Press Conference: Coach Hoke | Players
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Opening statement ... "It's good to win a football game. Obviously that's why you go out there to compete. I think when you evaluate and you see where we're at, we've got to improve if we're going to win the Big Ten championship. We've got to improve at the point of attack on both sides of the ball. You've heard that before and that message won't change.
"I think we went out with a mission offensively to get Denard (Robinson) very involved running the football. I thought he did a nice job with that. I think he did a nice job in the throw game. The interception, Vince was fighting the umpire a little bit. But also just one of those things we've got to execute that.
"From that standpoint and defensively, you know, we played 98 plays. Way too much. We got to get off the field obviously. But at the same time those guys hung in there. They hung in there when they had to at the end of the football game and played some plays. That part of it is a very positive part of it.
"I think they adjusted to some things. We adjusted to some things they were doing, which helped in the second half. So all in all, was it where we want to be? No. But at the same time it was a good win to get."
On if this week's game against UMass is an opportunity for the team to improve on both sides of the football ... "I think they do. I think from an offensive and defensive perspective, I think manufacturing this week against each other has to be part of it. What we do in one-on-one, what we do competing-wise, I think that's all a big part of it. They run a lot of the spread. But there are a lot of things within that that can help us."
On Brennen Beyer's status for this week's game ... "I don't think he'll be available this week. He tweaked a knee a little bit. Hopefully in two weeks."
On if there is a new diagnosis of Beyer's injury ... "No. It's the same."
On what the defense did differently on its last two series of the game against Air Force ... "We got into really our nickel defense because they had to throw the ball. That's something that they're not comfortable doing as much from a drop-back standpoint. Now boots and waggles and those kind of things, they're pretty comfortable with, off play-action, all that. But from the standpoint of them wanting to be in a drop-back game, that was to our advantage."
On the rushing production of Denard Robinson compared to Fitzgerald Toussaint ... "I think some is we couldn't get Fitz started. They ran 35 times run fire zones which they never were that big of a team. We call them sharks and stuff like that. It was a little different. It was a little different. Never could get him started. Some of it we got blocked better. On some of the reads, maybe he should have kept the ball twice in there. But I think some of it goes down to, number one, what we were trying to do, getting Denard the ball. Secondly, blocking better. Then I think you got to give them a little credit, too."
On if he will emphasis getting Fitzgerald Toussaint going in the running game ... "I think it's important. Anytime we can get the running back involved is huge for us. I think when you see that involvement from the running game with him and Denard, then complementing with the pass game, it's worked out well for us."
On using freshmen linebackers in the Air Force game and if he feels comfortable with them ... "I think we feel real comfortable with them. I think at one time there were six true freshmen on the field together, redshirt freshmen included in that. You know, they're competing. This whole game's about competition. Guys who are playing well, guys who are earning time, they're going to play."
On when he identified Devin Funchess as a playmaker ... "Obviously we recruited him, so we thought he had some ability. He's done a nice job, I will say. He's bigger than when he got here. He's not afraid, which is good, because blocking's a big part. It's that wide position, which A.J. (Williams) played most of, or the U position. You still have to be able to do a good job at the point of attack. Then he's got ability. He's a little bit of a mismatch problem because of his range and his ability to run."
On if he has ever had a team that played so many true freshmen as this team is ... "No, have not."
On the challenges of playing so many true freshmen ... "Well, you know, we had 17 true freshmen go to Dallas. Some of them hadn't flown. The schedule that we keep, there's an itinerary, when we meet, what we wear, all those things. I don't want to call it babysitting, but it's a lot of educating. Our upperclassmen have done a good job, so the young guy understands what is expected."
On the progress of Joe Bolden and James Ross III ... "I think the second part of the question, there's a lot they need to get better at, from drops to coverages, footwork, all those things. But that's no different with the guys that have been playing. They're both very instinctive, I think, football players. At that position, being instinctive is a big plus."
On if Joe Bolden or James Ross III have beaten out Desmond Morgan and Kenny Demens at the linebacker position ... "I don't think they're beaten out. Let me answer that one first. They're competing. We want to roll some guys in anyway. We rolled a lot of guys in in the front during the course of the game. But as far as that goes, I think there's a healthy competition that's going on."
On if Jake Ryan will wear No. 47 for the rest of his career ... "Yeah, that's the plan."
On how concerned he is about the offensive line and if he plans on shaking things up ... "I don't know if I'm real concerned at this time. I give them a lot of credit for what their plan was. I think as a group they're coming together. I think we've got to be more consistent, better at the point of attack on some things. I'm not concerned yet."
On if he is concerned with Roy Roundtree's production level after two games ... "No, he's fine. I would say it's more what's in the plan, a little bit more other people, how they want to defend. I'm not concerned."
On other players besides Denard Robinson stepping up their production level offensively ... "You have to have guys step up. Again, guys making plays, it's easier to make plays if I'm a running back and I can get started and there's a decent hole. That always helps. So from the standpoint, we all have to improve."
On the competition between Raymon Taylor and Courtney Avery ... "I think it's good. Courtney got beat up. His back was bothering him a little bit at the end. I think it's a healthy competition. And Ray did some pretty good things, being aggressive. Had some plays that he needs to be a little bit more disciplined with to some degree with his eyes, what he's seeing, how he reacts."
On Quinton Washington and how he has improved ... "I think fundamentally and techniques, that's where I think he's playing better. I think the more experience in game situations, I think they all tend to play better and at the same time they can see the correctable things that they need to do better."
On Frank Clark ... "Frank gives you a little more experience from a year ago. He's pretty athletic, and pretty physical. Before Brennen was hurt or not, it was good to have Frank back."
On creating depth ... "Well, I think that's always an important part in your development of your depth. I think we've been able to do that a little bit. That's something that we got to keep the competition very healthy and very lively in practice and at the same time be able to feel confident in the guys who are going out on the field."
On if he thinks the defensive line is going to improve on a similar trajectory as they did last year ... "You know, if I knew that, I'd feel a lot better. But I think we've got a long way to go."
On playing against former Michigan running back Mike Cox ... "I'm happy for Mike, that he's getting to finish out his eligibility, getting to play. I'm going to root for Mike every Saturday but this Saturday."
On his feelings about going up against Air Force's offensive scheme ... "Well, you can go from staff to staff across the country. I like playing that offense as much as anybody, believe me. But most people will tell you they don't."
On why Air Force had success rushing the ball to the outside ... "There's all kinds of reasons. Pitch guy blocking or not blocking. Were they arcing? Were they loading, loading the fullback? They did a lot of different things."
On if the team cut blocked in practice leading up to the Air Force game ... "It's hard to do that during the week."
On if Joe Bolden played a little bit more because he has played against the triple option ... "I think he saw things pretty well. I think part of that experience might be that."
On what he has seen from the freshmen offensive linemen and if he can envision them playing this year ... "You know, I don't care if they do or don't, to be honest with you. I want the best players on the field. I think they're all making progress. Probably as hard a position in Division I football to play as a freshmen because of the schemes, the protections, the defenses you face, the variety of blitzes, zone blitz, all those things. That's probably the toughest. If they progress, we feel they're better, then they'll play."
On Richard Ash's health ... "He's got a boo boo."
On Ondre Pipkins ... "Ondre, he's a long way from being the nose tackle that he will be. He has pretty good quickness for a big guy. More explosion probably. Technique and fundamentals, he keeps working. Got to be better with his hands and his eyes. But he's making progress."
On if Pipkins neck injury slowed down his development ... "No, no."
On if Alabama did anything scheme-wise to try to stop Denard Robinson better than Air Force did ... "They did a good job."
On why he put on a headset for part of the game Saturday and if he needed to monitor something ... "No. I mean, I put them on every game sometimes, especially in the two-minute, that part of the game. We were in between, if we wanted to go two-minute at the end of the first half. We started with the ball on the 20."
On if there was some some confusion at the end of the half on what the team wanted to do ... "Well, to be honest with you, the first part of it, we wanted to see what we did on the first play, how we reacted, if we got enough of a chunk. Didn't want to at that time give the ball back to them. That's part of it."
On how much he learned from that clock-management situation at the end of the half ... "I think we did okay."
On if he likes the fact the team has had 56 offensive plays over the first two games ... "No. I'd rather have about 80 offensive plays. You play better defense watching your offense."
On if having more offensive plays is something he emphasize to the players ... "No. What are we going to do, take away a 90-yard touchdown run, something like that?"
On his reaction to Denard Robinson having nine of the top ten single-game total offense games in school history ... "Let's hope he gets nine more."
On if he let Jake Ryan decide if he wanted to wear No. 47 ... "Sure, sure. I mean, him and I talked about it."
On if he likes the fact that Ryan is going to have some time to wear that number ... "Yeah, I think so."
On why Ryan received Bennie Oosterbaan's No. 47 jersey ... "I think Jake's character, integrity, how he's represented himself and this program. I think from a purely football standpoint, his competitiveness that he shows daily."
On if there is different criteria for the players who will wear the Michigan Football Legend jerseys, or the same approach is taken for all of them ... "Same approach for all of them."
On his evaluation of the team's play on special teams ... "We (had) 31 yards net punt. That wasn't very good."
On if he feels the special teams units are improving ... "I feel like we have the potential to be very good in the special teams."
On if Devin Gardner is advancing faster than he thought at wide receiver ... "I never thought how much he'd advance, like we had this marker or this goal. Like all of us, if we have a chance at all to win the Big Ten Championship, we have to improve --- coaches, players, everybody."
U-M Senior/junior Offensive Lineman Taylor Lewan
On offensive line performance ... "I think it has been better than I first described it. At first I was upset because the running back had seven yards, but people don't get that we also block for Denard (Robinson) too. He had 200-something yards, so that's successful on our part. But we need to get the running backs going, whether it's Fitz (Toussaint), Vince (Smith), or anybody."
On difference between blocking for the quarterback and running backs ... "I mean Denard (Robinson) has a read. He reads, like when we have a 64 read or something like that, he reads the end or the linebacker -- that's his thing. And if he pulls the ball then that's an opportunity for him, and if he gives it we have to give Fitz (Toussaint) an opportunity. But we block the same play for either guy."
On goals as the team prepares for UMass ... "I'm very excited for it. That's why you come to Michigan to play that Michigan football. My goal for the running back is 150-plus yards every week. That's my goal personally, and that's the offensive line. Our stats are Denard's rushing yards and our running backs' rushing yards. Those are our stats, and we have to take pride in that."
U-M Senior/junior Safety Thomas Gordon
On improving defensively for UMass ... "At the reviewing yesterday, we know we have a lot to improve on as a defense. The triple option is a tough offense to defend no matter what team it is. But we've found some good points from the game and we're going to apply it to the rest of our games and the rest of the season."
On eliminating the big plays ... "We preach that every day in practice. We preached that all through camp. That is one of our goals to get to the football and we're always going to live by that."
On forcing fewer turnovers than last season ... "It's unfortunate. We still preach get to the football and create turnovers. That's one of our staples with the defense, we just haven't been able to get them lately."
U-M Fifth-year Senior Offensive Lineman Elliott Mealer
On Denard Robinson gaining numerous rushing yards but the running backs not being able to find holes ... "That's definitely something that is on the offensive line as far asgetting Fitz (Toussaint) and the other guys more rushing yards. But as an offensive lineman you kind of have the luxury with Denard (Robinson) that he makes plays. A lot of times as an offensive lineman you don't know where he is going to go, so he makes us look good. But with the running backs, that is completely on the offensive line. I think we improved a little bit this week from the first game, but we have to get a lot better and start playing Michigan football like a Michigan offensive line should."
On improving as an offensive line against Air Force and where they need to make improvements going forward to get Toussaint going ... "Air Force has a really unique defense -- a lot of confusion I guess you could say -- and I thought we handled that well. That aspect of it and the mental part of it like getting guys where they needed to be was good. I just think we need to be more downhill as an offensive line, making obvious holes for Fitz and just playing Michigan offensive line football. That is something we will hopefully get into this week -- just pushing guys around."
On how comfortable he has gotten at making all the calls up front at center ... "I think pretty comfortable, since I have been playing center in camp and things like that. I think anyone would say this, but when you are playing center and you are making the calls, you feel very comfortable. Whether (your calls) are right or wrong, you at least know where you are going and where everybody else is going. So I really like that position and I think I have done a good job at that part of it at least."
U-M Fifth-year Senior Defensive Lineman William Campbell
On preparing for UMass ... "We go into every game like we did for Alabama. We are going into this game trying to practice hard every day. We don't see it as a team that we are going to blow out. Any team can win -- it's football. There is a lot of upsets that can happen and we're just going to practice every day like it is any other game in the season."
On the freshmen pushing for time and what he sees from them in practice ... "Every day from spring ball to fall camp is a competition -- nobody has a right to play that position. If you don't live up to the expectations, your position is going to be taken."
On the challenges the defense faces with having so many freshmen contributing ... "I wouldn't say that it is a challenge -- it just gives us more bullets to our gun I would say. They give us more weapons and more people to rotate, giving us more time to rest. We can come in and be able to go full speed all the time."