Dennis Norfleet, Frank Clark, Jack Miller
Frank, obviously that wasn’t what your defense wanted [with] the third down struggles, the passing yards and stuff. What do you identify as the single biggest reason for all that?
FC: “Just poor execution. As a defense one thing you’ve got to do and you take pride in is stopping the run first and foremost, and then getting off the field on third down and that’s something that we failed to do this past Saturday. All we can do from this point on is continue to progress and get better as far as those situations, those third-and-longs, third-and-shorts even and come out next week- this week, actually, and make a difference.”
One of those was yours before the half. Can you take us through that?
FC: “Just failed execution. It was a pretty obvious play. I should have made the play, but that play is over with and I move forward from it. I think I’ve beat myself up enough over it. Like I said, that’s just one of those plays I should have made. I tell myself all the time- I’d say 99% of the time I would have made that play. That was that 1% that I didn’t.”
Jack, you guys talk about blocking things out and not hearing the outside, but what would it mean to the guys on this team to have a crowd that is pretty packed and whipped up for a night game here?
JM: “It’d be awesome, and that’s what we’re hoping happens. There’s no place like the Big House when it gets rocking, and we’re really looking forward to coming home for the first night game in the Big Ten here and all that stuff and having a fun night. So we’re looking forward to the support from the fans and the students and hopefully they can give us an extra edge to get a W out there.”
[More after THE JUMP]
file, but he had the same pullover on so not really
Can you talk about the loss of Derrick Green a little bit and how it impacts you? He looked like he had one of his best games. Two really good carries and then the clavicle injury.
“Well, obviously disappointing to lose Derrick and it was one of his better games. Felt like he was really dialed in focused, ran extremely hard. So we’ve got great expectations for the other guys. DeVeon’s done an outstanding job all season, as has Justice. Some other guys have got to step up. Drake’s got to step up and we’ll continue to move forward and we’ll feel good about those guys moving forward.”
When you look at Devin, what were the changes that you saw from, I guess, the benching until Saturday? Were there dramatic improvements in his play?
“The biggest thing I think, Devin- I’ve talked about it all season. His preparation has been second to none. He’s done an outstanding job each and every week of preparing himself to play, and I felt like he played extremely fast in this game. Made some really good decisions. Obviously he had the one interception, but other than that- and that was a matter of circumstance more than anything else, but he played I thought extremely fast and effective.”
With Drake and Justice, can you talk about- you’ve seen them a lot more than any of us. Talk about what they bring to the field when they’re on the field.
“Well, I think you’ve seen Justice has played a lot for us in third-down type situations to date. Outstanding protector. Really understands defense. Understands how to see blitzes, recognize, and does a really outstanding job in protection.
“Drake has done a really good job in practice, so it’s just been more a matter of numbers than anything for him. He’s a slashing-type back. Has really good vision, and looking forward to having an opportunity to get him out there.”
With DeVeon, he hasn’t ever had more than 10 carries in a game. With this opportunity, how do you see him taking that on his back. Can he be a 25, 30 carries a game guy?
“Well he’s been preparing to carry it as many times as need be all season long, and just a matter of circumstance at times. Derrick’s done a really nice job and he hasn’t gotten as many touches, but if you look at the productivity in his touches it’s been really good.”
I know that we talked about Devin’s health and you guys want to keep him health obviously, but at what point do you make it a priority to sort of get him more on the move and sort of let him do things with his legs? Is that something you look at here going forward?
“Well, I think I’ve said it all along. You never want to take the caliber of player that Devin is with his athletic ability and really restrict that. Tried to, from an offensive standpoint, let him let the system work for him, and then when things aren’t there make plays with his feet but obviously any time you can use the quarterback as an effective running weapon it creates another dimension the defense has to defend. On the same side of that you’ve also got to be conscious of protecting the quarterback and making sure he’s not taking undue shots.”
[After THE JUMP: the Cheshire Cat’s response to the Darboh catch]
Just the sheer number of passing yards you allowed; was there a consistent breakdown you saw or…?
“Well, you’re right. The numbers- anytime you give up six big plays, and you know our stand on big plays has always been we can’t have that to have a successful defense. I don’t ever remember giving up that many big plays, and one of them was for 80 yards, I believe, [and] another was for 50-some. The numbers will add up pretty quick when that happens.
“The quarterback had a great game. He made some really, really great plays. We busted on a couple. We didn’t keep the ball inside and in front, and when that happens 30 yards gains could become 50 yards or bigger and we’ve got to get that corrected, and that’s me. That’s up to me to make sure that doesn’t happen again and we get it corrected and we’ll start on it right away.”
Was it one player or-
“No, it was the defense. It was the team defense. It’s never one player. No. And it’s like, you’re playing really, really good and then something happens like that and then you get back to doing it again and again and sometimes the first down that is third-and-10 is as big as a fifty-yarder. And they all seem to be the same things, where you’ve got to make a tackle, where you’ve got to keep a ball inside and in front, where you try to pressure, when you pressure and all of a sudden you hit one and it’s a sixty-yarder. So it’s a matter of different things. Six big plays, different things at different times that we’ve got to get corrected.”
Where are your defensive backs in the process of being able to recognize a situation and say, ‘We need to switch things’ on the field and make a change?
“Well, I think everybody- I don’t think it is the scheme of the coverage. I think it’s a different person not executing the coverage. I think it’s a different person not getting the sack when he had a stunt that said that this was what was going to happen and if you do it we’ve got one. It’s never a corner, it’s never a safety, it’s never a defensive end, it’s never a linebacker, it’s everybody. That’s what your job is, to make sure you get those corrected and get those handled and the thing that’s frustrating is that hasn’t happened before. It hasn’t happened, and we’ve got to get that nipped immediately. And the thing I do say is this quarterback, with his feet and with a couple of the receivers, with their skill all coming together showed that six or seven times and we can’t let that happen.”
MGoQuestion: Can you walk us through what happened on the 80-yard touchdown pass?
“Yeah, I know exactly what happened on the 80-yard touchdown pass is we called a defense where a safety would be lower than usual to be able to help with the run and we didn’t get inside enough with another defensive back, and knowing the whole scheme of the defense, knowing where you’re a little bit weak- whenever you call a defense there’s always somebody that has a little bit more on his plate than everybody else or otherwise you’re going to run just straight generic defenses all the time, and it’s just a matter of everybody being focused in at that time to say, ‘Okay, I’m the one that can’t do this. I can’t bite on this out route right now. I can’t bite on this route because we’re a little bit weaker here’ and they happened to have the perfect call. They called a play-action pass. The guy- we bit on it and they hit. And that’s what happened.”
[After THE JUMP: Mattison needs his defense to hit, and he isn’t referring to tackling]
News bullets and other items:
Derrick Green broke his clavicle and is out for the season
No update on Jabrill Peppers or Desmond Morgan, which only means they haven’t been ruled out for the rest of the year /waves world’s tiniest flag
The coaches spoke to the Big Ten about Amara Darboh’s catch that was ruled an incompletion. Hoke doesn’t seem to agree with what they were told, but said there’s no reason to dwell on what can’t be changed
Shane Morris is practicing
“Alright, thanks for coming out. Number one, on Saturday I thought our guys were united. I thought they played hard together. I thought they fought, and sometimes that doesn't guarantee you anything but their effort as a team was something I was proud of, and I was proud of those kids. I know I said that on Saturday, but that hasn't changed. Sometimes fighting alone doesn't get a victory, but I think we need to change those results and execute a little better, coach a little better. It always starts with me and us. There was some good progress that was made and we want to really emphasize those things.
“Yesterday we didn't practice and that was already determined we weren't going to. We got back at– I don't know. I got home at 4:15 so I'm sure they got home late. We wanted to give them rest because rest will help you heal. We had good meetings yesterday. I think from the standpoint of corrections and emphasizing the things we want to see repeated I think were important.
“You know I don't talk about injuries unless a guy is going to miss the year, and unfortunately that's what Derrick Green – he broke his clavicle late in the football game. Nice run on our sidelines, but Derrick's attitude is very good. He knows there’s an expectation of him to help coach those young guys and coach guys and be integral and what we’re trying to get done. And so we are going to miss him, but DeVeon and Justice Hayes and Drake Johnson are three guys who need to step up, and two of them are guys that have a lot of game experience and played a lot of plays, so [we] feel good about that. And we’ll miss Derrick, but this is like anything else in competition in sports; the next man's got to stand up.”
[After THE JUMP: try to read the tea leaves]
News bullets and other items:
It’s all in the statement
We don’t talk about injuries
Devin Gardner will be the starting quarterback against Rutgers
“Number one, thanks for coming as always. We appreciate you being here. Secondly, it was good for us as a team to get back on the field yesterday. It's always nice to get back to work, I think, coaching football and our guys getting together. They enjoyed the practice and what we got done. I think there is very much a competitive spirit and they’re excited about the opportunity to go to Rutgers and play. This is the two oldest FBS teams who play football, so I think that's an added plus.
“Rutgers [is a] very well coached football team, I think. They’re hard-nosed. You watch The tape, you watch them run around and they are 4-1. They had a close loss at home to Penn State early in the year. Led by a quarterback in Gary Nova who has broken the school record for touchdowns. Leads a very talented offense, very explosive. They have five returning starters on the offensive line back, so the experience level there. It's a physical team. Averaging 160 yards – 176 yards a carry [Ed: He meant per game. You’d think it’s been a long week or something] right now rushing and 30 points a game. Very active defense. They lead the Big Ten in sacks. They have some guys who really do a great job of chasing the ball. I think their quickness at the line of scrimmage is something that we’ll have to contend with and will present some challenges, but we’re excited about the opportunity. Playing at night is going to be a lot of fun and a great atmosphere.
Listen, there have been several apologies and statements that have been issued from the University, pledges to do better in certain areas including communication. To what extent do you feel you share in the responsibility and can help improve sideline communication?
“Well, I think from the start when you're a leader you’ve got to take responsibility, and I take responsibility for our student-athletes and I take it for their health and welfare. But I'll also make it clear that I don't make decisions when injuries [occur], and that shouldn't be a coach’s decision. That's why we have some of the best trainers, some of the best doctors in the country. We are fortunate here at Michigan because those are the type of people we attract and they will unchallenged have the authority to make those decisions.”
Hey coach, were you caught off by Dave Brandon's statement? It just seems like some of the information he released totally conflicted with some of the stuff you said on Monday.
“I don't think so. I think they worked very hard on getting it right in the statement. I think when you talk about evaluating the different things that we need to evaluate, I think that was all handled in the statement.”
[After THE JUMP: Statements about The Statement]
Frank Clark, Jake Ryan, and Joe Kerridge
Joe, you’re obviously part of the offensive group. Did you notice anything different about Shane in the huddles after he took that hit and through the rest of the game when you talked to him?
JK: “With Shane, I was on the sideline. I was focused in trying to pay attention to the game. I really didn’t have any communication with Shane throughout that part of the end of the game, so I wasn’t aware of any of the symptoms or anything like that.”
Have you noticed anything, seeing him around the building the last two days, that’s been unusual?
JK: “No. I haven’t seen him in the building, but that’s a question for coach Hoke.”
This is a question for Frank and Jake. Does the team get together after a loss like that and the fallout from it and has there been a team meeting? Does there need to be? Do you guys talk about it, and what do you do going forward?
JR: “I think just us as leaders need to bring guys up and get people’s heads up. After a loss like that that’s what you need to do, and we came in and we did what we needed to do. We got our film in, we got our practice in, and it’s just about keeping guys up and keeping guys focused.”
This is for any one of you. I’m wondering how much communication there is between yourself and maybe coach Hoke on the sideline when you see someone get injured or if you see something happen; if you can go up to him and say something or what that’s like on the sideline.
FC: “I feel like really that’s out of our power. If someone gets injured or things aren’t going in our favor, that’s our coach’s power. He controls everything at the end of the day, [and] we just follow the rules.”
Then if you have an injury, say, on the field, how much of a say do you have in getting back on the field? Are you able to simply tell them, ‘I’m fine’?
FC: “We play football. It’s a difference between being injured and being hurt. Anybody can play hurt, but not many people can play injured. But if you want to play football, if you want to go back on that field as a player he’s going to allow you to go back on that field if it’s not too bad.”
[More after THE JUMP]