Monday Football Press Conference: Notre Dame Week

Sept. 1, 2014

Players video icon | DC Greg Mattison video icon | OC Doug Nussmeier video icon
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Michigan Football Head Coach Brady Hoke

Opening statement ... "Number one, thanks for coming out. You know, it was good to get the win last week. I think one thing was, part of that, was the crowd. The crowd was into it, I think there was a lot of energy. The students, I know our guys feed off of that, so it was a great energy throughout the whole game. That always helps you as a football team. We need to build off of what we did on Saturday and continue to get better and improve offensively, defensively, and in the kicking game.

"Offensively, we have to be more precise. Precision in our passing game, that's one thing coming out that the offensive coaches and Doug (Nussmeier) really felt that the precision needed to be better. That's mechanics, that's route running, that's your spacing that you need to have.

"The interior of the defensive front needs to be better. They got some yardage in there, as far as through the middle of our defense. Some of it is just fit, some of it is not getting off of blocks well enough, so that's going to be a real emphasis and needs to be.

"Winning the fourth quarter is always huge, and we didn't do that as a team, looking at points in the fourth quarter, so those things we've got to do a better job. Turnover battle, we turned the one over but didn't get any turnovers. You don't want to play football that way. You want to be on the plus side of that if you've got a chance to win. That being said, those are things we need to do. We've moved to a new opponent obviously, and it's one of the great rivalries in football and we're excited about it."

On the offensive line ... "The guys up front all did some real good things and did some things they have got to do a better job with. We will have a plan for what we need to do this week."

On Jabrill Peppers' injury ... "He's been in there all morning getting treatment since we haven't started school yet. I made a decision at halftime because they could start treating it right then, not to come out in the second half. He would've been in a boot on the sideline. Why not start the treatment and the process of healing? We're excited and we will evaluate every day, but he is working hard to get better. I don't think he will be a question mark, I think he will be ready to play."

On Notre Dame's running backs ... "We started that (preparing) yesterday. I think they are rushing the ball pretty well against [Rice]. I think they've got two backs that are a little bit similar and one that's a bigger, bruiser guy. They ran the ball pretty well."

On the offensive line ... "We've got a plan and we will go through the week."

On Delano Hill ... "Yeah, Delano will be available and ready to go."

On using starters in special teams ... "I think there is always risk, it doesn't matter. They could get hurt on any play. A guy could come down the street and step off the curb and get hurt. We made a decision that if you aren't good enough to start on offense or defense, you aren't good enough to start on the special teams, so we have a lot of the starters that are on there. It's an important phase of the football game, and I think we played a lot of different guys through the game and we are able to do that so you have some other guys evaluated off of tape. I think we will stay with what we want to do as far as those guys on there, but I think we also have some guys who are coming along and competing with them. Devin Funchess, I took him off the punt return because I thought, well, he's doing enough. He got mad at me, so I put him back on."

On the rivalry with Notre Dame ending ... "We talked yesterday because we gave the scouting report last night. They understand it's the last game. I think they also understand that they need to play a lot better than we did a week ago because Notre Dame is a good football team and they have good players. From the standpoint of last game, who knows when is going to be the last game? We just know we aren't going to play them in the near future, but I think that's a good question to ask the kids, because they are pretty smart kids and they understand those ramifications."

On Jeremy Clark ... "I think Jeremy has come a long way. We're excited about his development. He made some plays. There's some things from a leverage standpoint that we need to a little better, but we are real happy with his progress."

On linebacker play ... "We played a lot of them, especially got to play some guys in the second half a little more. I think Jake (Ryan) and Des(mond) (Morgan) and James Ross and Joe Bolden. ... Royce (Jenkins-Stone), we got to play him, he's earned that right. He's competed and challenged every day. We were pretty pleased with their efforts. It needs to be a little stronger at the point of attack. Some of the things we addressed with the interior of the defense, the front has to get off blocks a little better, hold the point a little better, and we need to fit the run a little better."

On Mason Cole ... "He played a pretty good football game. He gave up one sack, but overall for his demeanor I think that was really the only thing that really stuck out. He got pushed back once or twice, but for his first start, we thought he did pretty well."

On Raymon Taylor ... "I thought Ray really played his best football game maybe. It's hard for me to throw that out there all the way, but he has had a great camp. His leadership, his work ethic, the fundamentals and techniques have improved immensely, and he has worked hard at it. (Cornerbacks coach) Roy (Manning) has worked hard with those guys, and they've had a little more time to do that, so I think he has done a really good job."

On offensive improvements from last year ... "I think the one, biggest offensive play of the game was when Devin (Gardner) checked us out of a play. On a third-and-1, in the third quarter and then he checked us into a great play that goes for 60, and it was communicated all the way down the front, out to the Mike point and to the wide receivers and how that was going to block out. The tackle, Ben Braden, and (tight end) A.J. (Williams) did a great job of communicating, and it was really one of the best plays that we had all day. When you look at that communication, his awareness, that was big."

On if there is a designation for someone else to wear the No. 87 Legends Jersey ... "No, there is not."

On the comfort with RB combo of De'Veon Smith and Derrick Green ... "We just started the season, so I think they are good backs but we have a long way to go."

On Kyle Kalis' recovery ... "He's fine. His back is fine. He held up great. We have a plan. He will be there at the game."

On the pluses and minuses of the energy and communication of coach Doug Nussmeier... "It's only a minus if you're not getting good information from up above, with (Jeff) Heck(linski) up there, and he does a really good job too, he always has. From that standpoint my only thoughts are that he is with the whole offense. I think the communication is important for Devin (Gardner) and Nuss(meier)'s first year being together. You know if they had been together maybe three or four years, or if Nuss was more comfortable going up there, we probably would have done that. But overall their communication and the communication overall was positive."

On whether competition between running backs can bring out the best of them ... "The competition between them both helps. The explosive plays, I think we had 17 of them. A lot of that is the job the receivers did down the field. De'Veon and Derrick are both big backs and they're different. We just played one football game and we have to continue to compete and challenge."

On starting off with big wins each of the past two seasons ... "The only thing I can judge it by is how these guys have worked all through camp this summer. I think they really have been a hard-working group, and I would expect that to continue."

On the progress that Jack Miller has made, and how important the center position is to stabilizing the linebackers ... "There is always a maturity process, and Jack has kept maturing. There have been some setbacks that every guy goes through during their four- or five-year career. For him it was mostly in the middle of the season last year, but I think his attitude, his work ethic, how he has prepared himself from a mental perspective, are something to applaud. How he has gone about every day going to work is what makes a difference."

On younger players adjusting to the Saturday night environment ... "I don't think I will know the answer until afterwards. We have some young players that are going to go play. It's a great environment to play in and a great environment to coach in. I'll be honest, I think that it will be interesting how some of them will react. You talk about it as coaches, you know, how so-and-so are going to react, and that's why we tried to put as much stress as we could on all of them through fall camp, to see how they react."

On the game plan for Notre Dame ... "I think the number one thing you always have to do what you do best. Don't try and create too many things it. We have to do what we do, doesn't matter what we (the coaches) know, its what they (the players) know, and how they go about it and how they execute."

On the receivers' blocking performance Saturday ... "There's no doubt you want to have explosive plays. Even if guys aren't down the field, even the pass plays and the off receiver who isn't carrying the ball. You know, getting in front of a guy or trying to run through them. I thought they did a nice job of that."

On preparing for Everett Golson and Notre Dame ... "He had five touchdowns on Saturday. He's pretty athletic. I always thought he threw the ball well from a mechanical standpoint. I was a linebacker, so I can't profess that I know all the mechanics of a quarterback. But he is an impressive guy. He can be true with his feet, and he can be true with his arm. I think their offensive line is powerful especially through the interior of it. Hence, the concerns we have about how we need to play defensively. This is a different ballgame."

On the play of Dennis Norfleet this week ... "One thing is that he is a year older. He is mature, he has energy, and you love that about him. He loves to play the game of football, he loves to practice the game of football. He is one of those infectious guys that has great energy and that you want out on the field. He's matured."

On the play of Jake Ryan and the defense ... "I think he would probably tell you he didn't play as well as he needs to. I think he did a good job of doing what we asked him to do. I think he did a nice job of being aggressive."

On whether he is trying to change the energy and culture of the locker room this season ... "We've got great leadership throughout, and that's a big part of it. There are philosophies you believe in and things you aren't going to be able to change, but it's also about seeing where they are at and acting upon it. It's been very positive."

On how the Notre Dame game is a measure for where the team is headed ... "The talent level is there. There are guys they recruited that we recruited, there's guys we got that they recruited. I think to some degree, the talent level there is very similar. That, being as much as any thing else, gives you a little bit of an idea about where we stand."

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