a terrible blight on our fine country
“You know, coming off not the way you want to start the five-game stretch, the meat of your schedule, Saturday is something we’re all disappointed with and everything that we have to do from a coaching standpoint and a playing standpoint. Obviously it was evaluated and we all need to do a better job, and that’s just a part of it. We had some opportunities we didn’t take advantage of during the course of the football game, and that’s a credit to them. We’ve got to do a better job. Offensively, we have to get Devin a little more of an opportunity because there were plenty of them down the field. Execution’s a part of that. Always is. When you’re sliding protections or whatever it might be. Defensively, I think our defense kept us in the football game for a long time with bad field position. Needed to make some stops more in the second half. Didn’t get that accomplished. Some third downs. The score right before the half is never a good score. And then them taking the ball for six minutes or five minutes to start the second half even though they got the field goal. Again, it’s posessions. Trying to get possessions. We had a really good day yesterday, which is a really good thing. The attitude of our team, they came in and worked like heck on the evaluation part of it, and we’ll work like heck out in practice. That being said … ”
Seemed like you had success giving Funchess the ball. In hindsight, do you wish you would have made more quick drops to get him the ball?
“There were some quick throws in there, but there were plenty of opportunities I wished we would have given Devin [Gardner] another half a click to step up and throw. Because there were a lot of opportunities down the field.”
How do you fix the issues on the offensive line?
“It’s a youth problem as much as anything. The only fix is the experience. I wouldn’t trade [Kyle] Bosch or [Erik] Magnuson or Graham [Glasgow] for anybody. Or the guys they’re competing with.”
You only got Fitz eight carries. None of the other running backs were mixed in …
“Well Derrick [Green] got a couple snaps. And when you got into a protection game, for a young guy, it’s not a great time [to put him in].”
Did you plan on avoiding running back carries?
“I don’t think so. From a plan part of it, I really thought it was a very good plan. Would we have liked to have run the ball better? More? That’s kind of dumb. Yeah. We’d like to. We’d all like to do stuff better. As far as getting him more touches, it would have been great to.”
How is Devin’s heatlh?
“He’s good. He’s fine. He’s beat up. Just like Andrew Luck is today. Beat up.”
“Drew is coming along. He’s healthier every day.”
Will he play on Saturday?
“Yeah. I think so. I haven’t gotten full word, but knowing Drew and how he’s progressed, yeah.”
You mentioned a good day yesterday. To whom does it fall to make sure that you don’t have that carryover psychologically to the next game?
“Number one, it falls on me. That’s why our Sunday was a little different in how we did some things. The leadership, coaches, captains, seniors, Desmond Morgan, guys who have played a lot of snaps. But it starts with me first.”
You said part of the problem was the youth on offensive line. You can’t do anything about it.
“Yeah, you just have to keep every day grinding. That’s all, and showing them the looks and doing everything you can. At times there’s a comfort level. Sometimes guys in an environment may want to try and set – and I’m talking pass-protection wise – a little further out than they should or a little too fast. They over set. I’m just using that as an example. If they just fundamentally keep to what they’ve been doing, there’s an excitement that I think guys get. And you see it in different guys. But we just have to keep grinding.”
After the game, you said the pass protection was about more than just the offensive line. What were some of the other issues?
“The back’s got to be able to pick them up a little better. I think there’s probably one or two where the quarterback needs to step up and feel it a little better. There’s sometimes the timing of a route. It’s hit or miss. You got ten guys good, one guy bad, it’s like anything else. That’s why it’s a great team sport. You have to have them all on the same [page].”
The first day you were hired, you said the goal was always the Big Ten championship.
Four games left, it looks like that’s no longer a possibility.
“Is it possible though?”
Yes. But how do you get these guys to get motivated for the rest of the season even though it’s out of your hands?
“I don’t think you know our team very well. How they feel about each other and how they feel about Michigan and how they feel about the personal pride that they have.”
What was different about Sunday?
“We just did some things differently that were good for us.”
Seems like a couple times this game you were pushed around.
“I don’t know if it was pushed around. I don’t agree with that. We got ran over once. Twice. With a mismatch. But other than that, there was just not being in the right place a couple times.”
In hindsight, was that one of the more demoralizing moments you’ve ever had as a head coach?
“No. I didn’t feel demoralized at all. Disappointed. But demoralized? That’s kind of … I didn’t feel that.”
In pass protection, was there anything else you could have done to take the pressure off the offensive line?
“I think running the ball helps you. Any time. I think that helps you in a lot of different ways from your play-action game and all that. I think there were enough guys to protect.”
Is this a defining moment for your captains? In 2011 you were in the same place but you finished pretty well partially because of the leadership.
“Well not just the captains but the whole group of seniors because of what we ask of them. Yeah. There’s no question this is a time when your leadership always either steps forward or stays the same or steps back.”
Fitz had a rough time in pass protection. Have you considered any of the other backs?
“They’re still in the mix. Fitz is our best pass protector. Has been. Derrick and some of the other young guys, it’s pretty difficult.”
What’s the status of De’Veon Smith and Keith Heitzman? Neither traveled.
“De’Veon didn’t travel because I took him off the travel team. Heitzman has a little bit of a hand issue.”
Is it because Smith didn’t earn a spot?
Will Heitzman play on Saturday?
“I don’t think so. It’s kind of day to day. He practiced a little Thursday, but he wasn’t as effective as we’d like. We’d love to have him, believe me.”
Is Funchess being coached by Ferrigno or Hecklinski these days?
Is it because he already knows the tight end stuff?
“Heck knows the tight end stuff, too. If there’s anything that’s dual a bit, it’s easier to have the guy in one room the whole time.”
The cameras caught Taylor with his hand in an MSU player’s facemask. What’s your assessment on that?
“My assessment was it’s not what we want to portray or be, and he and I have had a discussion regarding that. It’s not who we are … If I think he should have been suspended it would have been done.”
With Jake Ryan healthier and Brennen Beyer playing SDE, how nice is it to have both on the field at the same time?
“Well Cam Gordon played a really good football game the other day, too, at the SAM. Having him and Jake in the sub packages, both those guys, I think it’s really good for us. I think Brennen has always been a guy that can wear a lot of hats. Smart, tough, good technician.”
What does he give you there that you may have been missing otherwise?
“I think number one it’s the quality of the football player.”
What’s it like to have an Athletic Director who’s so involved with your football program?
“I think it’s always nice to have people to work with that are positive.”
AJ Williams? Is he back this week?
Was his absence noticeable? Would it have made a difference?
“Well we changed a little bit. We used six offensive linemen in there a lot.”
Is the youth on the offensive line an anomaly? Will it be different going forward?
“Yes. Should it be? Yes. When we got here, we had eight scholarship offensive linemen. That number is usually 14.”
How much would that make a difference?
“I think I’d be wrong if I didn’t say it takes a little developing physically and mentally because of the position. I’d also be wrong if I didn’t say there’s guys who have done it and guys who have done it at a quicker pace. Kyle [Bosch] has been here since January. I think he’s coming along pretty good in some instances. Did we all have our best moments Saturday? No. Coaches included.”
How many scholarship linemen do you have now?
“15? Isn’t it 15? Yeah. 15.”
Did you guys perceive this being an issue against Michigan State? Or is this not acceptable no matter what?
“Number one it’s never acceptable no matter who it is. The expectation is for the position, and it always has been this way and it will always be this way. Do we need to do a better job? Yeah. The coaches do. I think that’s always something that we look at. We have to be able to push forward. The kids have responded well. Was it representative? No. You get seven sacks and you snap the ball 20 yards [behind you], it doesn’t help your positive yardage.”
Did you tell your staff you need to coach these guys better?
“Yeah. We all have to.”
What do you have to do defensively in a game like this?
“Well you need to steal some possessions, which means we have to create some turnovers. You have to give your offense more opportunities. That’s part of it. Getting off the field. Third downs, we weren’t great. Especially in the second half and the last drive of the first one. Getting off the field again creates more opportunities for your offense.”
What jumps out at you about Nebraska?
“Ameer Abdullah is a really good back. They’ve play two or three good quarterbacks since [Taylor] Martinez has been out. The two that I’ve seen are very capable of running their offense and do a good job of it. Physical offensive line, and that’s part of their trademark. Defensively, especially up front, Willie Henry had a very good football game the other day. Willie’s gotten better as the year has gone on.”
You said you would have suspended Lewan already if you thought he should be. He pushed the line a bit, though, with the twisting of the helmet.
“It’s not acceptable.”
Was it the heat of the moment?
“Trying in some ways to get our quarterback out of harm’s way in the pile. Some of it was he got overtaken with his emotion. He’s kind of one of those guys, as you all well know, who is a very good teammate.”
Do you think what he did was just as bad as what Will Gholston did two years ago?
“I’m not going to judge that. That’s for somebody else to judge. You guys will write about it.”
You said having the bye week was overrated. Why?
“Here’s the thing about having two weeks: they get to rest. How you approach it is getting them some rest and at the same time doing some things for the next opponent. But you want a fresher team.”
So it wasn’t about making adjustments.
“Well we did the first bye week. We adjusted the offensive line. Did some things we needed to do. It’s the first thing we talked about. Where are we at the next five games with personnel? Do we have the right personnel on the field? Do we have the right guys in the kicking game?”
Devin’s beat up. Does he need a couple days to recover?
“He’ll probably need yesterday and today.”
Do you expect him to practice tomorrow?
What was he like yesterday?
“Like any quarterback who gets seven sacks and a lot of helmets in different parts of your body.”
Was it your decision to take him out of the game or Devin’s?
“No. It wasn’t his decision.”
So it was yours.
“Yeah. Now he was a warrior. Did he do everything perfectly? No.”
Where is Jehu Chesson now compared with the beginning of the season?
“He’s come a long way. Look at the special teams part of it and what he’s done. As a gunner on the punt and the kickoff. He’s made a significant amount of plays. As he’s grown into a guy who’s a receiver who’s very good for us. He can stretch the field. Went up and made a nice play on the ball. One thing he wanted to do, he said yesterday, ‘I wanted to finish.’ ”
Vote Giant Douche!
Were you not given an opportunity to ask a question?
Heiko generally doesn't ask questions in Hoke pressers. I feel like his 2 questions in the post game were a little out of the ordinary.
...without any gnashing of teeth and rending of garments at the podium.
the board is going to be pissed.
Wait for it.....
Im all about Hoke BUT he is fuckin delusional..why cant he for once be pissed off on one of these interviews and just say..Yes we screwed up big time from top to bottom and if there are no changes by next game, staff and players will be re-evaluated...PERIOD. Just be fuckin hungry for perfection..just once so we know you are for real..All these, we still have a chance crap, and we could have should have is getting old..this is RR talk all over again..next they will hold hands and sing kumba ya at church
Losing one's composure is not the mark of a skilled coach, IMO.
Losing one's composure is not the mark of a skilled coach
I'll amplify -- losing one's composure in a press conference is not the mark of a skilled coach.
Eh. It can be done strategically.
How does one "strategically" lose his cool, without coming off as incredibly fake?
Losing ones composure is not the mark of a skilled coach. Showing some fire and intensity are. I see none here.
Hoke tends to NOT throw his players under the bus. Especially when dealing with the press. But if you all think he's a patsy when one of them eff's up in the classroom or in practice....well, let's just say I'd bet you otherwise.
I'm getting sick and tired of this! ... the song we all hold hands and sing is 'You raise me up."
That was my favorite RR moment. It showed a human side that we never really see in these types of people. I absolutely loved it and the people mocking it are just insecure. Seriously, it was at a banquet honoring people and that was a damn fine honor in my opinion.
This great university is educating a great number of people that are going out and making the world a better place, so, let's not shed too many tears for this great university. But if you want to cry over a game, I won't stop you.
You're asking for blood when all you want is justice.
I don't want Hoke to lose his composure; that's Brian Kelly territory. Honestly ND isn't doing any better than Michigan these days (last year was a lot of luck until Alabama exposed them), AND their coach is an asshole. I'll take Hoke, thankyouverymuch. I've seen plenty of people with sound and fury and zero value to society except yelling at clouds. Passion doesn't mean dick to me.
But FFS, these questions. . . Honestly, I don't expect a crack in the walls of Ft. Schembechler, but it's one thing to bully the coach at a presser and another to just push. He's using the same goddamn mealy-mouthed buzzwords for the umpteenth time and still no one's calling him on it. Next time he says "we gotta coach better" someone has to say, "In the context that you've been saying that for WEEKS now and the offense is getting WORSE, what do you mean by that?" You probably won't get a substantial answer, but at least he'll know he's not fooling anyone.
Not looking for blood just pure old school toughness...Bo was a tough one so was Woody, those guys new how to be tough on their players and also get their respect. Say what you want about Kelly but he has turned around a few football programs and went to NC last year, if we went to NC last year i would let Hoke do whatever he wants for the next 2-3 yrs..not asking for much here:
1) Beat our rivals every other year or better off have the edge on the rivalry and keep it that way. Every decade beat them at least 6 times..is that fair
2) make it to B1G championship game at least every 3 years and try to win 2-3 a decade... Fair?
3) win BCS bowl games 3-4 a decade including the rose bowl. Fair?
4) last but not least once a decade try to win the NC title, maybe try to show up there a cpl of times in that decade even if we loose the game
Being that the ncaa football has changed soooo much this are some expectations that we should have as michigan fans. But none of them have happened besides the Sugar Bowl in 2011. The least we have not even won a B1G in 10 yrs, which use to be something we would win every other year..
Now you tell me why all these fans are still frustrated
Totally agree with you. I just can't stand his excuses. He continually falls back on the "lack of experience" excuse. We have more talent on the O-line than most of the B1G, not to mention future NFL right and left tackles. Magnuson and Bryant both have the size to play the position, so if they aren't performing up to expectations it is due to coaching. The frustrating thing is that if I got in my Delorean and went back to last Wednesday and showed Hoke and Borges the video of Saturdays game, I fear the game plan wouldn't have changed at all. To me, that is truly frightening.
theres a lot more to OL than size.....like quick feet and hands. im critical of this team when they underperform or underrecruit but have to point out just bc of magnuson and bryants size vs performance does not mean the coaches are failing. coaches have pretty hard time "coaching" quick feet, athletic recovery ability, violent hands and just overall consistency in mental aspects. sure the coaches can drill kids on techniqe and fundamentals and keys and appropriate footwork, etc. but they will never be able to "coach" schofield to have the feet, hands, balance, etc of lewan, its just not possible, its biology not sled work. sure bryant has chance wormacks size but he doesnt have his ability. magnuson is 6'6" with long arms but doesnt guarantee he has the feet or pad level to play at elite level in space. now maybe both of those guys will get there at some point, but its not now and its not due to coaching. could they be coached up better? ...absolutely, but they also do not have the natural athletic ability or mental capacity to get it done at an elite level at this point. bosch on other hand has played much more consistently and has domniated at certain points more than those 2 have....not coaching as much as the kids natural ability and progression at this stage. the saying "cant coach speed" can be applied generally to other areas
Examples of flawed players, perhaps you're right, it isn't the coaching of players, it is player evaluation, or the lack thereof, during recruitment by those same coaches.
In response to this:
I've seen plenty of people with sound and fury and zero value to society except yelling at clouds. Passion doesn't mean dick to me.
I'll go with Ralph Waldo Emerson and say that passion means more than dick in life to a lot of people, and go with "nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." I'm going to go ahead and use passion as a synonym for enthusiasm here and side with RWE (and the fact that passion means a ton to me, generally, as, umm, without it, it's hard to achieve much of anything that is difficult to achieve).
i love you
execution this, toughness that
Ugh at the RB situation. I wonder if they've opened up to a 2014 back because they're concerned about the current roster.
Smith's demotion too?
If Fitz is our best pass blocking rb...good god. I have no inside info. but something isn't right about this team and it has nothing to do with all the youth excuses. I wish could be a fly on the wall in the locker room.
Well, when a grenn tsunami is coming at you and Fitz can go 'Innie minnie miny mo pick a Spartan defender to block, my mother says to pick...Ops, Devin's already on the ground', what is he to do?
In all seriousness though, how a 3 year starter running back is so poor at pass blocking is beyond me.
As was pointed out by Blackledge during the game, there were a couple of instances where the design of the play looked like Fitz was the designedf blocker for Calhoun--that is just nuts if true. Totally agree that he needs to be a better blocker and that we should have an RB that is, but you can't call a play that has your RB be the blocker against one of the best DE's in the B1G.
and I assume Freddy J is responsible for rotations. Why can't Rawls get a stinking carry? At least he runs physical and runs people over. Where is the rb development in general?
Do you think it has anything to do with Hoke playing the senior even though D. Green may be slightly better for the sake of not "losing the seniors?" I know it has a ton to do with roster dinamics and locker room politics, but would that cross his mind? I'm guessing everyone is going to say there's no way this plays a role but I'm just throwing it out there.
I doubt that has anything to do with it. I would guess, though, that in practice some of the younger backs aren't in a good position to make blocks, or miss play calls or reads. IOW, it's likely more mental than physical.
How did our offense do in spring and fall practices running the ball??? Did the coaches know we were screwed months ago...? Seems like with as much experience those guys have evaluating they all should have known we had some glaring weaknesses. Either that or thought our defense was ALL WORLD. Maybe that's why Lewan talked up Frank Clark so much this year. Maybe he was getting sacks every play.
Guys, it's the mental part- the blitz pickups. I know Fitz looked pretty terrible at it, but I'm fairly certain Green would be worse, and the coaches likely agree. Brian mentioned in this week's podcast that he misses Vincent Smith's pass blocking, and, yeah, boy don't we all on...just about every passing down.
EDIT: "Fairly certain" because it's the hardest part of being a running back, and is usually the most difficult part of the high school-to-college transition for RB's, as they mostly just...ran with the ball/had the ball in their hands when they were in high school. Oh, and everything moves fast as hell. Even NFL guys struggle with it.
He knows the play book and who is is SUPPOSED to be blocking.
That's the same line RR used regarding his crappy pass defense: "look we're starting freshman and sophmores, it's their fault!"
Eventually excuses stop working and the coach has to answer with success or his job.
But is it not true? I agree that at some point you need results, but we also have an actual deficiency that it out of the coaches' control. Why do you think we took 4 OL two years ago (trying for more with Diamond, Kozan, etc.) and 6 last year? The coaches knew we needed bodies, so they went out and got them, good ones too. But they're young. That is a fact and it hurts us.
It's unfortunate that we've had to shuffle our OL so much this year, but the good thing is that we'll have fewer young guys, and more guys coming in with experience next year. They'll still be young as a group, but the youngest guys won't be so young, and they'll be more experienced too (not on average, but as a group).
I agree that they are young but I have to say 2 things:
1. They played very poorly against very bad defensive lines which cannot be explained by youth and have only gotten worse as the year went on.
2. Is he going to use this excuse next year when Lewan and Schofield leave? Is he gonna use this excuse when he has to bench Kalis for Buschell-Beatty (spelling) or Mason Cole because he's playing poorly?
could not coach this o-line....
Well, Magnuson will be one of the tackles, so he really won't be a new starter, and Kalis will take his spot. So 4 of our 5 starters next year will have started half the season or more. Assuming Braden is the new starter, a RS Soph being the only new starter is a lot better situation than this year.
Our best starter next year won't be as good as our best this year, but our worst (hell, our 3 worst) will be a good step better.
Our best starter next year does not need to be a two-time All-American who is a lock for the first round in the NFL draft. Being discriminating in my taste, I'll take maybe one or two second-team B1G players (if we can msuter that with our four- and five-star recruits) and a generally average level of competence. No world beating...not even good. Just average. Unfortunately, I'm not even sure we'll get that because I have seen literally no improvement in our lines the past two seasons.
They got pushed around by Akron.
I have tried to maintain a level head about the whole thing, but themore I think about it the more I think our o-line coaching is just subpar....way subpar.
The fact that we have a young oline in unquestionable but shouldn't we have seen some improvement by now? I mean, you said yourself that they are talented guys, not just a bunch of walk-ons (though one is, but he beat out scholarship players).
When I look at this team I don't see many position groups that have improved since this staff arrived. Three that I think really have are WR's, LB's and DB's. Now I don't know if that is due mainly to an upgrade in talent, an upgrade in coaching or a combination of both(I suspect it is a combination).
The other position groups seem to have each regressed over the last 3 years despite the increase in talent.That is worrisome to me.
Again, I know that youth plays a role and we have lots of it, but Magnum P.I. did a little research to find other teams who have similar numbers of underclassmen playing and the ones he mentioned who are either playing the same amount or more underclssmen on the o-line than us were numerous. Stanford and LSU and two examples, but he had many more.
The point, I believe, is that lots of teams deal with similar issues and still manage to put a viable product on the field. I don't think anyone (at least I don't) think we should have our three interior linemen playing at an all big level this early in their careers, but what we are seeing is absolute chaos once the ball is snapped.
I want to be clear that I'm not trying to start a fight or anything. I'm not mad or pulling my hair out screaming for someone to be fired. I'm just trying to figure out why we are having so much more trouble developing the talent we have in contrast to just about every other FBS out there.
A lot of people think that Borges deserves a pass and since I don't know a hell of a lot about the X's and O's I don't argue that point, they very well may be right. I can, however, see just fine and what I see from various position groups is a complete lack of improvement, and that falls squarely on the assistants lack of development IMHE. Given that and the fact that I have failed to see progress in many positions over the past three years, I can't say that I share the faith you have that next year will be better. I hope I'm wrong.
it's also number of snaps and how the experience is distributed across the line. Red shirt freshmen and true freshmen pretty much by definition come in with no in game snaps. That is generally not the case for sophmores or juniors (red shirt or not). This is part of the reason that people refer to our interior line as young and inexperienced, as opposed to just young. To actually compare this iine with that of other "young" lines you also need to look at the number of in game snaps and starts for each player.
As far as I can remember, other than our senior tackles none of the other offensive linemen had a single in game snap prior to this season. Coaches will tell you that no matter what you do in practice you don't really know what you've got until the players get on the field.
I was thinking about something Lewan said in this week's press conference. He mentioned that the young guys had to learn to go 100% on every play and take each play as single maximum effort. That echoed something that one of the coaches (probably Borges) said about getting the guys to give 100% on each play in practice and that showing that was how they earned a starting slot. The mental discipline to focus solely and only on this play, forgetting the last play and not worrying about the next play and then going 100% on the snap. You have to take frustration, anger, fatigue, pain, triumph, defeat, and all the other things that well up in the heat of competition and channel them back into that singular focus over and over again two or three times a minute.
That is hard for people to learn. You can explain it and reenforce it over and over. You can say it a dozen different ways, but until someone internalizes it, they aren't going to do it consistently. It's hard to teach adults, and much harder to teach 18 and 19 year olds.
I'm not entirely sure that the offensive line actually got worse between PSU and MSU. They certainly took a much worse beating against MSU, but I have a hard time judging how much of that was a result of their regression and how much was just MSU being a very good defense who played very well in that game. The offensive line could have made modest progress and still have been destroyed (or made none). We'll know a lot more after Nebraska and NW.
My point is that youth is not an excuse. It is a valid reason for slow and or inconsistent progress. While I too am disappointed in the failure of the offensive line to make consistent improvement and I agree that it is the coach's responsibility to fix this, I am unable to define what amount of improvement is a reasonable expectation to measure the coaches and players against. It is my opinion that no one, other than the coaches themselves, has access to the necessary information to reasonably establish that expectation.
Ultimately decisions about coaching and player performance fall on Hoke's shoulders. He'll have to evaluate this and make decisions about his staff. For obvious reasons this will happen in the off season and the rest of us will have to measure the quality of that decision based on the team's performance next season.
Clearly Hoke believes the teams problems are due primarily to youth (and he could be right). He will not reassess his staff most likely- Funk, Borges, et. al are safe so anyone asking for them to be fired will be dissappointed. It does not appear Hoke sees many flaws in the decisions he or his associates make. For better or for worse, there will be no major reassessment of the direction of the program whatsoever- not even during the off season.
You were able to take all of that from a press conference, huh? Wow.
Yes- I did get a great deal from that press conference. I know this is not an exact science, deducing a person's personality from their answers and choice of words, but I have enough past experience to tell me that people who talk like BH are very sure of themselves. I was struck by how abrupt BH's responses were, when he spoke of what he saw there was little in the way of hemming or hawing. He seemed not to even entertain views that contrasted with his. Hoke actually has a very strong personality. He would be easy for an opposing coach to develop a psychological profile on- very predictable. In this sense, it is good that he gives full reins of the offesnse to the OC as Hoke would be even easier to scheme against. I believe Hoke sees the answer to his problems in recruiting and experience- not coaching changes. Hoke's strong personality is a great asset in recruiting, kids feel they can trust him. I cannot see any coaching changes at all during the offseason due to dissatisfaction by BH. Hopefully, Hoke is right and recruiting will pay off- because he will not change otherwise. It could be a long wait for results though.