Hoke's Roundtable: Week 8

More from Brady Hoke on his offensive philosophy, continued faith in Devin Gardner, Jake Ryan's return, the competition at left guard, and more.

Question: On if the two near interceptions by Channing Stribling in Saturday’s loss to Penn State was a big learning experience.

Brady Hoke: “Strib is coming on. Number one, I’ll say he’s come on. If there was anybody I would want back there, I’ll be honest, in the secondary to make the interception it would be Stribling.  And I would still to this day because his skill level and his ball skills are really really good. I watch him every practice, he’s going to take two or three balls, but we wanted to get him inserted into the game because exactly what we asked him to do.”

Question: Pretty tough lesson -- he’s in position both times, and then just –

Brady Hoke: “Yeah. Well, there’s a lot of tough lessons in life, you know.”

Question: With that though, Brady, why doesn’t he play more earlier in the game?

Brady Hoke: “He might; he might play more.”

Question: Maybe a change going forward?

Brady Hoke: “Could; could.”

Question: No issues though bringing him in? I mean, he wasn’t cold, he was on the sideline, but –

Brady Hoke: “Well, he plays on all the special teams almost, and he’s getting experience.”

Question: Concerns about how you blocked and kicked on field goals, or was that just kind of a blip?

Brady Hoke: “Well, he was 23 of 23 from 40 yards in coming into the ball game. He hit the ground on the first one with his toe, which I was never a kicker, so you’re going to have to take it from him, and obviously it was low. It wasn’t blocked by them, it was low by us. And he pushed the other one, but he nailed a 40-yarder down at the other end, and the 52-yarder was right there at the limit.”

Question: No concerns that it’s mental?

Brady Hoke: “I don’t, because I think you could have killed the guy if I would have switched kickers. I know one thing, he won the Sugar Bowl for us, made a kick here at home to beat Michigan State. I have a lot of faith in that guy.”

Question: With how good he has been, does that change at all how you act in the overtime, and trust that if you can get a few yards, he’s going to be able to knock it through?

Brady Hoke: “You know, I don’t think so. I mean, you have all kinds of positives and negatives. I think every game your strategy, because of how the game goes, has a lot to do with it. I mean, Bill Belichick called three time outs yesterday, I mean, how they manufactured that win, you know? At the end of the day, it was guys making plays.”

Question: You said after the game you thought Eric Magnuson played pretty well. What did you see on the film?

Brady Hoke: “Yeah, I was happy enough with Mags for his first time. Let’s put it that way. He did some good things, and then was kind of up and down.”

Question: How about Jake Ryan in his first –

Brady Hoke: “You know, I thought he got around pretty well. I don’t think there are any ill effects. I think he ended up playing 31 plays, 31 or 32. It was great to have him out there. I think he brings something to our team. I think the first live action real setting was real good for him.”

Question: Sort of feel the difference with him out there? You guys have the backfield it seemed like. I’m not sure if it’s all Jake, but…

Brady Hoke: “No, I think it was a combination of guys. Chris Wormley; Jibreel hit the quarterback about five times. Frank obviously did some good things. I think Cam Gordon at times was good. I mean, I think it was a combination of guys. It was just good to have Jake back out on the field.”

Question: How many plays could Jake possibly play this week against Indiana due to his health? Now that he’s back, and you have productive Brennan Byer, productive Cam Gordon, we’ve been asking how you use those guys. How do you use all three of them?

Brady Hoke: “Well, the tempo this week will be as high as it’s probably going to be all year. You know, between them and Northwestern, the rate that Kevin wants to run plays, and their offense runs plays, so we’re going to need bodies to come in and out, and I think that’s fine. Then when you get into subgroups, it changes a little bit, but the more depth, the better we’re going to be, and you can see that. You can see Chris Wormley is a better player than he was four weeks ago, because he’s been playing football, and I could go through that whole group of red shirt freshmen. Willy Henry’s better than he was four weeks ago, and I think that’s part of it, because we’ve had some depth.”

Question: Now that Jake has been back on the field, you kind of hinted about the process that he’d gone through in a fairly short time given that injury, but maybe share a little bit about how hard he did work that you were seeing leading up to that game to know that he could –

Brady Hoke: “Well, since the day he had his surgery and came back in Schembechler Hall, he’s worked tirelessly with the rehab specialist, the docs, the trainers, the strength staff. I mean, I don’t think there was any doubt in my mind that he would be back about this time, just because what he’s done. You know, he gets voted captain on a football team by his peers because they’ve watched him in what he’s done from that leadership standpoint, and example standpoint.”

Question: You traveled Kyle Bosch. He didn’t play, but does he get a chance this week? And is there anyone who doesn’t get a chance at one of those guard spots? Are those two spots open?

Brady Hoke: “I think the left guard spot, does Bosch have a chance? Yeah, sure he does. We traveled him for a reason. It wasn’t to feed him.”

Question: Does he eat a lot?

Brady Hoke: “He can eat.”

Question: So at that left guard spot, if you had to pick one that you said –

Brady Hoke: “I’m not going to do that.”

Question: Is it open though?

Brady Hoke: “Yes.”

Question: You mentioned running back production, and that it needs to get better. It’s been an issue since last year. Is that blocking? Is it vision?

Brady Hoke: “We never got the running backs started. You watched the game right?”

Question: Right. They got 30 carries though.

Brady Hoke: “Right, but we never got him started. He had, I think, a 13 yard run. Was it 13 yards? 12? That was early in the game. Guess what? We got him started at the line of scrimmate. They had eight tackles for a loss, or eleven tackles for loss. I mean, that’s not getting him started at the line of scrimmage.”

Question: So how do you fix that?

Brady Hoke: “Well, number one, as a coach, you always look and see ‘am I coaching it the way I should coach it?’ We are. What are we doing in practice to make sure we’re giving them the looks that we need? And, am I motivating them to knock somebody off the football?"

Question: You talked about the progress of the young defensive linemen, and how they’ve moved along. In offensive line is just the nature of the position harder? Does it take that much longer?

Brady Hoke: “Definitely it’s a more encompassing position from a mental standpoint than defensive line. I mean, defensive linemen, you know, you have certain things, I mean, there are always  fundamental parts of it, but there’s not the checks at the line of scrimmage as much. Do we have some? Yes, we do that defensively. The protections, you know, and we’ve cut down protections, believe me, because of the youth. The different schemes you want to run, the different fronts you’re going to see, the movement of the defense and how that affects you. So does it take a little longer? I believe it does.”

Question: Is it fair to say that as hard as it is for you, you have to accept that there has to be more patience?

Brady Hoke: “No, I’m not going to accept any of that. We’re not going to accept it.”

Question: Understanding? Is that the right word?

Brady Hoke: “No, I don’t know how understanding we are.”

Question: So they should be performing at the same quickness as offensive line?

Brady Hoke: “Sure, sure.”

Question: To the outside observer, looking at the end of the game, late fourth quarter, it seemed to appear that the coaches were almost scared to put the ball in Devin’s hands and let him try to make a play. Was there a fear that no matter what type of positives he may bring, there’s concern that there might be a turnover there that could cause the game to end? If that’s the case, is that not a lack of confidence in your quarterback?

Brady Hoke: “No, not at all. We wanted them to have to use their three time outs. I think we started the drive, and I can’t – six minutes and some seconds; and we take the drive all the way down to 52 seconds left on the clock, right? We have one penalty in there that hurts us a little bit, because it stops the clock also. Took all their time outs, called a quarterback draw, so we never took the ball completely out of his hands. We accomplished – I would expect our defense, that if we have to make someone go 80 yards in 52 seconds, to make a stop.”

Question: But if it’s agreed that your best play maker is your quarterback, isn’t it also true that perhaps you should present him with an opportunity where he can make plays in a situation like that instead of trying to milk the clock?

Brady Hoke: “Well, I think, again, you have to look at the percentages. You have to look at what – for the benefit of the team, and for the benefit of what the percentages are, when you’re going to, and how much time you’re going to give him the ball, where you’re going to give him the ball at. I don’t see that. Believe me, if I didn’t have confidence in our quarterback, with our interceptions that we’ve had, he wouldn’t be our quarterback. I’ve got all the confidence in the world in Devin Gardner. I have all the confidence in the world in our offensive linemen getting better. They’ll be ready to play against in Indiana. But I have a ton of confidence in Devin.”

Question: He’s not on a short leash?

Brady Hoke: “No, no, believe me.”

Question: You talk about the power plays and the spread stuff, you say managing how many hits Devin takes. Would you like to see more balance? I mean, last year, at the end of the year –

Brady Hoke: “Balance?”

Question: As far as Devin running it more? I mean, the running back –

Brady Hoke: “Balance? What do you mean? Balance on what part?”

Question: Devin getting more touches, more runs, on the read option, as opposed to 30 carries with the running backs, Devin carrying it more, even if it means he’s going to take more hits? Is that –

Brady Hoke: “I don’t think that’s wise to have Devin take more hits.”

Question: Even if that’s the only thing that’s working?

Brady Hoke: “Well, who’s going to play quarterback if he takes all these hits?”

Question: I guess, Shane –

Brady Hoke: “Yeah, well, Shane would, but you know, you have to be conscious enough about your team. He’s had ten starts, right? Ten starts. And he’s improved every week. Even though we had two turnovers the other day, you know, the fumble, that’s not his fault. I mean, it’s a blind side deal. One bad throw. He had no turnovers the week before. There is no short leash.”

Question: I know you don’t pay much attention to the polls, but as far as the BCS standings go, are you in favor of the coaches’ poll being a third of that?

Brady Hoke: “I vote on it. I don’t know, you know? I mean, seriously, I don’t pay attention to the poll until I talk with Justin and we make our votes.”

Question: Is Taylor playing on Saturday?

Brady Hoke: “Yeah, he’ll play.”

Question: And you talked about Devin improving every week. Has your offensive line – can you say that the line has improved?

Brady Hoke: “You know, it’s been a little bit hit and miss, because a week ago, they played pretty doggone well, but not as well this week, so I think it’s a little  bit hit or miss, and that’s where if you don’t have consistency, you’re not going to win, and we have to become more consistent.”

Question: Is left guard the only spot that that’s open? Could you see Glasgow and Miller still competing in practice?

Brady Hoke: “Yeah, they’re still doing that.”

Question: I mean, you’re talking about having a sense of urgency in general, but would that be the position group that you’re expressing that mostly about?

Brady Hoke: “I would say that probably has most of my attention.”

Question: Speaking of which, you talked about one of the levels of coaching, with the offensive line, motivating those guys. Do you play to spend more time with those guys at practice?

Brady Hoke: “I don’t need to do that. I have a great offensive line coach; I have a great coordinator. I’m with them enough because we do so much against each other. I don’t need to do that. That’s some coach trying to think he’s a hero, and that’s not it.”

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