Thanks for the report, very prompt. In other news, I got a 5 year old to say 'It's MICHIGAN for goddsakes'. Go Blue Beat that team I feel indifferently about.
mesmerism! presidential assassinations! circuses on fire!
News bullets and other important things:
Opening remarks: “Saturday, I think, we learned a little bit about ourselves as a football team in good ways and bad ways. We learned that you can’t turn the ball over. That’s an important aspect that we have to do a better job [with] decision making at times, fundamentals at times, technique at times. The other thing I think we learned is that from a defensive standpoint, you need to get off blocks. That enhances your ability to make tackles. I think we learned that if we hang together, good things can happen. If we play with an aggressiveness and an aggression, then we play a little better football.”
Can you talk about how good your team has been in the second half and what you attribute that to? “From an offensive standpoint, I think we see something different pretty much all the time in how people defend us offensively and really defend Denard. I think Al does a tremendous job. And his staff -- Darrell Funk and [Jeff] Heck[linski] and Fred [Jackson] and Dan [Ferrigno] -- I think they all do a tremendous job of getting together and talking during the course of the game or the first half, putting their ideas down, and making the appropriate adjustments and changes. I think the same thing defensively. I think Greg [Mattison] and Curt [Mallory] and Mark [Smith] and Jerry [Montgomery] do a tremendous job defensively. The kids have been willing, and they’re listening. I think they’re learning.”
What stands out about Michigan State’s defense, particularly their defensive line? “Well I think you answered that question. I mean, they are extremely talented, aggressive, well coached. Coach [Ted] Gill was one of my coaches in college -- their defensive line coach. He’s a tremendous motivator. He knows the game, does a great job coaching them. Those kids play with a fire to them. You look at their defense as a whole, and I think the whole team is very well coached. I have a lot of respect for Mark Dantonio. He’s a defensive coach in his mindset and vision of how they’re going to play defense, and I think they’re athletic. I think they play with good team speed, and they’re going to be a physical presence out on the field.”
(more after the jump)
You’re trying to establish an identity in your first year with this team. How much does it help that you’ve won your first six games? “I don’t know. I think you gain a little bit of confidence. As long as that confidence is coming through, and understanding that preparation helped you moved the dial. From a fundamental and technique standpoint, which we talk about and stress everyday … and an attitude that we prepare each week for, and how we prepare … I think we’re learning lessons as we go.”
How much more confidence does a team get when they overcome adversity vs. when they win easily? “Well, I really think you gain some confidence because of how you stay together and how you respect each other. That’s probably, I think, the most significant thing I’ve seen out of our guys is the respect that they have for each other. The respect that they have for their opponents and who they’re playing. And how they prepare to the point, because you always look for the cracks as a coach. The mentality of your team. Sometimes I’ve gone into games and I think, ‘Oh we’re not near ready,’ and we play great. There’s been times when you think you’re ready and you don’t play as well as you want. I don’t know if there’s any real secrets out there. It’s us just trying to get better.”
How were you feeling in terms of readiness on Saturday? “I don’t know. You don’t want to know. I mean, two o’clock central time I thought we were ready. Three o’clock I didn’t think we were ready, so it goes back and forth.”
Where is this team compared with where you thought they would be at this point? “You know what, I never judged anything by preconceived notions of where we’d be. We just know that we have to go to work everyday and that we’ve got to play Michigan football -- take care of the ball, play physical at the line of scrimmage, and play for each other. ”
What are some similarities in how teams have defended Denard in the first six games? “Similarities -- there are some. I think probably the one that was the most different would be how San Diego State did, which you kind of knew that with the uniqueness of what they do defensively. One thing with Northwestern -- they face that offense all spring. They face it all fall camp. And they were determined to make it a perimeter game on both sides of the ball to be honest with you. I think Notre Dame, the way they defended us, some people have mimicked to some degree with how they play their safeties.”
Can you take us back to the 2001 Michigan State game? “Well, we lost the football game. Somebody was in charge of substitutions on defense, and we had a penalty that helped them get down the field. And that was me. We had too many guys on the field. So I remember.”
What does this rivalry mean to you in light of having lost three straight over the last few years? “Obviously the guys know what the history has been. The rivalry is a tremendous rivalry because of the passion for both schools that people have. The alums, people within this state -- you kind of draw the line where you’re either a Spartans fan or you’re a Wolverines fan. That’s what makes college football, and that’s what makes it so exciting. It’s an important part in recruiting, and it’s an important part because it’s a Big Ten game and how that all goes for you during the course of the year.”
What’s your most vivid memory of playing in East Lansing, and what will it be like this time? “It will be fun. I mean it’s a fun place to be because of the passion and the fans on both sides. Obviously there’ll be some Michigan people there, but I mean that’s why you go to places like Michigan and Michigan State -- to play in those games and represent your school. It’ll be fun.”
Lloyd Carr always said this was the most physical game of the year. Did you sense that? “Oh yeah. That was always going to be a dog fight. I was here eight years, and it was always going to be two teams that were going to be phsyical at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. It was always going to be guys playing their best football and playing as tough and physical as they could. I agree with Lloyd. I always thought this game was [the most physical game], and we’ll find out where we’re at on Saturday.”
How does your demeanor change during practice this week? “It won’t. Nope. Nope.”
Can you assess Denard’s play through six games, good and bad? “Well, I like him. I’m glad he’s our quarterback.” Can you elaborate on that at all? “Good … I think he’s done a nice job.”
Even though you’re in a bit of a different offense, how much do you look at last year’s Michigan State did against Denard? “To be honest with you, I haven’t looked at it yet because I’m looking at their offense right now, but I’m sure Al and that side of the ball have probably been through it.”
Starting with Kirk Cousins, what kind of a challenge does their offense present? “Well, you know, I think he’s as good of a quarterback as you’ll find in this league. He runs the offense, manages the offense, gets them into the right things as far as play-wise. I think he’s very accurate with the football. Their running backs -- they have three backs who are very capable, very good. I like their fullback, Anderson, because he’s a prototypical hit you in the face guy who’s going to lead block well, protect well. Cunningham out at wide receiver, and I think the tight ends and the use of the tight ends are a big part of it. And that presents some challenges from a defensive standpoint.”
Do you have to be better up front to beat Michigan State? “Oh I don’t think there’s any doubt. We have to be better everywhere for us to win the football game. I mean, we have to be better at every position. We have to be better coaches. We have to be better trainers in how we tape ankles and all those things.”
Is your offensive line vs. their defensive line going to be a big test for you? “I think so. I think there’s not any doubt that their physicalness at the line of scrimmage and their ability to penetrate and be disruptive are a big part of what they do defensively … pressure on the quarterback. For us we have to play our best game to this point in all areas, but specifically up front.”
What happened with Taylor, and what’s his status? “He came out because he was over on their sidelines, and he thought that he had to come out because he thought the official told him to get out. The official was just telling him to get out of their sidelines. I’m telling you the truth. It was funny.” He thought he got kicked out of the game? “I don’t know what he thought, but it was funny! The play -- he was blocking. He was blocking a guy into the sidelines, finished it, and … it was funny.
What’s Ricky Barnum’s status? “He ran around last night.”
What stands out about Jerel Worthy as a player, and have you seen his tattoo? “Yeah. It’s a tattoo. As a player I think he’s physical. I think he’s a very good athlete. It’s funny because I was watching tape of Northwestern against Michigan State from last year last week and watching their defense [to study] Northwestern’s offense. He’s got a great sense of timing from a fundamental side -- on movements and those things -- and plays with a great leverage.”
What did you mean when you said Devin played more like a quarterback Saturday? “There were some more quarterback plays that, when Denard came out because of his boo-boo, I think he did a nice job of being a quarterback.”
The way he finished that drive after Denard came out, did that show you something about his readiness to play? “Yeah, and I think that’s all part of it and what you want to see from a guy like him, that any snap [he] could be in the football game.”
Does Denard get too amped up at the beginning of games? His throws seemed high. “Against Minnesota they weren’t, though. So I mean, believe me -- he’s excited. Excitable. Big thing is he’s got to let the game come to him sometimes.
Do you worry about Denard getting too excited in a game like this? “No. I don’t think so.”
What do you remember about Woodson’s interception? “It was a pretty good football play. It was a heck of a play.” Did you have a good view of it? “You know what, I don’t know if I did or not.” It was on your sideline. “Yeah, I think it was down further. It was a tremendous play by a tremendous athlete.”
Is Barnum going to be questionable then? “I don’t know.”
What do you like about what Denard has done for you? “I like how he’s handled the offense -- the transition all the way through. I think he’s improved every week. There’s always some additions or tweaks that he has to manage. I thought from spring to fall to fall camp to now, I think his growth has been very good.”
Is your three-loss record to Michigan State something that you emphasize? “I don’t think I have to remind our guys what the outcome has been. These are college students, and they’re in classes and stuff like that. I would hope that they’re smart enough to understand that we haven’t played Michigan football the way we need to.”
What do you expect out of Coach Gill and a defensive line coached by him? “Well, his kids will play hard, they’ll play for him, which is always something that’s important. They’ll execute how he’s coached them. He’s a very good technique coach, a very good motivational coach.” Do you stay in touch with him? “I see him now and then.”
How well do you know Mark Dantonio? “I know Mark decently well. My brother and him know each other probably a little better. Mark was at Youngstown and my brother was at Kent. Both of them being secondary coaches by trade, their conversations were always there.”
Last week you thought you were ranked too high. Do you still feel that way? “We’re not a top-10 team.” Why do you say that? “Well, you take care of the football. Defensively, you don’t give up 300-and-whatever yards throwing the football." Are you a top-25 team? “I don’t know.” Will you know next week? “Nope.”
Mark Dantonio puts a singular focus on this game, but you have Ohio to consider, too. How much does this rivalry mean to you? “It means an awful lot! It means a lot because we represent a great university, and we have great alums out there, and it’s a Big Ten game, and it’s an important game. It’s a tremendous rivalry in college football. You can say on a local, state, or regional standpoint, and also a national standpoint -- It’s Michigan-Michigan State. I kind of get geared up when Oregon plays Oregon State, because that’s a great rivalry. Those are fun.”
You played Blake Countess an awful lot. Is that because he’s outperforming Woolfolk or is Woolfolk still banged up? “Sure he’s banged up a little bit. He tweaks his ankle now and then a little bit. His hand’s getting better, so he can use that a little more appropriately [in terms of] fundamentals and techniques. But Blake’s a young guy who plays at a high rate. Watch him go down on kickoff. He plays at a high rate. He plays fast. Fundamentally he’s pretty sound. Good change of direction and those things, and has a burst to him. But Troy’s been beat up, also.”
What does a win in this game mean? “Any win’s a good win. This game, last week …” Does it mean any more that it’s coming from a rival? “For us, we have an expectation and goals to win the Big Ten championship, and you’re not going to do that by losing a football game.”
Have you checked to make sure your countdown clocks are operating properly? “They are operating properly. Because of game time -- I think it’s 12:01 -- we synced it up.”
What do you think of their offensive line. “Well, they’re big, which is the normal case. They’re a good size. I think they’ve had some guys get nicked up a little bit from the start of the year, but I think they’re physical, they’re well coached. When you look at zone steps and when you look at combination blocks and doubles and those things, where the shoulder tip is and all those things. As a defensive line coach, I think they’re really well coached and they’re physical.”
Half your regular season is in the record book. What are keys to improving? “Our keys are we have to improve how we’re playing football. Period. From a fundamental standpoint to a toughness standpoint to how we take care of the football and how we manage a game. And we have to coach better.”
So you really don’t like how your team has played? “I really don’t. We can’t be satisfied with anything. After every game, I tell them it’s great to win, but there’s always a ‘but.’ And they know that. They’ve been around long enough now. They’d like to get perfection.”
If there was single thing to fix from last Saturday, would it be to not turn the ball over? “That and our perimeter play from a defensive standpoint of fundamentals of getting off blocks and those things. Probably as much as anything.”
Is there anything Michigan State will do that your players haven’t seen yet this season? “Well, they go with five guys on one side of the ball. They did that out of 13 personnel. There’s going to be something. And in the kicking game there will be something from an offensive standpoint. There’ll be something different. I wish I knew what it’d be, and we may have a chance to work on it, but there’ll be something different.”
Is having a bye week an advantage for Michigan State? “I don’t know. I’ve been on both ends of it. I don’t know. I know one year here we had a bye week before we played Northwestern, and we probably tried to outcoach ourselves and do too much and change or … I don’t know. Are you healthier? Maybe. Are you fresher? Maybe. But the schedule’s the schedule. Whatever it is, you have to go play it, and there are no excuses.”
Is it good to have a bye after a game like this? “I don’t know. I really don’t. We’ll maybe get rested a little bit. If you don’t play your best, and lose, I can tell you you want to go back and play. Soon.”
Are you worried about their power two-tight end package? “Yeah, I am. Their tight ends, they’re big tight ends, and they’re big physical guys. So if they get in 22 personnel and those powers that they run, and the power pass that they’re doing a great job with. Their tailbacks blocking the edge and fullback in the flat. They do a lot of stuff that we do, which is kind of nice, but they do it very well and they’re physical as they do it.”
Did you discuss the Paul Bunyan trophy with the players? “yeah, but I couldn’t show it to them.” Do you have anything else planned in terms of talking about the history, tradition, etc.? “I don’t know. Maybe.” Perhaps? “Perhaps.”
Michael Shaw had more of a presence last week. Has he been doing better in practice or was it situational? “I think some of it’s situational. I think he’s fought himself back into playing a little more and has been more physical.” How did he do that? “He just practiced better. We evaluate everyday.”
Do you coach your kids up on not revealing any information to MSU? “I think they’re 18 to 23. They are excited about playing a great football game, and I think at times, people will take advantage of that because they’re 18 to 23. So the answer’s ‘Yes.’ ”
Thanks for the report, very prompt. In other news, I got a 5 year old to say 'It's MICHIGAN for goddsakes'. Go Blue Beat that team I feel indifferently about.
Denard .... tremendous
Lewan ... tremendously funny thing
Shaw .... learning to be tremendous
Ahhhh ... those pressers are just ...... tremendous!
It was a tremendous play by a tremendous athlete.
So much for Lewan being hurt ... I'm really ready for Lewan to absolutely shut down 5 star Will Gholston for the entire game... I think if we can maintain the edges, will can neutralize the 320 lb. mammal in the middle with the tattoo of the Squirrel with a Missouri helmet on his arm.
Does Gholston play that side? I would have thought Rush and Drone play that side.
What happened with Taylor, and what’s his status? ....he thought that he had to come out because he thought the official told him to get out. The official was just telling him to get out of their sidelines. I’m telling you the truth. It was funny.”
What stands out about Jerel Worthy as a player, and have you seen his tattoo? “Yeah. It’s a tattoo.
Did you discuss the Paul Bunyan trophy with the players? “yeah, but I couldn’t show it to them.”
is probably my favorite Hoke moment so far.
I love his answer about the 2001 game. Michigan lost it through some stupid penalities. The Spartans capitalized on those. 'Nuff said. Second best line: It's a Tattoo.
I wasn't a fan of the process, and I wasn't sure about Coach Hoke at the beginning, but he's said everything and done everything right in my eyes this year.
I'm excited about this game and looking forward to seeing what Michigan can do against the Spartan team. This game will be a good test for the Wolverines.
But what about the difference in the jerseys??? Dammit nobody ever asks about the important stuff.
but I couldn't show it to them."
we can't turn the ball over and be successful"!!!!!!
THEY ARE JUST LEARNING THIS NOW? THIS STAFF NEEDS TO TEACH MORE FUNDEMENTALS!!!! RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!!!
Hoke never gives up any bulletin board material, unlike a few other coaches in the league.
love this about hoke and u can see it spill over onto the players. the media is the enemy...period. rich found tht out the hard way. he tried to be nice and expose himself and they slaughtered him for it. give bland answers and let ur play do the talking. less is always more. oh...and win...thts a big key ingredient too
...and great point about Rich Rod. He'd get destroyed when he didn't know the answer to questions or when he'd just allow people to get too close.
The coachspeak is fine by me. I can read through the b/s...everything else you can learn by listening to other people or simply WATCHING the game.
Always keeps the other teams wondering first of all, and second of all, Hoke is an example to our players about how to act in public. It is no wonder that the demeanor of our team is changing dramatically, because look at the coach, he truly acts how he tells his players to act. Keep it up!
You could summarize that whole press conference as "I don't know. Maybe. We gotta play Michigan football. Perhaps. I don't know. I don't know. We're not playing Michigan football yet. Maybe. No. Taylor...he's funny. I don't know"
Will this finally be the week we see Cam Gordon make his debut? I really would like to know what he did to his back to make him miss the last 6 weeks. Also Lewan is rumored to have an ankle problem and was hurting pretty bad in the NW game.
oregon/ oregon state??? kinda random
The Oregon vs. Oregon State game is called the Civil War. Hoke coached at Oregon State for a few years, so he is familiar with how the fan bases view a game like this.
Borges also coached at Oregon briefly.
did not realize they both coached their. thanks
"Yeah, but I couldn't show it to them."
The coaching staff likes Shaw's speed/ability to run outside. We are going to see more of Shaw perhaps when opponents stack the box. Is that what they mean by situational stuff? The power I didn't seem to work to well on the goal line. I'd like to see more option with Shaw on the pitch.
"It’s funny because I was watching tape of Northwestern against Michigan State from last year last week and watching their defense [to study] Northwestern’s offense."
I think he was just getting a head start on film study of MSU's defense.