Oct. 5, 2013
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Q. Devin Funchess, he's listed as a tight end, but it looked like you were playing him more as a wide receiver. Was that planned? Is that something you're going to keep doing?
We obviously planned it that way, getting him out on the perimeter a little bit is mismatch in a lot of ways because he runs awfully well. He's a big target. And then we get in some of the 11-personnel times that we want to, he'll be at tight end. But just trying to really take advantage of his skill set.
Q. No turnovers coming out of a bye week has to be one of the bigger pluses in this game.
Yeah, it's huge. I mean, no turnovers, had two penalties, so I think that speaks to how these guys have really worked. In the bye week, I had mentioned before, I thought it came at a good time for us in a lot of ways, and it was good to see us respond.
Q. It was one thing to have a plan, but another thing to execute it. You obviously wanted to get the running game going with the running backs. Devin didn't throw until midway through the second quarter. Talk about how that played out today.
Well, we wanted to run the ball, and we wanted to send that message. I thought we did a pretty good job of it. We didn't have as much yardage probably as we'd like to have from that aspect, but I really believe the threat was there consistently throughout the game that we were going to run the football. I think tackles for loss, I think there were three, until the last when we were milking the clock at the end.
Q. Mitch Leidner was really hurting you guys with his legs, especially on third down in the first half. How concerning is that for you knowing the mobile quarterbacks you're going to have to face?
I don't know if it's that concerning. When you look at it, there's some issues. When you don't tackle well, when you're reaching instead of running through. When I was watching it, we didn't run through enough. Sometimes guys do that just because they don't want to make a mistake. I'd rather them be aggressive, run through and make a mistake.
Q. You only gave up 13 points, but there were times that they held the ball probably longer than you would have liked. How would you assess the defensive performance?
I think the second half was real good. I think the first drive they converted on third down three times on him running the ball. You go back, maybe want to pass it, maybe not, and he'd get out of the pocket and then we'd miss a tackle. That part of it, I thought there were a couple interior runs that the four or five yarders that they bled you with a little bit, we've got to make sure we're doing a better job in there.
Q. You mentioned the third-down struggles early. They went seven for seven on their first ones and then after that it was one of eight. What was the focus and how did you guys turn the tables in that area?
Well, I think we got bodies to the ball when he did want to scramble or he did want to run it. I don't think there was anything magical when you look at game-plan wise changing things a whole lot. We pretty much stayed how we wanted to play. I think tackling, to be honest with you. I think that was the biggest part. And then we had a couple guys play a couple deep balls pretty well.
Q. It looked like right from the get-go that the team was ready to play and how in your assessment did their play match up with how they practiced over the last couple weeks?
I thought we've had great practices. I think everybody on the staff, we all feel the same way. The way they went after it, the way they wanted to learn and their attitudes and all that kind of stuff, their demeanor, body language, whatever you want to call it, I thought it was really good.
Q. Devin's (Gardner) throwing, he had a lot of completions, but a lot of the balls seemed to be to the side. It required some pretty acrobatic catches from some of your receivers.
I think he was on target enough, but there's some that you'd like to see him lead the guy a little more. I think the last -- second-to-last drive, the long third down, third-and-13 to Funchess on a post, skinny post, I thought he drilled that one in there, and you could see him really drive the ball. Timing was good and put it exactly where it needed to be. And yeah, we'd love for him to do that all the time, but that's why you have a 6-6 wide receiver who can go up and get the ball, too.
Q. You're 5-0, but even within this one game you had a lot of fluctuations, that first drive, for example, was almost 10 minutes long. You're not going to keep winning games if you keep doing that. Can you evaluate where your team is? Is it a work in progress?
I think it is. I think because of the youth that we have, I think that they're learning all the time. We were fortunate they had a kickoff that got out, kickoff return, and we got out of our lanes a little bit, and I think guys learned a little bit of a lesson there, and there were some young guys there. But there's a lot of young players playing a lot of snaps. I think we're improving. I think we're a long way from where we need to be.
Q. You reached out to Jerry Kill yet or do you plan to?
I will. I have not yet. I know my wife texted Rebecca, his wife, but I haven't talked to my wife. I haven't reached out to her, either. But I know they were going to have a conversation.
Q. When did you find out?
COACH HOKE: I found out right when we were leaving the hotel.
Q. Can you give us an update on (Ondre) Pipkins and (Kyle) Kalis?
I think both of them -- we'll know more tomorrow. That's about all I know right now. I haven't had a chance to talk to (athletic trainer) Paul (Schmidt).
Q. What stood out to you about Chris Bryant's play today and his first start?
Well, I think you're right. I will have a better sense after looking at the tape. I imagine that he swung and missed some, and I imagine that he probably road graded some guys. Somewhere in between.
Q. Can you talk about some of the other moves that you made on the line?
Well, we've done that since fall camp. Just another way to get a heavy body over there, guys who are pretty good blockers. We'll probably do more of it.
Q. Talk about the stops your defense made on third down, forcing them into fourth downs and field goals and possibly making this game look a lot different.
Yeah, you know, I think guys made some plays when they had to. You know, and I think -- you don't like -- what were they, 8 for 15 or something like that? On third down that's not a good number. And so the first three third downs and the first drive, we've got to do a better job. You can't let the quarterback run out and you can't miss tackles. I don't know if I'm answering your question, but no, we're not real happy.
Q. Getting back to the offensive line, that first drive, you go on six straight runs right down the field. How did they kind of respond, especially the guys that moved around this week to that challenge?
Well, with my experience, offensive linemen love to run the football. They would rather run it than throw i,t and I think they were very happy that we were running the football.
Well, number one, if we'd have had more plays -- I think we only ran 52, something like that; 52 plays, they ran 62. And when you have two teams that want to run the ball, the games go pretty quick. But you know, I think we'd like to have the ball time of possession wise a little more, so we could have got more runs, for both.
Q. What did you think of Derrick's (Green) performance today?
I like what I saw, I thought he ran hard, and I thought he made a couple good vision cuts and accelerated through pretty good. I liked seeing him run over the guy at the goal line.
Q. It seemed like that last drive at the end of the first half, you really kind of caught a rhythm a little bit in that 1:20 scoring drive, and the second half you looked like a completely different team on offense. Was there any change made to the game plan at halftime or was it just better execution?
No, I don't think there was any changes. I mean, we always have some things if we haven't got to on a list you want to get to. At halftime, how were they lining up with Taylor (Lewan) and (Michael) Schofield on the same side because you don't know until you see them. I think our guys just carried some momentum from the end of the half scoring and then coming out at halftime getting the football.
Q. For the last 40 years your equipment manager John Falk has been the keeper of the jug. Any last words about Mr. Falk and knowing he's got the job one more time that concludes his tenure here?
Well, we gave it to him when we got in the locker room. I just hope he doesn't take it home. But no, very emotional, very happy. John, his loyalty to Michigan and Michigan football is special.
U-M Senior/Junior Quarterback Devin Gardner
Q. Devin Gardner, turnover-free game, what does that mean to you coming out of this bye week and how did you feel about the way the offense operated?
I felt like we played really, really well. Like you said, we didn't turn the ball over, so when you don't turn the ball over that's always a good day. An even better day when in the first half I didn't even move my arm forward in a throwing motion. Went down and scored, and we responded. I feel like that's the best I can describe.
Q. Was it odd at all to hand off so much? I don't think you threw a pass until the middle of the second quarter.
We were going to do what was working, and that was what was working at the time, so if it's not broke, don't fix it. Whenever I'm called on to throw the ball, that's what I'm going to do, and that's what I did today.
Q. With close games with Akron and Connecticut, what does it mean for your team to come away with such a resounding win such as this?
Those games are behind us. We were thinking about Minnesota, and Minnesota was it. It was the first Big Ten game; you open up the Big Ten season. Like we always say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. It's the Jug game, it's our homecoming game. There's a lot going on. This game will be behind us after tomorrow when we watch the film, so we're just looking forward to the opportunity to head to Happy Valley.
Q. When you're spread out wide against a corner like 5-11 and you're 6-5, what's going through your head when you see that kind of matchup?
We had another guy on the other side 5-8, and I feel like he's a mismatch for anybody. It's pretty easy for me, whoever wins gets the ball.
Q. Devin Gardner, Funchess had more yards today than he had the previous four games and the most catches. Do you think today was maybe a sign of more things to come, getting him more involved?
Whatever the offense needs. If it calls for me to throw it to Devin Funchess 17 times in a game or to Jeremy Gallon 17 times or for me to throw 17 passes in total, it's just going to have to -- whatever we need during that day, on that given day, we're going to do it.
Q. In the last couple weeks there's been a lot of questions about you trying to do too much. How easy was it to kind of get into a flow today because the running game was getting going, and you didn't have to scramble too much or kind of overwork yourself?
It was cool for me, but if they call on me to throw passes, that's what I'm going to have to do. But today I was able to manage the game and be pretty efficient on third downs, and the things we've been good at in the past and kind of slipped on the last two weeks.
Q. Changes on the offensive line this week, did you notice a difference? And you obviously practice a lot with Graham Glasgow. Did you notice any change, a transition?
Not really. He's a little bigger, so that's about it.
Q. Did you feel like you had better protection today?
I feel like overall we came to fight, as an offensive line. They kind of had a chip on their shoulder that they weren't going to let me get hit like I was before. I feel like no matter who was in there it was going to be like that.
Q. Gardner, how much does that have the potential to help Jeremy Gallon and the offense as a whole overall if a defense stacks up too much against him that you've got a target like Devin Funchess available?
Q. You said chip on the shoulder. Have they talked to you a lot about that?
They told me they weren't going to let me get hit, so I like to hear that.
Q. Gardner, was the game plan today kind of indicative of what your week was like with the bye week kind of breaking things down, establishing the run game, getting back to the basics?
Yeah, that's what we focused on the whole week off week -- well, not off week, we practiced, but we didn't have to play a game. We went back to the basics like you said, and all the fundamentals and just personally get my feet under me and keeping my eyes tied to my feet and things like that, and the offensive line, their techniques and even the defense. I felt like as a team we responded really well with going back to techniques and basics that you sometimes let waver.
Q. There were some nice things happening in the first half, but obviously they controlled the clock a little bit. In the third quarter when you got kind of really rolling, what was the feeling offensively, you picking up that momentum?
It felt prior to the previous two weeks. We as an offense were rolling pretty good. Like I said, we wavered these last two weeks, but we got back to the basics, and I feel like our offense is ready to roll again.
U-M Sophomore Tight End Devin Funchess
Q. You woke up this morning, ate your Wheaties and ended up with 151 yards passing today. Was it the game plan to get you active today in that effort or was it just you were open so much that Devin Gardner found you?
No Wheaties were eaten this morning. I kind of ate a little ham and bacon. But no, I think the coaches just told me what to do, and I just did it. That wasn't in the game plan, they just told me to go out there, run, block, all that, and then you try to get the job done.
Q. You lined up in a lot of different spots today; you were out at wide receiver, tight end, a little bit of slot. What does that do for you? How does that open things up for you to be able to kind of move around like that?
I think it just helps the offense more because with me such a big target on the outside, inside, it doesn't matter who you put, I'm just a big target and just helps the offense and lightens up on the running backs and just helps the offense in total.
Q. When you're spread out wide against a corner like 5-11 and you're 6-5, what's going through your head when you see that kind of matchup?
Nothing, really. I don't like getting guarded really, no hands on, so I kind of get open; let them get the ball to me.
Q. Was it difficult to stay patient this year waiting for your number to get called after showing what you could do at times last year when you got the ball more?
No, not really. Like you said, I just wait until my number gets called, and then once it gets called I just try to make the big play to try to help the team so we can ultimately get to the Big Ten championship.
U-M Senior Offensive Tackle Taylor Lewan
On how he felt about the offensive performance ... "We have to look at the film. I think we moved the line of scrimmage. I think we did a lot of good things today, but there's always room for improvement. Fitz (Toussaint) needs to have at least 100 yards every game in my opinion, he deserves this. He's worked so hard and we owe him some yards, especially after the last few games."
On whether or not the blame for Fitz not getting 100 yards falls on the line ... "Absolutely. I feel like if there are big enough holes, Fitz (Toussaint) is agile enough to make moves. We just need to come together."
On whether or not the push of the line was good enough ... "It was good. It was definitely better than it has been, so I'm excited about that. I'm excited about our potential, but that's a hard word because it means you haven't done anything yet."
On Graham Glasgow's response to moving back inside ... "Graham's always graded out better as a center than at guard. He has a little more control, a little more responsibility and it keeps him more focused in the game. As far as I could tell, he had a good game today but we'll have to watch the film."
On the team's message for today's game ... "We're going to play Michigan football. We're going to establish the line of scrimmage, power run game, inside zone, downhill, full back, running back and try and push the line of scrimmage and get that four or five yards, even if it's ugly."
U-M Senior Running Back Fitzgerald Toussaint
On how having Devin Funchess makes things easier for him ... "It definitely makes it easier, knowing he can do stuff with his hands and with his feet, he's just incredible. So it takes a lot of pressure off of a few people."
On whether or not 100 yards is a goal for the running backs ... "Definitely. That's the goal for whoever it is; me, Derrick (Green) or whoever it is at running back to go out there and work to get 100 yards for those guys up there, busting their butt, doing everything they can do."
On whether or not he felt the holes were better up front ... "Those guys executed very well. I give all the credit to those guys, they work very hard."
On if it felt like they re-established Michigan football today ... "Definitely. I just give my offensive line the credit, again. They came out there and executed their position and Derrick (Green) and I were able to go out there and do what we can do on the ground."
On whether or not it was frustrating watching Minnesota string together long drives from the bench ... "That's always frustrating for a back. The key thing for a running back is to get in a rhythm. The key thing is that we went out there and played ball and got the 'W' and that's all that matters."
U-M Junior Linebacker Brennen Beyer
On working on improving on third downs ... "It's on the whole defense. There were some plays where I needed to come down harder and squeeze the middle. That will help out. We haven't seen film yet, but we'll take a look at it."
On the improved play in the third quarter ... "We made some positional adjustments about how to handle certain things and certain motions that they were doing. We just came out with great energy and we came out in the second half ready to play."
On the defensive rotation and contributions of younger players ... "It's the expectation of the position at Michigan. If one guy goes down, the next guy is expected to play at the exact same level. We did a pretty good job of that, rotating in and out, filling in the gaps."
U-M Junior/Sophomore Defensive Back Blake Countess
On what the secondary needs to improve on ... "It's really in the eyes. If you take a step up, you're out of position by just a step and that ball is going to be completed at this level. We knew that coming into the game but they got us on a few so we need to get better with that."
On the defensive adjustments in the second half ... "We have to play better on first and second downs. When you keep getting into third-and-short, it's hard on a defense. In the second half, we played a lot better on early downs and we got after them."
On his interception returned for a touchdown ... "Courtney (Avery) was matched up one-on-one on the outside and I saw the ball thrown my way. It wasn't the best placed ball and I was happy to get underneath it. Then Frank Clark and Cam Gordon sprung me into the open field into the end zone. I saw a lot of green grass and wanted to take it as far as I could go. Cam sealed the block on the quarterback that put me through."
Minnesota Defensive Coordinator Tracy Claeys
Opening statement about the game ... "I thought we competed hard. Defensively, it all comes down to third downs and we couldn't get them stopped on third down to get them off the field. I see here they were 10-of-13 (on third downs). When you do that you put your offense in a tough situation. I thought we executed better on offense. In the second half we could have played better on third downs, but execution-wise, I think they played better. But I'm definitely disappointed with the loss. We've got an off week to work on fundamentally getting better and preparing for our next game."
On the message that head coach Jerry Kill's wife, Rebecca, sent to the team ... "She just texted me and said that her and Jerry missed being here and missed being around us. She asked for the kids to compete hard and do their best to bring the Jug back to Minnesota."
On the play of quarterback Mitch Leidner ... "I thought he made some big plays with his legs and executed pretty good. When you're young and playing quarterback, as everyone knows, that's not an easy gig. The interception at the end is a big mistake and he ran out of bounds on second and short and should have gotten rid of the ball. But for the most part he stayed away from the mistakes. He started off with the fumble and gave them a short field, but I thought he settled down until that last play at the end. He through some good balls under pressure and both him and Phillip (Nelson) will continue to improve."
On the coaching staff stepping in for head coach Jerry Kill ... "We've been through a lot of battles together and we're good friends. We're all trained very well on what our job is and what our responsibilities are. I thought the kids had a great attitude and fought hard. We miss him as a friend not being here. But as far as how the game operates, we're all pretty used to it and the kids are too."
Minnesota Sophomore/freshman Tight End Maxx Williams
On the mood of the team when Coach Kill couldn't make it ... "It wasn't any different. We know Coach's situation, we know we have to be ready. All of the coaches are prepared, we felt like we were really ready for this game, and I don't think this changed anything. We know Coach goes through some things, so it doesn't really affect us. We just go on a business trip and try to win the game."
On Coach Kill missing his first game, if it causes any doubt ... "No, I don't think it does. Coach just has to get better, he'll work through it; he's a tough guy. It won't affect any of the team; we'll go in tomorrow, watch the game, get everything ready, go through this bye week and be ready for the next game."
On fumble on the first drive ... "Things happen, you have to bounce back. On the next play, the defense gave us the ball we had to go out and try to make plays. You have to forget about what happens the drive before."
On receptions today, if anything has changed ... "I just do what the coaches ask. They sent more plays for me to get open, and I go out there and try to do my best to make plays for the quarterback. Mitch played a heck of a game, and I guess he was in a good mood throwing me the ball tonight."
On if Mitch throws him the ball more than Phil (Nelson) ... "I don't think it really matters. It's more about what plays we're running and how they're covering us, and whether or not we can get open."
Minnesota Senior Safety Brock Vereen
On playing without Coach Kill this time, as compared to previous situations ... "I would honestly say that it was smoother. He wasn't on the flight with us so at that point we were already mentally preparing for him not to be out there. Business as usual, and him not being here didn't affect us negatively at all."
On the beginning issues in the game, fumbles, etc. ... "It was frustrating. When you lose a game and you play your best, you have nothing to hang your head about. That wasn't the case. There is frustration, but we have to go back and watch the film and figure out how we can get better."
On Devin Funchess ... "He's a heck of an athlete. We probably made him look better than he is, but he's a heck of an athlete and he'll be a great player."
On this game versus Iowa and other teams ... "Any time you're dealing with a dual-threat quarterback, especially one with his [Devin Gardner's] athletic ability, game plans change and shift, but we have to adjust. There are plenty of athletic quarterbacks in the Big Ten, so we need to figure it out."
On third downs ... "Dominating first and second down means nothing if on third down they execute better than you. Third down needs to be a priority, and we have to do better at it."
On the bye week coming up ... "We're banged up, so overall, I think it'll help. Mentally, coming off of a loss it's a longer bye week, but we need to rest up, focus up and get back to playing the way that we can."
Minnesota Sophomore/freshman Quarterback Mitch Leidner
On when he found out he was starting today and how he felt about his playing ... "I found out this morning during walkthrough. It's a team effort, and I thought that the guys played really well overall, but I definitely want that last play, the pick, back for sure."
On his relationship with Maxx Williams... "Maxx is a great target to have out there, he catches pretty much everything. We're close off the field too, being roommates together, and it definitely shows on the field."
On learning both that he was starting and without Coach during pre-game ... "I've prepared for it, and we just have to keep doing our jobs and keep getting better, and you don't really expect things like that sometimes."
On the first drive (fumble) and ball security ... "I just had it in one hand and as I was bringing it up to tuck it away that's when they got me. That's another play I'd want back, and it would have been nice to make something better on that first drive."
On his first road game in front of 111,000 people ... "When we were warming up out there I was like, 'How do they fit 111,000 people in this place?' and then when you go back out there again they're just stacked. It's a cool atmosphere."