Aug. 11, 2013
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Opening statement ... "We're 20 days away from playing and we've got a lot of work to do in these next 19 days as a football team. We've had seven practices and I like what we've done in those seven practices -- I like the leadership from the seniors; I like how the competition at various spots has been very good and that's what we need to have if we want to be a championship team. I like our team still -- I haven't come to the point where I don't like them yet and I'm hoping that doesn't come. I think we're building each day. From the perspective offensively and defensively and the kicking game, I think the teaching progression that the coaches have used has been very good for us as a team. Now we're getting an opportunity for some more situational competitions with each other. I like our team, I like where we're at and we just have to get a lot better because it's going to be a quick next 19 days."
On the surprises he's seen so far in camp ... "I don't know if there have been any big surprises or even medium surprises. I like how the team itself came into camp. When you look at body types, you look at what they did in the summer. I know there was an article on Taylor Lewan and what he's done, and Joel Totoro, our nutritionist, and Aaron Wellman, how they have changed him. You see that with not just Lewan, a lot of guys have done a nice job."
On the change in the offense this year and the staff's level of comfort with it ... "That's a question we get a lot. I think they've always been comfortable with it. I think Al (Borges), probably that first two years, went back to the drawing board a little bit and really studied some of the things that would help our offensive and obviously with Denard (Robinson) as the quarterback, he did a nice job with that. The terminology and everything, back to where the offense will more shape up and look like, I think it's been real positive."
On what he's seen from Devin Gardner ... "Devin (Gardner) had five games last year and we were 3-2 in those games with him being the starting quarterback. He played down in Columbus in that environment so that was a great learning experience, good and bad. I think playing South Carolina, who is a very good defensive team and a good football team. I think he learned a lot there in the bowl game. Is he where he needs to be yet? No. Is he capable? Yes, I don't think there is any doubt -- from intelligence and football, his knowledge and how he thinks it and works it. This will be a real big telling point of where he is as a quarterback."
On the battle at center and how Jack Miller is fitting in ... "Jack (Miller) has done a really good job. I think him and Graham Glasgow, and Joey Burzynski being the third element in there, I think they both have competed well. I think both of them, and really all three of them, have really good intelligence and that helps because they can play guard. We've worked them at all three. Jack (Miller) has mainly stayed at the center position, but he knows the guard position. I think it's a good competition. This week is a big week for all those things to see how they play out."
On how the linebackers have looked and whether he plans to be situational at the Sam ... "I think we'll get to a point. Brennen Beyer is a guy who we moved from rush back to Sam and has played both positions. I think him and Cam (Gordon) both bring a physicalness that I probably would not have said about Cam a year ago; from his stature and getting used to being down at the line of scrimmage. I think both of those guys are doing a nice job. Allen Gant is going through a progression, moving down from safety. His size is probably where Cam (Gordon) was about two and a half years ago, so he's learning a little more. We'll have a rotation and then we'll see when Jake (Ryan) gets back. Inside, Desmond (Morgan) has done a really good job, Joe Bolden has done a good job, (James) Ross and I think Royce Jenkins-Stone, probably at the Will, has had a good camp so far and I'm encouraged."
On the interior offensive line and when he plans to lock in depth chart ... "I think by the time we're 13 days out we ought to have them figured out a little more. Obviously you don't just hand it to a guy -- he's going to have to earn it every day."
On Derrick Green and Brennen Beyer's status ... "They both didn't do a whole lot of game time stuff, hitting or anything. They got to run and do those types of things. I wouldn't say their injuries will keep them out."
On what he's seen from De'Veon Smith ... "De'Veon has done a nice job. With all those freshmen, they're still finishing classes and doing all that, so they miss some things. But De'Veon is kind of the forgotten sole when you talk about those two guys Derrick Green), and we like what we've seen to this point."
On how Fitzgerald Toussaint is doing ... "Great. He's done everything. We hit each other pretty good yesterday in both practices. He's done everything. He's been great."
On the depth at safety ... "I think we have a lot of guys at safety. Jeremy Clark and Thomas (Gordon) and Jarrod (Wilson) and Delano Hill. There are some guys back there, and I'm forgetting three or four of them, but we have some good depth there."
On the unassigned legacy jerseys ... "We don't have to assign them, but we're still going through the process."
On Devin Funchess' potential in his second year ... "Potential is not really a good word because if someone says you have potential and that's all they say, that's not very positive. I think Devin has grown and I think that's an important piece to it. He'll be more dangerous. I can remember when we had three tight ends here within the offense, so maybe we started that evolution with three tight ends to the NFL level, but I think Devin is athletic and I think he's better at the line of scrimmage. The better that he can be at the line of scrimmage, the better we'll be as a team, because then people aren't going to say 'Funchess is in; they're going to throw the football'. That's where the challenge for him falls. He's bigger, he's stronger, he's a better technician. He never had to block a nine technique in high school, so I think he's learned a lot through last spring and this fall. He's got a lot of talent."
On Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson making an impact on the passing game ... "I think they've done a really good job, both of them. I think (Amara) Darboh, he was a guy a year ago when we had this conversation that Roy Roundtree talked about, and ended up with no catches. He's done a great job committing himself. Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo have done a tremendous job of coaching those guys. He's made some nice catches and shown good concentration so far during camp. Jehu (Chesson) probably hasn't had as many opportunities, but he can stretch the field vertically so well, we're excited about him."
On Michigan not winning the Big Ten in nine years and Ohio State being a favorite this year ... "Our goal is to win the championship, and we haven't done it. We've failed in the last nine years because that's an expectation. I think you're always motivated when you talk about Ohio, no matter what's being said, you're motivated so that the last Saturday in November you play your best football."
On Chris Wormley coming back from injury ... "Chris (Wormley) number one is huge -- he's big guy. He's done a nice job coming back from the rehab, and really the better job probably from the mental side of that. That's one thing I'm proud of Fitz (Toussaint) for -- he's come back from it because mentally he really worked that side of it. I think Chris (Wormley) has that potential, and that's a dangerous word, to be an awfully good football player for us. We like where he's at and how he's progressed."
On other guys making progress at the running back position ... "Justice Hayes had a really strong spring, if you remember, he had a really good summer and he's had a really good fall camp. Drake Johnson, same thing. I think his work ethic -- how he's built his body, how he's learned, has been great. I think (Thomas) Rawls would be the same way. We've got some tough decision here in about two weeks because they're all competing. Will somebody separate themselves? You'd like for that to happen, but at the same time, they're all competing."
On how they will split playing time at the running back position ... "I would probably lean a little more that there will be more than just one guy. I think we have the personnel. I'm not going to get into first-down backs, second-down backs, third-down backs, because I think there is some of that built into any system, but I think whoever will be that main guy nine days before, we'll probably have that figured out."
On the depth of the defensive ends keeping everyone fresh ... "There is no question, when you're fresh and feel fresh, it's more mental than physical at times, you can play with more focus, more intensity, you play faster, your effort is unbelievable. Depth wise, Keith (Heitzman) has done a really good job and had a really good camp so far. Chris Wormley, Matt Godin, all those guys at the strong-end position have done well. Frank (Clark) has had a really good fall camp, as much as on the field and his leadership on the field. Mario (Ojemudia), is a guy who played some snaps as a true freshman, I think that's huge for him. And then Taco (Charlton), since he got here in January, has done well. Frank probably, as much as anybody, when you look at the depth totally up front, you have Jibreel (Black) and Quinton (Washington) and then it's Frank (Clark). It's a young group, probably a bit immature, but that's our job."
On why Michigan has not played as well on the road as they have at home ... "When you look at playing on the road, we emphasized that pretty big, especially a year ago, probably emphasized it too much to be honest. The field is still 100 years long, 53 1/3 wide, so it really doesn't matter. I think when you look at it in depth, how many turnovers did we have at Notre Dame, how many turnovers did we have did we have at Ohio, and how many turnovers in the bowl game -- is that an away game? I don't know, you're not playing at Michigan Stadium. But I think that was a big part of us not taking care of the ball. Some of it was inexperience. Some of it was trying to make a play when sometimes from an offensive perspective, really a team perspective, throwing the ball away or taking a two-yard gain instead of a five-yard gain and punting the football can be good for you."
On what he's seen from the defensive tackles ... "The seniors will be playing a lot if they earn the right to play. There is no entitlement and so far to this point I think Quinton (Washington) has done a really nice job -- leadership wise, production wise, fundamentally. I think Jibreel (Black) I could say the same thing about. I think Willie Henry is understanding how fast you need to play and that's a daily grind. The same with Ondre (Pipkins), because Ondre has to learn that part of it and be more fundamentally sound. Tommy Strobel is a guy who is playing well, and I'm excited about Tom and what he's done so far. I think Richard Ash has improved. I think down the road Maurice (Hurst Jr.) is a guy who, he was a 260-pound tailback and now he's playing defensive line -- I kind of like that. They're progressing."
On the depth at the defensive back position being what he has been looking for ... "There is no doubt, that's more how we want to go about it. Coaching with Greg (Mattison) a long time ago, we've always like to have guys on the field where they can peak-perform and peak-compete. We think we're going to be able to do that."
On what's involved in seniors becoming a team captain ... "When we vote for mayor, do you think there is politicking involved? It's society. There are guys who maybe go about it the wrong way. There have been some unbelievable captains that we've had on various team, various places, who have done it just by how they do it every day, and have been consistent. There are guys who maybe try a little too hard. But the thing is, the team votes on it, and only the older guys, none of the freshmen -- they haven't been around them enough. Usually those guys know who should be it and shouldn't be it."
On one element he needs to see from his team before he knows they're ready ... "Playing fast and playing physical. I had this conversation with Laura Hoke last night -- I don't think we're playing as fast as we need to play to be a championship football team. Every championship team that I've had the privilege of being a part of, they play unbelievably fast and physical on both sides of the ball, and we're not there yet. I'm not just talking about tempo, I'm talking about when that ball is snapped, how that left guard comes off the ball; how that center takes that step up through the one shade; I'm talking about the safety and his read; I'm talking about the defensive linemen and how fast they throw their hands -- that's playing fast. And then from an offensive prospective, watching those guys on the offensive line get down the field to garner that next block and pick the running back up. Or defensively, getting 11 winged helmets to the ball because there are 11 spots on a human body for a helmet and we need to put 11 helmets on that body."
U-M Junior/Sophomore Center Jack Miller
On how camp has been going so far ... "It's been good so far. There's a good energy going around camp. Guys are excited. We're under three weeks now, which is kind of crazy. Things are going well. Guys are working hard, there's lots of competition, and I think it's going to make everybody better."
On the new offense ... "Not much is different. At the end of the day, the offensive line has to move people. No matter what kind of offense you're in, that's the basic principle. There's probably more of an emphasis on it this year, but at the end of the day, the offensive line plays kind of similarly no matter what offense you're in."
U-M Sophomore Wide Receiver Amara Darboh
On how camp has been different than last year ... "A lot of it's the same. Just trying to get more familiar with the offense, get smoother and trying to understand defenses more."
U-M Junior Defensive End Frank Clark
On his goals for this season ... "My goal is to get 10-plus sacks this season. I told myself from the beginning of last season, particularly at the end of last season, that I wanted to become a better pass rusher. Since winter conditioning, coach Mattison has been working with me on that. With the help of all the coaches, I believe I can attain that goal."
On the depth along the defensive line ... "I believe everybody is doing pretty well, especially along the defensive line. We have a lot of depth this year, so that's a positive as far as our defensive line. I believe the rotations are coming along pretty well. Despite this, the coaches always preach we're all first team no matter who you are."
U-M Junior/Sophomore Cornerback Blake Countess
On how the younger players have progressed ... "From what I've seen, everyone is doing well. I don't know if one guy has stood out, but everybody is working and that's all that we need."
On filling the void left by Jordan Kovacs ... "Jordan (Kovacs) had a storybook career here, so you can't really fill that. We have a tremendous amount of seniors stepping up. This senior class really came together and they're leading together as a great bunch. I wouldn't say there's one person. I play in the secondary so Thomas Gordon has really stepped up in my eyes and taken on that role. He's not as vocal as Jordan Kovacs was, but he's making the plays and doing what he needs to do on the field to take over that role."
U-M Sophomore Safety Jarrod Wilson
On the competition in the secondary ... "Yes competition is always key because it helps make sure you're on top of your keys and cues. We're competing, but at the same time we're helping each other out. There's no animosity towards one another."
On how he can progress as a player ... "Just continue doing what I've been doing so far, keeping my head in the books, learning all of the plays inside and out. I have to be aggressive, going 100 percent to the ball, that's all they can really ask for. No football player is perfect, but playing 100 percent and giving your all is all you can do."
U-M Sophomore Defensive Tackle Ondre Pipkins
On the competition along the defensive line ... "Consistently being competitive. That's what we're trying to do here. Coach Hoke brings energy to the meeting rooms every day. He says we need to compete to make everyone better. The young guys have the same responsibilities as the older guys. It has to be the same all the time. You have to take the correct steps every single time. How to come off the ball, moving towards the ball with bad intentions, trying to strip the ball and make plays -- that's what we work on here. We want to cause turnovers and do things the right way."
U-M Senior/Junior Quarterback Devin Gardner
On preseason rankings ... "It means nothing. How many times has the team that's picked to win actually won it? I feel like we just need to go into each game and not pay any attention to those things. We just need to do our best to win every game and those things take care of themselves."
On talking to Denard Robinson this offseason ... "He was my roommate, so we talk all the time. It's not like I can't call him right now. I've been around him for three years. I've watched him lead and been right there next to him. I don't need to call him all the time to get his advice. He's got another job to do right now that he's working on, so I try not to bother him too much."
On what he learned from Denard Robinson about picking yourself back up ... "He was amazing about it. I don't know how many guys could have taken the bashing he took and still say the same guy smiling and being happy all the time. He faced adversity and he responded. That's how we want to be as a football team. When we face adversity, we want to be able to respond at all times."
On Michigan's Big Ten title drought ... "This is Michigan, that's what we do. We win Big Ten championships. We compete for national championships. That's a big goal for u,s and we can't wait to get the opportunity to do that."
Fifth-year Senior Kicker Brendan Gibbons
On his development as a player at Michigan ... "It's been good, I got things squared away mentally. I went to some kicking camps, got focused up and Coach Hoke helped me a lot with the mental aspect of my game. Everything has blossomed from there."
U-M Senior Offensive Tackle Michael Schofield
On where the fiercest competition is right now in terms of battling for positions ... "I'd say right now, being an offensive lineman, the inside three spots are totally up for grabs right now. Everything is by design and this is the most depth we've had at the offensive line and definitely the most competition. It's exciting because we've never had that competition on the offensive line and everyone's working as hard as they can to get that spot."
On whether that competition for spots is from coach Hoke or from the linemen themselves ... "I think it's a combination of us starting to realize it more and coach Hoke has been pushing the Michigan offensive line tradition on us, so we definitely took that to heart and we're trying to be the offensive line that Michigan usually has."
On whether he likes the praise he's been receiving from Taylor Lewan or if he'd rather be under the radar ... "I've always been an under-the-radar guy, but if he's going to say it, I don't mind at all. I kind of let it go in one ear and out the other, not really paying attention, just playing my game."
On what Taylor Lewan's support means ... "It's a huge deal, especially coming from Taylor, who's an All-American and probably one of the better left tackles to play here, it's great praise."
On what he's trying to accomplish in his last year ..."I'm just trying to pass on all the information I know, all the tips -- how to throw a punch in pass protection, those little details."
On if any of the freshmen have impressed him in trying to learn from him ... "The younger tackles are coming up to me because I'm a tackle, so they're trying to let me help them as much as I can."
On the message they're trying to send as an offensive line ... "Our main goal is for other teams to be intimidated when they see us. We're big guys and we want to send fear into the guys playing against us."
U-M Senior Offensive Tackle Taylor Lewan
On what he tells young guys coming in ... "Just make the most of it; making the most of every opportunity. You have four or five years to kind of create your own legacy at the University of Michigan. There are so many legends that have been here and just wearing this number right now, there are huge shoes to fill still. It's a great opportunity and I'm excited for all these guys."
On whether or not any "politicking" occurs when players are vying for captaincy ... "I don't think so at all. I think these guys are going to vote for who should be captain; whether it's me or somebody else, that's never my main focus. My main focus is to be as good as I possibly can for this team, do all the right things I can so I make sure our quarterback stays safe and our running backs get yards."
On the younger guys stepping up ... "All the guys are stepping up. I haven't really got a huge opportunity to see a lot of the freshmen. A lot of the guys that are redshirt freshmen like Erik Magnusson behind me, he's done a great job, always asking me questions about any play and his technique. It's huge and I think he's done a great job doing all those things."
On whether or not he's pleased with the process of the team getting better ... "I think these guys come out to work out every single day. Some guys don't think of camp as being that much of a grind, it's more 'just get through camp' and these guys don't think like that. These seniors have done a great job of really putting in the mindset of 'every day is an opportunity to get better and do a little bit more' so come December 7 we can win that Big Ten championship."
On what has surprised him the most so far ... "Just the work ethic of everyone. Even after practices, long grueling two-a-days, people want to go in and do extra work in the weight room, extra techniques, stuff like that and it's huge."
On losing three starters and whether or not it's an area of question ... "Obviously everyone's going to question when a senior leaves, that stuff is going to happen but these guys are working so hard and they've done some really good things. The biggest thing we have now is we have depth. We have five, six guys that are really vying for that spot and all of them are capable of playing Big Ten football -- it's just who is going to step up and pull themselves apart from the rest of the team."
U-M Senior Wide Receiver Drew Dileo
On what he brings from his background here to Michigan ... "A lot of my background comes from my parents, really great parents that have instilled a good work ethic in me. My high school coaches put that work ethic in me and it's got me up here. Once I got up here I kind of knew, given my size and stature that I'd have to work every day and I've just kind of taken that mentality and it's gotten me where I am today."
On creating a niche for himself in this offense when he got here ... "I think it started around day one, coach Borges sat down and I met with other coaches and they said 'if you produce, you'll play', so I've had that in the back of my mind and I basically just had to do what I needed to do to produce and once I started producing that's what got me on the field."
On a story from his travels down south with Jake Ryan and Taylor Lewan ... "It was more for relaxation; we didn't really do a whole lot, just sit on my back porch hanging out. A couple of my buddies I haven't seen in a while came over and of course they love Taylor and Taylor loved them, so we were just hanging out. One thing I'll tell you about Taylor is that Taylor was hanging out with my sister whenever my buddy and I were fishing and hunting. We were doing all these manly things and he was doing girly things with my sister."
On any personal goals going into the season ... "Really just do what I've been doing -- be consistent. My role on this team is to be consistent; whenever my number is called, whether it's to block a linebacker, block a safety or catch a pass in traffic or in the open, really whatever my role is, whatever my opportunity is, to just fulfill it."
On whether the wide receivers' blocking ability comes more from the personnel or coach Hecklinski ... "A little bit of both, mainly from him because we didn't do that before. He instilled that in us and we take pride in it. He says if you can't block you're not going to play, so we have that mentality."
U-M Senior/Junior Linebacker Jake Ryan
On his health ... "I'm feeling good, I'm very good."
On whether he considered sitting out the season to come back fully healthy next year ... "That's my main goal, getting back this season. That's like me telling you to go over there while other reporters get the story. I can't, I can't -- it would never happen. I've been trying real hard. Therapy is what I'm doing right now and running is one of my main goals."
On how to avoid frustration being injured ... "Just being on the sidelines. Coach Hoke always preaches competition and I'm trying to instill that in the new guys right now, so it's been fun."
On how he is evaluated to return from the injury ... "I'm showing gradual improvement, but that's not up to me. It's up to coach Hoke and the doctors."
On how the mindset of Michigan's linebackers can be passed down ... "I'm always trying to pass that down. From the people who came before me, I was talking to Larry Foote and he was telling me 'you have to kill someone every single play' and he definitely did that. I'm trying to instill that in our players."
On whether or not he has a definitive date in mind for return ... "Just October. That's my goal right now."
On what he's been learning from the sideline and what it adds to his game ... "Mental reps are always a good thing, just going through it for two years I know the defense and know what to expect. My goal right now is trying to help out the younger kids and do what I can to instill the right things in them."
On how hard it is to be on the sideline as a competitor ... "It's tough. I was telling someone before, that's like a reporter sitting off to the sideline while everyone else gets the story. It's not fun. I think every single day, going through it, I'm helping these guys out and the guys coming in, instilling what they need to know about Michigan football."
On whether the injuries have brought everyone together ... "Yeah, for sure, I've talked to them about getting back and getting to know their story, how they went through it and how they approached getting over the mental aspect of it so that's always good support."
On the different culture in the locker room and where it comes from ... "I think it's everyone. Coaches, players, managers, everyone who has a part in the operations of Michigan football. Everyone meshing together to get the job done, it feels good and it looks good. Just from watching everything, it all looks good and the way we want to operate is the biggest thing."
U-M Senior Defensive Tackle Quinton Washington
On the younger guys coming in and forming an identity ... "Like you said, they're young guys. They're working but they haven't really discovered their identity yet, so it's hard to pinpoint any one guy."
On him and Jibreel Black as leaders ... "Jibreel and I have two different leadership styles. I'm more of a quiet, lead-by-example guy, where Jibreel's more talkative. He's been doing a real good job and we've been communicating about the methods we want to use. He's been doing a really good job of motivating freshmen."
On what he's changing for this season ... "This year, getting off the ball a little faster, adding a little more quick-twitch moves, being a smarter defense, trying to read the offense, studying more game film and just really trying to hone in on what the offense is doing. Perfecting the little things."
U-M Senior Safety Thomas Gordon
On the identity of the secondary ... "We're trying to keep stacking off of last year. We had one of the best pass defenses in the nation last year and we're just trying to give up less big plays. We want to be a defense that's going to get the ball back to our offense."
On the group's confidence after last year's success ... "Well we know the standard and we know what type of work we have to put in to get to that level. Obviously we're trying to replicate those same habits from last year, but we also have to work even harder because you want to be better than that."
On where he's noticed the most intense competition ... "If I really had to zero in on spot I'd say the corner position because those are the guys I'm around the most. There's a lot of great competition with Delonte Hollowell, Blake Countess, Ray Taylor and then you have Courtney Avery and those guys are competing so that's something that's going to make us better."
On how the speed in the secondary helps the defense ... "Speed is always a good thing and that was one of our main things we got better at in the spring. Coach Mattison was telling us about how fast our defense is -- you can see it on film."
On whether or not the defense sets statistical goals ... "We just want to be the best. We don't need numbers or anything like that, we just want to be the best at what we do. Coach Mallory does a great job coaching us and we're just trying to relay that to the young guys and get that message across. Hopefully that relays into the season."
U-M Fifth-Year Senior Running Back Fitzgerald Toussaint
On the effects of having a more crowded backfield this year ... "That's what Michigan is, we're the leaders and best and we compete at everything. I feel like it's good, and it's my job is to be a leader and go out there and get those guys acclimated to the system so they can live up to their potential."
On whether his style has changed at all ... "I want to get one cut and take it vertical. I want to see the end zone and react to present dangers."
On whether the playbook has changed at all ... "It's kind of the same. We just go out there do what we have to do and study the playbook so we know everything."
On the importance of having Taylor Lewan back ... "He definitely brings a lot of energy on the line. We know he has the speed and physical part down pat, but he has the ability to get the other four guys acclimated and get those guys going."
U-M Senior Wide Receiver Jeremy Gallon
On how he can teach the taller, younger guys as a shorter receiver ... "Well there's kind of a big difference between a shorter receiver and a taller receiver. Being shorter, you have a disadvantage going against taller defensive backs, but a tall receiver versus a tall defensive back is a different situation. Just bringing quickness and the knowledge that I have as a receiver and bringing it to the young guys -- like what angles to take or how to play against a longer defensive back or a shorter, stronger defensive back. Just teaching them those things can pay off."
On what the older receivers are trying to teach to the young guys ... "Just teaching them hard work and never giving up on a ball, going up to get the ball and coming down with it. Most importantly, blocking. In high school, as a receiver you didn't have to block, you could just get the ball. But here, we take pride in blocking and I'd rather block than catch a ball, that's just how it's always been. Teaching them that the team is more important than anything, just working hard every day getting better for the team."
On whether or not he's always been a hard-nosed, physical type player ... "It's something that I always had but it's something that the coaches stressed too. In order to get the ball, you must block and it's something that the coaches have stressed since they came here. It's something we've all been working on. I've always been that type of person."