Oct. 8, 2012
Press Conference: Brady Hoke | Players
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Opening statement ... "Thank you for coming. Very pleased with the win. You know, it's great to win obviously. I thought we set a tone early defensively. Great to win on the road is what I should say, because you look at this league on the road, it's a tough place to play.
"Thought we set the tone with the three and out by the defense, and then I think offensively a 17-play drive of almost nine minutes really was what we needed to do. We played very good defense watching our offense out there on the field.
"So that's a good deal. I think we practiced well for the week. We prepared well. Liked how our guys came to work every day, and we need to continue to do that.
"We know we're in a championship game every Saturday, and so our mentality and attitude needs to reflect that by our actions in practice.
"We had a good day yesterday, and hopefully we can continue that."
On if the team is where he wants it to be through five games and how the team is improving each week ... "Well, I don't know if they'll ever be what we want. They're going to work hard at it; we're going to work hard at it. I think some guys who came into the year with not many reps under their belt -- I think, you know, experience is always important. I think significant reps in a game are important when you look at fundamentals and techniques."
On where he would like to see the defense improve ... "John, I think number one, at this point in the season, I don't think we're getting enough pressure on the quarterback. I think that helps those guys in the back end. And then at the same time, I think there were times when we need to do a better job tightening zone blitz coverages or man coverages, because now you force that quarterback to be a little more accurate. So I think we keep searching as coaches for different ways to manufacture some pressure, and at the same time have good coverage with it. I think we're a work in progress with it. I think we'll continue to even look at different groups who you put on the field, you know, and do that a little differently."
On the team's running back production and if Thomas Rawls will see more carries ... "I don't think so. Yeah, we want to run the ball a little better, but when look at it and you go back and look at it and you see -- if you remember a year ago, I think (Fitzgerald Toussaint) ran for 170 yards against Purdue. They weren't going to let him did that. They were very concerned with taking that part of our offense away. Denard (Robinson) rushed for 235, so something has got to give. And what gave was Denard 235 and I think 25 carries. So there weren't really any golden opportunities because of how the defended the tailback position."
On if Fitzgerald Toussaint is running differently this year than he did last year ... "I don't think so. I just don't think we've had enough opportunities for him."
On what he has seen out of Kenny Demens in recent weeks ... "Yeah, I think he's played better football to be honest with you, and I think that happens at times. I think he's prepared better. I really do. I think Joe (Bolden), you know, that competition there and having two guys, you know, Joe has enough snap experience now that you feel good about when he's in the ballgame also. So I think it's great competition. I think the mentality that Kenny has had in his preparation has been good."
On the team's kickoff coverage against Purdue ... "Kickoff coverage wasn't good at all. We missed nine tackles and hit two kicks poorly from a kicker standpoint. And when you miss nine tackles because there were opportunities -- the negative to that is most of those guys -- I think all but one -- are defensive players on this team. (Amara) Darboh is the only offensive player on the team. We got to do a better job running through guys. Too many guys reaching and not enough guys returning through tackles."
On the decision to angle kickoffs against Purdue ... "We did that all year. Depends who we want to kick the ball to some degree. Tried to keep it out of No. 8's hands. The other part of it is Matt (Wile) kicks to one side better than the other."
On how the defensive line's production has helped Kenny Demens the last few weeks ... "Well, I think it does help. Again, you got some significant guys that have gotten real snaps where they haven't had near as many before, so there is a learning that they go through. So I think it's better, and I think it helps. I think we're playing a little tighter on offensive linemen, which means we're getting hands on a little more. That keeps (the) linebackers a little more clear."
On players who stand out for Illinois ... "Well, I think from a defensive standpoint, (Nathan) Scheelhaase is a guy that can be very dangerous. He's very effective running the football. He's healthy. I don't think he was healthy earlier in the year. They played well deep into that game up in Wisconsin. There defense is leading the league in red zone or third down defense, you know, which means they're getting offenses off the field. They've got playmakers. (Jonathan) Brown and (Michael) Buchanan are two of the playmakers. I think they've got a lot of weapons."
On Denard Robinson throwing the ball or running out of bounds to avoid taking a big hit ... "I think it's maturity. Two of the best plays the other day from an offensive standpoint was Fitz on the one-yard touchdown run. He went after it. It was blocked decently well, but they had lined up well. So the guy who had lined up lined up wrong runs, so the guy who lined up wring runs over to where he's supposed to be, and that's where we expected him to be anyway. As an offensive linemen coming off the ball and somebody is not there, Fitz ran through him. And then Denard throwing the ball out of bounds on a critical third down. He's a competitor and he wants to make something happen on every play, but I thought that was really well done. And then not taking the big hits if you don't have to."
On how he likes Jeremy Gallon at punt returner ... "Like him. Love him."
On Drew Dileo also being back on punt returns against Purdue ... "That was because of the inconsistency their punter had going into the game. He would punt some 30 yards, and why give up field position?"
On what he would say to fans looking past the Illinois game ... "That's your opinion. I don't think we'll have any problems."
On if Denard Robinson has met his Hoke's expectations so far this season ... "Yeah, he always does. I mean, he comes out and competes. He comes out and works. He works in that building. I think Coach (Al) Borges' playing was what we wanted to do. It was a good plan and well executed."
On if Fitzgerald Toussaint needs to get back to protocol more with his runs ... "You know what, not as much as I thought during the game, to be honest with you. I thought there may have been one in there in the first half where I thought he could have stuck his foot in the ground. There was no real golden opportunities for him. That was how they wanted to defend us."
On if it was lack of execution or Purdue's defense that held Fitzgerald Toussaint in check ... "I would say mostly Purdue. They weren't going to let him rush for 170 yards, because that's what really got 'em in trouble a year ago."
On the significance of honoring a former President of the United States as a "Michigan Football Legend" ... "I don't think there is any doubt there is a significance when you have a former president of the United States of America who's a graduate and a player. Believe me, it's very significant."
On Brendan Gibbons' production this season and his kicks against Purdue ... "Yeah, it was right on. You know, they go out before and they communicate before the game on where they feel that spot is, where it could be a little long, especially with the wind that was there. It was right on this number and he kicked it well. The wind just kept it and pushed it back. But he's done well. I think we would rather have touchdowns than field goals when we're in the red zone. That's disappointing. But I thought he responded really well. And I thought Jareth Glanda as a snapper and Drew (Dileo), I think I they both need a little credit. And I'll tell you who else: Quinton Washington and Will Campbell, because Kawann Short had blocked three this year already, and they did a nice job up the middle of our formation of our PAT team."
On how Brennen Beyer looked against Purdue ... "He was okay. He was good. He's a good football player. I thought he did a good job."
On if Brennen Beyer is a player the team might use more to put pressure on the quarterback ... "We may. He's one of those guys that having him back -- he'll be healthier this week than he was last week. Having him back is important to us."
On what he thinks the key is for the defensive line to start getting more production ... "We had a couple opportunities, and instead of running through the quarterback we jumped. I don't know why we do that. Some of it is it's a natural thing. Guy gets a ball up and his offhand comes up and he thinks it's going to come out. But we want to run through. We missed nine tackles on the kickoff team because we didn't run through. We were grabbing. Same thing when you jump or if you grab. You got to bring your feet. Feet are the most important thing. So we got to do a better job with that. We screwed up a game, an inside game that -- it was sickening how good it was. How good it could have been, let's put it that way."
On what he likes about the way the defense is playing ... "I think as much as anything, they're taking what they're learning during the week from a personnel standpoint maybe, formation standpoint, down and distance, all those things that you want to teach as a coach, and that's going to help 'em. I think they're doing a good job with that. I think at spots we're playing good coverage. I think there was a consistency that we don't have in coverage sometimes, pressure on the quarterback."
On Denard Robinson's hand ... "He's fine. Practiced yesterday."
On if he is concerned with the production from the running backs ... "Yeah. I mean, I would be lying if I said I wasn't. But up front I thought those guys played pretty solid when you look at it.Their best game? No. But they played solid. We've got to keep making some improvements every day there."
On what a defense does to stop a specific running back like Fitzgerald Toussaint ... "Depends how your linebackers are going to flow. It depends how -- we can sit here for an hour and talk about treating the spread and the zone reads and all that and how you're going to defend it. The Jets scheme off it, how are you going to defend it? Are you going to take way with the outside guy? They wanted to crash it a little bit, and that's where the fumble came from. Or are you going to defend the quarterback with your end and have the linebacker run over the top? There are a lot of different ways."
On how often good practices will carry over into a good game on Saturday ... "Probably happens more often than not. When you like a practice, you know, you like it for different reasons. I like it when the assignment, execution, and the effort. We may be bad fundamentally and not step with the right foot or something like that, but when they're playing with great effort then they're playing with a toughness that goes along with it and they're competing. And then the speed and the tempo of how we're playing, that, to me, is what I did like coming off a bye week. Everybody says, well, what do you think of the bye week? I don't know. You really don't know until the end of the. But I know we didn't lose the speed and we may have gained some speed that we want to play with."
On if he likes practices better than games ... "I don't know. I kind of like all of it, to be honest with you. That's why I do it, being around those kids."
On Denard Robinson passing more than he did against Purdue ... "Well, there is no question that's going to happen. People are going to make you."
On if he wishes the team would have run the football more in earlier games ... "I don't think so. We talked about it last week. Playing on the road we're a different team than we have been at home. We talked about that."
On if the team had less missed assignments against Purdue than it did against Notre Dame ... "It was better than 23. I can't give you the exact number offensively. Probably inside of 12."
On the number of missed assignments that is acceptable to him ... "Well, zero, I mean, really."
On Jake Ryan's play against Purdue and through five games ... "He was pretty doggone good. He's a football player. He's unorthodox. He's a football player. He's playing well. He's a football player."
On what he means by unorthodox ... "He just does things differently. He can get away with fundamentally not doing something wrong, but he has that extra gear that makes it right."
On the leadership Drew Dileo brings to the team ... "You know what he brings is he's a football player. It's like Jake (Ryan). They're football players. They love to play. They love to learn how to play. They come with that mentality every day, they take high regard of their responsibility for their team, and they love to play the game."
On how many of Denard Robinson's runs against Purdue were created by himself and how many were products of good blocking ... "I'll tell you what, there were some significant holes. I think the first one he did a little something to the safety that not a whole lot guys can do. He really did a nice job of juking the guy. But everything else, the back side of that thing where he took it three times, I mean, it was blocked well."
On why there are holes for him and not Fitzgerald Toussaint ... "Different runs. There are a lot of different runs. Again, they were trying to take the running back away, and it left the backside open. Linebacker quick over the top because you're trying to get to the running back, backside is open."
U-M Senior Defensive Tackle William Campbell
On improving pressure on the quarterback ... "I agree with (Coach Hoke) 100 percent, we need to get more pressure up front with a four-man rush, we don't need to blitz every down to get to the quarterback. Me being a senior, me and Craig Roh take that on us, we need to work on our pass rushing more so we can get to the quarterback and put our defensive backs in a better position to cover for less time."
On strongest parts of the defense ... "The biggest part is probably our preparation during the week. We are communicating, getting in and watching our film together. We are doing everything together so we know what is coming and what to expect when we get down in our stance."
U-M Senior/junior Offensive Lineman Taylor Lewan
On stability during long drives ... "You know, as an offensive lineman I love those kind of drives. Anything over eight plays I like a lot. Keep them going; keep our offense on the field -- that's always the goal. You've got to want it. You've got to want it and understand that as an offensive line you want to stay on the field, and even if you get a little tired during it, you've got to keep pressing through and every play go 100 percent."
On teams focusing on stopping Fitzgerald Toussaint instead of Denard Robinson ... "I could say Fitz is Fitz. He's an unbelievable athlete, and I'm not a defensive coordinator or anything like that, but I think he has the ability to run the ball. With Fitz, Vince (Smith), Thomas Rawls -- all those guys -- I think they're very capable of doing what Denard does also without throwing the ball. (Purdue) gave us Denard, but on a lot of those plays if Denard were to have handed the ball off, I think Fitz would have had the same success."
On embracing the pressure put on the offensive line ... "(We embrace it) 100 percent. You want that as an offensive line. You want the coaches to be able to put pressure on you and then be successful when they challenge you. I think we were successful on Saturday, but every day we need to get better and every week we need to get better. It's the Big Ten season, and our goal is a Big Ten championship."
U-M Fifth-year Senior Center Elliott Mealer
On the non-Denard Robinson running game ... "As an offensive line, you definitely want to get the tailback going and moving people around and opening holes. I think this weekend Purdue really gave us Denard and you have to be happy with that. If they are going to shut down the tailback runs, which I think they did a decent job at, we will take Denard. We have the luxury of having a playmaker back there, along with Fitz (Toussaint) and Vincent (Smith) and the other guys."
On getting increased production from Fitzgerald Toussaint ... "We obviously want to get him more yards. He is a great player and we need to get him out in space and let him show off his skills, but at the same time, 307 rushing yards, I think that is doing alright. And as many points as we put up, they gave us Denard, the fact that we were able to let Denard do his thing, like I said, we have that luxury of being able to use him."
On differences in the offensive line between short passes and long passes ... "Whenever we are passing we want to give Denard as much time as we can. We do know, usually, when it needs to be blocked longer, but as an offensive lineman you can't have a clock in your head that says 'Okay, now it's time to quit.' Especially with Denard -- you don't know if he's going to run out of the pocket and come back in and take off down the field. You have to give him as much time as possible. For us, we don't think about that, we are going to block our guys as long as we possibly can and give Denard a chance to do his thing."