Michigan Football Media Day: Brady Hoke Press Conference

Aug. 10, 2014

Media/Fan Day Photos | Training Camp Central

Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke

Opening statement ... "Good morning. We're glad you're here. Overall, we're really happy with the progress we've made from spring. In the practices we've had, we went two yesterday, really good effort and really good competition, which is what we're striving for at every position, and also offense vs. defense, the kicking game vs. the kicking game -- we've come out and competed hard. We are not there as far as being a good football team yet, but the way they've come to work every day and what they've done is good. I think the identity of this team is still one that we're developing and trying to develop. I think the team has vested themselves in each other and in what we're trying to get done. This next week is a grind and should be because you have some double-day practices in there. We'll scrimmage sometime during that week, trying to get reps and trying to see what matches we like as an offense and defense. We'll really look at the situational football standpoint of it; how we match up during the year and how we will matchup. I'm excited about where we're at, knowing that we've got a lot of hard work that we've got to put into it -- staff-wise, player-wise, trainer-wise, manager-wise, everybody that's involved. From that standpoint, there are a lot of positives. From a standpoint of where we want to be, we're not near there yet."

On any injuries on the team ... "There are some guys that are beat up a little bit. Delonte Hollowell -- he's got cast on his hand. We have a couple guys we held out -- Ondre Pipkins, on two-a-day days we try and not overwork him. We're doing a lot with the GPS tracking that we're into. I think the first time around doing all that stuff, you're trying to get some baselines and some data, and I think that's helping us in how we go out to practice."

On his thoughts on the kicking game and secondary this year ... "Matt Wile has done a nice job in his career so far. The kicking part of it -- Will Hagerup -- it's great to have Will back, and he's had a good camp so far. Punting -- Kenny Allen is a young man who walked on here who works really hard and is developing in a little bit of the kickoffs, and he's also a very good punter. Snappers -- Scott Sypniewski and Dan Liesman are two guys that are really competing there. Scott we brought in a year ago, and we were able to redshirt him. Losing Jareth Glanda was a big loss, but Scott has done a nice job. When you look at the return game, there are a lot of different guys that we're looking at. (Dennis) Norfleet is a guy that will be taking most of them. A guy like Freddy Canteen and a guy like Jabrill Peppers -- some of those guys have a skill set that we think is pretty good. The other part of that -- having Drake Johnson back is a real plus."

On development of the wide receivers ... "I think the young wide receivers are learning every day from the way they've come out and worked and the pressure and the stress that we put on them and how we practice as a whole team. But for those guys when you're talking about formationally getting lined up and the different personnel groups, and depending on what the quarterback sees and where he's pointing and all that -- I think they're learning a lot there. With Devin (Funchess) and Jehu (Chesson), Amara (Darboh) coming back is a real plus for us -- he's had a good camp so far. It's not like we're in three week of it, but he's done a nice job. Freddy Canteen, Bo Dever, Da'Mario Jones -- all of them have improved. From that standpoint, they fit what we're doing, and we've recruited them to fit what we want to do offensively."

On whether or not it's Jake Ryan's job to lead the defense on the field ... "I think that's the one side of the ball where we have more seniors. We have a lot of guys who have played a lot and a lot of guys with experience. From that standpoint, I wouldn't put it all on Jake (Ryan). Frank Clark has played a lot of football, Brennen Beyer has played a lot of football, Ray Taylor and Blake Countess, Jarrod Wilson -- they've played a lot of football, so from that standpoint we're going to be a little more aggressive. We think the development of the corners and the depth of the corners has allowed us to be a little more physical."

On this year's senior leadership ... "I think those guys are doing a nice job. I don't have any complaints."

On the coaching changes and also the impact it's had on Devin Gardner ... "Number one, I think when you talk about the shuffling, from a defensive perspective, I think it's been tremendous for us. I think the two coaches in the secondary and just in meetings and everything you can get accomplished have been really good. Greg (Mattison) at the middle of the defense have been really good and Mark (Smith) with the defensive line -- that has all been positive. Doug (Nussmeier) coming in has been a real positive. I think it has been a little bit of a clean slate for Devin (Gardner) to some degree. I think they have a tremendous relationship. The depth that we have -- it's not a backup that's a true freshman, it's a backup who has played one full game and has done a nice job. When you look at Shane (Morris) as far as the incremental leaps that he's made. I think overall all those things have been positive."

On what he wants to see Devin Gardner do this year ... "A couple things are that realizing that on fourth down, sometimes punting the football is not a bad thing. He's a guy who is very athletic, as I hope you all know. He's a guy who is tough. And I think the other part of it is he has to learn that he doesn't have to do it by himself."

On the cornerback competition ... "The way we've rotated, they're all getting a lot of snaps, number one. Jourdan Lewis and Ray Taylor and (Blake) Countess right now would probably be the three top guys. I think Channing Stribling has come along -- he's got to keep improving. Delonte Hollowell in some cases. There were some flashes last year with Delonte. The consistency I think we're seeing more of."

On Amara Darboh being back up to speed and what he's shown ... "I think he gives us another guy at receiver that has some game experience. When you look at his genetics and his size, he's really able to challenge a defense vertically, and then the strength on the line of scrimmage that he possesses. As far as what he's shown us, he's shown us in spring that he's got that kind of ability."

On the timeframe for making a decision on whether or not to redshirt Wilton Speight ... "Probably a couple more week to be honest with you. The first two guys are getting a lot of snaps. Wilton and Russell Bellomy and kind of sharing some reps with the threes. One of those guys will travel and one of them won't."

On any players that have surprised them in the first week ... "Erik Magnuson, maybe not a surprise, but he's done a good job. Ben Braden -- he's a very good athlete. He hasn't played a lot obviously, but fundamentally we see him. Jack Miller has done a nice job in there at center. Guys who have been surprising -- the way Joe Bolden has kept playing is a real plus in what he's done. Up front defensively, a guy like Bryan Mone. And we're really happy with where Ondre Pipkins is at because he didn't do any contact in the spring."

On how the defense will be able to support the offense through an offensive learning curve ... "Hopefully, we support each other in all three phases. Are there growing pains? Are offenses usually behind defenses? Yeah, they usually are, especially when we have so many older guys on defense. So, that's a big part of it -- defensively, us playing to our ability every time we take the field."

On settling on a starting rotation on the offensive line and how long it will take them to develop with the running game ... "I think sometime next week, middle of the week or end of the week, we'll settle in a little more with what we want to look at and do as far as the top five guys. Darrell (Funk) and Doug (Nussmeier) have done a nice job of rotating the guys in who we think really have an opportunity to be in that first group. I think as we go through it and the improvements they made from the spring and what they did through the summer, they're taking that to the field. That's been a real positive for us. I think in the running, there are things that we all feel are important. That's what the running backs see and are doing. Drake (Johnson), Derrick (Green) and De'Veon (Smith) have really, at this point in camp, have all done a nice job with run reads and those kinds of things. We're excited about that -- what they've shown so far."

On whether it will be a running back by committee ... "We'll find out. I don't know. We've done it here before, and it's been pretty good. But I wouldn't say that's what we're looking to do today. We're looking to find the best and most consistent guy first. I think we're going through that. They're all getting a lot of reps. The other part is our receivers and how they're adding in to the running game to different fronts and different things that the quarterbacks may be adjusting to and checking to. That's real positive."

On his emotions and expectations entering the season ... "The expectations never change. If you lower the bar, ever, I think you're making a mistake. I think, like everyone else, we learn every day from things we may be able to do better and the consistency."

On what defensive back Dymonte Thomas needs to do find a starting spot ... "He just needs to keep working. He's had a good fall camp so far. He and Jeremy Clark both have had a good fall camp. What we've asked of Dymonte and Jeremy is be a little more 'take command' out there. There are days that I tell them, 'I want you to make all the checks,' because Jarrod (Wilson) makes them all the time. Jarrod may break his helmet or something and not be out there, so they're doing a better job taking that responsibility."

On Jarrod Wilson's camp ... "He's had a really good camp. He's worked awfully hard during the summer. He's really embraced the leadership back there. He's the guy who has to do the majority of the communicating. I think he's had a good camp to this point."

On whether offensive lineman Mason Cole could see snaps this season... "I think he has a very legitimate chance. If you ask our coaches, I think we all felt that way. He's a little different as a freshman, and I attribute that to his high school coach and the program he was in at East Lake. He really has done a nice job. He comes every day, works hard, he's physically better now than he was in the spring. Is he still 18 years old? I think so. But he's done a nice job."

On true freshmen pushing for playing time ... "I think Mason Cole is one of those guys. Freddy Canteen. On defense, Jabrill (Peppers). (Bryan) Mone is another guy who has the ability as a nose tackle. Those would be the guys, and I think there will be 1-2 others. I'm really impressed with Ian Bunting, who got here in June as a tight end."

On how Derrick Green looks from a year ago ... "I think he looks a lot different. A year ago, he looked more like me. He's really worked hard through the nutrition with Joel Totoro, our nutritionist, to what he's done in the weight room. From a physical standpoint, he's done a really nice job being a little more intelligent with what he feeds the engine, because that's a big part of it. He looks a lot different."

On what he's learned about Jabrill Peppers ... "Obviously, we think he's a pretty good football player or we wouldn't have recruited him. Jabrill has got a lot of athleticism. He loves to play and compete. There's an element you love about that, because how he goes about it every day."

On whether he's anxious to see more of what he's trying to build ... "I think you always are. There were a lot of depth issues that we've had. That's not an excuse; there are no excuses. We've got to do a better job at what we're doing. I look at how those guys have come -- those younger guys -- how they've practiced and how they've led. That's been exciting."

On what he wants the team identity to look like ... "I want it to be a football team that can run the football and have a toughness at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. We want high execution in everything that we do. That means if you're back pedal is supposed to be this, then execute the way you're supposed to execute every time. I think the identity part of it is a toughness that this program has had for many years. That's part of what I'm looking for, and believe me, it's been verbalized enough to the players. What I have heard and seen since the bowl game, that part of it, I think they're improving on."

On why he hasn't seen that identity sooner ... "I wish I had the answer. If I had the answer, we would have been in a little better shape a year ago. But I think the consistency the guys are seeing and demanding from each other daily, I'm excited about that."

On running back De'Veon Smith ... "His development has been really good. He's got competition there, and the one thing I know about De'Veon is he's probably as tough a guy as I've been around. His identity is toughness. With the way he practices, he can get dinged up, but he's still going to go and go and go."

On the linebacker corps ... "There's great competition. Every one of them needs to have a good day or they won't be out there. It doesn't matter who it is. Joe (Bolden) has played well, Jake (Ryan) has done some really good things, Desmond (Morgan), Mike McCray is a year older, and James Ross and Royce (Jenkins-Stone) are fighting to play. So, it's a good thing."

On Rutgers and Maryland joining the Big Ten ... "We've broken down every opponent; we do that in the summer. We've looked at a lot of tape on everybody and done all the preseason studies we can, looking at depth, who they have, style of defense, style of offense, who the playmakers are. As far as those two programs, we welcome them; we're excited that they're here. Going to Rutgers, I think that will be a neat experience for our team, but they're only neat if you win. We got to watch a lot of Maryland last year when we were getting ready for Connecticut; they've shown some things on defense, and their skill level at the receivers is pretty strong."

On the current ranks of his running backs ... "I'd say right now, it'd be Drake (Johnson) and De'Veon (Smith), say, 1A and 1B, and then two is Derrick (Green)."

On whether the offensive line is showing progress ... "We did a couple drills last night that were pretty live stuff. We had two TFLs, and both of them were because the line call; the defense stemmed, and they didn't change the block."

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