News bullets and other important items:
- Devin is "fine" (as reported from teleconference) and unlikely to be limited in practice.
- Marvin Robinson did not make the trip due to an injury, but he should be back.
- Hoke really dislikes injury reports because it helps gamblers. Shame on you, Jamie.
“Are you ready?”
“You’re the only one who answers.”
I’m ready, coach.
“All right. Good. Um, you know, we’re obviously moving forward. I think we’ll move forward pretty well as a team. The kids, I thought they played hard and all that. We talked about that the other night. We’ve got to execute a little better on a lot of things. You know, there’s enough in there. We had some missed assignments that we can’t have on both sides of the ball for us to be as effective as we want. I thought up front both sides of the ball, we played better. I think there’s more in there that we’ll get out of them. We went back to basics and the fundamentals which we always do in a bye week because the times you lose a little bit of your individual technique work as the season progresses because you do so much together. That being said, I liked the attitude of our football team. We start the Big Ten season, and the expectation is always to win the Big Ten championship. I like how our kids -- where they’re at mentally.”
You said earlier that Gardner is okay. Were there any anxious moments when he went down?
“Uh, you know, you can’t afford to lose anybody. We’ve got a couple of our scout defensive linemen who’ve got some bumps and bruises that we missed during practice. You can’t afford at this point to miss anybody.”
Will Devin be limited in any way in practice?
“I don’t think so. Devin is in always pretty mentally tough, you know. I think he likes where he’s going to with that being a wideout.”
What will you focus on during the bye week?
“Well you know, like I said, a lot of it is getting back fundamentals, technique, playing both sides, and I’m so ingrained in the fronts because of my background, but from footwork to hands to getting off blocks to finishing blocks to combinations and those things, from a run game standpoint, making sure we’re doing a nice job with the footwork and all that kind of stuff.”
It looked like you improved in the fronts last Saturday. Were there positives to take away from last game?
“Is that a trick question? But no. There’s some things that obviously we did well. And I think our defense obviously gave us a chance. I think guys played really hard if you watched the tape. There’s white jerseys getting to the ball. That’s a sign a little bit that we’re playing a little faster. I thought in the back end, I thought Thomas Gordon and Kovacs both did a nice job, and Ray Taylor, who’s getting better every day he goes out. I thought the two -- the four linebackers all did a pretty nice job out there.”
Denard apologized after the game for his performance. How did you approach him after the game?
“Well I think you deal with it like you deal with anybody. I think you make sure he understands that we took 69 guys to the game. We’ve got a 115 on this football team. We’re all responsible -- coaches, players, everybody.”
How concerned are you with his turnovers going forward?
“Well we don’t want to turn the ball over. I think that’s pretty obvious, but I think he’s smart enough. He’s competitive enough that he’ll take a lot out of this game.”
Was there a theme to his interceptions?
“No. Not really.”
Did Notre Dame do anything to disguise their coverage or confuse him?
“No. Not really.”
Are you at all disappointed that the series is going to take a long break?
“Well, they’ve got to do what’s right for Notre Dame … obviously we enjoy and cherish the rivalry because there’s so much history there. But we’ll move forward.”
Does this open up an opportunity for other prime-time opponents?
“Well I think when you’re Michigan and that ability is there because you’re Michigan, I think that will probably open up some different scheduling.”
You brought Kovacs down in the box a lot. What does that get you guys?
“Well they were playing a lot of three tight ends, two tight end alignments so you’re not spread as much. It’s just another guy in the box.”
What are your chances of winning the Big Ten championship compared with a month ago?
“I think nothing’s changed.”
Do you like your chances?
“I like our team.”
Aside from turnovers, what would be the biggest thing you want to see different and corrected?
“I think we still, from a defensive standpoint, would like to tackle better. We missed a couple in the hole. I think when we are in position to make a play, you have to make a play. I think offensively, obviously, and you said it, taking care of the football is a big part of it. Defensively we want to keep generating opportunities for our offense by getting the ball back. I think the running game is something that -- with the quarterback or the tailback -- is something that we need to keep striving to get better at.”
Do you have guys that you give off this week because of bumps and bruises?
“Not really. They’ll all do a certain amount of stuff. The thing you don’t want to lose is your timing. Saturday we were playing fast. And we’ve got to keep that up, so we’ll go again on Thursday. They’ll have tomorrow off. We’ll go in Friday morning, and that will give them Saturday off and we’ll come back Sunday. We’ll do some competition stuff against each other, ones on ones, which in the past it’s been a good way of keeping the speed of the game you want to play with.”
Marvin Robinson didn’t make the trip because of an injury. What was his issue? And will he be out for a while?
“No he shouldn’t be, but he got banged up a little bit on really the last game and practiced with it and then on Wednesday he just couldn’t go.”
Do you see an opportunity for some guys to prove themselves over the bye?
“Yeah I mean we’ll evaluate and we’ll have some stuff where the young guys are getting a few more snaps.”
Fitz ran well in the second half. Was that more him or was that the offensive line?
“I think it’s a combination of both. I think both of them, there was some movement, and I think he was more decisive. It was more vertical, which is something that I think he’s at his best when he is more vertical.”
What’s your opinion on mandated injury reports?
“I don’t know. Are you trying to help the gamblers?”
No. I’m not.
“Well that’s basically nobody’s business but ours.”
As a defense, you’re on track for only 10 sacks. How important is it to get more pressure?
“Well you can do it a couple different ways. If you feel good enough about man coverage, you can bring more people. If you don’t feel good enough about man coverage, then you want to do it with a four-man rush, and maybe even a three-man rush and make them hold the ball a little longer. We’ve got to generate a little more pass rush. I think we’ll do that. But you have to pick and choose.”
You don’t pick your bye, but do you like the timing of it?
“You know, I don’t know if you can ever say this is a good time or a bad time. You don’t know until you really go through your season. I think for the first four, and then getting ready for Big Ten, it might be okay, but I think that really depends on how healthy you are.”
In the first four games, What are some of the bright spots on your team? Would Dennis Norfleet be one of them?
“I think Dennis is doing a nice job in the return game. He’s not afraid and he’s got pretty good vision. He’s got a pretty good burst. Quinton Washington is a guy who’s really improved and really helping our defense. I think Taylor’s played well. I think Taylor should, and that’s expected. There’s all kinds of guys playing hard. Now we have to play better, but I think they’re playing hard.”
Have you talked to Denard about his interceptions?
“Believe me, he’s had a conversation with his coach.”
What do you say to him?
“What else are you going to say?”
I don’t know.
Do you have to be careful not to pound a kid in that situation?
“We try not to pound any kid to be honest with you. But seriously. They’re 18-23. They’re competing and if they didn’t practice well or they didn’t come to practice well and they didn’t have energy and enthusiasm, I’d feel differently, but I like the growth we’re making.”
Is there a position group that you’d like to see move forward this week?
“It’s so boring because I’d say the defensive front and the offensive front, but specifically ...”
What specifically do you want to see?
“I think you know, a little more physical on the line of scrimmage on both ends, and getting off blocks better defensively. I think we’re doing a decent job point-of-attack-wise, but then that next progression is getting off the block. We need to do a better job of that.”