Oct. 29, 2012
Press Conference: Coach Hoke
Opening statement ... "Thanks for coming out. I also want to thank Wolverines for Life and the transplant center for all they do for Tucker who you heard from earlier. We're glad to have you here and glad to be part of it. It's something that we all -- I know we've got a couple guys that are very involved that we're all part of. So thanks for that.
"As far as where we're at right now football-wise, we need to do a better job from a coaching standpoint because it always starts there and it starts with me. We need to play better football. We need to play better in the red zone from an offensive standpoint, and part of that and most of that is you have to be able to run the football in the red zone. That's an important place because in the throw game, it shrinks down there a little bit, your verticalness of what you can do. Being able to run the football is a big part of it.
"We didn't do that well, obviously, the other night, but that's something that we'll take a front seat and center during this week as we get ready to go to Minneapolis.
"It's an important game for multiple reasons. Number one, it's in our division. It's an opportunity that we get back out on the field, which we need to go to, and the Brown Jug is part of that great rivalry and tradition and trophy that we'd like to keep here in Ann Arbor."
On if he has re-emphasized to the team that championships are won in November ... "Yeah. You know, I think I probably didn't re-emphasize that as much as the things that we did poorly, but I will. Believe me, it will be addressed. We've got a heck of a lot to play for, and there are four guarantees left, and we've got to play our best in each one of those four."
On Denard Robinson's status for Saturday's game at Minnesota ... "He should be fine. He should be ready to go on Saturday."
On if Denard Robinson will be able to practice this week ... "Well, he wouldn't play if he didn't practice."
On if Denard Robinson would be able to practice the entire week ... "I think so."
On how the injury affects Denard Robinson ... "Yeah, I'm not a doctor. I don't know if you knew that. But there's a nerve that runs down your elbow, down your arm. I think it's the ulnar. Angelique (Chengelis - Detroit News) knows; she is a doctor. And it takes a while to -- it gets numb and tingly."
On if he would consider giving Devin Gardner move snaps at quarterback this week ... "Well, we will do that as a precautionary thing, give him some more snaps, him and Russell (Bellomy) both, which means you'll add a couple more plays to your script that you're working off of for practice. But no, we'll do that."
On if he would alter Devin Gardner's snaps this week depending on how Denard Robinson is progressing ... "Could."
On when he would have to make the decision to alter snaps for Gardner ... "Well, I don't want to speculate until it happens."
On if he has a day in his head when he would need to decide that by ... "No, not really."
On his assessment of the team's play with Russell Bellomy at quarterback against Nebraska ... "Well, I think a couple things. I think, one, we've got to do a better job of picking up a couple blitzes that - I'm trying to think of the right word - we were able to do. It wasn't like it was one more -- a plus one, one more guy coming that he couldn't block. So we need to do that from the standpoint of an offensive line and running backs.
I think the experience that he gained going into that environment is a major help to anybody. I think it's a great learning for him. I know him and Al, when they review the film, I know how Al will go back through it or how he does and put him in those situations."
On if Devin Gardner is 100 percent ... "Yeah, I think so. I haven't seen him -- he's practiced well. He had a little bit of an ankle earlier, a little bit of a shoulder, but he hadn't missed any time."
On how much Devin Gardner has thrown since the start of the season ... "How much has he thrown? You know, that's hard for me to calculate. I think he's thrown enough."
On if Devin Gardner and Russell Bellomy are competing for the backup quarterback job ... "Well, the plan is if Denard is as well as we know he's going to be, then Devin is still going to play receiver. And they'll compete."
On how important it is to talk to the team about how every week is a championship week ... "Well, there's no question, and that's what we talked about yesterday a little bit. We'll talk more about it when the guys drop by today and then tomorrow. But there's no doubt that there's a lot of season left. I think the statement -- I think John (Borton - The Wolverine) said it -- November is when you win championships in this league. I've always believed that, and I think that's an important thing for us to realize. But we've got to correct the things we did poorly, and we did enough of them on both sides of the ball that we're ready from week to week in how you prepare. And we've prepared pretty doggone well practice-wise. I like that about us. Now, executing game day, that needs to be better."
On Minnesota freshman quarterback Phillip Nelson ... "I think he's done really a good job. I haven't seen all their stuff yet, but from what I've seen, pretty poised, throws the ball well, can get out of trouble, good feet. I have a lot of respect for Jerry Kill as a coach, and more importantly as a man. Jerry obviously likes him, so I'd say he's a pretty good quarterback."
On if there is anything the team can do to prevent injuries to Denard Robinson ... "You know, that's a good question, and I think that's one that we're looking at. I know Smitty (Paul Schmidt, U-M Assistant
Athletic Director/Head Football Athletic Trainer) and the doctors and everything, there may be something, a sleeve of some sort, and then you've got to -- the guy has got to get used to it."
On if Denard Robinson will start running out of bounds more on running plays prevent injuries ... "I don't know. You'd have to ask him if he'll think about doing that."
On if Denard Robinson would play if he didn't practice this week ... "They don't do it too much under how I do things."
On players in the past not practicing as much and still playing in games ... "Yeah, I think that's -- everyone has a different philosophy towards it. I think your preparation, I think you play like you practice, and I think at that position, look-wise and what you're going to see is a little different than being a wide out or even to some degree being a running back or defensive lineman."
On if the injury to Denard Robinson is one that can't completely heal until he takes weeks off to recover ... "That's out of my league."
On if defensive end Mario Ojemudia was injured against Nebraska ... "He should be okay."
On Mario Ojemudia's predicament ... "Just things, stuff."
On if he gives the defense any leeway because it was put in difficult situations against Nebraska ... "No. No, because those guys are on scholarship to play defense. If that team doesn't score, they don't win. I mean, it's simple as that. We talk to them that way all the time. They understand the expectations. No, I mean, they've got a job to do and they've got to do their job."
On holding Nebraska to field goals on two consecutive drives starting inside the 40 ... "Well, I think that's a positive. Those sudden-change situations are when a team gets the ball inside the 50; you're really working and striving to hold them to field goals. Yeah, I mean, we pat them on the butt when they do that, but they're expected to do it all the time."
On if he is disappointed that the running game wasn't better after Denard Robinson left the game ... "I was a little disappointed. Even though we were doing okay, I think we ran 40 plays in the first half, and out of five possessions three of them were 10 plays or more. We were doing okay, but I usually and generally am always disappointed in the running game if the numbers aren't there to a certain point.
"I think the most frustrating thing for everybody is our red zone right now offensively not getting touchdowns, and when you can't run the ball, that's where it starts. You've got to be able to run the football in the red zone. People have too many different ways to take the throwing game away because of the field and the shrinkage of the field, the verticalness."
On if he will play Thomas Rawls more ... "I don't know if you watched it enough, but Fitz (Toussaint) ran hard. I mean, Fitz, he was -- he took on backers, he took on safeties. I was happy how he played. I know one thing: We've got to block better. I mean, that's -- we didn't block, we didn't finish blocks the way we had the week before, and we didn't score touchdowns the week before, but we were finishing blocks better. And that's the disappointing thing."
On if Fitzgerald Toussaint's production level is based on how the offensive line is blocking ... "Yeah, I think that is always where it starts. The team rushed the ball -- I don't know how many yards Nebraska was rushing the ball for and we came out of the end zone, but we didn't do a very good job against the rush, and that starts up front with the defensive line. Our game is centered around those two positions."
On if the team blocks differently for Denard Robinson compared to the running backs ... "Well, I think part of it is Denard and our offense is quarterback-running back, and the way you set things up and the guy doesn't take the read, the guy hesitates, we seal the backside, I mean, all those things are part of it. The opponent early in the year the nose was coming too fast over the center and the backside runs were there for Denard. They're not there for a tailback per se all the time because it's different."
On why he believes the running backs haven't been able to make the same plays in the running game as Denard Robinson ... "Well, it's a whole different animal when you have Denard and some of the runs he's been able to make. And it's a different -- scheme-wise it changes a little bit."
On receivers adjusting to throws from different quarterbacks ... "I don't think there's a difference. I just think we've got to concentrate and look the ball all the way in."
On if Denard Robinson could play today if he had to play ... "Close."
On if offensive coordinator Al Borges was limited in his play calling in the second half ... "Well, you have to limit it a little bit because your quarterback runs aren't as effective."
On Minnesota ... "Well, I think they're vastly improved. You know, I think Jerry Kill, and I said it up there, I think he's a very good football coach. He's a hard-nosed guy whose teams are going to play that way. I think from a talent standpoint, they're playing faster when you watch the tape from the skill positions, but also I think they're playing faster as a team, defensively and offensively, and that's usually a good sign of knowing the schemes, feeling more comfortable in it."
On his relationship with Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill ... "Yeah, I got to know Jerry pretty well, Laura and I and his wife Rebecca. They're great people."
On if he has every played at Minnesota's outdoor stadium ... "Not the new stadium. Have not. It'll be interesting."
On if he likes noon kickoffs ... "Yes. We got home at 3:30 or something like that, and that's hard. These are student-athletes. I don't care what you say."
On if Nebraska's pace of play affected the defense ... "I think we had a couple communication letdowns, but we've played versus tempo already. I think it was more of us not taking care of the details."
On if he has reached out to Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill about his health issues ... "We talk. I don't talk to a whole lot of people, period. I mean, that's not one of my fun things to do. But he's in great shape. I mean, he's had -- he's been battling some things, but he's in great shape."
On if the team will bring the Little Brown Jug out this week ... "Oh, yeah, the jug is out."
On where the jug is right now ... "It's where it needs to be right now."
On if he will talk to the team about the jug's history ... "They know, but we'll have a discussion."
U-M Senior Defensive Lineman Will Campbell
On the team message following a loss ... "The message we try to give the younger guys, is the seniors talk right after the game to send the message that we still need to come out every day and work hard. We have four games coming up. We need to win out, and we need to play Michigan football from here on out. "
On playing for a trophy against Minnesota this weekend ... "We have a few trophy games here, and the Brown Jug being one. We heard the story last year, and I am sure we will probably hear it again this year. We are looking to bringing it back home."
On the Big Ten championship still being a team goal ... "Yes, there is a lot of Big Ten football yet to be played. We need to win out, and that is what we are looking forward to doing."
On the defensive unit needing better results coming up ... "The standard for a Michigan defense is to not allow the other team to score. If they didn't score we would have won Saturday. I am behind coach Hoke 100 percent with that."
U-M Senior/junior Offensive Lineman Taylor Lewan
On the message to the team about the rest of season ... "We just have to win our games. That's why you come to Michigan -- you come to Michigan to win games and Big Ten championships. The message yesterday is that we have to finish. We had three 10-play drives. It's a matter of finishing."
On different offensive production with different quarterbacks ... "I don't know much about that at all, I was still playing football. We were all still trying to play football. It obviously didn't go the way we wanted. We just have to finish the game and put the ball in the end zone, especially when we're in the red zone."
On getting the running game going ... "Absolutely, it's a good week any week to get that going. That's what you need to do to be successful. If you want to be successful, you have to run the ball."
On blocking schemes with different quarterbacks ... "Nothing at all (changes). I'm blocking. If we run a play to the left, I'm blocking where I need to block. If we run a play to the right, I'm blocking what I'm supposed to block. Nothing changes for me. I have 100 percent faith in Russell. I think Russell had a tough situation to go in. Any person that thinks they could have done a better job -- no, you couldn't have. With 90,000 screaming fans in red shirts screaming at you, you're a redshirt freshman -- that's a tough situation for anybody to be in. All those things that I'm being told about Russell, I don't appreciate it. Russell is my quarterback, Denard is my quarterback, Devin, and Jack Kennedy. Anybody who is in that game, it's a tough spot to be in. And I really don't appreciate some of the things I heard."
U-M Senior Defensive End Craig Roh
On the team's chances at a Big Ten championship ... "The thing is we are concentrated on Minnesota this week. We are concentrated on winning this game, and we can't really focus on the standings and where everyone else is. The only thing we can focus on is ourselves right now. Our concentration is winning this week against Minnesota, and then the next three games after that."