Aug. 18, 2011
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Opening statement ... "This was our 14th practice today, and there are some good things we're doing. We're improving on both sides of the ball, I think, but we have to improve our consistency so we can play every week to our best effort and our best level, and I don't think we've done that. I think we take a couple of steps forward and maybe a half step back in some areas, and that has to become a focus and intensity of how you play the game and a mentality of how you want to play the game of football as a team. I think there's a lot of good competition going on. I think the backs, (it) is still an open competition. I don't think we've seen any separation by anybody yet. At time Vince(nt Smith) looks good, (Stephen) Hop(kins) looks good at times, (Michael) Shaw looks good, (Michael) Cox does some things in there, I'm probably forgetting a guy -- but there's no clear cut edge to anybody. The competition up front defensively, (Nathan) Brink has really had a good camp. He's a kid that really I think is a tough kid and plays with good technique, and I think that's a help and probably one that we may not have seen earlier. I think he just is a guy who has kind of shown up. Our freshmen are now almost done completely with (summer classes), so we'll get a better look at some of those guys on a full-time basis. They're hit-and-miss a little bit with meetings, hit-and-miss a little bit with the period of practice time and all of that, but I think there's a couple of guys out there that will help us as a team. I think Denard (Robinson) has been great. He's completing over 70 percent of everything he throws. Right now I think he's handling the offense well. I think when you look at it, we're taking care of the football pretty well offensively from either a running back, receiver, tight end, quarterback, whoever. (From) that perspective we're doing a pretty good job there. That's always one we need to be on guard. The last three years we're minus 32 in turnover margin, and that's not winning football."
On Nathan Brink making an impression and how that affects the competition on the defensive line ... "I think it's healthy. I think it's real healthy for us. And I give Nate a lot of credit. Obviously he has a passion for the game and he's coachable and teachable and all those things that you want. He's tough-minded, and if you're going to play upfront defensively you better have that first and foremost. Coming out of spring we thought he could help us some, but I think he'll probably help us more."
On if Denard Robinson is where he wants him to be right now ... "Probably so. I think when you look at how he's handling the offense, how he's handling the huddle, his fundamentals and his techniques, his footwork, his mechanics and his decision making, I think he's done a good job."
On what he likes about Al Borges and his dealing with quarterbacks ... "I think he's really hands on. I think because of Al's knowledge of the quarterback position -- and when I say that, the timing and mechanics -- I like how he teaches and like how he coaches with the demeanor he does that with. So if that's different, I don't know. I know he knows when to really get after them, and he has no problem doing that. And he also knows how to teach and get them to progress."
On if he can tell that Denard wants to be a good passer ... "Oh, yeah. He wants to be a great quarterback. He wants to be one of the great Michigan quarterbacks. And so does Devin Gardner. They're both tremendous guys and doing a tremendous job of learning and understanding what a Michigan quarterback is and the tradition and what you represent. I think both of them have done a tremendous job."
On the hallmark of a Brady Hoke team ... "Toughness, running the football, stopping the run, adversity, playing through it."
On what he likes about Greg Mattison's approach ... "I think there's a lot of different looks you give a quarterback, and you always want to affect the guy that has the ball in his hands. At the end of the day the ball is the issue, so I like that part of it."
On how many defensive starting positions are set ... "I would say probably two or three. I think (Troy) Woolfolk has had a nice camp, I think (Mike) Martin has had a nice camp, (Jordan) Kovacs has had a nice camp."
On why he enjoys coaching defense ... "I played it, so I think that helps. This is simple; if they don't score, they can't win. So why wouldn't you want to be out there stopping somebody so they couldn't score?"
On playing defense not getting your picture in the paper ... "That doesn't matter. Your picture doesn't matter. It's winning that matters."