BWW Q&A with Brady Hoke

Brady Hoke addresses the media about his squad's upcoming Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl match-up with Michigan. The Wolverines' headman discussed his decision to start Shane Morris, Devin Gardner's long term prognosis, potential changes in the offense, and more.

BRADY HOKE Opening Statement:  Number one, it's really a privilege to be here.  It's a privilege for us to represent the University of Michigan.  We're two days away from playing in a football game that's very important to us as a team, a university, and for our seniors. We've had a great week.  The hospitality from the Buffalo Wild Wings, all the people that are involved, the committee members, the volunteers, have been first class. We've had tremendous practices.  I think the way our guys have come out every day to prepare for a great game with Kansas State, we're very excited about that.  We look forward to the football game. We had a great Christmas last night.  We'll have a great practice today.  So we're excited about it.  Really a pleasure to be here.

QUESTION:  Brady, Shane Morris your starting quarterback?
BRADY HOKE:  Yes, he will start the football game.  He's had a really good preparation.  We tried to see if Devin could go, and it just wasn't possible.

QUESTION:  You've obviously had a good amount of time with Shane.  How prepared do you think he is?
BRADY HOKE:  I think he's had some great preparation.  Obviously we were trying to figure out if Devin was going to be able to go.  Snap-wise Shane has taken a lot of the snaps between him and Russell Bellomy.  He's done a tremendous job.  I know his teammates have supported him.  So we're excited about that.

QUESTION:  Just looking at the differences in the teams that you've been playing, then Kansas State being out of conference, what things have you been doing to change your offensive and defensive plans?
BRADY HOKE:  When you look at Kansas State from an offensive perspective, they have a lot of good weapons.  They have guys who, when they get the ball in their hands, they're very good. There's some similarities to Ohio, our last game, when you look at some of the spread things they do.  I think the two-quarterback system they'll use at times is similar to Northwestern in some ways. There's some differences.  There's a few different plays they'll run that we haven't seen as much of.  But from the concept itself, we've seen it about three or four times in our league.

QUESTION:  Through the past month, have you seen improvement in Devin Gardner's health at all?  What is the long-term prognosis?
BRADY HOKE:  I think he's improving.  That's just the way it has to heal up.  He should be ready when we get to spring. But I'm not a doctor.  We'll find out.

QUESTION:  With the similarities that you've seen, do you think fundamentals are going to play a role with the things you've seen offensively?  You spoke offense, Kansas State runs a little bit different defense than Northwestern and Ohio?
BRADY HOKE:  Yeah, they do.  They're a quarters team with a cover six background to them.  I think the interesting thing will be how much pressure, especially on those third downs, those early downs, with the new quarterback being in.

QUESTION:  You have had some close losses, Penn State and Ohio the last couple.  How much of an emphasis have you put on finishing game?
BRADY HOKE:  No question, this football team is 11 points away from being 11-1.  We haven't finished games and executed the way we needed to at the end of the games. If you look at Kansas State, they've been a dominant fourth-quarter team the last six football games.  That's something that we've talked about.  Our players understand that we need to do a better job of finishing football games.  Also educating them about the success that Kansas State has had in the fourth quarter.  They've scored 72 points and given up 31 in those last six games.

QUESTION:  Have you had to scale back the offense much for Shane, initially throw everything at him, and then...
BRADY HOKE:  On both sides of the ball, you could say that.  You start off with a pretty good package.  But then you also want to emphasize and do things that your kids can be successful with. We've scaled some things back.  But there's a lot of offense in there still.

QUESTION:  Brady, what was the biggest development you've seen in Shane from the times he played earlier in the year till now?
BRADY HOKE:  I think his poise, I think his fundamentals with his feet.  I think the play-action game with ball fakes and all that.  He's always had a pretty good arm.  Accuracy has been very good.

QUESTION:  Brady, is there any question about Taylor Lewan's status?

QUESTION:  Taylor came back for his senior season.  How has his experience and growth changed for you as his coach?
BRADY HOKE:  He's had a better year in football than he's ever had.  He's played his best football.  He took on a lot of responsibility as a captain and as a guy who felt entitled to help young offensive linemen grow.  I think he did that in a very positive way. I think his maturity, all those things that go along with being a year older, really has helped.

QUESTION:  The runningbacks, are you looking at De'Veon and Derrick as the key guys?
BRADY HOKE:  De'Veon, Derrick, then Fitz.  There's a good place in there for him also.

QUESTION:  Is Devin out totally for the game or is there any way he plays at all?
BRADY HOKE:  He won't play.

QUESTION:  He won't play at all?

QUESTION:  Is it just turf toe?  Any broken bones or anything in there?
BRADY HOKE:  I think that's what they're worried about, the slight fractures, that kind of stuff. I don't know.  They've x-rayed it a couple different times.  They MRIed it.  It's probably just a little more than just the turf toe.

QUESTION:  The quarterback situation going in?
BRADY HOKE:  Shane is our starter.  Then Russell Bellomy who was our second quarterback a year ago when Devin took over is cleared to play.  He hurt his knee in spring, got rehabbed back together.  He'll be the second guy in.

QUESTION:  What are Shane's traits?  What makes him so good?
BRADY HOKE:  Number one, he's very athletic.  He's a guy that can move around well in the pocket, can move up in the pocket.  He's a guy who has a very strong arm.  He can make all the throws. Obviously we recruited him at Michigan to be the quarterback at Michigan.  This is a great opportunity.  We have a lot of faith in how he goes about his business getting ready to play.

QUESTION:  What makes your receiver Gallon such a standout?
BRADY HOKE:  I think instinct.  He's a guy who works awfully hard, very tough as an individual, has great instinct when catching the ball, catching it with his hands.  Has an innate ability to go up for balls over guys that are much taller than he is. He's probably one of the toughest guys on the football team.  You watch him block and it's amazing to watch him get down the field and block.

QUESTION:  Have you seen much film on the Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett?
BRADY HOKE:  We have great respect for Tyler Lockett.  He's a guy who gets behind people in a lot of cases.  Runs good routes.  The comebacks they like, does a nice job of that. The timing between the quarterbacks and him, you can tell there's been a lot of work in it is off-season done.

QUESTION:  Does the difference in their quarterback's style present a challenge to you?
BRADY HOKE:  It does.  It does.  Lockett is a guy who probably gets short-selled a little bit on the athlete that he is.  He's a good athlete who can run with the football also.  But he's a guy they seem to be more comfortable with throwing the football.  And Sam is a guy who is very athletic.  He's like a tailback in there and will throw the ball, but most of the time they like to run it with him.

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