Monday Press Conference: Akron Week
Drew Dileo

Sep 9, 2013

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Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Opening statement ... "Obviously it was an exciting environment and great to win the football game the other night. We can't say enough about the Michigan fans, students and the people who were in that stadium because it was electric. It was definitely something that was helpful when it got loud, it was enough of a distraction to some degree so that was great. I like how our team stuck together. I don't think we were perfect by any means, and there is a lot on offense, defense and the kicking game that we need to go back to work on and that is what we have to do. It was great to win the football game, I'm proud of our kids, I thought they complemented each other from an offensive and defensive standpoint. It's good to win, but now we're moving on to Akron. We're starting to work on the Zips and what they are all about."

On the play of the offensive and defensive lines ... "From an offensive standpoint we've got to pick up some of the interior blitzes better. I know (offensive line coach) Darrell (Funk) was disappointed because he thought they had enough looks at it to do a better job. Defensively we tried to play -- and we did play this way for most of the game -- with a seven-man front. We've got to fit the run a little better with a seven-man front. At the same time (defensive coordinator Greg) Mattison talks about changing the math; and that means getting off the block and making tackles, and we've got to do that a lot better."

On changing the game plan to bring more pressure in the second half ..."Number one if you study them enough and especially when (Tommy Rees) is the quarterback, they are not going to let you get to him too often because they use six-man protection. Or the routes will break sooner. We really thought he was very accurate as a thrower and on the fade routes our whole plan was to keep the ball inside and in front. I thought that really worked out well. And you can judge it on the red zone - the field shrinks. So now it's harder to find the room in there, and against the red zone I thought we really played well defensively. That was playing the run with seven and making sure we had good depth in the passing lanes."

On if using Fitzgerald Touissant almost exclusively at the tailback position helped him later in the game ... "I don't know if that had anything to do with, but Fitz was feeling good -- he didn't get tired. He was proficient in what he had to do, both in protections and in running the ball. I thought he made some really nice runs, some really hard runs. In the passing game I thought he did a nice job on pickups."

On his assessment of the defensive line's play ... "We had some one-on-ones, you're going to have some in there, and the expectation is we have to do better and beat them in the one-on-ones. (Brennen) Beyer on his sack (in the fourth quarter), he does a good job with his counter-move and beats the guy one-on-one. But are we satisfied? No, not even close to it. This week, Akron is a wide-open attack with four receivers and so it's critical that we get better in the pass rush individually and also with the games we want to run with them."

On Jarrod Wilson's development and where Courtney Avery factors in returning from injury ... "I thought Jarrod did okay, he wasn't a guy we put in the Victors - we didn't have any of them in from defense other than Blake (Countess). I thought there were a couple times I wanted to see him bring his arms all the way through on tackles, when he had chances of knocking the ball through. I think he did a good job of communicating out there and that's a big deal for he and Thomas (Gordon) at safety. Courtney we got in some, five or six plays I think, and that battle continues. Courtney really only practiced on Wednesday and Thursday and didn't do a whole let even then. I know he was feeling good (Sunday) and maybe that's about the right amount plays for him."

On the perimeter defense and the defensive tackling ... "I'm glad you brought that up, because the three corners who played in there -- and (Channing) Stribling played a little bit -- Delonte (Hollowell), Raymon (Taylor) and Blake (Countess), we were going to give up that seven-yard hitch. That is a big part of Notre Dame's offense, but no coordinator is going to sit there and throw seven-yard hitches up and down the field. They threw six of them, and after contact - out of six of them - they only got four yards. That's huge, because you know you're going to give it up unless you roll your corners and you want to play press - we didn't want to play press because we wanted to defend the fades. Number seven (T.J. Jones) is pretty doggone good and so we didn't want to do that. Our guys, all three of them, did a nice job. Those little rocket screens, they didn't go to it much, and the way Raymon responded to it down in the south end zone the one time, the tight end never got to him, he did a nice job."

On using freshman tight end Jake Butt in crucial situations ... "Jake got here in January, and obviously we really like him because we recruited him so we thought he had ability, but how he's progressed through the program has been really positive. From the weights to the academics to all that stuff, what he's done and how he learns -- we're very comfortable with Jake and think he's got a bright future."

On Akron's spot on the schedule ... "When you look at Akron I see a team with 22 transfers and one that's coached really well. Thirteen of those transfers are playing significant snaps, including two offensive linemen, one who transferred from Florida State and one from Pittsburgh - those are pretty good programs. They have a couple of guys who transferred from Ohio. They've got really good skill, they are rotating eight receivers through and both backs are hard runners. At quarterback, (Nick) Hirschman, we recruited him at San Diego State and then looked at him coming here as a transfer from Colorado. They've got plenty of players and I think (head coach) Terry (Bowden)'s done a nice job with that program."

On areas the coaches will seek improvement over the next week ... "We'd still like to run the ball better from the tailback position, I think that's always going to be a constant. If we can control the line of scrimmage and do that, then make sure we're targeting the perimeter the right way. Don't have any turnovers. Defensively fit in the run better. (Akron) will spread you out and you'll be in some seven-man fronts and really a five-man or six-man box. What can we do to get off blocks better? Engage a little bit more on their side of the line of scrimmage. In the kicking game, we got out of our lanes on a kickoff, we had a punt that we'd like not to have and a kickoff that we'd like not to have. Then we had a dumb penalty on their kickoff return, hitting a man out-of-bounds, giving them yards."

U-M Senior Wide Receiver Drew Dileo
On being a leader and avoiding a letdown against Akron ... "The main thing is that every week is important. Last week the night game against Notre Dame was important and this week Akron at noon is important. Regardless of the team, the conference, or anything like that, this week it's Akron."

On Devin Gardner's demeanor after his fourth quarter interception ... "Initially he was down because he threw an interception but with the flick of a switch he got over it like any good quarterback would do. He moved on, he needed to move on. And led us down the field and sealed the game for us."

On where the Michigan receiving corps is at this point in the season ... "I think we are progressing. We aren't trying to peak right now because we have ten more games in the regular season. We are progressing each week and (Jeremy) Gallon and I, along with Joe Reynolds and Jeremy Jackson, are trying to help lead the receiver group."

On the importance of receivers blocking ... "Not every play is a pass play, and even on a pass play not every ball is going to go to me or Gallon. You have to take pride in every aspect of the game. For us, the aspects of offense are running routes, catching balls, and blocking. We take pride in that."

On offensive's goal to improve after the Akron game ... "I would say maybe communication all around, the interior line and the receivers. That's stuff that goes along with playing. We have a few young guys who are in there. One of the things we worked on and attribute to Coach Hoke is being relentless competitors. Every day of the week we relentlessly compete and work to get better in practice."

On what it means to be a relentless competitor ... "A relentless competitor means going one hundred percent all the time, doing right the first time every time. We have this ethos that we try to live by and play by all the time."

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