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October 15, 2012

Brady Hoke

COACH HOKE:  Everybody ready?  You know, obviously it was a great team win the other night.  Played well as a team.  Played together.  Probably our most complete game when you look at the offense and the defense.  In the kicking game I thought we did some very good things.
Had some penalties that we don't want to have when you look at, you know, the hitting the returner late and then we had two defensive offsides penalties that we need to be a little more poised and composed about that.
Couple dropped passes.  I think we were 9 of 14 and third down.  Probably could have been 11 of 14.  But, you know, it's missed assignments.  I think we had ten of 'em on offense.
Defensively early in the game I thought they ran the ball a little too well, so we got to do a better job of the integrity of gaps and getting off blocks.
Best we played, but a long way from playing championship football.  We got to a lot of work to do.  We will go back to work.  This is a great week because it's a rivalry game.  Those are always special, always fun.
At the same time, it's another championship game, which we've started that run two weeks ago, so we've got to prepare like we have.  I think we will, because we've done a nice job to this point.  The maturity of our team, think we are maturing, so we just got to keep going forward.

Q.  What do you see as the biggest difference in the Michigan State team on film this year from the team you faced last year?
COACH HOKE:  I think both teams are different.  They lost some guys to graduation that were very good football players; we lost some guys that were very good football players.
Defensively I don't think they've skipped a beat.  Offensively I think Maxwell is doing a great job and can throw it.
And so I think we all grow up and we all mature differently.  I think both teams are very different than they were a year ago.

Q.  How much do you look at what Michigan State did to kind of slow down Denard in the last two games and try to plan for that?
COACH HOKE:  You always do that.  You always like to see what people have done and see if it's worked.  If it's worked, then you want to find some ways to maybe attack it a little bit differently.
At the same time, it's guys getting off blocks.  They do a good job of that.  The flow of the football, they do a very good job of that.
So, again, it goes back to the front on both sides of the ball if you want to be successful.

Q.  You talked a little bit about this on Saturday, but you split carries at least a little bit more early on.  Is that more what you think you'll look for down the road, getting Rawls in early?
COACH HOKE:  I don't know.  Depends how the flow of the game goes as much as anything.

Q.  How important is it to have the most physical team on the football team this coming Saturday?
COACH HOKE:  This game has always, in my recollection, been a very physical, feisty to some degree, football game.
You know, there is a lot of pride in both universities and programs and guys who are out there representing.  Our guys know their guys; their guys know our guys a vast majority.
So it's always a physical game.

Q.  The last two weeks Denard has played very well and had a lot of balance in both the passing and the running game, and obviously no interceptions.  How much has it been his personal improvement in the last two weeks post Notre Dame, and how much has been Al maybe tailoring the game plan to what Denard does well?
COACH HOKE:  I think it's probably a combination of both.  You know, I think it always is.  I think Al has always had a great plan and very good plans.  It's our execution sometimes that needs to be better.
At the same time, I think there is growth in Denard in what he's been doing.

Q.  This Saturday is Willis Ward Day in the state of Michigan.  Have you done anything to educate the team on his legacy?
COACH HOKE:  Not as much as we will.  You know, we'll get back together today a little bit.  Haven't done a whole lot of it.  Obviously with Desmond, he knew the story and those things because of what Gerald Ford and the support that Ford gave Willis.  More so the team will.

Q.  Going back to Denard, has that opened up Roundtree a little bit more?  Looked like he was more active Saturday than in prior weeks.
COACH HOKE:  You know, I don't know if it's opened him up.  I think when you have an opportunity you can run the football, I think you have a chance to open some things up in the throw game.
I don't know if it opened up Roy more.

Q.  You completed nine passes on Saturday to nine different receivers.  What can you say about the balance out there?
COACH HOKE:  It's very unique to do that.  To be honest with you, you know, if you would have told me that before the game I would have said, Nah, that won't happen that way.
But it did.

Q.  These players obviously know how the series has gone lately.  I don't know if know Michigan has never lost five in a row.  How much do you use that as motivation this week?
COACH HOKE:  When you're playing rivalry game, your motivation, it better come from within.  It's not something you put up or something you do.  I mean, usually comes from within.
So I would hope we're college student athletes and we understand that.

Q.  Brady, can you talk about Rawls and Hayes?  They did get in earlier this week.  The way they've progressed, did they earn that time?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, I think so.  I think both of 'em have progressed and matured and have a better grasp of the offense.  That's always where it starts.  If you understand it better and you're not just throwing a guy in there on runs, you know, that kind of stuff, I think that helps.
I think with Justice is it helped a little bit.  Vince we didn't play.  He was nursing a little bit of a hamstring.  So I think it gave him some opportunities that were very positive.

Q.  How do you feel about the punting game overall?  And with Wile, is that tumbling the ball backwards something he's learned or did he come in with that?
COACH HOKE: ¬†Well, he's known it.¬† You know, Matt has an‑‑ all kickers and punters have gurus.¬† There is a guy out in San Diego who worked with Matt, and he worked hard with it when he get home in the summer and he's worked hard here on it.
It was kind of the in‑vogue way to pooch punt.¬† He's done a nice job with it.
I think, Will, you guys will know better than I do.  Did he punt once?  I think he did.  He's been doing a good job.  Again I'm not pickup trucking coach but at practice and stuff he's done a nice job.

Q.  What is Vince's status for this week?
COACH HOKE:  He should be fine.  He was better yesterday.  You know, I think as much as anything, we really, as precautionary, held him back.  I think he would have tried to go.

Q.  Two more.  We didn't see a whole lot Frank Clark.  Was he battling anything on Saturday?
COACH HOKE:  No, no, just rotation.

Q.  And Denard, any lingering affects from his injury?

Q.  What about Hopkins?
COACH HOKE:  He's back.

Q.  Back this week?

Q.  Can you talk about your defense?  Seems to be getting better every week with more guys making plays.  Just the adjustments they've made, the coaches have made, and how they seem to be clicking.
COACH HOKE:  You know, I don't think we've made really any adjustments from a coaching standpoint and schematic standpoint.  It's just that we're playing better.  We're growing up a little bit.  We're more experienced every week, every play.

Q.¬† When you go around in the summer, in the off‑season, how much have you heard about this game from alumni and so on?¬† How important is this game for this program now considering the way it's gone the past four years?
COACH HOKE:  I think it's important because we're trying to get our fifth win.  We're trying to win a conference championship just like everybody else.  That's important.
I mean, obviously in‑state, you know, there is a pretty direct line drawn in the sand if you're University of Michigan or Michigan State.
So you understand, and from being here eight years before you understand the game itself and what goes into it.

Q.  What's your most vivid memory of that rivalry, good or bad?
COACH HOKE:  Probably 2001.

Q.  Seems like Mario Ojemudia is getting more and more time.  What are you seeing out of him that is developing?
COACH HOKE:  You know, he's an athletic guy.  He's played with pretty good technique and fundamentals.  I think he's improved with that part of his game.  He's athletic.
You know, when you can get more athletes on the field in certain situations and certain teams.¬† I mean, you know, I think he's just kept‑‑ again, like a lot of the guys, the guys who haven't played much before this year, they've all kind of taken it personal that they need to improve for their teammates.

Q.  When you look at the game Jake had on Saturday, three and a half tackles for loss, one and a half sacks, a forced fumble.  You're talked before about he's unorthodox, is that the kind of game you point to and say he could have every single week?
COACH HOKE:  Oh, I don't know.  That's a pretty good duty.  I mean, we have high expectations for him and for the defense.
But, you know, he's unorthodox.  What he has that I think most of our guys have, he's got pretty good instinct.  Also, he's pretty relentless to the football.  That's where he makes some of those negative plays, is just the effort that he's going to play with.

Q.  (Question regarding cornerbacks and tight coverage.)

Q.  How much have they played that kind of coverage the last couple weeks, and how much of that is based on the fact that they have safeties that they trust to be there?
COACH HOKE:¬† It depends.¬† When you're getting into coverages ‑ two‑deep, three‑deep, man under, base man with free safety help, zero man with no help.¬† It just depends.
I think the thing I like about J.T. and Raymon and Courtney, I mean, their fundamentals are better.¬† Their squareness to the line of scrimmage, both them ‑ and particularly Ray ‑ is a pretty aggressive guy.¬† It suits him best.
Now, can it get him in trouble at times?  Sure.  But I would rather him be aggressive.

Q.  I know you've stressed physicality every week, but how much does it need to go up?
COACH HOKE:  You know, there is differences in what you see and what you play against from both sides of the ball.  An aggressive defense, which they are, they have very physical guys on the outside.
When you look at their corner play, they've got physical linebackers.  So from an offensive perspective, you kind of get that idea of how they're going to play the game.  They're leading the conference in every category and playing very good defense.
From an offensive standpoint, you're not going to play versus a spread.¬† You're going to play versus good old fashion two‑back football, some one‑back stuff, but downhill vertical run.
And so the last two weeks we've been against two teams that were obviously spread teams.  This is not a spread team.

Q.  As a coach, do you feel any pressure to reverse this rivalry?
COACH HOKE:  No.  Just got to go out and play.  We got to prepare 'em from Sunday to Friday and get 'em ready to play.

Q.¬† Is the way this series has gone the last four years, does that change the perception of this program?¬† The series and the series has been dominated over the last 40 years by Michigan.¬† Ohio State is always viewed as the biggest rival.¬† If you take care of the in‑state rivalry, does it change the way this rivalry is perceived?
COACH HOKE:¬† That's probably a pretty good question.¬† I don't know.¬† I think it's an important one of the rivalries that we play in.¬† Obviously in‑state and the passion of both schools and teams and fans, yeah, it's important.

Q.¬† When you're preparing your defense for Michigan State's offense ‑ and they've been struggling ‑ but do you prepare your team for what the offense is capable of what show them clips of what they can do.¬† Not necessarily what they have done lately when they've been stagnant?
COACH HOKE:  I don't know.  That's your interpretation.  I think when you understand what they're trying to do and how they're trying to do it and with what was a young quarterback, I think you can look at any of those tapes and know you got your work cut out for you from the line of scrimmage.
Bell is a hard‑nosed, north‑south runner.¬† He can punish you.

Q.  You always talk about getting multiple people to the ball.
COACH HOKE:  That'll be very important.

Q.  Especially with(indiscernible) and Bell?
COACH HOKE:¬† It's important every week, but when you got a big back, and I mean, he's a‑‑ I want to sayhe's got over 1000 yards, or right near it, doesn't he?¬† Yes or no?¬† I'm asking the question.¬† (Laughter.)
Just right there, right?  I mean, that's a pretty good back.

Q.  Couple weeks ago you said your most vivid Notre Dame memory is of a loss, and your most vivid Michigan State memory was a loss.  In these rivalry games, do the losses hurt more than...
COACH HOKE:  Every loss hurts.  You always remember losses.

Q.  Could a win ever be your most favorite memory in one of those games?
COACH HOKE:  You said favorite or most vivid?

Q.  Most vivid, not favorite.
COACH HOKE:  Probably not.

Q.  What did you think of the clock in that game?

Q.  The clock in that game.
COACH HOKE:  I remember the 12 men on the field.  There was a coach on the sideline who was in charge of that substitution, which was me.

Q.  You still kept your job, right?
COACH HOKE:  Barely.  (Laughter.)

Q.  Speaking of clocks, you kind of controlled the time of possession in the last two games, but you've been able to mix in some big plays as well.  How does that kind of change a game when you can also break up a defense with some big runs and passes?
COACH HOKE:  I don't know if you're changing a game.  I know we play really good defense when our offense is on the field, and that helps in a lot ways.
We've been fortunate enough in some of the big plays last week.  Some guys did a great job who scored the touchdowns, but you look at the receivers down the field blocking and harassing, and the linemen that got down the field.  Mike Kwiatkowski on the first touchdown by Gallon.  I mean, he did a tremendous job.
You get big plays by efforts of other guys.  Obviously Denard, if he gets north and south his speed is a factor.  Controlling the time possession is always important to us.

Q.  Al talks about he wants Denard to make plays not miracles.  When you see him almost make miracles, how fine of a line is that with him and how unique of a player is he to coach in that regard?
COACH HOKE:¬† Well, Al is talking about making sure that‑‑ making miracles is trying to not stay within the framework of what we're trying to do from an offensive standpoint.¬† Probably happens more in the passing game than in the run game.
So from that part of it, I think that's what Al's talking about.
Jim, another question?

Q.  So if he hasn't thrown an interception the last couple days he's doing a better job of that, I would think.
COACH HOKE:  I think, you know, that's pretty basic.  I mean, if you don't throw interceptions then you're throwing the ball better, right?

Q.  Could be lucky.  I'm not saying he is.
COACH HOKE:  Could be.  I mean, we all could be lucky.

Q.  The other part of is that a how unique of a player is he?  He has such a unique skillset.
COACH HOKE:  He's got something that a lot of people don't have, his ability to start and stop and then accelerate.  You know, his vision is pretty good.  He's got a good burst.

Q.  Is this game on any even footing with Ohio State?
COACH HOKE:  They're all important.

Q.  You always say the Ohio State game is the most.  Does this come close?
COACH HOKE:  They're all important.

Q.  All the same?
COACH HOKE:  All important.

Q.  But it takes on added value, doesn't it?  It's in the same division.

Q.  Doesn't that ramp it a little bit?
COACH HOKE:  That helps, yeah.

Q.  But they're all the same?
COACH HOKE:  See, you knew that.

Q.  Yeah.  Can I ask you one question about the runningbacks since you got a few guys in.  Would you be more inclined now having seen what they can do if someone is struggling to pull the trigger?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah I think so.  I think that's a fair assessment.  They've got some good work.  It was good to see Justice get good work.  He brings something different.
With Thomas catching the one ball on the critical third down, you know, that's not something that we've done a lot with him.  But we ran a good route and secured the football in a little bit of traffic.

Q.  What do you like best about the development of the defensive line halfway through the season, and are they where you thought they might be at that point?
COACH HOKE:  You know, the second half of that, John, that's hard for me.  I would probably say they should be better, you know.  I mean we're going to drive 'em and they should be better.
Have they developed some?  Yeah.  Apparently they have.
But, again, I'll go back to playing a physical football team, which this is going to be, and it's a whole different way of playing football.

Q.  Is Devin Gardner still taking snaps as quarterback?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, he is.  He is on a daily basis.

Q.  So if there was an emergency he would be ready to go?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, we would finish with Russell, though.  We would finish a game with Russell.  Russell is a good quarterback and he's had a good fall camp and a good fall, so we got a lot faith in him.

Q.  Is he pretty excited?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, I mean, that daggone fumble, really the ball just didn't get up enough.  It slipped a little bit.  You know, he has a lot confidence in what he's doing.

Q.  I know you don't wear red.  Do you not wear green either?

Q.  Remember the last time you did?

Q.  Did seeing Bellomy get that early work give you guys even more confidence in him?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, I think it does.  I think it always does.  The more guys get to play, get game experience and you get to evaluate them off game experience, you know, all those things are important.

Q.  Is there one thing specifically that you saw that you liked?
COACH HOKE:  I liked how he get himself ready.  I liked how he get himself ready during the week.
Comes out, he's taking snaps and getting himself ready to go.  He was compose and calm and he wasn't overexcited.

Q.  The runningbacks only have six receptions I think it is.
COACH HOKE:  Yeah.  You know, I think you got to look at screens and how much we've tried to throw.  I can't tell you that off the top of my head.
You look at a couple that were dropped earlier.  I wish I could remember a couple of those, too.  Not screens but routes coming out.
Really just depends on what somebody is gonna give you.  Can you get the five men out, or do you got to keep a guy in to protect?
So kind of runs that gamut.

Q.  Jake Ryan, he seems like he doesn't have any idea how good he is.  Like he carries himself with a...
COACH HOKE:  What are you saying?

Q.  He's awfully good but doesn't think about it that way.  Is that the way he sort of carries himself, I'm playing this game and I'm pretty good?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah.  He's one of those kids that loves to play football and doesn't think about the other stuff.  He doesn't think about himself, besides exactly what he needs to do on a certain call.
But he pretty much is pretty normal.

Q.  Pretty normal?

Q.  I don't know what that means.
COACH HOKE:  I figured you wouldn't.  But he goes about his work.  He's intent on it and he gets himself ready.  He is just fun to be around.

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