THE MODERATOR: Welcome to the official postgame press conference for the 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl.
We'll begin with Michigan head coach Brady Hoke. We've been joined by Denard Robinson, Junior Hemingway, and Brendan Gibbons.
At this time I'm going to turn it over to Coach Hoke, a few thoughts on the game, and we'll open the floor for questions.
COACH HOKE: You know, thank you. It was a great college football game. Two teams who played extremely hard, two teams that played for each other. I think Virginia Tech and Coach Beamer, they did an excellent job, when you look at how they defended us a little bit and then offensively and then you look at the Michigan Wolverines and how our guys stayed together, complemented each other.
We talked about playing 60 minutes of Michigan football. We played about 63 and a half, I think. So I'm just real proud, real proud of our seniors, real proud of how they took this football team last January and molded it and did a tremendous job.
And we always have a tremendous legacy of Team 132 that a lot of teams are going to have to try and match up to.
THE MODERATOR: We've been joined by Ryan Van Bergen.
Q. Brendan, it hasn't been a great Bowl season for kickers. You see him miss, and you go up. Just talk about what's going through your mind at that point and how good it felt?
BRENDAN GIBBONS: It felt good to go out there. Coach Hoke and the whole Team 132 had faith in me the whole season. Coach puts us in situations, two-minute drill every Thursday practice.
And it just felt good to make the kick for the team to help the seniors go out in a good way.
Q. Junior, you seemed to get very emotional after the game. What was behind all the emotion, just the victory? Was there something else? What does it mean to get the two touchdown catches and the victory?
JUNIOR HEMINGWAY: From the beginning when the coaches first came in, you know, we had to buy in and the seniors had to get the rest of the team to do the same thing, Team 132.
It was just a hard-fought season. And to go out there and do it for the underclassmen who now have a Sugar Bowl championship under their belt and for us to leave with the Sugar Bowl championship, it just shows our hard work, our determination, our resilience. And that's where most of the emotion came from.
Q. Coach, I'm curious: What do you think this win means for the program? Is Michigan back?
COACH HOKE: I was asked that the other day. Michigan never left. And some people may have thought that way, but Michigan never left. What it means is that we've got a group of guys, especially a group of seniors, who won 11 football games.
And it's only the fifth team in the history of 132 years of Michigan football to win 11. And so it's a significant task.
And these guys have grown as a team. We've grown as a football team and a staff, and there's a lot of love and respect that we have for each other.
Q. Denard, how do you describe the way this game went, just from your perspective?
DENARD ROBINSON: I feel like this was a team that didn't quit and we just kept fighting. We held everybody accountable for what we had to do to win.
Q. Ryan, Brady's talked throughout the year about what this season has meant to the seniors and he's in a way dedicated this year to seniors. Can you talk about what it meant for you ending it with so many challenges in losing Will and all that?
RYAN VAN BERGEN: We've had times where we had to face adversity throughout this whole season, and it kind of comes full circle for the seniors. Like you talked about, we faced a lot of adversity since we've been here.
This game was kind of just, you know, a microcosm for what happened to us so far as a senior class, and it's been an amazing turnaround for this year, and I think the seniors left an amazing legacy.
Team 132 will be the fifth team in Michigan history to have 11 wins. That's significant when you play in a program that has the tradition that Michigan has.
So we couldn't be more proud as a senior. I couldn't be more proud of the guys that we got the opportunity to lead. It's a full team effort. And we just stayed strong all season. It's a marathon.
Q. Brendan, did you know it was good when you hit it? How did you celebrate when you were absolutely sure?
BRENDAN GIBBONS: I thought it was good when I hit it. Felt good coming off my foot. How did I celebrate? I just wanted to celebrate with my teammates, and it felt good to celebrate with them.
Q. Denard said earlier in the week he wasn't second-guessing himself, whether he made a mistake throwing the ball to Junior Hemingway. After he throws that pick looking for Junior earlier in the game, goes back in the corner, I guess, what kind of confidence does Junior instill in you and what kind of confidence does Denard instill in you and your performance today?
COACH HOKE: I've always had confidence in both of these guys. And when you have a big target and a guy who has great timing, which I think is part why Junior makes a lot of those catches, and has a big body and bodies some people out of the way.
And so we've always had a lot of confidence in that combination and sometimes you are going to make plays. And you've got to have guys who can make those plays, and when they're the ones doing it, you feel pretty good about it.
Q. Junior, talk about your two catches.
JUNIOR HEMINGWAY: The first one, the play was called. I forgot what the play was. It was corners. So I saw how the DB was playing. I broke it off in front of him. I seen Denard getting ready to throw the ball, but I didn't know who he was throwing the ball at. He threw it up and, number one, didn't play the ball good. I caught it. I heard the safety coming over I didn't know if he was going to take me out or what. Snatched the ball in there, ran it in for six.
And the second one, it was an all-go play and I got behind the safety, and I was thinking in my head: Please, Denard, throw this up, please, I want you to so bad.
And he threw it up. He threw it up. And I made a play on it.
Q. Coach, a lot of people question the selection process for this game and said that maybe the teams weren't worthy. What do you think that the result of the game and the way that it transpired says about that proposition?
COACH HOKE: Well, you know, people always are going to have an opinion, and that's part of the beauty of college football, part of the beauty of the BCS and all that kind of stuff.
And I can tell you that team we played tonight is a pretty doggone good football team. And I think we're a pretty good football team.
So people are going to have their opinion. We just happen to disagree with them.
Q. Brady, a couple of things kind of related maybe. If somebody had told you you weren't going to have 200 yards of offense in this game and only have the ball for 23 minutes, how much trouble do you think you would have been in? And can you talk a little bit about what David Molk went through to even be on the field?
COACH HOKE: Well, you know, I'll answer the second question first. David, he's a warrior. He's a captain on this football team. He tweaked his foot during the pregame. And our trainers did a tremendous job, our doctors.
And he has a lot of pride in Michigan and he has a lot of pride in this offense. And so it means a lot to see him come out there and perform like he did.
What was the first question?
Q. Getting it done without offense …
COACH HOKE: Well, you know, you never know what you're going to get in any game. We just gotta be able, when the time's right and when either side of the ball needs to make a play, and we've done that through the course of the year.
The defense caused a turnover. We got a great turnover on the kickoff, their kickoff return, which was a big part of it. But to be honest with you, you know, you really -- points on the board. And that's what's at the end of the day. We had more points.
Q. Brady, you've been resistant, reluctant, throughout the year to qualify whether or not this season has met or exceeded your expectations for this season. Now that it's over, can you qualify if the season lines up with what you expected?
COACH HOKE: We go in with the expectation to win the Big Ten championship. And that won't ever change. Winning ten games or more are part of that expectation. So we didn't reach that goal. But I can tell you this group of guys got us a heck of a lot closer than we were before.
Q. Brendan, what was going through your mind as Virginia Tech calls time out and it's overtime you're lining up that kick and thinking about lining up that kick? What was going through your mind before the kick in overtime, during the timeout and all that?
BRENDAN GIBBONS: Brunette girls. Every time we were like struggling in kicking, Coach tells me to think about girls on a beach or brunette girls. So that's what we did. Made the kick. (Laughter).
Q. Brendan, I'm curious if maybe thinking about those brunette girls you may have false started on that kick. Replays appeared to show that you jumped a little early. Do you feel you might have beat the snap coming out there?
BRENDAN GIBBONS: I moved a little bit. Not really. But it's kind of like my false step approach. So Glanda and Drew did their job and I did mine to win the game.
Q. Denard, after giving up two field goals early, what helped you change to get the offense going?
DENARD ROBINSON: We knew the defense was stepping up making big plays. It was time for the offense to step up and make plays, and that's what we did.
Q. Coach, out there Al talked about how this really wasn't about execution, it was more about will. In some ways is it even more satisfying for you as a coach?
COACH HOKE: I think you're right. And Al's right. It was about will. When you play a game like that and we're both -- both teams are getting after each other -- and I can tell you down on the field it was physical. You could hear. And guys were playing football, and you could hear football. And so it was a physical game.
The one thing that's great about this football team is they've continued to stay together. And they've continued to complement each other. And that's exciting. And that's why we've won 11 games.
Q. Ryan, obviously in the crutches, just what happened in the end?
RYAN VAN BERGEN: I got stuck under a pile and my foot got bent down in an angle, so my foot was parallel with my shins, so that was an awkward angle. That was early in the game, and that was bothering me. I had a cut block actually fold it the other way. So I was just trying to battle it off.
This was my last game. Unless I saw a bone, I was going to try to stay in and fighting that off. The guys behind me, they filled the role really well. Jibreel Black did a great job at the end of the game.
Q. We talked about after the Ohio State game what this senior class means to you. After a game like this, a win like this, how are you going to remember them? How are you going to remember the team and how they set the foundation for your first year?
COACH HOKE: These guys have left a mark and one that -- I can tell you, the senior class, we'll always remember and always be proud to say that we had the privilege and the opportunity to coach them.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
(FastScripts by ASAP Sports)
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our official postgame press conference. We'll begin with Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer, also being joined by quarterback Logan Thomas and cornerback Kyle Fuller.
We'll begin with Coach Beamer.
COACH BEAMER: I'm really proud of our football team. I thought we battled back, great heart. Did some -- you know, it's tough when you give Michigan the ball on the fumble kickoff return, an interception, go for it on the punt, it was an option, run or kick it, and thought we might be there to pick up the first, or not, kick 'em deep.
And the field position too many times we gave a good football team, and that's tough to overcome. But our guys did their best to try to do it and hung in there great.
A couple of close calls, probably the difference in the ballgame. And so I'm proud of our football team and the effort and how they hung in there and battled when things didn't look great.
They kept battling. Proud of that.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. The fourth and one where you had the fake punt with Danny, what was the thought process behind that play?
COACH BEAMER: Like I said, it was an option: run or kick. And I thought it was a good -- it was a short -- it was a yard. And if they dropped off, had a little seam, we were going to go for the first.
If not, we're going to kick it and try and pin them down deep. So we had that option going. And their guy did a nice job. He looked like he was going to go outside and all of a sudden jumped back in underneath and got us.
So it was an option there whether he's going to kick it or not.
Q. Coach, on that, you don't typically do a lot of rugby-style punting. Have you all worked on that play a lot in practice?
COACH BEAMER: We've been working on it for the last three weeks, really, the situation. And if it's going to be less than five, we really planned to do that, and so -- but the situation hadn't come up in the last three games until that situation.
So, yeah, we've worked on it quite a bit.
Q. Coach and Kyle, can you talk about the job you guys did on Denard Robinson? For the most part you contained them. A couple of big penalties, really, set up both their touchdowns.
COACH BEAMER: Yeah, you know, I think field position and penalties, you know, kind of helped them out, but I thought our defense did a great job of containing Robinson.
And, you know, it's just tough giving a good football team that many good field positions.
KYLE FULLER: I think our goal was coming to the game was contain Robinson on that run and pass. And I felt throughout the game we did that. A couple of times he used his athleticism to get out of the pocket and make some good throws down field. And their players, you know, they made some big plays.
But other than that, I mean, I like the way all our guys played together.
Q. Frank, just a comment on what Justin did tonight. Never made a field goal in a college game. To go out there and make his first four, and then in overtime ??
COACH BEAMER: Yeah, I just talked to him. I told him he did a heck of a job. He said he didn't quite get through that last one. But he did a nice job for us. And I liked to have seen him make the last one.
And it's so close. Danny's play is so close, and it seemed like there was just quite a few of those there tonight, so close but just didn't quite have it go our way.
Q. Logan, in that first half, how frustrating was it that you guys were moving the ball as well as you were but couldn't punch it in? What do you think was going wrong there with your inability to kind of punch it in there for touchdowns?
LOGAN THOMAS: Well, I heard a stat that ?? something like they're seventh in red zone defense, so gotta give them credit in that aspect.
They did a great job defending us. Just couldn't pick up the short yardage when we needed to.
But, yeah, all the credit goes to them for stopping us.
Q. Frank, were you planning ?? you sort of mentioned how you guys had been practicing the rugby bump. Were you guys planning on taking more chances? You went for it on that fourth and one in the first half. Did you have a different mindset going into this game, you wanted to sort of catch them by surprise a little bit?
COACH BEAMER: Well, we talked about before the ballgame that it was going to be more likely to go for it on fourth down. That we got a new kicker, hadn't been in those situations. You know, your percentages go with you going for it.
And then on that one we got there and we didn't know exactly how close it was or how far away it was. And so we got in a little bit of a situation where we didn't know exactly where the ball was. And then they were -- for our sneak, they were in a good defense, too.
Q. Logan, on that one play where you threw the interception to ?? the defensive lineman kind of got in front of you, can you describe what happened on that play, please?
LOGAN THOMAS: He saw me rolling out. I was just trying to dump it over his head. He timed his jump perfectly and got his hands on it and came down with it.
All the credit to him. He made a great play. Great athlete.
Q. Frank, we always talk and you're always asked about representing the ACC. From your perspective, how do you feel you guys did in that regard tonight?
COACH BEAMER: How we did in what regard?
Q. Representing the ACC.
COACH BEAMER: I still didn't hear you.
Q. In representing the ACC.
COACH BEAMER: Representing the ACC. Well, we didn't get a win. We need wins. And, again, it wasn't because of lack of effort by these guys. It wasn't because we didn't prepare. I thought we worked hard for this game. The kids made great preparation.
And just in the big picture, you know, we gave them the ball on our side of the 50 too many times.
And if you could go back, I'd take a couple of decisions back. But knowing how things worked out. But they are what they are.
I think everybody in Virginia Tech football put a lot into this ballgame, I can tell you. And we wanted to get a win for the ACC and wanted to get a win for Virginia Tech.
We haven't done as well as we want to in these BCS games. But you give Michigan credit. I mean, they hung in there and battled and hung on, and they certainly never slowed down.
I mean, they gave effort throughout and hung on and got a win.
Q. Logan, you've seen a BCS game from the sideline before, but to get into one to cap off your first season as a starter, how far did you come this season and how did it help you grow working towards the future for you?
LOGAN THOMAS: I think it helped me grow a whole lot. Especially coming from never playing, never playing in a real game that mattered last year, and being able to grow throughout the season, I think I made ?? I think I matured pretty well and I'm happy with my maturity.
Yeah, playing in a BCS game, it's something that everybody dreams about. It doesn't come around every year. Thankfully for us we've been able to play ourselves into that situation the past couple of years. And I'm very thankful to be here.
Q. Logan, you guys talk about the Danny Coale and how close that was. What was that like for you? Seems like you think you probably have a touchdown. And what was that whole ?? what was that whole, I guess, scenario like?
LOGAN THOMAS: When I first saw it, Danny made a great play to even get a hand on it. I think I left it a little bit wide. I could have left it straight up ?? I guess right down the numbers, and he probably would have had an easy touchdown catch.
But the play is designed to hit the corner. I threw it out to the corner. He got a hand on it. He made a great play. From the two angles we saw, I guess we thought it was a touchdown. And we couldn't see any other way, because inconclusive evidence or whatever it was, but I guess the official saw something.
So, I mean, it's tough. But just to know that we were that close.
Q. Logan, you guys had 3:53 left starting on the 9?yard line. Driving to tie it up there, you guys ended up getting Myer's field goal there. Take me through your mindset there, kind of somewhat of a two?minute drill where you guys needed to score?
LOGAN THOMAS: We've been there before against Miami. We had to do it twice the end of the first half and then at the end of the second half to go win that one. But we've done it a couple of times all year and we came out with points on a lot of them.
So, I mean, it was nothing. The offense had been clicking all night. They weren't stopping us. We were stopping ourselves.
So I knew we could take it right on down the field, not a problem. And we did so. Had that false start, or else we might have had another shot at a touchdown.
But it's past tense now. I'm proud of the guys. They battled up front all night long. We heard for the past 30 days they're so dominant up front, but I think our guys showed they're just as dominant. So I'm very proud of the guys.
We battled on the outside, and we made big plays when we could.
Q. Frank, I know last year the Stanford loss was ?? you guys took it hard because things kind of unravelled in the second half. I wonder, does this one feel worse because you were so close? And how do you move ?? how do you get over it moving forward heading into the off?season? How do you move past something like this?
COACH BEAMER: Last year against Stanford, we just -- you know, we didn't get it done in the second half. But, again, I think a couple plays starting that half, had they gone our way, maybe it would have gone different. But it didn't. And walking away from that one, it wasn't very good.
And I'm about half sick right now. But I'm proud as can be of our players. I'm proud of how we battled back. I'm proud of what we are as a football team. It wasn't lack of effort here at all. It wasn't, again, lack of preparation. It wasn't -- our guys played their heart out. Just some kind of fluke plays right before the half, a couple of fluke plays.
And, I mean, just, you know -- but, again, our guys never stopped themselves. So I feel a lot better walking out of here tonight than I did against how we played against Stanford. But also knowing that we kind of -- we let them have the ball too many times in great field position.
And too many mistakes, what Logan said. We get down there, what was it, third and one, and we jump -- we jump and now it's third and six. And all of a sudden just roughing the kicker penalty. It was just some stuff there that wasn't in our best interests.
Q. Coach and Kyle, you talked about Denard, but the play of Hemingway, can you elaborate on Hemingway and his performance tonight?
KYLE FULLER: Hemingway, we knew that they also had other guys, their running back, a lot of good receivers that we had to focus on as well. And, you know, just like we saw on film, those guys, they'll make some plays.
And they did that tonight.
Q. Logan, Michigan threw a lot of looks at you on its defensive line. What were you able to do that made you so successful against what they were trying to do defensively?
LOGAN THOMAS: Great preparation. Coach got me prepared right. We kind of went over this week what they were planning on doing. And they did exactly as we thought.
They actually played a little bit more two safeties than they had previously. But I've been studying, been trying to get ready for this game after our last outing, knew we couldn't have another one like that.
And I thought we did a great job offensively. Of course we didn't get points when we got in the red zone. We didn't get all the points we could. But I think we played a good game. We played our hearts out.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports (Ed-Heiko: Thank YOU.)