Nov. 7, 2011
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Opening statement ... "It was disappointing to lose the football game. The thing I can tell you is I will say our guys played with great effort. I thought they stayed in the game. I think they managed the game from a standpoint of the organization, the sidelines, out on the field. I thought they did a tremendous job. We've got to execute better though in opportunities. That's the one thing that sticks out, because the effort was outstanding on both sides of the ball. We're moving forward, obviously going on the road again down, going down to Champaign, and playing Michigan football. We had a good day yesterday, and plan to have to a great week."
On Iowa's running back Marcus Coker ... "I think the one that got out for over 20 we didn't secure the gap, to be honest with you, the gap integrity. We got caught up a little bit inside and then we needed to get off a block a little better back in the back end to get him on the ground. I thought most of the game our guys did a nice job of putting hats on him and getting bodies to him. He's a strong, powerful guy, like we all knew going in, but there were some guys hitting him."
On if it's the offensive system or Denard Robinson himself that is limiting Robinson's rushing yards ... "It's a combination of both. What people are giving you to some degree, how they're going to defend you, and how they're defend that part of the offense. I thought Fitz (Toussaint) was banging in there for three or four yards. Those aren't bad on first downs. It's when you get the negative plays, you don't secure the catch, or you get a tackle for loss that puts you behind the stakes a little bit. But I think it's a combination of what people are giving us and allowing us to do. But he's still a major factor. I think there are a lot of good things he did the other day."
On if he would change the play calling in the final four plays near the goal line ... "No. We talked about that yesterday. Going into the two minute at the end knowing where we were time-wise, timeout-wise, all those things. I thought Al (Borges) really managed it well, to be honest with you. We had four shots at the end zone. You know, two of them we have it in our hands. I thought it was okay."
On choosing to receive the ball to start the game ... "You're always disappointed when you don't score. It's nice to score. It's fun for you, fun for me, and fun for our kids. We made a decision because 99.9 percent of time we're going to defer when we win the toss, but we had made a decision on Thursday when there was going to be a significant wind called for. Wanting to have the wind in the fourth quarter was something that we really wanted to do. We just got lucky and won the toss, so we wanted to take the ball instead of defer thinking that they're going to want the ball when they got first option in the second half. They're going to want ball, and then they can dictate us having the wind in the fourth quarter if you needed a field goal. So we thought that thing out pretty hard."
On using a timeout in the second half prior to an Iowa punt ... "I called timeout because -- I think it was fourth and four -- and I thought we had 12 guys on the field. We didn't. I didn't count very well. As soon as I called it and counted, I said, 'you know what, I hope we don't need that one late,' to be honest with you. I talked about the kids' effort. I had a pretty good effort, but I didn't execute very good on that one for them."
On the health of Fitzgerald Toussaint ... "He'll be fine. He just got banged up a little bit. When we got into a situation where Vince (Smith) is in for throwing situations, you really had the guy you wanted in anyway."
On if Denard Robinson seems more comfortable in shotgun, three-wide because of last season ... "No, because I think it's different. I think when you go what we call NASCAR, which is not two minutes, there are two differences to it, you look at the defense a little bit. Iowa is not a huge substitution defensive football team; never have been. But you limit them a little bit to what they can do, because you've got it a little more engaged, a little more tempo. And so you limited them a little bit, which I think obviously helped us to some degree. Now, we've gone that same thing three other times this year, and in one game we were three-and-out, so you use no possession time. We weren't in any kind of situation not to try and score quickly.
On Mike Martin's statement that the younger players want to win for the seniors ... "You've heard me say this a lot, and I wouldn't say it if I didn't believe it. I really like how our seniors have invested in the young guys on this team, into the program, how they've treated each other and challenged each other. I think Mike has really blossomed as a senior, as a leader on the football team, the way he works every day, and how he prepares.
On Thomas Gordon not playing on defense in favor of Troy Woolfolk ... "I think we should have taken an opportunity to get him in a little bit and just didn't for one reason or another. We just thought Troy was going to start football game. Once Jordan (Kovacs) came back, we were going to go with those two guys. They'll compete like heck this week on who will be the guy. I think there is no real reason for not. It's not like Thomas had made some mistakes or anything."
On if bouncing back from a loss is easier when the next game is at home vs. on the road ... "We can't worry about being comfortable, to be honest with you. If the question is do you like playing at home better than away, I think 100 percent of the teams in the country are going to say it's always nice to play at home. But I think our kids are pretty daggone resilient, and I think they'll be in good shape."
On the challenges of playing at Illinois ... "I think it's very similar. I know it's going to be a sellout. In fact, I think they're bringing extra bleachers in or something like that. It's Michigan. I mean, if you're Michigan, you're going to get people's best. That's just the way it is. It's a good thing, so we'll be fine. "
On the difficulty of the decision to remove Thomas Gordon from the starting lineup ... "It is, but you got to feel pretty good about the guy who's on the field, too. It all comes down and the competition to where guys are. Thomas is a competitor."
On sending a message that what's done in practice is more important than what's done in games ... "You better do it in practice. Our guys are going to practice like they play. There is no game player. It's a myth. If you prepare and you prepare the way you're supposed to prepare, then you're going to play well."
On Troy Woolfolk outperforming Thomas Gordon in practice ... "Yeah, he had a better week."
On if Denard Robinson has met expectations for the quarterback position ... "I think we've progressed. I think Denard played a really good football game. He tried to make a play and lost the ball. End of the first half, he throws a slant in there. Whether contact was made or not, obviously there wasn't, you look how he set his feet and how he threw the football, how he managed the offense, and I think I said it after the game: I think he grew as a quarterback. In those environments, I think that's when you do grow."
On if received clarification as to why Junior Hemingway's catch was ruled incomplete in the end zone ... "Not completely yet have I gotten that explanation yet. Being honest with you, on the field there is not enough time for them to come up, and they're not going to take the time, to come up and say, 'this is what we decided.' They reviewed it and went through the proper channels and all that stuff. I think it's just the way it goes."
On who will provide final clarification on the Hemingway play ... "We'll get it from the conference office. Every week there is a play here or there. You called that a hold. It might be anything. It's just part of the game. We always try and get, 'is that the right call?' Why did they call it more than anything."
On his impression after watching that Hemingway play on film ... "I thought Junior made a catch (in bounds).
On if he finished the process of catching the ball ... "See, that's where everything gets diluted. I thought he caught the ball (and finished it)."
On Denard Robinson's fumble being an example of making a mistake while trying to make a play ... "Yeah, I do. You've seen him make -- you guys have been around him more than me. How many times have you seen him make a play from something like that -- a bunch. And when you're confident and gifted -- yeah, he's got to have better ball security and all that, but those things are going to happen now and then. Hopefully, it's not -- and I don't think it has been -- a regular thing."
On Denard Robinson's understanding of the mistake made ... "He understands ball security and what we want to have as a football team."
On changing the team's approach when it seems that winning the Big Ten is out of reach ... "No, not at all. I don't think anybody in here can tell you what's going to happen a minute from now, let alone four weeks from now. There is a lot of football still to be played, and we're guaranteed a certain number of opportunities. Our seniors, we're going to play for them. We have three more of those opportunities guaranteed with them that we know of. You don't know what's going to happen. I think 10 wins is always significant."
On the sense that anyone can beat anyone in the Big Ten ... "The only thing I asked our guys yesterday was, 'did anybody think Northwestern would go into Lincoln and win?' Only one guy said, yeah, they picked it."
On refocusing so that the Iowa game does not beat U-M twice ... "I think the honest approach that we take every Sunday with our kids, good or bad, we'll move through that and move past it pretty quick. Today there will be a bunch of them over in the office watching film on Illinois. They'll turn the page pretty quickly. Kids are a heck of a lot more resilient than we are. We've got to take that next step."
On deep passes becoming a consistent completion ... "I think we've got to -- you could say we've got to put a little more air under it at times. I think that's maybe part of it. I think the one to Roy (Roundtree), there was a little bit of friction for him through the route that slowed him down a little bit. At the same time, there are also conditions of the game. I'm talking about weather. You can throw it one way maybe a little better when you have the wind, and I think that's what happened the one time."
On Jake Ryan shaking off a mild injury against Iowa ... "He's all right. He came back in the game and made a great play on third down at the end of the game to get the ball back for our offense."
On Fitzgerald Toussaint ... "He's good. He'll be fine. He just got bumped up a little bit. And he could have gone back in, but we got into the two minute and got into the NASCAR, and that's kind of Vince (Smith's) deal. If you watched the game and watched him pick up the linebacker blitzing the one time, you know why he's in there."
On the evolution of the two-quarterback lineup ... "I think we had the one boot; we had the one throwback; we had the one Denard (Robinson) on the jets series. I really can't tell you how many of those opportunities we had, maybe four. It's alright. I think it serves a purpose to some degree."
On his biggest concerns with Illinois ... "They're very athletic as a football team overall. From the offensive standpoint, I think the quarterback's throwing the ball well. I think he's improved that part. Not that I watched him a lot a year ago, but I think he's throwing the ball pretty well, Scheelhaase is. Ford is a back who can get some tough yards, plus he's got a pretty good jump cut. I think they're a big up front offensively. Jenkins is the leading receiver, I believe, in the league. There are some other guys out there. They've got some weapons offensively.
"Defensively, I think they're a very athletic defense. I think they're ranked up near the top in a lot of categories. They're very athletic and move well and do a lot. They've got a lot of coverage, a lot of different fronts, a lot of different zone blitzes or man blitzes. So it'll be interesting to see. For our offensive lineman, targeting issues that you have to are a big part of it."
On Kevin Koger ... "Kevin Koger is a heck of a football player and a tremendous leader on our team. He does a great job at the point of attack and blocking. Tough guy. Kind of dinged up his ankle a little bit, and then went right back out there.
On Kelvin Grady playing a lot late at Iowa ... "Some of it was personnel. Some of it was our receiver do lots of work down the field blocking, down the field routes, so you got to rest them some time. I think Kelvin, it was good to see him have some production."
On the play of Brennen Beyer and Desmond Morgan ... "Both of them handled themselves very well. I think I'm very happy with Desmond's flow to the ball and how he plays the game, and I think Brennen played a lot when Jake (Ryan) went out there for two series. He got his feet wet in there in a heavy package. I think both of those guys have a very bright future."
On Blake Countess' performance ... "Good. He plays pretty conscientious. He's a pretty good technician: good hips, good feet.
On how the offensive line graded out ... "Not too bad, to be honest with you. The run game, there was a couple of other issues we had. We got beat inside once where we didn't feel we should have. But for the most part, they did a pretty good job on targets and on guys. Even at the end of the game when they were bringing everybody, they did a pretty good job of getting Denard (Robinson) enough time to set his feet and do those things."
On Fitzgerald Toussaint's running ... "I thought he ran it hard. I thought he ran it well. A three-four yard gain is a good play. I think he did a good job. I couldn't tell you if every cut was the right cut. You'd like to see him accelerate out of a couple of those at times, but I thought he played well."
On Denard Robinson's health ... "His elbow. He just hit it on a helmet and his fingers went numb, the humorous bone, the funny bone."
On the last play of the game and being angry about it ... "Kind of a bang-bang play for that guy. Yeah, believe me, you want your kids to win. You want them to have success. They work hard. They invest."
On Ricky Barnum's health ... "He'll do more this week. Hopefully we'll get him back."
On Michael Schofield's integration into the offensive line ... "I think because of all the experience he's had. I think that obviously is part of that. He's done a pretty good job. Michael has grown up. That's a positive. With Ricky coming back, and he comes back healthy, then this makes us better as a team."
On the field goal range for Brendan Gibbons and if Matt Wile is still competing there ... "I think the kid's done a nice job. (I'm) pleased with him. I like the other guy, too."
Fifth-Year Senior Defensive End Ryan Van Bergen
On the team's success in key stops ... "I think our mentality is just different than what it has been in years past. Coaches kind of allow us as defensive linemen, me and Mike (Martin), to pin our ears back and go. And the way we practiced it in camp and the way the situation comes up throughout practice, it's just something that you get confidence in, especially when you're successful like we've been in games. When we get to third and short, fourth and one, we feel very confident that no team is going to run for that yard on us. It's a point of emphasis for Coach Hoke and Coach Mattison and all the defensive coaches that when it's time to make a stand, our defense will do it."
On his confidence in the younger players to make key stops on the field ... "The reason they're out there is because they're the best at their position. We wouldn't have them out there if we didn't expect them to make that play. One thing we talk about here all the time is that there's an expectation by position, regardless of who is in there. Defensive end at Michigan is expected to play like a defensive end at Michigan plays, regardless of the year he's in, any injuries that he might have. The same expectation goes for every position. We expect our SAM, Jake Ryan, to play at the level of a SAM linebacker. We don't care that he's a freshman, and Blake (Countess), we don't care that he's a freshman. And good thing is that they have the same mentality. I don't think either one of them considers themselves inexperienced. They take on the challenge as if they are meant to be out there, because they know they are. They wouldn't be out there if we didn't expect them to make that play."
On the increasing number of mobile quarterbacks in the league ... "I think that's a common trend across college football. Coaches are getting more athletic quarterbacks versus the pocket passer because of the element they add to the offenses in college. They can change the game because of their foot work, and you know not everything is going to be perfect like it's drawn up on paper. So you have guys like that who can make plays with their feet it gives your offense more chances, more opportunities, more first downs, stuff like that. I think it's a trend not only in the Big Ten but in college football to have a mobile quarterback like that."
Fifth-Year Senior Center David Molk
On expectations for the rest of Big Ten Conference play ... "The Big Ten is a very open conference, we all know what happens in the Big Ten Conference in that you cannot predict anything. But at the same time, we have to keep doing with the freshmen what we have done the entire season and motivate them and make them understand what we feel our passion is and they have to see that through us. I believe it is pretty obvious and apparent to them so I do not think we will have any issue."
On Iowa limiting the running game late in the game ... "It is kind of a mix of both. They were a tough defensive front. They had a pretty basic scheme, but at the same time it is good and sound and that is why they have done it for a long time. I can't really put a reason to it; it could be a combination of a lot of things."
On formations where both Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner play ... "I really like that formation because it puts another playmaker on the field. I like the dynamic between those two and what we can do out of it. Iowa has a lot of really good coaches, they have been there a long time, they have been in college for a long time and they have been coaching forever. They know it and they have seen it and I'm sure they knew a way to stop it so kudos to them I guess, but I still like the system with both of them playing."
On coaching staff making adjustments ... "The thing I really like about what this staff does and how they react to situations is they adapt to different situations. If there is something that stands out and that is the reason we are in the situation that we are, they understand it and they counteract that with a certain direct message to the team. It is always right on, and I really like how it is and I love how these coaches react to situations and adapt."
Junior/sophomore Running Back Fitzgerald Toussaint
On injuries ... "I don't worry about that. I just worry about the next play and worry about the trainers coming in and taking care of me because we've got good trainers."
On the Iowa game ... "Losing, of course, is definitely going to make me angry. No one is happy about a loss. I'm still angry about that, but we can still get better this week and focus on Illinois."
On improving his field of vision ... "Just watching film and doing what the coaches tell me to. I critique myself and critique other backs. I critique every Michigan back all the time."
On finishing November strong ... "When you walk into Schembechler (Hall), there are signs that say, 'We always have to finish in November.' We have to get our bodies right, our minds right to finish football."
On the mindset of starting at running back ... "Just adjusting to the competition. Actually settling down and reading things; taking a fast game and making it slow."