"Well, here we are again. I might as well answer it before you ask. What about the pass rush? You're going to ask that question and the answer I'm going to give you is one, they kept backs in a little bit more in passing situations than we expected. And the other thing I’m going to tell you is I have to coach it better. Our guys are working hard at it, and I’ll put that on me. We just have to get better at it. And we know that. We started working on it on Sunday already but we will be able to rush, and we’re going to do that.”
MGoQuestion: We haven't seen a lot of the nose tackles the last couple weeks. What's the reasoning behind that?
"Well we were in sub a lot. Some guys are better at playing the run and some guys are maybe better at playing able to play the run as well as rush the passer. We feel like those two guys are 300-and-some pound guys that might not give us quite the movement we’re looking for in pass rush.”
MGoFollowup: After looking at the film, will you continue to do that?
"Yeah. You'd like to get faster guys on the field in passing situations. Like I said, I don't know if I was playing against us, by the stats, that I would max protect, but people are doing it. Apparently some people think that if they can hold the ball longer they have a better chance, and then we just have to find a way to get better at our pass rush.”
You emphasized winning one-on-one battles. Are you happy with how that's going?
"No, and I mean that seriously. When I look at myself first on that. Our guys are working extremely hard on pass rush. I mean, they’re trying. They’re looking at film. When I look back at it, maybe I’ve tried to teach them too many things and we’ve got to go back to the way we were in the spring when we were doing a better job of it and say, ‘Okay, lets go back and let's do this first.’ And again, I look at myself on that first. That’s the whole key -- beating someone one-on-one. Who cares what the move is? Sometimes, when I see good things in the practice field I say, ‘Okay, I’m going to teach you this now, this will even help you more.’ Well, you better be able to master the first one first. That’s what we’re going to go with.”
We've seen a lot of Delonte Hollowell and Jourdan Lewis. Is that because they're doing particularly well in practice? Did you feel like you needed to push the starters?
"Every day in our defense, you have to do it the right way and if you’re not 100 percent consistent then the next guys going to get his opportunity. I think our guys in the back end have done some good things, but they've also done some things that we can't accept. Back there, it becomes highlighted. You see it so quick. You have to be a really disciplined guy that concentrates back there. You cannot go out on a practice field or go out in a game and say, 'On this play, I'm not going to go as hard or do it as perfectly as I can,' because you're going to get beat. Until we get guys that do it every time right, then we won't be happy with it. It's always that way on our defense. The film doesn't lie. Our practice film doesn't lie. Whoever does the best that day is going to get his shot. Those two guys are very talented. They're young kids, but they're talented. The only way you can bring a guy along is to get him in game situation.”
Are you hoping to have more of Courtney Avery this week?
“Yes. Definitely. We’re looking forward. He’s right on schedule. He’s right where he should be. Some programs might’ve thrown him in a lot in these last two weeks when they cleared him, but we're not going to do that. We're going to make sure a guy is healthy 100 percent. I know he's really anxious to get going and we're anxious for him to be in there also.”
MGoQuestion: What position would he play when he comes back?
“Either safety or corner. Either one. He’s a guy that can go either one. It really depends on who’s playing the best. I think Jarrod Wilson has done some real good things in the last two games. And Thomas has [as well]. If you say you have to move a guy or have a guy play a position, I think he'd be working some at corner and at safety.”
MGoFollowup: What about nickel?
"Well the nickel position, Blake's done a real good job for us there, so we'll keep him there and the next corner up would go at the corner."
Is Jarrow Wilson one of those guys who you didn't know was going to perform as well as he has until you got him in a game?
“Well we knew last year. He did play some last year. Now last year you’d say to yourself, 'Man he’s a freshman,' just like these other freshmen you're talking about. Well he's had a whole offseason. He's had a spring. When he has played in all these games all the way, he has responded. One thing I'm proud of Jarrod for among a lot of other things, is he's become very studious. He really spends a lot of time making sure he knows the checks, knows where he's supposed to be. That kind of held him back his freshman year, because it was all new to him.”
Blake Countess has had three interceptions. Is that an indication of how well he's playing, or has he just been fortunate?
“Blake is getting better every game. He’s playing better every game in my mind. Is Blake back to where Blake wants to be and where we think he should be? No I wouldn't say that. Of course, you'd say that about every guy. But Blake seems more and more comfortable every game that he's in there ... There's some times where you see him just a lot tighter on a guy. That comes from having confidence. That comes from just really feeling comfortable out there. I mean, for Blake to come back from a whole year off and to do what he's doing, I'm pleased with that."
James Ross said he didn't deserve to start because he didn't practice well. Are you seeing a lot of that accountability in the team this year?
“They have to. They don’t have a choice about that accountability. I think the thing they know that our staff is going to be totally honest with them. There's no favorites, there's no, 'Hey we're doing this to try to get you to play harder.' We don't do that here. It's film. We talk to you the first time. If something happens and your'e not playing up to your expectations -- his expectations as well as ours -- then you don't have the right to be in there as a starter. He understood that. I'd be interested to see him this week now. He has a lot of pride. He's a great young man. He has a lot of talent. Every position is evaluated every day in practice.”
Hoke said the soft coverage wasn't intended and was a result of a lack of focus. What did he mean by that?
“In the secondary, you have a job. For example, you might have the flat or you have the deep third or you have a quarter of the field. If you don't take that responsibility and do it on every play, there's going to be sometimes when you're supposed to be in the flat that you're not tight enough to them. I think that happened to us in there. We lost concentration and started playing all of it, not what our job was. That's why at times we were definitely too soft on guys. There were other times we didn't concentrate and we got beat on big plays, which is unacceptable on our defense. That can't happen. When you look at that game, in the first half I was very pleased with how our kids responded. Our kids went out there in sudden change numerous times and really played hard. Red zone defense again was very good, but to give up big plays -- when you give up a big play on defense in our defense, there's no way you can have a good game.”
Are you surprised to see some of these mistakes given the number of veterans?
"I'm never surprised. I'm disappointed. We can't have that. They know that. If there's ever one thing we preach in our defense, it's keep the ball inside and in front. That has to be nipped immediately or we won't have the kind of defense we expect to have.
Was the game plan for Akron similar to the one against Notre Dame?
“No. No. We were going to play our base defense, which is the pressure, which is the rush four, which is to play coverage – that mindset wasn’t in there at all. In fact the two big plays we gave up were base defenses. They were defenses we play every day. That was just not concentrating.”
MGoQuestion: Hoke said he knew what the last defensive play call was going to be before it was called. He said it was "Cable zero train." What does that mean?
"That means 'cable zero train.' Heh. That means it's all out blitz. That means we're bringing everybody. Everybody has a responsibility. Everybody has a gap. Everybody has to execute that defense perfectly, and they did. That's zero coverage, meaning man-to-man, no help, no free safety. Brennen Beyer and Jibreel Black are the two guys inside and they both executed their technique perfectly. In that defense, if you take a false step, you're a second late. That one has to be, 'Okay, I know what you're going to do. We need to be there right now. If you take a false, step, if you don't step exactly perfectly, then you have a chance of putting that secondary in a real tough position, because there's no help."
Brennen Beyer has been able to time his blitzes pretty well. What has he been doing well that other people could look to?
“Same thing I’ve said every time everyone asks me about Brennen. He’s a Michigan man. He comes out to practice every single day. He's a very intelligent football player. He's a very tough minded, physically tough football player. And he just does what he's coached to do every time. When he doesn't, he will tell you before he doesn't. That's what we want in a Michigan defensive player, and that's what he's responded to do week in and week out, play in and play out.”
He's spent a lot of time with his hand in the dirt. Once Jake Ryan gets back, do you see Beyer playing more rush end?
"No. I don't know. We haven't even looked at that yet. No. Brennen Beyer has done a great job at the SAM linebacker position, and he would always do it, just like Jake did, put his hand in the dirt in pass rush situations. We'll put the best pass rushers out there on the field when that time comes."
What's Terry Richardson's situation?
“Young guy that needs to get stronger. This is big boy football and he needs to get a lot stronger and that will allow him to play more physically and with more confidence.”
Do you tell the players that the lack of pass rush is on you?
“Definitely. In fact I told them that on Sunday. I said, ‘It’s not acceptable how we’re pass rushing.' And I said, ‘Apparently I’m not doing a good job of teaching you and I’m going to do a good job of teaching you because we’re going to be able to pass rush.’ And we will. We’re going to work extremely hard on it in the time we have to do it. We have to be able to rush the passer.”
Do you simplify now?
"The way we put it in in the spring and emphasized it in the spring starts with stance, get off, all that kind of thing. As they got better, and the mistake a coach makes is that you assume that's what they look like every time, and that’s why it’s my mistake because we started standing up, we weren’t getting off like we got off in the spring and we weren’t going A-B-C, we were just saying, ‘I’m going to get to the quarterback.’ So, that’s me and that’s why were going to get back to doing it A, B and C and get it right.