UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 3, 2012Eastern Indiana Sports
BRADY HOKE: Good afternoon. We looked at the film, and the good news is we've got 11 more guaranteed opportunities to play Michigan football. We didn't play the way we needed to play to win the football game in a lot of different areas, I think from a tackling standpoint to blocking at the line of scrimmage. Those two are two of the biggest factors. Didn't run the ball as well as we would have liked to and didn't stop the run, and those are two things that as a defense and an offensive unit you have to do.
We'll learn from the mistakes. We have practice today. We gave the guys off yesterday because of getting in at 5:00 a.m. Sunday morning. So we'll start on, number one, fixing the mistakes, talking about the mistakes, coaching them up better. That's probably number one, we've got to do a better job as coaches. And then the other part of it is making sure that the execution is where we'd like it to be to play Michigan football.
BRADY HOKE: Well, obviously it's something that you hate to see anybody get hurt. He's a valuable team member, and they'll do surgery I imagine sometimes in the next two weeks. I don't know the schedule for that. Brandon Moore probably will be out this week, and it's an MCL issue, not torn or anything, but I think it's stretched. We'll see how his goes.
Lewan is fine. I think it was more of a bruise. But everybody else should be okay.
BRADY HOKE: Blake has always been a first gunner.
BRADY HOKE: Well, we try and only put guys who are going to play significant time on two teams, and the rationale is it's one third of the football game, and you'd better have guys who are capable and guys who you think are your best players, you know, and so the rationale is you've got to win the kicking game, also.
Q. How is Denard health wise? It looked like he took some shots, especially the one in his shoulder.
BRADY HOKE: Well, I think his shoulder is fine. I think he got more hit in the back the one time. He's sore like most guys are after you play, but he was good yesterday. He was in.
Q. Do you worry at all, the fact that he seems as the year goes on to lose maybe a gear, at least the past few seasons, as he gets banged up?
BRADY HOKE: I don't think he did last year at all. Last year you look at Nebraska and Ohio, he was pretty healthy. In fact, he told me it's the healthiest that he's ever been at this time of year.
You know, we didn't run him a lot. They didn't allow us to run him a lot, I mean, how they defended him. But I think that's all part of it. He's going to stick his foot in the ground once in a while in those passing situations and go get yards for the team.
Q. After a tough loss like that, what do you look for in your leaders in the week of practice that follows?
BRADY HOKE: Well, you can't let one team beat you twice. I mean, you can't do that. I think what you look for is, number one, on the sideline during the football game, our guys were into the game. I mean, never one time did I see the guys who were out there not being into the game, which is a good sign, you know, because believe me, I've been on other teams where you look and they're not really excited about being there. These guys were excited throughout the four quarters of the football game.
I think this week we'll learn a little bit more about our leadership. I've liked it to this point. This week we'll learn a little bit more on how motivated they are. I think when you only have 11 guaranteed opportunities left and you're Michigan, I think you'll be very motivated.
Q. Is there an update on Fitz and Clark?
BRADY HOKE: They're both going to play this week.
BRADY HOKE: Well, it was more probably in how much we liked James' progress throughout the course of fall camp. You know, he's a pretty instinctive guy, picked up everything very well for a young guy, physical, and he has a knack for getting off blocks and accelerating, hits, things that you like to see a linebacker do, good vision.
Q. Bennie Oosterbaan is being honored this week by the team. A couple questions are, are you going to make the choice as to who wears his unretired uniform?
BRADY HOKE: Yes.
Q. And I assume you didn't get a chance to meet Bennie Oosterbaan before he passed away?
BRADY HOKE: I don't believe so.
Q. Are you going to take any time to have anyone or have someone talk to the team about Oosterbaan, what he meant to this University, the kind of athlete he was, that kind of stuff?
BRADY HOKE: Yes, we will.
Q. Jordan on Saturday touched on the number of missed tackles. How do you go about remedying that in a week?
BRADY HOKE: Well, some of it is obviously the run fits within the defense, who's supposed to be where, and you've got to count on that guy. Some of it is which?? for us a year ago we were a pretty good tackling team. We're going to tackle more in practice. And we tackled a decent amount. The NCAA limits you a little bit more now, especially during fall camp. But we'll tackle a decent amount this week.
The only thing I know how to get better at anything is to do it.
Q. You've got Courtney Avery starting opposite J.T. Floyd. What did you see from him after Blake went down in that game?
BRADY HOKE: Courtney is a seasoned veteran. I think with him and Raymon and Terry Richardson, the young freshman, I think all three of those guys are guys that we've counted on to be able to step up and play. Courtney has a lot of experience. He's played a lot of football here.
I think he was bailing on the one, and the double move kind of got him. But we trust Courtney. I think that's as big an issue as anything.
Q. Could Taylor be the starter this week?
BRADY HOKE: I think Courtney right now, yeah, he'll be the starter.
Q. And one thing with Clark, legally he's considered more serious. What went into the decision to play him?
BRADY HOKE: We've taken a lot of?? he's had a lot of penal consequences internally.
Q. What are the positives that you take out of the Alabama game?
BRADY HOKE: You know, I think the positives are the good plays that are on there. Denard's throw to Gallon was a big?time throw. A highlight in that play, but there were some good plays made by guys on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The thing we struggled with is stacking those together consistently, and that's one thing that as you watch the film, you talk about the good, but you talk about the bad. Well, you can do it well, let's do it well. And I think you're playing a team that traditionally is a good football team, and you find out where you're at and where you've got to improve.
Q. Going off that passing game, what was it specifically about that that made it hard for Denard to get in a rhythm?
BRADY HOKE: Well, you know, number one, I don't think it's just?? people want to gang up on Denard, and they're making a mistake. Routes being run where we had some drops that we can't have, when you look at the flow of your offense and where you're at, protection wise at times was pretty good, pretty solid, but then we got beat a couple times. And you hurry to throw, or he had to move out of the pocket and his feet weren't the way he wanted, his hips and all those.
Q. I've got two questions about Devin. When Denard got banged up the one time, it looked like Russell was going to come into the game and obviously he was the quarterback that got some snaps at the end, and Devin was No.3 on the depth chart. Is it fair to say that he is a wide receiver first and a quarterback second or third at this point?
BRADY HOKE: I would say he's a wide receiver first, and then a quarterback depending on where you're at in the game or the week.
Q. You talked a little bit about him on Saturday and you're talking about some of those routes. He almost had two spectacular catches. Those balls, and there's like a 15?yard out that Denard actually dropped in between the corner and the safety where Devin in a couple weeks will make those catches because he'll adjust better to the ball?
BRADY HOKE: Well, I think you're right. A couple things: I think we're very comfortable and confident in Devin at wide receiver, and I know Denard is. And I think as he continues to play more, continues?? especially at game level, game speed, and you try and do that every day in practice, but I think he learned a little bit more about playing wide receiver.
Q. You kind of alluded to it, but is the approach to the players, look, here's the film, we've just got to get better, or is there some element of we might not face that much talent again all year?
BRADY HOKE: You know, it's not the latter. I mean, we've got to get better if we want to win a Big Ten Championship and play Michigan football.
Q. Devin, Jeremy Gallon got a lot of targets on Saturday, pretty much similar amount of targets. Is there a number one right now?
BRADY HOKE: No, it's still, you've got to go through a progression, you know. Obviously there's some calls that are a little more specific, but I think all those guys are guys who make plays. So as Denard goes through a read, it's somewhere that we've?? this is what we want to do and attack if we get this look, and it could be either one of them.
Q. Was there ever a conscious decision to (Inaudible)?
BRADY HOKE: No, not really. You start doing that, you respect his abilities and his athleticism, but we've got pretty good athletes. We've got guys who can do some things pretty well. So no.
Q. Seemed like the second level blockers were getting easily to the linebackers??
BRADY HOKE: Yeah, some of that is the linebackers' fault and some of it is the defensive linemen's fault. Some of it you've got to have a little more friction on the offensive linemen, sometimes linebackers maybe hesitate or their footwork is bad and they're a little slow getting to where they want to get to, so it's a combination of both.
Q. What were your overall impressions of the line play on the defensive side?
BRADY HOKE: We didn't get off blocks. I didn't think we handled the point of attack as well as we can. I think there was inconsistency with it because as you'll watch the tape there's some really good plays and guys knocking guys back. And then there's some other plays where it's not near what it needs to be.
Q. I know you said that Frank faced some internal consequences, but how do you resolve in your head playing somebody who still has a felony charge? How do you go about doing that if you can take us through that process a little bit?
BRADY HOKE: I don't need to take you through a process. I just resolved it.
Q. What has Bellamy done to take over the backup quarterback job, and when did you decide Devin exclusively would be a receiver?
BRADY HOKE: Well, you're in the middle of a game, and a guy has prepared both positions, and I'll get back to your initial with Russell. I think that's a tough transition. And then Devin is still playing quarterback some in practice, but in the heat of the battle game wise, and then Russell has really had a great fall camp, and I'm very proud of how he's progressed.
Q. Part of running as often as he did or as few times as he did was his reads on whether (Inaudible)? What were you seeing that they were doing that argued against him running more than he did?
BRADY HOKE: Their nickel or their safeties. You could go action the other way. They weren't moving. They were waiting. And it could have been the backer?? depends if they drop the safety down or the backer out and drop the safety inside. I mean, they weren't moving. And that's where we've got to hit a couple of those throws, you know, when we do throw the ball, to take that out of them.
Q. How did Elliott do in his first start do you think?
BRADY HOKE: You know, he did a pretty good job. He hung in there. He was pretty physical at the line of scrimmage. I think all his gun snaps were good, and he did a nice job.
Q. Will you keep him there for next week?
BRADY HOKE: Yes.
Q. With (Inaudible) out, does that change the defense outside of him as a player?
BRADY HOKE: No, no. I mean, not one guy we have out there is going to change the defense and the schematics that you do with it.
Q. What about a nickel? Is that going to be??
BRADY HOKE: Well, it could be Thomas, it could be Courtney and bringing another corner in. We've practiced Courtney there a lot, practiced Thomas there a lot.
Q. Is Ray pretty physical for his limitations? He didn't seem as involved in the passing game.
BRADY HOKE: I don't think it was anything to do with him. He's fine, Mark, he really is in good shape.
Q. Regarding the freshmen, as a coach what goes through your mind?
BRADY HOKE: Well, we traveled 17 of them, and that was interesting.
Q. Is it concerning to have that much inexperience on the field?
BRADY HOKE: Well, it is, but what are you going to do? The best players got to play, and so you've got to play the best guys.
Q. You said it was interesting bringing 17 freshmen down there.
BRADY HOKE: Yeah, it's like babysitting sometimes a little bit. I mean, they're just young. They got on a big?boy jet and they fly down and playing in big boy stadiums and a big boy team and a big boy hotel. There's a lot that's different. They did a nice job with it, but there's always?? travel is something that as a coach is a headache to some degree. You worry about how guys prepare mentally.
Q. With a trip like that are they almost less young after the first game?
BRADY HOKE: You hope so. You hope so. You remind them that this is not Sycamore High School anymore.
Q. Talking about the safeties and watching Denard, you said that he should have run the ball more. Should he have run the ball more in your opinion?
BRADY HOKE: I think there were a couple reads maybe he should have, but this kid is a great quarterback, and he's a great athlete, and he's probably going to run it sometimes when it shouldn't and something is going to happen. He's a competitor.
Q. Will Furman be available this week?
BRADY HOKE: Yes.
Q. Do you think the team is a little bit more physically beaten up than after a typical game going against a team like Alabama?
BRADY HOKE: No. No. We've got physical teams in our league. This team this week coming in here will be a physical football team. That's how they play.
Q. Now you've got a completely different offense that you're going to face. In fall camp did you guys work at Air Force at all, and how do you go from playing that offense to this offense?
BRADY HOKE: Well, it's always a challenge. Any time you get into a midline series offense. It's a fun challenge, because it really speaks of playing assignment football, and so we have game planned them way back, did very little this fall camp, but we'll start tonight. You can't do too much because their personnel, and what Troy is doing?? they have changed a little bit with?? they're going no huddle now, and when we were in the Mountain West with them they still huddled, and they've changed around the midline and some of the pro series that when he was at the Texans they did from a no?huddle offense. So it's pretty unique.
Q. I guess a team that does stuff like that, are you worried about guys maybe thinking too much and not reacting enough?
BRADY HOKE: Yeah, I think that's part of it. The biggest thing is you have to really do a great job at the line of scrimmage of frictioning the blocks and keeping your linebackers a little more clean and then taking your rotation of fullback?quarterback pitch, just over and over, and then they'll have ways when you line up one way, they'll have ways to attack you. It will take us a little bit of time to get used to the speed because we don't have a quarterback who can run like theirs besides our quarterback, but he's not going to run scout team this week.
BRADY HOKE: No, we couldn't do that with him, either.
Q. Going bigger picture still looking at Alabama, obviously defending national champion, how far is this program from being in that spot at contending?
BRADY HOKE: I don't know if I have an answer for you. We've got to get a bit more consistent, we need to be more physical. I think we?? I think those two things are the big things. Those two things are the big things we have to be.
Q. And that's recruiting in part. How many do you??
BRADY HOKE: I don't know why we can't do it this year.
Q. Will Hagerup struggled a lot last year and had a pretty good game against Alabama. What do you see from him?
BRADY HOKE: I thought Will and Matt both did well, the kickoffs he did a tremendous job, Will punted well. I was glad to see that because once in a while Will will try and overpunt, and I thought he may be trying to hit the screen. And so I'm glad he didn't try and do that. So I thought he punted well.
I thought the special teams part of it with the kickers and then with Norfleet, I thought he did a nice job in returns.
Q. He kicked through the end zone and had a few touch backs. (Inaudible)?
BRADY HOKE: I think so. You know, you give him to him at the 25.
Q. How much of a role can you see for Norfleet besides special teams going forward?
BRADY HOKE: You know, I think he's a pretty good guy with the ball in his hands. How you get it in his hands I think is what we have to really look at.
Q. Do you envision doing more of that?
BRADY HOKE: Possibly, yeah.
Q. After a game like you had, what are your thoughts on the helmet coming off?
BRADY HOKE: I really don't know if?? I know the intent. I don't know if?? I don't know if it's right, because if they can't see at all, it's a judgment call, and an opponent takes the helmet off, they don't call every hand to the face.
I think it's going to be interesting to see. The intent is very good, but I don't know how you manage it.
Q. (Inaudible.) What were your impressions of him overall?
BRADY HOKE: I think he had probably one penalty. That's my?? I thought he played well. I thought he played with a lot of heart and toughness and things you like players to play with.
Q. You mentioned how disciplined the linebackers are going to have to be this week.
BRADY HOKE: Well, the D?line, too, now.
Q. What did you think about?? especially Jake Ryan, their reads and their discipline?
BRADY HOKE: Jake played well. I mean, Jake is always going to play?? he may not step exactly like you teach him all the time, but he's going to end up in the right place.
Q. With Devin at quarterback, it's such an ego position. He said that he had talked to you guys and sort of had a mutual discussion about moving. How hard is it for a guy when he's in that position to say, you know, volunteering or however it transpired, to do that?
BRADY HOKE: How hard is it for??
Q. For him.
BRADY HOKE: Well, I imagine it was a tough decision, but I think he's a competitor who wants to play. I think he knew Denard was our quarterback. And I think the other part of it, he's helping our football team, and that's probably as big as anything.
Q. With Brandon Moore out this week, is Kwiatkowski basically the guy?
BRADY HOKE: Well, it'll be Kwiatkowski, it will be A.J. Williams, it will be Devin Funchess.
Q. About the same amount?
BRADY HOKE: We'll see.
Q. When did you get sick?
BRADY HOKE: Wednesday.