So on Kovac's pick, we showed all out blitz then bailed into coverage? I haven't seen the game on TV yet, but I would guess that's the same play we got beat on on the last ND touchdown. It works sometimes, as we saw with the pick, but ND just had the perfect route set up to beat it. I'm not too mad with Mattison on that call.
Notre Dame Postgame Presser Transcript: E'ryone
Opening remarks: “Um, that was an exciting football game.” Har har. “Oh, you do have a sense of humor.
"I thought both teams -- I’ve gotta give Brian and his staff and his kids a lot of credit. I thought both teams fought, and they fought for 60 minutes. It wasn’t pretty probably at times on both ends of it. But like I told our players, it’s great to win. There’s a lot to learn from this tape, but to go out there and play for 60 minutes and win the football game in the manner that we won -- our kids, I’m real proud. Terrence Robinson, on the last kickoff [with] two seconds left, watching him bust his butt to get down the field to try to cover it. There were other guys doing the same thing, but that’s the thing, as a coach, that you take away from your team.
“We had some adversity, they fought back. We never really got on track early in the game. Didn’t have any momentum, any rhythm, when you look at it from an offensive standpoint. And defensively, we didn’t start as well as we’d like. Played a little better there for a while, and then it was back and forth. We have a lot to look at and a lot to work on. It’s great to win, and it’s great to win for our seniors -- [it’s] the last time they play in this great rivalry. So now we move forward.”
Did you say anything to Denard after he threw the pick in the endzone? “We’ll look at it tomorrow, and he may have seen something there that was better than maybe it was. I never said anything to him -- unless it’s really a poor decision throw. I didn’t think it was a poor decision.”
Do you think this win creates momentum for the program? "I don’t know. I think there is momentum. I think you do gain some momentum, and I think for us, as a team, it will be a great learning experience. It’s amazing when you do play 60 minutes of football, meaning you do stay together as a team. You compliment each other and you lean on each other. That, for us, will be part of the teachings and part of the lessons from this football game.”
Why were receivers so hit-or-miss, and what allowed them to be able to make spectacular catches? "I think it’s just being a human being. I think we all have good days and bad days. We all maybe write something good one time and maybe something not so good the next. I’m sure that never happens in here.” Aw, shucks. "I’m not being sarcastic. Really.” You shouldn’t have. “But, in truthfulness, there were probably three balls early in the game, in the first half, maybe one in the second -- maybe four total -- that I think would have moved the sticks for us, would have given us some more momentum. We weren’t very good on third downs on either side. They were 8 for 14, which is good for them, bad for Michigan defense, and I think 3 for 9 when you look at what we were. There’s no explanation besides we have to do a better job concentrating and focusing and catching the ball.”
How much did it help to have beaten Notre Dame in similar fashion the last couple of years? “I’m sure it helps. I think it’s a great question for them. I think anytime you compete -- but at the same time every team is so different. Your seniors are different. Your leadership is different. Playmakers, to some degree, may be different. I think it’s a great question for them, if they had a little more juice at the end because of that -- I don’t know.”
[More after the jump]
Is Michigan getting closer to playing Michigan football? “No. We’re a long way away. Expectation for this program is way too high for us to think we’re where we need to be. We talked about that after the game, as a team. We’ve got a lot of things that we can do better on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game. So we’re not near where we need to be.”
This was a wild game, huh. What were your thoughts like throughout? “I was thinking that we’re going to win the game. We’re going to find a way to get it done. When you’ve got some guys who have the ability -- the last shove we had offensively, number 16’s ability to elude, evade, and step up and throw the ball -- that’s something that we always [have] going for us. So I wanted our team to stay composed and poised. We’ve done two-minute drill since we got here in January. We’ve probably done a thousand two-minute drills with different scenarios, different timeouts, different ones on ones, twos on twos against each other, because those are the high-pressure situations. I had confidence we knew how to handle that.”
How important are turnovers when playing against ND offense? “Huge. That probably is a bright spot -- we were plus two tonight. I think that’s right. Had a chance probably to be plus four if we do some things maybe a little better offensively. Obviously they moved the ball. They made some plays, ran the ball well. I think Michael Floyd is a pretty special athlete in his own right, but our guys – for us, and maybe how we see it, they hung in there. I think Kovacs, he had an interception, didn’t he? That was a tremendous play. It was a tremendous play because it started on the line of scrimmage being a good play. It started with a call defenisvely because we gave them a blitz look, and everybody then bailed out. I think it confused them a little bit.”
Where did the thought of winning come from when you were down 24-7? “I’m as optimistic about anything as anybody in the world. I aways think that way, and I always feel that way. I don’t know. I just have belief in these kids. I believe in this staff and what they’ve done with these kids, and believe in Michigan.”
No production out of RBs. Denard show. Why? “I’d give [Notre Dame] some credit because they were more stout up front from a defensive perspective. I also would say we’ve gotta be better at the point of attack. I didn’t see a whole lot of room. Maybe a couple times in there where maybe we didn’t have the greatest vision in the world running the football. It all starts up front on both sides, so we got a lot of work to do there.”
Is the 30-second drill different from the two-minute drill? What was the decision like to go for the TD vs. settle for the field goal and then OT? “With eight seconds left? We had two timeouts, so we were at least going to give it a shot in the endzone. If Denard would have scrambled and got tackled, I think we had enough time to call a timeout. I may have gone for the touchdown and gone for the win [anyway]. Why not? I mean, you play to win. That was a good win.”
What do you think of night games now? “What do you guys think?” I thought it was freakin’ awesome. “What time is it, 12:15? It was a great event. There was great enthusiasm. The energy was awesome. Our kids loved it. They won’t like tomorrow as much because it’s going to come a lot sooner. But as far as playing at night -- high school football, for the most part, you play at night. So I think those guys think it’s back to playing high school football. We’ve got a great stadium, had a great crowd, great passion on both sides. It was fun. I had fun.”
Roy, when they were reviewing your catch, did you know it was a TD? “Yeah, I just went to the sideline because I already knew I had it. I had possession of it. I wouldn’t mind looking at the replay again [to see myself] celebrating with my teammates.”
What was the huddle like for the last series? “We were composed. We go through that everyday in practice. Coach always says, ‘The game’s not over until it’s :00 on the clock.’ We were out there to play hard and finish strong.”
Bad performance first half, then got better. Obviously you didn’t give up. Where did you find the resolve? “Coaches say always just stay together, always encourage each other. We just never gave up. We just stuck it out, played 60 minutes. Go out and play 60 minutes strong. We didn’t play our best football. We didn’t play Michigan football. But that’s what we have to practice. Get ready for practice and get ready for Eastern Michigan.”
Did anyone say anything to the receivers when you guys were struggling? “Everybody, the seniors -- that’s who you’re playing for each game -- the seniors just spoke up to us, ‘Just go out there and play 60 minutes and give it your all.’ We didn’t stop until the clock was :00.”
That was your only catch of game, right? “I’m a team player. I’ll go out there and put my hand in the dirt and block. I’m not really concerned about the ball. As long as we win, that’s what I’m here for. I’m a team player. I’m not stingy with the football, and now look, I got the game winner.”
How did last couple years of experience with winning last-second against Notre Dame help you? “Playing through it last year, seeing the same results, and we came out with the W. Just being down all game, and just staying composed, just trying to make sure we get the right plays and execute the right way. I feel we did that during the second half. The defense played great and had turnovers. The offense just had to go out there and execute the right way.”
What was the huddle like on the last play? “The play that coach called before that, when Gallon caught the wheel route. I was like, ‘Man, he’s gotta score.’ [I saw him] cutting across the field [and thought], ‘Okay, here we go.’ When Denard came back in the huddle, he was composed. He called up the play. I felt like the defender was far outside, so I just got up on his toes. Coach Heck always says, ‘Big players make big time plays,’ and that’s what I did today.”
How down was the team 30 seconds left after ND scored? “We always had this situation, tempo stuff in practice. It’s something we’re used to. Our offense would be up, defense has to stop us or [defense up, offense has to score] … so that’s what we did, just staying together. That’s the adversity. That’s something we always have to face in football, but we overcame.”
Talk about the pass interference on your catch. “Once I saw the ball come off, it was high. Denard put it off high, so I adjusted to it. Once I came back toward it, he was still up on me. So I just jumped up in the air and focused on it and when I came down, made sure my one foot was in, and once I hit the ground I was like, ‘Man, I just scored a touchdown.’ ”
Did you feel a lot of pressure? “This is Michigan. There’s always pressure. We knew what was at stake. We just wanted to win for each other and win for the seniors. Everyday in practice that’s what we do, get better to prepare ourselves for Saturdays.”
Was there any debate about kicking a field goal vs. going for the TD? “No. Once Gallon ran down to the ten or 20 yard line, we just got back in the huddle and knew we had some time left. Coach just took a stab and we came up with it.
Did you talk to Denard about his shakiness in the first half? When Denard had the interceptions, he just came back to the sidelines. He wasn’t frustrated or anything like that. He’s a team player and knows we have his back. It’s all about trust.”
Did you say anything to him personally? “I said, ‘It’s okay. Next play is your best play.’ ”
How did Jeremy Gallon get so wide open? “Tell you the truth, once I turned around, I saw Gallon by himself. I was like, ‘Whoa, how did this happen?’ I knew he was going to catch it. Gallon put in a lot of work, man. [He’s a] good football player. I saw him cut across the field, so I had to put a block for him.”
What was the play call? And did you realize you were that wide open? “It was a slow wheel. I knew [I was open] when the defender followed Roy. I mean, Roy’s an impact player. So is Junior Hemingway. So when they left me open, I just waited for Denard to throw me the ball and tried my best to get down [to] the endzone as best I could.”
How would you assess how the wide receivers played? “I mean, first half, we didn’t play Michigan football as Roy said. We had a talk in the locker room, we had to come out playing better than we played in the first half. Play for the seniors and play for each other. We didn’t want to let the seniors down.”
What was the mentality of last 30 seconds. Was there any getting down? “We had to keep fighting until the clock stops ticking. We believed in each other. We fought all through the game. We had big plays by everybody. Just don’t want to let the seniors down.”
Talk about the TD you caught on the fade route. Did you know the ball was coming to you? “When I saw Denard give me the little signal. I didn’t know if it was coming to me, but there was going to be a chance. Coach always says toughest guy wins, so I had to be tough as a nail.”
Talk about the atmosphere. Under The Lights, ND, the way that game ended … Will you ever be a part of something like that again? I don’t know. It was an amazing atmosphere. The crowd was very into it. Everybody on the sideline was into the game. We just came out to play. We did our best to win for the seniors I guess.”
With the amount of time left on the clock, did you have to decide to get out of bounds on your long catch and run? “I caught the ball, I was looking at the clock, and I saw we had 12 seconds left, so I tried to get out of bounds as fast as I could.”
For how slow the offense started out, do you feel fortunate for the win? “Yes, I do. We came out. We had a job to do. We didn’t play our best in the first half. We had to come out stronger than we did in the first half.”
Did you feel like you missed an opportunity with the end-zone pass that got intercepted? “Roy said it best. Next play is the best play. Couldn’t worry about that. Had to move on to the next play.”
Vincent Smith and David Molk
Vince, can you take us through that screen pass? Smith: “I was just mainly being patient on the screen and just selling it as much as I could. I just wanted to make sure my defender was upfield so I could get a good look upfield. I knew once I broke a couple tackles, it was going to be a touchdown from there.”
Hoke always talks about overcoming adversity, does it get any bigger than this? Molk: “Looking back to the games we had last year, especially the Illinois game, it’s something we’re used to -- scoring really fast and being able to take the ball down the field last second. It’s kind of funny because after we scored that last time everyone just started celebrating. I sat back down and said, ‘Okay, give me another towel. My towel’s wet. I’m ready to go back in.’”
With 30 seconds left, did you still have hope you could come back? Molk: “There’s always time for any game versus any oppoent. It’s just a matter of setting your mind to it and rallying your team around you. It’s something we’re comfortable with. It’s something we know and it’s something we can do well.”
When they scored with 30 seconds left, was there any meeting on the sideline? Molk: “It’s kind of a common knowledge. It’s, ‘Let’s go.’ Nothing really has to be said. If it’s a team where something has to be said, that team’s not going to win.”
Why couldn’t you find much room to run? Smith: “Definitely have to improve in that area and just get the ball moving and just improve on it. We’re going to look at film and see what we did wrong and we’re going to improve on it.”
How does this night game compare with games during the day? Smith: “It’s dark.”
Did anyone say anything to Denard during the half? Molk: “I went and talked to him at halftime and just needed to calm him down. Sometimes he speeds everything up and loses track of where he is. I knew when he got back out there during the second half, he was ready to go.”
How did the game turn so suddenly? Molk: “It’s just the team’s mentality as a whole. It’s what we do. It’s what we train for. It’s what we practice for everyday. It’s overcoming adversity, and that’s truly what makes a good team.”
If you didn’t score on the last drive, you’d be Notre Dame, i.e. feeling pretty crappy. Have you thought about that at all? When you win, there’s no reason to think about it.” Not even a leedle? “Not even the slightest bit.”
Jordan Kovacs and Mike Martin
Talk about how defense rose to the occasion multiple times on third and short? Martin: Everyday in practice, it’s something that we stress. Being stout with short yardage. It’s something in that situation we were ready for. It’s something we prepared for all camp. It’s nothing new to us. We had a mentality -- we always had a mentality to make a play with short yardage.”
Talk about your INT? Kovacs: “I don’t want to give too much away, but I think we did a good job disguising the defense. I think the quarterback thought we were blitzing. He checked out of it in a sprintout, and he didn’t see us dropping into coverage. I gotta credit the defense a lot. It was a big play for us, because two plays later we threw the ball down to Junior Hemingway. That was a turning point in this game, but there were several turning points in this game.”
Defense is getting very opportunistic. How do you practice getting turnovers? Kovacs: “I think that’s something coach Mattison stresses -- if you get hats to the ball, good things are going to happen. If you fly around, you may not be in the right spot at the right time, but if you get after the football, you’re going to cause some turnovers. It’s something he stresses, and it’s one of the things we try to do.”
How would you assess how defensive line played/you struggled against the run. Martin: “A football game’s never going to be perfect. On the defensive line we have a lot of improvement to do. But we did step up and make some big plays. Throughout the game we had some adversity, but it made us better.”
Talk about Michael Floyd? Kovacs: “I mean, he’s a great athlete. Great receiver, probably one of the best in the nation. He made some big catches. You can never eliminate a guy like that or take him out of the game, but it’s something we tried to do. We couldn’t do that at times, but at the same time, I don’t think he made any really big catches on us. I think we kind of corralled him in that aspect, but he a great player. He’s going to get his catches. We knew that, but we couldn’t let the rest of the team beat us.”
Was there a moment you hit rock bottom? Kovacs: “I don’t think we ever felt like we hit rock bottom. I think that’s the unique thing about this defense is that we’re going to fight. No matter the score, no matter the situation, we’re going to keep fighting. We might have just given up a touchdown, but we’re going to come back, to forget about it, and move on, and I think that’s what we did today. At times we played well, but at other times it was tough, so we just put it in the past. We knew good things were going to happen.”
You fell behind with 30 seocnds left, what was it like to watch the last drive? Martin: “We never lost faith. Whatever the situation was, we knew that we couldn’t quit. Whatever it was, we knew that the offense was going to handle their job, and whenever it was our time to go back on the field, we needed to make sure to do what we needed to do. On both sides of the ball, there was never any loss of faith.”
How aware were you of history (attendance, first night game, etc.)? Kovacs: I think Michigan Stadium was rocking. It was an unbelievable scene. It was a great game to be a part of. It was fun. I think Mike would agree we had a lot of fun out there. Never seen the stadium like that. And I’ve been coming here for quite a long time. It was a fun night game, and it was a pretty sweet win.”
Did you ever expect to play in such a big game? Kovacs: “No, not really. I’ve never been a part of any game like this. But I’ll take it in stride. I’m having the time of my life right now, and I’ll take it and run with it.”
Talk about Tommy Rees? Kovacs: “I think you gotta give a lot of credit to Tommy Rees. He’s a great quarterback. We knew that coming into the game. But we knew that he’s not too experienced. We wanted to get after him and rattle him a little bit. I thought we did that at times, but at other times, that’s something that we’ve gotta improve on.”
This is third time you’ve done this to notre dame. Would you rank this as best of last three? Martin: “I’ve never been a part of a game like this. I don’t think anyone on the team has been a part of a game like this, so I’d say this game ranks, excitement-wise, the most exciting game I’ve ever played, whether it’s just the Notre Dame series or any other series. Notre Dame, it’s always a big game playing against Notre Dame. It always means a lot. There’s a lot of tradition with both programs.”
You guys ran a bunch of checks, lots of communication, disguising stuff, etc. How did it go from game one to game two? Kovacs: “I think we’re getting a little more comfortable with the defense. But that’s an explosive offense. They can do it all. They can spread you, they can pound you, so I think it’s going to be a good film to watch. We have a lot of work to do in the running game and the passing game. I thought we handled ourselves well. We kept fighting. That’s all we can ask. It’s somewhat of a bittersweet victory after the way we came off the field, but we’ll take it, and we’ll watch the film and improve.”
What was going through your head when you saw Jeremy Gallon wide open? Martin: I knew Jeremy was going to make the play when the ball was in mid-air. Knew he was going to come through and make the catch. Jeremy’s been working hard. It was exciting, and I think Ryan Van Bergen, he just lay down on the sideline, saying, ‘Man, this is crazy.’ ”
Was it frustrating that none of your blitzes really hit home? “I think they did a great job picking up our blitzes. They changed up their snap count on us probably a few times, but we caught onto that, and we started disguising a little better. It’s something we’re going to have to work on and improve on.”
ND’s running backs were gashing the defense. Was that scheme or just not winning the battle up front? Martin: It was a bit scheme-wise. We just had to make sure we were a little stouter at the point of attack in some areas on the defensive line. I think we did a good job of adjusting at halftime. In a few of those cases it worked out.
What was your mentality at the half? How did you get back on track? “Everybody was just like, let’s keep playing as a team and doing what we gotta do to win for Michigan. And that was the biggest thing. Coach just said we got a whole bunch of football left, and we just gotta continue to keep playing, and that’s what we did.”
Talk about the character of the team? Every time you see this University of Michigan team, you’re going to see a team that plays together and keeps fighting until the end of the game, until there are zeros on the clock.
How did Gallon get so wide open? “We ran that route all summer. Coach just told us just in case we get in a situation we need to do some final plays and get the ball down the field, we need this in the offense. We called the play up, and it worked.
Roundtree’s TD catch? “I came to Roy, and he told me, ‘Denard, I gotta get ‘em. I gotta get ‘em.’ ”
Talk about your fumble recovery for TD? “Coach told us to hand the ball off, and just be ready for anything that happens. Once I handed it off, I looked and I was like, ‘What?’ I just grabbed the ball and ran. I never scored like that before.”
What makes Hemingway special? “All summer we’ve been doing workouts and everything. One thing I noticed about all our receivers -- they know how to go and get the ball and attack the ball. I knew Junior could get the ball. Once I threw it up, I knew he was going to come down with it. Same thing with Jeremy Gallon.
Third year in a row you beat Notre Dame. Thoughts? "Every time you see this game, you’re going to know both teams have to fight to the end. It’s never over until you see zeroes on the clock."
What was causing you to struggle early on? “I don’t know, man. I guess everyone was so excited. I don’t even know. I can’t say.”
You seem to have a lot of confidence in Gallon. He’s kinda shorter than the other guys. What does he do to get the ball? “Gallon is what, a 5’9” guy? He plays like he’s 6’7”. He will do whatever it takes to get the ball, and we all got faith in him.”
What changed for you from early in the game to the fourth quarter? “I don’t think anything changed. All of us were fighting as a team. It’s not a one-man game. All of us kept fighting as a team, and we played for the seniors, and the alumni from the University of Michigan.”
Do you feel sorry for ND? “I don’t know, man. This is why we play the game of football. Somebody gotta lose, somebody gotta win.”
How does this compare with other big games at Michigan Stadium? “I mean, it was crazy. I just wanted to be with all the guys on the team, just being with the family. We enjoyed it.”
On screen pass to V smith, was it the same play you got intercepted earlier in the game? "It was similar to the pass I overthrew and got intercepted, but it wasn’t [the same].”
Did you think the game was over when he scored? “I mean, nobody knew what was going to happen. There was still time on the clock.”
That final TD was a cover three and the safety in the middle didn't get deep enough
‘Man, this is crazy.’ ”
That's what all of us watching the game said too.
And Denard is being very generous on Gallon's height.
"Everytime you see this University of michigan team, you’re going to see a team that plays together and keeps fighitng until the end of the game, until there are zeros on the clock."
They should put this quote up in the locker room, maybe not now but definitely when Denard graduates.
How does this night game compare with games during the day? Smith: “It’s dark.”
Yeah, that one's right up there with the M hockey player who was asked about the Alaska Pipeline when they were up there in like '98: "It's just a big pipe."
MOLK A DRY TOWEL FERF**KSAKES!!!
I love Hokes first comment to Erin Andrews after the game"well we gotta lot to work on." classic
I love Hokes first comment to Erin Andrews after the game"well we gotta lot to work on." classic
I like how the interviewees are brought out in twos (other than Denard, who is two men in one). Not that there's a wrong way, but they can support and back each other.
It might not matter a lick in the W & L column, but this team seems to relish and embrace the whole team effort, live up to Michigan standards. The motto "the team, the team, the team" was last Year's thing, but they seem to be eating it up and wearing it as a badge this season.
"...and I was like, ‘What?’"
I had pretty much the same reaction watching this play. I just started laughing because it was all I had left.
surrounding the Hoke hire, is the mental impact on the team. They are close knit, they believe in themselves, and they will fight to the end. Teams that have distractions seldom are able to do that.
What a great win for the program.
is starting to sound like RR. Not hate for RR, I loved the guy, but an eerily similar quote when asked when he expected to beat O#$@ S#!$@...something along the lines of "when we're better than them." BK today: "We'll win when we're better." I enjoy winning even if we aren't "better" than our opponent, and given that Toledo game yesterday, definitely can't wait for 11/26/11. Might have to get my own countdown clock installed in my apartment.
Not to be overly clever (no danger), but my wife (not a huge follower of the team) asked why they were letting 5th graders play when she saw Gallon break a huddle.
I'm amazed he was so effective, after years of making me want to kill him on special teams.
in their practice reports. Apparently Manball allows for mannish people of limited stature.
Gallon has played all of one year (prior to this one) at UM. I know last year seemed like a long one, but still....
"I just have belief in these kids. I believe in this staff and what they’ve done with these kids, and believe in Michigan.” You also can't ignore how much more often the players refer to Hoke, e.g. "Coach says..." There is a lot of mutual respect on this team.