Hoke's Message to Team: "Keep Grinding"

After Michigan's disappointing 29-6 loss to Michigan State Brady Hoke said his team can't dwell on the defeat. The Wolverines' headman said the collective introspection afterward highlighted the need to continue to focus on improvement… particularly along the offensive line.

Brady Hoke Opening Statement: “You know, coming off – not the way you want to start the five game stretch in the meat of your schedule, Saturday, and that’s something that we’re all disappointed with and everything that we have to do from a coaching standpoint, and playing standpoint obviously is evaluated, and we all need to do a better job, and that’s just part of it. We had some opportunities we didn’t take advantage of during the course of the football game, and that’s a credit to them, and we have to do a better job – too many chances – not enough – offensively, we have to give Devin a little more of an opportunity, because there were plenty of them down the field. Execution is part of that, always is, when you’re sliding protections or whatever it might be. Defensively, I think our defense kept us in the football game for a long time, with bad field position. Needed to make some stops more in the second half; didn’t get that accomplished on some third downs. The score right before half is never a good score, and then them taking the ball for, I think it was about six minutes, or five minutes and some, so start the second half, even though they got the field goal, again, it’s possessions, and trying to get possessions. We had a really good day yesterday, which is a good thing. The attitude of our team, and how they came in, and worked like heck on the evaluation part of it, and worked like heck and went out and practiced and had some good activities that we needed.”

Question: It seemed like you had success getting Funchess the ball. The only thing that stopped it was maybe him dropping a couple. Did you in hindsight wish you would have made some more quick drops and get him the ball?

Brady Hoke: “There were some quick throws in there, but more there were play opportunities I guess I wish we would have given Devin another half a click to step up and throw it, because there were a lot of opportunities down the field.”

Question: You mentioned you have to give Devin a chance, give him more time. You talked about it after the game; you talked about it all year with the offensive line. You guys have done things in the past. How do you fix the issues here?

Brady Hoke: “Well, it’s a youth problem as much as anything, and the only way to fix it is experience. You know, I wouldn’t trade Bosch, Magnuson, or Graham, for anybody, or the other guys who are competing with them.”

Question: You only got Toussaint eight carries throughout the game.

Brady Hoke: “Yeah.”

Question: Not a ton of the other running backs were mixed in. Was it –

Brady Hoke: “Well, I think Derrick played two plays, and when you got into a protection game, for a young guy, not a great time.”

Question: From a running standpoint, did you go into the game knowing you weren’t going to give it to the backs that much?

Brady Hoke: “I don’t think so. I think from a plan part of it, I really thought it was a very good plan. Would we have liked to have run the ball better, more? That’s kind of dumb; yeah, we’d like to. I think we’d all like to do stuff better. As far as getting him more touches, it would have been great to.”

Question: How is Devin’s health?

Brady Hoke: “He’s good. He’s fine. I mean, he’s like Andrew Luck is today. I’m sure he’s beat up.”

Question: Dileo as well?

Brady Hoke: “Drew is coming along. He’s healthier every day.”

Question: Do you think he’ll play on Saturday?

Brady Hoke: “Yeah. I think so. I haven’t gotten the full – you know, but knowing Drew, and how he’s progressed, yeah.”

Question: You mentioned a good day yesterday. To whom does it fall to make sure – and maybe it’s a bunch of people – that you have kind of a carryover psychological impact from that game on Saturday?

Brady Hoke: “Number one it falls with me, that’s why our Sunday was a little different in how we did some things, you know, the leadership, coaches, captains, seniors, the Desmond Morgans, guys who have played a lot of snaps. I think it’s all of us, but it starts with me first.”

Question: You said part of the problem on the offensive lineman is the youth. I mean, experience is what it needs, but experience is not a luxury you have at the moment.

Brady Hoke: “No, we don’t.”

Question: How do you – what is the challenge to get these guys to (get them to play better now)?  Experience a year from now you might have, but you won’t have it these next four games.

Brady Hoke: “Yeah, you just have to keep every day grinding. I mean, that’s all, and showing them the looks, and doing everything you can, and at times, there’s a comfort level. Sometimes guys in an environment may want to try to set – I’m talking pass protection wise – you know, a little further out than they should, or a little too far. They over-set. I’m just using that as an example. They really, fundamentally, if they’ll just keep at what they’ve been doing, there’s an excitement I think guys get, you know, and you see it in different guys, but we just have to keep grinding.”

Question: After the game, you said the pass protection was more than just the offensive line. After having a chance to review the tape, what were some of the other aspects?

Brady Hoke: “Well I think, you know, the backs have to be able to pick them up a little better. I think there are probably one or two that the quarterback needs to step up and feel out a little better. There’s sometimes the timing of a route; so it’s hit or miss. You have ten guys good, one guy bad, it’s like anything else, that’s why it’s a great team sport, you have to have them all on the same.”

Question: The first day you got this job, the goal was always a Big Ten championship. Four games left, that doesn’t really look like a possibility –

Brady Hoke: “Well, it’s a possibility.”

Question: Small possibility.

Brady Hoke: “Right. Is it possible though?”

Question: Yeah.

Brady Hoke: “Ok. I guess that’s my point.”

Question: But how do you – with those possibilities diminishing as the season goes on at this point, how do you get these guys to kind of gear up, even though their goal is not –

Brady Hoke: “I don’t think you know our team very well, and how they feel about each other, and how they feel about Michigan, and how they feel about the personal pride that they have.”

Question: What was different about Sunday?

Brady Hoke: “We just did some things differently that were good for us.”

Question: In house?

Brady Hoke: “In house, yeah, it was in Schembechler.”

Question: It seems at times this year that you guys got pushed around a bit. What can you do, or what –

Brady Hoke: “I don’t know if it was pushed around. I think – I don’t agree with that. He got ran over once, twice, with a mismatch, but other than that, it was just not being in the right place a couple times.”

Question: In hindsight, was that one of the more demoralizing moments you’ve had as a head coach, in the aftermath of that game?

Brady Hoke: “No, I didn’t feel demoralized at all. Disappointed; but demoralized, that’s kind of a – I didn’t feel that.”

Question: Talking about pass protection, are there any other thing you can do to take the pressure of the offensive line, or is that something they just have to go out there and perform?

Brady Hoke: “Well, I think running the ball helps you anytime. I think that helps you in a lot of different ways, from your play action game and all that. I think there were enough guys to protect.”

Question: You said a ton of times before that if you have to be the guy that beats his team, it’s not going to go anywhere. Is this a challenge moment for your captains to say – 2011, you were in a similar spot, and finished pretty well. Is this a moment where these guys have to earn their distinction as captains?

Brady Hoke: “I think it will – not just the captains, but the whole group of seniors, to some degree, because of what we ask of them. I think, yeah, there’s no question this is a time when your leadership always either steps forward, or stays the same, or steps back.”

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