Thursday Press Conference Quotes

Aug. 31, 2011

Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Opening Statement ... "We're getting close, and that's exciting. I think it's exciting for everybody. Our energy level as a team and getting ready for gameday, it's always something that you look forward to. The first test, I talked about that the other day and that's what it is. I think we've had good practices. As a coach, you're paranoid a little bit about how your team's always going to play. It's natural, happens every week, but making sure we're dotting the I's, crossing the T's and getting ready to go play football."

On the uncertainty about first game ... "I think there's that uncertainty out there, especially the first year. They're getting to know you a little bit in a game setting situation. We're all different. We all have our quirks that we bring along with us -- different ways that you like to eat pre-game meals, different ways that you handle Friday night, so it's all part of it and it all goes with it."

On Friday night practice being an extension of gameday ... "I don't believe in walkthroughs. I think there's a way you prepare. I think it's important to sweat on Fridays a little bit. Some people don't practice on Fridays, but since I've been a head coach we always have. I think it's good for your guys and if anything else it drives down the mental part where we want to be."

On how he will evaluate Denard Robinson's success in stats ... "Wins. That's first and foremost. I think us taking care of the ball and making good decisions; from a quarterback perspective, the managing of the offense to the perspective of how the flow and the tempo and everything else. I'm not smart enough to talk about what kind of numbers I would think he would have. As long as the numbers on the left side of the scorecard are high, then he would have had a good year."

On the health of the team ... "Right now I think we're as healthy as I think we can be. Guys have bumps and bruises but this is football, not golf, and so they're beat up a little bit, but there's 121 Division I schools and everyone's beat up and you better be or else you haven't done much."

On the intensity at practice ... "Yesterday was pretty physical, and that's a good work day. We're supposed to have a good physical work day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It's a little different this week since we've been in camp this whole stretch, but we'll cut it back a little bit today and obviously Thursday will be cut back a little more, just so that their legs are always (fresh) -- and I think part of that is all mental anyway. I know when my legs hurt I don't feel that it's probably mental on my part, so we'll make sure that their legs are coming back and all those things. We do a lot of ice tubs after practice and a lot of stuff with bands and rollers and things that I don't understand -- that's why we have strength coaches -- but I think we're in pretty good shape."

On what threats Western Michigan has ... "Offensively, the quarterback, I'd like to see who is a better quarterback in the Midwest than that kid. Alex (Carder), he throws the ball well, he manages the offense well, he's got great timing, he's got a quick release, he's tough, he's a durable guy, because you see him on tape sometimes last year getting hit and he gets right back up and he goes to work and it doesn't seem to faze him. I think they're talented at the wide receiver position. I think they've had to revamp their O-line a little bit and retool, and Bill (Cubit) has always had good offensive lines. They've got their whole defensive line back from a year ago, so you've got a lot of experienced kids, they've got some very athletic kids, and the linebacker, (Mitch) Zajac, he's a guy who's the bell cow. You can see that on tape. He's a guy that makes a lot of tackles, he's tough, he blitzes well. In the secondary, they're pretty stout. So it all bothers me. (But) probably not as much as us bothers me. We've got to worry about ourselves more than any opponent, and make sure that we're preparing the way that we need to win."

On the running game ... "I think between Fitz (Fitzgerald Toussaint) and (Michael) Shaw and Vince (Smith), they all have done some good things. But if you would ask me right now, I would probably say Mike would start the game."

On what he's learned about Denard Robinson ... "I've been really pleased with his growth and his command of the offense and his maturity as a quarterback. I probably am a little more (concerned) about the maturity of your quarterback and how he handles the offense, how he handles his teammates, how he leads and manages a game or manages scrimmages, and that's what I really like about him. He has an energy to him that you love to have, and he's got a great competitive demeanor."

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