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September 20, 2014

Brady Hoke

UTAH – 26

COACH HOKE:  Obviously very disappointed in the outcome of the game.  I thought our kids came out very ready to play.  Thought they demonstrated that the first drive down the field, and I think the defense what they did early in the football game was indicative of how they prepared and how they practiced and how they got ready to play the game.
I think, obviously, you have a punt return against you for a touchdown, anything in a kicking game is momentum, and we had some momentum and then we gave up the touchdown on the punt return, which is very disappointing.  You look at from the standpoint of taking care of the football, you know?  We've talked a lot about that.  Probably more than I'd like to or you would like to talk about it, but that's one thing we've got to do a better job of.  That's constantly coached, and we talk about it.  Sometimes those things happen, and we've got to make sure we're going back to work, working hard on it, and we can't have that happen through the Big Ten season.
We talked as a team afterwards about what we need to do, you know?  I reminded them of the 1998 team, which was a team that went to Notre Dame.  I was part of that team, and lost, and lost here at home for Syracuse, then went off and won the Big Ten or part of the Big Ten Championship.  Those goals, our goals are all out there.  I do believe we have a team that can do that.  Now you can't play the way you did today and do that.  We realize that.  But we've got a bunch of guys in that locker room who every day work their tails off and are supportive and believe in each other.

Q.  After a game like this when you pulled your quarterback and the score was what it was, what do you see?  Why do you believe you can contend in the Big Ten this year?
COACH HOKE:  That's a great question, but I think the one thing that I have is I'm with this group of young men every day.  These kids.  I know how they go to work.  There are things that we did very well today, you know?  We did some things not as well as we needed to, and we've got to improve on that.  We've got to go back to work and that starts with me as the head football coach, starts with the assistants, everyone who is in Schembechler Hall.  We've got to do a better job for those kids.

Q.  The incident on the sidelines with you and Greg Mattison right before or right after the penalty, was that a little loss of control there?  What was that?
COACH HOKE:  I've known Greg since 1984, and I can guarantee you, that wasn't the first time two competitive men have had a‑‑ I wouldn't even call it an argument.  Did I finish that?  Sounded like it.  A discussion.  You ought to see us play Euker.  We really have discussions.

Q.  The turnovers in the second half, obviously were a problem.  The first half you had just one turnover there at the end, still it seemed that finishing drives was a problem.  Talk about the need to be able to finish?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, and there is no question that that's one thing.  We start a drive, we have some success with it, we get a sack so you're behind the sticks again.  You don't like to play offense that way.  We had a penalty that put us back.  So we've just got to finish those drives.  First drive of the game really, the execution and what was going on was good, but we settled for three points.
Great kick by Matt.  Good to see it from him, obviously.  But we want 7 points, not three points.

Q.  What is the plan for the quarterback moving forward at this point?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, I think number one it's way too early for me to assess that until Doug and myself look at the tape and know that stuff.  One thing I can tell you is sometimes it's good for the guy to come out and just watch and see what he can see from the sidelines, you know?  Look at rotations of coverages or maybe from that standpoint.  So, look, there are not going to be any answers to that tonight.
We'll compete and challenge like we have every day, and then we'll have a starting quarterback against Minnesota.

Q.  In your two losses, the team hasn't reached the red zone.  How much of an overhaul or how much needs to happen at that offense?
COACH HOKE:  Say that one more time.

Q.  In your two losses you guys haven't reached the red zone with your offense.  How much change or overhaul has to happen or are you going with the plan you had at this point?
COACH HOKE:  I don't think there has to be an overhaul.  I think the execution, the little things that we need to do.  Again, that starts here.  We've got to do a better job with that part of it.  I have a lot of faith in those guys who are out there on the field.

Q.  How tough is it to hear the boos and kind of hear people complaining about the state of the program in your estimation?
COACH HOKE:  You know what I don't like, those are 18 to 22‑year‑olds.  That's what I don't like.  That's fine.  I know they buy tickets and they're more welcome to do it.  But they're 18 to 22.  Yeah, they're out there.  They're students.  They're student‑athletes, and believe me, they're working their tails off.  If they're all for me, good.  I don't have a problem with that at all.

Q.  Can you talk about their first drive of the second half and some of the adjustments and what happened there?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, well, I wish I could tell you exactly what happened.  We were very disappointed in that drive though.  I mean, that's not the way we wanted to start the second half.  The couple under routes on third down, we didn't execute as well defensively as we needed to.  I think the pace, I know, on one play we had just gotten set and we weren't all the way where we needed to be, but that drive bothers us and bothers me.

Q.  Then the big play in the first half, the passing play, was that a lack of communication in the secondary?
COACH HOKE:  No, it wasn't a lack of communication.  We just didn't execute.

Q.  Can you take us inside the locker room during the two and a half hour delay?  What did you guys talk about?  What was your goal coming out with just 7 and change left in the game?
COACH HOKE:  Well, the goal is to win.  So that's why we come back out and to compete.  In the locker room, I think, sometimes, and we had the one a couple years ago with Western Michigan, I think we went back out and played and then came back in.  So you have a little bit of an idea about it.  But this was a long one.
We tried to‑‑ we fed the kids a little bit.  They ate some stuff that's good for them to eat so that they can go out and play.  They relaxed.  They all have iPads these days, so some of them relaxed and especially when we knew it was going to be an hour and a half, maybe two hours.  Then we came together.  We had a great plan for warm‑ups and what we did there, and really they were excited to get back on the field.

Q.  You mentioned little things that are kind of keeping this team from turning the corner.  That's been a consistent deal the little things.  Why can't this team seem to find those inches there?
COACH HOKE:  Well, the only thing I can tell you is we've got to keep working at it.  We've got to keep working at it.

Q.  Is there any one area in particular there?
COACH HOKE:  No, I think the ball security issues are probably our biggest issue when you look at it overall.  I think secondary, Jourdan Lewis played his tail off today.  He may have played his best game.  If you don't write about the play he made to keep him out of the end zone, then you don't know anything about the game, because that effort that he made from all the way across the field, I can remember Woody Hankins did that down in Ohio in 1996.  Kept them to a field goal, and that was a 13‑9 game.  We show that clip every year of a backside corner doing that, and that's what he did.

Q.  Talk about the anticipation Henry had on his pick and that plan and the momentum that gave you?
COACH HOKE:  You know, Willie will tell you he probably diagnosed it, but I think Willie popped out, did a nice job, got his hands up.  Willie's pretty athletic 305‑pounder.  It was a good football play.  I don't know what else to say about it.  He made a good football play, and that's what you talk about if you're not to the quarterback.  Get your hand up, and he got his hand up and did a nice job.

Q.  He mentioned Jake also.
COACH HOKE:  Well, Jake, I don't know what the final statistics tackle‑wise, but he's a football player.  You know, he has, I think, he's adjusted well to playing inside linebacker.

Q.  How much of a concern is pass protection?  It looked like they were able to get pressure quite a bit with just rushing four.
COACH HOKE:  I thought our quarterbacks stepped up.  You know, sometimes on pass protection, when the ends are going up the field, sometimes you feel like, boy, they're getting closer.  But there was a pocket in there the majority of the time.  Not all the time.  Obviously, when you have four sacks you're not excited about it totally, but I thought there were some good things in the protection, and Devin had a chance and Shane had a chance to step up.

Q.  After the Notre Dame game, you fully endorsed Devin Gardner.  Are you saying now the position is open and it's up for grabs?
COACH HOKE:  I don't think I said that.  I said we'll have a quarterback for the Minnesota game, and we'll assess where we're at right now and we'll compete and challenge all week.

Q.  But you had said that Devin was your quarterback.  You're not saying that right now though.
COACH HOKE:  Well, I don't always say the same things, do I.

Q.  No, no, you don't.  But Shane came in.
COACH HOKE:  We'll see what happens.  I think that's the best way to put.

Q.  What is your level of concern with the offense right now?
COACH HOKE:  I'm concerned about everything we're doing.  We want to be better offensively?  Yeah, no question.  Do we want to score points?  That's part of the game and what we want to do.  So am I concerned?  We need to play better.  We've got to make sure we execute better.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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