Nov. 19, 2012
Press Conference: Brady Hoke | Players
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Opening statement ... "Just couple things I guess as we get started. Number one, Fitz (Toussaint) had surgery. Went very well. Saw him yesterday. Should get out of the hospital today, and then should have a full recovery and we'll move forward and he'll move forward. But everything went well as well, as well as it can as far as having an injury. No one wants that for any kid.
"But the Iowa game was one that -- we have to play much better than we did this week to be successful. Great thing about it was our guys, the seniors of this team being able to come up that tunnel for the last time and sing the victory song in the locker room here. So that was a really positive.
"As we look forward, we've got a great challenge in front of us and an opportunity. This is a fun football game. Any time you have a rivalry like this, this is a fun game to play."
On Denard Robinson playing multiple positions against Iowa ... "Well, I think it helps our football team. When we moved Devin (Gardner) and he wanted to move to wide receiver, we were helping our football team because we were putting our best 11 on the field. Denard fits in that either as a quarterback or a slot receiver or whatever it may be. You know, it helps our football team. If the question was was it good to see him in live action, yeah."
On Fitzgerald Toussaint's surgery ... "I'm not going to get into that. That's his business."
On if he expects Fitzgerald Toussaint back for the start of next season ... "Yes. >Hope so."
On Jordan Kovacs' career at Michigan ... "Probably speaks to his character and his resiliency and perseverance and all those things. His work ethic is what to me it talks about. I think his teammates obviously feel that way or they wouldn't have voted him as captain. He's been through a lot of hard work and been through a grind."
On the environment inside Ohio Stadium ... "I don't know if we're not all that well liked, but it really is a great environment. We have a lot of respect for them. They have good football players, and always have and always will. They play with a passion. Their fans are passionate about their school, which is what makes college football so great and this rivalry so great. So I can't speak to winning down there, losing down there. I've done both. It's a fun week I can tell you. Fun week of practice, fun week and fun game to be involved with."
On if Devin Gardner or Denard Robinson will start at quarterback against Ohio State ... "You know, Denard continues to get better every day, so I would say it's probably up in the air."
On containing Braxton Miller ... "I don't know if you're ever going to be 100 percent with an athlete like that. That never happens. I think your emphasis and focus on your leverage positions, your perimeter players, your support. And how you're leveraged defensively is a big part of it."
On how Thomas Rawls has progressed this season ... "Thomas has improved a lot as the season went on. I think he learned a little bit more about playing the position at this level. Some people -- and I probably am one of them sometimes -- think you got a gifted guy, you give the football to him, and he decides where to go. There is so much more to it when you're looking at back-side reads on linebackers, looking at pass protection, and all the things that you have to do as a back. I think that's where Thomas has grown the most."
On the team's improved downfield-passing game ... "I think a lot of it is the play-action part of it, being able to get some yardage on the ground, being able to create some space. I think that's always a big part of it. What helps you then is off the play-action, the safeties, they get a little more eager to get up in there. If you have the ability to get by them a little bit, it creates vertical plays."
On what type of inspiration and leadership Elliott Mealer has provided to the team ... "I think his journey has been one that means an awful lot to the guys on this football team because of how Elliott lives daily, you know, to overcome the tragedy that he's dealt with in a really first-class way and just the love his teammates have for him."
On if Ohio State entering the game undefeated adds to the magnitude of the game ... "Doesn't, to be honest with you. We're playing for a championship still. If you need anything to get amped up more or whatever for this football game, then you don't know college football and you don't understand the importance of this great rivalry."
On how much of last year's game is relevant to this week's game ... "From an offensive standpoint, probably not much; defensively, some."
On if Desmond Morgan will play against Ohio State ..."Yeah, he'll be ready. He'll be ready."
On the difference between being a head coach in the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry compared to an assistant coach ... "Well, I get the delight of sitting here talking to all of you. I'm coaching a position."
On James Ross III ... "I think from day one we thought he was very instinctive and a good football player. Doesn't surprise me that he has good instincts and sees things pretty cognizant and likes to tackle."
On the problems Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson can present to a defense when on the field at the same time ... "Well, yeah, you know, I just think you've got to look at it from a schematic standpoint, making sure that how you leverage, how you look at things, what kind of options does the team have. You know, of the various formations, how you want to defend and what's real there to defend and what's not. That, to me, is always the hard part about it."
On Ohio State's offense ... "They're running the football very well; they're scoring more points than anybody else in the conference. I think Carlos Hyde is a big back who is physical. And Braxton (Miller), with what he does with his athleticism, that's part of it. And his uniqueness and his ability to make people miss. I think their offensive line has got playmakers at the wide receiver positions that can get down the field. I think the way they use the tight end, which we really didn't do a great job defending this past week, you know, it's a concern."
On if Fitzgerald Toussaint's injury changes the way the team will use Denard Robinson ... "No. Thomas Rawls, this is a great time for him and Vince Smith."
On how Urban Meyer's arrival at Ohio State impacts the rivalry ... "You know, I don't know. The good thing is neither one of us are playing. I mean, we're going to prepare our teams to the best of our ability to go play in a great rivalry game."
On him and Urban Meyer both starting their coaching careers in the MAC ... "Well, you know, I think you got to define success, you know. I think the MAC is a great conference because everyone plays with the same guys, for the most part. The technical side of teaching and coaching or schematically maybe having a little different edge to you can go long way. But believe me, there is a lot of good coaches who have coached in that league and a lot of good coaches coaching in that league now."
On Michigan's success on first down against Iowa ... "Well, you know, people defend you different ways first down, second down, third down. I think some of it, you know, he's done a nice job because there is some run-check, pass-checks that you deal with on early downs. I think he's done a good job of that. I think when you watch some of the routes that have been run by wide receivers they have been good. And I think the play-action has helped. And he's throwing the ball well. I guess I could start with that."
On his favorite Michigan-Ohio State game which he was directly involved in ... "Oh, boy. I don't know. You know, the favorite ones are the ones you win, you know."
On his most memorable Michigan-Ohio State game ... "I don't remember the year, to be honest with you. It would have been maybe the '02 game."
On Ohio State's defense ... "Very physical, very good speed. (Johnathan) Hankins is as good as any defensive lineman playing, you know, in the interiors in the country, in my opinion. I think he plays hard. I think John Simon. I'll be honest with you, I love watching him play and have a lot of respect for him, because from point A to point B, he goes. You know, I'm a defensive line coach, so I like watching guys that play that way and with that tempo and that toughness. I think they got speed at the linebackers. They flow well. (Ryan) Shazier is a guy who you better get up to the second level on. You don't see their back end making many mistakes and they're athletic."
On his first memory of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry growing up ... "You're really going back. Look, I had a hard time going to 2002. I'm serious. I don't know which one it would have been."
On if it helps that U-M defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is familiar with Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer's style of play ... "I don't think it helps. I think as much as anything, it's the guys doing it."
On if he does anything special with the team on Thanksgiving ... "Yep. We'll have Thanksgiving dinner."
On if it is more significant for him coach against Ohio State at Michigan Stadium or at Ohio Stadium ... "I don't know. I think it's just such a great game from the standpoint of the rivalry and the excitement about it. I don't know. I mean, I wouldn't say either way. It's a fun week. I mean, it's a fun week."
On if he will educate his players of the rivalry this week ... "We try and do that a lot through August as we talk about the Notre Dame national rivalry, the in-state rivalry, and then this week we'll go a little bit more historical. I think this is the 109th game, and obviously I think I our guys know that we haven't won there in a long time. So all those kind of things are part of it."
On if he believes his players understand the rivalry ... "A lot of freshmen don't unless you're from the state of Ohio and the state of Michigan. I think in just talking to some of the older kids and meeting with the seniors yesterday, some of them didn't understand it until they had been through it."
On Joe Reynolds ... "Joe, he's probably one of the hardest working guys on this team period, whatever it might be. We do have some depth there, but he's earned that right to go out there and compete."
On Joe Reynolds' strengths ... "He's intelligence; I think probably first and foremost he's not afraid, which is always a good thing when you play the game of football. And he's pretty detailed in what he does."
On if Team 132 seniors will talk to the team this week ... "Not that I know of."
On if he has seen recruiting competition heat up with Urban Meyer at Ohio State ... "Not really."
On if he expects to see the recruiting competition heat up with Ohio State ... "I think we'll get the ones we get and they'll get the ones they get. Just the way it goes."
On his favorite part of Ohio State game week ... "This moment right now"
On his second favorite part of Ohio State game week ... "Second favorite is when this moment is over with."
On if the team prepares for Ohio State throughout the season ... "Well, you know, I think there is not a whole lot that you can do and prepare for another opponent every day. I think there are things we talk about every day as far as part of remembering that game throughout the year."
On if he saw the team on 60 Minutes ... "No. I was watching Ohio."
On if he can use Ohio State being undefeated as motivation entering the game ... "If they don't have the understanding or the wherewithal about the immenseness of playing in this rivalry, then to me they're not going to play as well as they can."
On how close Denard Robinson is to being 100 percent ... "He's getting better."
On if Denard Robinson's performance against Iowa speaks to his toughness ... "Probably, and his love for the game and love for his teammates."
On how close Denard Robinson is to throwing the ball ... "Yeah, he's close."
On if throwing is the biggest obstacle for Robinson ... "He's throwing the ball."
On what the biggest obstacle is for Robinson to get to 100 percent ... "I think he's close to 100 percent now."
On if anything is holding Robinson back in particular ... "No."
On if Robinson could start right now ... "Yep."
On Fitzgerald Toussaint's attitude after the injury ... "He handled it like a guy who's pretty tough and a football player handles it."
On Toussaint's spirits ... "They were good."
U-M Senior Defensive Tackle Will Campbell
On when he started to understand the importance of the Ohio State rivalry ... "When I was younger we always saw the colors -- the red and the blue and the big rivalry. But once I got here I really embraced it from the older guys of course, because it was their last game playing them. They always wanted to come out with a win. So this game gained strength as my years went on."
On if there was a moment or a player that made it resonate with him ... "I would say probably Brandon Graham -- his last year here and the seniors that were there when I was a freshman -- that is when it hit me the hardest. That week of practice was crazy -- it was going all out and hardcore all day every day, so we could beat Ohio."
On what he remembers about the last time he played in Columbus ... "A hostile environment. I mean, you can't compare it to anywhere else because of the hatred it comes with. Once you go down there it is a sea of red -- something similar to Nebraska. But it's just the feeling you get when you enter Columbus -- you are here and it is time to go and you are ready for a fight."
On if it is daunting or nerve racking to play in the environment in Columbus ... "No -- me as a player, I love going to environments like that. It just brings the best out of you. The pressure on a person -- it just shows what kind of person they can be and what kind of player they can be as well."
U-M Junior Quarterback/Wide Receiver Devin Gardner
On what he saw on film that made the formations with him and Denard Robinson in the game so successful ... "I felt like it did a really good job, and not just when Denard had the ball -- of course he made big plays -- but when he didn't have the ball we had our even bigger plays. Just the attention that he gets is amazing -- it just helps us succeed."
On the last game he played in Columbus and how it is different being a key player this time ... "Last time I went down there I was a freshman and I watched from the sideline, obviously. It was an amazing environment, and the entire time -- although we lost and were losing and things like that -- I just could not wait to get an opportunity to be a key element in the rivalry. So it is going to be exciting."
On the first Michigan vs. Ohio State game he can remember and the anticipation he felt of playing in this game coming to Michigan ... "I think it has to be when they were [ranked] one and two -- that is the one that is the most vivid in my mind. I just couldn't wait. It is a great opportunity and obviously you guys know that it is the greatest rivalry in sports -- I feel like a lot of people feel this way. I just can't wait to play in it."
On if he has noticed anything from defenses that has led to all of their success on passing on first downs ... "They don't know what we are going to do on first down. If we play-action pass -- characteristically for teams, they run on first down just to try and get in front of the chains a little bit. But when you play-action, they automatically think it is a run, and we just throw over the top."
U-M Fifth-year Senior Offensive Lineman Elliott Mealer
On importance of Michigan vs. Ohio State rivalry ... "It's extremely important to me. I was raised within this rivalry, so to me it's a dream I've had since I was in third grade. I remember going to my first college football game and it was down in Ohio Stadium, and ever since then I've wanted to play college football. It has a special place for me and Coach Hoke does a good job. Some of us Ohio guys, it has a special place for us in our heart. Coach Hoke does a good job of bringing everybody up to speed. And he makes the importance of the rivalry stand out for all the other players, too."
On week preparing for rivalry game ... "It's really hard to put into words. It's probably everything you would expect. The biggest thing is the focus. The bar is kind of raised on that for everybody, whether it's starters or guys giving looks to starters. Everybody has to be on their A game, because when you play in this game you've really got to be your best and your sharpest. The preparation is that much more focused."
On the Ohio State defensive line ... "It's going to be a challenge. Obviously, they are an excellent team, good defense, and their guys up front are going to test our offensive line. We're going to have to be even more focused for a game like this because they are a good defensive line, they are good linebackers, the whole crew -- they have a good defense. For us, that's already known, and it's a rivalry game too. We're going to have to play our A game."
On experience for Michigan players in Ohio State atmosphere ... "I can't say I've had any individual comments or anything like that. The student section is right there when everybody's coming down. I think they keep policemen up there to make sure nobody's throwing stuff. It's a neat experience. It's an environment like no other place playing down there in a game like this as the visiting team. For me being an Ohio guy, I know a lot of people that go to school down there that will be in the student section and a lot of friends that will be in the crowd in general. It's an exciting feeling, kind of like getting to go back and play at home in front of people who don't normally get to see me play."
U-M Fifth-year Senior Offensive Lineman Patrick Omameh
On senior quarterback Denard Robinson as an offensive weapon ... "It's great to be able to utilize what we have any way that can help us. Whichever way Coach (Al) Borges and Coach Hoke choose to utilize the guys that we have to our benefit that work out for us, that's always great. We hope to utilize those guys as much as we can going forward."
On playing in rivalry game as Columbus, Ohio, native ... "I'm a guy who has always been very aware of the rivalry and what it means to the people who are connected to it. For me, it's just exciting to be a part of something that I've always been very aware of and close to, and it's great to finally be a part of something that is bigger than me. It's so much bigger than just playing football with the emotions that people tie to this game and the significance every year."
On playing for Michigan in rivalry ... "It's not anything that as a kid I would have ever envisioned or predicted for myself, but being a part of it is something that has become so close to me and I'm just happy to be able to say that I've touched it and become part of its history."
On preparation leading up to Michigan vs. Ohio State game ... "We all are very aware of what this rivalry is, what this game is, what it means, and we give it its due diligence and respect. We don't want this rivalry to go in the way that is not in our best interest. We want to do well and we understand what it takes, and that's what we're trying to do this week."