Penn State Week: Monday Football Press Conference
James Ross III

Oct. 7, 2013

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Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Opening statement ... "It was a very good win this past weekend -- homecoming, the Brown Jug, there were multiple things that were good. There was improvement, which you want every week both fundamentally and with technique. We've got to continue that at all positions. I think we had two penalties and no turnovers, as much as anything -- besides winning -- what we accomplished there was very good for us as a football. And it's something that we need to pay attention to -- which we do -- but the significance of that was huge to be plus-two in turnover margin."

On the loss of Ondre Pipkins to injury ... "Well Richard Ash -- and we've got multiple guys -- Willie Henry can play the three, Ryan Glasgow. Your heart goes out for Ondre because of the hard work he's put in, and then the guy gets hurt. I'm pretty close to him because I coach him. There's a bit of adversity now for him and for our team, but just like anything we'll keep working together and get through it."

On the adjustments of starting Chris Bryant at guard and Graham Glasgow at center ... "I think Chris did some real good things, and there's some things he needs to do better - when you look at pass protection, that part of it. I think Graham, with his first start at center, did a nice job with his snaps and that's important. He did a nice job, he's a big body. We were pleased with how he went about his business in there."

On Devin Funchess' developing role in the offense ... "Whatever best serves the team will be his role. He's a bit of a mismatch problem. He's 6'6' or 6'7" he's got a lot of length and good speed. He played out in space like that all through high school; he never really was a line tight end. I think he still has that ability and especially when you look his development from a physical standpoint over his career here. He's going to be a little bigger, he's going to be stronger and that's going to help him."

On Penn State going through the NCAA sanctions and head coach Bill O'Brien ... "Number one, I think Bill and his staff have done a real good job keeping that team together when the sanctions came and all those things. They are Penn State; they are going to have good football players. The quarterback kept a lot of his class together that were committed. That tells you about his leadership. They are Penn State; they are a physical football team. It got a little crazy last weekend in Indiana -- there were a lot of points and a lot of yards by both teams -- but I think they are a very good football team."

On how Jake Butt's emergence has helped Devin Funchess ... "I think it helps a little bit and then Jordan Paskorz; we've been without him for four weeks. He broke his hand, and he's been practicing and doing everything with a big club on his hand; he finally got that off and played some valuable snaps in there (against Minnesota) as an on-the-line tight end."

On continuing to work on third down defense... "Getting off the field is important, and we've got to do a better job. (Minnesota) hurt us with running the ball as much as anything in the first half with scrambling. We've got to do a better job when you look at lanes and those kinds of fundamentals that you need to have. This defense is coming around. Is it exactly where we need it to be? No, but I think there are guys playing -- I don't want to say with a better urgency because they've played pretty well all year, especially in the red zone -- I just think they are a work in progress because of some of the youth out there."

On whether Devin Gardner's seven rush plays were by design ... "By design, totally. We wanted to run the ball at the tailback, and that opened up some big plays when they have nine guys in the box because of the threat of run. Fitz (Touissant) was 4.6 yards per attempt, which we'll take that through the whole year. We wanted to run the football. We want to get the tailbacks some carries and take the pressure off the quarterback."

On what Derrick Green did to earn more playing time ... "I think he feels more comfortable within the offense itself. And he's fitter than he was earlier. That's a big part of it -- him feeling real comfortable with what we're doing."

On Jake Ryan's progress returning from injury ... "I think he's getting closer. We'll have a good practice with him tomorrow. Believe me; he's wanting to play, and he seems to be feeling okay, but we need to make sure he can do the things he's capable of doing."

On whether Jake Ryan has been cleared to play ... "Yeah, but it's still playing football, and if you haven't played in a long time, we've tried to get him in (in practice), but we can't get him in for everything and we hadn't early."

On the performance of the revamped offensive line ... "The five of them together -- it wasn't perfect by any means -- but I think those five guys did a nice job of complementing each other. We've got to clean some things up when you look at some sets on protection but I think it's a good working group."

U-M Fifth-Year Senior Offensive Tackle Taylor Lewan
On the changes to the offensive line ... "Graham's always, since spring ball, been a lot better at center than at guard. As far as Chris goes, I think he played a good first game starting; there's really no excuse not to be perfect when you play offensive line at Michigan, just him doing the things he had to do he got the job done. Fitz averaged 4.5 a carry; we'll take that all year. Obviously, we want more yards every single time, but I think Chris did a good job. I'm proud of the way he played, and if he continues to build off that then a lot of the time we will be successful."

On texting Brady Hoke Saturday night to discuss the crowd noise at Penn State ... "I know he knew that; I think it's just different because we haven't played Penn State at Penn State since my redshirt freshman year and aside from me, Cam (Gordon), and maybe like one other guy; no one's really had significant snaps there. The noise isn't really that distracting, you have to be on your p's and q's -- you have to know what your calls are going to be. Sometimes we will be standing face-to-face, and I won't be able to hear myself think or hear you talk. So it's a great atmosphere. I am sure it will be a white-out night game. Penn State's awesome; it's a fun place to play."

On maintaining focus in a noisy environment ... "We have got a lot of young guys, especially on the interior all these guys are first year starters. This will be (Michael) Schofield's first time playing at Penn State, although he's been through a lot of loud environments, so these guys have to understand that we are still playing football, the width, the length it's all the same. So if we do what we are supposed to do, we should be successful. It is just getting that preparation in and getting better every single week because if you don't get better each week you aren't going to win a Big Ten championship."

On shifting around the line against Minnesota ... "As far as enjoying it yeah, it was fine. I think every play except for two was behind me and that's just taking that responsibility and feeling that responsibility for the game. Coaches' telling me that they are going to run behind me a lot more is, you know you take pride in that, you definitely take pride in that. That's something I really enjoy, my head hurts a little bit today, but other than that it is all good."

U-M Sophomore Linebacker James Ross III
On what he did better against Minnesota ... "Coming to the game more focused, growing up more, becoming more focused within a game, preparing better. As a team I feel like we are preparing a lot better, and I think that's helping us; we understand what we need to do. When we get out there we just have to get better at realizing what they haven't shown us and adjusting to that."

On balancing defending the run and the pass from the linebacker position ... "Basically doing what you're coached to do; that means getting your keys early and getting your eyes back to the quarterback. The reason that we got away from that fundamental technique early in the game, it kind of hurt us, and that's why we have to look back into this film and go back practice making that a key concern and get better at it."

On improving against the pass game ... "Reading our keys early, as a linebacker I can only control what linebackers do, I don't know what the DBs do. But we talked about it in practice -- we focus on the tendencies of the opposing teams, and we work on those pretty roughly. And if we stick to those and stick to our playbooks, I think we will be pretty good."

On how the defense can continue to improve ... "We just need consistency; there are times when we go out there, and I feel like nobody can get a yard on us. But there's times that we give up certain plays that shouldn't be given up -- that's just because a lack of focus on one play that can hurt us. And I feel like if we all key in on every single play, I feel like we are a great defense."

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