QUESTION: Michigan When you looked at (the spring game) is there progress that you realize that maybe you didn’t see as much right afterwards?
BRADY HOKE: “I thought we were a little sloppy on the spring game and we were sloppy more offensively than defensively. So we’re a little disappointed but when you look back… and I go to the Saturday before the spring game and we went 140 plays or so… and it was awesome. I mean from a fundamental standpoint and aggression, I thought the guys up front offensively since those are everyone’s favorite targets, really have improved and came a long way. I think the quarterback position, I think we have a great competition going on and it will continue to be that… and I can say that about a lot of positions… (with) Shane and his progress and Devin. We are a little disappointed how effective we were in the spring game. I’ll refer back to the Saturday before the spring game… that scrimmage is probably the most important one and biggest one. I think we have come a long way.”
QUESTION: The ineffectiveness is not intentional, but is dumbing down the offense in a public setting intentional? Can people take a lot, like opposing coaches, can they take a lot from one practice?
BRADY HOKE: “With technologies these days, every spring game of an opponent that we play, we break down, analyze, look at, and do all those things. There have been times where coaches from other schools will sit at your spring game and film the coordinators and the signals and system and all that. That happens in the real world. For us we wanted to protect the things that were are doing on both sides of the ball. We never did anything in the red zone and that was for a purpose. I mean we worked the heck out of the red zone all through spring, but when we got the Big Ten Network and all those things we decided we want to keep what were doing more in-house. We didn’t do everything we have done, personnel groups, formationally and defensively we did not. “
QUESTION: So the offensive line, even when you’re dumbing it down, do you think that’s maybe why they didn’t look as good with all the work the week before?
BRADY HOKE: Yeah, there are a lot of things. There are of a lot of fronts we won’t run into. In the spring game we didn’t check out of things. They were called and we ran the ball. So that puts them at a disadvantage. Your run-pass checks or your pass-run checks that are within a system and your hot reads… all that stuff… (not calling them) puts the offense at a disadvantage. The offense in the spring is normally at a bit of a disadvantage anyways. I mean you look at the installation process, the teaching process that Nuss and the offensive coaches had to go through. You look at MIKES differently, fronts differently, the calls between tackles, centers and guards, all that terminology is a little different. We tried to keep some of it that made sense… the other part of it is we changed and hopefully that’s making sense. The goal to come out of spring and through the summer is instead of going back to practice one, we are at practice 16 when we come back for fall camp.
QUESTION: How would you say your level of confidence that the offensive line whatever it is, however it shakes out, won’t be a weak link that it appears on the outside it could be.
BRADY HOKE: “Well, I think as you look at the progression and what they did during spring, this week I’ve talked to every guy on the team and have about 5 left to do, coaches interviewed them all offensively and defensively. Number one their excitement, what they learned, I think they are going to be a big part of our team in a successful way. “
QUESTION: Is the defense to a point that it can carry the team through some stuff?
BRADY HOKE: “I think so. We have so much more depth at every position. Quantity isn’t what you want…its quality of the depth. A lot of those players, you have some seniors on that side of the ball and one senior on offense. You have Jake, Frank, Desmond, Beyer… guys who have played a lot of football… Ray Taylor played a lot of football. I think they are ahead, and I think because of the quality of the young guys in the program, especially those who played a year ago, I think the defense is going to be very active and could help us along the way.”
QUESTION: What else do you need to change other than just depth from last year? At the end of the year last year you guys were struggling. What else needed to change?
BRADY HOKE: “I think as we looked at it and evaluated it, the coaching moves have been really positive, especially those in the back end for the spread offenses. The dime and the nickel packages and whatever, you get a little better with two guys back there with the consistency in coaching. From the bowl game, I would suggest that we are fundamentally a little more sound… and I think that is what happened with Roy having the corners all the time and Mal having the safeties all the time. I think the movement for Greg being in the middle coaching the backers has been really positive. Jake inside, Ross outside, I think that was a plus. Mark Smith has done a great job with the front and I think there is a difference there.”
QUESTION: You and Greg both talked about Jabrill Peppers differently than you do other freshman like we will see how they do. How much going through this spring how much did you do differently and accordingly for that?
BRADY HOKE: “Going into this spring when you’re looking at your signees, we had seven guys that came in and that has been really really good for the kids and us for the acclimation process of the academics, socially, and the football part has been a real plus. I think Jabrill is probably a little ahead of his time in some ways, and I would say Freddy Canteen is kind of the same way. So as you’re putting the depth down looking at your base packages, your sub packages and those things you’re looking at maybe he’s the nickel, safety, or corner. But we are looking to start him at the nickel and see how he does.”
QUESTION: On if they were more conservative on defense than they wanted to be last year…
BRADY HOKE: “I don’t think there’s any doubt that we were more conservative than we would love to be. Part of that is if you’re going to play man coverages, if you’re going to bring five, if you’re going to do some of those things and play that way you need to be pretty technically sound when you look at playing man coverage. We were a zone team and kind of had been. 2011 I think we were much more aggressive in some of the things we did, but we were more of a zone team. It felt like some of the personnel was the same and that’s what we were going to be able to do, but I think the way the young corners have come along have really made us feel that we can be more aggressive and play more man and more man free and bring a fifth guy from a lot of different areas. Maybe not zone blitz as much and man blitz more, run blitzes and, you know, third down package blitzes. Part of that I don’t know how comfortable, when you’re a coordinator and you’re calling defenses when it’s third and six, you want to get the ball out and do a great job on the spot in coverage. Well if you don’t feel that way or if you feel you have a chance to get your butt beat then you’re kind of more in a zone mind. I think, and it goes back I think, you know, we’ve got two guys who have played a lot of football and corner in Blake and Ray Ray. Then you have Strib and Jourdan Lewis who are pretty good athletes, pretty good players. I think their development helped us make that decision to be more aggressive.”
QUESTION: On comparing how he felt last year at this time when he said he “liked” his team to how he feels now…
BRADY HOKE: “There’s the consistency issues that I always want to point to from a chemistry standpoint and talking within the players I think there is a really good chemistry. From liking them I think they are great young men. Are we any kind of a good football team yet? No. So from that part of it, but I think the willingness and what they’ve accomplished so far has been real positive. “
QUESTION: On if he sensed last year that chemistry was there…
BRADY HOKE: “I don’t know if you ever know that or when you feel that. You know, you go through and there is all different kinds of cultures and championship cultures and cultures of team. I don’t know if I could say it was a bad culture or a bad chemistry, but to be honest you really find out your team through what they do now until August because of some restrictions from the NCAA. They did give us some more opportunities to be with them, which I think is a real positive. From now on, I think it’s a wait and see to be honest with you. “
QUESTION: On if this year’s team doing something different chemistry wise?
BRADY HOKE: “I think they like each other.”
QUESTION: On if last year’s team didn’t like each other…
BRADY HOKE: “I don’t know.”
QUESTION: On if he senses they didn’t like each other last year…
BRADY HOKE: “No.”
QUESTION: On how he knows this year’s team likes each other…
BRADY HOKE: “They’ve been telling me they like each other.”
QUESTION: On what the leadership on this year’s team is like…
BRADY HOKE: “It’s different. You know, it’s different. I think from a defensive standpoint, you have guys who are older, but we have changed the model a little bit and it’s really, you know, our seniors are always going to be important. You always worry about entitlement. So what we have done is we have a leadership representative group, and it’s four guys from each class. They were all voted on by their classmates. I think that has really been effective and we will meet like, we’ve met twice and we’re going to meet here in another week. It’s interesting to listen to perspectives at different levels and different maturities.”
QUESTION: On how he knows it’s not just talk when this team says it likes each other…
BRADY HOKE: “Well, I think the actions that you see through the course of spring every practice stay out here. The intensity and, in fact one of the kids talked about the intensity that this team seems to have when they get on the field, the tempo. That came from how we practices and how they went after each other. You know, I’m a big guy. If I can hear football, I like football and effort and those kind of things. I can honestly tell you in the spring we asked a lot of them and they answered the bell I would say most of the time.”
QUESTION: On what his players need to focus on between now and fall camp…
BRADY HOKE: “Well I think every guy number one fundamentally has to get better. Fundamentally with techniques, fundamentally with what their position requires of them. I think there are guys we do a lot of metrics through the strength and conditioning staff. When you look at putting them in bi-pods and body fat and all those things, there’s diet and nutrition and all kinds of things guys need to be aware of and guys have to take responsibility with. Strength gains, flexibility gains and some guys being a little more flexible or helping yourself create better leverage because you’re more flexible. I think with the work they do together and the camaraderie, whether it’s barbecuing at a guy’s house or whatever it may be, I mean it’s all part of building that chemistry as a team and that leadership as a team.”
QUESTION: More on offseason focus…
BRADY HOKE: “You see a lot of guys make bad decisions this time of year or in the summer because they have time on their hands. They all will be taking class and they will all be in workouts and that kind of stuff. I think the ability to have some film time with them in the summer which we now have is huge. But at the same time it’s everything. Our goal is to come back in on practice 16 and not practice 1 and there’s a lot that guys can do to help themselves.”