Jack Miller, Brennen Beyer, Derrick Green
Jack, you guys had so much attention on the offensive line coming in to the year. Through three games can you kind of rate how you guys have done and do you think it’s kind of stabilized?
JM: “Yeah, I think we’ve done a pretty good job. There’s been a couple bumps in the road but overall so far I think the group’s done a good job coming together and playing pretty well.”
Why do you think that is? What’s the reason you guys have made this leap?
JM: “I think the work that we put in in the offseason. We worked extremely hard and did extra work for offensive line-type stuff and I think that’s paying off for us.”
This is for Jack as well. I asked Nussmeier what the biggest different is from the start of fall camp to now in terms of improvement and he mentioned communication. How much does that have to, I guess, adjust on a game-by-game basis depending on what you’re seeing or is it a constant thing that you can make the same according to your offense?
JM: “Well, I think that’s why you have three practices a week and you watch a lot of film and those types of things so you’re not surprised come gameday with the types of looks and those types of things that you’ll get. The calls and the communication, while necessary, can be kind of a backup things because everyone should know what’s going on and what to do and those types of things so just the practice and the film work and those types of things really help that become an easier process come gameday.”
Jack, this is also for you. What have you seen from Mason Cole? He was thrusted into a starting position as a freshman, but how have you seen him kind of take on the transition?
JM: “You know, I’ve been very impressed with Mason since he first came in. The poise that he has for an 18-year-old kid playing offensive line is remarkable, and he’s got maybe the best attribute to have as an offensive lineman which is just being consistent play-in and play-out. He knows his job, he’s a smart kid, and he goes out and plays hard and tries to get it done and whether he does a good job or a bad job he’s on to the next play. And like I said, his poise and demeanor is pretty exceptional for such a young kid.”
[Hit THE JUMP for more]
“Alright, let’s get going on this next one. Go ahead, start it right out.”
As far as pass rushing, your guys are getting there. Like Frank [Clark] said last week, they’re not always finishing the job but what’s your outlook on the pass rushing so far?
“Well, you know, I’m happy with their effort. I look at practice. I look at practice all the time and I believe that what you see in practice is what you’re going to see in games and, you know, the ball gets out quick a lot of times. You can’t judge a pass rush based on whether you get sacks or not. The thing that you want to look at is how many times were you hitting the quarterback and how many times are you getting to him. I was happy with how our kids worked. When I look at the film, one of the biggest things I always look for is effort. The effort and the technique that they’re being taught and I think in that game those kids up front worked very, very hard the whole game. Late in the game they were running to the football like they should. Late in the game they were going as hard as they could on the pass rush.
“There’s a couple times the ball got outside of us on a pass rush. The first thing that somebody always wants to say is, ‘Oh, he lost contain.’ You start having guys just run up the field outside to make sure the quarterback doesn’t get outside, you’ll never have a pass rush. That happened to be a quarterback that did a nice job of using his feet when a pass rusher was engaged in a blocker so to answer your question we’re getting better. We’re getting better at it and we’ll continually get better at it.”
You talk about effort and technique on film. What did you see out of Jabrill Peppers at cornerback along those lines?
“I think our entire secondary made strides this past week and I think they have a lot of pride and I think they didn’t enjoy what they saw the week before. We’re all about trying to fix it, make sure we’re competing every day and then get the guys out there that are going to compete and go after it. I think Jabrill showed during the week that he was working really hard at it and he did the same thing during the game.”
With Jeremy Clark, Brady touched on that he’s learned that the physical skills that will get you by in high school won’t work up here and getting his technique and fundamentals down. What have you seen from this year that’s sort of taken him to the level where he’s become a starter?
“Well, the thing- you said it exactly right. He has a lot of physical talent. He’s a great looking young man that can run, that plays hard, that’s a great kid. When you’re out there at safety in our defense things happen real fast, and you have to make sure you’re making the right checks. If you don’t, if you aren’t where you’re supposed to be you’re asking for something bad to happen to 10 other guys so I think that this is a learning process that he’s had to learn from. Jarrod Wilson has done a great job of showing him what he’s supposed to do and how he’s supposed to do it and I think he’s listened. He’s worked very hard at it and he’s just touching it right now. He’s not even close. He’s got time yet and I’m very pleased with how hard he’s working.”
[After THE JUMP: Mattison’s three keys to a good defense]
Offensive line from the start of fall camp to now: where’s it come and in what ways have you seen it grow?
“I think the biggest growth’s been in the communication. I see our guys on a day-to-day basis getting more comfortable and getting better at communicating. We’ve talked about it still as a point of emphasis. I think it always will be. I think you see that in really good football teams. If you watch the line play, if you just watch the trenches and you watch an offensive line play for a really good offensive team you’ll see both the verbal communication that goes on and then all the stuff that happens after the snap with the nonverbal stuff and how they pass games [Ed: I think that’s what he said] and all that type of stuff. But pleased with where we’re at as far as our focus and where we need to go. Once again, consistency.”
As far as focus goes offensively moving the ball, are you frustrated? Sometimes it looks like you’re moving the ball well. There’s other times you’re not moving it at all. There’s other times where not moving it well at all is an understatement. Is there a level of frustration for you right now? Is this offense coming together as planned or is it behind schedule?
“I don’t—I guess that’s kind of a difficult question to ask. I don’t really understand.”
Are you frustrated? Is this offense where it should be in your eyes?
“No, I’m not frustrated at all. Shoot, you look out there at the field at times- I look out there during the game and when you don’t have Funch out there and you have Amara Darboh catching his first touchdown, Da’Mario Jones comes in and catches his first pass [which was a] big third-down conversion, you look at a true freshman left tackle, Devin in his third game in a new system, at times we’re playing Khalid [Hill] at tight end. You just look at the youth out there [and] there is going to be a growth process. Our kids have worked extremely hard and take great pride in doing things right. Now, has it been perfect? No. And do we have a long way to go? Yes. But the attention is there, the focus is there, the want-to is there and we’ve just got to continue to improve.”
Last week you mentioned infancy stages. For another baby analogy, would you say it’s crawling now?
“Well, we took another step. We took a step in the right direction. Still we know as a group the consistency’s got to be better but at times you see us do some things very, very well.”
[After the THE JUMP: Nussmeier summarizes the offensive strategy against Miami and gives his thoughts on tempo]
News bullets and other items:
- There were no injury updates, because we aren’t going to talk about guys that didn’t play. Essentially, the word “injury” has been scrubbed from Hoke’s vocabulary.
- Matt Wile will be your short yardage punter, essentially because Will Hagerup kicks too hard.
- Ryan Glasgow had one of the best practice weeks Hoke has had from a nose tackle in a long time last week.
- Derrick Green had his best practice week last week.
- Jake Butt was held to a predetermined play count last week.
“Thanks for coming out. Saturday it was good to get back on the field and compete. It was good to win. The effort was very good from our team. We certainly always have things that we have to do better and we will do better but the hard-working aspect of it – thought some guys who stepped in to some critical spots gained some valuable experience and confidence. Excited for what they did.
“We had five minutes in the second quarter that would be five minutes we wouldn't like to have but I think coming through the adversity, coming out in the second half [the] defense shut them out. Offensively, I think we rushed for 7.9 yards per carry in the second half which is something that you want to do. I think from playing at home and the crowd, in the beginning of the fourth quarter their series that they had, it really had an impact. They had to call timeout. It's a fourth-down situation. They come back out, they false start, and then on the fourth-down play we get good get-off from our guys up front and get pressure and the ball is thrown out of bounds. But I think you can attribute that to the impact that it got a little louder. I'm on the field and I know you all aren’t and you could hear it so it was good and it made an impact.
”We've got Utah coming in this weekend. They are undefeated. Bye week last week. I think their second in the country in scoring offense. I think they average 309 throwing the ball, 268 running the football. Second or first in the country in tackles for loss and similar there in sacks. I think they have 11 in two games.
“I would say one thing we have to do a better job with in coaching it and executing it is the turnovers. We had a chance on Saturday to come up with three turnovers defensively. We got the one interception. We started fast as a team. First two drives on offense scored. First time defense was out on the field we got the interception but we had two other opportunities we need to capitalize on and then obviously communication on the pop kick. We need to do a better job from a standpoint of coaching it, the little things. Justice told me that he yelled ‘mine, mine, mine’ and Wyatt it just didn't hear him on that and that's something we've got to keep emphasizing as coaches. When you look at Devin’s interception, the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage and that made it flow a little higher so it was outs of Jehu’s reach and then obviously Darboh makes a great catch, gets the first down and as he is putting the ball away and trying to secure it the guy knocks the ball out. But those three turnovers in a quick period of time you don't want to have but I think the way the kids and the team handled it was very positive. That's probably the longest opening statement in the history of college football right there."
A lot of people who focus just on the offensive line think that your guys are targeting better this year. Can you talk about that and just what you've seen?
"Yeah, I think that's one way of putting it. There were a couple plays where we didn't target as well that could have been huge plays. That's one thing, watching the film with the offensive staff and Doug and talking about it, I think the target areas are better. I think the leverage is more consistent. Not where we want it when you talk about pad level and then on a couple of the outside zone plays we for some reason a couple times targeted them as inside zone. Now, you get your MIKE counts, you get a lot of things going on and either the communication didn't come all the way out or we just had bad target areas."
[More after THE JUMP]
Brady Hoke in “Everyone’s reaction to this game”
“Number one, it was great to play back at home, first and foremost. It was great to win the football game. We needed to come back and move forward and it’s always better to move with a win. I think from an offensive standpoint we did some very good things. I think the second half, obviously we took care of the football and didn’t turn the ball over and then completed some drives that we had. I think the running game is where-- we wanted to run the ball the whole game but I think the second half we stayed away from some negative plays that put you in bad situations and we were able to run the ball. I thought Derrick [Green] and DeVeon [Smith] both did a nice job. The offensive line worked very hard. I think the guys on the perimeter did a nice job.
“I think defensively holding them to 2-of-12 from a third down perspective is [good for] getting your defense off the field and more opportunities for our offense. The rush for the second week-- looking at our defense we played that very well, the front seven did or if we were in nickel situations the nickel did when he was involved so those were the positives of it.
“We only got the one pick as far as a turnover. We’ve got to do a better job there. I thought we harassed the quarterback and I think Brennen Beyer on the one sack made just a great play because he finished the play, and how he finished it. It was good to be at home, like I said. We’ve got to go to work. Utah’s a good football team. They’re a tough football team. That’s what-- they’ve had that M.O. for a long time and I think Kyle [Whittingham], coaching against him in the Mountain West and coaching against his team, they’re always a physical group. We’ll have our hands full.”
Is that about what you wanted to see, aside from a five minute stretch in the second quarter?
“Number one, I wanted to see—our guys came out with energy. That was something, and I think part of that was the crowd when the game started. I think part of it is they’re a very close team in a lot of ways and so them coming out and playing hard…would we have liked to have had a better first half in taking care of the football? Yeah.”
Devin Gardner and his receivers: what kind of versatility and depth did you see from that wide receiving core in the absence of Devin Funchess?
“I think the addition of Jake Butt helps, getting him back and getting him healthy and we kind of picked our spots with using him in some way. But Darboh and Chesson are both very talented. Norfleet gives you a great spark. Freddy Canteen is starting to get back to where he kind of was last spring, so having some depth there helps. Obviously Devin Funchess can be a difference maker because of his size and athleticism but I think the other guys did a nice job.”
Do you expect Devin back next week?
“Well, we’ll see.”
[More after THE JUMP, including player comments]
News bullets and other items
We’re not going to talk about injuries.
Kalis and Glasgow are taking snaps at right guard, and Glasgow is also taking snaps at center.
Kenny Allen and Matt Wile are competing at kicker.
The average number of explosive plays [Ed: defined by Doug Nussmeier as a twelve-yard run or sixteen-yard pass] per game should be nine to ten. Michigan had five against Notre Dame.
"As a team I think everybody really came back to work Tuesday. We had a really good practice. Very high tempo. I think the leadership throughout the team is a big part of that, how competitive and hard-working everybody is. We are correcting things that we need to do better. Talked a lot about fundamentals and techniques. Talked a lot about and worked on a lot of things that you have to do when you talk about ball security and all those things to be successful, and the guys went at it and we had a very competitive, very good practice, like I said. We’re looking forward to Saturday. Number one, we get to play at home. We get to play at the greatest stadium in this country in front of our fans and that’s something we always look forward to. We have the next three weeks to do that. The energy and support is something that we really embrace."
Brady, you said you made corrections. Were they small corrections or were they glaring things?
"Yeah, there's a lot of things that were small but in the big picture those small things can add up. We thought pad level-wise we played pretty well but we've got to be more demanding on finishing some things from both sides of the ball."
As far as the offensive line, do you anticipate making any changes? Do you see a need for it?
"I think right now, I think we like the group we have. I think you asked the other day, [and] it's still highly competitive. Kyle's playing right guard and so is Graham [Ed: MGoD'ohThereGoesMyQuestion]. Graham's taking some snaps at center so the rest of it's been pretty much how it is but it's been really competitive."
Is it important at this point to keep those guys together and let them grow even if they are making mistakes?
"Well, they're not making many mistakes. That's number one. When you look at the tape, those guys up front did a pretty good job. So to answer your question, yeah, to have them together would be awesome. Now, you still got to have some contingencies if somebody goes down, somebody gets hurt. Mags [Ed: Erik Magnuson, but I’m guessing you knew that] is playing a little bit of left tackle at times so all those things are still part of it."
[After THE JUMP: Miami (NTM) scouting report, countering three-step drops, and Hoke’s opinions on the criticism of players]