Postgame Quotes: #17 Michigan 59, Central Michigan 9

Aug 31, 2013

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Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke

On Devin Gardner's playmaking ability ... "Well, he's athletic. And sometimes I'm crossing my fingers when I see him out there being athletic. But he had a couple of decisions that I think, one for sure, was one that he should have probably made a better decision on. But at the same time he's got a lot of confidence in his abilities. And you like that. I'd rather have a quarterback that has that confidence and a guy who you have to keep feeding all the time. So I think I thought he had a good game. I wouldn't say elite or excellent or anything, but I thought he had a good game."

On having balance in the offense ... "Well, I think to the offense itself, I think it's really important. I think to have balance and when you have balance, you can run the ball. And I don't know, I think the tailback position probably had about 150, 160 yards and then Devin had, I think, the rest of it. But it just opens up so much of the play-action game. And that's the one thing that Devin more than a lot of quarterbacks does such a great job -- with ball-handling and play-action -- that it's a big part of our offense."

On what he liked and didn't like from the game ... "There's probably a lot of things in the negative side. Winning was good. The defense responding in a couple of sudden-change situations was good. I think running the football was something that we want to do, obviously. Getting a lot of touches to a lot of different guys was a good thing.

On the negative side of it, I thought we were sloppy. And some of it is body posture, demeanor, getting in the huddle, getting out of the huddle and penalties. Those things drive me crazy. And so that's a negative. The other negative, I didn't think we tackled as well. And in the second quarter, they had first down running the ball. And some of that is tackling; some of it is getting off blocks and fitting the defense."

On playing true freshmen and if any of them stood out ... "I don't know if any of them really stood out. And I think until you watch the film, you know; I think we think that it's a talented group. At the same time, there's discipline and things like that you need to play with, and that's something that they'll learn. And they'll learn a lot off this game. We took 68 guys to the hotel last night. And 36 of them were first or second-year players. And that's a lot of babysitting, you know, and a lot of teaching going on."

On when it is time to bring in the inexperienced players ... "That is really a good question, because I'm always nervous to be honest with you. And luckily I've got good coaches who will remind me that we're up by 35 or whatever, and it was time maybe to play some other guys because I've seen teams come back, and I don't want that to happen."

On what he takes from this game as they look ahead to next week's game against Notre Dame ... "I don't think there's any doubt that we really wanted to go out and make a really good impression. At the same time there's so much to teach from this film and so many mistakes, maybe assignment-wise, the penalties and all that, you know, I can talk about it all day. But I think it's a game that we were fortunate enough to play well enough to get enough guys in, so they've got real tape in a game situation. And we can correct from that."

On Central Michigan ... "I told (CMU head coach) Dan (Enos) after the game that when you watch his team on tape, I was very impressed. They won their last four games a year ago, and they had to win three to get bowl eligible, in a row, and to do that is significant. You watch their tape, and I'm a defensive line coach, so I watch offensive linemen a lot. But to see the pad level they played with, their footwork, their mechanics, and that's what I told Dan.

"And then defensively, how hard they play and you see that on tape. I told him before the game he's got the thing going in a really good direction. I think we were fortunate today, and it worked out our way, but we were very impressed."

On when he started thinking about Notre Dame ... "You know, I didn't really think about it until we were done in the locker room. I think it gets you ready because young kids have played in front of 112,000 people. And I think there will be a few more thousand next week, and the atmosphere on campus, the atmosphere in Ann Arbor I think would be electric. It's the last time Notre Dame's going to come to Michigan for a while. So I would think that that's got a significance to it on both parts."

On the status of the players who appeared injured during the game ... "Drake (Johnson) and (Joe) Reynolds both, we'll find out a little more. I don't know. (Devin) Funchess has a cramp. That's what it was. That's what he told me."

On whether Devin Gardner was too excited to play, leading to his first interception ... "It could be. I'm not in his mind, but it could be him wanting to do too much too fast."

On whether Thomas Gordon's suspension will be in effect next week ... "No, he's a part of our team, part of our family, and he'll be back out on the field next Saturday night."

On the right amount of improvisation by Devin Gardner ... "I think as long as he does a good job of protecting himself; then we'll let him do what he does well. I think sometimes guys who have that kind of ability, sometimes it's -- I said it before I think in front of you, it's a blessing and a curse. And he can make a lot of plays and as long as he keeps learning the decision and third down sometimes punting the ball on fourth down is not a bad decision."

On the defense's approach to the game ... "You know, I think when we really dig into the tape, you find out more. I mean, you can say you gave up nine points, right? I guess they responded. But did they respond well enough? This is all about winning a championship. And if we get satisfied for one effort, then we're not going to win it."

On Josh Furman's first start ... "I think again watching the tape helps you. I saw him on some plays. I thought there were some plays that he needed to be over the top a little bit more on. But we'll look at it."

On the punt block ... "I thought Dan (Ferrigno) did a nice job on that call. We thought we had an opportunity. And the guys executed it. And so did they give us some momentum? Yeah, because the whole team knew we were going to go after the first punt. So when it works, they get excited."

On people being anxious to see Devin Gardner play ... "Yeah, I think we all were. To be honest with you, I have a luxury of seeing Devin play a lot. But, yeah, I think to see him come out there and first start, being at home, you know, I think it was good for him to get out there. I think they are all because of they're competitors; they always have a little bit of nerves to them."

On selecting someone to wear Tom Harmon's No. 98 jersey ... "I think it's significant. Like all the honorary numbers, and to be able to honor Tom Harmon in what his career was here at Michigan and the legacy that he left obviously we want to make sure that we honor the family with the person that wears that jersey."

On how the offensive line performed today ... "You know, it was -- we started the game in a little bit of NASCAR, quick tempo. And then the first series and then we throw the pick. Defense does a nice job. Come back out, second series, and we drive it down. And those were more of throwing situations, and I thought when we started running the ball, there was some room at the line of scrimmage. I thought guys were finishing blocks. I really think as we watch the tape I'm going to be anxious to see how Kyle Kalis and Jack (Miller) and Graham (Glasgow) in the interior, how they really worked together."

On what position groups he really wanted to focus on ... "I would say both fronts. I think how they played, how they came out, it was good to get a lot of the young guys in also. Ben Braden, a guy we think has a good chance of being a good offensive lineman here. And I'm just using him as an example. Willy Henry on defense and those guys on the other side. So it will be good to watch the tape with them and really coach them off of that tape."

On what the team can improve on even after a 59-9 win ... "It was great to win, we always take the win. But there were some things in the first half, there was a substitution penalty and that's coaching -- that's on us. We've got to do a better job with some of the penalties that we had. We had a penalty on a punt return, a penalty on a kickoff return, and then we had some movement penalties on the line of scrimmage."

On Devin Gardner's performance ... "He did a nice job creating with his feet, some throws (that relied on) timing were off a little bit. We tried to hit a double move, some play-action. Overall, he handled us as a football team for the three and a half quarters that he was in pretty well; I just think he can play a lot better. "

On using six running backs ..."(I've never had that many running backs), getting carries for all of them was important: the two freshmen, getting Fitz (Touissant) going early in the ball game -- he ran the ball well; he did some good things. It was nice to get a lot of guys in the football game to get some immediate experience."

On holding Central Michigan to field goals after sudden changes of possession ... "If you get the sudden change situation and you hold them to a field goal, you feel okay about it -- not great because they scored. I think the one thing defensively as we watch this tape that we're all going to say is that we need to tackle a little better next weekend if we're going to win the game."

On Cam Gordon's defensive leadership ... "Cam has worked hard, and that's the great thing about hard work, it pays off. He's so coachable and such a great kid. Obviously, his teammates think the world of him, they voted him captain, and I thought Cam did a nice job out there. Cam and Brennen Beyer are really a healthy combination out there."

On scoring the first touchdown on special teams following a punt block ... "It was (a huge plus). It was something we worked on and thought we had a chance. (Special teams coach) Dan Ferrigno put his scheme together. Dymonte (Thomas) did a good job of coming off the edge; everybody else was occupied in their shield so we had a guy free."

U-M Senior/Junior Quarterback Devin Gardner

On getting off to a quick start with the first touchdown ... "It's very important. That's what the game is about early. Coach Hoke always talks about special teams and starting fast because we don't want to get behind and give a team like Central (Michigan) confidence where they will give you a good game. They're a really good team, and we just kept pounding away so they didn't even have an opportunity."

On running out onto the field knowing this was his team to lead this year ... "It was amazing; I can't even really describe how I was feeling. My heart was racing, and I was just thinking 'don't fall' as I went up to touch the banner. I really can't describe it -- it felt great."

On how the freshmen that played handled the pressure in their first game ... "We talked in camp about pressure -- you can't touch it, you can't feel it -- it's not tangible, so it really doesn't exist. I feel like the freshmen took that on their backs and ran with it. They were really confident, and they ran well. The defensive backs -- I love watching those guys play because they were giving me headaches all during camp, so I knew they were ready as well. It was amazing to see guys who are like your little brothers get an opportunity so early to contribute and do well. "

On having a good test today before playing Notre Dame next weekend ... "I feel like I managed the game pretty well. The two things I didn't do well was throw the two interceptions, but besides that, I feel like I was pretty efficient in getting us in the right plays, making the throws when they were there and making opportunities for myself when things broke down. I just have to take the turnovers away. I feel like those were rushed throws. This first game was a good opportunity to knock the rust off because I'm pretty sure everyone knows the test that we have next weekend -- we'll be ready."

U-M Senior Running Back Fitzgerald Toussaint

On how he felt physically and mentally after returning from last year's injury ... "I'd say physically I felt great, but it was never really about the physical point; the mental point overtook all of that. I feel real good mentally and I'm just ready to play some more football."

On his first impression of the offense ... "I just want to start by giving credit to the offensive line, and another word I want to use is 'chemistry.' I think we built that throughout fall camp, and I think we did a really good job sticking together. So I think that's kind of what we put the emphasis on, and we came out here and we played good football."

On the emotion of returning from his injury and what he wants to prove now ... "I just want to say it's an emotional feeling. I just want to show that I can contribute any way I can for this football team -- protecting Devin (Gardner) and running the football hard. All that just goes out the window when it's time to come out to the field because my confidence just steps in and my preparation steps in. I'm just ready to go play football. It felt like a long roll, but I felt if I prepared right I'd be good to come out of it."

On the three new starters on the offensive line ... "I think they did really well. Like I said before, we really did well in the fall camp. I think that really built chemistry, and it takes (Michael) Schofield and Taylor (Lewan) on the outside to bring those guys inside together. So I think they did a really good job at that."

U-M Junior Linebacker Desmond Morgan

On the defense's play in the first game ... "I think it was a good start for a first game to get settled in a little bit. I think a lot of young guys got some experience and got the game feel under their belt, but there's a lot of things we have to improve on. We'll break down film tomorrow but just from a first impression we have to improve on our tackling. I think there were some missed tackles that shouldn't have happened and some of our coverage aspects we have to kind of clean up but overall, as the first start, we did pretty well."

On the adjustments made by Coach Mattison at halftime ... "They always bring us together at halftime and assess what they're hurting us with in the first half and the things we're kind of sticking to them, so we just assess some of the stuff they're getting us with like pass routes and things like that and kind of made minor adjustments and just adapted to it in the second half."

On the defense's goals as a unit and how many of them were met ... "As a defense we always want to keep them to as few points as possible. I know red-zone defense is one of the biggest things that we always stress and coming up twice with the stop was a big thing for us, especially holding them to a field goal when they started in close there and the quick change of momentum and everything like that, so that was one thing. As far as turnovers, our goal is to get at least two, and we got two of them. I think there was a couple of opportunities where we could have gotten more and as the season progresses we need to get more, but overall I think that's two of the big things that stand out in my mind."

On whether or not getting more sacks is a point of emphasis right now for the defense ... "I think that's something that we need to improve on as well. I know me personally, blitzing a couple of times and us linebackers have to get home on a couple more blitzes; I don't think we did that too well today. Pass rush is always something we want to improve on. There was one third down where they scrambled and got the first down so we need to get a little more pressure and contain that guy. So there were a couple of times where we need to clean that up, and that's something we're going to work on."

On whether they have started to think about Notre Dame yet ... "Just started. You know, game just ended so we're trying to enjoy this one a little bit, but we'll get in the film room tomorrow but walking off that field last year. I haven't forgotten what that felt like."

U-M Senior Tackle Michael Schofield

On his impressions of the contributions from young players ... "You could kind of tell that first series they were freaking out a little bit, but as the game went on it was just football and they started playing football."

On whether or not this first game is a confidence booster for the young guys before facing Notre Dame ... "I think it definitely was. Starting off with Central Michigan and then next week, Notre Dame. Yeah, it's definitely going to help them out."

On whether or not the line thought Devin Gardner was more fired up than usual and whether or not he noticeably settled down ... "It's the first game of the season, first time you get to play. We've been hitting each other all camp and it's the first time hitting a new team. After the third series he started to calm down and be a little more like Devin."

On whether the line or Devin feels more comfortable in shotgun than under center ... "I don't pay attention to that much, I just block them where they are. We're comfortable wherever. Under center we have the downhill running and in shotgun we kind of spread it out. We tried to keep teams guessing I guess, mixing it up."

On the difference by having several running backs share the load ... "It's great, you know, not having to give it to one guy 30 times a game and have him get beat up. So now we have those three guys, four guys to kind of take hits off each other."

On the pulling tackles in the offense ... "They added that recently, it's part of our offense now. We ran those plays before, last year, and they just brought it in. It's not a new play; we ran it a couple times last year, the year before even."

U-M Junior Defensive Back Raymon Taylor

On the play of the secondary ... "We did well, but we want to be great. We missed a lot of tackles as a defense. We just want to come back tomorrow into next week and fix our mistakes. We need to come back next time and just do better. That's something we need to do; get better each and every game."

On the team rebounding from its mistakes ... "We do things like that in practice. When our backs are against the wall in a game, it's just like in practice. When things like that happen, you can't panic. The coaches put us in these situations in practice, and it helped us come out on top in the game."

On the defense making a statement ... "We're going to do the best we can and play hard, like coaches tell us to, no matter who we're playing. That's the goal, to come out and beat the opposition, whoever it is. That's what we came here to do. We work hard during the game, just like we do during practice."

U-M Senior Linebacker Cameron Gordon

On his first impressions of the defense ... "We can definitely improve a lot on both sides of the ball. Of course, getting a win is great, but the next game is a big one and we're really excited for it."

On the team's balance ... "We still have a lot to improve on, especially the penalties. We didn't tackle well as a defense, but there was definitely good balance overall, I'd say."

On the play of the freshmen ... "I think they responded well. Of course, they're freshmen and they don't know what to expect playing in the Big House. But, at the same time, there are a lot of corrections that need to be made."

On the defensive rotation ... "Everyone did a nice job. As always, there are corrections that must be made, but the coaches did a nice job with us, getting the win."

On how this game will help the team moving forward ... "I feel like Central Michigan was a great team for us to play to get ready for the rest of the season. They did a good job. Some of the things we thought we might see we never ended up seeing. I wish Central Michigan the best for the rest of their season."

Central Michigan Head Coach Dan Enos

On today's game ... "Obviously, you have to give all the credit to Michigan. I thought they played very well. On defense they were very aggressive, they tackled very well, got real stubborn when we got the ball down in the red zone a couple of times, and they made big plays. Their quarterback had a good day; he is a good player. To start off the game, Zurlon Tipton broke his ankle, and then Cody Kater broke his clavicle, so not a real good start for the Chips. But, that is how football is, and that is how life is so we will keep pushing."

On if Tipton and Kater's injuries are season ending ... "I don't want to speculate right now; I don't know how long they will be out, but they will be out for a significant period of time."

On quarterback Alex Niznak's play ... "I thought he did a couple of good things. He made some mistakes too as you would expect from a guy in his first game, and they are a good defense. We will look at the tape and see how he did. One thing I thought he did was he competed. He came in there, and he competed. He had a great attitude; he was positive the whole time. He is not afraid to go out there and let it hang out, and that is a great, great quality to have as a quarterback, and our guys kind of rallied around him a little bit. I liked the way he competed, and I liked his mindset."

Central Michigan Junior/Sophomore Quarterback Alex Niznak

On having to step in for Cody ... "I've said from day one when this competition started, that I'd be ready to compete and when my number was called, whenever that was, that I'd be ready to step in. I wouldn't say today was the best of Alex Niznak; I made some plays I'd like to have back. I felt like I would start to get rolling and then something would happen. Ultimately, I think that I'll be ready to go next week against New Hampshire, and this week was a great test for me to get my feet wet in college football. I couldn't ask for a better opportunity to play the University of Michigan and Coach Hoke. They're obviously a national powerhouse, and I give them a lot of respect. But, at the same point in time, I wouldn't trade the five offensive linemen that carried me this whole game, or any of our receivers, for anyone else on the other side of the ball. I expect nothing but positive things."

On some of the things that he felt that he did well today ... "I can't speak to how it was received by others, but I thought I had a good mental attitude. Obviously, I made a couple of mistakes, but the way that I play the game is to put everything on the line and be the best player that I can be. That interception I threw going into halftime, is something I'd like to have back, but at the same point in time, I wouldn't change my mindset even knowing that was going to happen. I thought I got louder, I got more vocal, I was able to communicate things at the line of scrimmage, and next week I'll have a full week to prepare. This showed me that I can compete, and I was able to bounce back from adversity. When we get rolling we have to finish, and that's something that next week we need to work on."

Central Michigan Senior/Junior Offensive Lineman Andy Phillips

On playing in front of the biggest crowd CMU has faced ... "It was cool to play in front of those people, but ultimately it's just about the 11 guys on the field and what we can do. We have to come out, and we have to play better, and hats off to Michigan, they played great today."

On making sure that this game doesn't stick in anyone's head ... "It's not going to. We have a big thing, 'play the next play,' and the same thing goes for the very next game. We're going to come out, and we're going have a great week of practice. One game isn't going to make our season, and all of our goals are still on the table. We're going to go out and keep working each day and keep leading, playing, and working hard. We're going to finish this season and have a good one."

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