Oct. 13, 2012
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» Postgame Press Conference
• U-M coach quotes from Michigan Sports Network postgame show
• Player quotes from press conference
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
On the play of the defense ... "The guys were well prepared. Part of that was Kenny Demens on his interception. We had worked the route. He had seen the formation. (Linebackers coach) Mark Smith did a great job with him, teaching. He jumped the route. He knew what the play was going to be. It tells you about the kids and the teachers they have as coaches, who are doing a great job with them. I think we played hard. We will look at film tomorrow, or even tonight, and we'll know a little bit more. But, I thought we were a very physical football team."
On the defensive adjustments against Illinois' running game ... "They got us a little bit early up the middle. I know we were lined up incorrectly, one time, but we have to do a better job getting off our blocks. Knock them back football is what we want to play. I think we improved on that. Will Campbell, Quinton Washington, Jibreel Black and Ondre Pipkins, all four of our down guys inside, got better as the game went on. I thought the ends, Craig Roh, Frank Clark and Brennan Beyer, played extremely hard and then our linebackers flew along."
On the improved play of the tailbacks ... "(Thomas) Rawls is a difficult guy to tackle. In the spring, he punished us a bit and in fall camp. I think Thomas is improving and he's really grasped more of the offense, when you get into protections and passing games. Then you get to Fitz (Toussaint). There were two runs, to be honest with you. I thought that he maybe danced a little bit, but there were some runs where he really went vertical, north and south, made a cut and went downhill."
On how Illinois changed their offense after (Illinois QB Nathan) Scheelhaase went down ... "Well he's (Reilly) O'Toole) not, with the ball in his hands, running the football. He's a better thrower. He's played a lot for them this year when Scheelhaase was out. He's missed seven quarters over the course of the year. He's a guy they really believe in and he's a good football player. I think by the time it was his turn to go, we were in command of the game."
On Denard's (Robinson) performance ... "I thought he did a nice job managing the game. His reads were good. I thought we were in and out of the huddle, which gave him time to check a play if we wanted to do that. I thought he ran the ball hard and that's one thing that you love to see. He's not afraid and he did a nice job for us."
On Denard coming back from injury sustained during the game ... "He threw the ball well after that. It was just a little boo-boo."
On next week's game ... "It's a great rivalry game. It's for the state championship and we haven't done our job in the last four years. We're going to enjoy this win tonight and get excited for Michigan State tomorrow."
U-M Fifth-year Senior Linebacker Kenny Demens
On the improvement of the defense on a week-to-week basis ... "A lot of that goes into our preparation and practice habits. During the Notre Dame week, we had a great week of practice. We knew that game was going to be good for defense, so we just kept that going."
On stopping a pair of fourth-down attempts in the first half ... "It was huge, for momentum, to get that back over to our side. We knew we didn't want to stay on the field for too long. We just wanted to make plays for this team."
On the pass defense ... "That was something that I was focusing on coming into my senior year, playing the pass. Even the zone drops had to be better. I took it upon myself, and the coaching staff even instilled that into us as a defensive unit. We study what we study, and if it's pass coverage, we have to be all over it. We have to be great. We can't be good at one thing, so we're still getting better at that."
On his first career interception ... "It felt awesome. There was nothing like that. To have those guys out on the sidelines be that happy for me; that was incredible."
On if the defense felt a need to step up after Denard Robinson got injured ... "Kind of. We go into every game feeling that way. We want to win the game on our side of the football. Watching Denard go down, we knew we had to step our game up. In essence, if they don't score any more points, we win the ball game, so if we stop them, we're doing our job."
U-M Senior Quarterback Denard Robinson
On the team's defensive performance today ... "I think every great team has to have a great defense. It all starts with the defense because if they stop people, we can score big points and we'll win the game if we shut them out. They played well and it was a team effort."
On whether or not he's thinking about Michigan State yet ... "I'm not even thinking about it right now. This is a big win for us. It's the championship game we just won. We feel good about it because Illinois is a great team. We want to enjoy that right now and then tomorrow we'll move forward."
On how comfortable he is with the run-heavy game ... "I'm comfortable with it. This is Michigan and this is how Michigan always plays. The running backs have been running well in the off-slot. They come out every day and practice hard and they put forth the effort today. I'm happy with them because that's where it starts."
On having Devin Funchess as a target to throw to ... "Funchess always goes up and gets the ball. It's a joy throwing to him. He's a great athlete and I enjoy it."
U-M Sophomore Linebacker Desmond Morgan
On representing Gerald Ford as the next Michigan Football Legend ... "It's an honor to represent a former Michigan player; obviously, he left his legacy on the program and was a standout person and player, and on top of that the President of the United States. It's a great honor and I'm going to wear it proud."
On the play of the defensive line ... "Whenever we're having success on defense, it starts up front. Those three or four guys up there, when they're playing physical and holding the offensive line up, it allows us to flow and make plays. We feed off each other so our success starts up front for sure."
On whether the defense is where he would like it to be ... "We're not satisfied with where we're at and we're never going to be content with the way we've played. There are obviously things we have to improve on and mistakes we have to build off of. It's another step in the right direction and we're going to keep moving forward."
On the pride the defense takes in shutting out a team ... "It's a great accomplishment. If you can hold a team to zero points, especially a team like Illinois that has converted as well as they have on third down. They've been explosive and put points on the board. It's a great accomplishment and like I said earlier, there are things we have to correct and get better at but holding a team to a shutout is something to hang your hat on."
U-M Fifth-year Senior Offensive Lineman Patrick Omameh
On mixing in younger running backs ... "We got some young guys in there, eager guys who want to prove themselves. They got a chance to do that today. It is something that energizes everyone in there."
On Russell Bellomy playing at quarterback ... "One thing coaches always emphasize is the expectations from a position, not just a player who happens to be at a position. You never want to see one of your teammates go down, but if somebody does, you have confidence that someone else is going to step up."
On the progress of the offensive line ... "We feel that we are progressing. We progress week to week, which is our goal. We never want to feel satisfied with any kind of progress, but we can look at the mistakes we made today and continue to get better."
U-M Junior/Sophomore Linebacker Jake Ryan
On where the defense is now compared to where they want to be ... "I think we are at a good point right now. I think we are definitely communicating as a defense and definitely getting to the ball as hard as we can. A shutout is always a great deal from a defensive perspective."
On the cohesiveness of the defense ... "It is a huge part of the defense. Communication is the key to this defense. Without that, it is nothing. We have to communicate and play our technique as well as we can."
On what has changed since the season opener ... "I think just preparing. We have been doing a great job preparing throughout the week. Knowing our technique and the tendencies of the other team are critical."
On Desmond Morgan getting Gerald Ford's No. 48 ... "Desmond definitely deserved it. He is a great player. We were talking and having 47 and 48 as linebackers is pretty cool to be lined up with each other. Desmond definitely deserved it and definitely will represent the jersey."
Illinois Head Coach Tim Beckman
Opening remarks ... "To start off with, you have to give credit to Coach Hoke and his staff and the Wolverines -- they did a great job today. Kent and I were walking down the hallway and he told me to be myself because I have never been in this situation before, and it's tough. With the football team -- it's a tough situation because we know we didn't play well. We know we lost our quarterback early there in the football game and we had some turnovers that ended up being very crucial to us. We didn't play very well on defense. Special teams-wise, I thought it was very, very average. As I told this football team, this is kind of the crossroads. The film doesn't lie -- whatever that film says is something that we will all have to make marks on and will all have to coach from. We will all have to see how we played. Our players are disappointed and hurting and our coaching staff is too -- and I'm sure Illini nation is, too. We are going to get back there tomorrow and we are going to evaluate it, and then make our assessments.
On defending Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson ... "Denard is a great football player. I mean, there is a lot of credit to Denard. He made people miss tonight -- he made people miss tackles. He did some very good things and is a very, very good football player, and I guess we didn't defend well enough because he had a spectacular football game. "
On getting going in the running game early in the game between the tackles ... "That is something that we wanted to try to establish -- we need to establish our offense and move the football. Our numbers on offense were not where they need to be by any means."
On how he approaches keeping the players motivated going forward ... "I challenged them in the locker room. I just said, guys there is five opportunities left. For us to get better we have to do one at a time -- Indiana happens to be the next one. We have to step forward in this program and we have to try to make our football team better. Our football team is not happy by any means. I mean, there is not a happy soul in that locker room -- the football family as we said. You know they have to respond -- we have to respond."
Illinois Assistant Coach Chris Beatty
On the game overall ... "We didn't play well enough -- nothing really went right. There is really not anything to say."
On where the team could go from here ... "I don't know, it was just a bad day. We ran the ball okay in the first half. So when you look back at those things you can say, you can build on that. But it was just one of those days that nothing really went well. We just have to go back to the drawing board."
On if it was something that Michigan was doing well ... "Michigan played a great game. We didn't execute very well, but they had a hand in it. We just have to do a better job."
On keeping other players motivated ... "We have a chance to play. Half of the teams in the country are going to lose today. So if it is 40 or whatever to zero, they are going to lose. You have to get back on the horse and that is part of it. We have a bye week to try and fix some things and get things corrected, and just go from there."
Illinois Quarterback Reilly O'Toole
On the game overall ... "I thought we had a good game plan. We ran the ball really well in the first half. We couldn't throw the ball -- in the first half the weather was pretty bad. But in the second half -- you can't just run the ball the whole game, you have to be able to pass. As the game went on, we just couldn't pass so they were stopping the run."
On how to improve going forward ... "We just have to play better, simple as that. We have to turn it around. We have this bye week to turn it around and we will be ready to go."
On the running game ... "We ran the ball well. We just have to put it all together. We took care of the ball well in the first half. Then on our first series, I threw an interception. I got hit as I was throwing and fumbled too. We just have to put everything together. We have to run the ball and throw the ball well in the same game -- not one or the other. Hopefully, we can get a game where we have zero turnovers while running the ball well and also pass the ball well."