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UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 19, 2012
COACH HOKE: ¬†Just couple things I guess as we get started.¬† Number one, Fitz had surgery.¬† Went very well.¬† Saw him yesterday.¬† Should get out of the hospital today, and then should have a full recovery and we'll move forward and he'll move forward.¬† But everything went well as well, as well as it can as far as having an injury.¬† No one wants that for any kid.
But the Iowa game was one that ‑‑ we have to play much better than we did this week to be successful.¬†
Great thing about it was our guys, the seniors of this team being able to come up that tunnel for the last time and sing the victory song in the locker room here.¬† So that was a really positive.
As we look forward, we've got a great challenge in front of us and an opportunity.¬† This is a fun football game.¬† Any time you have a rivalry like this, this is a fun game to play.
Q.¬† With Denard, how much will it help that you've used him in the ways you did in a game?¬† Obviously you practiced it during the week, but now looking forward that you were able to see him that live action, a live game in all the different ways you used him.
COACH HOKE:¬† I don't know what your question is.
Q.¬† You practiced with Denard in all different ways, at runningback, wingback, whatever, and now that you've got a chance to see him do it in a game, how much does that help you looking forward to Ohio State.
COACH HOKE:¬† Well, I think it helps our football team.¬† When we moved Devin and he wanted to move to wide receiver, we were helping our football team because we were putting our best 11 on the field.
Denard fits in that either as a quarterback or a slot receiver or whatever it may be.¬† You know, it helps our football team.¬† If the question was was it good to see him in live action, yeah.
Q.¬† What exactly was Toussaint surgery on?
COACH HOKE:¬† I'm not going to get into that, Mike.¬† That's his business.
Q.¬† Okay.¬† Do you expect him back for the start of next season?
COACH HOKE:¬† Yes.¬† Hope so.
Q.¬† Jordan Kovacs as leader, how much do you think it helps him, the journey he had to take to get where he is, having to walk on twice, being the son of a Wolverine, how much does that help him now?
COACH HOKE:¬† Probably speaks to his character and his resiliency and perseverance and all those things.¬† His work ethic is what to me it talks about.
I think his teammates obviously feel that way or they wouldn't have voted him as captain.¬† He's been through a lot of hard work and been through a grind.
Q.¬† You were there the last time Michigan won in Ohio Stadium.¬† Talk about how difficult it is to win down there and why and maybe what it's like to go into that place where you're not all that well‑liked.
COACH HOKE:¬† I don't know if we're not all that well‑liked, but it really is a great environment.¬† We have a lot of respect for them.¬† They have good football players, and always have and always will.¬† They play with a passion.¬† Their fans are passionate about their school, which is what makes college football so great and this rivalry so great.
So I can't speak to winning down there, losing down there.¬† I've done both.¬† It's a fun week I can tell you.¬† Fun week of practice, fun week and fun game to be involved with.
Q.¬† Do you stick with Devin at quarterback then this week and do the same thing with Denard or is that still up in the air?
COACH HOKE:¬† You know, Denard continues to get better every day, so I would say it's probably up in the air.
Q.¬† Couple of teams have had some success against your defense on the edge.¬† Northwestern got out there a little bit.¬† What do you do to focus on that and not let Braxton Miller break your cadence?
COACH HOKE:¬† I don't know if you're ever going to be 100% with an athlete like that.¬† That never happens.¬† I think your emphasis and focus on your leverage positions, your perimeter players, your support.¬† And how you're leveraged defensively is a big part of it.
Q.¬† How has Thomas Rawls progressed this season, and what does he bring to your offense now at runningback for you?
COACH HOKE:¬† Thomas has improved a lot as the season went on.¬† I think he learned a little bit more about playing the position at this level.¬† Some people ‑ and I probably am one of 'em¬† sometimes ‑ think you got a gifted guy, you give the football to him, and he decides where to go.
There is so much more to it when you're looking at back‑side reads on linebackers, looking at pass protection, and all the things that you have to do as a back.¬† I think that's where Thomas has grown the most.
Q.¬† (Indiscernible) for the downfield passing game has always been part of his offense.¬† What's been the key the last couple weeks?
COACH HOKE:¬† I think a lot of it is the play‑action part of it, being able to get some yardage on the ground, being able to create some space.
I think that's always a big part of it.¬† What helps you then is off the play‑action, the safeties, they get a little more eager to get up in there.¬† If you have the ability to get by them a little bit, it creates vertical plays.
Q.¬† What kind of inspiration and leadership has Elliott Mealer been to this team?
COACH HOKE:¬† I think his journey has been one that means an awful lot to the guys on this football team because of how Elliott lives daily, you know, to overcome the tragedy that he's dealt with in a really first‑class way and just the love his teammates have for him.
Q.¬† I know your team doesn't need extra motivation for this game, but how does the magnitude amp up even more with them being undefeated?
COACH HOKE:¬† Doesn't, to be honest with you.¬† We're playing for a championship still.¬† If you need anything to get amped up more or whatever for this football game, then you don't know college football and you don't understand the importance of this great rivalry.
Q.¬† With the new coaching staff there this year, how much of what they had last year is relevant and how much can you take forward from last year's game forward with you?
COACH HOKE:¬† From an offensive standpoint, probably not much; defensively, some.
Q.¬† You talked about playing Ohio State when they're undefeated.¬† You had a chance to coach against Ohio State in a couple of those games and won.¬† Is the feeling afterwards any different than a normal win over Ohio State when they are undefeated?
COACH HOKE:¬† Nope.
Q.¬† Why is that?
COACH HOKE:¬† Just that ballgame, just winning that game.
Q.¬† How has Desmond Morgan progressed?¬† Will he ready to go?
COACH HOKE:¬† Yeah, he'll be ready.¬† He'll be ready.
Q.¬† How was it different last year being the head coach in this game compared to being assistant coach in this game previously?
COACH HOKE:¬† Well, I get the delight of sitting here talking to all of you.
I'm coaching a position.
Q.¬† You mentioned that Desmond Morgan should be ready to go.¬† What can you say about James Ross and how he filled in in that spot?
COACH HOKE:¬† I think from day one we thought he was very instinctive and a good football player.¬† Doesn't surprise me that he has good instincts and sees things pretty cognizant and likes to tackle.
Q.¬† As an defensive coach yourself, talk about the problems that present for a defense when you have two athletes and players like Devin and Denard out there together at the same time and what that presents to the defense?
COACH HOKE:¬† Well, yeah, you know, I just think you've got to look at it from a schematic standpoint, making sure that how you leverage, how you look at things, what kind of options does the team have.
You know, of the various formations, how you want to defend and what's real there to defend and what's not.
That, to me, is always the hard part about it.
Q.¬† What are you most concerned about with regard to Ohio State's offense?
COACH HOKE:¬† They're running the football very well; they're scoring more points than anybody else in the conference.¬† I think Carlos Hyde is a big back who is physical.¬† And Braxton, with what he does with his athleticism, that's part of it.¬† And his uniqueness and his ability to make people miss.
I think their offensive line has got playmakers at the wide receiver positions that can get down the field.¬† I think the way they use the tight end, which we really didn't do a great job defending this past week, you know, it's a concern.
Q.¬† Did Denard's injury change the way you use him in the backfield?¬† Do you look at that more?
COACH HOKE:¬† No.¬† Thomas Rawls, this is a great time for him and Vince Smith.
Q.¬† You are going to know by Saturday whether or not you have a chance at the Big 10 Championship game.¬† I'm guessing the magnitude of this one is such that the game is the game and it doesn't really impact how you approach it.
COACH HOKE:¬† Correct.
Q.¬† Just your thoughts on what you've seen with what Urban Meyer has been able to do at Ohio State.¬† With you and him going at it, it seems like it will certainly be exciting to see the battles between you two.
COACH HOKE:¬† You know, I don't know.¬† The good thing is neither one of us are playing.¬† I mean, we're going to prepare our teams to the best of our ability to go play in a great rivalry game.
Q.¬† You and Urban have similar becomes ‑ guys who started in the MAC and have come back to the Big 10 ‑ what do you attribute kind of MAC coaching fraternity to of these guys who seem to rise up and succeed?
COACH HOKE:¬† Well, you know, I think you got to define success, you know.¬† I think America is a great conference because everyone plays with the same guys, for the most part.
The technical side of teaching and coaching or schematically maybe having a little different edge to you can go long way.
But believe me, there is a lot of good coaches who have coached in that league and a lot of good coaches coaching in that league now.
Q. ¬†(No microphone.)
COACH HOKE:¬† Well, you know, people defend you different ways first down, second down, third down.¬† I think some of it, you know, he's done a nice job because there is some run‑check, pass‑checks that you deal with on early downs.¬† I think he's done a good job of that.
I think when you watch some of the routes that have been run by wide receivers they have been good.¬† And I think the play‑action has helped.¬† And he's throwing the ball well.¬† I guess I could start with that.
Q.¬† Do you have a favorite Michigan‑Ohio State game with which you've been directly involved?
COACH HOKE:¬† Oh, boy.¬† I don't know.¬† You know, the favorite ones are the ones you win, you know.
Q.¬† And most memorable?
COACH HOKE:¬† I don't remember the year, to be honest with you.¬† It would have been maybe the '02 game.
Q.¬† (No microphone.)
COACH HOKE:¬† I know.¬† He said most memorable.
Q.¬† Why was it the most memorable?
COACH HOKE:¬† Boy, I think‑‑ was that Clarett's first year?
COACH HOKE:¬† Yeah.¬† Screen pass and big third down play.
Q.¬† You talked about Ohio State's offense; what are your impressions of their defense?
COACH HOKE:¬† Very physical, very good speed.¬† Hangkins is as good as any defensive lineman playing, you know, in the interiors in the country, in my opinion.¬† I think he plays hard.
I think John Simon.¬† I'll be honest with you, I love watching him play and have a lot of respect for him, because from point A to point B, he goes.¬† You know, I'm a defensive line coach, so I like watching guys that play that way and with that tempo and that toughness.
I think they got speed at the linebackers.¬† They flow well.¬† Chezire (phonetic) is a guy who you better get up to the second level on.¬† You don't see their back end making many mistakes and they're athletic.
Q.¬† What is your first memory of this game as a kid growing up?
COACH HOKE:¬† You're really going back.¬† Look, I had a hard time going to 2002.¬† (Laughter.)¬† I'm serious.
I don't know which one it would have been.
Q.¬† Or what players or games pop into your mind as a kid watching.
COACH HOKE:¬† I really couldn't tell you.
Q.¬† Does it help at all that Madison is pretty familiar with what Urban has done in the past?¬† Does that help at all this week?
COACH HOKE:¬† I don't think it helps.¬† I think as much as anything, it's the guys doing it.
Q.¬† It's a little different nowadays with the game after Thanksgiving.¬† Do you do anything special with the guys on Thursday?
COACH HOKE:¬† Yep.¬† We'll have Thanksgiving dinner.
Q.¬† Having grown up in Ohio, is it a bigger deal to be head coach against the Buckeyes in the Big House or for you to go down to the Horseshoe and coach against 'em?
COACH HOKE:¬† I don't know.¬† I think it's just such a great game from the standpoint of the rivalry and the excitement about it.¬† I don't know.¬† I mean, I wouldn't say either way.¬† It's a fun week.¬† I mean, it's a fun week.
Q.¬† Did you ever attend a game there?
COACH HOKE:¬† We didn't do many football games because we were usually playing.
Q.¬† We know how you appreciate this rivalry.¬† Do you have to do any educating of your players this week?
COACH HOKE:¬† We try and do that a lot through August as we talk about the Notre Dame national rivalry, the in‑state rivalry, and then this week we'll go a little bit more historical.¬† I think this is the 109th game, and obviously I think I our guys know that we haven't won there in a long time.
So all those kind of things are part of it.
Q.¬† Do you think they understand the rivalry?
COACH HOKE:¬† A lot of freshman don't unless you're from the state of Ohio and the state of Michigan.¬† I think in just talking to some of the older kids and meeting with the seniors yesterday, some of them didn't understand it until they had been through it.
Q.¬† Talk about Joe Reynolds.
COACH HOKE:¬† Joe, he's probably one of the hardest working guys on this team period, whatever it might be.¬† We do have some depth there, but he's earned that right to go out there and compete.
Q.¬† What are his strengths at that position?
COACH HOKE:¬† He's intelligence; I think probably first and foremost he's not afraid, which is always a good thing when you play the game of football.¬† And he's pretty detailed in what he does.
Q.¬† What are your thoughts on the Big 10 expanding?
COACH HOKE:¬† You know, I think right now Ohio may be a little more important.
Q.¬† Are any of the Team 132 seniors coming to talk to the team this week?
COACH HOKE:¬† Not that I know of.
Q.¬† None from the previous...
COACH HOKE:¬† Nope.
Q.¬† Have you seen the recruiting competition heat up since Urban has been there a little bit?
COACH HOKE:¬† Not really.
Q.¬† You expect it to be in the future?
COACH HOKE:¬† I think we'll get the ones we get and they'll get the ones they get.¬† Just the way it goes.
Q.¬† Before the game arrives, what's your favorite part of the preparation for this?
COACH HOKE:¬† This moment right now, John.¬† (Laughter.)
Q.¬† What's your second favorite?
COACH HOKE:¬† Second favorite is when this moment is over with.¬† (Laughter.)
Q.¬† (Indiscernible) always say they did something every day to prepare for Ohio State throughout the year.¬† I was wondering whether directly or indirectly do you have a similar philosophy?
COACH HOKE:¬† Well, you know, I think there is not a whole lot that you can do and prepare for another opponent every day.¬† I think there are things we talk about every day as far as part of remembering that game throughout the year.
Q.¬† Beyond just the greeting every day, is that kind what you're focusing on?
COACH HOKE:¬† That's part of it.
Q.¬† Did you see the 60 Minutes thing?
COACH HOKE:¬† No.
Q.¬† You didn't see it?
COACH HOKE:¬† No.¬† I was watching Ohio.
Q.¬† You don't think them being undefeated is something you can use with your team and add to it a little bit?
COACH HOKE:¬† If they don't have the understanding or the wherewithal about the immenseness of playing in this rivalry, then to me they're not going to play as well as they can.
Q.¬† Denard is the clear to play, but I'm going to venture a guess he's not 100%.¬† How close is he?
COACH HOKE:¬† He's getting better.
Q.¬† Does his performance Saturday speak to his toughness?
COACH HOKE:¬† Probably, and his love for the game and love for his teammates.
Q.¬† You said it's up in the air to who is going to play quarterback.¬† How close legitimately is he to throwing the ball?
COACH HOKE:¬† Are we going on a scale, a sliding scale?
Q.¬† If you want.
COACH HOKE:¬† Yeah, he's close.
Q.¬† He's close?¬† Is throwing the biggest obstacle?
COACH HOKE:¬† He's throwing the ball.
Q.¬† So what's the obstacle to getting to 100%?
COACH HOKE:¬† I think he's close to 100% now.
Q.¬† Is there anything holding him back in particular?
COACH HOKE:¬† No.
Q.¬† So he can start right now?
COACH HOKE:¬† Yep.
Q.¬† So he didn't take any hits on the elbow or anything?
COACH HOKE:¬† Nope.
Q.¬† When you saw Fitz, what was his mood?¬† Was it one of those why‑did‑it‑happen‑to‑me?¬† How did he handle it?
COACH HOKE:¬† He handled it like a guy who's pretty tough and a football player handles it.
Q.¬† Spirits were?
COACH HOKE:¬† They were good.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports