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November 12, 2012

Brady Hoke

COACH HOKE:¬† I'm really proud of our football team.¬† I'm proud how they stuck together.¬† I think I mentioned ‑ I may not have ‑ they really stuck together during the whole game.¬† They believed in each other, believed in what we were trying to get accomplished.
I thought there were some really smart decisions made by players and by some of the guys on the staff.  When the two returners in the end of game and the punt, because of the way they tried to punt the ball, Gallon was able to get some real positive yardages set up being able to get the ball down to I don't know what yard line it was to try the field goal to tie it.
You know, if you got one returner back and that ball bounces you lose field position and all those things, so kids executed it well.
This week is a special week.  Number one, our seniors, last time they get to play in the greatest stadium in this country, get to wear the blue jersey here at home.  So it's really special for us as coaches and for those underclassmen to go out and play well.
Iowa, as you know, they're a very good football team.  They've lost two last two games by a total of I think six points.  Run the football well.  I think they had some nicked up people when you look at it earlier in the year, but I think they're really coming together.
James Vandenberg I think is a very good quarterback, so we've got our work cut out for us.  We got a lot to do.

Q.  Being that it is senior week, what are the chances that we'll see Denard?  Are you more likely to put him on the filed even if he is not totally 100% because it is senior week?
COACH HOKE:¬† He's day‑to‑day.

Q.  Against Notre Dame last year with eight seconds left you went for the touchdown.
COACH HOKE:¬† Uh‑huh.

Q.  Saturday you went for the field goal.  Talk about that decision and how that differs.
COACH HOKE:  I think it just made sense at the time.  Kids were running all the way down the field; didn't have a timeout; he spiked it.  Did a great job of managing that.  No one was moving.  And just at that time that was the right thing to do.  Because it did cross my mind, No, let's kick the field goal.

Q.  Talk about the mental toughness that goes into it looks like you have 'em stopped on the fourth down and you don't get the call and you still have to try to stop 'em and get a few seconds left.
COACH HOKE:  I thought our defense, we didn't tackle we would want to, we didn't get off blocks as well.  I thought the inside run portion of their offense was really eliminated because we did a nice job.
We didn't get off blocks well enough in the perimeter.  But our defense, there was a play in the came when Craig Roh makes the sack, there was ten guys running their tails off to the football and getting to the football.
They played with that kind of effort all day.  You got to give them some credit, because I think Colter is a good football player, and I think Venric Mark is a guy that can play anywhere because he's got great quickness and speed to him.
So I thought our defense stood up when it had to.

Q.¬† Were some of the those issues what Northwestern was doing and that Colter is just that unique, the Colter‑Mark experience?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, I think obviously it's some of what we did well and some that we didn't do well enough.  I do think they're two really good athletes.  So I don't know how you want to slice it, but are there things that we can do better, leverage the ball better, get off blocks better.  No doubt about it.

Q.  (Question regarding Air Force's similarities.)
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, but it's a little bit different, you know, because Air Force basically has four backs in the backfield depending what they're doing with the slots.

Q.  Obviously this year with Denard running you've been much more of a running team with him in there and using the run instead of a pass.  Is there a concerted effort to kind of flip that philosophical change with using the pass to set up the run with Devin in there?  And did you find that was successful in getting the running game going late in the game?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, I think it always helps when you can throw the ball and the safeties have to get a little further back off the line of scrimmage.
I know we thought some of the hits routes that ‑‑ we threw to Gallon, threw a big one to Roundtree where he caught well with his hands, made a guy miss, and picked up some critical yards.
I think there is no doubt that if you can be effective enough in either portion of it it'll help the other.

Q.  You mentioned Gallon.  Were you surprised they even put it in the field and didn't try to put that out of bounds?
COACH HOKE:  Well, where do you kick it out of bounds.  To me, that's one reason don't do that.  I think it's a hard kick to manage.
You know, guy's moving sideways.  I guess it would be like hitting a golf ball walking towards the tee.  I've seen a guy do it pretty good, but I think that's hard to do.

Q.¬† I know you said Denard is day‑to‑day, but once you make a decision on that this week, because as you said it's a special day and there are more emotions involved...
COACH HOKE:  I won't have anything to do with it.  His health is what it will have to do with.

Q.  You mentioned the seniors.  Can you talk about them a little bit more in terms obviously this is a group that has been here a few years when you got here and had to switch everything, switch systems and all.
COACH HOKE:  I think you see as a team we're pretty resilient.  I would say that's what this group is.  You know, they've been through two approaches, two styles of how you go through a football program.
They have done a great job with it.  They've worked hard.  They're a fun group of guys to be around.  I just think the world of them.

Q.  With their big plays, how much was that of you guys not doing a good job of leveraging the football back into your strength, and how much was just missing the tackles?
COACH HOKE:  If I could give you a percentage, I don't know how I would call it, but it was obviously a little bit of both.  I think we were in space at times to make a play and didn't.
Probably more on some of the pass‑rush things.¬† I think there was an opportunity to have four more sacks if we keep the ball constricted in this pocket.¬† But some of it is a matter of us not running through a guy or taking not a proper angle, and some of it is they made a play.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH HOKE:  Easily fixable?  I don't know anything is easily fixable, but I think the message was sent yesterday as leveraging the football as defense.

Q.  I know there are still games remaining after Saturday's, but in terms of Denard and his last game in Michigan Stadium, talk about his career and what he's meant for this program and the fans who will see him for the last time in this stadium.
COACH HOKE:  Well, he's obviously made a mark within Michigan football.  He's done a tremendous job.
But I think there are a lot of guys as a team, as a group of seniors‑‑ you know Will Campbell is a guy who has really grown and probably played his best football game.

Q.  Close win on Saturday.  How did you get the team to block those things out and just focus on this one?
COACH HOKE:  They've done a great job with it, to be honest.  I never hear anything but who's next, who the opponent is.
I think they know we've got to take care of ourselves.  To achieve greatness, you got to put yourself in position and take care of your business to do that.

Q.  Is it disappointing that with two games left you don't control your destiny?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, I mean, it always is.  You want to be able to control the things you do, but we so control what we can do, and that's why Iowa is so significant.

Q.  You've seen them on film.  I know you said they're good at losing close games.  It's a little different than it normally is.
COACH HOKE:  I don't know.  Not being there, I don't know.  I know they still run the plays that they run.  I think they do a great job of blocking them.
I think depending both backs, you know, are very capable guys.  I think Vandenberg is really a good quarterback.  He gave us a lot of fits last year, especially on critical downs.
Even though the third down, because I couldn't remember‑‑ what was it, Justin?¬† 4‑12, you know, I would think in my mind it was a lot worse than that.

Q.  The kickoff that they returned, the long one...

Q.  Was that just poor placement on the kick, or was that kind of where you wanted to kick it?
COACH HOKE:¬† There was a couple different things.¬† Number one, you got to cross‑face some blocks, and we didn't do on the backside.¬† We stayed and we tell them to, you know, cross their face, good butt side, and we didn't do that.¬† They blocked it decently well.
We had safety in position that needs to be more aggressive on it.  You know, a lot of different things.

Q.  Denard hasn't been on the list of available players for the past couple weeks.  I realize there is an injury there, but do you feel like there will be a disappointment from fans that they won't hear from him this week considering what he's meant to this program?
COACH HOKE:¬† You know, he's day‑to‑day.

Q.  Did he do anything different this week that's sharable in terms of the seniors?
COACH HOKE:  Sharable?  No.

Q.  Is there a senior that has really embodied this class or a small group of seniors that have exhibited character?
COACH HOKE:  There are a lot of them.  I think, Kovacs, Campbell, Mealer, Omameh.

Q.  Why those guys?
COACH HOKE:  Just how they come to work every day, how they are as people.

Q.  You mentioned Campbell has really grown.  What do you mean by that?
COACH HOKE:  Really grown.  In some ways he hasn't grown.  He's gotten thinner.  I think his approach to the game.  And you see that in guys who become juniors and seniors.  Their focus, their mindset, how they prepare, that's part of it.
I think leadership is part of it.  You know, the comfort zone that the guy gets because he's been through it and been through the struggles.

Q.  (Question regarding Dennis Norfleet.)
COACH HOKE:¬† Dileo ‑‑ not Dileo, Gallon, you know, he kind of boo‑boo'd himself up last week, so we were trying to give him a little rest.
We have a lot faith and trust in him and he felt good.

Q.¬† How did you spell boo‑boo'd up?
COACH HOKE:  You're the writer.

Q.  Yeah.  Wow.  What went into the last two plays with Demens?  Was that individual play?  He had two huge stops.
COACH HOKE:  The one on the quarterback draw, first one, he did a nice job coming back and really was forced nice from the inside, you know, where the guy bubbled it for a minute and then only had a certain area to go.
Kenny did a nice job of that on the last play of the game.  Number one, I thought Greg really gave him something a little different.  I think we had run him one other time in the game.
But when we ran it, it was [](indiscernible) in at quarterback.  Gave him a different look.  Had three backers in the box.  Jibreel Black did exactly what he was supposed to do in forcing the A gap and getting penetration.
So there was only one other way the runningback could run the ball.  He had to run it right back into Kenny.  Kenny obviously made a terrific tackle and was in the place he should have been.
The good thing, on the outside of the perimeter, the pitchman was taken care of.  Kovacs was exactly where he needed to be, and the quarterback we had two guys on.

Q.  The way that game ended in overtime, does that make it easier to build off of?
COACH HOKE:¬† Yeah, I think so.¬† It's easier to teach always off a win, believe me.¬† So I think, yeah, there were a lot of things that yesterday we‑ I don't want to say cleared up ‑ but maybe made a little more crystal in how we want to play them.

Q.  How has Denard handled the past weeks mentally?
COACH HOKE:  He's been a great leader.  I mean, he's been a terrific leader.

Q.  If he's not healthy enough to throw the ball, could he still be played in some way situationally?
COACH HOKE:¬† I don't know.¬† I guess I'll talk about that day‑to‑day.

Q.  Has this been frustrating for him?
COACH HOKE:  I would think so.

Q.  As staff, when you play against a team like Iowa with a little more traditional system, is there a greater comfort level for you guys because that is what you're more familiar with?
COACH HOKE:  Oh, I don't know.  I think you been coaching long enough you get kind of comfortable with most things.  It's usually not the system, it's the players.

Q.  Michigan has always been about the team, but you have to admit Denard has been the face of the program for a couple years now.  At least people associate Michigan with Denard Robinson.  Does he enjoy that, do you think?
COACH HOKE:  I don't know.

Q.  From your perspective has he enjoyed being...
COACH HOKE:  I don't know.

Q.  How has he handled it?
COACH HOKE:  I think he's done a great job.

Q.  With grace?  Does is seek it out?
COACH HOKE:  Do you think he's graceful?

Q.  Yeah, I think he's graceful.
COACH HOKE:  Then I would say that.

Q.  But I am talking about in terms of public perceptions and expectations of him.
COACH HOKE:  They're always lofty when you're at Michigan.  You know that.

Q.  I do.
COACH HOKE:  So that comes with the territory.

Q.  But I'm trying to understand how Denard has enjoyed his career here being the face of...
COACH HOKE:¬† I think when his career is over, he will enjoy it immensely‑ day‑to‑day.¬† (Laughter.)

Q.  As a position group, would you say that your linebackers have come as far this year as any on the team?
COACH HOKE:  I think they've made progress.  You know, I think the rotation of the guys has been positive.  I think Kenny has been productive; I think Jake obviously has been pretty productive.
I think as a group they're a very solid group.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH HOKE:  He number one, you know, he's on the headset.  I mean, he was trying to get one of the wide receivers lined up the other day, and it's kind of hard to do because it gets loud in there.
When Devin comes off, I mean, they had conversation.  I know late in the game when we needed to get the stop defensively, and he was talking to every guy on the offense about keeping them going, I guess.

Q.  Does he offer more than Devin did before because he's had so much game experience and he can see things?
COACH HOKE:  Say that again.  I got to understand the question.

Q.  When Devin comes off, can Denard offer more him?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, I think so.

Q.  Is there time you can generally...
COACH HOKE:  You know, I don't sit in their conversations when they're coming off, but from what I know and how I see them interact, I would say yes.

Q.  If Denard is frustrated, obviously you can't speak to that; you're not him.  But for you, if he doesn't play Saturday, is that hard for you?
COACH HOKE:  I think any time a guy can't finish the way they would like to because of injury or whatever, you're disappointed for them.

Q.  Is it more at all with him?
COACH HOKE:  No.  They're all our sons.

Q.  Is there any further update on Russell and what his status will be for Saturday?

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH HOKE:  He's come along.

Q.  You made fun of Angelique on Saturday for starting the story before the game was over.
COACH HOKE:  I did not make fun of Angelique.

Q.  You guys have strung together a couple of these comebacks.  Is that the mindset that it takes, just to never...
COACH HOKE:  You got to believe in your kids, you know.  That's the biggest thing.  I've got a lot of belief in this football team.  I've got a lot belief in how they're going to go out with effort and how they're going to go out to execute at their highest level and how they're going to play with a toughness.
And I wasn't making fun of Angelique.  I asked a question.  That's all I did.

Q.  And I was honest.
COACH HOKE:  You are honest.

Q.  How about Antonio Poole?
COACH HOKE:  He's coming along.  He's not running or anything yet, but he's coming along.  He's doing a lot of weight room, biking, and those things.

Q.  Kenny Demens was challenged obviously early in the year.  He was rotating more and seems to be playing more now.  Was there something you saw change at some point?
COACH HOKE:  No, I think Kenny has a lot of pride.  Any time that the competition is healthy for all of us, I think it brings the best out of you.
I think he has a lot respect for Joe and how Joe plays, and I know Joe has a lot respect for Kenny.  So I think when we can have the opportunity to rotate them a little bit just to keep guys fresh at the end of the game, you know, we're going to do that.
So it's not all based on where a guy is.  Will and Jibreel rotate a number of plays all the time.  Now, that doesn't mean one is better than the other.  They're both being productive and we're keeping them fresh.

Q.  Were you a little more pleased with the offensive line Saturday?
COACH HOKE:  Yeah, I thought we were a little better.  In the first half I thought Fitz missed two reads.  Now, I was a runningback in seventh grade, so that tells you how much my vision is.
I thought they did a better job, more thorough job, of finishing.

Q.  You're talking about keeping the focus game to game.  When you've put so much emphasis on Iowa State, how do you keep this team focused and not looking to that one?
COACH HOKE:  I think they have a unique sense of what's important.

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