Brady Hoke Opening Statement: “It was a very good win. This past weekend, the homecoming, the Brown Jug, multiple things that were good. There was improvement, which you want every week, fundamentally and with technique, and we have to continue that at all positions. I think two penalties and no turnovers, probably as much as anything, besides winning, that we accomplished, was very good for us as a football team, and something for us to really make sure that we pay attention to. I think we do, but the significance of that was huge, to be plus two in turnover margin.”
Question: Losing Ondre, obviously… how does that affect kind of what you guys are doing?
Brady Hoke: “Well, Richard Ash, and – you know, we have some multiple guys. Willy Henry can play the three; Ryan Glasgow. You know, your heart goes out for Ondre because of the hard work he’s put – any guy who gets hurt, obviously, but I’m pretty close to him because I coach him, so it’s something that’s a little bit of adversity for him, obviously, and for our team, but just like anything else, we’ll keep working together and get through it.”
Question: Will Pipkins be able to get a redshirt?
Brady Hoke: “I think that’s all something that we’ll have to appeal and do all that stuff with, because it’s way too soon to say it is or it isn’t.”
Brady Hoke: “Well I think Chris – I’ll start with Chris – I thought he did some real good things. There are some things he needs to do better, and when you look at some pass protection sets, that part of it. I thought Graham, his first start in there at center, did a nice job with the snaps, most important, and did a nice job. He’s a big body, and I think we were pleased with how he went about his business in there.”
Question: How did you make the decision to use Devin Funchess the way that you guys did this past weekend; and where do you see his role best served on the team going forward?
Brady Hoke: “Probably just what you said, whatever best serves the team will be his role, and he’s a bit of a mismatch problem. He’s 6’6”, maybe 6’7”, I don’t know how tall he is, but he has a lot of length to him; he has good speed. I think he played out in space like that all through high school. He never really was an on-the-line tight end, and I still think he has that ability, and especially when you look how his development from a physical standpoint over his career here, you know, he’s going to be a little bigger, he’s going to be a little stronger, and that’s going to help him a little bit.”
Question: Before you put Bryant in the starting lineup, you had talked about Joey Burzynski at the left guard spot. Can you just talk about his development?
Brady Hoke: “Yeah, you know, Joe has done a really nice job since he’s been here. He’s always been competitive, he’s a very intelligent guy, he picks things up well, he’s smart. Fundamentally he’s always been a guy who’s been pretty good on a daily basis. You know, he’s truly a real team guy when it comes to being part of the football team, and he’s a guy that we’ll obviously keep in the mix somehow, depending on what goes on down the line.”
Question: A lot of people thought Penn State would drop off in a hurry after the NCAA sanctions. Can you talk about how that team seems to have held together, and what you know about Coach O’Brien?
Brady Hoke: “Number one, I think Bill and his staff have done a really good job keeping that team together when the sanctions came and all those things. I think they’re Penn State, they’re going to have good football players. There’s obviously – I think the quarterback is a guy who kept a lot of his class together that were committed, and that tells you about his leadership. You know, they’re Penn State, and they’re a physical football team. It got a little crazy last weekend down at Indiana, I mean, a lot of points, a lot of yards by both teams, but I think they’re a very good football team.”
Question: Back to Funchess, would you be able to do this with him if Jake Butt hadn’t emerged?
Brady Hoke: “Yeah, I think it helps a little bit, and then Jordan Paskorz, you know, we’ve been without Jordan for four weeks. He had broken his hand, been practicing, been doing everything with a big club on, and he finally got that off, and he played some valuable snaps in there as an on-the-line tight end.”
Question: I think you mentioned post-game wanting to improve defensively on third downs, and statistically I think you guys are like 78th in the nation there, but when you compare that to how your defense is performing overall it might be a bit of an outlier. How important is that overall, and have you guys talked about that?
Brady Hoke: “We do. Getting off the field’s important, and I thought they hurt us with running the ball as much as anything in the first half scrambling. We have to do a better job when you look at lanes and those kind of fundamentals that you need to have. I think this defense is coming around. Is it exactly where we need it to be? No. But I think guys played with a – I don’t want to say a better urgency, because they played pretty well most of the year, especially in the red zone, and I just think they’re a work in progress because of some of the youth that’s out there.”
Question: Seven carries for Gardner on Saturday. How much of that was by design, and how much was just the way the game unfolded?
Brady Hoke: “By design, totally.”
Question: Why by design?
Brady Hoke: “Because we want to run the ball to tailback, and then that opened up all the big plays. When they have nine guys in the box because of the threat of run, I think Fitz was 4.6 per attempt, which is – we take that through the whole year, and we want to run the football.”
Question: Do you anticipate going forward with something similar? Obviously Devin has been a very successful runner for you this year.
Brady Hoke: “I think you’ll see us do what we need to do to win, but we want to get the tailbacks some carries, take some pressure off the quarterback.”
Question: Did you see on film better holes for Fitz to find than maybe what he had been seeing?
Brady Hoke: “Well I think if you look at the scheme defensively what they used, and then with some of the tackle over stuff, it really – you know Y-back stuff, it really – because of the wide nine or whatever you want to call it they were playing the whole time, you know, you put Taylor on him, and then you have Schofield and one of those guards on a double on a three, up to a backer, it opens up a little more.”
Question: With the tailbacks, during the bye week you mentioned some of the younger guys might be able to earn more playing time. What did Derrick do leading up to that Minnesota game to…?
Brady Hoke: “He just, you know, I think he feels more comfortable in the offense itself, and I think he’s fitter than he was earlier, and that’s the big part of it is him feeling more comfortable with what we’re doing.”
Question: Do you think – ten carries a game, is that something that’s realistic for him?
Brady Hoke: “I think it can change game to game. We’re going to play him early.”