Hoke's Roundtable: Week 9

More from Brady Hoke on his the offense's record-setting performance, the improvement of the offensive line, the necessary defensive improvements, and more.

Question: How is Amara Darboh coming along?

Brady Hoke:  “He’s coming along. He was in a boot for a long time.  He’s not in the boot.  He seems to be moving around. I think they’re happy with his progress.”

Question: Follow up on Jake (Ryan), when you have a guy out for that long and he comes back knocking the rest off, how much capacity does he have to get better from this point to the end of the season?

Brady Hoke:  “I think he has a lot of capacity to…I guess it would be more the instincts and the feel of the game getting used to it at game speed.  You kind of played against two entirely different offenses.  I think he handled both of those because we asked him to do some different things in both of those games to some degree.  I thought he handled it well.”

Question: How good does it feel for Fitz (Toussaint) and the team that he got 32 carries and produced?

Brady Hoke:  “Well I think the production part of it was huge. I know Taylor (Lewan) talked after the game about how much pride the offensive linemen have in going to work for Fitz. They think so highly of him because of how he’s come back and what he went through to come back. They want to do a great job for him.”

Question: Was the targeting better?

Brady Hoke:  “Yeah I think so.  I thought the guys were more on guys.  It will change from a structure from last week to two weeks from now in the movement and where guys fit in the defense.”

Question: On how they were able to connect on so many big plays…

Brady Hoke:  “I think we thought some of the play action stuff, especially when you can run the football… that can help, some of the double moves, which require good protection, require some sort of hold on a safety, especially in quarters.  I think it really helped us, because you are putting that corner all out there by himself and they have very aggressive corners.  They like to jump moves, jump routes.  So if you can protect it long enough you have a chance to get it down the field.”

Question: Jeremy just said after the game that he thought they just forgot about him because (Devin) Funchess was covered.  Does Funchess make it possible that anyone…

Brady Hoke:  “I think Jeremy is being kind.”

Question: You see him do all that, he still is pretty even keel with us...

Brady Hoke:  “I think Gallon is a guy who has always been tough.  He has always worked extremely hard – haven’t had issues.  Him and Devin, Drew and really all of them, but him and Devin being as close as they are.  The work that they do on their own, timing the routes and all of those things.  The back shoulder throws, all of those things that you need to do as a quarterback and receiver, I think they do.  You watch Jeremy blocking.  We always watch him catch the ball, but watch him block.  He is intense about it.  It tells you what kind of team guy he is.”

Question: Frank (Clark) always talks about the big plays and obviously that has come back and hurt you the last couple of weeks, is it as simple as the flight of the ball or is it something schematically or anything that you guys need to change you think?

Brady Hoke:  “I know from a schematic standpoint, I don’t think there is anything that we would want to do different.  From an execution standpoint, yeah, we need to do some things differently.  We gave up I think five plays of over 20 yards, which is something that we can’t do as a defense.  When you have opportunities and we talked about it a little bit last week, you’ve got to make those plays when the opportunity is there.  Like I said, we had our hand on the ball four other times that we don’t come away with the football.”

Question: When you go against a hurry-up offense, how do you balance having the guys line up where you want them in terms of strong side, weak side and just get your hand in the dirt and line up where you are in terms…?  

Brady Hoke:  “You know, we only had two problems with it during the game. The one time we were going to switch a personnel group totally, and Quinton (Washington) kind of got out there late, but they weren’t going hurry, so we were able to line up and those things. I think the two other times, we got there, didn’t get a good stance like we’d like to, and some of that is just being a little lazy. We have got to make sure we do that. You don’t want to be in the same defense every snap because if you are, they’re going to get a great bead on it. What I do think Greg (Mattison) did was got us into three-man fronts, the four-man fronts. Took away a couple throws to the X because some of the three-man front stuff, which they love to do. He was their leading receiving. We made them hold the ball a little bit. We have to do a better job when he does scramble obviously in rush lanes and those things without slowing guys down. When you slow them down, it seems they don’t get the pass rush we want.”

Question: The third quarter was so fast. They scored fast, you scored fast.  Were you guys on defense just sort of mentally or physically wiped?

Brady Hoke:  “I didn’t sense that.  As you prepare a team for an opponent during the week; we started last Sunday, I’m talking about number one, we’re going to need possessions, we’re going to need points. Defensively, don’t let them frustrate you. That’s part of the thing. They try and get you off balance a little bit, and that’s why I thought Greg, really, going into the game and calling the game, had the right variations to call the game with.”

Question: Did you think they got some of your guys frustrated?

Brady Hoke:  “They could, I think. The first touchdown Ray (Taylor) was still looking at Thomas (Gordon) trying to make sure he knew the call. Shouldn’t happen, but it did.”

Question: Michigan State’s players the last two games up there have openly talked about timing the snap count.  Has that been as big an issue as they make it out to be?

Brady Hoke:  “I think they’ve always done a good job with it.  It probably is.”

Question: How do you counter that?

Brady Hoke:  “You’ve got to go silent counts and you’ve got to be able to get them a couple of times on a hard count.”

Question: What happened with the blocked field goal? Did it look low on film?

Brady Hoke:  “I don’t think he (Brendan Gibbons) got underneath it enough, because the penetration wasn’t significant.”

Question: Because there is so much hype around the Michigan-Michigan State game, do you need to ramp that down this week and not go intense for two weeks?

Brady Hoke:  “Yeah. We’ll do some with Michigan State. Believe me, we’ll talk about them, the personnel. You hope the guys are watching the game Saturday, and I know they will.”

Question: More strategic though than emotional?

Brady Hoke:  “Yeah, probably will be, but there’s got to be some emotion to it, too.”

Question: You demand a lot out of your tight ends in terms of blocking. What has Jake Butt done to increase his ability to block?

Brady Hoke: “I think technique and fundamentals as much as everything.  He came in January, he had spring.  He had the summer.  I think he’s going to be a very good tight end here. He’s a good football player. He’s tough, which is important.  Just his technique.”

Question: Has his progress allowed you to experiment a bit more with Devin Funchess?

Brady Hoke: “If we didn’t have him -- I think it helps.  I think the other guy - A.J. (Williams) has gotten a little better. He’s got to keep making some progress that way. I think Jordan Paskorz, he was out for about four weeks with a hand that he had to get fixed up, but he played some plays in there that were significant.”

Question: Seemed like you guys were in the shotgun a lot more early in the game, more than you were late, but it seems like you ere still running power out of the shotgun.  Not as much zone read stuff.

Brady Hoke: “There was some power, the jet read and all that kind of stuff. It’s still trying to get some power football runs.”

Question: Do you think Fitz and Devin are just more comfortable in space?

Brady Hoke: “I don’t know, because you look at the big shots and the big plays, most of those were two-backs.”

Question: On the ground with Fitz...

Brady Hoke: “I don’t know. I think Fitz is a pretty good I-back runner.”

Question: How difficult is it to play offensive line for a young guy? Kyle Bosch only had early-enrollee time. What has made him be able to step in there?

Brady Hoke: “Maybe he was a little further along. He was from a physical standpoint. He’s a pretty strong individual, and so I think that helps. He’s driven, which helps.”

Question: What about Erik Magnuson playing out of position a little bit.

Brady Hoke: “I thought Erik did a good job. Erik is very athletic. You can see it on pass protection.  Now and then a guy will try to make an inside move and he may be beat early, but he’s got such good feet that he can make up on the guy pretty well. I thought from a physical standpoint, his pad level was pretty good. I think for young guys, sometimes it’s having your hands inside and elbows in, when you initially punch. He was pretty decent.”

Question: What is that like for a guy who’s been a tackle for so long, you’ve recruited him as a tackle and now in the middle of the season, which you did to Michael Schofield to an extent, but is that a different mentality?

Brady Hoke: “It’s a different space, no doubt about it, that you’re playing in. Mentality? You have a little more combination blocks that you deal with, cut-off blocks. Front side doubles and those things that are a little different because you’re the post guy, but it’s no different than him being the post guy on a five-technique when he’s an offensive tackle.”

Question: Does one game set the offensive line?  Do you feel like this is the best five right now?

Brady Hoke: “Off of this game? It probably was the best five for that game.”

Question: So it could change for Michigan State?”

Brady Hoke: “It could.”

Question: Kyle Kalis, you talked earlier in the year about being an emotional guy and trying to make sure that he kept that in check and he stayed with his fundamentals and revert back and playing like in high school.  Is that something that he is still dealing with?

Brady Hoke: “He had a good week last week and literally, we took Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday all the way through to who was going to be where and that is encouraging.  We’re going to need him.  We’re going to need them all.”

Question: How do you think Graham Glasgow has improved himself at center?

Brady Hoke: “I think Graham did a nice job.  We had one protection problem last week, but Graham is a big physical guy.  He’s got good range on him, you like that.  We’ve got to make sure that the snap problem we had and fumbled the ball, as most the time that is both parties involved.  I think he has done a nice job for us.”

Question: How is handling the mental side of being center?

Brady Hoke: “Pretty well.”

Question: Things on defense that you want to correct and fix is that mostly about the next time you play an Indiana-like offense or is it a general principle…

Brady Hoke: “There are some general principle technique fundamentals that we want to make sure that we address, playing the ball being one of them.  We’ve got to do a better job when the ball is in the air. I think there are some leverage things that we need to do a better job either support wise or leveraging routes.  Spreads will put you in a position once in a while and especially a team that wants to throw it and can get guys a little bit out of position.  I think there becomes a discipline with that.”

Question: Ben Gedeon was able to get a little bit of playing time in defense, what has he done to get that?

Brady Hoke: “He has just improved like a lot of those young kids.  He gets better and better every time he goes on the field.  He is a physical guy.  He is probably one of the bigger linebackers inside that we have.”

Question: Chandler Stribling and Jourdan Lewis, they are right there making plays.  What do you in practice?

Brady Hoke: “I think number one, you don’t over worry things, but I think you’ve got to put them in position in drills, which you try to do all the time, but maybe there has to be a little bit more emphasis.  Sometimes it is just a confidence thing.  I think the aggressor at times that you need to be.  I think there is always in the back of some guys mind is it going to be PI (pass interference).  There is a lot that they think about that maybe you don’t want them to think about.  Take the PI now and then.”

Question: You talked about Funchess opening things up for teammates.  With Gallon having an off the chart game like that, how much do you think that will open things for other teammates?

Brady Hoke: “I don’t know.  Everybody is going to look at it differently.  If you’re the opposing team, you’ve got to look at your match ups.  How does your nickel, WILL linebacker match up with a guy like Funchess.  What kind of athlete is your WILL linebacker.  I can’t answer that.  I know there is opportunity because of what those two have shown what they can do.”

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