Lewan "hurt his wrist a little bit." Hmm, wonder how he did that?
[No coordinator or Wednesday presser this week, fyi]
News bullets and other important things:
Opening remarks: “It was good in some ways to have a bye week. From a health standpoint, I think it always helps you a little bit, no matter where you’re at in the season, to get a little more rested. I think our guys did a nice job with that. I thought our practices on Tuesday, Thursday, and yesterday were at a high tempo. I think there was a lot of good teaching that went on. When you look at the fundamentals of where we need to improve: blocking, tackling, all those things that go along with football, I think that was good. We’ve got five guaranteed opportunities left that we need to focus on, and obviously this week is Purdue.”
Any new players cracking the depth chart? “Frank Clark [is] one that comes to mind. I think Blake [Countess] has been playing, but I think that helps. Raymon Taylor, when you look at it from that vantage point, that’s good for them to get a little more work in.”
When did you move on from Michigan State, and how fired up are you for Purdue? “Well, we did that on Tuesday. Tuesday was the first time we met together as a team. [We] went through the film, met after the film, went out and practiced, and moved forward.”
You put a lot of emphasis on the trenches. How are they doing by your assessment? “I would say we are not where we need to be with the consistency of how we want to play on both groups. I think there’s been times when, from an offensive standpoint, we blocked the line of scrimmage pretty well and created movement and the things that you want to do at the point of attack. And then I think there are times we haven’t blocked it as well. I would say the same thing on defense. I think Mike’s been very consistent. He’s played better and better every week when you evaluate what he’s done in the middle. I thought Will Heininger played a better football game a couple weeks ago. Maybe one of his better games. But the consistency of all four guys is something we need to keep striving for.”
Greg Brown left the team. Why, and have you ever had guys leave in the middle of the season before? “Greg is no longer part of our team, and yes. I’ve had guys leave.”
(more after the jump.)
Taylor Lewan’s status? “He’s doing good. He didn’t do anything last week, but he was ready. He did a little bit yesterday, but he’ll do a little more Tuesday.” Do you expect him back Saturday? “Oh yeah.”
Ricky Barnum’s status? Also, if he comes back, will he replace Schofield, or is there also competition at right guard? “There’s competition. And he’s healthy.”
Does the bye week help the players regain some mental focus? “I hope that we’re doing a good job of keeping them on edge or whatever. I think the big thing in establishing what we were going to do weeks before -- months before. For the week, I think you get them away a little bit. I think it’s important. I think for them to get off their feet and get off the grind a little bit is important. Now, in saying that, also there’s a lot of guys who were around that building. They were looking at Purdue. They were anxious to get back out there and play. I think you get a little bit of rest that is good, both mentally and physically, but it’s good to have kids who want to go back and play football.”
What impresses you about Purdue on film? “I think, when you look at how they’re playing football, especially the last two weeks, they go to Happy Valley and play a pretty good Penn State team, it looks like, and they lose by five. And Illinois last week was their homecoming. I think offensively, they’re doing a nice job with the football. They have a lot of skill players, and I think they have a lot of guys who can make plays from the backfield to the wide receivers. Their quarterback, TerBush, did a nice job last week managing the offenses. Defensively, Illinois had a hard time, especially the first three and a half quarters of the game, so they’ve been active.”
Is there anything you can do to improve kickoff returns? “Yeah, and this is a hard team because I think they’re in the top four in the four major categories -- maybe seven in one. When you look at their kicking game at Purdue, I think they have 19 touchbacks, which really hurts your return a little bit, but we have to block better at the point of attack. We worked Sunday on it and Thursday on it. We have to do a good job of staying on the blocks as much as anything. It’s funny because you can block seven guys pretty good -- and we’ll just use that number -- but you don’t get the right angles or you don’t finish on a block or you don’t see exactly the space that’s created, and you get an 18 yard average instead of 22 to 24.”
Any change to return personnel? “I don’t see that being the problem right now. I think it’s more of what we’re doing from the kick to catch to how we’re blocking up front.”
With a bye week, do you and Mattison and Borges sit down and talk about scheme and perhaps potential changes to scheme? “Yeah, and we did some as a staff, too. You look at what you’re doing and you look at your personnel -- who’s playing the way you’re expecting or the expectations that we have. Who are the guys that maybe need some more opportunities. You try to figure that in to how you practice a little bit, but you also figure it in [that] maybe there’s more playing time for a guy. So yes.”
What did you see out of Denard during the bye week? “We’re 6-1. He’s a lot of the reason why we’re 6-1. His athleticism and his ability to manage the offense -- so we’re excited about him, happy with him. We’ve got to get more from our running game without Denard always being the featured guy. That goes to our backs, that goes to blocking the line of scrimmage.”
Are you going to keep Devin in there, and does that give opposing teams something to think about? “Well I think it’s something that people have to look at. Some people are prepared differently than others. Some people may not think it’s that big a deal, because I can’t speak for every defensive coordinator in our league … We’ll keep doing some things with Devin, obviously, and I think we’ve had some success with it. We’ll just see what we do down the road.”
If Barnum comes back, will he be competing with Patrick Omameh also? “I wouldn’t say that, but I think all three of those guys -- there’s always that competition there, and Mike’s done a pretty good job in there. Ricky hasn’t been as healthy as he is now. He’s healthier today than he was a week ago. I think we have kind of what you want.”
Is this as healthy a team as you’ve had for the middle of the season? “Ever? Is that what you’re asking?” Yeah. “Uh … you know, that’s a good question. I’d really have to think about it. We’re decently healthy.” Is that just luck? “I think it’s always part of that. (Knock knock.)”
You said you evaluated a bunch of players and decided they need more playing time. Which players? “I think a guy like Brennen Beyer, who’s played on special teams, played a little bit from the line of scrimmage. We believe he’s a young kid who’s going to be potentially a pretty good player. Frank Clark fits in that same mold. … Ray[mon Taylor] and Blake [Countess].”
Do you make an effort coming off an emotional loss to be more positive to your team? “I don’t know. I don’t think so, to be honest with you. On a normal week we meet on Sunday. Win or lose, you put that game to bed as soon as you get through the film, the critical analysis, evaluations, everything that goes on, and then you come back, we meet again before we go out. And once we correct, if we can correct anything out on the field, you move forward. I mean you have to.”
Is there a way to create more of a sense of urgency out of your running backs to get them to be more productive? “Yeah, but I don’t want to put it all on them. I really don’t. I think they’re trying. I think they’re doing a nice job with their effort. I think they’re both being -- since really two of them are playing most of the time -- they’re competitive and tough. I think, like anything else, when you talk about a quarterback, and talk about a linebacker not making as many tackles. Sometimes that’s the front. Same thing with the running backs. Sometimes it’s the opportunities or what we’re doing up front.”
Did you look at any position switches? “Not really. Not really, no. We’ll probably look at that more after the season’s over. Maybe in that time, we have to look at where we’re at depth-wise at a lot of positions. We don’t have tremendous depth either up front defensively or offensively. So us being pretty healthy right now is a good thing. (Knock knock.)”
With Brennen and Frank, what will their role be? “Some of it is both pass rushing ability and also just playing the outside linebacker. Brennen’s a pretty lengthy guy. Frank’s more of a rush. Brennen is our SAM linebacker.” Would you like to have more rotation at linebacker? “I think we always want to be fresh on the field. So if you have guys you have a lot of confidence in that can get out there, that’s important.”
What names or numbers jump out at you on Purdue’s team? “From a defensive perspective, Kawann Short, defensive tackle, is a very good football player. He causes a lot of disruptiveness. I think Holland, the linebacker, he’s a guy who plays -- in fact all three of their linebackers -- they do a good job of flowing to the football. Evans is a guy in the back end who probably is their lead guy. From an offensive perspective, they play a lot of guys. Play a lot of guys in their back end. When you look at their running backs, they played -- eight guys touched the ball or caught the ball at some time during that game last week, so they’ve got a lot of good skill positions. Three guys, the returning guys up front, offensively, Kelly and the two guards, are good football players.”
Considering what’s happened to this team over the last three years, do you treat them any differently after such a tough loss? “I don’t think so. I think there’s a consistency that you want to have from week to week, from day to day. We have a very honest office, whether it’s good or bad we’ll talk about it. We’re going to be consistent that way.”
There’s been some bad blood between Michigan and Purdue the last several years. Do you look at that at all? “Nope.”
Do you need to get a certain amount from your running backs in order to be satisfied with their production? “I think there’s -- I’d love to get 100-some yards from them. I think that helps.”
Have you seen anything from the Big Ten that surprises you? “Nope.”
Did you watch any of the games? “I watched Purdue and Illinois. We play them both.”
Does it change your perspective that you don’t control your own destiny anymore? “Nope.”
How different is it watching a game live on TV versus the coach’s tape? “It’s a lot different. I look at different things that I’m sure you all do. Coach’s tape is great. The TV copies aren’t always what you want as far as what you’re looking at. I’m usually looking at the guys up front.”
What were some other correctable mistakes that you worked on? “I think the perimeter of our defense, block protection and getting off blocks. That was huge, because that’s where we’ve had problems. It’s been there, either from your SAM linebacker, your defensive end, your strong safety, or your corner, depending on what kind of support system, we’ve got to do a better job there.”
Losing contain? “Yeah, to some degree, but it’s as much as anything. Getting off blocks and being aggressive in what you’re doing. I think we played a little bit tentative, and you can’t play tentative. If you’re going to make mistakes, make them aggressive. I can handle that.”
Did you see what Troy Woolfolk tweeted about his car accident? Man. That guy has the worst luck. “Looked fine yesterday.”
What was Taylor Lewan’s injury? Did you have a couple? “He had an ankle. He turned his ankle.” Anything else? “Not really. I think he hurt his wrist a little bit, but again, that’s football.”
Is Woolfolk running better now? “Yeah. I think he looked pretty good.”
Lewan "hurt his wrist a little bit." Hmm, wonder how he did that?
maybe it has a kink in it from flashing his finger stache
Heiko, would you be willing to highlight the questions that you ask (if any) in the transcripts going forward? It would be interesting to see the caliber of questions MGoBlog has versus the generic press. I think Brian pointed out a few from a presser a few weeks ago and I wondered if it would be something you would consider doing going forward. Either way, thanks for considering.
On an unrelated note, as I (and many of you) suspected, Borges is going to escape having to face the press after the MSU game two weeks in a row. <shaking head>
This would be awesome. As for my guess for this presser:
Sounds like a question Brian would suggest Heiko ask.
Yep, I can do that. I actually didn't ask any questions today. I think the losing contain question was Andy Reid from The Wolverine. Smart man, he is. Probably reads mgoblog.
I never heard of them? Who takes them? Can you (MGoBlog peeps) get a copy of them and Brian do the UFR off them?
It's the game tape. Mangers/video crew/whatever generally tape the entire game from a high vantage point - almost always the press box. it's a lot more wide angle and will show way more routes being run/defensive action than a standard broadcast tape. This is the film people refer to when they "watch film".
Also, good luck getting your hands on any tape whatsoever. it's pretty jealously guarded as it gives potential opponents possible advantages as you can pretty easily tell exactly what the playcalls are (instead of guessing) and identify potential personell weakness or tendencies.
I mean, basically each team will do their own version of a UFR each and every week with their previous game's tape and game tape of their opponent. There's no way any D1 school would give up the very latest game tape to an outside party to pick over and analyze. Hell, there's very little chance that any random high school would do that.
Also Coaches Film is often called "All 11" meaning you can see all 11 players on your team. It's a huge wide angle shot that shows everyone on the field. It'd be a great tool for the UFR, but there's no way to get it.
When were the assistants going to be available again? I cannot wait to hear Borges answer the 4th and 1 playcall question that I know will be asked. This will be the first time they've had anything other than mad love showered upon them by the media - it will be interesting to see how they fare.
Hoke said it's a TD for Koger if they execute. Borges is likely to say the same thing
Last week the Michigan Insider guys hit this pretty hard. They played clips of Borges from, I believe, the coach's radio show in which he completely owns that play call. The podcasts from 10/20 include several segments where they replay some of his comments. Among other things, he acknowledged that as being not the right call for that particular situation and fully took responsibilty, which was kind of amazing to hear. Hope this helps!
I often take a few guys from each recruiting class that aren't the clear blue-chip All-American types that I predict big things out of. In the last class, I picked Raymon Taylor, Desmond Morgan and Antonio Poole. I'm excited to see Taylor getting some recognition.
Also, I like hearing that Brennan Beyer is going to get more playing time. I think this guy has the potential to be something special someday.
I hope many of the problems, i.e. Molk's head bob, have been worked out and we see DROB get some rhythm moving the offense. Part of me thinks Michigan is just going to blow Purdue out on Saturday, though the past few years would suggest the team may falter a bit during the the heart of B1G play. The big difference from last year is the defensive improvement. The defense this year can keep them in games even if the offense has some rough stretches. It will be exciting to see them play again.
Love how positive and encouraging Hoke is about Denard despite his rough game and passing issues... Reminds me of how Hoke is so unlike BK blaming c wood for a bad game and a loss.
I love that they treat the bye week the same as any other... not trying to install completely new packages or move people around. But instead keeping the team focused and working on the fundamentals.
I just really enjoy the calm, business-like demeanor from this staff.