Monday Press Conference Quotes (vs. Northwestern)

Nov. 5, 2012

• Press Conference: Coach Hoke | T. Lewan, D. Gardner & C. Roh

Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke

Opening statement ... "I was obviously pleased with the win on the road. Every week is a championship game, and we look at it that way, so going to Minneapolis and winning it was important. Did we play our best, no, I don't think we did.

Kicking game, in a lot of areas we've got to do a better job of kicking, putting, covering. We had two dumb penalties with blocks in the back. That obviously moves the ball back, puts you in worse position. Defensively, I thought we kept ourselves in the game, and at the same time we need to do a better job against the run. Didn't think we did as well a job against the rush, but that being said, kept us in the game.

Offensively, we talked afterwards, thought Devin (Gardner) did a nice job managing the offense. Thought he made some plays, extended some plays and did a great job in that area. The one pick is one that he'd like back, we'd all like back, but I think he learned from it and took care of the football, did a nice job.

This week we play a very good football team in Northwestern. They're well coached, have a lot of respect for Pat and how he coaches and how his team plays. They have some threats offensively, Venric Mark is an extremely shifty, quick runner, does a tremendous job. Defensively, or overall as a team they're plus six in turnover margin which is a very good number. And so from the defensive side they're doing a good job. They've only thrown three interceptions on the year and that's with both quarterbacks, Colter and Siemian in. So they're doing a nice job of managing that part of it. And then Tyler Scott on the defensive side is a guy who's very active, leads the Big Ten in sacks and forced fumbles. So we got our work cut out for us."

On if Devin Gardner's performance against Minnesota went above and beyond what he'd seen out of Gardner in practice ... "You know, you've seen him do that in practice before. You know, a lot of the things he did, I think some of the good things, extending plays out and then being productive with it, finding a place to push up in the pocket, delivering the ball. He's always been a guy who has kept his eyes down the field when he is in those situations. And he probably was in more of those than he'd like because we gotta do a better job of protecting. I thought that was one of the things we didn't do well. You know, there's some other things when you talk about the ball mechanics and those kind of things, we've gotta really clean up."

On Denard Robinson's status for this week's game against Northwestern ... "He'll practice. He'll split some time there and we'll just see. He's getting healthier."

On if he means Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner could split time at quarterback in a game ... "Practice-wise. Practice-wise. That's the biggest point is to get them both snaps."

On if it is fair to say Robinson is questionable for Saturday's game against Northwestern ... "He's just improving slowly. I mean he gets better. He was better yesterday, practiced yesterday, threw the ball yesterday and ran yesterday. So we just want him to be healthy."

On having Devin Gardner provide depth at the quarterback position ... "I think you always like to have the depth in every position, you know, whether it be quarterback or your nose tackle. And having guys who have done it before and shown you that they can do it and have done a good job, that's always a big part of it. So I don't think that position is unique because of getting the ball every time. So it makes you feel good that you have a good that's been in a game and started a game."

On if Devin Gardner will play at wide receiver if Denard Robinson is starting at quarterback ... "I think we'll probably take him a little bit in both, but more quarterback than the wide out position."

On if he was comfortable moving Devin Gardner back to the quarterback position because of the team's depth at wide receiver ... "You know, that's a really good question. Probably doesn't have a whole lot to do with making the move. I thought wide receiver guys, those guys stepped up last week, which was good to see. You know, I think Roy (Roundtree) had the two catches that were significant, the one where it was on the third down and Devin did a nice job stepping it up. Roy caught it well with his hands, and then Jeremy had some plays. And it was a great throw and great double."

On if he would consider playing Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner at quarterback in the same game ... "Oh, I don't know. I think that's too far down the road. We'll definitely have a plan for whoever."

On Russell Bellomy's status ... "You know, I'm not going to address his condition."

On the production running backs Fitzgerald Toussaint and Thomas Rawls provided against Minnesota ... "I think both of them, downhill running and some of the things out of the I backs, I thought they both ran hard. I thought both of them saw things well, and you know, playing both of them has kind of been a plan to some degree. We just haven't executed it well though."

On if Fitzgerald Toussaint and Thomas Rawls are playing up to his expectations for the running back position ... "I think they're both -- and I'll be honest with you. I think they both have done a pretty good job when they've gotten in there. I think they both have -- when there's been times where there's been enough space, you know, they both have run hard and run downhill. We may have missed two or three cuts last week, but I like how their attitude is running the football."

On if he has talked to the team about focusing on what they can control in the Big Ten title race ... "We've always been a team, I think, of worrying about us, you know. I don't know if we've been a team that's looked ahead. I don't think we can really worry about things we can't control and that's kind of how we approach it."

On if he is concerned about the offensive line's production ... "Yeah. I am. I think, you know, we had some protection breakdowns that we can't have last week. We haven't had, to some degree. And I think, you know, us moving the line of scrimmage. I think we had, I'm not sure, 155 or something rushing, something near that number. How much of that was scramble, you know, we'd like to get more from our backs, you know, run the football. And I think those two guys for the most part read things right, ran downhill. We gotta do a better job at the point of attack."

On if Will Hagerup was out of rhythm against Minnesota ... "There's a fundamental that every position has and a technique. And I just think he before the game because I always check on them, see on you they're doing, go down. I pretend to coach them. I'm not a true punt coach. But he just -- the one he kind of swung his leg across his body, which he doesn't do. And the other one in my estimation where you set the ball, he had it outside and not down the middle. And so it's a fundamental thing. "

On pass protection breakdowns against Minnesota ... "Early on and especially you got a guy starting his first game. You'd like for him to get his feet on the ground a little bit and settled. And you gotta give a couple of things, you give credit to Minnesota. I mean they had a couple unique blitzes, you know, two that I can think of, that we picked up in the second half. But getting beat one on one in a four-man rush is something that that goes back to a fundamental and technique of how you want to play the position."

On play calls designed for Devin Gardner to roll out of the pocket against Minnesota ... "Well, we were more under center with Devin, and part of that is all of the play action out of the outside stretch or the inside zone or the iso play, so a lot of those come because of underneath center. We haven't been underneath as much with Denard (Robinson) in the football game because of the other elements he brings with the replay and the ride and all those things."

On if he would consider calling more roll-out plays in the future ... "Oh, no question. No question."

On if it has always been the plan to have Devin Gardner move back to the quarterback position ... "Yes."

On how much designed running Devin Gardner can do ... "He can do all of them if we want him to."

On if Devin Gardner would run more if there was more depth at quarterback ... "We're going to do whatever it takes for us to win."

On Devin Gardner's preparation for playing quarterback ... "I think playing receiver has helped him immensely, because of how receivers practice. And you know, they're running 40 yards every snap, and they're running back. The way Heck (Jeff Hecklinski) coaches, it's -- they're hitting the sled. I mean I think there's a maturity that we all go through. I think there's a mentality that you develop, and so I think that's helped him. And then take routes and coverage reads and all that and couple that with it, I think it's helped him."

On the team not giving up a point in the first quarter in seven consecutive games ... "Why did you say that? I really I think they're well prepared. I think Coach (Greg) Mattison and that staff do an excellent job, you know, of preparing them. I think they do well at half time on both sides of the ball. That's one thing I'm -- both sides do a great job of tweaking and adjusting. I don't know what to attribute it to besides their preparation."

On defensive end Keith Heitzman ... "Yeah, it was good to see him make some plays. He's a young guy who's kind of learning his way, to be honest with you, and getting some right action is going to do nothing but help him. You know, he's got the right mentality and temperament you want in a defensive lineman. He's going to get bigger; he's going to get stronger over the next three years. So we're excited about him."

On if the offense against Minnesota looked like he expected it to look starting the season ... "Well, it's more what we'll feature. Let's put it that way, yeah."

On practicing different offensive sets ... "We do a lot against each other. You know, when we go at each other, full line drills and interior run stuff. We always, you know, which is great about our offense because they help our defense out for those teams that want to get -- the Michigan States who want to play the fullback in the game. And then our offense is diverse enough that you have some of the spread elements to it."

On who starts at quarterback if the game was today ... "Whoever comes out there Saturday at 12:01."

On what Denard Robinson is able to do in practice ... "He was able to do everything last night."

On if Denard Robinson didn't take many snaps in pregame against Minnesota because the team knew he wasn't going to start ... "Yeah, that was most of it."

On if there is concern from the doctors that Denard Robinson's injury could last the rest of the regular season ... "No."

On if there was any possibility that Robinson would play if he felt better in warmups last Saturday ... "Yeah."

On the balance between Devin Gardner extending plays and throwing the ball away ... "Not to take the sack. That would be the balance. Throw the ball out of bounds."

On if Jeremy Gallon is banged up ... "A little bit. He's just nursing an ankle."

On if Jeremy Gallon will be ready to go against Northwestern ... "He'll be all right."

On Mario Ojemudia's status against Northwestern ... "I think he's closer."

On if Russell Bellomy will be out for the season ... "I don't know."

On Jerald Robinson seeing more time at wide receiver last Saturday ... "I think with Devin (Gardner) going over, I think that adds to some depth."

On what Jerald Robinson has done in practice to take some of Devin Gardner's reps at wide receiver ... "I think his knowledge is probably ahead of some of the other guys a little bit, you know. Being in the offense, Darboh, playing a lot on special teams, not much offensively yet. So I think that's part of it."

On if he is happy with the amount of penetration the team is getting from the defensive line and how the team is pressuring the quarterback ... "Yeah. I would say this, that we don't -- we haven't caused enough negative plays defensively. We haven't forced enough turnovers from a defensive standpoint because you know, I don't know what our -- I think in all games we're minus, and I think Big Ten games we're like a plus two maybe. I think that's what it is. You know, I don't pore over stats, believe me."

On when he will know if Devin Gardner receives another of eligibility ... "You know what, I've always been told the process was after the eligibility. But I don't know if that's completely correct. I don't know. That's what I've been told."

On Northwestern running back Venric Mark ... "You know, you look at the two -- we got a five-game breakdown. We got a five-game breakdown from this year, and then if you put the sixth in, you put us in. There are some similarities, but I think the way he's running the football, you know, he's a real threat, you know, because he's -- he kind of reminds me of Abdul a little bit. Not the biggest guy in the world, but he can really accelerate."

On if he wishes Devin Gardner would have been prepared to play quarterback at Nebraska ... "No."

On why he doesn't wish he had prepared Devin Gardner to play quarterback against Nebraska ... "Because we did what we did. Made that decision, felt really good about Russell."

On if he has thought about tweaking the offensive line ... "We've talked about that a little bit, you know, with Joey, and Jack Miller and a couple guys, but you know, I think again, you gotta look at where we're at, because we've played well up there in games also. I just think -- and the one thing you can't do is you gotta give the other team a little bit of credit. I mean they're good coaches and they're going to have a good plan."

On exploring a fifth-year of eligibility for Devin Gardner ... "We haven't yet, no. There's a process that you go through. And like I said, I was always told it was to end of eligibility."

On what Patrick Omameh brings to the offense ... "You're always going to get Patrick's best. I mean from a preparation standpoint to a leadership standpoint. He's cerebral means smart; right? He's very intelligent. I've never been called that, so ... But he's really done he's truly what you want when you look at a guy who's a leader on your football team."

U-M Junior Quarterback/Wide Receiver Devin Gardner

On his thinking before the Minnesota victory ... "There are always doubts or questions, it is easy to do things in practice. But live action, with a blitz truly flying you can prove that you can do things."

On preparing for playing against Minnesota ... "This last week was probably the best I have prepared ever for anything. There was so much that I had to know, and there was a lot weighing on the game. Like I talked about before, the sixth win, the seniors having a guaranteed postseason it felt like it was a lot that I had to do. So I prepared really well and I felt like that is how I should prepare every week."

On differences from starting at QB to previous experiences ... "I feel like the only difference is I was able to play the entire game, and it was not in spurts was pretty much the only difference."

On offensive huddle demeanor ... "The last thing coach (Brady) Hoke told me before the game was to 'just be myself' so I was just being myself and trying to be the best leader I possibly could."

On what point in the game he felt comfortable playing QB ... "The first play. There was no option for me to not feel like that; I had to feel like that because we had to win a football game. If I did not feel like a quarterback at the time, I would not have been able to perform at a level where we could win."

U-M Senior/junior Offensive Lineman Taylor Lewan

On the offensive line's play against Minnesota ... "I think it was pretty obvious, the problems we had. We gave up way too many sacks. The goal is always no sacks in a game. We've got to be better and more consistent and I think it's easily fixable. We have to know the scheme a little bit better and work on our fundamentals and techniques. That's what most of offensive line is - fundamentals and techniques. Protection, run game, everything. Everything has to be blocked better."

On Devin Gardner's transition to quarterback ... "He did a good job. Devin was one of the number one dual-threat quarterbacks coming out of high school, and I think what you all saw was good. But what you didn't see was him in the huddle, and the things he did in the huddle were to take control of the huddle and the game. He was a leader, and that's something you need in a quarterback position regardless of who's playing the position. Like I said before, he was expected to play that way -- I knew he was going to play that way - but y'all just saw it on Saturday."

On the team's championship mentality ... "We're trying to win every single game. Every single game is a championship game to us. Whatever happens, it doesn't matter. We have to focus on Michigan. I can't focus on any other team -- Minnesota, Illinois. I can't focus on them, because if I focus on them, I lose my game. I'm focused on Michigan going 1-0 every week. Get better, win the game."

U-M Senior Defensive End Craig Roh

On the team's consistency on defense ... "I think it's really our preparation and our hustle to the ball. You're going to make mistakes, but when you have all the guys hustling to the ball, you can make up for it. If you miss a tackle, there are ten more guys right there to make the tackle."

On putting pressure on the quarterback ... "Being a defensive lineman, I would always like more sacks. But with the pressure that we're putting on the quarterback and getting off the field on third down, I think it's been pretty decent. Obviously there's a lot more that we can always improve on and I think we can still improve in these last three games with our pass rush and getting to the quarterback."

On aspirations of winning the Big Ten championship ... "The only thing we can really concentrate on right now is winning these three games. When we lost to Nebraska, we lost our ability to control our own destiny. The only thing we can do now is win the other three games and we can't really worry about much more than that."

On the importance of the month of November ... "The coaches say it all the time, November is when you win championships. It's no different this November. We have to win out these next three games, starting with Northwestern here and the month of November is when you win it."

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