line, one transferred from Florida State and one from Pittsburgh. Those are pretty good programs. And then they got a couple guys that transferred from Ohio. They've got a lot of good skill. They are rotating eight receivers through, both backs are hard runners, quarterback.  [Nick] Hirschman one of them, we recruited at San Diego State and then looked at him coming here, transfer from Colorado. They've got plenty of players and I think Terry [Bowden] has done a nice job with that program.  So to answer your question, probably not, but yeah if the playoffs are truly going to take strength of schedule or perceived strength of schedule into the equation, then I think we need to do that."

Question: How do you think the offensive line matched up physically?

Brady Hoke:  "It was pretty consistent, and when I say that, I think it was consistent.  They were some good things but some hit and miss with some others. That's what Darryl [Funk] was talking about when we met yesterday, talking about the game and all that. We just have to be a little more consistent, and things that we know we’ve seen and the targeting.  They decided to run linebackers through, which they hadn't done much of that, especially on the run downs, and so we had to adjust to that a little better than we did."

Question: After seeing the game tape is there anything else about Jeremy Gallon's performance that stood out to you?

Brady Hoke:  "It doesn’t surprise me because I get to see what he can do.  I think obviously there's a good chemistry there between both of those guys. I think at the same time, his work ethic from blocking and everything else, we ask a lot of that from our receivers, and he's one of the better ones at doing it - his toughness.  On the long touchdown I thought Jehu [Chesson] and his block just speaks to how we want our receivers to play."

Question: Because of that chemistry that he can Devin have, is it going to be hard for teams to do anything to take him out?

Brady Hoke:  "How much press man did you see last week? Not a lot, right. I think when you start…there's some teams coming up that are going to challenge him maybe more at the line of scrimmage. We'll see how we deal with that…I guess is the best way I can put it."

Question: Most people noticed the Chesson block on the long play.  How did he play in general beyond that and do we have any of those freshman receivers that we still might see in a receiving role?

Brady Hoke:  "Yeah, you could.  I can’t tell you that you will for sure because of where we’re at depth wise.  Missing Darboh hurts, Joe [Reynolds] probably wasn't 100 percent, but gave us some good snaps. He'll be 100 percent for this weekend. How we progress, and Da’Mario [Jones] is a guy who plays on special teams and is a backup we're trying to get ready. Csont'e [York] and [Jaron] Dukes may be guys, but I don't know if you'll see anybody else."

Question: Can you talk about better things you need from the three phases.  A week from now what do you hope you can say you did better? 

Brady Hoke:  "We'd like to still run the ball better from the tailback position. I think that's always going to be a constant. If we can control the line of scrimmage and do that.  Make sure we're targeting the perimeter the right way. Don't have any turnovers. Defensively, fitting the run better. They will spread you out and you will be in some seven-man fronts and really a five-man, six-man box. What we can do to get off blocks better, maybe engage a little bit more on their side of the line of scrimmage. In the kicking game, we got out of our lanes on a kickoff return that got out 50 yards. Had a punt that we'd like not to have and a kickoff we'd like not to have. And we had a dumb penalty on their kick off return, hit a guy out of bounds. That cost us yardage and field position."

Question: Can you chalk some of that up youth and inexperience and at what point do you start saying, okay you guys are old enough now.

Brady Hoke:  "We constantly talk about this isn't where you went to high school. This is big-boy football. There's not an excuse really for being young. So no, you can't chalk it up to being young."

Question: I think I saw something yesterday, since Devin took over last year at quarterback, I don’t think you guys have had an empty red zone possession whether by touchdown or field goal.  Is it too easy to say it is Devin or…?

Brady Hoke:  "It's never one guy. I think the offensive staff has done a nice job game planning red zones, taking advantage of what people give you. I think the execution has been pretty good. I think the one thing is we need to run the ball better in the red zone because that will keep opening up, some of the play actions."

Question: What did you feel about the 11 carries for Devin?  Some of them obviously he just has to take off but is that too much, is he taking too many shots?

Brady Hoke:  "I think one shot can get you. I thought he was maybe smarter in protecting himself. The one going in to the north end, he took some shots there because he was trying to get in the end zone. Do I worry about that? Yes."

Question: On Devin Gardner finishing runs….

Brady Hoke:  "I think he was smarter on how he ended some of those.

Question: Do you have a number (of minimum or maximum carries for Gardner) or is it circumstance?

Brady Hoke:  “Circumstance as much as anything."

Question: It looked like he got out of bounds when he could but maybe didn’t slide when he could have.

Brady Hoke:  “He won’t slide.”

Question: Why?

Brady Hoke:  “Because he is a competitor.  I don’t think that is in his DNA.”

Question: He is out there blocking on the reverse.

Brady Hoke:  "Yeah. Yeah."

Question: Could you talk about Jack Miller?  He talked about his strength.  He is a pretty smart guy.

Brady Hoke:  "Very smart.  I thought Jack, we were very happy with his performance. I think Jack used his strengths, which are his quickness, his leverage, and his intelligence, and played with those."

Question: You still haven’t lost a home game.  I know you haven’t though about it. 

Brady Hoke:  "I wish I knew.  There is probably something for your routine, comfort of sleeping in the same bed maybe.  I don’t know.  I can't answer that. Players playing hard at home."

Question: On the challenge, it looked like you were waiting there… 

Brady Hoke:  "I was waiting for a little bit of help from upstairs. (Question:  What where they looking at?) I can’t tell you exactly what their looking at.  I do think how they interpret the rule…I do think the ball hit the ground.  Did it move? If it moved it at all, they probably would have said it was an incomplete pass."

Question: Devin had a rushing touchdown that you tried calling a timeout on…

Brady Hoke:  "Yeah, because we were down to one second."

Question: Just a play clock thing?

Brady Hoke:  "Play clock, all the way."

Question: Was that the play you guys wanted?

Brady Hoke:  "Well he changed into the right thing. That's what took a little longer. They were holding it and holding it and holding it. So he's doing his mechanics, whatever that may be, and all of a sudden they finally show it. And now he's got to get back over and all that stuff. I'm looking up there and it's going two, one. Anything under five you start getting nervous."

Question: Is there anything about his decision-making right now that surprises you?

Brady Hoke:  "There were a couple things from a play standpoint that he could have gotten us into a better play. The interception, that's a bad decision. Take the safety, walk away. Let the defense go play defense."

Question: Is that the superman complex there?

Brady Hoke:  "I think that's part of it, but superman has to be smart, too, right?  He doesn’t eat kryptonite.”

Question: How do you think Devin would say about the interception being a bad decision.  He does like rolling out backwards and then spinning around away from the pressure.  Is that something that you try discourage that because he does make some plays on that sometimes?

Brady Hoke:  “You always like a quarterback to be able to step up in the pocket.  When that doesn’t come…I thought they did a nice job matching personnel off the outside.  If you saw every time that he was trying, he had to get out of the pocket because of the barrels or whatever inside.  Look at who is on the outside for them.  They were not going to put a defensive tackle and pop him out to contain him.  It was going to be a defensive back or one of those guys who is pretty darn athletic.”

Question:  Last year you guys put up six points with all the turnovers, this year 41. Is it as simple as turnovers and missed opportunities?

Brady Hoke:  “Obviously, the plan is always a little different because of what Denard [Robinson]’s strength are and what Devin’s strengths are.  I can remember in the lockerrom down there at halftime, we said heck to it, we are going to run the football.  We run the football and then we fumble down in the red zone.  We had another drive where we ran the football and we had another interception in the red zone.  The turnovers were huge, there was no doubt.” 

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