Monday Football Press Conference: Notre Dame Week
Brady Hoke

Sep 2, 2013

Press Conference | Football Rewind - Central Michigan
• Subscription: Blake Countess | Brennen Beyer
Game Notes PDF | Game Central

Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Opening statement ... "I was pleased that we won the game. At the same time, I think there were a lot of things that we've talked about as a football team and as a staff that we can do better. There's a lot of work [to do]. There's no excuse for some of the penalties we had, from a coaching standpoint and a playing standpoint. We had a couple nice returns that Dennis [Norfleet] did a nice job on that were canceled out. We can't have three turnovers. We lost five games last year, and we had 18 turnovers in those five games. From a defensive perspective, we got two turnovers, but we need to get more. There were a lot of good things, but for us to be a championship football team, we have to do a much better job at how we play. I thought the tempo in the first half -- and a little bit in the second quarter from an offensive point of view -- wasn't really what we needed. I think they got a rhythm, and they started to do some very good things. Obviously, Devin [Gardner] has a great ability with running with the football and throwing the football, and I think he helped us a ton at times. We settled down a little bit and got into the run game pretty well. I thought the defense stood up well in sudden-change situations. We got to play a lot of guys. I think there were 11 true freshmen and 14 redshirt freshmen who played in the football game, so that was good because they need the experience.

"As you know and I know, this is a different week. It's a great rivalry game. It's been played starting in 1887. It's always a lot of fun. The atmosphere here... if you were here for the first night game, the second one should be just as fun."

On freshman running back Derrick Green moving to second on the depth chart ... "He ran the ball pretty well. Don't put too much stock into the depth charts all the time. There are going to be a lot of guys who are going to handle the football. But I thought and Fred [Jackson] thought and Al [Borges] thought that he did a nice job on the carries he had. He missed a read in there one time that we would have liked to have had a little better. We also had Fitz [Toussaint]. It was good to get him back out on the field. He made some really good cuts and did a good job in protection. We had De'Veon Smith, who did a nice job. [Thomas] Rawls had a good run in there. There are a lot of guys now that we're counting on."

On the play of the interior line ... "For the most part, and not entirely obviously, they did a pretty good job. They're a pretty stout group, especially the two guards. So, for their first time out there with live bullets, I think they did a good job."

On the historic rivalry with Notre Dame ... "It is for us. Everybody looks at things differently."

On the Wolverines' nickel package with Channing Stribling ... "When you have a guy who's athletic like Blake [Countess] that can cover slot receivers, I think that's part of it. The other part is Strib and Jourdan Lewis both have had pretty good fall camps, and they both battle and are competitive. Strib is 6-2, he's long, he's got long arms and a lot of leverage. I would think that we think he's a pretty good football player."

On what makes the Notre Dame rivalry special ... "I think it's great for college football. ESPN Gameday has been here six times for this football game. That's pretty significant if they're coming to this campus or to the campus in South Bend. So, it must have some sort of national appeal. Coaching in a lot of places, and maybe it's just me, but I know that whenever Michigan and Notre Dame was on TV, I was going to be watching it. I know people in Corvallis, Ore., were going to be watching it -- for one reason or another."

On how to prepare a young team for a big game ... "Does it make you a little nervous when you have a young football team playing in this environment? I think the best thing we do is try to educate them as to what it's going to be like. We started that last night. They're off today, but on Tuesday, we'll talk more about the atmosphere and have some of the older kids talk about what it's going to be like. That's part of it. With technology today, you can show them it. We also talk about not being distracted. That's taking care of your job and being accountable to your teammates."

On improvements he wants to see this week ... "From a defensive standpoint, Central [Michigan] had a drive in there where they ran the ball. In our opinion, they ran it too well. There are some things when you look at how to fit a defense -- who's taking care of double teams or combination blocks so the linebacker can get over top? It's those kinds of fundamental things. We also gave up a 3rd-and-17 and a 3rd-and-20 for first downs, because coverage was not exactly where it should have been or we didn't break on the ball or multiple other reasons. That bothers you. Offensively, we need to start a little faster. We need to do a better job running the ball this week. Their front seven are going to be bigger guys -- guys that we had some trouble with a year ago -- so we need to be much better in blocking the line of scrimmage."

On the Wolverines' pass rush ... "I would say at times we were pretty good. I'm really thinking through some of the different calls that we made. We messed up a couple inside games. We need to do a better job with executing -- getting a guy's hat in the crease and all those kind of things. But it was okay."

On the play of Brennen Beyer and Cameron Gordon in the SAM linebacker position ... "They played multiple roles. They played on the line of scrimmage with their hand down, they played up over a tight end. Personally, I think a lot of it you've got to give credit to them, because of how hard they've worked and what they've done from a physical standpoint. I would also say that Roy Manning has done a really good job with those guys. Roy, being a former outside linebacker, speaks the same language and has been there before. I think that's helped."

U-M Senior Offensive Tackle Taylor Lewan
On his perspective of the Notre Dame rivalry ... "It's a national rivalry. We have three big rivalries: Michigan State, Ohio and Notre Dame so it's unfortunate it's coming to an end and it's the last time we play them at home, but I'm excited for it. I'm excited for this game."

On what he remembers from the Under the Lights game two years ago ... "We won. It was exciting, so it was a good game, and it came down to the wire. You never want it to come down to the wire, but at the end of the day we won, so it was good. Last year playing at Notre Dame, we had six turnovers and didn't play well. None of us [played well]. That's unfortunate, but hopefully we won't have that this year."

On what he will miss about the ND series when he's gone ... "It's a huge national rivalry. To be around that team and play that team... the idea of a rivalry and being there on Saturday, it's a phenomenal feeling. There are three big rivals, now it's coming down to two. I'm fortunate to be playing them my senior year, so that's huge. It's unfortunate [that it's ending], but I'm going to get over it."

On his impressions of the offensive line in their first week ... "We did okay. We can always do a lot better. We had some yards -- a lot of yards -- so that was good, but you have to improve each week. You can't be a championship team if you don't improve each week."

U-M Senior/Junior Quarterback Devin Gardner
On his excitement to be a part of this rivalry ... "I'm really excited. It's a big game on the biggest stage in college football. I'm pretty sure there are going to be close to 115,000 people there. It's an 8 p.m. game, College GameDay in town. It's what every quarterback dreams of -- being on the big stage and being able to perform like this. I remember when I was a recruit coming to watch this game. It's always a good, close, hard-fought game. Each team is going to give it their all."

On the coaches' trust in the players ... "Desmond [Howard] talked to us a year ago about how over the summer, they see everything we do and how hard we work. That's how you build the trust during the season. All the hard work we did over the winter into the summer is what helped the coaches being able to trust us going for it on fourth down to convert."

On the preparation for the upcoming game ... "This week, I'm all Notre Dame. It's going to be a lot different for me. I'll be able to prepare a lot. It was amazing last year. GameDay was there too. Although I didn't get the chance to participate in it, it was amazing to be around the atmosphere. I feel like we're ready for it."

Junior/Sophomore Defensive Back Blake Countess
On playing at the Big House at night ... "It's something special. If you were around for the last night game, that was also pretty special. The Notre Dame game by itself is great, but playing it at night makes it that much more special, because it's only happened once before."

On what he remembers from the first game at Michigan Stadium under the lights ... "It was crazy. You can't really put it into words, especially because I was a true freshman at the time. It was definitely an exciting experience, and it's one that I won't forget."

On how he felt playing Saturday after missing last year due to injury ... "It felt great just being back out there and getting the jitters out. It was nice being able to hit somebody not on my team. It felt great. I was more antsy than nervous. It wasn't really nerves, more emotion. I had to get my emotions under control. That was the biggest thing for me."

U-M Junior Linebacker Brennen Beyer
On how it felt to see production from the SAM linebacker position ... "It was great. We've been pushing each other a lot in practice, really working on our technique. It was fun to see it all come together on game day. We've really been working on pass rush and getting to the quarterback and me and Cam [Gordon] were really ready to do that, so it was good to see us be rewarded on game day."

On what he's seen from Notre Dame on tape so far ... "Obviously they're a good team. They have a good offensive line with good players, some good wide receivers, and their quarterback is good, so they have a good offense from what I've seen so far."

On how players feel about bulletin board material ... "Obviously we hear it, but right now I'm a lot more focused on who I'm going to play against. As a kid growing up, I've seen this rivalry my whole life. I love watching that game. It's been one of my favorites growing up watching as a Michigan fan."

On what he remembers from the night game two years ago ... "I just remember coming out of the tunnel to the lights and hearing all the fans; that's never going to leave me. That's something I'm going to remember for the rest of my life."

On his first sack and if it sunk in right away ... "Not right away. I was just so excited and happy, but right after I got to the sideline it was like 'That's my first sack; that's really cool.' I've put in a lot of work so it was cool to see it pay off."

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