Brady Hoke Monday Press Conference: Appalachian State Week
Aug. 25, 2014

Game Notes | Training Camp Central
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Opening statement ... "Thanks for coming. It's exciting to be here in game week. We had a good camp, I thought we competed every day, and it's exciting to open the season in this great stadium on Saturday. I think camp -- the hard work, the commitment, the way they competed with each other -- has been really something that we are excited about. They understand what commitment to each other means, and that is something we can keep building on as we go through the season, and I think they'll do that. Appalachian State is coming in here, they have a lot of history with three national championships at a lower level, and it's something they embrace. This isn't the first time that Michigan and Appalachian State have played. We've given full attention to where we need to be and what we need to do as a football team. We had a really physical camp and a really good camp when you look at staying healthy from an injury perspective. But we also let the guys have a day and a half or two days to get away from football, and that was real positive. A lot of families were here on Saturday, which was great to see, and for them to get away from us and us get away from them was real positive. Looking at the depth charts, they have been pretty fluid for a reason, and that's to put stress on guys and see what units look good together. We have narrowed it down a little bit. I'll speak from a defensive perspective first. At the tackle position, Willie Henry, (Matthew) Godin, (Chris) Wormley, Tom Strobel all have improved themselves as football players. That comes from competition. Willie separated himself a little bit, but at the same time, he knows every day that those other guys are doing a good job. At the nose tackle position, you see the same thing. At the corner position, Raymon (Taylor) and Blake (Countess) had little nicks early in camp -- leg problems to some degree -- but they really came on at the end, and that competition was really great throughout camp. Offensively, having Kyle Kalis back -- we were a little concerned two-and-a-half weeks ago when his back flared up -- he rested it and, and the trainers and rehab specialists did a great job. At that right guard position, he's been getting a lot of good reps, and that's exciting. There is competition there, and I would say something about Joe Burzynski also. (Kyle) Bosch on the left side with (Eric) Magnuson is a real plus. The two tackles as they appear (on the depth chart) is what they'll be. We had great competition in the running back area. I think that is something you'll see all year. The way Derrick (Green) finished fall camp is why he's there at the top of the list."

On the first Michigan-Appalachian State game in 2007 ... "Our guys know about that game, and it's the only school on the schedule this year that we have a losing record to. Obviously, I wasn't here then and neither were the 115 guys on this football, and it won't be the same Appalachian State team either."

On what the coaches will look for offensively under first-year Sanford Robertson Offensive Coordinator Doug Nussmeier ... "As a team, we all have ownership of (the offense). Nuss is the offensive coordinator, and he's done a fabulous job. We want to be able to run the football -- that's as important as anything. That progression of running the football and then play-action off the run is going to be important for us. Be positive in the red zone, don't settle for field goals, you've got to get touchdowns down in there. And then our third-down percentage, if we do get in some yardage situations, we have to be explosive enough to keep the chains moving."

On the competition he saw between Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith ... "There is no default, that's not how we operate. I think what both of those guys have done has been really productive. Justice Hayes and Drake Johnson have really been productive. Just to see the improvements has been really exciting."

On the status of Kyle Kalis starting on Saturday ... "He could."

On his confidence in the improvement in the offensive line ... "I'm very confident in how those guys have progressed through the end of last year into winter conditioning in the weight room through spring ball and into summer -- I'm really confident in those guys. Is that the thing we get asked the most besides who the running back is going to be? We always want to be good up front. We want to be dominant up front on both sides of the ball."

On what he likes in each of his running backs ... "They are all different. Derrick (Green) brings an explosiveness in the hole with size. De'Veon (Smith), just has a mindset and a mentality that he'd rather run you over. Justice (Hayes) out of the backfield with the ball in his hands has been really good, and in protection -- for a guy who is not very big -- he has done a nice job with that part of it. And they all have improved. And Drake (Johnson) is very explosive speed-wise when he hits the hole."

On the depth at the linebacker position ... "We're in a good position there, and that should help you with your kicking game. Again, we've got more depth than we've had. We don't just pick guys, the guys who are in there at linebacker at the guys who've practiced well and played well and shown great leadership with how they work every day. It's a good problem to have depth."

On the status of Delano Hill ... "I'll know more after he meets with the doctors this afternoon."

On the depth chart showing Jehu Chesson behind Devin Funchess ... "What group is that? Is that the base group? So you'd have two receivers in, or you'd have three receivers in. It just depends. There are ways to put Devin Funchess on the field in a lot of different ways. If we are in base personnel, Chesson and Funchess are on the field."

On his expectations for the defense improving this year ... "Why they are better, I think some of it is (because) we have depth. We have depth when you look at the linebacker position, up front defensively. We have more depth at corner. The one place where our depth still isn't where we would like it is at the safety position. The way the guys have practiced, Wojo, and how they have competed -- and you guys are going to get tired of hearing that, but everything in life is competition, you all compete with each other -- that part of it is what is so good in the leadership with each other."

On what he wants to see from Devin Gardner ... "Your quarterback, in a lot of ways, he gets the good and the bad. I think the consistency with which he's played with at times is what we're looking for. I think him understanding throwing the ball away is a good play. I've seen him do that more and more -- which is awesome -- instead of trying to force something. From that standpoint, I think that consistency every day. I think his leadership in the huddle is 100 times better, and his leadership with the team is 100 times better."

On what stands out about Appalachian State's personnel ... "I think their skill position players, number one, offensively, (Marcus) Cox, their running back. The quarterback is a guy that played a lot last year, Kameron Bryant. Their offensive line, they have 130 starts between eight of them. So you have a lot of guys that have been on the field and been in games. I think that's important in the ingredient of how they play together. I think defensively, they have a big, old nose (tackle). They play an odd front. Everything they base is out of an odd front. Odd fronts can give you some problems now and then. Odd fronts are also ways to try and attack an offense. You look at a lot of people, when they get into their sub-defenses, odd fronts and different blitz packages, they've got a nose tackle in there, Tyson Fernandez, he's 6-2, 335 pounds. He does a nice job. He was an offensive lineman that they moved over there and he takes up the middle. I think their linebackers flow well to the football and they have good skill in the secondary. I think with special teams, Coach Satterfield is a guy who really believes in the special teams and where they need to be. I think that's going to be a big part of this football game."

On what he will look for from the defense given it is first game of the season ... "You start off with the fundamentals and the techniques, guys getting in the right alignments, guys getting in the right stance out of those alignments. I think that's huge because you can see what they've gone through and grasped through the practice situations. I think the effort to the football is something that we've got to make sure we're getting every play. It hasn't been a big problem for us defensively. You've got enough guys who are kind of new, but a lot of veterans just seeing how they play together."

On the possibility of starting nine sophomores and two freshmen and the challenge of getting consistency out of that group ... "I think the preparation has been really stressful for them. They've responded when we've put them in those stressful situations with the quality of what they are positionally, from the genetics to how they are athletically."

On if the sophomore class has a trait that sets them apart ... "I think that sophomore class is a little bit different, and the freshman class is a little bit different. I think they have a little bit more of an edge."

On what he has seen from Jabrill Peppers that led to his selection as a punt returner ... "He's done a lot even before he got here on big stages. When you run track on a national level, and see how he led Paramus Catholic as a football player, and watching him over the course of the last 20-something days practice, field punts, be in those situations, the confidence that he has gives me confidence."

On if not being in the top 25 motivates the players and if he feels Michigan can surprise some people ... "I don't know about the last part until we get out there and compete. I would say that these are pretty educated guys. They're at Michigan, number one. They understand it's not where you start in any race, it's how you finish. Is that a chip they have on their shoulder? They might. But that's okay."

On Ty Isaac's status ... "We still haven't heard anything back from the appeal."

On Michigan's approach to naming captains this season ... "We've had unbelievable leadership throughout the team. We talked about that if you're good enough, you're old enough. We will have captains, but they'll be voted on after the Ohio (State) game. The next question will be, 'What do you do game by game?' We have, I think, 18 fourth- and fifth-year guys that we will have represent the team at the coin toss."

On if he has more of an edge going into this year ... "I don't know if I have more of an edge. Maybe they gave me an edge. I don't know. If I do, I think I've been pretty much the same."

On why he made the decision to go a different route with captains ... "We've got great leadership in our senior class. We really do, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I also think Devin has been absolutely fantastic. But at the same time, we've talked about leadership throughout the team, throughout every class. We have a representative group that's a big part of what we do. Our seniors are always, and I met with them when we talked about this, they are always going to be the guys that we try to play for, coach for. That's not changing. Their influence is important. But I think every team is different. This team is a little unique in a lot of ways."

On if there was something specific that made him switch the method of selecting captains ... "I made this decision that we were going to go this way last February."

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