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August 27, 2012

Brady Hoke

COACH HOKE:  It's going to be a big game week.  It's been a long camp.  I think it's been productive in a lot of ways.  I think we've found out a little bit more about ourselves.  I think we finished and ended camp at the end of the week, and really yesterday we had a good practice with being physical with each other, having a good mentality and a toughness.
I think we improved.  I think they came in and competed every day which is a big part of it.  The other thing we talked about is coming in a little out of energy when we come in the building.  I thought for the most part.  We voted captains last night, and I'm really proud of both of the guys who were selected to be captains by their peers.  Both of them deserve that, and they've been tremendous when you look at the leadership and what they've done for us as a football team to this point.
We have a group of seniors who have done a really good job.  So with that being said, I'm really proud of these two guys leading this football team.  We've got a big week ahead of us.  We practiced last night.  Today we'll meet and have some meetings.  Tuesday will be a normal workday.  Wednesday will be a little lighter, not a whole lot.  Then Thursday will be our normal Thursday.  We'll get on the plane and go.  We're excited about it.  We're excited about the opportunity.
Obviously, the defending National Champions and the job that Nick's done is one that we'll respect, and it will be a lot of fun for us to go down there and compete, compete for Michigan and compete for the Big Ten Conference.

Q.  You have Fitzgerald Toussaint listed as your top running back on the depth chart.  Is he playing on Saturday?  Where do you stand with him?
COACH HOKE:  We haven't made a decision yet.

Q.  At what point do you make a decision?

Q.¬† I know Al said that you guys have at least talked about it.¬† When can you‑‑ how late in the week can you go?
COACH HOKE:  We've had a lot of reps by a lot of guys.  So we feel comfortable in whatever we're going to do.

Q.  What about Frank Clark?

Q.  According to this, your defensive line looks a little reconfigured with Quinton Washington at nose tackle.  Has he won that job and what has he done to come along?
COACH HOKE:  Well, he's won it, I think, with the ability.  We wanted a little bigger guy at the three, and we're moving William Campbell, and he's played a lot of three the last two seasons or 18 months.  So we wanted a little bigger body, and there are some things that they do that we think it's important to have a little more physicalness.
Jibreel can play three in certain situations, and Aaron can play the rush end, so I think it just gives us a little stronger, stouter front.

Q.  Can you talk about the job and the camp that Brennen Beyer had?
COACH HOKE:¬† I thought Brennen had a good camp.¬† I think Brandon is a guy who did a nice job in the off‑season when you look at some strength gains, some weight gains.¬† He's had a good camp.¬† He's a guy that we'll count on, especially I know during the course of the season you're always going to need that added depth.¬† You're always going to need guys in certain defensive looks that you may play.¬† He can be a little stouter at the line of scrimmage.¬† He's multiple where he can play the Sam if we needed to play more or the rush.¬† So I think he's a smart guy.¬† That always helps.¬† I think he's got very good talent.

Q.¬† You're talking about the defensive line and what those guys can bring.¬† How much of it is about the match‑up this week?¬† You talked about the line consistently and just getting more size out there to combat that group?
COACH HOKE:  Well, I think there was a point to that, a more physical front or a big front.  We feel that the best players are always going to play, but the best players in those positions are a big part of it.  That's part of it.  There is no doubt about it.  You start getting yourself nickels and dime packages and that front changes anyway.

Q.  You've talked about how this being a big game for the program and for the conference.  Do you see this as a step that Michigan needs to take to reestablish itself as a top program?
COACH HOKE:  Well, again, reestablish?  I don't buy into that and never have.  But I do think it's a great marker for where we're at as a program and what we can be.  I think every first game every year though you learn a lot about yourselves, you go into it because every team is different.
I went back and thought about last year at this time.  I didn't know if we were going to win two games let alone 11, because you don't know until you get in the real deal as far as playing games.
Honestly, we'll find out.  We'll find out about ourselves.

Q.  What is (Indiscernible) status?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, he's good.  He practiced yesterday.  He ran with the first group.  I don't think we'll have one problem with Royce.

Q.  How comfortable are you with Thomas Rawls?  Are you comfortable enough that you're taking enough of the reps and the carries?  If he's later as a starter to alleviate the pressure of Denard Robinson?
COACH HOKE:  I think Smith and Justice Hayes in his development, I think all three of those guys.  They're all a little bit different.  But all three of those guys have really had a good camp.  Like with Justice, him picking up a little bit more on the offense totally, the passing game, the protection part of it and all that and being able to stick your nose on a guy.  I feel pretty good about that.  You know, Hopkins is a valuable guy at fullback, Number one because of what he gives us.  But he's also a guy who still takes a carrier to it at the tailback position.

Q.  You mentioned at this stage you don't really know for sure what you have.  It's a good marker for your team.  How dangerous does it make it playing such a good opponent as Alabama where it won't define your season, but people could overreact one way or the other to what happened?
COACH HOKE:  I don't know if there's any danger to it.  It's what you expect when you coach here and play here.  To play in those kind of games.
I like the majority process for our team.  Believe me.  I think our guys have known since spring who they open up for, so honestly, it doesn't matter.

Q.  I count an even dozen true freshmen on this depth chart.  What's it say about the efforts of this class coming in in fall camp and of your needs?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, I think there are some talented guys who probably are going to get better as the season progresses.  I think it speaks to itself to some degree about depth and where we feel we are and where we need to be.  I think they have all done a pretty good job.
The one thing about freshmen is when they come over, the young guys get over, and one bad thing is they're freshmen.  So we'll stub a toe here and there on the way.

Q.¬† Why and how does a non‑conference schedule such as this, how will it prepare you for your goal of winning the Big Ten?
COACH HOKE:  I think like anything else, the better competition you play, the more it pushes you as a player.  The mindset, we want to get better throughout the season, because if you don't, if you go backwards, you really struggle.  So I think it helps us in a lot of different areas.  From the environment we're going to play in and being able to be focused in the preparation.  I mean, the mental part of it, because come Saturday, it's all mental.  It really becomes all mental.  I mean, the physical abilities these guys have, but it becomes mental and how you determine how you're going to play and react.  So I think it helps us.

Q.  Have you determined how much Devin's going to split time?  How much receiver, how much quarterback?
COACH HOKE:  You'll see him at receiver a little bit.  He's done some of that during camp.  He's been good on both ends of it.  He's taken some snaps at quarterback.  So I don't know and I surely won't tell you this is the amount of plays he'll do either, but I expect to see him on the field.

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