Postgame Quotes: #17 Michigan 41, #14 Notre Dame 30

Sep 7, 2013

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Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke

Opening statement ... "Aren't you guys ready to go home? It's late."

On running outside early ... "We thought we had the chance to get the edge and with Mike (Schofield) and Taylor (Lewan) as your two tackles, we felt we could take over blocks, zone it out and had a couple good blocks by (Devin) Funchess, he would motion over or be stationary and let Fitz (Toussaint) determine where he wanted to cut. I thought Fitz made some really good runs tonight and had some really good cuts. I think he was -- may have been running on a couple of them, but I think his face mask got yanked.

On neutralizing the Notre Dame offensive line ... "Neutralize probably might be the right word, but at the same time they had some success, too. I think the three interior guys, they take a lot of pride, and I think Taylor and Mike have taught those guys well. Darrell Funk has taught good fundamentals and wanted to finish every block."

On (Brendan) Gibbons breaking the consecutive field goal record, and the record attendance record ... "It's nice to see Gibby because couple years ago he wasn't really kicking the ball as well. I think to see the work ethic that he put forth, and I think the confidence that his teammates have in him is part of it. I think having the all-time attendance record, I think that's pretty cool. You know, it was a great atmosphere."

On the play of the defense ... "Andy, I think you have to give Tommy Rees some credit. I think the kid is a good quarterback. He's proven that against us now three years in a row. He's accurate. They have some big-play receivers, we played mostly off when we did play man. We were going to give them some of those throws, and I think the thing that was disturbing a little bit was they ran the ball in there when we were set up defensively well enough where they shouldn't. Even though we played mostly a seven-man front all day."

On his thoughts on changing the defensive approach in the second half ... "That was critical. You know, I think Greg (Mattison), especially in the second half, mixed some things up from a front standpoint to coverage standpoint, zone blitzes and then some zero blitzes, and I thought it worked out pretty well."

On what went through his mind when Devin (Gardner) threw the fourth-quarter interception and if Hoke went one-on-one with him ... "Every time he comes off the field we talk. It may be 'we're going to need more' like I told him tonight 'we're going to need more' because we were struggling a little bit defensively, and they were efficient in some things.

"When he came off the field I didn't have to say a word to him, because he was beating himself all the way off the field. It was one of those things that he knows better, and I'll go back to the same thing, it's a blessing and a curse sometimes when you have that ability."

On winning the game ... "It's always nice to win. This is such a great rivalry and to be able to be on the right side of it, it always feels good; it tells you a lot where you're at when you play them early in the year, where you're at as a program, what we need to do if we want to win the Big Ten championship, and I think we learned a lot about that because of the team we played."

On running 39 times and passing 33 ... "That's probably about where we would like to be. Fifty-five, 45 [percent], somewhere in there, run/pass. I think we always like to run it a little more, especially with the tailback, if we're having success, and we had some tonight."

On Jeremy Gallon ... "Jeremy is -- I guess I would say first off he's a very, very tough kid. As well as he catches the ball, finds those seams and creases, he blocks. When he blocks he gets on people and that's -- you know, catching the ball is an important thing for him, probably, but he loves to block.

"I think how he comes to work every day, because he does come to work every day, and how he competes probably are his strengths."

On Gardner staying composed after his interception ... "He was storming off the field -- I think there are different storms that can happen, and it wasn't one that I think a lot of people would notice but when good things and bad things happen during the course of the game, I think he was pretty even, you know, as far as demeanor and how he looked."

On if his team took it personally regarding the halt to the yearly meeting with Notre Dame ... "You know, I don't think so. I think we were playing Notre Dame. I think they always take that -- I'm going back to the Michigan teams that I coached on when I was an assistant, and I think there are certain games that you get very excited about and those rivalry games. I don't think there was any kinda; we want to win, and we want to win every week. We want to win and improve as we win."

On Blake Countess' two interceptions
... "Yeah, last one, number one, being an athlete, catching a ball that's kicked, but also being at the right place, right time. And just playing through the play. He was pursuing toward the ball, and that's what you like to see. The first one gave us great field position and great opportunity and, you know, it was well needed at the time."

On moving toward a more pro-style offense with the departure of Denard Robinson ... "We were fortunate to have Denard, and Al (Borges) was smart enough to conform what we do to help with the abilities that you have on your team, and you need to do that in offense, defense, and in the kicking game. I would say this [year] is more like what we would like to do. We're going to be multiple enough personnel-wise and also multiple enough from a formation standpoint, with two backs, three backs, whatever it takes, you know, another offensive tackle in, you know, a lot of different things that we like to do. This was more like what we want to do."

On the importance of Gardner running the ball ... "Yeah, no doubt about it, and it is critical that when he doesn't see what he wants to first and second read that he does a nice job pulling the ball down, getting when he can, and we're fortunate that he has that kind of ability."

On his lasting memory of the rivalry playing out at Michigan Stadium ... "Probably two things -- three things. Probably winning, for maybe the last time. 115,000, and honoring Tom Harmon and having Mark (Harmon) here. It was special, and he visited with our team, and it was a really special meeting."

On Lewan, A.J. Williams and Gallon's injuries ... "[A.J. Williams] A little bit of an ankle, he came back in. Probably could have gone but not as effective as we would like him to be. Taylor is fine. Jeremy has a muscle that he has to work through."

On this game as a measuring stick game and if he really did not bring up Brian Kelly calling this a regional rivalry when he was talking to the team this week ... "Never did. What we learned about our team is we could be a good football team if we do a better job playing the run, if we do a little more -- and this is from a defensive perspective, to start with. We have to be tighter on coverage, and I think we will have more confidence to do that.

"I think in the kicking game, Dennis (Norfleet) had a couple of good kickoff returns. I think they were blocked decently well. We obviously gave up field position on a kickoff, out-of-bounds punt that wasn't exactly like we would like to punt the ball, and then they had a return. Those are things that we need to do a lot of work on so that we don't let them happen again."

U-M Senior/Junior Quarterback Devin Gardner

On wearing the No. 98 ... "It's an amazing feeling. I'm pretty sure you guys know the history and all the great things he did on the field, but he did a lot of great things off the field. He was a great person and a great athlete, and that's what I aspire to be like. I didn't even know that he played two years of varsity level basketball in college, so that's the ultimate athlete and a great person, fought for our country. Just for my coach and the Harmon family to be able to say I'm worthy of wearing this jersey, it's amazing for me that they see me as that type of person."

On his chemistry with Gallon ... "He's like a bulldog. We work so hard, since I got here. You guys are just now seeing it, but behind the doors we've been working so hard, and we're finally getting an opportunity to display it in front of the biggest crowd in college football."

On winning a big game ... "Although this isn't the game that we want, you know, the Big Ten championship, Rose Bowl game, this is a pretty big game, and I feel like with the help of my teammates, they helped me a lot. I made a bad turnover in our own end, and the defense came out and stopped them, and the offense blocked for us. We got a four-minute drill going where we could run the clock out, 115,000, that's how many people were there, not the mention the people watching on TV, the only game on. It's amazing to be able to participate in something like this, but this isn't the 'big one' that I really want."

On being the second quarterback ever to start a night game at Michigan Stadium ... "It felt great. Like we said all week, this rivalry was such a big deal and for me to be able to play in front of so many people and perform and respond and respond under adversity and under what you guys see as pressure was amazing for me. My teammates believed in me the whole time, and I wanted to thank my teammates and the offensive line and the defense and [Jeremy] Gallon for me getting them the ball when I needed to. I just want to thank my entire team for believing in me, my coaches, too."

On his interception ... "Coach just talked to us about the top three college interceptions, and one of them is desperately avoiding the sack, and that's what I did in my own end zone, and it was a horrible decision, but our defense gave us a place to stand, and I told him I was going to finish. You give us a place to stand, we're going to finish this football game, and they said they believed in me and a number of them, and I put that behind me. I'm the quarterback, and I have to respond after adversity."

On the potential of the offense ... "I feel like if I limit my mistakes we can go as far as we want. The offensive line is going to block, the runners are going to run, and the receivers are going to catch, and the host of other backs are going to run. If I do my job, we'll be fine."

On getting through the highs and lows of the game ... "I mean, everybody is always going to look to me for confirmation that we will be all right, so I wanted to make sure that I stayed level. I was upset with myself for the mistake. It was a horrible mistake and could have cost us the game, but like I said the defense gave us a place to stand, and I went on and finished it."

On what this game could mean 25 years from now ... "I mean, I don't even know. I can't explain. I'm still kind of high on the feeling right now, how it felt to take that knee. I mean, I can't even tell you. I guess I'll have to cross that bridge when I get to it. But we still have unfinished business in the season. This isn't the game, it's only the second game of the year. We have much bigger goals as Coach Hoke always says."

On defenses in the future keying on him and Gallon ... "I mean, Jeremy had a big game, but I'm pretty sure it was seven or eight people that caught passes, big passes where we got the first downs and moved the chains. So it's not just all him. He had a really big game. I feel like that could happen for anyone, because Gallon isn't always on the field. Even some third downs, he's not on the field, and we get a first down, so it was a collective effort. Joe Reynolds, Devin Funchess and Jake Butt had some big catches, and Fitzgerald Toussaint had one at the end. So I feel like it's getting spread around. He just had a really big game tonight."

On the change in offense with the graduation of Denard Robinson ... "I feel like Coach is in a groove with his play calling. We were in a groove with the offense. We drove down, had some nice drives, took time off the clock. I feel like we performed to the level that Coach Hoke would like. Obviously, we're going to have to watch the film, and there are going to be mistakes, even ones we didn't notice on the field; but overall I feel like we fought. We talked about all summer and all winter fighting and finishing, because it's something we didn't do last year, and tonight we fought, and we finished."

U-M Fifth-year Senior Wide Receiver Jeremy Gallon

On his first touchdown ... "It was a dig, and it was a Cover 2 coverage. I was just coming down, and Devin hit me. I was looking to go get up field, and I made one move, and they went to strip the ball, and he spun me around, and I just started running. I saw [Jehu] Chesson come out and lay a block on somebody, and I ran it in for a touchdown."

On if he was bothered by his hamstring ... "It was a hamstring, but the chemistry between me and Devin, like he said, we've been working with each other since he first got here, and it's been like a brotherhood between the both of us. We will never let anything change that. We just try to let our work off the field show on the field."

On his performance ... "Man, for me, I could never imagine me doing something like this. I could imagine myself just coming out and playing for my team and playing my role as a teammate and as a leader and as a senior on this team. A game this big, I mean, it's not me, it's the rest of the teammates, the rest of the offense. I can't take all the credit. It goes to my teammates as well."

U-M Fifth-Year Senior Offensive Tackle Taylor Lewan

On what the team told Devin Gardner after his interception in the end zone ... "We just told him the same thing that we've always known, Devin's a damn good player. He gets us out of situations, but we have a bunch of guys who know what they're doing and do great stuff."

On the atmosphere at the Big House ... "It was good. The crowd needs to be louder sometimes, because 115,000 people, when it's third down and our defense is out on the field you shouldn't be able to hear yourself think. But it was an outstanding crowd."

On how it felt to beat Notre Dame ... "At the end of the day, we're 2-0. (Fitz and I) being seniors, with this series coming to an end, we've got bragging rights for life. It wasn't perfect, but that's what this team's about. We stuck together through and through even when we fell off the tracks a little bit."

On the younger players on the offensive line stepping up to handle Notre Dame's front ... "Just because they're freshmen doesn't matter. Expectations for the position. You play Michigan football, you're expected to play like a Michigan offensive lineman. Guys like Steve Hutchinson and Steve Everett being there tonight -- those are the names they have to live up to. That's how they've got to play. No one played perfect tonight but at the end of the day they got it done."

On the difference between this year's and last year's teams handling adversity ... "Everything we've done in the offseason; everything we've worked for; everything we've strived for. 133 years of Michigan football, and this team starts to get it. We're starting to get it. This team understands what we have to do to be a championship team. There's a reason Michigan is the winningest program in all of college football. There's an expectation here."

U-M Fifth-Year Senior Running Back Fitzgerald Toussaint

On the atmosphere and the record-breaking attendance ... "It was a good atmosphere. It was something we prepared for. We played 60 full minutes of Michigan championship football."

On how it felt to earn the victory ... "It was great. We had a chance to redeem ourselves, and we went out there, and we did it. We prepared hard, and we got things right."

On the play of the younger players on such a big stage ... "Those are the expectations we have for them, to get out there and play like there's no pressure. We just did what we were supposed to do."

On the physical nature of the game ... "That's something I've been waiting for with my preparation throughout the week. I knew what I had to work for, and I knew what I had to be ready for. I have to give all the credit to the offensive line and having full confidence in those guys."

U-M Junior Defensive End Frank Clark

On supporting Devin Gardner after his turnover for a touchdown ... "When a player makes a mistake, such as a turnover, it's the other players' job to come back and work for that other player. Devin (Gardner) made a turnover, and I went up to him immediately after and told him we had his back -- that's what you do as a team. We don't call each other a team, we call each other a tribe -- we're all in it together -- we're all one."

On Notre Dame's offensive line ... "They're a great team. It's Notre Dame -- there's no question whether they're a good team or not. They were in the national championship game last year, but this is a new season. I believe we could have played better up front; we could have gotten better pass rushing up front with our four linemen. Our offense played well -- they put up enough points, and at the right time the defense held them when we needed to."

On how he's played personally in the first two games ... "I believe there is a lot of room for improvement. I don't think I played perfect and I don't think you can play perfect -- I will always believe there is room for improvement. Last week was last week; Central (Michigan) was last week -- this week I believe I could have had a better game against Notre Dame. I believe I had some good pass rushing in there, but I always believe I could have done some things better to make my pass rush better and to get to the quarterback better. Notre Dame is done, and we're on to another week. We're on to another test next week, and that's what we're looking forward to."

U-M Junior/Sophomore Defensive Back Blake Countess

On getting his first two interceptions ... "I was trying to get to the end zone. I was trying to put some push on the ball for this defense, but it's definitely a relief to finally get that first one. All that hard work definitely paid off. The second one was kind of a gift from Ray (Taylor). It was really his play to make -- the ball kind of bounced off his knee, and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and made the play."

On playing off Notre Dame's receivers when in man coverage ... "That was part of the game plan. Tommy Rees likes to throw those fades on the press coverage, and we knew that coming into the game -- they do a lot of choice routes and things like that. We were just going to keep our distance. I think we have to get better in the secondary. I don't think we played well enough to get to where we want to go this year."

On making big plays when they were needed on defense ... "We knew it was going to be a dog fight, and we knew we were going to have to keep responding. When our number was called, we responded, and that says a lot about our defense -- that we're going to keep playing. We're going to play 60 minutes. Coach Hoke always talks about playing 60 minutes. Coach Mattison always talks about getting everybody to the ball. That's just a testament to our defense and how we have been practicing and everybody buying into what the coaches are preaching."

Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly

Opening statement ... "It was a game from our end that we felt -- and I felt -- that we missed some opportunities offensively that could have given us the opportunity to win this football game. Take everything that happened, all of the situations, and you can analyze or overanalyze through it, and I felt like we had two opportunities to score, and we've got to make those plays. This was one of those games that our offense needed to carry the day for us. And we just came up short on a couple of key plays for us. It was one of those games you've got to win, and we weren't able to come up with the key plays offensively. Give Michigan credit, obviously Devin Gardner played outstanding. They were the better football team today, but again from my perspective we needed to make a couple of more plays offensively."

On assessing the offense's performance ... "I'll tell you that overall we want to be smarter and more disciplined. I'm not going to get into specifics, but I want my football team to play smarter and more disciplined, and that's what we need to get to."

On if he took over any offensive play calling ... "No, no, no. Chuck Martin is calling plays, he will continue to call plays and called every single play (tonight), that hasn't changed."

On the pass interference call late in the game on Notre Dame ... "We've got to be smarter and more disciplined. We don't coach penalties, but we want to coach guys to be smarter and more disciplined on a day-to-day basis, and that falls on me. I don't want my football team to be in a situation where games have to be decided in that regard (on a penalty). We have to be smarter and more disciplined as a football team."

On Tommy Rees' performance ... "I'd like to have the one throw before the half back, but he did some really good things. I think we feel that there were just one or two throws that could've (resulted in us) putting 44 points on the board. We were really, really close but not good enough, not good enough. I mean (we were) close but just not good enough. We needed to make a couple of more plays."

On why the postgame emphasis is on the offense rather than the defense ... "We knew that (Devin) Gardner is a very difficult quarterback to defend, and we knew offensively that we were in a position that we needed to score more points. I didn't think this would be like last year; I thought it was going to be something of a higher-scoring football game. In games where you have two really good football teams, we're going to have to score more points than we have in the past. That doesn't mean our defense is not as good, (Michigan) had a good quarterback tonight who made a lot of plays. He is difficult to defend, he can run it, and he threw with efficiency. They kept their option principals involved and within their structure they are difficult to defend."

On why they didn't kick a field goal in the fourth quarter when down two touchdowns ... "We were down two touchdowns, and -- I can't remember exactly -- but it felt like at that time we needed to score a touchdown. Kicking three at that time is like laying up when you need a birdie. It just felt like we needed to go for it, that was the sense and feel at that time of the game."

On what shortcomings he saw with the offense ... "I just think we missed opportunities. When we're in the red zone, we missed opportunities. This wasn't made up, they were real opportunities. We had the right plays on, and we needed to execute better. If we execute those plays when they were called upon, we put two more scores on the board, and this game is over. And we didn't. I just felt like given all the circumstances of the game, this is an easier press conference to have if we executed a couple of more plays in the red zone."

Notre Dame Senior Quarterback Tommy Rees

On missed opportunities ... "Yeah, there were a number of them. I have to take accountability for some of those missed opportunities, and there are plays you want to have back; but I have to be better and give our team a better chance to win a game. I take full accountability for that."

On the last drive of the game ... "Yeah, we're going to compete until the clock hits zero, and we had guys competing throughout all four quarters. Obviously, it didn't end well, but we'll bounce back and be ready to go next week."

On the defense struggling, if the offense felt the need to score every time ... "The defense has done a great job for a long time. Hats off to Michigan, they had a great game plan both offensively and defensively. We needed to be better, we needed to execute, and we definitely missed some opportunities to put points on the board. I think offensively we want to be accountable for how we are playing, regardless of what the defense is doing, and offensively we just have to be better."

Notre Dame Senior Wide Receiver TJ Jones

On the ease of the season last year compared to this year (thinking it would be the same) ... "I don't think it was something like that. I think it's the six months, or so, that we had off from last season. It's hard to remember those games when we had to fight through those tough situations, and for a lot of our young players who haven't played as much, they don't know what it feels like to be in those situations."

On feeling the need to put points on the board ... "I don't think it was because of how the defense was playing. We, as an offense this year, want to put up points every time we get the ball, so regardless of how that particular drive went, we came back to the sidelines hungry, conversing with each other on how to get more points."

On the offensive rhythm ... "There were times where we moved the ball great, we were in rhythm, and then there were times where we couldn't get a rhythm. I think we had three to five plays back to back, and it was difficult to get back into that rhythm. There were times we'd lose it."

On second-half empty set ... "It didn't put us under that much stress. We have our hand signals; we're in a no-huddle offense to begin with, so the focus is on communicating using hand signals. Being emptied out for the majority of the second half didn't really affect our communication."

On the message he will send this week as a captain ... "It's like Coach Kelly says, it's the 24-hour rule. It's a loss, it's going to hurt. There's going to be a lot of bad things on the film when we watch it Monday, and there's going to be a lot of good things. You have to learn how to take the result of the game. If it's a win or a loss, take what you can from it, learn from it, and get better."

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