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October 1, 2012

Brady Hoke

COACH HOKE:  With the bye weeks, I think you never know when a good bye week is, when it's not a good bye week.  I don't think you really know that until you go through it.
I think it was good because of the productivity that we got from having the bye week.  I would hope we would have that, the productivity, any time the bye week was, but I think we got to really reevaluate where we're at and what we want to do.
I think you evaluate yourselves a little bit as coaches ‑ that's always a big part of it ‑ in different things, in aspects that you're involved with from the kicking to the defense, offense.¬† You always look at self‑scouting and see where you're at and what you might want to do different or what you like in what you're doing.
I think the other part of it is the teaching part, the fundamentals, those things that go leaning with it.
I think the other part which was big was the guys who are traveling who are freshman have not been home since June 25th.  We have a lot of those guys from the state, a lot of those guys within driving distance in Ohio and Chicago.  It was good to give them about 36 hours to be a human beings and go home and maybe watch a high school play, see mom and dad, grandma and grandma, aunts and uncles, whoever.  I thought that was positive.
From the academic side, also I think it's always a help.¬† We'll find out obviously Saturday.¬† We've got a tremendous challenge, because I think Purdue is playing as well as anybody in our league right now, 3‑1 with South Bend, and played a hard‑fought, tough game and had a chance to win the game.
So we got our work cut out for us.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH HOKE:  Mrs. Hoke, you know, she loves watching football.  I see a lot of football, but I watched Purdue and Marshall obviously going down there and playing them.
Watched the other two Big 10 games that were on.

Q.  Without revealing any big secrets, what can you share, if anything, about what you did discover about things you like or don't like or want to tweak?
COACH HOKE:  Well, if I tell you, then we reveal a lot of secrets.
Offensively I think being able in the second half to move the line of scrimmage was I think a positive.  I think we need to really look at that and running the football.
I think defensively probably a little more confidence in some of the guys who played well and played physical.
So I think that part of it is important.

Q.¬† After doing some self‑evaluation, scouting, do you see some similarities between your defense last season and this season as far as the way they're improving through nonconference and just in general?
COACH HOKE:¬† I think one of the big differences is we forced or got our hands on a lot of balls last year turnover‑wise and have not seen that.
We had the two interceptions two weeks ago on Saturday, but we haven't been around the ball as much from a coverage aspect, and also the other aspect is we got to do a better job pressuring the quarterback.
You know, at times with the four‑man rush we're not bad.¬† This goes all the way back to week one against Alabama.¬† With a four‑man rush we put decent pressure, but we've got to be better in that, forcing some ill‑advised throws.

Q.  Why is that in terms of guys around the ball and making those turnovers?  You talk about it not happening as much, but you're preaching the same things.
COACH HOKE:¬† Yeah.¬† I think most of it, John, is the fact that we're not taking the quarterback off his mark, you know, timing‑wise, with pressure, or with tighter coverage.¬† We got some different guys obviously, but at the at the same time, we think we should be able to do the same kind of things with who we have.

Q.  What specifically concerns you or challenges you about what Purdue does on both sides of the ball?
COACH HOKE:  I think they're two corners are very good football players.  I think they're really good cover guys.  I think up front Kawaan Short and the front itself, front four, you know, you'll watch 'em against Notre Dame, they played a very good football game.
Offensively they've got good skill, and they've had good skill.¬† They had good skill last year.¬† A lot of some of the same guys playing.¬† I think TerBush is better.¬† I think the quarterback, he was ‑‑ Marv was the guy; he got hurt.¬† I think this guy has come in and been very ‑‑ percentage pass‑wise done a good job with the football.

Q.¬† After the game two weeks ago, Denard was talking about how I've got to throw the ball away, got learn to throw the ball away.¬† Obviously he was hard on himself.¬† Take us through that process.¬† Because he's such a play‑maker, does he feel like he can just make a play as opposed to maybe the better play is just to get rid of ball?
COACH HOKE:  I think you got a lot of quarterbacks and guys who are competitors at a high level.  Yeah, they believe in their ability.  And you want them to believe in their ability.
At the same time, got to understand that maybe a punt is a good play.  Maybe sticking your foot in the ground and going north and south is a good play.

Q.  How do you feel coming out of the bye?
COACH HOKE:  I feel pretty good.

Q.  How is your team feeling?
COACH HOKE:  Beyer will be back.  Brandon Moore will be close.  He's getting better.
Richard is better.  There's one more, too.  Hop's fine.  Devin is fine.  They all practiced last night.
Yeah, Ricky Barnum was a little sore, shoulder.  He was fine last night.  So with the guys who aren't out for the year, the rest of them are okay.

Q.  What about Marvin Robinson?
COACH HOKE:  He was better.  Even ran around last night.  He feels much better.

Q.  You talked a little bit about the physical aspect of your team.  How did you think the bye helped them or how do you hope it helped them physically and mentally?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, I think it helps mentally.  If it helps mentally, it's going to help you physically.  I really believe that.  I think the opportunity to get more treatments and do those kind of things helps.

Q.  You talked about the fundamentals.  Did you see that they regressed over the four games from the period of camp and fighting through all that stuff, or do you think that...
COACH HOKE:  I think they've improved from a fundamental standpoint, and part of that is what we've been doing.  I think obviously you have some young guys who are playing who some of the fundamentals are brand new.
So the more they've done 'em, the better off they've been.  With the linebackers it's footwork starting from the stance all the way.  He's done it one way so long in his life, and all of a sudden this is what you you're going to do it, it takes a little time.
I would say up front on both sides of the ball I think they've improved fundamentally.

Q.¬† Sometimes in bye weeks, and we talked about this last year, you have to go back to what you did in camp because guysseem to ‑‑ it seems it like a little bit.¬† In this situation you said you...
COACH HOKE:  I think we played better fundamentally at a lot of positions two weeks ago than we have.  I think we did go back to it again just to keep the reinforcement that we want.

Q.  You talk a lot about the defense itself, scouting.  What about on offense?  What did you see that maybe concerned you or maybe was better than you thought?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, you know, I think the line of scrimmage was better.  I felt that coming out of the game though, that it was better.  So that was the positive.
I think just execution of some routes, execution of some plays; blocking a little better on the perimeter, you know, which we've been a pretty physical team.  I think we're going to keep pushing that and keep getting that better.

Q.  There was a large number of passing yards with Purdue this week.  Was that just because of the nature of the game, or was that something you think is an area where they haven't been as strong?
COACH HOKE:  You know, and I agree.  I think it's hard to judge a little bit because that's what Marshall wants to do, that's what they're built today, and they are going to do that no matter what.
They got behind obviously, but with what I know about Marshall‑ I have not studied them‑ I think that's the kind of football they want to play.
You know, I'm trying to think from a standpoint of being effective with it, they were pretty effective with it.  Purdue scored two touchdowns on defense with the interception return.

Q.  You mentioned having to block a guy like Kawann Short.  In your mind, where does he rank?
COACH HOKE:  You know, not seen everybody yet, but got to say he's got to be at the top of the ladder or right next to it.  You know, until you play everybody, I think it's always hard until you see them live.

Q.¬† When you peeked ahead to Purdue in the off‑season, assuming you do that with all the teams at some point, did you think...
COACH HOKE:  We really just do it for the first three games.

Q.  Okay.
COACH HOKE:  You've got an idea with no change of staff what they want to do.  You know their personnel.  The first three games are really the ones you kind of get ahead on.

Q.  Did you have any sense of what kind of team Purdue would be this year?  Seemed like they were a little bit under the radar, but some people kind of had them as a dark horse to maybe do something.
COACH HOKE:  I think we always thought that.  We thought a year ago they were a good football team.  I think week before they played us they beat Illinois and really got after 'em pretty good.
So from a skill standpoint and a front defensively standpoint they've got some playmakers.

Q.  You said you don't know coming out of a bye how your week will react.  What do you do to snap them back this week and get them ready so it's not a rusty feeling?
COACH HOKE:¬† You know, we do a lot of one‑on‑one stuff during the bye week, a lot competition because of the speed of the game we want to play with.¬† I think that's helped over the years.¬† I can probably answer that question a little bit better when I see how we come out today.
I liked our attitude all yesterdays with meetings and lifting, and then we practiced for about 50 minutes.¬† A lot of that was some stuff walkthrough‑wise that you want to add to the game plan.

Q.  Talk about what the freshmen gained going home and all that.  What's the biggest thing on the field that they can take a move forward in this two weeks?
COACH HOKE:¬† It all starts in your mind, and mentally they probably feel‑‑ I know talk to a number of 'em yesterday during warmup and stretch and all that, and they really appreciated it and enjoyed the time to go home and see family members and just get away.
Now, the other guys, this is home to them.  That's kind of how it becomes.

Q.  With Beyer being back, he was a starter before he got hurt.  Is he back in the starting lineup, or is that Frank's job right now?
COACH HOKE:  They'll compete and see who's going to start.  They'll both play because number one, they're both good enough to play.
I think the second part of it, you know, Purdue, one of the changes is their high tempo.  They're trying to go high tempo offensively.  I think they ran close to 50 plays, 48 in the first half the other day, so they're trying to get some plays run.

Q.  Does having Beyer back change anything with what you want to do on the defensive line because now you have a little more depth than you had?
COACH HOKE:¬† You know, I don't think so.¬† When you look at it with France and Ojemudia, they both played quite a bit down in South Bend.¬† So I think it gives us more capable bodies and guys we think are good football players, but won't change scheme‑wise.

Q.¬† Denard has thrown an interception in like 11 of the last 12 games.¬† Is his decision‑making where you want it, or does he just have...
COACH HOKE:  Think about that question.  What do you think?  Seriously.  Probably not, right?  Yeah.
I mean, yeah, he's got play a little better.  We got to help him play a little better by blocking better, routes, catching better, competing better.
Also as staff we got to make sure he can do the things we're asking him to do.

Q.  He's only got about eight regular season games left.  As a college player, should he be farther along in that process?
COACH HOKE:  I think when you look at the process, it's not all one guy.  When you got a linebacker in your face and you got somebody around your legs, sometimes it's hard to finish plays like you would like to.
So, yeah, do we want him to throw the ball away when the opportunity is there?  We want him to be a little more on target with the ball times?  No question.  But it's not just him by any count.

Q.  In the second half, Al said on a radio show last week that you guys made a fantastic change and went in there at halftime and said, We're going to protect you and do things to make sure Denard is not put in those situations where he is going to take those chances.  It seemed to work at least in terms of holding the ball, possession of the ball.

Q.  Do you look that at that, and is it hard not to overestimate that that worked in some sense?
COACH HOKE:  No.  Think for us as a team, you know probably was one of the best things we did, because I think it put the game a little bit more on the offensive line.  I think they took a lot of pride in that.

Q.  So are you tempted to do more of that because...
COACH HOKE:  Oh, I'm not tempted.  I mean, we've got to figure out each week what will make us the most successful.

Q.  Being Denard's third year starting, are you concerned at just what Denard is what he is as far as his decision making and all that and just might not...
COACH HOKE:  No, not at all.  He's our quarterback, and he's a damn good quarterback.  I didn't say that, so don't write that.
But, no, we're very comfortable and we're very confident in him.

Q.  In him making the adjustments and...
COACH HOKE:  Yes.  Yep.
You're going to write that, won't you?

Q.  I will.  You said it.
COACH HOKE:  That's so bad.  My mom's is going to read that and get mad.

Q.  Mark brought up Al's appearance on the radio show the other day.  He talked about Fitz, wanting to get him 20,25 carries a game.  Is that the kind of production you want now?  I'm sure you wanted it before, but to help Denard too?
COACH HOKE:  Right.  Obviously it will relieve him from some of the things that we ask him to do if we can establish a running game with the tailback.

Q.  Have you seen (indiscernible) from the offensive line or Fitz not getting things?
COACH HOKE:  I guess both.  It's both.  You can't point the finger at one thing.  When it's worked it's been both.

Q.  (Regarding Notre Dame game.)  Can you point to one or two guys that have maybe made improvement compared to other ones?
COACH HOKE:  No, think they all together did a much better job of really leveraging their fundamentals and got some movement on 'em and finished some combination blocks.

Q.  When said that you changed the offense at the half and said it was our responsibility to protect Denard, maybe that's when the light bulb went on for him.  Is it more a mental thing for them right now, that when they have a little more at stake they seem to play better?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, I don't know if at stake.  I just think most good offensive lines that have been around, they want to be fed.  I mean, they want to run the football.  They want to establish the line of scrimmage.
I think at halftime the conversation's what we want to do, and they kind of got the message.  I can't tell you how many yards we rushed for, but you could feel presence on the field.

Q.  Obviously you feel there can be carryover going forward.
COACH HOKE:  Yeah.  On both sides of the ball.

Q.¬† With the bye week and you guys sitting at 2‑2, do you feel it was a good time to have it?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, you know, I don't know when is a good bye week.  I really don't.  I think this one could be timed well, but we'll know eight weeks from now.

Q.  Have you talked to the team about confidence and things?
COACH HOKE:  Oh, yeah.  Oh, yeah.  We got to grind.  We got to play Michigan football and prepare Michigan football.

Q.  We saw a couple players get banged up a little bit running into equipment or whatever, temporary bleachers.  Do you not concern yourself with that sort of thing, or is that something you mentioned to people afterwards in terms of their stadiums?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, and I don't know what good it's going to do, to be honest with you.  I'm trying to think.  You know, you guys probably know our stadium a little better.  We put bands down there in the one corner, right, sometimes.
It's part of the ‑‑ I don't know what to tell you.¬† I don't know if anybody is going to change anything.

Q.  Has your perspective on the Big 10 race changed at all after watching one week where you didn't have to play?
COACH HOKE:  I don't think so, no.  I think it's the Big 10.  I think people are going to get after each other.  I think everyone knows each other pretty well in the league to some degree, knows what they want to do and how they want to do it.
It's just a matter of how you prepare every week to play your best.  I think playing on the road is always a part of it.  That's one thing we've talked about all year, is we've got to be a better road team.

Q.  On that note, your offensive stats on the road are dramatically lower than at home.  Anything causal you can find to that?
COACH HOKE:  I think rhythmically, I think you always remember the losses and taking care of the football.

Q.  About the offensive line getting the message at halftime, what do you think clicked then that didn't in the three and a half previous?
COACH HOKE:¬† I don't know if anything clicked.¬† I think when you become‑‑ when a coach says we're going to count on you guys to finish this.

Q.  You said they got message, so it seems something clicked.
COACH HOKE:  Yeah.  I'm not saying it didn't.  I think they took a lot of pride in that.

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