UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 8, 2012Richmond High School
COACH HOKE: Thank you for coming. Very pleased with the win. You know, it's great to win obviously. I thought they set a tone early defensively. Great to win on the road is what I should say, because you look at this league on the road, it's a tough place to play.
Thought we set the tone with the three and out by the defense, and then I think offensively play drive almost nine minutes really was what we needed to do. We played very good defense watching our offense out there on the field.
So that's a good deal. I think we practiced well for the week. We prepared well. Liked how our guys came to work every day, and we need to continue to do that.
We know we're in a championship game every Saturday, so our mentality and attitude needs to reflect that by our actions in practice.
We had a good day yesterday, and hopefully we can continue that.
Q. I'm sure you're never satisfied with where your team is at, but can you talk about how each week they seem to be getting closer to what you want?
COACH HOKE: Well, I don't know if they'll ever be what we want. They're going to work hard at it; we're going to work hard at it.
Yeah, I think some guys who came into the year with not many reps under their belt?? I think, you know, experience is always important. I think significant reps in a game are important when you look at fundamentals and techniques.
Q. What do you think about your past defense especially, and what would you like to see it do better, but losing a guy early in the first game?
COACH HOKE: John, I think number one, at this point in the season, I don't think we're getting enough pressure on the quarterback. I think that helps those guys in the back end.
And then at the same time, I think there were times when we need to do a better job tightening zone blitz coverages or man coverages, because now you force that quarterback to be a little more accurate.
So I think we keep searching as coaches for different ways to manufacture some pressure, and at the same time have good coverage with it. I think we're a work in progress with it. I think we'll continue to even look at different groups who you put on the field, you know, and do that a little differently.
Q. How would you assess your runningback play? Is there a point where maybe Rawls starts pushing for more carries?
COACH HOKE: I don't think so. Yeah, we want to run the ball a little better, but when look at it and you go back and look at it and you see ?? if you remember a year ago, I think Fitz ran for 170 yards against Purdue. They weren't going to let him did that.
They were very concerned with taking that part of our offense away. Denard rushed for 235, so something has got to give. What gave was Denard 235 and I think 25 carries.
So there weren't really any golden opportunities because of how the defended the tailback position.
Q. Toussaint, maybe with the exception of a run here and there, hasn't really gotten going at all this year. Is he running differently than he did last year?
COACH HOKE: I don't think so. I just don't think we've had enough opportunities for him.
Q. What have you seen out of Kenny Demens the last couple weeks? Early in the season we were seeing Joe Bolden a lot, and it almost looked like Joe was in a position to take Kenny's job away. Where do you see him the last couple weeks?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, I think he's played better football to be honest with you, and I think that happens at times. I think he's prepared better. I really do.
I think Joe, you know, that competition there and having two guys, you know, Joe has enough snap experience now that you feel good about when he's in the ballgame also.
So I think it's great competition. I think the mentality that Kenny has had in his preparation has been good.
Q. I know you experimented with kickoff against UMASS. Talk about what you tried to do against Purdue and your assessment of your kickoff coverage.
COACH HOKE: Kickoff coverage wasn't good at all. We missed nine tackles and hit two kicks poorly from a kicker standpoint.
And when you miss nine tackles because there were opportunities ?? the negative to that is most of those guys ? I think all but one? are defensive players on this team. Darboh is the only offensive player on the team.
We got to do a better job running through guys. Too many guys reaching and not enough guys returning through tackles.
Q. Talk about the decision to angle the kickoff the way you did.
COACH HOKE: We did that all year. Depends who we want to kick the ball to to some degree. Tried to keep it out of No. 8's hands.
The other part of it is Matt kicks to one side better than the other.
Q. Going back to Kenny, how has the progression of the defensive line and their ability to kind of control things up front help Kenny in the last couple weeks?
COACH HOKE: Well, I think it does help. Again, you got some significant guys that have gotten real snaps where they haven't had near as many before, so there is a learning that they go through.
So I think it's better, and I think it helps. I think we're playing a little tighter on offensive linemen, which means we're getting hands on a little more. That keeps its linebackers a little more clear.
Q. So far with Illinois, what names or numbers jump out at you that you want to make sure your guys know about?
COACH HOKE: Well, I think from a defensive standpoint, Scheelhaase is a guy that can be very dangerous. He's very effective running the football. He's healthy. I don't think he was healthy earlier in the year. He played well deep into that game up in Wisconsin.
Defense is leading the league, and red zone or third down defense, you know, which means they're getting offenses off the field. They've got playmakers. Brown and Buchanan are two of the playmakers.
They have got a lot of weapons.
Q. You talked about Denard's rushing production. What about in areas like throwing the ball away, running out of pocket, and getting out of bounds on those longer runs without taking a big hit?
COACH HOKE: I think it's maturity. Two of the best plays the other day from an offensive standpoint was Fitz on the one?yard touchdown run. He went after it. It was blocked decently well, but they had lined up well.
So the guy who had lined up lined up wrong runs, so the guy who lined up wring runs over to where he's supposed to be, and that's where we expected him to be anyway. As an offensive linemen coming off the ball and somebody is not there, Fitz ran through him.
And then Denard throwing the ball out of bounds on a critical third down. He's a competitor and he wants to make something happen on every play, but I thought that was really well done.
And then not taking the big hits if you don't have to.
Q. How do you feel about Gallon at punt returner?
COACH HOKE: Like him. Love him.
Q. You also had Dileo back there more.
COACH HOKE: That was because of the inconsistency their punter had going into the game. He would punt some 30 yards, and why give up field position?
Q. Fellow students, fans, and others may be peeking ahead. What do you say, if anything, to not look ahead to the green letter game on the schedule coming up and focus on Illinois even though they don't seem like they're that good on paper, frankly?
COACH HOKE: That's your opinion. I don't think we'll have any problems.
Q. Going back to Denard for a moment, you talked about him a little bit, but at this point in the season, has he met your expectation so for?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, he always does. I mean, he comes out and competes. He comes out and works. He works in that building.
I think Al, Coach Borges' playing was what we wanted to do. I think it was a good plan and well executed.
Q. Going back to Fitz, you did say on Saturday after the game that we needed to get to protocol more quickly with our runs. Is that something he needs to be reminded of? Was there an opportunity for him to get a little more vertical than just run east?west?
COACH HOKE: You know what, not as much as I thought during the game, to be honest with you. I thought there may have been one in there in the first half where I thought he could have stuck his foot in the ground.
There was no real golden opportunities for him. That was how they wanted to defend us.
Q. Is that on Purdue or is that on some lack of execution?
COACH HOKE: I would say mostly Purdue. They weren't going to let him rush for 170 yards, because that's what really got 'em in trouble a year ago.
Q. Every week that you're giving a jersey to a Michigan legend obviously is important. When you have a former president, you would think that adds just a little touch to the process.
COACH HOKE: I don't think there is any doubt there is a significance when you have a former president of the United States of America who's a graduate and a player. Believe me, it's very significant.
Q. Brendan Gibbons, can you talk how he's done this year? (Indiscernible.)
COACH HOKE: Yeah, it was right on. You know, they go out before and they communicate before the game on where they feel that spot is, where it could be a little long, especially with the wind that was there.
It was right on this number and he kicked it well. The wind just kept it and pushed it back. But he's done well. I think we would rather have touchdowns than field goals when we're in the red zone. That's disappointing. But I thought he responded really well.
And I thought Jareth Glanda in a snapper and Drew, I think I they both need a little credit. And I'll tell you who else: Quinton Washington and Will Campbell, because Kawann Short had blocked three this year already, and they did a nice job up the middle of our formation of our PAT team.
Q. How did Brennen Beyer look to you?
COACH HOKE: He was okay. He was good. He's a good football player. I thought he did a good job.
Q. When you talk about needing more pressure, is he a guy that you may end up putting...
COACH HOKE: We may. He's one of those guys that having him back?? he'll be healthier this week than he was last week. Having him back is important to us.
Q. About the pressure, what do you think the key is for the defensive line to start getting more production?
COACH HOKE: We had a couple opportunities, and instead of running through the quarterback we jumped. I don't know why we do that. Some of it is it's a natural thing. Guy gets a ball up and his off hand comes up and he thinks it's going to come out.
But we want to run through. We missed nine tackles on the kickoff team because we didn't run through. We were grabbing. Same thing when you jump or if you grab. You got to bring your feet. Feet are the most important thing.
So we got to do a better job with that. We screwed up a game, an inside game that?? it was sickening how good it was. How good it could have been, let's put it that way.
Q. You talk about the things that get better on defense, but you're seventh in the NCAA in pass defense. What do you like that they're doing?
COACH HOKE: I think as much as anything, they're taking what they're learning during the week from a personnel standpoint maybe, formation standpoint, down and distance, all those things that you want to teach as a coach, and that's going to help 'em.
I think they're doing a good job with that. I think at spots we're playing good coverage. I think there was a consistency that we don't have in coverage sometimes, pressure on the quarterback.
Q. Brady, how is Denard's hand? Looked like he got it hit a little bit.
COACH HOKE: He's fine. Practiced yesterday.
COACH HOKE: I made that statement once.
Q. Minus Denard's yards...
COACH HOKE: This is scary now.
COACH HOKE: Go ahead.
Q. No, minus Denard's rushing yards, are you at all concerned about the production from the runningbacks?
COACH HOKE: Yeah. I mean, I would be lying if I said I wasn't. But up front I thought those guys played pretty solid when you look an at it.
Their best game? No. But they played solid. We got to keep making some improvements every day there.
Q. When you know a team is trying to take something away, do you ever think maybe putting in a changeup, putting in Rawls a little earlier just to change things up?
COACH HOKE: No, not really.
Q. No? How come?
COACH HOKE: Because Fitz hasn't proven that he can't.
Q. What does the defense do to stop a specific runningback like Fitz?
COACH HOKE: Depends how your linebackers are going to flow. It depends how?? we can sit here for an hour and talk about treating the spread and the zone reads and all that and how you're going to defend it.
The Jets scheme off it, how are you going to defend it? Are you going to take way with the outside guy? They wanted to crash it a little bit, and that's where the fumble came from. Or are you going to defend the quarterback with your end and have the linebacker run over the top?
There are a lot of different ways.
Q. You talk like you really liked how they practiced last week. How often is that the case that those good practices will carryover into a good game on Saturday? Does that happen more often than not?
COACH HOKE: Probably happens more often than not. When you like a practice, you know, you like it for different reasons. I like it when the assignment, execution, and the effort. We may be bad fundamentally and not step with the right foot or something like that, but when they're playing with great effort then they're playing with a toughness that goes along with it and they're competing.
And then the speed and the tempo of how we're playing, that, to me, is what I did like coming off a bye week. Everybody says, Well, what do you think of the bye week? I don't know. You really don't know until the end of the. But I know we didn't lose the speed and we may have gained some speed that we want to play with.
Q. Was there something in practice that was missing in previous weeks?
COACH HOKE: Not as much. That's what I was going to get back to and I forget. We have had good practices before and not executed from a standpoint of assignment?wise.
Q. Do you like practices better than games in any way?
COACH HOKE: I don't know. I kind of like all of it, to be honest with you. That's why I do it, being around those kids.
Q. You only have a few completions and only 100?something yards passing ? obviously you won the game dramatically ? but is it something you say, Well, we need more balance or that game needed to be that way?
COACH HOKE: That game needed to be that way. That was the plan. That was the plan. Get him back from the football feeling good, and then go from there.
Q. And there are other games where you'll want to see him through the ball again, I assume.
COACH HOKE: Well, there is no question that's going to happen. People are going to make you.
Q. In retrospect do you wish you would have run the football more in earlier games?
COACH HOKE: I don't think so. We talked about it last week. Playing on the road we're a different team than we have been at home. We talked about that.
Q. Taylor said 23 missed assignments against Notre Dame. How much better was it against Purdue?
COACH HOKE: It was better than 23. I can't give you the exact number offensively. Probably inside of 12.
Q. What's acceptable for you?
COACH HOKE: Well, zero, I mean, really.
Q. Yep. How about Jake Ryan, can you talk about his play? Was he as good as he looked against Purdue?
COACH HOKE: He was pretty daggone good. He's a football player. He's unorthodox. He's a football player. He's playing well. He's a football player.
Q. What do you mean by unorthodox?
COACH HOKE: He just does things differently. He can get away with fundamentally not doing something wrong, but he has that extra gear that makes it right.
Q. Is he at the point where defenses have to always be aware of...
COACH HOKE: Oh, I don't know that. I wouldn't.
Q. You still chew him out when he does something wrong?
COACH HOKE: Oh, yeah. Yeah. That's life.
Q. Why, if he ends up doing the right thing?
COACH HOKE: Because you want him to do it the right way.
Q. Maybe it's not the right way for him.
COACH HOKE: There is a right way. You want to get feisty today, huh?
Q. A little bit.
COACH HOKE: You losing tennis or what?
Q. I actually got sleep. I was going to ask you and something now you made me lose my... unbelievable.
COACH HOKE: Something about the punters probably.
Q. No, no. I was going to ask you about Dileo. You talked about senior leadership, but Gardner was talking about how he gathered the offense before the game and told them that they have to get off to a fast start. What does he bring to the table? He jokes about being the white receiver.
COACH HOKE: You know what he brings is he's a football player. It's like Jake. They're football players. They love to play. They love to learn how to play. They come with that mentality every day, they take high regard of their responsibility for their team, and they love to play the game.
Q. Don't they all love to play?
COACH HOKE: I don't know if you could go through every Division I school in the country and say all 105, 115 love to play.
Q. How does that manifest itself in practice?
COACH HOKE: Because you don't practice hard when you love to play.
Q. No, when you love to play.
COACH HOKE: You practice hard.
Q. All right.
COACH HOKE: You don't make excuses. You don't make mistakes.
Q. Is that something you can teach?
COACH HOKE: What's your favorite food?
Q. My favorite food?
COACH HOKE: If you were on death row, what would be your last meal?
Q. Oh, man. Pizza.
COACH HOKE: Okay. You love it?
Q. I do love it.
COACH HOKE: You love football the same way. (Applause.) (Laughter.)
Q.Brady, after two of three long runs that you had you ended up scoring touchdowns afterwards. What is that communication like between him and his blocker down there for him to go all the way versus...
COACH HOKE: I think the angle, when you look at the ones that went out of bounds, the defender had an angle on him.
What do you do with the blocker? The guy blocking has no idea what's going on. He has no clue where the ball is. The only thing telling him where the ball is is that guy in front of him.
If this guys really likes to play, right, then that's where the ball is at. If a guy don't like to play, he may go over here.
Q. When you take a player and put your arm around him on the sideline after a maybe not?so?smart penalty, is there a recognition that you're looking for in terms of, okay, he gets it and is ready to go back in?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, probably so.
Q. Denard's long runs, how much of that was him doing something only he can do, and how much of it was holds?
COACH HOKE: I'll tell you what, there were some significant holes. I think the first one he did a little something to the safety that not a whole lot guys can do. He really did a nice job of juking the guy.
But everything else, the back side of that thing where he took it three times, I mean, it was blocked well.
Q. Why are they there for him and not for Fitz?
COACH HOKE: Different runs. There are a lot of different runs. Again, they were trying to take the runningback away, and it left the backside open. Linebacker quick over the top because you're trying to get to the runningback, backside is open.