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UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN MEDIA CONFERENCE


August 27, 2012


Brady Hoke


Q.  So what is the rationale that you use in determining whether or not Fitz and Clark will play?
COACH HOKE:  Every day.  How they come in every day, how they perform every day, how they are true teammates every day.  They're not done paying consequences on our level yet.

Q.  Does a coach find himself in a tough spot where he's caught between how can I best give my team the best chance at winning as opposed to, you know what, I have to make sure that these players understand this type of conduct will not be tolerated?  That it's making the team suffer.
COACH HOKE:  I think whenever you're in this position, you've got to make decisions that are best for the program.  That doesn't mean for one specific team.  That means for the program.  That means for the identity and the character of the program that you represent.
Are they easy decisions?  No.  Are they decisions you want to make because you love the kids?  No.  But you have to make them.

Q.  It seems you're in a very uncomfortable spot though.
COACH HOKE:  I'm comfortable with what I want to do, very comfortable with that.  Talking to all of you guys about it, no, that's not comfortable, because it's talking about two kids who are sons to us and made bad decisions.

Q.  Do you know what you're going to do?
COACH HOKE:  Oh, I probably have an idea.

Q.  Probably?
COACH HOKE:  Probably.

Q.  The punting thing, are you specific as well?
COACH HOKE:  The punting thing, I tried to give Angelique a head's up on the way in.  Hagerup will do the punting, and she thought it was breaking news.
No, but Will has done a good job.  They've both, in seriousness, they've both done a really good job, and I'm excited about how they competed.  I didn't think we started the summer off as well as we'd like or the fall camp, but I really like how they've competed.  Right now, Will will do the punting, Matt will do the kickoffs and Matt will do some of the pooch punting, if we got into those situations.

Q.  Last year you had mentioned at one point the longer field goals might be done by maybe a split.  Is that a consideration?
COACH HOKE:  You know, I still think the way Brendan's been kicking the ball, I think we're in good shape with him.  If it got outlandish, long, then we'd probably say, all right, Matt, go ahead.

Q.  What's outlandish long?
COACH HOKE:  54, 55 yards.  I think that's outlandish.

Q.  Have you ever even tried one from 54, 55?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah.  I'll try about anything.

Q.  No matter what happens with Fitzgerald Toussaint in the first game, do you feel you have enough running backs to have a running game right out of the box or if he doesn't play, is that a major blow?
COACH HOKE:  No, I think we've got guys that have worked awfully hard.  We've got guys that have gotten a lot of reps through the course of spring football and fall camp.  I think the two new kids, the young kids have gotten some valuable time from a special teams standpoint and a running back standpoint.
So I feel very comfortable with whoever is going to dot that I or be in the gun next to Denard.¬† Vince Smith's played a lot of football here, lot of football.¬† Carry‑wise probably not close, but Thomas Rawls, he fits.¬† Justice is a guy who I've seen grow as a back.

Q.  Will you make your decision on Fitz public or will you keep it under your hat until game time?
COACH HOKE:  I'm sure I'll say something when the time's right.

Q.  Would that be 7:00 p.m.?
COACH HOKE:  When the time's right.

Q.  Right before kickoff?
COACH HOKE:  I don't know.  I haven't figured all of that out.  I've got an idea.

Q.  Fitz is in court on Tuesday.  What happens there, does that affect his status?
COACH HOKE:  No, nope.

Q.  How ready is Denard for Saturday?
COACH HOKE:¬† Denard, in my opinion is always ready.¬† Sometimes you've got to bring him back a little bit because of the excitement and his love for the game of football, love for his teammates and love for Michigan.¬† At times you have to reign him in and make sure he's not‑‑ I don't want him to go out there and we don't want him to go out there and think that he has to do it all on his own.¬† Because that's not what he needs to do.
He'll be a big part of what we do offensively, as he always is, but I'd rather reign in a bucking bronco than try to get an old mule moving.  So I like it when he's excited.

Q.  He said that affected him last year.  That was Western Michigan.  How does that change when playing against Alabama?
COACH HOKE:  Well, a year older, a year wiser.  I think all of those things are part of it.

Q.  Have you guys found ways?
COACH HOKE:  I think you just talk about it.  You can be amateur psychologist all you want, but it still comes down to that guy understanding where he needs to be.  I think at times when you think he has when he thinks he has to do more than what he needs to do.  So we've just got to make sure.
He's been great.  He's been great in fall.  He's gotten when we have game day and any time we go up to the stadium is our game day, he gets himself exactly where he needs to be.  I can tell when I walk into the meeting with him.

Q.  How did Schofield perform in fall camp?
COACH HOKE:  I think he played well.  I think he's improved.  I remember a year ago when we had to count on him with Ricky Barnum being out I think he grew up a lot.  We're excited about Mike.  We're glad he's at Michigan.  And I think he did do a nice job of changing himself a little bit from maybe a mentality of how you prepare and how you get ready, and also from a physical standpoint.

Q.  You guys had more success last year when you balanced out the offense.  It wasn't just Denard running the ball.
COACH HOKE:  Correct.

Q.  How important is it for you to have the marquis back, the one guy or two guy?
COACH HOKE:  I think it's very important to our offense.  I think if you asked Al, he'd tell you the same thing.  We need to, number one, the balance that that can give you keeps a defense a little bit more on edge or they've got to plan for it more.  The other part of it, we'd like to keep Denard healthy and that's a big part of it.  When you've got somebody who can carry the other part of the load like Fitz ended up doing, I think that's huge to have the balance.

Q.  Are you worried about numbers on your offensive line last year.  How do you feel about that now, especially losing Brian last week?
COACH HOKE:¬† You know, we probably, Angelique are a little better off when you look at numbers.¬† It still is a very young‑‑ Elliott Mealer and I don't know how many total snaps he's played in his career here.¬† He's an older guy with not a ton of game experience but I think his confidence level and how he's really done a tremendous job.¬† He, by far in my opinion has had one of the best fall camps that I've seen an offensive lineman have.
I think there is enough in there with the different combinations of guys.  We played Mueller at center.  We've done a lot of different combination that have been good for us.

Q.  In that forward practice, was that for Ricky and Denard?
COACH HOKE:  It was for the whole team.  To be honest with you, it was for the whole team to see how we handle, number one.  We wanted as many distractions as we could get.  Part of that is noise, part of that is what was on the big screen, you know I heard John Belushi up there and Samuel L. Jackson from Pulp Fiction.  You kind of look to see who looked up, and I looked up at Belushi once.  He won an Oscar.  I can't understand why.
To be honest with you, it was good for the defense, because they've got to be talking and communicating, checking formations, whatever it might be, and it was really good for the offense.
I think we all thought we had a very tempo, not‑many‑mistakes practice.¬† It's kind of getting them out of their same routine too.

Q.  Is getting the ball to the other team on the 25 worth taking away the risk of the long running backs?
COACH HOKE:  I think it is.  That's the simple answer, yeah.  I really do.  I think it is.

Q.  Brady (No microphone).
COACH HOKE:  He's a little stouter at the point of attack.  Of if you've ever seen Jibreel's brother who plays at Indiana, Jibreel can get bigger and put it that way.  His brother's a big man.  But I think it's helped him.  The initial punch and the extension, all of the things from the first step, I think point of attack is much better.

Q.  When did you settle on this look?  This defensive combo with Washington in the lineup?
COACH HOKE:  Probably a week ago at the most, maybe four days ago.

Q.  Alabama's offensive line, is that the best you've ever seen?
COACH HOKE:  From what I've seen of them, yes.  Compare them to some of those Iowa lines when I was here before and being as good as anybody.

Q.  The perception is Alabama is a big, physical team, can beat up teams.  Do you have maybe some issues in the trenches, defensive line and stuff?  Are you concerned at all about holding up physically against a team like this?
COACH HOKE:  No, I don't think so.  Because it doesn't always mean how big and tall and heavy you are.  There's a lot to be said with playing with fundamentals, technique and an unbelievable motor.  It's probably as big as anything.
There are times when you can get blocked.  But if you were playing from snap to whistle, good things can happen.

Q.  You guys are a huge underdog in this game.  Do you feel like it?
COACH HOKE:  No.

Q.  Is it something you saw on film or what you've seen from your team?
COACH HOKE:  I like Michigan.

Q.  Do you buy the argument that some people are saying about this game that whereas Alabama is defending a championship, U of M is defending its honor?
COACH HOKE:¬† Defending its honor.¬† I don't know.¬† I don't know if defending its honor‑‑ I don't know that we've ever had to defend our honor.¬† But I know one thing, it's competition.¬† You go to win competitions.
You prepare to go play your best and represent 133 years of Michigan football.  Represent a great institution, and represent ourselves and our families.

Q.  You talk about representing the conference as well.  With all the hits the Big Ten has taken with Ohio State and Penn State, two separate issues, but does it put even more pressure on Michigan to step up and really have a big game on the national stage?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, I think for some people it would probably look at it that way.  To be honest with you, our first and foremost is to represent the University of Michigan and this team.  This team 133, representing the Big Ten is part of it.  I don't see pressure.  I see guys going to play their best football and preparing to play their best football.

Q.  You settled the punting question?
COACH HOKE:  Yes.

Q.  Norfleet's on here pretty prominently.  Should we expect to see him returning?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, I would think so.

Q.  What did he show you?
COACH HOKE:  He's young, and he's difficult to defend sometimes.  He's got the ability, he's got good vision.  He's quick he can accelerate.  He's not the biggest guy in the world.  But he has a knack and a skill level for kickoffs and punts.

Q.  Your captains are on opposite ends of the spectrum.  Last year where were they leading when they got here, and what kind of growth have you seen from them?
COACH HOKE:  Are you talking about those two individuals?  I think they both have always had a voice again, since we've been here, 19, 20, I don't know how long we've been here, but they've always had a voice.  I think they've always represented themselves, number one, in a first class manner at the same time they've done a good job within the framework of the team.
I think Jordan and Denard both from their actions speak so much more loudly than their words.  I think the comfort level though of being a senior probably has allowed them to speak more prominently.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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