Postgame Quotes: Michigan 31, Eastern Michigan 3

Sept. 17, 2011

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• U-M coach quotes from Michigan Sports Network postgame show
• Player quotes from press conference

Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
(from Michigan Sports Network postgame show)

On Michigan's adjustments throughout the game ... "I think that it's part of it. I don't think there's any doubt. I give Ron (English) and his staff at Eastern a lot of credit, because they came out with a good plan and I think our kids kind of settled into it from a defensive standpoint. Offensively, we ran Denard (Robinson) a little more than we'd like to because we'd like to keep him healthy for the year. I think we've got work to do out of the 'I' formation still. We've got to block a little better at the point of attack, and they were not going to let us. Phil Snow is a good defensive coordinator, and he was going to load the box up any time we got in the 'I.' If we could have hit some of the shots we took out of the 'I' in the passing game, they were pretty much man-to-man."

On stopping Eastern Michigan's wide attacks ... "The Jet Series is a big part of what they've done. There are times when they've been in some games more than another. I think they did a good job leveraging us a little bit defensively and then bringing a back. But you can get tricked into thinking that that's what you need to stop. At the end of the day with them, you needed to stop their counter play, their power play and some of the things I thought our kids did a really good job with."

On Thomas Gordon's first-quarter interception ... "Yeah, I think Tom did a nice job. He had a great summer, he had a great fall camp, and he's into football. I think his concentration and his intensity is something that I'm really proud of and he made a heck of a football play."

On feeling Michigan's defensive line more today ... "I think I felt Mike [Martin] in there I felt [Craig] Roh. I felt Ryan [Van Bergen] made a couple plays in there. Jibreel [Black], you're going to feel him in there. I think there was more of an attack mentality. I think we got off blocks and we played a little better downhill from the linebacker perspective."

On the Wolverines' running backs ... "Vince (Smith) really had a nice day for us. I thought he had good reads and had good vision. (Fitzgerald) Toussaint got in there and did a good job, and (Michael) Shaw played a few downs in there and did some of the work that you need a back to do."

On Denard Robinson's need to set his feet ... "That really is what it comes down to with all quarterbacks -- your feet, your hips. We took a couple shots, and they were just a little long. He stepped up in the pocket nicely a couple times, scrambled a little bit and got some yardage. There are a couple of those shots where he stepped up a week ago and hit that were just out of the guy's reach a little bit."

U-M Junior Quarterback Denard Robinson

On Michigan's 97-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter after the slow start ... "We came out a little flat. On the 97-yard drive, we picked up some momentum, and that made us keep going the whole game. We want to come out fast. We've been focusing on every day, talking about coming out fast and trying to get off to a good start."

On Thomas Gordon's one-handed interception ... "He's athletic. When he first came in my freshman year, I saw him doing crazy stuff like that, so I knew he could do it."

On how Vincent Smith's performance impacted the team ... "It was big. When he starts running well, [the defense] starts crashing down on him. I get the ball, and I can read it out and get the ball to him. When things like that start happening, it's kind of hard for the defense to stop."

On comparing today's atmosphere with last week's against Notre Dame ... "Everybody was just getting ready for the game. We got Kevin Koger in the locker room just talking to us. He calls himself 'Hype Man 86.' We were just ready to go. We get another chance to play football, and that's what we've been working on all summer."

U-M Junior Running Back Vincent Smith

On how many carries he thinks he can handle in a game ... "However many carries I need to will my team to win -- that's how many carries I can handle."

On Thomas Gordon's one-handed interception ... "I saw it from the big screen. It was a great catch."

On trying to prove himself as an every-down back ... "It's all about the team. Whenever we needed a jump or a running back to step up when the game is not going well, I guess we feel it's like, 'Whatever for the team.' Somebody is going to have to step up and get the job done."

U-M Junior/Sophomore Safety Thomas Gordon

On what he saw during his fumble recovery and interception ... "Kenny Demens made a big play to force the fumble, and I was just fortunate enough to be in the right position to pick it up. On the interception, they gave us a funky formation. Their backup quarterback was in the backfield, and we keyed that, so we knew some trickery was up. The guy released, and I just ran with him and made a good play."

On the amount of in-game adjustments the coaches give the defense ... "I think that's every game. Like Jordan (Kovacs) said, we came out a little flat and they were running the football. I think in the first quarter they had over 100 yards rushing. We came to sideline and Coach (Greg) Mattison just talks to us and gets us in the right places and we just adjust and go out there."

On his progression as a player ... "Since Coach (Brady) Hoke got here, he's been in my head about becoming more of a football player and that's not just on the field. That includes off the field, watching film, being more dedicated in the weight room. The coaches have done a good job in making me more explosive and being a better player, and it's finally proven."

U-M Senior/Junior Safety Jordan Kovacs

On the atmosphere for the beginning of this game vs. the end of last week's game ... "Obviously it was much different than last game, but I think we came out a little flat and got off to a rough start again. So, there's definitely some things we need to do. We need to come out with that intensity every game, and that's one of the things we need to work on."

On the key stops and big plays the defense made ... "I think today we did a good job of causing turnovers, even the turnover on downs. Anytime you can cause turnovers, you're likely to win the game, and that's a stat that we're always trying to win -- the turnover battle. So, I thought we did a good job today of causing turnovers and it came up big for us."

On the key to having a strong start to the game defensively ... "I think you just have to come out with some energy. They're a good football team. I think we need to give them a lot of credit, but we can't be getting behind at the beginning of the game. If we want to be a great defense, we have to stop them in their tracks at the beginning of the game, so there's an area we have to improve on, no doubt."

U-M Senior Tight End Kevin Koger

On Denard Robinson's passing today ... "It's a tempo thing -- just execution. It's not just him. It might be a receiver not running the routes, the right dip, but he gets the blame for the incomplete pass but it might be on the receiver. Maybe [the receiver] didn't run the right route, or run it deep enough or short enough. It's not all on him."

On Vincent Smith's production ... "I was very pleased. I see it every day in practice how hard he works, and it's just a testament to what he does every day. He comes in to work hard. It's great to see him get a couple more carries and run down the field a little bit more. So it's definitely exciting -- he's a shifty guy so he makes a lot of guys miss."

U-M Senior/Junior Right Guard Patrick Omameh

On Vincent Smith's production ... "Speaking on behalf of the offensive line, Vince is one of those guys you see every day who's not scared at all to put his face on Mike Martin coming up the middle or somebody that might be twice [Vince's] size. He's just a gritty guy who likes to do the dirty work, which you don't always see in [someone] who is primarily in a touchdown-scoring position."

On what changed for the offense's ability to run the football ... "In our case, most of our struggles are us by ourselves. We came off the sidelines and the coaches made some adjustments and told us about mistakes we had been making and also Eastern (Michigan) had a good team. We had to come up with some adjustments to what Eastern was trying to do to stop us."

Eastern Michigan Head Coach Ron English

On Eastern Michigan's first-half play and staying with them ... "You have to score from the one-inch line. Can't score from the half yard line, you're going to have a hard time winning, so that hurt us. As the game went along, Denard [Robinson] made some plays in there, and I felt that it took some of our steam away to be honest with you. I thought we had a hard time with him today."

On how quarterback Alex Gillett handled himself ... "I thought he did a lot of good things. There were some things we, obviously, as the game progressed, wanted to work on. But Alex is a very good player, and I think he played better today than he played earlier in the year. We look forward to him continuing to progress."

On EMU's game plan for Denard Robinson ... "I think we had a lot of guys there, but I don't think we tackled him. I just think as much as you say to a player, 'He's going to make plays,' I think it can be demoralizing. I think some of that happened today."

On whether he measures success based on last year's matchup ... "No, I just look to see the things we try to do better as individuals and as a team. As a team, we were measuring that. I thought that we did some good things today, and I think there were some things I was really displeased at today. I hate to comment without looking at the tape, but I just felt like there were some guys who just didn't execute their assignments today, particularly as the game wore on defensively."

On his team's physical presence ... "I've said that all along we are a physical team, but the evolution of that is if we can execute consistently. I think this is the first time we faced thorough adversity. It'll be interesting to see, but my gut tells me, defensively, we didn't respond very well. I don't think that the players got down on themselves, but I've been in that situation as a player and as a coach when you've got a guy stopped and he makes play after play. I just know that can be demoralizing, and I know that it can be distracting and that guys don't always manage themselves well in terms of execution when that happens sometimes."

On defending the run option play with Denard ... "It's a one-on-one deal, and I've said all along Denard Robinson is something special in my opinion. I think any team is going to have a hard time tackling him one on one. The backs made a couple nice plays today. We struggled against the rezone structure today, and we have to get better at it for what we'll see in the league."

On Alex Gillett's progression as a quarterback ... "This was the best he's played. I don't know stat-wise if it's the best, but I know from a command standpoint and all those things, I think this was the best game that he's played. He was poised out there, he had total command of the calls and the huddle, and I have been a little concerned because for him, I don't think he played well the first two games. I think he was trying to be perfect if you will. But that happens when they are on billboards and stuff like that. But I think today he played freer, happier; I think he had fun and I think he played better."

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