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October 11, 2014

Brady Hoke


COACH HOKE:  It was obviously good to win, and we had some tough times and tough weeks, but the resiliency of our football team, the resiliency of how they go about every day in practice and the hard work that they put in paid off.  And it wasn't pretty at times, but things aren't pretty all the time.
And what they did, though, is they played together, they stuck together.  We had some guys who were banged up, obviously.  That's just part of football.  If you're not banged up, then you're really not playing, but we got guys who are tough, got guys who understand what it is to play as a team and play for each other and play for Michigan, and I'm excited for them, as much as anything for how they stuck together.
I also‑‑ the environment, the crowd, there's no place better in this country when you have a game like this than Michigan Stadium, and I can tell you our kids, they feel it, they feel it when those people are there cheering for them, and the students that were there, former players, them coming back and supporting those kids, you don't get that in a lot of institutions, or maybe any institutions like you do at Michigan.  So very excited for our kids.
We're going to enjoy it, and then we'll get back to work next week Tuesday and Wednesday.

Q.  Talk about the plays in the defensive second half, and then the winning plays at the end there.
COACH HOKE:  You know, I think a couple of things.  Penn State had a week off, and as most teams do, you have a week off.  You start looking at tendencies.  You start looking at things and maybe patterns to it.  In the first half maybe they broke some tendencies they had.
I think they Greg and the staff defensively did a great job at half time.  I think our kids had a will and they willed themselves to keep going, and it was pressure on the quarterback with four‑man, three‑man rush that really worked out pretty well and maximum coverage.  And part of that, you know, is he's gotta hold the ball a little longer, and we got off the field in third downs, you know, which in the first half we really didn't as much.

Q.  And we all saw Devon Pace on the sideline grimacing and looking like he wasn't going to get back in.  Talk about him coming back in the game and what he showed.
COACH HOKE:  Devon's leadership has been outstanding, and you know, he played a game a year ago with a broken toe for half the game.  So you know he's got a toughness to him.  He is turning in through his maturation process and everything into a tremendous leader.
You know, he was cheering the defense on when they were out there, and he just was, you know, he wants to compete and play.  And the trainers said, yeah, he can go.

Q.  You mentioned the environment, the defense.  Was tonight sort of a glimpse of what you imagined this program could be or where you guys expected to be at this point?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah.  I think that's the expectations that we all had.  I think there isn't any question about it.  That's what Michigan has been about, and that's what it's going to continue to be about.  And we talked about taking one at a time, and that's what we're going to do and just see how this team finishes.

Q.  How much did you guys need a night like tonight to break some tensions?
COACH HOKE:  What was the last part?

Q.  To break some of those tensions.
COACH HOKE:  You know, I think the way our guys have handled the last two weeks, I don't know if many football teams could do that and persevere like they have and stay together like they have.  And so I give those kids a lot of credit in that locker room.

Q.  Did they need this payoff, though?
COACH HOKE:  It certainly helps.  There's no question about it.

Q.  You talked about forcing turnovers.  You talked about the Jordan Lewis play and the pressure that helped create it.
COACH HOKE:  They kind of go hand in hand, John, as you know, and I thought that No. 1, Jordan has done a really fabulous job, you know, with coverage.  And he's usually playing very tight coverage, but at the same time I think the pressure, no doubt, had something to do with it, but it was also, you know, when you watch it again, I think a pretty dadgum athletic play by Jordan, too.

Q.  With all that had built up coming into this game, can you put in words what it means when the crowd was there when there was some suggestion that it wouldn't and your team and defense playing well.  Can you put in words what it means to you as the coach of the program to see that?
COACH HOKE:  I'm just so excited for those kids.  I mean they're the ones who are doing the work.  They're the ones out there playing.  They're the ones who come to Schembechler Hall every day with an attitude to play for each other.  It would be real easy not to be that way.  It would be real easy for guys to say, you know, I want to go get mine or whatever.  But they haven't done that.  And we've held them to a pretty high standard, but they've held themselves to that high standard.

Q.  Just to follow up, how much of a role has Gardner played at all, the guy that's been‑‑ he's injured and how weak is his health right now?
COACH HOKE:  You know, we'll figure that out because we don't talk about injuries, but we'll figure that out.  But with Devon, I think the growth, as I said earlier, and the demeanor, and what he has done on and off the field has been really special.

Q.  (Inaudible)?
COACH HOKE:  He didn't play, but he was out there dressed and ready.

Q.  So is that something we're not talking about because he's injured?
COACH HOKE:  I'll let you figure that one out.

Q.  And without Willie, who's arguably maybe your best interior guy, you still had maybe the best performance on the defensive line.  What did you see?
COACH HOKE:  Well, you know, we've done a pretty good job, I would believe, in recruiting defensive linemen, you know, going from three‑man front to a four‑man front.  You know, Chris worm rely, Matt Godin, Tom Strobel.  I mean when you look at the three techniques that we have.  And the same thing inside at the nose position with Mone who started the day, Glasgow and Willie Hurst and Andre.  Andre is fighting something and he'll be back and he'll be ready.  I think we're fortunate that we've got a lot of young guys in those classes that compete every day.

Q.  You mentioned how this team has been resilient and held together the last two weeks.  What is it about these guys you think that allowed them to shut out the outside noise and what has the last two weeks been like for them dealing with it?
COACH HOKE:  I think the guys have character.  I think they're guys who have a tremendous amount of pride in themselves and in each other as a team.
I think they're motivated.  I think when we haven't played as well as we think and know we can, I think they get ticked off.  And so I think every day that they've gone out, I think they've gone out to get better, push each other, compete and challenge with each other.  And that's what they've done.  You know, I just think from the beginning I said this team has leadership in all grades, and they've shown that.  And they've demonstrated that.

Q.  Without talking about injuries, is this a pretty good time to (inaudible)?
COACH HOKE:  That's a very good question, John.  Yes, it is.  Believe me.  It's happening at a good time as far as we get some rest.  The guys get away from us a little bit, which is always positive, you know, and probably more positive for them than me because I worry about them.  But I think it's good that we have a chance for them to get rested up a little bit.

Q.  Can you say how much pain Devon was in when he went back in after it looked like an ankle injury?  And also, he looked like he was pacing the sideline.  Was he asking you to go back in?
COACH HOKE:  You know, the only time he said something to me was the series before, and he just said, "Coach, I'm going."  I said, "the trainers say you're okay?"  He said, "yeah".  I said, "okay.  Go."

Q.  Did he express how much pain he was in?
COACH HOKE:  No.  No.  He doesn't do that.  I mean most of our guys aren't going to tell you.

Q.  My other question, Frank Clark, obviously last week's issue before the half and this was sort of poetic for Frank to get that sack?
COACH HOKE:  Poetic.  (Laughs).  That's an assumption.  Yeah.  It was good for him to, you know, finish.  Let's put it that way.

Q.  Can you talk about Matt Wile's day?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah.  I tell you what, we've‑‑ I think I've said it every time we've had a press conference since Notre Dame.  He's been on.  And he's been on hitting the ball well.  You know, last week the field goal gets blocked, you know, but he hit it well, and he's been hitting it well.  I think his confidence is where you want it to be, where he wants it to be, where we want it to be.  So really, really, really excited.
And I think you forget about Scott Sypniewski, the snapper.  You forget about Kenny Allen, who holds, you know, and how much they work together every day and how successful he was and a lot of it starts there, too.

Q.  Who are the other quarterbacks available other than Russell?
COACH HOKE:  Well, whoever was dressed out was.

Q.  (Inaudible)?
COACH HOKE:  Dressed out; right?

Q.  The question is, could they have gone in the game?

Q.  Okay.

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