Hoke's Rountable (Part 2)

In part two of Brady Hoke's sit-down with the media at Big Ten Media Day Michigan's headman discusses Amara Darboh's return, meeting program expectations, Ty Isaac, and more.

Question:  Fall camp, receiver wise, you felt like Darboh was going to be the difference maker.  Do you feel like he is back somewhere near that level yet or is it going to have to be a wait and see? 

Brady Hoke:  “I think Amara, (we) kept him out of some contact during the spring but what he’s done this summer… he’s done every run, he’s done all those things.  I think he’s exactly what we hoped he is going to be.” 

Question:  Would you like to have somebody else…Canteen is 6-1, 175 pounds. Is he more of a slot guy to you or do you not want to play him outside?  Would you like to play him inside? 

Brady Hoke:  “I think what we’ll end up doing is that we’ll get into camp and go through a week of it and then Doug will start really saying, ‘Okay, this is where your permanent job is going to be.’  But Freddie is a terrific slot because of his quickness and his explosiveness and he has got some size to him.  So a quarterback can find him.  Sometimes with real little slots, sometimes you can’t find the slot.  So, he gives you a little more length.” 

Question:  With the guidelines that the NCAA put in, in regards to contact, what is your approach to those? 

Brady Hoke:  “We’re going to follow it.  Yeah, we are going to follow them.  I think that’s important for us as a university.  I’ve always been a pretty contact oriented coach.  I think you’ve got to learn the technique with contact.  We’re going to definitely look because of the health and the wellness that we need to have for our players.” 

Question:  Everybody is obviously pro safety.  As a coach, is there a fine line between, like you said, you want to make sure your physical.  How do you judge that on a day to day basis like this? 

Brady Hoke:  “The one thing I would tell you, I think because of how we have been able, and how we’ve practiced in the spring; the winter condition and summer condition that we do, those guys understand the toughness.  They understand how we expect them to go out and play, the competitiveness, you push them in some noncontact things from which you do from a strength and conditioning standpoint.  So, teaching a guy to tackle, seeing them tackle enough, teaching a guy to block a three technique or whatever it is, you know, but those are contact things.  You can also get a lot done just with the fundamentals of it.” 

Question:  Last week, I was talking to Marvin Lewis of the Bengals and he was saying that everything is cutting back on contact obviously is good. Even at the NFL level, when they get rookies now, there is a lot of fundamental teaching that needs to be done.  Is that just part of the process, the less you get the more…

Brady Hoke:  “I agree with Marvin.  I think, because it’s going to start, USA football. That has been the phenomenal program, teaching kids how to tackle, teaching the coaches how to teach them.  We’re very involved with that.  In fact, I have spoken with Columbus and the state of Michigan about those drills and how we believe in them.  I think all of that stuff is going to be really important to the health and wellness of what you want to have on the team.” 

Question:  One last one on the topic and I’ll let it go.  Is the game of football changing somewhat though in regards to more of a passing game now, people think it’s more of a finesse game and a safety oriented thing? 

Brady Hoke:  “I think it’s probably a little bit more of a finesse game and I think, still though, I think there is a physical side that the game needs to have.” 

Question:  Channing (Stribling) always seems to be in position to make plays.  Making plays once he got there that seems to be a problem, has he made strides there?

Brady Hoke:  “Yeah he did and I think that we have helped him with that.  I think being strong with your hands going all the way up through the guy.  He had a few opportunities.  I think he has improved that way.” 

Question:  About making those plays, so many close games last year. What is the intangible to get that turned around? 

Brady Hoke:  “Execution.  The execution is pivotal for us.  When you look at, we got to find those 11 points and where are we going to find them at?  Well you have to execute to do it.  You have got to look at how we prepared them, starting with me and making sure every week we are preparing them to execute when the time comes.” 

Question:  We sat her a year ago when everybody was saying next year is going to be Michigan’s year.  How come they’re not saying that this is Michigan’s year? 

Brady Hoke:  “I have no idea and I really don’t care.” 

Question:  Following up on that a little bit, because of that prediction last year, you had a lot of young guys, that’s what they were looking at.  Are they coming along like you want? 

Brady Hoke:  “I think we’re pleased really with the progress that we’ve made as a team.  I think through spring and summer, I think if you look at the kids who came in midyear and where they kind of fit.  Some of them obviously who came in, in summer.  We’re excited about our team.” 

Question:  Expectations at Michigan are always high.  How do define success in the preseason for your team, when you address your team and talk about the things that you want to accomplish? 

Brady Hoke:  “What do you mean by that?” 

Question:  Is it a specific number of wins, is it a Big Ten Championship? 

Brady Hoke:  “It’s always a Big Ten Championship.  That’s where it always starts.  So, that part of it is something that we embrace.” 

Question:  Is that the line in the sand between success and failure, do you think to be the best school? 

Brady Hoke:  “I think there are a lot of ways to gauge your program.  I think success is graduating 69 seniors out of 69 seniors.  I do not think there are a whole lot of people in this room who can say that.  I think at the end of the day that’s why you coach.  We’re going to be competitive.  Is winning important?  There is no question, we all like to win in life, right?  Well, you like to win out there too.  So, to be honest with you, I think there are a lot of ways to judge that but we like the positioning of our football team.” 

Question:  Speaking of winning in life, Michigan just got a really good Make A Wish ESPN story here in the last week.  Could you take us through that a little bit? 

Brady Hoke:  “Well, I think number one, our players, they understand that we have a great platform to help.  When my wish came and presented this to us, it was something that we felt so privileged to be able and humbled to do.  Our players go so involved.  Devin does so much in our community that people don’t know, that Devin wants to do, not for any reason but Devin feels it in his heart.  I think that the day he had, and the rest of the players, it really means a lot to us, Stephen and his family, it’s great to do.”  

Question:  The fans are all about Xs and Os, wins and losses and that is a heartwarming story.  Can you talk about how much your Michigan players do with the community with the school and some of the programs that you’re very involved with? 

Brady Hoke:  “Mott Hospital, Children’s Hospital, CS Mott has always been dear to our hearts, dear to our player’s hearts at Michigan.  That started years ago.  I think that’s a big part of the VA.  We have a lot of our guys who go out to the VA to spend time and there are others that our guys, they understand the community of Ann Arbor and they are Michigan kids.” 

Question:  One final football question, East/West division, just your overall thoughts.  I know you’ve been asked quite a bit about that.  How does that change, if at all, the way you approach a season? 

Brady Hoke:  “I don’t think it changes.  I think, just like schedules, what ever the schedule is, you better embrace it.  I think our division obviously is very competitive and it should be.  For us, we have both of our biggest rivals in our division, why wouldn’t you want it that way?” 

Question:  Your conference has been criticized for there out of conference performance, but coming into the season, the conference literally has three or four legitimate Heisman candidates. What does that say about the overall play of the conference?

Brady Hoke:  “Well I think the media makes more about the conference and comparisons (more) than anybody.  If you’ll look at Michigan’s overall record against SEC or any other conference, I think that is a little different.  I believe in our conference.  I think we’ve got the best conference in this country for multiple reasons, just not what’s on the field.  If we’re going to be judged though as a conference in the media by wins and losses against different conferences, so be it.  But I think we have got a great conference.” 

Question:  Someone from your conference winning the Heisman, would that help the boost the image of the conference, do you think? 

Brady Hoke:  “I’ve never really thought about that so I don’t know how to answer that.  I have no idea.  When Charles Woodson won it, did it boost the conference, I don’t know.” 

Question:  Do you remember seeing Elvis Grbac play at Michigan?

Brady Hoke:  “Oh yeah.”

Question:  Are they similar (Wilton Speight and Elvis)?   

Brady Hoke:  “Well, they’re tall.  They’ve got the dimensional stuff from height and all that kind of stuff.”

Question:  Are they similar in style?

Brady Hoke:  “I don’t know if I can say that.  I would have had to watch a whole lot more Elvis to make that, I was busy.” 

Question:  Talk about Wilton and what he brings to the table. 

Brady Hoke:  “I think Wilton has come in with a great attitude that he wants to compete.  I think that’s important.  He came here because he wanted to start as quarterback.  His work ethic and what he’s doing, I think is part of that and he is doing a great job with it.” 

Question:  Is he able to read defenses, does he pick things up?

Brady Hoke: “He’s pretty sharp.  I think how he’s coached and all those things.” 

Question:  Speaking of quarterbacks and guys coming into your program.  When you are evaluating guys, how much, impact do you place on training that they received outside in high school.  It’s obviously a trend, something that happens a lot, but quarterbacks that you’re involved in, does it impact the way that you utilize these guys? 

Brady Hoke:  “I don’t think so.  Look, we’re going to, number one, trust in those high school coaches because those guys have been around the kids, they know their kids.  There is more than a kid just fundamentally and technique and all that stuff, arm strength. There is a lot that goes into being a quarterback and being a championship quarterback.  So, as we go into it, I don’t think we say, ‘Oh, who was his outside coach,’ we don’t do that.” 

Question:  The amount of advanced training that those guys receive, do you feel like it has changed in any way, the overall readiness the quarterbacks have coming into the college game.  You’ve seen two straight redshirt freshman win the Heisman trophy.  Guys who are obviously advanced at a younger age. Is there a correlation?   

Brady Hoke:  “I think the seven on sevens and all those things, it may be the advanced training and it may not be.  But the seven on sevens that everybody deals with, those kids are getting a lot of reps, you know.  One thing you can’t judge on seven on seven is when you add the other four guys who are coming up the field to take your head off.  That’s where that high school coach, that film, that’s where all that stuff lies.” 

Question:  Do you get a sense or do you have a handle on what issues in college game that you would like to see altered or changed, the autonomy vote that is coming before the board of directors next month passes.  What are the most pressing things that could make an impact in a positive way?

Brady Hoke:  “Let’s make decisions for the student athletes and the fans.  Whatever those decisions are, I think we need to have an early official visit period.  Because kids and families are spending thousands of dollars.  I’ve met with probably 20 families during the spring and I’ve asked half of them about would you appreciate if this was an official visit where we can pay for it and all of them said yeah coach, we’ve spent 8000 dollars.  And then have an early signing period.  I think we should start that. Because, if you’re starting there, then you’re truly showing those parents and kids that you care about them.” 

Question:  Do you know anything about Ty Isaac?

Brady Hoke:  “I’m optimistic that he’ll be in our program.  I just can’t give you the timetable on the hardship and all that stuff.” 

Question:  So you’re not optimistic about playing this year or you just don’t know? 

Brady Hoke:  “I just don’t know.” 

Question:  When do they have to let you know?

Brady Hoke:  “I have no idea.  That’s not something that I ready deal with. Our compliance people do.”

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