Hoke's Rountable (Part 1)

In part one of Brady Hoke's sit-down with the media at Big Ten Media Day Michigan's headman discusses his team's progress in the trenches, the progress of Joe Bolden, Chris Wormley, Willie Henry, and more.

Question:  On Ondre Pipkins’ progress…

Brady Hoke:  “He’s done a nice job.  He’s made a lot of progress.  He has passed the conditioning test and all those things.  We’ll probably be smart with him as we move forward especially on two-a-days, look at reps and those different things.  He’s cleared and ready to go.”

Question:  What is Blake Countess role going into next year?

Brady Hoke:  “I think Blake and Ray (Taylor) are older guys who have played a lot and then you’ve got Jourdan (Lewis) and (Channing) Stribling who are guys that have done a nice job of coming along.  The leadership from Blake I think is going to be important and from Raymond.  There is great competition.  They’ve got to play every day.”

Question:  Will Blake play cornerback, nickel or move him around?

Brady Hoke:  “We’ll see.  He knows the position.  He’s played it.  We’ll see.” ‘

Question:  Outside of offensive line and maybe receiver, is corner about as strong as competition that you will have?

Brady Hoke:  “I would say we’re competitive everywhere.  For me to say one is more competitive, I don’t know if I can honestly do that.  I think that position there is no question there are a lot of expectations that we have.”

Question:  How do you evaluate (Erik) Magnuson when he didn’t play in the spring, but you expect him to be part of the line I would assume?

Brady Hoke:  “He started I think eight games or seven games.  He’s played a lot of football.  He’s got a lot on tape.  He got to do some footwork and technique stuff and as we got further along in the spring he could do some things with his upper body and hands.”

Question:  He wasn’t a tackle though right?

Brady Hoke:  “Yeah but he played tackle so much.  He has so much.  He is athletic.  I think we as coaches are smart enough to know where he is at right  now.”

Question:  That’s where you see him is tackle right?

Brady Hoke:  “I do, I do, I do.”

Question:  How is Joe Bolden coming along?

Brady Hoke:  “He did a nice job in being a quarterback out there on the defense.  I think we were all very excited about how he instinctively played, how he grew from that standpoint, stronger, which is one thing that I think Joe (Bolden), which I think he needed to get, strength gains a little bit.  I think we’re all real excited about – again, we’ve got great competition.”

Question:  Where is Dymonte Thomas at the safety position?

Brady Hoke:  “I think Dymonte had a very good spring and I think he’s had a really good summer.  I think as we go into fall camp, the rotation through there will be something that we’ll look at and how we evaluate and who will end up with the first group.”

Question:  Most people think with Michael Schofield and Taylor Lewan gone that the offensive line will be in worse shape than last year.  Why do you feel confident?

Brady Hoke:  “I think we say worse shape without those two, but I think the one thing you’ve got to look at is the guys inside and how many reps they’ve had and playing together now a little more.  I think that is part of it.  Obviously, the two tackles will be new, but at the same time, I think it looks like Ben Braden and the progress he’s made and then you look at again, you go back to Magnuson.  Mason Cole had a really really good spring.  He’s a young guy, but he’s very mature.  You wouldn’t see him as a freshman, just how he goes about his business.”

Question:  One of the players this spring made the case that because they’re all making mistakes as a group and their all kind of the same age and there is not that disparity in talent that maybe that helps the line, do you buy that?

Brady Hoke:  “I think they are all at the same level because they had to learn new terminology, new offense.  They all started from square one.  Our goal was to get through spring and get through summer and for the first practice in fall camp to be practice 16 and that’s how we manufactured what they did this summer and how they went about their business.  They all started though with practice one.”

Question:  You mentioned Mason, is he only going to play left tackle, could you see him play somewhere else?

Brady Hoke:  “Yeah he could.”

Question:  Earn a job as a guard possibly or is that too early for him?

Brady Hoke:  “I don’t know if I would say that.  I could more like at him being a guy who can be a backup left tackle.”

Question:  Can he play right tackle as well?

Brady Hoke:  “We didn’t play him much over there, but I think you could.”

Question:  If Braden is not there, who would be behind him?

Brady Hoke:  “You’ve got to look at what you want to do.  Since Magnuson does have game experience and as athletic as he is, you move Erik over.  Blake Bars is really starting to emerge and do those things and then (Graham) Glasgow, depending how center shapes out.”

Question:  Are you close to a starting five up front?

Brady Hoke:  “I think we’ve got some ideas.  I wouldn’t anoint anybody today.”

Question:  Chris Wormley comes into this season healthy and with a season under his belt, how are excited are you for him knowing that he is healthy and had a good year last year?

Brady Hoke:  “He learned a lot last year, he improved a lot last year.  To come off those injuries, ACL and some guys are a little bit apprehension and they think they’re playing as fast as they can but they don’t.  Coming through spring and coming through what we’ve done in the summer and what they’ve done, we’re real excited about where Chris is at.”

Question:  What have you heard through the summer?

Brady Hoke:  “He’s had a great summer.   With Chris Wormley, you know you’re going to get a guy that comes to work every day.  That’s one reason we recruited him.  He’s in a position now where he is going to play a lot of football for us.”

Question:  How is the center shaking out especially since you don’t have Glasgow?

Brady Hoke:  “Jack (Miller) and (Patrick) Kugler are two guys that will compete like heck.  You’ll see how that transition goes.  I would think that with all the reps that Graham has played, he’ll be in the mix for that job.”

Question:  With Jack and Kugler, what gains have each individually made?  Jack had a little bit of a rough go last year.

Brady Hoke:  “Gains is that he learned a lot, maturity, how you prepare every day and how this is a mental game all the way.  I think from that standpoint Jack reviewed those things and you’ve seen that from him.  Jack is an intelligent football player.  I think from a physical standpoint he’s gotten stronger.  I think all those things are a big part of it.”

Question:  What about Kugler?

Brady Hoke:  “Kugler is bigger and that’s one thing that he had to do, as a guy that got in here and did a good job with some of the look team and all that.  His body is maturing.  He’s physically maturing and the strength gains that he made.  He’s a smart football player.”

Question:  Physically up front, have you seen what you want to see in terms of gains in your offense line?

Brady Hoke:  “Yeah.  I think all those guys have done a good job.  In talking with Coach Wellman and we’ve got the best strength coach in America, I can promise you that.  In the details that he goes through and how he goes about every day.  I’m really impressed with what they’ve done.”

Question:  Do you see from other guys that they want to follow Devin? 

Brady Hoke:  “I believe that is going on on our team.”

Question:  Was it frustrating for you last year because you really didn’t have an option.  When Devin would throw an interception or Devin would take a sack, I guess you could go to a true freshman in a critical situation, does that kind of…

Brady Hoke:  “No question that Shane (Morris) had to develop, had to mature.  I guess I would say this with the whole team; the competition and the depth that our coaches have gone out and recruited have put in a situation where our numbers are better, are quality of athletes.  I can go back and think about the Sugar Bowl.  Mike Martin played 80 some plays because we had no depth.  Now we have it.  Some of it is young, but they played.”

Question:  The poor seasons that Michigan has had recently, what do you attribute your recruiting success too?

Brady Hoke:  “It’s Michigan.  Academically, what we stand for.  We graduated 69 of 69 seniors.  I’ll put that up against anybody.  The university, the support from everyone.  We have coaches that are genuine and do things the right way, but it’s Michigan.  It all comes down to that.”

Question:  How did the BBQ go?

Brady Hoke:  “I think it is fun.  It’s fun because families are there.  It’s really a family.  Those kids who come and those parents who come, they get to see our wives and our kids interacting with each other and everybody there.  It is really something that we’ll keep building on because there are some other things that I think we can do to do even a better job with it.”

Question:  Do you go into the season thinking that you’ve got a tone-setting defense.  There were times where it was last year, but consistently across the board…

Brady Hoke:  “I think we’re going and I think we should lean on our defense.  I think because of the depth and because of the quality of the guys that we have.  I think that’s important.  Special teams to me are going to be really important, from the return game, especially kick off return to gain some first downs and all those things.  From that standpoint, most of those guys are defensive guys, so we look forward to that.”

Question:  That speaks to who you are, not that you don’t care about the offense, but you’re a defensive guy.  It’s your imprint.

Brady Hoke:  “It is and I’m excited about what Greg (Mattison) and the staff have done and the kids on that side of the ball.”

Question:  Talk about Bryan Mone a little bit.  He’s a big kid and it seems like he has the potential to be a difference maker down the road.

Brady Hoke:  “He’s one of the freshman who came in, in January who I think gives us that quality depth.  He’s a tremendous individual number one, but he loves to play the game.  He’s fun to be around.  He has huge hands and huge butt, which butt is good.  We’re excited about him.”

Question:  Is he a pretty strong kid for his age?

Brady Hoke:  “Yeah.”

Question:  Talk about Willie Henry a little bit.

Brady Hoke:  “Willie has had a really good summer, real good.  I’m proud of Willie, from the academic part of it, to how he has made strength gains.  Him and Kyle Kalis most likely the strongest guy on the team.  I’m saying that without looking at measurables and all that.  Just very strong human beings.”

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