UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 31, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
Appalachian State: 14
THE MODERATOR: Coach will start with an opening statement. Coach?
COACH HOKE: It's obviously good to win a football game to start the season.
I mentioned to you many times before this team has worked really hard, and they've done a nice job. I think the leadership throughout has been good. I thought we played hard, and I was a little concerned in the second half when they had the opportunity and they were running the ball on us through the middle of our defense.
We've got to do a better job there, but I thought the kids came out and played hard. Disappointing, no turnovers defensively, and we only had one sack. They get the ball out of their hands pretty quick, and that's just part of what they do, but should have been better than that. Had some opportunities and gotta make them when you're there.
Q. Coach, is there an area that you were more impressed with between the points scored, the offensive performance of 560 total yards or the fact that the rushing yards surpassed the passing?
COACH HOKE: I think the biggest thing was, you know, we weren't competing with the scoreboard, we were competing with our abilities. That's what we talked about going into the game, and how we wanted to play and how we wanted to go about every down.
Statistics are statistics, and you can look at them and believe 'em or you can lack at them and know that's not the true answer, because there are a lot of things this football team has to do better.
Q. Jabrill Peppers' status?
COACH HOKE: He'll be all right. I'll be honest with you, at halftime, just decided not to bring him out second half. It's nothing life injury or anything, he will be ready next week.
Q. And talk about the decision to give Devin Funchess the No. 1 and how he played in response to that.
COACH HOKE: The young man asked me about it, I said that's fine. I said call a member of the Kramer family ask them and that's what he did. Ron Kramer may have been the best player ever to play here, best athlete athlete ever to play here. So he talked to Kurt, his son, and Devin being more of a wide receiver, obviously, he thought that's what he wanted to do. And believe me I asked him who has worn No. 1, and he started with Anthony Carter and went down the list, so I think that's ?? he earned it.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOKE: Let me look at his stats, because that will tell me everything. (Laughter.) He was a presence out there.
Q. Talk about the importance of 100?yard rushers in football.
COACH HOKE: I think we wanted to run the ball, and to have two, 100?yard rushers is a good thing. We wanted that offensive line to play together. We talked about taking them out the series before the last touchdown, but, really, they hadn't played as much together, Khalid has missed some of camp and getting him back in and playing with him and the combination of him and Joe, getting Mason as many snaps, especially with a quality guard next to him, I think was important. I thought Jack Miller did a really nice job with our offensive line, you know, between the communication ?? I was very impressed with Jack and have been all camp.
So they did a good job. There was a sequence in the series, two series in the second quarter where we lost some yardage on a couple of runs, and that bothers me, and I think we want perfection, and that's good because high standards should be high.
That bothered us. There was a lot of big runs in there. You watch Jehu block, Darboh block, you watch "little Fleetwood" block, those guys open up a lot of the big plays.
Q. Devin Gardner was obviously pretty efficient today. Can you talk about what he did in terms of what you were looking for out of him?
COACH HOKE: Well, we wanted him to, number one, manage the game, take care of the football. I think he made some really good decisions. I think he changed a play or two at the line of scrimmage, more than one or two, and I thought he played "locked in" to what was going on.
I think with Doug being on the sideline I think helps in this situation, because of being able to talk to him between series, make some adjustments.
Q. Seemed like much of your success at least early on offense came out of the shut gun with spread formation. Is that a product for the opponent or the best fit for your personnel, still?
COACH HOKE: Well, you know, anytime you can run some of those spread things you've got a pretty mobile quarterback, one of those "dual threat" guys they talk about, and I think having the ability to run some of that, whether you're going to make it, you know, your backbone of what you're doing, I think defenses have to prepare for it.
I think it's always good to have that in there.
Q. How important was it to jump out to a good start to give your guys confidence and maybe knock back some of theirs that they might have come into the game with?
COACH HOKE: I think that's important, Larry. I think we think our football team was ready. You could tell how they really prepared the whole week. I think it was important to get on the board. It was important for the defense to get on the field first. We talked about our kick?off team going down and setting the tone and at the same time defensively setting a bit of a tone and I think they did in that first series.
The offense kind of?? they feed off each other a little bit, and it was good to get on the board. We were at 14 for a while, so it was good to respond. I still think coming out in the third quarter, you know, we need to do a better job in coming out just like we did in the first quarter.
Q. Coach, how big was it, the balance between Green and Smith, both gaining over 100 yards?
COACH HOKE: I think it's huge for our football team and it's huge for both those young men. They're both big backs, but they're different. As you notice, Smith, he would rather run you over than play tag or try and make you miss. Green has a combination of both. It was good to have those guys have success, and I think it speaks, again, to what the receivers did and the offense line did.
Q. Their success in the run game in the middle of your defense, was that about fits?
COACH HOKE: I think it's more about fits, I think it's about guys didn't get off blocks. You go another series and all of the sudden the same guy who didn't get off a block, he was getting off a block and it's a plus 1 or a minus 1. So the consistency of doing that every time.
Q. Brady, how does the offensive line change with Glasgow available to play next week and was Khalid, was he ailing a little bit, or had you already decided?
COACH HOKE: We had already decided Joey would start it and get Kyle into it. How it changes, I'm not sure yet. I think that's an option that we're glad we have, but I can't tell you if it's, you know, going to be a change right yet.
Q. And on Peppers, is it an ankle and will he be able to play?
COACH HOKE: Yes.
Q. Speaking of Notre Dame, can you talk about that and the added intrigue because it's the last one for a long time?
COACH HOKE: Well, you know, it's always been a great football game. Bo would say it kinda lets you know where your team was early in the season because of the similarities of the athletes that are on the field. From that standpoint, I think for college football, it's a great rivalry and the significance of being the last one down there, yeah, there is significance to it.
Q. Brady, I imagine you never know what you're going to get out of your team the first game. From the concerns that were out there about the offensive line and other things, did you feel some of that at least in your mind was the alleviated? I know it's just one game. Did they come out with the aggression you've been looking for?
COACH HOKE: I think the second part, yes. I thought they came out aggressive. Just being on the sideline and watching body angles and the leverage that they were playing with and finishing blocks. The last play of the game, Kugler is in there, and he finishes a block, on a guy about 8 yards down the play. That was the only play he played. He made the most of it.
I think we're a long way from being what I think we can be. We just gotta keep working. That's the great thing about this team. They've come in mojo and they have worked every day. They love working together.
Q. You talked about what you didn't like about the defense. What did they do well in a shutout first half and only allowing 7 with the starters in?
COACH HOKE: I thought they were pretty tight on coverage. I think that part of it, and we have worked real hard on being tighter in the coverage aspect. I think the flow of the linebackers, all three of them, you know, because they rotate, and depending on what defensive package we're in, James Ross, and James plays some of the normal defense also as an inside guy, but you felt those guys. You felt them as much as anything, breaking on balls and cleaning the hits up.
Q. Coach, your comments about Coach Nussmeier's work with the offense, and the offensive performance based on Coach working with it? Today's performance, your overall assessment of that combination now?
COACH HOKE: You know what, I guess the only thing I would say to that is we won the football game. We got in the end zone. We play Notre Dame next week.
Q. You mentioned Doug on the side lines. What does that do for Devin Gardner or for the whole team when he's down there and involved right next to you the whole time. What does it do for you? Does it change anything for you?
COACH HOKE: Well, you know what, he gets in my way! (Laughter.) I'm trying to keep him off the field. I think he wants to go out and play. But I think this year, at this time, being with the quarterback for, I don't know, nine months or whatever it is, I think it's important that he's there with him. They can communicate. I think it's the same with the offensive line.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOKE: I hope so. I've always liked energy.
Q. Do you anticipate more double coverage on him? Talk about being a wide receiver and?? (Away from mic.)
COACH HOKE: He's definitely someone you need to pay attention to. I think as the year goes on, as he keeps working and as he keeps learning and keeps developing, I think that maybe more people will put a corner ?? bracket him a little bit, put a corner over the top of him, run him and safety over the top, but then that helps Chesson and Darboh and it helps Fleetwood, Norfleet, and those other guys.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH HOKE: Well, I think that helps, yeah, there is no question about it. I think, you know, moving him back and forth is something. There is a lot to learn. And in this offense there is a lot to learn for a wide receiver when you talk about splits and minus two's and plus 2's and all those kind of things for certain routes and plays. Football is geometry, it really is. How they decide on the spacing of it is huge in an offense.
Q. What was your overall assessment of the special teams? You guys had the block but the kick?off team almost recovered the onside kick.
COACH HOKE: Yeah, and we were a little too deep, Mark. We had talked about it and we had done it with them and we just didn't react. It will be interesting to see the replay and see if we're back on our heels a little bit trying to get depth.
The block was?? I don't know who blocked it. Who blocked it?
COACH HOKE: McCray did? Mike did? Anytime you can generate points in your special teams, I think there is some statistics out there that you get 70% more chance or 75% more chance of winning a football game, and one of those is based on blocked punts. We wanted to be aggressive. Didn't know exactly what we were going to get totally from them, because in pregame they lined up in a pro style punt, and then obviously they were spread punt with a shield when we got to real live bullets.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.