Nov. 19, 2011
U-M coach quotes from Michigan Sports Network postgame show
Player quotes from press conference
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
On playing best game of the year ... "As a team as a whole I would have to agree with you. But there's still areas that we need to improve. We had great field position in there sometimes offensively, either from our kickoff team knocking the ball out, and we don't put the ball in the end zone. And then we gave up a long drive defensively and they went in to score to get to 17, and we've got to play better. They changed the tempo on us a little bit and I don't think we handled that as well as we need to. And I think offensively we have some field-position issues and we don't continue to get first downs."
On causing turnovers ... "We talked about it as a team that we wanted to make a decision to play with great toughness. I think Terrence Robinson went down there and knocked one out, and I know Cam Gordon knocked one out on the kickoff, and that really helps your momentum as a team and the morale. It helps put points on the board."
On stopping the Nebraska running game ... "Well we knew going into it that we had to do a good job up front and our front seven had to do a good job playing the run, which means our front needed to penetrate and get off blocks well. Doing that with their play-action game, the back end with our four guys in the secondary could do a good job of playing the pass and I think we were able to do that. It helped us out and the kids played hard."
On defensive line strategy ... "Mike (Martin) is talented enough to do some things for us, and I think Greg (Mattison) has done a nice job, and Jerry Montgomery has done a nice job of teaching him some unique skills. When Mike has an opportunity to move around a little bit, it helps us as a defense. He dropped in coverage a couple times and took away a couple slants."
On junior quarterback Denard Robinson managing the offense ... "That pick for Denard was a defensive lineman getting his hands up and making a great play, that's where it is attributed to. I think Denard played good football for us. There were a couple runs where I'd like him to stick his foot in the ground a little more and really accelerate, but I thought he did a nice job of managing us. I think there was only one play where we probably should have stayed in going to that side, but then he makes a great throw to (Martavious) Odoms and he makes a great catch. That was pinpoint on the throw."
U-M Senior Wide Receiver Martavious Odoms
On battling back after a slow start with injury and catching a touchdown pass ... "It felt great. I got my chance. Coach called a good play. Denard threw the ball and I caught it."
On junior quarterback Denard Robinson's throwing ability ... "A lot of people doubt his throwing because he can run so well, but when he has to make a throw and make a play, he gets the job done."
On how close he was to breaking a touchdown run on special teams ... "I think that I was really close to breaking through. It is always the guy that I don't see that happens to hit my leg or trip me. I think I am going to get one. I think on special teams we take pride in it. People go harder on special teams than a regular play. Special teams is a really big part of the game. "
U-M Junior Quarterback Denard Robinson
On whether he thought the team was capable of a performance like this ... "Oh yeah. We played as a team and when we came out like we did, of course, yeah.
On field position and the defense forcing turnovers ... "That is the thing, we played as a team today. That is what we needed, all three teams have to execute. Everyone felt more comfortable today. The offensive line gave us the time to do what we needed to do and running backs holes to run."
On Fitzgerald Toussaint's running ... "I knew he was a physical running back, but once he gets it up the field, he can make guys miss. I think he did great."
On the fans counting down the play clock ... "That was the biggest thing, and I meant to say something when I walked in about that. We appreciated the fans helping us out because we really needed it. A big shoutout to the fans. We hope they are ready next week."
On any surprises that Nebraska had on defense ... "There are always a little surprise, but coach adjusted well and we executed."
U-M Senior Defensive Tackle Mike Martin
On Ryan Van Bergen ... "He's stepping up. The whole line up front is doing a great job communicating and executing. Ryan does a great job on the focus side of things and helps us executive. We all do a good job of echoing the call so we can all play tough."
On defending Nebraska's option and containing Rex Burkhead ... "It was one of our main focuses during the week. Preparation is key and we talk about that every day on our team. Beginning Sunday to Monday, between watching film, getting looks from our scout team -- they did a great job -- I felt like we prepared well and it showed on the field."
On how the defense improved statistically in one year ... "That's always going to be in the back of your mind, but this is a new year. Our mindset is completely changed. A total 360. The senior group and this team, from day one when Coach Hoke and his staff came in, we knew that were going to have to buy in, and it really started in winter conditioning, summer conditioning, fall camp, all those phases leading up to the season. Our focus and dedication to this team and coaching staff is showing. We know we're getting better, but the season is far from over. There's a lot of work left to put in, and that's what we're going to do."
On the defensive mindset and how it has changed ... "Like I've said before, the mindset of this defense and this team is just on a whole new level this year. We've had young guys step up. We've had great leadership with seniors, underclassmen have gotten some time, and it's really just putting those pieces together. It's playing Michigan defense and Michigan football for 60 minutes. That's what you need to win football games. You can't start a game strong and not finish. We've done that before and it hasn't worked out. We've improved as a team each week, and we have to make sure we take a positive step for this week coming up."
U-M Senior/junior Safety Jordan Kovacs
On if the win has any added significance or if it was just another game ... "Coming into the game, we knew it was going to be a big game. Both teams came in at 8-2. We want to make a statement every time we take the field, so we knew it was going to be a big game. I think we played pretty well in all three facets of the game, and we earned this win, so we're excited about it."
On the reason the defense is peaking ... "I just think we're all starting to click. Defensively, we're gaining confidence. We're improving every game. And the offense did a nice job of complementing us. The offense did a great job today, holding onto the ball, moved the chains on third down, and made some big plays when they needed to, which always helps. You can't say enough about special teams. Anytime you force two turnovers, it's hard to lose a game like that. I think you have to tip your hat off to those guys. There are a few plays we'd like to take back, but we're always looking to improve, and we're excited about next week."
On if Michigan was more physical than Nebraska ... "We knew they were going to be a physical team, and that the tougher team, the more physical team, was going to win. To a certain extent, I thought we played pretty physical, but there's always some lapses, and some plays you'd like to have back. It's still an area we need to improve on every day."
On where this win ranks for him ... "This is a big win. Huge. I can't stress that enough. We knew it was going to be a big game coming in. I think this is the best win we've had since I've been on the team. I don't think we've had a game this late in November that really meant as much as this one. It was a big win for us. We played well in all facets, and it was fun win, but like I said, we're looking forward to next week."
U-M Fifth-year Senior Offensive Lineman Mark Huyge
On controlling the time of possession battle ... "I know for a fact that our defense plays better when they have a limited amount of time on the field. I didn't know that we held the ball for 40 minutes, it's a good deal. It's great when special teams can contribute like they did. We'd come off the field and then sure enough, we'd be right back on with a turnover or a quick three-and-out."
On playing in front of Denard Robinson ... "I love playing for Denard, I really do because I know in the run game he makes stuff happen all the time, and in the pass game he can pull the ball down and run too. When he threw that ball to Martavious Odoms in the end zone, that was a great throw and a great catch, and that's something that we need."
On the focus on week-to-week improvement ... "There's an emphasis on getting better every week. Improvement was the key, and you had to put behind the one you just lost. The fact that our main goal was to get better, we knew if we got better in November, we'd be playing better football. Obviously, that's been showing."
U-M Junior/sophomore Running Back Fitzgerald Toussaint
On the physical nature of this game ... "I'd say it was a very physical game. We prepared all week for this game, and we knew what was coming, so we expected everything we got."
On the evolution of the running game this season ... "I'd say we're executing a little more, the guys up front are handling their business, we're prepared for these moments, and that's what happens."
On the team's strong play as of late ... "I would have to say it's more teamwork: working as a team and focusing on unity."
Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini
Opening statement ... "We can't play that way on the road and expect to win a football game. The penalties, the turnovers, all the things that we preach and what we were doing well we weren't doing today. There's your result."
On first-half scoring ... "We turned the ball over, we should have intercepted the football. They made plays and we didn't. We had opportunities, but we didn't do much with them."
On special teams play ... "We've been playing well on special teams. Dropping a punt, not blocking well, you can't do those things. I don't know why we dropped the ball. I thought out guys were ready to play. I don't have the answer why to why we put the ball on the ground twice in the second half. That wasn't the right call on roughing the punter."
On Denard Robinson's performance ... "He's a good player. He made us miss a couple of times. We made him look good throwing the ball. We had a few balls in our hands that we could've intercepted. Like I said, we had opportunities to make plays and we didn't do it."
On the performance of the offense ... "We took ourselves out of drives. It was not a good day for us on offense."