Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-21-13: Brady Hoke Comment Count

Heiko August 21st, 2013 at 11:31 AM


  • Boo boos are the worst.
  • Fitz Toussaint has been named the starter at tailback. Act surprised.
  • Ryan Glasgow and Willie Henry are backing up Jibreel Black at 3-tech. Wormley is strictly a 5-tech, and Tom Strobel has fallen off the depth chart it would appear. 
  • Heitzman, Wormley, and Godin are rotating at the 5-tech.
  • Blake Countess is the nickel corner for the nickel package. That tentatively means Michigan is experimenting with a nickel package of Raymon Taylor (CB), Delonte Hollowell (CB), Blake Countess (NB), Thomas Gordon (S), and Courtney Avery (S).
  • Cam Gordon has been proclaimed the No. 1 guy at SAM. I've been strongly predicting Beyer to beat out Cam Gordon, but perhaps this will not be case. We'll see what happens once game day rolls around, but for now I'll concede that I was wrong.
  • In things I'm not so willing to concede, Hoke says that Ben Braden has moved to tackle (he and Magnuson are third in the tackle pecking order) yet remains a guard. While Braden certainly has the ability to play guard (and took snaps there in the scrimmage when Bryant was out), he has not been taking practice reps there for two weeks now, suggesting that Michigan wants him at tackle. Ultimately, none of this matters. It's Bryant or busted assignments.


Opening remarks:

"We had our last two-a-day practice. I thought we ended that part of it, as far as the two practices a day, in pretty good shape. Did a lot this morning. Physical this morning, physical this afternoon. I like how the kids are coming out and how they're competing with each other. We have 11 days until we kick the ball off, so we have to make sure our timing, playing with speed, playing fast, playing physical like we want to -- we get all those things accomplished. I like the leadership and where we're at."

Do you wish the weather had been this warm earlier in camp?

"Yeah. It would have been nice if it had a little more heat, and I think we'll get some more this week, which will be good for us."

Have you made any personnel decisions yet? Center? SDE?

"Jack [Miller] and Graham [Glasgow], obviously. Chris [Bryant] didn't participate the other night, but he's back out there today. We played Graham at a lot of guard, so today we played them both in there at center a little bit more. I think we're getting closer."

What did you think of the scrimmage on Saturday?

"I thought it was really physical. I thought how they prepared -- we set up the day a lot like how the night game for Notre Dame will be as far as the two walkthroughs, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. Just started our routine and really was pleased with how they approached the day, how they approached that night. Probably the most important thing was how they went out and competed."

What other position battles have you decided on already?

"I think we're close. I don't think it's the right time to say, 'This guy is the guy.' "

Is it fair to say Fitz Toussaint is gaining ground for the starting tailback spot?

"Yeah, that would be very true. In fact the other night, on Saturday, it was great to get him back up in the stadium and great to see him run and do some things that he did. Protection-wise, running the ball-wise, he really looks good."

Do you anticipate him starting?

"Yeah. If we're going to get technical about it, Fitz would be the starter."

Can you talk about the battle at center a little more? Why hasn't someone emerged yet?

"I think both of them have had consistently good days. At the same time, when Chris Bryant was out for a couple days, we moved Graham into the guard position to battle there a little bit with Ben [Braden]. And then at the same time, we give Taylor [Lewan] a little rest in there and put Ben out to left tackle. Taylor's played a multitude of snaps, so you want to give the young guys as much in pressure situations as you can. That's probably as much as [we can do without] saying, 'Here it is.' "

Did Shane Morris play in the scrimmage?

"He didn't. He hit his finger a little bit and we just thought it was best -- he could have, probably. He was throwing it before, but we just decided not to put him in there." 

Were there any other injuries coming out of scrimmage?

"Well, Darboh got banged up a little bit. You always ask me that and I usually forget, to be honest with you. But Darboh got beat up a little bit. Don't know how he'll be. [Allen] Gant got a bruise. I'm trying to think. I know there's one more I'm forgetting, but we had about three guys get a little banged up."

With Shane not participating, does that settle things at all with the No. 2 QB spot?

"No, because he's participated in every other situational thing that we do."

MGoQuestion: From the highlight video that you released, we didn't get to see much of Jibreel Black. Did he participate in the scrimmage?

"Jibreel we held out. He got a little dinger there so we held him out."

MGoFollowup: Who's backing him up at the 3-tech position?

"Ryan Glasgow and Willie Henry."

You said Amara got banged up. Is he practicing this week?

"No. He's still banged up." =(

Do you anticipate him back by the first game?

"I think I said I don't know how long he'll be out." =(

Are there any scrimmages planned for this week?

"We'll do some things."

How has Michael Schofield done this fall?

"I think Mike's done a great job. Mike plays a lot of right tackle obviously, but flips over and plays left in certain situations, you know, to get him some looks from there. I thought in the bowl game when Taylor was out a couple of plays, I thought Mike went over there and did a great job. I think it just shows how important he is to his team."

What did Kyle Kalis do to lock down his position so quickly?

"If you would ask him, you'd probably think he would have liked to play a year ago. I think it's just his consistency from spring, what he's done physically with his body, because he's a guy who is really eating better and the body fat and all that -- he really has just been so consistent. He's a strong guy. When he gets on you, he's a pretty good road grader."

How has Fitz distinguished himself? What have you seen in practice?

"Sometimes it's a mind set that guys have. The challenge for him started after the Iowa game. It was 'I want to get back. I've got to get back. How am I going to get back?' I can tell you he was here every day, either through rehab, through whatever they needed to do. Down here, pushing himself from a standpoint of his conditioning and his mindset."

Is he that far ahead of the rest of the backs?

"Well I think Drake Johnson, Thomas [Rawls] had a good run the other night, Justice [Hayes] has had some good runs in there. But I think there's a clear separation that Fitz is the guy."

What about the freshmen?

"Deveon [Smith] and Derrick [Green] -- Derrick's had limited practice. A lot of those guys [have to] finish school. He hasn't had a lot of reps. He had a little bit of an ankle early. We just have to get him more reps."

Would Derrick benefit from taking a week or two off? Is that an option?

"I think our doctors and trainers all feel that he's not doing anything worsen to it."

We heard good things about Chris Wormley. Do you see him getting significant playing time?

"There's group of guys at our strong end, with [Keith] Heitzman, Chris, and [Matt] Godin. I think all three of those guys are guys who have had good fall camps. If we can get to the point where we want to with rotating guys in, which I think we're close to doing that, he'll have some real valuable snaps."

Tell us about Heitzman.

"Keith doesn't do anything flashy. He just gets his job done. He's just truly one of those lunch pail guys who goes to work every day. Doesn't say much. Doesn't talk much. Just goes out and plays. He's a guy who's been in the program two years. There's a maturity level there. Had some limited snaps a year ago, but I think he's growing. His attitude has always been good, but I think the older you get, you get a little more mature."

Who would your third offensive tackle be right now?

"Third offensive tackle would either be Magnuson or Braden."

How has Raymon Taylor looked?

"I think both of those two are doing a really good job. Blake [Countess] at corner and in nickel, because we're playing him a little bit at both because he's good on a slot [receiver]. I think Ray has been very consistent. He's shown great leadership. He's physical. I think they both have done a good job."

MGoQuestion: What does Jarrod Wilson have to do to solidify his spot at safety?

"He's got to have production."

MGoFollowup: Have you been worried about his lack of production?

"No, we just think that we have good competition and there's guys having some production. He's got to have more."

Were you impressed with the speed of the defense? 

"Yeah I don't know if our speed is all -- I don't know how good our speed is, to be honest with you. I think there was a concerted effort by 11 winged helmets to get to the football."

Is it fair to say you have your starting lineup on both sides of the ball penciled in and you're just not telling us?

"I take offense to that. You would be the first I would tell. Uh, I would say no."

How many spots are still in question?

"Probably four or five."

Are you feeling better about your team speed?

"I don't know if I feel better. I like how they went about their business on Saturday, you know? It's just not what they did up there. It's how they prepared to go up there, because when you go up to that stadium, that's a game day experience."

What led to the decision to take your team bowling yesterday instead of practicing?

"Well, number one you see what non-athletes [Ed: ?] we have. No, they've been working hard. It's 17 days of practices -- or 18 -- of getting after it. Get their minds to have some fun ... it just seemed like a good idea."

Would you say Braden's moved to tackle or is he still at guard?


MGoQuestion: Is Brennen Beyer still limited at all? 

"No. He's been back."

MGoFollowup: Is there separation between him and Cam Gordon at this point?

"Well, I think Cam is a guy who would be the No. 1 guy, but Brennen is a very good football player and he's got experience."

MGoFollowup: What about the competition at middle linebacker between Joe Bolden and Desmond Morgan?

"Desmond's always been the guy who's kind of been the starter, and he's had a good fall camp."

Still shooting for October for Jake Ryan?

"Yeah. I haven't tweaked it yet, but yeah, we'll see. Hope so."


Space Coyote

August 21st, 2013 at 1:22 PM ^

Athletic, yes, needs to do a better job at holding up on the edge though when he can't make a play with that athleticism. Stuggled a bit at that in the past. I do agree though, he brings more versatility and is a faster player at that position (which you would expect from a converted S compared to a converted WDE). Beyer will still get plenty of reps though I would assume.


August 21st, 2013 at 11:46 AM ^

Well poo. Don't think this camp is ending on a high note. Last minute shake ups in the secondary. OL not solidified. 2nd WR goes down for season. Blerg. Also Chantel tweeted it sounded like Clark is getting looks at the 3-tech? Insight anyone?

Ron Utah

August 21st, 2013 at 1:14 PM ^

I don't think they experiment with Clark inside unless they believe there are other capable options at WDE.  Ojemudia and Charlton will both make contributions this year, IMO.

And I'm pretty confident that this is just a passing down thing.  Black has been held out, so why not experiment with Clark at 3T in packages?

I'm looking forward to next year, when we have far fewer position battles in camp.


August 21st, 2013 at 12:00 PM ^

I think that we have nothing to worry about with this coaching staff. We have depth and they will not allow anyone to believe a spot belongs to them. I think they want to shake things up and keep the team focused. We open against Central and Notre Dame is a week later. The players do not need a let down the week before. I consider Central a scrimmage and the Gameplan for the Irish will be partially executed the opening week. Fall camp will extend to the week of Notre Dame.


August 21st, 2013 at 12:04 PM ^

i don't get countess at nickel.  is he at nickel (when we play nickel) because:

  • they don't trust dymonte? 
  • hollowell beat out countess and now countess is the nickel (i.e. #3 cb)? 
  • countess is still the #1 CB but when they have to bring in a nickel, they think countess is best at covering fast slot receivers?

i'm not questioning the decision, i just want to know the rationale and how it impacts other players.


August 21st, 2013 at 12:09 PM ^

Who knows, but I don't like Thomas all of a sudden losing the job. Especially with him bringing better size than Countess. I can only hope it's just that Hollowell and Avery have impressed so much that they need them on the field in passing situations. But Hoke didn't sound crazy positive about Wilson.


August 21st, 2013 at 12:14 PM ^

This is likely about tackling.  The nickel guy, as I understand it, has to be able to come up to the LOS and make tackles more than the outside CBs do.  My guess is that Countess is best at this, thus he's the nickel...Even if I'm wrong about the reason, I don't think Countess has been demoted given that Hoke said he's going a really good job.   


August 21st, 2013 at 12:16 PM ^

I think it's respect for the position combined with Mattison's mantra of versatility.  The NB can have either a slot receiver or an outside run flying at him, so he needs to be good at coverage, tackling and making reads.  It's no longer the "oh, a third receiver, let's put in our backup CB in there" position it once was.  You can't get away with making the nickleback the "#3 CB" these days.  Against spread offenses it's a demanding position.

If anything it could be a vote of confidence that Hollowell is doing well, so they feel more comfortable moving Countess' experience inside to help shut down the spread.


August 21st, 2013 at 12:30 PM ^

Its for matchups. In a lot of spread situations you will face the best athletes on that team. I can see them testing this for the matchups they will see when they face Ohio. I like the idea of countess being flexible. Look at how the Packers used Woodson. The nickel has become just as important as as boundry or field corner.

Space Coyote

August 21st, 2013 at 1:13 PM ^

But I'll add to it. Michigan is trying to get their best, dependable athlete in at the NB spot. There are several reasons for this:

  1. He's quick off the edge and can be a blitz defender or an unblocked edge defender against the run
  2. He can match up well in tight man-to-man, getting underneath quick outs (something that's more difficult to do than on the outside because the passing angle is better from the QB's perspective)
  3. He's physical enough to match up against a variety of different receivers, from TEs to slot receivers

FWIW, Woodson spent a lot of his time playing NB in nickel situations, and Marlin Jackson also slid into the NB position while at Michigan when their were 5 DBs on the field. This is simply a way to get the best 5 out on the field, and Countess is the best pure cover guy. I still expect to see Thomas get some reps there, as he has that sort of athleticism, but he's also likely not dependable right now.


August 21st, 2013 at 12:07 PM ^

This may come off as either obvious or patronizing depending on how thick or thin your skin is, but a lotta people have to keep in mind these are college students working with a steep learning curve.  My point is that they can't be evaluated on physical talent alone, and past seasons are often not an indicator of future performance.  Not that Hoke's crew has many maturity problems to begin with, but sometimes a kid just looks in the mirror and decides to grow up.

So, some of these positional battles might've been decided because one guy was playing smarter or more consistently.  Wellman might've worked a miracle during the off-season (Frank Clark?).  Some are poised for a breakout season because they just went nuts studying the game (Devin Gardner).  Who knows?  It's half the fun, really.  I'd be more concerned if most of the kids didn't make any progress since last January, but if anything it sounds like a lot of the players coming off redshirts didn't waste much time.


August 21st, 2013 at 12:09 PM ^

and no mention of Dymonte Thomas. Is that worrisome? Is he not going to have the impact we are all expecting out of him? I just haven't heard anything the past few weeks it seems.


August 21st, 2013 at 12:19 PM ^

I don't think it's that worrisome that a true freshman has not earned a starting spot after his first fall camp.  I would say that is more normal than anything else.  What I do find kind of worrisome, though, is the size of the secondary Heiko listed.  That is a tiny secondary.  I find the news about Cam Gordon and Chris Bryant to be very positive, but the secondary bit, not so much.

Space Coyote

August 21st, 2013 at 1:15 PM ^

He's still a true freshmen. In spring ball, the coaches were trying guys out at certain positions, giving them shots elsewhere, and trying to teach as much as they could. This means that Thomas's main compitition at NB was...Thomas, or maybe one of the smaller CBs. The fact that they moved Avery back is an indication that they are comfortable with the depth they have at NB and CB but not necessarily at safety. Avery and Thomas won't ever get confused, and it's doubtful Thomas sees a lot of snaps at safety during important situations. He still will likely get some snaps in the nickel spot though.


August 21st, 2013 at 12:25 PM ^

Love how you read all these tweets from reporters in the running back pecking order. No where does hike say drake Johnson is number 2 or about Thomas Rawls being number 3. He said they had a nice run. And he dosent mention that green is playing bad but that he needs more reps due to his injury and class!!! This blog gets old. Bunch a paranoid old women


August 21st, 2013 at 12:30 PM ^

We'll miss you Latson3146.  Your keen insight and always spot-on analysis was a breath of fresh air to the board and I, for one, will never forget your two weeks here.

Now.....back to the quilting bee with the rest of the old women.