Oct. 17, 2011
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Opening statement ... "We're disappointed with the outcome of the game from Saturday. We didn't win obviously, and we didn't play well enough to win. That's where it starts, and it starts with me doing a better job coaching this football team and our coaches doing a better job of coaching and preparing our guys. One thing I can tell you though is the kids stayed in there and fought in there and played in there. I'm proud of how they did that. We just need to execute better. We need to tackle better from a defensive perspective; block better if an offensive perspective. Then when we have the six to eight plays you have to execute to win, you got to be on the right side of those plays. We didn't get that done."
On rethinking the play on the missed fourth and 1 conversion at Michigan State ... "No. I like the play. If we execute the play, (Kevin) Koger is in the end zone. We don't make a block that we need to make, and it's part of it. That play has been very successful for us. It's a nice complement to the dive. We just didn't execute."
On Michigan State players saying they knew Michigan's snap count ... "I think everyone has an idea on snap count from shotguns, because there is mechanics that every team has. We have a silent count and we have a double silent count. And getting in and out of those -- I don't think that's all the way correct. Let me put it that way."
On MSU having success with its corner blitzes against Denard Robinson ... "That's part of their defense, playing that corner, especially when you get into two tight ends. A lot of people will do that to that weak side. Again, he was accounted for if we execute (on the fourth down play)."
On the personal foul penalty called on MSU's William Gholston ... "I'm not going to react to it. You know what, I'm a football coach. I'm not a referee or a rules-maker. That's not for me to say. Did I see it, yes. Does that happen in games, yes. Is it sometimes part of the game, yes."
On one aspect of the game with which he was particularly disappointed ... "Yeah. I don't think we tackled worth a darn; I don't think we played the perimeter of our defense worth darn; I don't think we took on blocks and got off blocks and had very good block protection. From an offensive standpoint, I don't think, besides the first series of the game, our route running started to hurt us and we were breaking them off too soon. I don't think we engaged with aggression at the line of scrimmage like we should."
On MSU's two passing touchdowns being representative of the subpar tackling ... "I would say yeah. I would say you see a guy try and block a guy instead of tackle a guy, wrap your arms and put your face through him like you're supposed to tackle him."
On teams trying to attack U-M's defense on the perimeter ... "Northwestern wanted to do it with the speed option a little bit, and then also the bubble (screens). We need to this week Tuesday and Thursday -- I can assure you we're going to work on block protection and chop blocks and all those things and make an emphasis. At the same time, there were times when it was played decently, but I didn't feel our flow from the inside."
On if it hurts to hear Jordan Kovacs say that MSU was the more physical team ... "The truth never hurts. It's things that aren't truthful that hurt. They out-physicaled us; they out-played us; they out-coached us. And we had a chance to win the football game."
On what the next six weeks will say about the toughness of this team ... "I think that's something that I was interested to see how we would react as a team in that environment going in. I think I said that. Because you really don't know until you go through it and see how we learned from it. I know one thing: you can't let one team beat you twice. So you've got to do a great job of pointing out the things that need to be corrected immediately and then focus on what's next. We have five more guaranteed opportunities to play football. For our seniors, they have five more times to represent Michigan. That's pretty significant."
On Michigan State's overload blitzes ... "Well, you go back through the film, which is always helpful, and we block the same blitz early in the game and Fitz (Toussaint) spurts for I think it was 15 or 17, something like that. We don't block it later for one reason or another. I've been talking to Al (Borges), and they saw what we call the barrel 25 to 30 times Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of last week. But for some reason we don't block it correctly, and then you got a problem."
On if Blake Countess has passed Troy Woolfolk at cornerback ... "I don't know if anybody passed anybody, but I do know there was great competition there. I think that will make both those guys better players."
On if Troy Woolfolk needs this bye week to get healthy ... "I think he's probably one of the guys that does. Rest him a little bit. When you go through what are you going to do during the off week, whether we were going to go three times, but I thought a week and a half ago, I think we go two practices and give them some time to get a little rest and get away from us just a tad I think is always good."
On Denard Robinson's health ... "He's just beat up a little bit. I think it's more his back than anything. But he'll be fine. The rest will be good for him. We came out of the game pretty healthy, to be honest with you."
On what he didn't do well enough from a coaching standpoint ... "Obviously you don't think you prepared them well enough to go into a physical football game and -- you get punched in the mouth; you come back and you punch back, not literally but come back and keep fighting. You don't lose the composure of my fundamentals and techniques. We talk about poise and composure a lot, but part of is that is how you do your job. Are your eyes on the right key? Am I taking the right steps? All those things. That's part of it."
On the punting performance by Will Hagerup ... "I thought Will a couple times did a really good job in there. The biggest thing what happens in a game when you have kind of wind is your kicking game. Your kicks have to change a little bit. It's a mental thing in those specialists' mind from a snapper depending on the wind. But I thought he did a pretty nice job in there a couple times for sure."
On the potential that Devin Gardner will play an entire series or a quarter ... "No. Denard (Robinson) is our quarterback. We're 6-1 and a lot of that is because Denard is our quarterback."
On critics who want to see Devin Gardner play more ... "They have an opinion. Doesn't carry much weight, but they have an opinion. We're with them every day."
On Michigan State saying they didn't think Denard Robinson could pass ..."That's not true. That's a bogus statement, because he can throw. He's proven it a couple different times this year, I believe. There's a lot more than just Denard."
On plays that don't include Denard Robinson when Devin Gardner is the quarterback ... "There were three plays that we liked Devin to play. One was a touchdown that he had against Northwestern, that boot(leg). And then there was another boot in there that we really wanted him to be a part of, besides the combination of them both in there."
On if playing Devin Gardner disrupts the rhythm of Denard Robinson ... "I don't think so. That would be similar to taking a defensive end out and rotating him when I think about it, because they both have fundamentals and techniques and things that they have to do when you look at schematically from a defensive standpoint. So I don't know what the difference is."
On quarterback being no different than any other position ... "Besides that he touches the ball every time, I think there are still fundamentals when you break down position by position and whatever that defense might be. The difference is, yeah, the ball is in his hands ever snap."
On Denard Robinson's improvements as a passer this season ... "I think he's fine. I don't have any problem with it."
On feeling the loss longer because of the bye week ... "I hope not. We'll get together tomorrow and move forward. Usually we meet on Sunday but we gave them Sunday off, so we'll get together tomorrow."
On what he will do to mentally shift the team to look forward ... "I have to shift myself first probably. But, yeah, seniors now will get together tomorrow and have a very good conversation. They're a prideful group. Kids are more resilient than we are, period, and so we'll move forward."
On if he's surprised that seven weeks into the season tackling and blocking are issues ... "I think you always are. I mean, am I surprised, I don't think I'm surprised. Do I wish it was better, yeah."
On if he was disappointed with the play of the offensive and defensive lines ... "Inside, Will Heininger and Mike (Martin) really played pretty good football for us. And their plan was not to attack the interior of the front. They had a young center in there. But I though Mike and even Will Heininger, I think both of those guys, when you look at all the tape and you evaluate who did what, those guys both held in there pretty good."
On if it's good to have this week off ... "I don't know. I think it helps us get a little more healthy. You guys asked about (Troy) Woolfolk and Denard (Robinson's) back and all that, so it's always good to be a little healthier."
On the decision to pass more than run ... "I think we ran for a grand total of 82 yards, and I think part of that is they were stacking the box a little bit, and then you have to try and get some things. They played zero coverage on Roy Roundtree, and he goes whatever that was for a touchdown on a slant. We run a couple slant routes maybe more pure or better and we may have had another one."
On teaching the defensive players to get off of blocks ... "There are different drills that you do, and then you got to do it live enough. I know during fall camp you always get a lot of stuff in. Then as the season starts, you get away from a little bit of it because of your game plans and seeing the opponent's plays and all that. So this will be a good week for us to get back to it."
On being surprised by MSU's attempt to run outside ... "No, the stretch play was one of their plays. Knowing that going in, I think they blocked a couple things a little differently where they bossed it before with the fullback maybe on the safety or depending how many tight ends where were. But getting him up on the linebacker and taking the U back on the safety some of that stuff was a little different, but it's still football. It's still the backs going and all that stuff. You got to react to it."
On injuries ... "Marvin (Robinson) still has some lingering things. (Brandon) Herron still isn't where we want him to be. (Cam Gordon) is much better than he was."
Senior Defensive Tackle Mike Martin
On moving past the Michigan State game ... "This game is going to sting for a bit. I think it has to. This team has to remember the taste in our mouths. It's not good, but we have to move on. Tomorrow is going to be our first day getting into Purdue. We have to remember this as a team, so we don't feel it again."
On senior leadership after a loss ... "It starts with my attitude, my message, every day to the team when we address the team, and what I do in practice every day. I'm excited. We're 6-1. We're not 1-6. The leadership on this team is something special. This senior class has come together, and I really believe this is a pivotal point for our team and the leadership on this team to step up. I think that's when leadership is supposed to really come in. When times are good, it's easy to be a leader. When times are bad, I think that's when leaders have to step up and really show the way."
On if the bye week comes at a good time ... "Yes. Football is a physical game, and guys are going to get bumped up, get sore. I know we have some guys that are feeling that a bit, so having the bye week is key. I think it comes at the perfect time. We're at the halfway point of the season, and we have five more guaranteed opportunities as a football team. For us to be able to prepare longer for Purdue is also going to help. I think it's going to show up on Saturday."
On Coach Hoke's remarks about Michigan State being tougher last Saturday ... "It hurts. You don't ever want to hear that. I think it really comes down to who is going to be more physical. Football is a physical game. Whoever hits the other one in the mouth more, the other one might not come out with a win at the end. That is something that we have to get tougher as a football team, and I know we're going to get that fixed."
On the fine line of having controlled rage on the football field ... "Controlled anger, controlled rage is a good way to put it. I think it comes to keeping your poise and composure. As a defensive lineman, you play with a lot of aggression and intensity, but at the same time taking your right steps and knowing which gap you got to go to and how you got to get there and keeping your leverage and a bunch of other things that come into it, but also playing with a high intensity and high level. I think that as the game went on we got away from that a bit and didn't stick to the little things as a team, and it built up."
Senior Tight End Kevin Koger
On if he was open on the fourth down play ... "It's hard to say. When I whipped my head around, Denard (Robinson) was being tackled. So it's hard to say if I was open or not. We just have to execute. We have to block better on that play, no matter what the call is. If we had executed, the play it would have worked."
On the success of the play in practice ... "We run it every week. It's something we work on all the time. To not execute it the way we have or should be is disappointing."
On whether players second guess the coaches at all ... "No I don't think so. It's nice to change it up every now and again. Whatever they call, we have to execute, no matter what it is. I personally think it was a good call, no one was expecting it. But they also made a great play call."
On what MSU did to stop Denard Robinson ... "They're a great defense. They just out-physicaled us. They controlled the line of scrimmage. They brought a lot of great blitzes. They were just more physical and that had a lot to do with it."
On why they were able to be more physical ... "I think we were just playing more off of emotion than technique. Everyone was ready to go. Once we got in the game, coach lets us call some of our own shots and we did some stuff in the game that we don't usually do."
On the difficulty of admitting that MSU was the tougher team ... "It definitely is. This is football and you pride yourself on being physical. As Molk said earlier, this is not a finesse game. We try to pride ourselves on being physical like that. We have to admit that they were more physical than us. It kind of hurts a little bit."
Senior Center David Molk
On moving on mentally from the game ... "You have to realize why we lost, how we lost. You have to take things away from the loss, but yes. Mentally, I'm not going to sit on the loss, I'm not going to let it weigh on my mind. That's not how I play the game, that's not who I am."
On the hits on Denard Robinson ... "Football is a tough game. The line between cheap and fair is pretty thin sometimes. It's in the eye of the beholder. What could be tough play, could be rough play, could be too much. They're a tough team and they played well, but that's not what beat us."
On the response from the players ... "Really the response is going to be on this team. That's really what's going to make this team different than all the teams in the past that I've played on and started. It's time for me, along with my senior group and fellow captains, to step up and take control of the emotional level of this team and stride on. We can't let one loss set us back for the entire season and really make us feel like it's over just because we have one loss. That's not going to happen."
On the quarterback situation and the late hits ... "As far as Denard (Robinson) and Devin (Gardner), it's a coaching decision. Whatever they choose is right. However they figure to use those two together, they're both very dynamic players and whichever one is on the field is going to make plays. It's just a matter of what kind of plays they're going to make. Whatever the coaches choose is right. As far as punching, I don't punch. I play as fair as possible. The way that I show that I'm tough is that I hit hard, play within the rules, I drive people, I pancake people, that's how I play. I don't talk."
On being tougher ... "We can always play tougher. They out-toughed us. We need to step up. It's not just a couple guys, it's our collective team. We need to be a tougher team. This is Big Ten play. The tougher team wins. And it comes from everyone."