Oct. 24, 2011
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Opening statement ... "It was good in some ways to have a bye week. From a health standpoint, I think it always helps you a little bit no matter where you're at in the season to get more rested. I thought our guys did a nice job with that. I thought our practices on Tuesday, Thursday and then yesterday were at a high tempo. I think there was a lot of good teaching going on. I think when you look at fundamentals of where we need to improve: blocking, tackling, all those things that go along with football. I think that was good. We've got five guaranteed opportunities left that we need to focus on, and obviously this week is Purdue."
On any players who are more prepared to play as a result of the rest from the bye week ... "I think there are some guys that we had a little more real fundamental time with. Frank Clark being one that comes to mind. I think Blake (Countess) has been playing, but I think I that helps. Raymon Taylor. I think when you look at it from that vantage point, I think that's good for them. You know, they got a little more work in."
On when he moved on from the loss to Michigan State ... "Well, we did that Tuesday. A week ago Tuesday was the first time we met together as a team. We went through the film, met after the film, and then went out and practiced and moved forward."
On his assessment of the offensive and defensive lines ... "I would say that we're not where we need to be with the consistency of how we want to play. From both groups I think there have been times from an offensive standpoint where we've blocked the line of scrimmage pretty well and created movement and the things that you want to do at the point of attack. Then I think there are times we haven't blocked it as well -- parts of football games.
"And I would say same thing in defense. I think Mike (Martin's) been very consistent, and I think he's played better and better every week when you evaluate what he's done in the middle. I thought Will Heininger played a good football game a couple weeks ago, maybe one of his better games. But the consistency we need to have of all four guys is something that we've got to keep striving for."
On Taylor Lewan's health ... "He didn't do anything last week, but he was ready. He did a little bit yesterday. He'll do more Tuesday."
On Ricky Barnum's health and if he would be reinserted as a starter at right guard ... "There is competition, and he's healthy."
On if bye weeks allow him to sharpen the focus of players ... "I hope that we're doing a good job of keeping them on edge, but I think the big thing in establishing what we were going to do weeks before, you know, months before. I think to get them away a little bit is important. I think for them to get off their feet and to get of the grind a little bit is important. Now, in saying that, there are a lot of guys who were around that building. They were looking up Purdue. They were anxious to get back out there and play. So I think you get a little bit of rest that is good both mentally and physically, but it's good to have kids who want to go back and play football."
On what Purdue does that impresses him ... "I think when you look at how they're playing football, especially the last two weeks -- I think they go to Happy Valley and play a pretty good Penn State team it looks like and lose that game by five. And then (beat) Illinois last week at their homecoming. I think offensively they're doing a nice job with the football. I think they have a lot of skill players and a lot of guys that can make plays from the backfield to wide receivers. I think the quarterback, TerBush, Caleb really did a nice job last week managing the offense. And then defensively, Illinois had a hard time, especially the first three and a half quarters of the game. So they've been active."
On working to improve kickoff coverage ... "Yeah, and this is a hard team, because they're I think in the top 4 in the four major categories. When you look at their kicking game, with Purdue I think they have 19 touchbacks, which really hurts your return a little bit. But we have to block better at the point of attack. We worked Sunday on it and Thursday on it. We've got do a good job of staying on blocks as much as anything. It's funny because you can block seven guys pretty good -- and we'll just use that number -- but you don't get the right angles or you don't finish on a block or you don't see exactly the space that's created and you get an 18 yard average instead of 22 to 24."
On seeing a need to change the kick returners ... "I don't see that being the problem right now. I think it's more of what we're doing from kick to catch to, how we're blocking up front."
On scoring on the opening drive in each of the last four games ... "I think number one, I wish I could answer how you start a team faster. That's a hard one, to be honest with you. Does it help -- I think it helps with your whole team's mental framework and your psyche if you can take the ball down the field and drive and score points. I don't know if there's been any magical thing we've done besides the kids are doing a good job of executing and going out there."
On whether he, Coach Mattison and Coach Borges used the bye to evaluate schemes ... "Yeah we did it some as a staff, too, where you look at what you're doing, you look at your personnel, who's playing the way you expected or the expectations we have. Who are the guys who maybe need some more opportunities -- you try to figure that in to how you practice a little bit, but you also figure it in that maybe there is a little more playing time for a guy."
On what was reviewed with Denard Robinson during the bye week ... "We're 6-1, and he's a lot of the reasons why we're 6-1 -- his athleticism and his ability to manage the offense. So we're excited about him; happy with him. We've got to get more from our running game without Denard always being the featured guy. That goes to our backs, it goes to blocking at the line of scrimmage."
On utilizing Devin Gardner moving forward and how he affects opponent game plans ... "I think there is something that people have to look at. Some people compare differently than others. Some may not think it's that big a deal because I can't speak for every defensive coordinator in our league, but some guys it will matter more to than others. We'll keep doing some things with Devin obviously. I think we've had some success with it. We'll just see what we do down the road."
On Ricky Barnum pushing for time at left and right guard ... "I wouldn't say that, but I think all three of those guys, there's always that competition there. Mike (Schofield) has done a pretty good job in there. Rick hasn't been as healthy as he is now. He's healthier today than he was a week ago. I think we've got kind of what you want."
On the overall health of the team ... "I would really have to think more about it. We're decently healthy. I think (luck) is always part of that. I really do. I think that's part of all of it."
On players who need more opportunities to play ... "I think a guy like Brennen Beyer who has played on special teams, played a little bit from the line of scrimmage. You know, he's we believe going to be a pretty good he's a young kid. He's going to be potentially a pretty good player. I think Frank Clark fits in that same mold. The guys in the back end, with Ray (Taylor) and Blake (Countess) I think there may be more opportunities."
On the roles that Brennen Beyer and Frank Clark could play ... "Pass rushing ability and also just playing the outside linebacker. Brennen is a pretty lengthy guy, so Frank more is a rush, and Brennen is our SAM linebacker."
On maintaining the rhythm of the season during a bye week ... "I think that's what I've liked about what they've done. They practiced fast on Thursday; they practiced with a high tempo and practiced fast yesterday. I think part of that is because we always compete with one another every practice -- ones on ones and a couple different drills. So I think that always helps."
On coming off an emotional loss two weeks ago and ways to build the team back up ... "I don't think so, to be honest with you. Really in a normal week we would meet on Sunday. Win or lose you put that game to bed as soon as you get through the film, the critical analysis evaluations, everything that goes on. Then you come back, and we meet again before we go out. Once we correct, if we correct anything out on the field, you move forward. You have to."
On creating a sense of urgency with the running backs ... "Yeah, but I don't want put it all on them. I really don't. I think they're trying. I think they're doing a nice job with their effort. I think they're both -- since two of them are playing most of the time -- they're competitive, they're tough. I think like anything else, when you talk about your quarterback or you talk about a linebacker maybe not making as many tackles sometimes that's the front. It's the same thing with the running back. Sometimes it's the opportunities or what we're doing up front."
On the Purdue players that stand out to him ... "From a defensive perspective, I think Kawann Short, the defensive tackle is a very good football player. He caused a lot of disruptions. I think Joe Holland, the linebacker, is a guy who plays -- in fact, all three of the linebackers I think do a good job of flowing to the football. (Albert) Evans is a guy in the back end who probably is their lead guy.
"From the offensive perspective, they play a lot of guys in the back end. When you look at the running backs, they've played I think eight guys (who have) caught the ball or touched the ball some time during that game last week. So they've got a lot of good skill position. And the three guys, returning guys up front offensively, (Dennis) Kelly and then the two guards are good football players."
On if he deals with the team differently based on the players' experiences the last few seasons ... "I don't think so. I think there's a consistency that you want to have from week to week, from day to day. We have a very honest office, so whether it's good or bad, we're going to talk about it and we're going to be consistent in that way."
On what amount of production he would like to see from the running backs ... "I would love to get 100 and something yards from them. I think that helps."
On the balance of needing production from the running backs but needing to give them more opportunities to get that production ... "It's a little bit of both. You've got to always look at how people are going to defend you and how they're defending you and what they're going to let you do. Then you got to make the next move. If you make the next move, they'll make their next move. It's a pretty good game of chess when you look at it."
On the mistakes the team has been working to correct during the bye week ... "I think the perimeter of our defense -- block protection, getting off blocks -- I think that was huge because that's where we've had problems. It's been there either from your SAM linebacker, your defensive end, your strong safety, or your corner. Depending on what kind of support system you're in, we've got to do a better job there."
Fifth-year Senior Defensive End Ryan Van Bergen
On being at Schembechler Hall over the bye weekend ... "I was there. A lot of the seniors are going to be around that building regardless of what coach says. I think (Coach Hoke) said 'get away,' and that would've been helpful for some of the other guys, but we wanted to get in and get to work. There's a lot of football left to be played and we had to take advantage of the time left that we have."
On the attitude and mentality of the team after playing Michigan State ... "I'd be lying if I said that we weren't down for a while. We had a good thing going, and a big thing is - it's not done yet. Yeah we lost a game, but that was just a bump in the road. If you let it affect you for the weeks following, then you get beat twice and that's something that we're not going to let happen as a team. We've got guys that are still just as hungry as before that game, we still have our goals in mind that none of our goals can't be accomplished. As far as a team, we're ready to play the next game and ready to get right back out there and get the ship right in."
On the difference in the second half of this season in comparison to second halves of previous seasons ... "I think the leadership is different. I think the attitude is different. I think the main reason why it won't happen is because we won't let it happen. There's a sense of 'will not,' there's not going to be a crash and burn, or this one stumble isn't going to lead to us stopping. We have to keep leaning forward and take a step. That's been our attitude throughout this bye week, through practices, and we're just going to keep picking up momentum. We're not going to be stopped from the goals we want to accomplish."
On if the bye week helped more mentally or physically ... "I think both. I know there's been some guys that have been banged up a little bit here and there, bumps and bruises, but when you have a bye week -- we have a perfectly placed bye week, getting through the bulk of our schedule of seven games, we have five left you can almost say that everyone is going to be almost 100 percent healthy coming into the Purdue week. When you've got health like that going into the last part of your schedule, it's only going to play as a plus. Mentally it's really good because you can go back and review mistakes that you might have made, repeated mistakes, because those are the big things that you can't ever have happen. So when you can review some of your repeated mistakes on film, mentally you can evaluate yourself and say this is one area that's an obvious weakness that I need to improve on. And every individual player has been able to go through that with their coach and figure out where they need to improve in order for us to be where we want to be at the end of the season."
Senior Tight End Kevin Koger
On how this year is different from last year ... "Just the approach in practice. We had a nice physical practice yesterday, a lot of guys getting after it. I think the tempo was really fast yesterday. So I think just the approach in practice that everyone has."
On how coaches have influenced the confidence of the team ... "I think it has a lot to do with Coach Hoke. He's always calm and confident, so I think he instills that in us."
On getting back to where the team wants to be in the division ... "I mean we can just control what we do. We definitely need to win now. We have some tough games, starting with Purdue. If you saw them against Illinois, they put a hurting on them. So we have to get ready for them first and foremost and then continue from there. "
On the importance of the Purdue game ... "It's really important. With the bye week we had a lot of time to develop our fundamentals and find out what we did wrong in the past weeks. So it's definitely really important for us to get back and show the nation we're not going to slide like the other years."
Fifth-Year Senior Offensive Lineman David Molk
On his evaluation of the offensive line ... "We can always improve. There's always ways to hem-up our blocking seams, making sure all blocks are secure in getting up to the second level and creating those holes for our running backs to push through."
On what influences strong starts in most recent games compared to the start of the season ... "I'm not really sure. It could be the type of plays that we call. It could be a lot of things. It's just coming out, heading right into the game and hitting it hard."
On the difference in mentality after a loss ... "We've seen this happen to us a couple years in a row. We're mature enough, we understand what it is, we understand how you can come back from it, and we know what to do and we're doing it."
On Purdue's defense ... "I'm impressed with them. It's a pretty decent Illinois offensive line, and I think they had six sacks. They looked pretty stout. "