Hoke's Roundtable: Week 7

Brady Hoke on the potential return of Jake Ryan, the growth of his defense, the progress of the running game, and more.

Question: What were you most pleased about that played out in that game?

Brady Hoke: “No turnovers. No turnovers, and I think fundamentally, Devin, from his standpoint, mechanics, how he threw the ball, how he drove the ball. Two penalties, so the discipline with those things was huge.”

Question: You mentioned Derrick as fitter you said?

Brady Hoke: “He’s more fit now.”

Question: Has he lost weight?

Brady Hoke: “Yeah, he’s trimmed down a little bit. He’s till over 235-lbs.”

Question: Is that what you guys want him to be? 235-lbs?

Brady Hoke: “Yeah.”

Question: You mentioned Funchess earlier, being a mismatch. Does that translate both at tight end and against the cornerbacks when he’s at receiver?

Brady Hoke: “I think it’s more if he’s either at a safety, if you split him out with a safety or a corner.”

Question: How much does that have the potential to maybe take some of the pressure off of Jeremy Gallon, and keep teams from loading up against him?

Brady Hoke: “I think it’s exactly right. I think it is something that helps Jeremy in the long run.”

Question: I know you’ll know more after practice this week, but do you get a sense that Jake is ready to play Saturday?

Brady Hoke: “I think he’s getting closer. We’ll have a good practice with him tomorrow, and believe me, he’s wanting to play, he seems to feel ok, but we still need to make sure that he can do the things he’s capable of doing.”

Question: Do you have a plan for his return? Like, how much you want to limit him in his first game back?

Brady Hoke: “We probably would. “

Question: Is it on the table for Jake to play this week? Last week it didn’t seem like it was an option, really.

Brady Hoke: “Not really. I mean, it’s still – we’ll just see.”

Question: Has he been cleared by the doctors to play though?

Brady Hoke: “Yeah. But it’s still playing football, and when you haven’t played in a long time, and now we’ve tried to get him in, get him in, get him in, but we don’t put him in everything.”

Question: When was he cleared by the doctors?

Brady Hoke: “I don’t know.

Question: But he potentially could have played against Minnesota?

Brady Hoke: “Potentially.”

Question: Well if you’re cleared, you’re cleared. You’re the one making the decision at that point.

Brady Hoke: “Yes, I will. “

Question: So Jake could potentially play against Penn State. Can we say that?

Brady Hoke: “Is it on the table? Potentially. Potentially. “

Question: You didn’t get a lot of plays to watch the offensive line, but in those few, can you get the sense that you have the right five in, size-wise, and fundamentally and technique-wise, these guys can handle it, and certainly get the chemistry you want to see?

Brady Hoke: “Yeah, I think that the five of them together, it wasn’t perfect by any means, in some situations, but I think those five guys did a nice job of complementing each other. We have to clean some things up when you look at some sets on protection, and those kind of things, but I think it’s a good working group. “

Question: Some of the players were saying afterwards that the success Minnesota had early on first and second down put Greg Mattison in a bad position to call plays on third down, and they were picking them up. Thoughts on that?

Brady Hoke: “I think there’s some – I think there’s some to that, but there were some – also, you get to third and three, four plus, those are good defenses to call depending on what’s going on. I think the use of Leidner for them, which I think in the back of our minds, we all knew that would be the way they would go, after the Iowa game, I think you put him in the mix, he makes it a little harder to defend. “

Question: Realistically, where you can expect Jake to be from a conditioning standpoint?

Brady Hoke: “Well, you know, we alternate condition with him, all that kind of stuff. I think it’s more making sure structurally – and I know the doctors have cleared him, we made that clear, but I think it’s how that holds up. He plays pretty fast, and I’m probably more worried about it than anybody. “

Question: Will there be a brace on him or anything?

Brady Hoke: “Probably. “

Question: When he’s back and up to speed, how does that impact Brennan Beyer, who’s played well at that position?

Brady Hoke: “Well, it adds good depth. It adds – when you look at some of your sub-package stuff, nickel dime stuff, I think it gives you an opportunity to maybe do some things a little differently. “

Question: Would you consider moving Beyer back to the line?

Brady Hoke: “Well, it depends what front you’re in, and what personnel group you have on the field.”

Question: How much better can one player like that make your defense?

Brady Hoke: “I don’t know. He’s a pretty good player. “

Question: Wile averaged 51 yards per punt. After the Akron game, you admitted that you considered pulling him for a while there. What has he done in the last couple weeks to kind of get back on the right track?

Brady Hoke: “Well, I lost one of the number one punt teachers in the country, he’s not out there anymore, but he’s done a really nice job, and Matt is a very conscientious guy, worked very hard and diligently during practice, you know, and most of the time, with those guys, they self-diagnose pretty well, what the drop was, or did their hand come too far inside, or whatever it might be. I mean, with his approach to the ball, all those things. I just think he’s worked hard on it.”

Question: What was his reaction to the Norfleet one, down at the one yard line?

Brady Hoke: “I think he was happy. "

Question: Blake has four interceptions already. What has he been doing to put himself in that type of situation?

Brady Hoke: “Doing his job; doing what you’re supposed to do in the defense.”

Question: Does him playing in the nickel allow him more freedom to get those opportunities?

Brady Hoke: “I think it depends on what style of offense you’re facing, and where they want – if it’s a team that’s going to be a big team who wants to throw to the X, no, because he’s on the other side, but if it’s a team that has a slot that they want to do a lot of stuff with, yeah, then it gives you a little more opportunity.”

Question: Thoughts on what Hackenberg has been able to accomplish so far as a true freshman?

Brady Hoke: “I’ll tell you what, he’s very talented, very talented. I mean, he can spin it, and shows a lot of maturity.”

Question: Michigan and Penn State, they’ve only met, what, 16 times since 1993? With the realignment coming about next year, do you see this potentially turning into a rivalry against two traditional college football teams?

Brady Hoke: “You know, I think we kind of look at it as a rivalry in some way.”

Question: Why?

Brady Hoke: “I don’t know, and this goes back to when I was here a long time ago, you know, I’m trying to think…”

Question: First meeting was 1993.

Brady Hoke: “Right. That one was at Penn State right? 1997 we were there. 1996, I guess we could look. We don’t need to look."

Question: 1997 you were there.

Brady Hoke: “1997 we were there. I don’t know, I think it’s two traditional football schools in this country playing each other.”

Question: Personally, are you pretty excited for it?

Brady Hoke: “Oh, shoot, what a great place to play. They have a great place to play. I’m sure it’ll  be all white, and they’ll be loud, and it’ll be awesome.”

Question: From an atmosphere standpoint, it’s going to be the first – I guess you guys played at UConn, but it’s going to be a little more hostile environment, most likely, as Penn State traditionally has been. How do you prepare the guys for that?

Brady Hoke: “Well, we’ll do a little bit more with crowd noise and those kinds of things, and that works to some degree, but you have to really send a message about how significant paying attention and being into the game is. You know, you’re on the sideline, coach is making adjustments, you’re out on the field. Making sure that you’re – believe me, because some guys do get distracted, and that’s not a good thing. It was funny, I was telling Bob, Taylor texted me 11:30 Saturday night, he said, ‘Coach, it’s going to be loud at Penn State. We need more crowd noise this week.’ And I texted him back ‘Ok’. And then he said – “

Question: You can text?

Brady Hoke: “I can text.”

Question: Is that a new thing?

Brady Hoke: “Relatively. But he – I mean, it was kind of neat.”

Question: Was it noticeable at UConn? Did you notice issues?

Brady Hoke: “Not necessarily, but I think because of the way the stadium is, they got excited, but I don’t know if – there are certain places, as you know, where the decibel level is way up.”

Question: Would you say you guys played better in the second half partially because the guys adjusted to that?

Brady Hoke: “I don’t know if I can say that. I don’t know if that would be accurate for me to say.”

Question: Those distractions with the crowd noise, is that one of the reasons you guys have struggled on the road, do you think?

Brady Hoke: “That’s a good question. I don’t think so, I don’t think so. I think the first year up at Michigan State. I don’t think we communicated well, though. It might not have been the crowd noise, it may have been us not communicating.”

Question: You’re always talking about how you’re not a doctor, but now you’re worried about his knee structurally. I mean, what is it – you’re going to go check it yourself?

Brady Hoke: “Maybe. "

Question: What is it you’re worried about if the doctors have already cleared him?

Brady Hoke: “I just – I worry a lot. I get that from my mom.”

Question: But you’re worried about, what? That it’s going to collapse on itself? If he’s ready to play – what did he do in practice last week?

Brady Hoke: “He didn’t do everything. He did some things.”

Question: And you were afraid?

Brady Hoke: “Me, personally?”

Question: Yeah, you didn’t feel –

Brady Hoke: “Sure.”

Question: Jake has defined himself by his explosion. Have you seen that same thing in practice?

Brady Hoke: “Yes.”

Question: He looks the same as he did before?

Brady Hoke: “Well, I don’t know about that. I’m not sure. “

Question: We haven’t seen him, so that’s why we’re –

Brady Hoke: “Yeah.”

Question: So are you the last line – if it was up to someone else, would he be playing?

Brady Hoke: “Jake will be the last line.”

Question: So it’s yours and Jake’s decision at the end of the day?

Brady Hoke: “Correct. In a sense, yes.”

Question: If you asked him right now if he wanted to play on Saturday, what would he say?

Brady Hoke: “He wanted to play last week, and he wanted to play the week before. What do you think he’s going to say? ‘No, Coach, I don’t want to play’?”

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