Oct. 1, 2012
Press Conference: Brady Hoke | Taylor Lewan & Craig Roh
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Opening statement ... "With the bye weeks, I think you never know when a good bye week is, when it's not a good bye week. I don't think you really know that until you go through it.
"I think it was good because of the productivity that we got from having the bye week. I would hope we would have that, the productivity, any time the bye week was, but I think we got to really reevaluate where we're at and what we want to do.
"I think you evaluate yourselves a little bit as coaches -- that's always a big part of it - in different things, in aspects that you're involved with from the kicking to the defense, offense. You always look at self-scouting and see where you're at and what you might want to do different or what you like in what you're doing.
"I think the other part of it is the teaching part, the fundamentals, those things that go along with it.
"I think the other part which was big was the guys who are traveling who are freshman have not been home since June 25th. We have a lot of those guys from the state, a lot of those guys within driving distance in Ohio and Chicago. It was good to give them about 36 hours to be a human beings and go home and maybe watch a high school play, see mom and dad, grandma and grandma, aunts and uncles, whoever. I thought that was positive.
"From the academic side, also I think it's always a help. We'll find out obviously Saturday. We've got a tremendous challenge, because I think Purdue is playing as well as anybody in our league right now, 3-1 with South Bend, and played a hard-fought, tough game and had a chance to win the game. So we got our work cut out for us."
On if he watched college football last Saturday ... "Mrs. Hoke, you know, she loves watching football. I see a lot of football, but I watched Purdue and Marshall obviously going down there and playing them. Watched the other two Big Ten games that were on."
On what he likes about the team following the Notre Dame game ... "Well, if I tell you, then we reveal a lot of secrets. Offensively, I think being able in the second half to move the line of scrimmage was I think a positive. I think we need to really look at that and running the football. I think defensively probably a little more confidence in some of the guys who played well and played physical. So I think that part of it is important."
On similarities and differences between this year's defense and last year's defense ... "I think one of the big differences is we forced or got our hands on a lot of balls last year turnover-wise and have not seen that. We had the two interceptions two weeks ago on Saturday, but we haven't been around the ball as much from a coverage aspect, and also the other aspect is we got to do a better job pressuring the quarterback. You know, at times with the four-man rush we're not bad. This goes all the way back to week one against Alabama. With a four-man rush we put decent pressure, but we've got to be better in that, forcing some ill-advised throws."
On why the team isn't creating as many turnovers this season ... "Yeah. I think most of it, John, is the fact that we're not taking the quarterback off his mark, you know, timing-wise, with pressure, or with tighter coverage. We got some different guys obviously, but at the same time, we think we should be able to do the same kind of things with who we have."
On what concerns him about what Purdue does on both sides of the ball ... "I think they're two corners are very good football players. I think they're really good cover guys. I think up front (defensive tackle) Kawann Short and the front itself, front four, you know, you'll watch them against Notre Dame, they played a very good football game.
"Offensively they've got good skill, and they've had good skill. They had good skill last year. A lot of some of the same guys playing. I think (Caleb) TerBush is better. I think the quarterback, he was -- (Robert) Marve was the guy; he got hurt. I think this guy has come in and been very -- percentage pass-wise done a good job with the football."
On Denard Robinson sometimes trying to make plays instead of getting rid of the ball ... "I think you got a lot of quarterbacks and guys who are competitors at a high level. Yeah, they believe in their ability. And you want them to believe in their ability. At the same time, got to understand that maybe a punt is a good play. Maybe sticking your foot in the ground and going north and south is a good play."
On how the team is feeling coming out of the bye week ... "(Courtney) Beyer will be back. Brandon Moore will be close. He's getting better. Richard (Ash) is better. There's one more, too. Hop's (Stephen Hopkins) fine. Devin (Gardner) is fine. They all practiced last night. Yeah, Ricky Barnum was a little sore, shoulder. He was fine last night. So with the guys who aren't out for the year, the rest of them are okay."
On how Marvin Robinson is feeling ... "He was better. Even ran around last night. He feels much better."
On how he believes the bye helped the team physically and mentally ... "Yeah, I think it helps mentally. If it helps mentally, it's going to help you physically. I really believe that. I think the opportunity to get more treatments and do those kinds of things helps."
On where the team is at in terms of fundamentals ... "I think they've improved from a fundamental standpoint, and part of that is what we've been doing. I think obviously you have some young guys who are playing who some of the fundamentals are brand new. So the more they've done 'em, the better off they've been. With the linebackers it's footwork starting from the stance all the way. He's done it one way so long in his life, and all of a sudden this is what you you're going to do it, it takes a little time. I would say up front on both sides of the ball I think they've improved fundamentally."
On if the team worked on fundamentals during the bye week ... "I think we played better fundamentally at a lot of positions two weeks ago than we have. I think we did go back to it again just to keep the reinforcement that we want."
On how the offense played against Notre Dame ... "Yeah, you know, I think the line of scrimmage was better. I felt that coming out of the game though, that it was better. So that was the positive. I think just execution of some routes, execution of some plays; blocking a little better on the perimeter, you know, which we've been a pretty physical team. I think we're going to keep pushing that and keep getting that better."
On Purdue giving up a lot of passing yards to Marshall last week ... "I think it's hard to judge a little bit because that's what Marshall wants to do, that's what they're built to do. And they are going to do that no matter what. They got behind obviously, but with what I know about Marshall -- I have not studied them -- I think that's the kind of football they want to play. You know, I'm trying to think from a standpoint of being effective with it; they were pretty effective with it. Purdue scored two touchdowns on defense with the interception return."
On Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short ... "You know, not seen everybody yet, but got to say he's got to be at the top of the ladder or right next to it. You know, until you play everybody, I think it's always hard until you see them live."
On if the team started preparing for Purdue in the offseason ... "We really just do it for the first three games. You've got an idea with no change of staff what they want to do. You know their personnel. The first three games are really the ones you kind of get ahead on."
On if he sensed Purdue would be better this year ... "I think we always thought that. We thought a year ago they were a good football team. I think a week before they played us they beat Illinois and really got after 'em pretty good. So from a skill standpoint and a front defensively standpoint they've got some playmakers."
On what the team does to get back in the swing of things following the bye ... "You know, we do a lot of one-on-one stuff during the bye week, a lot of competition because of the speed of the game we want to play with. I think that's helped over the years. I can probably answer that question a little bit better when I see how we come out today. I liked our attitude all of yesterday with meetings and lifting, and then we practiced for about 50 minutes. A lot of that was some stuff walkthrough-wise that you want to add to the game plan."
On what the freshmen gained from going home last week ... "It all starts in your mind, and mentally they probably feel -- I know talking to a number of them yesterday during warmup and stretch and all that, and they really appreciated it and enjoyed the time to go home and see family members and just get away. Now, the other guys, this is home to them. That's kind of how it becomes."
On who will start between Brennen Beyer and Frank Clark ... "They'll compete and see who's going to start. They'll both play because number one, they're both good enough to play. I think the second part of it, you know, Purdue, one of the changes is their high tempo. They're trying to go high tempo offensively. I think they ran close to 50 plays, 48 in the first half the other day, so they're trying to get some plays run."
On if having Brennen Beyer back changes anything the defensive scheme ... "You know, I don't think so. When you look at it with Frank and (Mario) Ojemudia, they both played quite a bit down in South Bend. So I think it gives us more capable bodies and guys we think are good football players, but won't change scheme-wise."
On if Denard Robinson's decision-making is where he wants it to be ... "Think about that question. What do you think? Seriously. Probably not, right? Yeah. I mean, yeah, he's got play a little better. We got to help him play a little better by blocking better, routes, catching better, competing better. Also as staff we got to make sure he can do the things we're asking him to do."
On if Denard Robinson should be further along in his development with eight games remaining ... "I think when you look at the process, it's not all one guy. When you got a linebacker in your face and you got somebody around your legs, sometimes it's hard to finish plays like you would like to. So, yeah, do we want him to throw the ball away when the opportunity is there? We want him to be a little more on target with the ball times? No question. But it's not just him by any count."
On if he is concerned about Denard Robinson's decision making ... "No, not at all. He's our quarterback, and he's a damn good quarterback. I didn't say that, so don't write that. But, no, we're very comfortable and we're very confident in him."
On if he wants to get Fitzgerald Toussaint 20-25 carries per game ... "Right. Obviously it will relieve him from some of the things that we ask (Denard Robinson) to do if we can establish a running game with the tailback."
On if it is the offensive line or Fitzgerald Toussaint that needs to step up for better production out of the running game ... "I guess both. It's both. You can't point the finger at one thing. When it's worked it's been both."
On if he can point to one or two offensive linemen that made strides against Notre Dame ... "I think they all together did a much better job of really leveraging their fundamentals and got some movement on 'em and finished some combination blocks."
On if the offensive line plays better when there is more at stake ... "Yeah, I don't know if at stake. I just think most good offensive lines that have been around, they want to be fed. I mean, they want to run the football. They want to establish the line of scrimmage. I think at halftime the conversation's what we want to do, and they kind of got the message. I can't tell you how many yards we rushed for, but you could feel presence on the field."
On if last week was a good time to have the bye week ... "Yeah, you know, I don't know when is a good bye week. I really don't. I think this one could be timed well, but we'll know eight weeks from now."
On if he has talked to the team about confidence ... "Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. We've got to grind. We've got to play Michigan football and prepare Michigan football."
On if he concerns himself with players running into equipment on the sidelines ... "Yeah, and I don't know what good it's going to do, to be honest with you. I'm trying to think. You know, you guys probably know our stadium a little better. We put bands down there in the one corner, right, sometimes. It's part of the -- I don't know what to tell you. I don't know if anybody is going to change anything."
On if his perspective on the Big Ten race changed at all after watching one week ... "I don't think so, no. I think it's the Big Ten. I think people are going to get after each other. I think everyone knows each other pretty well in the league to some degree, knows what they want to do and how they want to do it. It's just a matter of how you prepare every week to play your best. I think playing on the road is always a part of it. That's one thing we've talked about all year, is we've got to be a better road team."
On the team's offensive stats on the road being dramatically lower than at home thus far this season ... "I think rhythmically, I think you always remember the losses and taking care of the football."
On what clicked for the offensive line in the second half against Notre Dame that didn't click in the first half ... "I don't know if anything clicked. I think when you become -- when a coach says we're going to count on you guys to finish this."
U-M Senior/junior Offensive Lineman Taylor Lewan
On what Coach Hoke said to the offensive line at halftime of the Notre Dame game and how the unit played in the second half ... "At halftime we walked in and I was pretty fired up by the situation -- most of the guys were. Coach Hoke kind of just walked in calmly and told us flat out that the rest of this game was going to be on the offensive line. I think every single guy that played in that game as an offensive linemen took that to heart. The thing about that is that we had success in the second half, but obviously it wasn't good enough. But if we can continue to have success like that throughout the whole game -- not just two quarters -- this team will be a lot better off."
On if there were any other offensive linemen that really impressed him during the Notre Dame game ... "I don't know if there was one specific guy. Elliott Mealer continues to do a great job in my opinion. People keep looking at him as how he is going to do replacing David Molk. I think people need to stop looking at that and realize that Elliott Mealer is not the player David Molk is -- good and bad -- and I think Elliott has done a great job. Also, Ricky Barnum -- I have had a different guard every year I have been here and Ricky has stepped up to the challenge like every other guy has. I'm proud of both of them."
On what he wanted to work on the most during the bye week and what he felt the team improved upon most during its time off ... "This past week we worked on technique and fundamentals, which is part of everything, especially for offensive linemen. You can never get too much of that. The physical part -- you can't learn being physical. That will come over time hopefully for some guys, but I think the biggest thing for offensive line is technique and fundamentals."
U-M Senior Defensive Lineman Craig Roh
On defensive improvement after bye week ... "First of all, I feel very rested and rejuvenated. I've had a lot of time to catch up on some sleep and what not. And I think the defense, we've had a couple different practices and I think we've made a few more strides with technique. Every day we get to come in and work a little bit more and technique makes us that much better."
On practicing against the starting offense ... "When you're going against the ones, like a guy like Taylor Lewan who is a great offensive tackle, it just sharpens you because we have a lot of great guys on the offense who are great players and it just keeps you where you need to be to play at a very high level."
On limiting mistakes in Big Ten play ... "[Bye Week] is something that helps you improve in [fundamental] areas. We were able to practice and go over assignments again and technique. It does help us to avoid those types of mistakes."