Appalachian State Postgame Presser: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 31st, 2014 at 11:52 AM

News bullets and other items:

  • Jabrill Peppers was held out of the second half by the coaches because of an ankle injury. He’ll play against Notre Dame
  • Devin Funchess asked to wear No. 1 and cleared the number change with the Kramer family
  • No word on what position Graham Glasgow might play
  • Hoke wasn’t happy about ASU being able to run up the middle of the defense and will make adjustments before Notre Dame
  • Dennis Norfleet's nickname is apparently Fleetwood
  • Brady Hoke "Well,..." count: 7

Hoke presser 2

“Football’s geometry. It really is.”

Opening remarks:

"Good way to start the season. As I mentioned to you many times before, this team has worked really hard and they've done a nice job. I think the leadership throughout has been good. I thought we played hard. Was a little concerned in the second half when they had the opportunity and they were running the ball on us through the middle of our defense. We've got to do a better job there but I thought the kids came out and played hard. Disappointing [to have] no turnovers defensively and we only had one sack. They get the ball out of their hands pretty quick and that's just what they do but should've been a little more than that. Had some opportunities and you've got to make them when you're there."

Is there an area that you were more impressed with between the points scored, the performance of 560 total yards, or the fact that the rushing yards surpassed the passing yards?
"I think the biggest thing was that we weren't competing with the scoreboard, we were competing with our abilities. That's what we talked about going into the game in how we wanted to play and how we wanted to go about every down. Statistics are statistics, and you can look at them and believe them or you can look at them and know that that's not really the true answer because there's a lot of things this football team has to do better."

Jabrill Peppers' status?
"He'll be alright. I'll be honest with you, at halftime just decided not to bring him out the second half. It's not a life-[threatening] injury or anything. He'll be ready next week."

Talk about the decision to give Devin Funchess the number one and how he responded.
"You know, the young man asked me about it and I said it was fine and I said call a member of the Kramer family and that's what he did. Ron Kramer may have been the best player ever to play here, the best athlete ever to play here and so he talked to Kurt, his son, and Devin being more of a wide receiver now obviously, he decided that's what he wanted to do. And believe me, I asked him who's worn the number one and he started with Anthony Carter and went down the list so I think that's...he earned it."

How he played today?

"Well, let me look at his stats.
/pretends to look at stats packet but doesn't because he's Brady Hoke and statistics are lies
"He was a presence out there."

Talk about the importance of 100 yard rushers and [playing] winning football.
"Well, we want to run the ball and to have two 100-yard rushers is a good thing. We wanted that offensive line to play together. We talked about taking them out the series before the last touchdown but really they haven't played as much together. You know, Kalis missed some of camp. Getting him back in and playing with him and the combination with him and Joe [Burzynski]. Getting Mason [Cole] as many snaps [as possible], especially with a quality guard next to him, I think, was important. I thought Jack Miller did a really nice job with our offensive line. Between the communication I was very impressed with Jack and have been all camp. They did a good job. There was a sequence – a series, two series in the second quarter where we lost some yardage on a couple runs and that bothers me. I think we want perfection and that's good because high standards should be high. That bothered us.
"There were a lot of big runs in there. You watch Jehu [Chesson] block, you watch Darboh block, little Fleetwood block, I mean, those guys open up a lot of the big plays."

[More after THE JUMP]

Devin Gardner was obviously pretty efficient today. Can you talk about what he did and in turn what you wanted out of him?
"Well, we wanted him to, number one, manage the game and take care of the football. And I think he made some really good decisions. He changed a play or two at the line of scrimmage, one or two, and I thought he played locked in to what was going on. With Doug [Nussmeier] being on the sidelines I think helped in this situation because of being able to talk to him between series and make some adjustments."


It seemed like much of your success early came out of the shotgun with some spread formations. Is that a product of the opponent or maybe the best fit for your personnel still?
"Well, anytime you can run some of those spread things you've got a pretty mobile quarterback, one of those dual-threat guys they talk about. I think having the ability to do so regardless of whether you're going to make it your backbone of what you're doing, defenses have to prepare for it so it's always good to have that in there."

How important was it to jump out to a good start to give your guys confidence and maybe knock back some of theirs that they may have had coming into the game?
"Well, I think that's important. I think we think our football team was ready. You could tell how they were really prepared the whole week. I think it was important to get on the board.
"It was important for the defense to get on the field first. We had talked about our kickoff team going down and setting the tone and again defensively setting a bit of a tone. I think they did that that first series. The offense...they feed off each other a little bit. We were at 14 for a while so it was good to come out and respond. I still think coming out in the third quarter, we need to do a better job in coming out like we did in the first quarter.”

How big was it to get the balance from Derrick Green and DeVeon Smith, who combined for almost 300 yards. How huge is that going into the Notre Dame game?
"I think it's huge for our football team and it's huge for those young men. They're both big backs but they're different. You notice DeVeon, he would rather run you over than play tag or try and make you miss and Derrick's got a little combination of both. It was good to have those guys have success and I think it speaks again to what the receivers did and the offensive line did."

Their success in the run game. Was that more about fits or...
"I think that's more about some fits. I think it's more about guys didn't get off blocks because you go [Ed.- ?] series and all of a sudden a guy who wasn't getting off a block is getting off a block and it's a plus-1 or a minus-1. So the consistency of doing that every time."

How does the offensive line change with [Graham] Glasgow available next week and is Kalis ailing a little bit? Is that why he didn't start the game or was that already decided?
"We had decided Joey would start it and then get Kyle into it.
"How it changes I'm not sure yet. I think that's an option that we're glad we have but I can't tell you if it's going to be a change right yet."


On Peppers- is it an ankle...
..and do you think he'll be able to play against Notre Dame?

Speaking of Notre Dame, can you speak on the opportunity and the added intrigue of this being the last one?
"Well, it's always been a great football game. Bo would say it kind of lets you know where your team is early in the season because of the similarity in the athletes that are on the field. So from that standpoint, I just think for college football it's a great rivalry. The significance of it being the last one down there? Yeah, there's significance to it."

I imagine you never quite know what you're going to get out of your team the first game. From the concerns that were out there about the offensive line and other things, did you feel some of that, at least in your mind, was alleviated even though it's just one game and did they come out with the aggression you were looking for?
"I think that second part, yes. I thought they came out aggressive. Just being on the sideline and watching body angles and the leverage that they were playing with and just finishing blocks- the last play of the game [Patrick] Kugler's in there and he finishes a block with a guy about eight yards down the field and so that was the only play he played and he made the most of it. I think we're a long way from being what I think we can be. We've just got to keep working and that's the great thing about this team. They've come in and worked every day and they love working together."

You talk about what you didn't like from the defense. Talk about what they did well in a shut out first half and only allowing seven [points] with the starters in.
"I thought they were pretty tight on coverage, that part of it. And we've worked pretty hard at being tighter on coverage aspects. I think the flow of the linebackers. All three of them, because they kind of rotate depending on what defensive package we're in. James Ross, James played some in our normal defense inside. You felt those guys. You felt them breaking on balls and cleaning hits up"

Your comments on Coach Nussmeier's work with the offense and the offense's performance based on coach working with it, today's performance, and your overall assessment of it.
"I guess the only thing I would say to that is we won the football game. We got in the end zone. We play Notre Dame next week."

You mentioned Doug [Nussmeier] on the sidelines there. What does that do for the whole team when he's down there and involved and right next to you and what does that do for you? Does that change anything for you?
"Well, he gets in my way.
"Really, I'm trying to keep him off the field. I think he wants to go out and play. I think this year at this time with being with the quarterback for nine months he's there with him, they can communicate. I think it's the same for the offensive line."
That energy's a good thing?
"Well I would hope so, yeah. I've always liked energy."

Two things with Devin [Funchess]: do you anticipate more double coverage for him and talk about being a wide receiver, being split and how that's benefitted him.
"He's definitely someone you need to pay attention to. I think as the year goes on, as he keeps working, as he keeps learning and developing I think more people may bracket him a little bit. Put a corner over top or a safety over the top but then that helps Chesson and Darboh and Fleetwood, Norfleet and those other guys."
And having him focus- he's a split...
"I think that helps him, no question about it. Moving him back-and-forth is something where there's a lot to learn. In this offense there's a lot to learn for a wide receiver when you talk about splits and minus-2s or plus-2s, all those kinds of things for certain routes and plays. Football's geometry. It really is. How they decide on the spacing of it is huge, especially in an offense."

What's your overall assessment of your special teams. They had the block but almost didn't recover the onside kick.
"We were a little too deep. And the one thing about it, and we had talked about it and we had done it with them, we just didn't react. And it'll be interesting to see the replay to see if we were back on our heels a little bit trying to get depth. The block was- I don't even know who blocked it. Who blocked it?"
"McCray did. Mike did. Anytime you can generate points in your special teams there's statistics out there, I think there's a 70% or 75% more chance of winning the football game and one of those is based on blocked punts so we want to be aggressive. Didn't know exactly what we were going to get from them totally because in the pregame they lined up in a pro-style punt but in the game they were obviously a spread punt with a shield when it got to real live bullets."



August 31st, 2014 at 3:25 PM ^

One of my proudest moments in my four years in Ann Arbor was when the waitress at the Fleetwood Diner recognized me as a regular and took my order without bringing me a menu first. Yes! I had arrived!


August 31st, 2014 at 12:28 PM ^

Completely nitpicking but there were a few runs down the middle with App State in the 1st half as well.  I think JMFR overpursued on one and it created a big gap they ran in.  I think App State had like 60 yards through the 1st quarter and a half of the second so again - nitpicking.  Most of those were on the ground - when I checked at one point pretty deep into the 2nd they had 11 yards in the air.

Looked like Pipkins was rusty (I barely noticed him) and JMFR still is trying to figure the positition out.  Will be interested to see the LB analysis by Brian - we seemed to shut down the outside run game very well and really the only damage in the first half was down the middle.


August 31st, 2014 at 11:24 PM ^

That is an odd 3-4 front if that is what it is because they also have Jarrod Wilson, the saftety, as the strong side outside linebacker.  This can't be on Jake unless he was supposed to cross over behind Clark and blitz the other A gap.  Did Frank Clark blitz to the wrong A gap?  If he blitzes to the weak side A or B gap maybe the result is better.


August 31st, 2014 at 1:16 PM ^

Just re-watched the game, and it's worth noting that many of App State's successful running plays came against 6 or even 5 in the box on defense for Michigan, and often with Michigan in a 3-man front. In other words, not base defense, and at a numbers disadvantage if a linebacker or safety doesn't fill right quick. Now I'm sure Brady would love for Michigan to be able to line up with 3 DL and 2.5 backers in the box and still stop a running play. But I, for one, am not going to get worked up about ASU running the ball well under those conditions. When we actually called run-stopping defensese, we kept them in check pretty effectively.


August 31st, 2014 at 7:21 PM ^

bode well against teams that can and will exploit that weakness.  I'm fairly certain Gardner is not the only QB that can and will check into a run when the defense is least able to defend against the run.  It's a chink in the Michigan defense, Hoke recognized it as such, there is no reason why we fans should so readily dismiss it.  This is especially concerning in as much as yesterday wasn't the first time Michigan's run D was exposed.

On a side note, there looks to be a need for remedial gap assignment training.


August 31st, 2014 at 12:25 PM ^

and I loved it.

After several years of relying on herculean efforts out of the QB to win games, it's nice to imagine the prospect of the QB playing only the role of a game manager.

That isn't to say that watching Denard be Denard wasn't the most exciting period of my Michigan fandom. But, at the end of the day, I would rather watch Michigan win than our QB be a tragic hero.


August 31st, 2014 at 12:33 PM ^

I'd say it had to be the first time since 2007 we didnt have a hero ball QB.  It looked strange. RR's system was based on hero ball QBs and Denard and last year's Devin were hero ball systems.  I do think hero ball returns vs ND and other teams who match our athletes but if we can keep Devin as a "pure QB" for say 7 out of 12 games that would go a long way towards his health.  He can be a decoy in other games because everyone knows he has wheels so he has to be respected as a runner even if he doesn't do it that often.  I think how often we see designed runs vs ND will tell us a lot about Nuss' plans this year.  If it is very little it will be interesting, my gut says otherwise.


August 31st, 2014 at 12:28 PM ^

I really liked this press conference and the answers. I thought he gave some real answers and was especially encouraged that he too acknowledged the WR blocking acumen. We should probably have at least two maybe even three WR on most plays unless AJ Williams has taken a huge step forward in blocking. Again I'll be interested in Brian's take on the WR corps and the TE blocking.

Also I was happy Heitzman got some run and got that reception. Nice to see his hard work rewarded.

Monocle Smile

August 31st, 2014 at 12:28 PM ^

Really, I'm trying to keep [Nussmeier] off the field. I think he wants to go out and play

You can tell in Nuss's interviews and the practice clips that this is true. This is what you want from your coordinators at the college level, at least in my opinion.


August 31st, 2014 at 12:38 PM ^

phases of team Michigan 2014. I can't get too overly hyped considering the opposition, but I liked what I saw. Now, let's see how well we do against Notre Dame.


August 31st, 2014 at 12:46 PM ^

The D may not have gotten the turnovers, but they held a QB who completed 71% of his passes last year to almost nothing in the first half and only 8/19 and 58 yards for the game.  He got rid of it quickly - usually with someone in his face - but either errantly or to well covered receivers who got DRILLED!


August 31st, 2014 at 12:52 PM ^

Two sacks, right?  Wormley and Charlton?  I know one of Wormley's was a no-play because of the timeout, but he tackled the QB on 2nd and 8 or so; next play 3rd and 9. 

Ace was right that this didn't tell the whole story - there was some good pressure, even with quick throws.  But there were plays where the QB had too much time.  Still not seeing a lot of pass rush success from Beyer or Ojemudia.  Need more there, better push (or slant/penetrate) up the middle. 


August 31st, 2014 at 4:35 PM ^

It seemed like Wormley was the 3rd string DT, but when he got in I noticed him immediately.  I forget who was in first (Godin?), and for all I know there were back up o-lineman in at that point, but I'm not sure why Wormley isn't on the 1st team.  I'd like to see Henry/Wormley and Pipkins/Hurst and our top two lines personally.


August 31st, 2014 at 12:56 PM ^

We have college football top ten defensive and offensive coordinators.  We have high-level players who Hoke recruited despite everything.  They work and play together as a team.  

This year, for the first time in a long time, every one of those young men on the field is given the guidance and opportunity to play to the best of his ability.  

Godspeed Michigan.  Stand strong with your team.  


August 31st, 2014 at 1:15 PM ^

Well, we're still running the waggle with a mobile QB.  The spy always took a beeline for the QB but at least there was always a hot route and App. State's D consistently got burned for it.

D looked good, although JMFR still seems to be figuring things out.  I chalk up the 2nd half drives to the difficulty in maintaining intensity with a  five TD lead, but even then nothing came easy for App. State.  Their tailbacks broke a few tackles, their receivers made some really good catches and even then they had to grind out almost every yard.

Smith looks more reliable than Green.  Both sprung big runs but those won't come as easy against better tacklers, and in the cases where App State's D was more sound, Smith was tougher to stop.

What I liked most is that while the offense ran a bunch of different plays, these are plays you WANT opposing defenses to catch on tape.  Unlike Borges' "a-ha!  SIKE" plays that are unstoppable for one game and then dead, these plays were far less surprising but spread the defense out and that will remain effective throughout the season.  I'll note the biggest plays of the day were all huge runs after the passing game established Funchess as a terror.


August 31st, 2014 at 1:54 PM ^

The waggle had a wrinkle: the RB running a screen in front of the unblocked end. We got a good chunk the first time with the screen. The second, it looked like the RB was covered and Gardner was forced to pull it down.

Sten Carlson

August 31st, 2014 at 1:51 PM ^

To me (and I'll probably rewatch the game this afternoon) the feel of Team 135 is completely different than any Michigan I've seen in a long time.  I know that opposition caveats apply, but we've seen discombobulated and chaotic Michigan teams against teams like Akron, UConn and of course, App St.  Someone above said it very well -- there was no "hero ball" in this offense.

I think it's obvious that Michigan now has an elite OC who not only has a modern understanding of elite offense, but has the energy and drive that the players respond to.  Obviously we've yet to see Team 135 face any adversity nor comparable competition, so we're not sure how they're going to respond, but, I like what I've heard all off season and am even more pleased that it seems (thus far) to not have just been coach speak hype.

Lastly, in regards to the feel of the team and Hoke's comments, there has been this "togetherness" theme all off season, and I really got the sense that this team is close.  This closeness, to my eye, was displayed in two ways:

1) the downfield blocking.  It might seem like a fundamental thing, but the length of time the OL and WR held their blocks was remarkable -- even the pundits commented on it specifically.  That's not only sound coaching and good effort, that is an absolute LOVE for  Team 135.  Whether it was Kalis, Miller, Norfleet or Fuchchess (did you see him out leading the blockers on the punt block TD?) these guys were going all out on every play for each other, and I love seeing that.

2) the celebration: I understand every team celebrates the TD's and such.  But, in just comparing Team 135 to teams past, their joy for each other came through on every good play they made.

Who knows what the next few weeks hold, but I for one am pleased with what I have seen thus far.  I know I know, App St., but again this team FEELS very different and beat their weakest opponent in a very different way this year.

Keep getting better guys, every snap, every practice, and every game and the sky is the limit for Team 135.

Go Blue, beat the Irish!


August 31st, 2014 at 2:25 PM ^

Agree about the hero thing.

I always take first game blowouts against cupcakes with a grain of salt.  Last year against CMU we looked like we were going to be Big Ten champs.  Just like we do this year.  We saw how that turned out.

But the difference this year is that we look much more mechanical.  No heros, just all the pieces fitting together and doing what they are suposed to do.  Our performace looks a lot more repeatable.  There is no one guy to stop or one formation to adjust to to beat us.




August 31st, 2014 at 9:10 PM ^

The average got dragged way down because in the 2nd half they kept running zone stretch while CMU's safeties had completely sold out so the play was only getting 2-4 yards/carry.  They were asking to have a pass thrown over their heads but no point with the game out of reach.

Yes, for a glorious fleeting moment of the season, we were running into stacked boxes for positive yardage.  Of course once we ran into even semi-half-sorta-meh run defenses the positive yardage evaporated but we kept running into stacked boxes.  Hope that changes this year.

Class of 1817

August 31st, 2014 at 2:49 PM ^

Couldn't agree more. We've basically been playing variations on Hero Ball since 2008 between Tate, Denard, and Devin.

Yesterday felt like TEAM effort. A young TEAM, and a TEAM that needs a lot of work, but yeah...I saw a lot of earned, exciting, and strong promise rather than gambler's luck.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


August 31st, 2014 at 3:05 PM ^

Just saw your previous post about being wrong about Borges. Please disregard my attempt at a small jab. I agree with you on the FEEL thing by the way. This season looks very promising. My sense is that people have tangible reason for hope based on what we saw ON THE FIELD. Go Blue!