Brady Hoke Opening Statement: “Thanks for coming. This is one of the weeks in football if you are passionate about the University of Michigan or passionate about Ohio, which is exciting. We are excited. We had a chance to get together as a team and it is just a great rivalry that we are so fortunate to be able to play in and be able to coach in. This week is a week that gets everybody involved, media, fans, all those people. Everybody has an opinion, which is good – good for the game, because the game is talked about. It is going to be a lot of fun on Saturday to play the football game.”
Question: Injury updates, linebackers and on Devin (Gardner)?
Brady Hoke: “They are all going to be fine. They are fine – all three of them.”
Question: So you expect them to play on Saturday?
Brady Hoke: “Oh yes.”
Question: Offensively, this team scored 40+ points against some good teams, but lately the offense has not been clicking. What do you think needs to turn around in that regard?
Brady Hoke: “Offensively us?”
Brady Hoke: “Consistency. We get a nine yard gain and then we take a step back. We’ve got good protection and don’t finish the throw or don’t execute the throw or don’t catch the football, which is all part of it. That’s all part of execution. The rhythm that you need to have from an offensive perspective has to be more consistent. The kids are working, believe me. They are working and they want to find that rhythm as an offense, run the football, do play action pass and do the things that have been very good to us at times.”
Question: Is this the kind of game that you’re liable to take more changes, less chances or is it totally dependent on the situation within the game?
Brady Hoke: “You talking about down and distances or just anything?”
Brady Hoke: “I think you go into every game and you try to look at the plusses and minuses. You try to do a good job to do a great plan in all three facets of the game, all three phases. I think there is always different outside factors that may dictate things, injuries, wind, weather – all those kind of things. You always could win, but you have to have a contingency plan whatever that might be.”
Question: After last week’s loss, as close as it was, as much as it hurt, how is your team mentally this week?
Brady Hoke: “Good. We practiced this morning and they were very good.”
Question: You practiced this morning, is that something new?
Brady Hoke: “We’ve done it before.”
Question: This season?
Brady Hoke: “Yeah.”
Question: Can you talk a little more about the decision that went into playing Kyle (Kalis) at right guard.
Brady Hoke: “He had earned it. It is no bigger decision than that. He had earned it. He had done a good job during the week. They have evaluated him, thought it would be good for the other Kyle, for Bosch to take a step back and watch a little bit and keep learning and I think that is what Kalis did.”
Question: You put him in at right guard because he was comfortable and (Erik) Magnuson was more versatile?
Brady Hoke: “Mags came in here as a left tackle. So he has been on the left side more, yeah more comfortable for Kalis on the right side – yes. Adaptability for Magnuson, he can do both, but he has been a left tackle, so it worked out well.”
Question: What are your impressions of Ohio State?
Brady Hoke: “They have a very good football team. They’ve got four out of five offensive lineman are seniors, they’ve got a lot of veterans who have played a lot of snaps. Their running back is leading the Big Ten. He is a good running back. He is a guy that can break tackles. You have to make sure that you get hats to the ball. Quarterbacks have played well. Thrown the ball a little better with good wide receivers, explosive offensively. Back end defensively is a good back end. They are aggressive with what they do. I think (Ryan) Shazier is one of the better linebackers in this league. He finds ways to get to the football, good instinct. They are a good football team.”
Question: On film, they look like the best team that you have faced?
Brady Hoke: “Probably so.”
Question: What are your thoughts on Chris Wormley and the rehabilitation process and how he has come along this season?
Brady Hoke: “Chris has done a real good job. Missing last fall and being limited at times in the spring obviously hurt a guy when you look at the experience of one play after another play. I think Chris has really taken some positive steps. He has played better in every football game. He’s playing faster and I think when a guy starts playing faster like that, you’ve got an idea that a guy is feeling more confident in how he is playing.”
Question: You obviously knows the records in the game, I don’t know if you know the point spread or whatever, but obviously Ohio State is a heavy favorite. What would you say to people who say that Michigan does not have a shot in this game?
Brady Hoke: “Number one I would say we are going to play the game on Saturday and that’s why we’re playing it. This game has always been different in some ways…are they a very good football team, yeah they are a very good football team. Do we have to play better than we’ve played? I don’t think there is any doubt about that and we’ve got to be more consistent and we’ve got finish things. It is what makes it so much fun.”
Question: Where do you see areas where your team has improved to give yourself a better shot in this game?
Brady Hoke: “I think defensively we’ve improved as the year has gone on and I think we have when you’re talking about some of the young guys, the Chris Wormley’s of the world. I think the three guys in the interior of the line are making improvement. I would say those two areas.”
Question: Ohio State leads the Big Ten at close to 50 points per game, can you win this game 42-35 or do you need it somewhere in the 20s to have a chance?
Brady Hoke: “I think the answer to that is however we have to try and get it done to win.”
Question: Is this a game that despite all the struggles this season, will a win erase all that?
Brady Hoke: “No that never happens. This game for our seniors. We’re going to honor those kids on Saturday and those fourth and fifth year guys who have given a lot to this university and this program, for them it is always good if you win that game because it is what guys talk about.”
Question: You just mentioned improvement along the interior line, how quickly did Magnuson adapt to switching over and what did you think of their overall performance because you only gave up one sack.
Brady Hoke: “That was probably a little better overall. Again, for Magnuson playing left tackle that stance and that kind of stuff was not that big a deal. He has been early in the process. He has played probably every position but center at some point. I don’t think it took much. I think it was flawless to be honest with you.”
Question: Devin has come under a lot of heat lately. It is the nature of the position. Can you assess his performance through 11 games right now?
Brady Hoke: “I would say this, he has had some really good moments and some moments that he would rather redo if he could. I think we all have that. I do as the head coach. There are always moments that you think about and maybe we should have done this. The one thing about Devin is that he has been pretty resilient. He is a guy who comes to work every day and prepares to get ready to play and play his best.”
Question: You talk about the lack of consistency this year. How do you coach consistency, does it naturally come? That is pretty difficult isn’t it?
Brady Hoke: “I don’t know if it is difficult. I think if you look at the little things that you have to do to have discipline to be consistent. Those are the things that you are coaching every day, whether it be your football, your stance, ball security, whatever it might be. Those are things that you demand every day so that they become great habits and consistent.”
Question: Up in Chicago, you always annually say that your goal is to win the Big Ten, last year’s record is unacceptable. Where are you right now at a program in three years and does this game change when your goals have to shift because your success hasn’t come?
Brady Hoke: “The number one goal has always been to play for our seniors and to do everything we can as coaches and everything we can underclassman that we represent them. The seniors at the same time have to do a great job of representing that senior class. Is the goal always to win the Big Ten Championship? No question about it. We won’t make excuses or back down from it. Have we played and coached as well as we needed too? Obviously not and those are things that we’ve got to keep going and keep working every day because that’s all you can do.”
Question: If you could pick a couple of things on both sides of the ball to win on Saturday what would they be and how confident are you that it could happen?
Brady Hoke: “I’m very confident that it could happen or we wouldn’t play. I’d call down there to Columbus and say we won’t do it. Number one, we’ve got to stay away from negative plays offensively. You’ve got to manage the manageables when you look at down and distance. Negative plays, taking care of the football, try and steal a possession via turnover, defensively, the running game is going to be a big part of it and it always has. We’ve got to do a great job in the rushing game and try to create those longer distances for them.”
Question: What is your earliest memory of this game being a really big deal?
Brady Hoke: “Every year I get older and so it gets a little harder. Watching the game on TV, black and white, Coach Hayes. I really respected Coach Hayes.”