Fall Camp 2011: Presser Notes 8-16

Submitted by Tim on August 18th, 2011 at 9:17 PM


photo from file

Brady Hoke

Today was the fourteenth practice of fall camp. There has been improvement on both sides of the ball, but it's important to continue improving consistency.

Freshmen - Almost completely done with academic stuff for summer. "They're hit and miss a little bit with meetings, hit and miss with the period of practice times and all that." A couple of those guys will be able to help the team.

Academics - "I don't think we've had too many guys slide backwards, or not do what they're supposed to do." The guys are taking care of business, and the coaching/support staff is helping them understand their responsibilities. Got some grades back today that were all pretty good. He doesn't anticipate any issues academically.

Scrimmage on Saturday - "I want to see us #1 go out there and we're treating it like a gameday... I want to see how they prepare for that scrimmage, from a mental standpoint." Saturday is only two weeks away from the first game, so they need to be prepared and ready to perform.

Miami violations - only worried about making sure everything is handled right at Michigan. "Educating everybody. Our kids, first and foremost, on being a student athlete, what that's all about."

Corwin Brown - "Our thoughts are with him and his family. We think about him every day. He's a Michigan Man."


Taking care of the football pretty well offensively. "That's one we need to be always on guard. Last three years we're minus-32 in turnover margin, and that's not winning football."

Borges - "I think he's really hands-on [with QBs]. I think because of Al's knowledge of the quarterback position... I just think I like how he teaches and like how he coaches, with the demeanor he does that with."

Denard - completing 70% of passes right now. That includes any drill that has a competitive aspect. "We may not be tackling and doing all that, but we chart every throw." He's at the point they'd want him to be a couple weeks out from the first game. "I think he's done a good job." Denard has hit the timing routes well, and the ball is coming off quicker. "You've gotta give the guys catching the ball credit, because I think their route-running is better."

Denard - "He wants to be one of the great Michigan quarterbacks. And so does Devin Gardner." They're learning and understanding what a Michigan QB is. It's helpful to have a second QB get a few reps early in the year in case you need him later. Gardner - "I like his maturity, and just his body language and everything else." He's not at the 70% number that Denard is - between 59-62%.

RB - still an open competition. "I don't think we've seen any separation by anybody yet." Nobody in particular has the advantage. "At times Vince looks good, Hop looks good at times, Shaw looks good, Cox does some things in there. And I'm probably forgetting a guy." Disappointed that nobody has separated? "I'd probably not be truthful if I said no." All the guys are working hard, but nobody has separated as the #1 yet.


"I would say probably 2 or 3" starting positions on defense are set by now. Woolfolk and Martin have had nice camps, and Kovacs has had a nice camp. The other positions aren't quite settled.

Do they have defensive playmakers - "You've gotta understand, I'm real hard on a defense now. I'd say no."

On D, there are a lot of packages, trying to focus on the ones they're most comfortable with. "From a defensive standpoint, I think we were tighter on the coverage part, I think we were faster in hitting from point A to point B, whatever that point might be, and that's a plus."

We'll get to the quarterback. "I think we've made a really good stride from let's say practice 7 to 14, whether it be a 3-man rush and pushing it, or whether it be bringing 5 on a zone blitz, or bringing all of them on a zero blitz." They have lot of different looks to give the QB.

"Brink has really had a good camp. He's a kid that really I think is a tough kid and plays with good technique." His emergence since spring was a welcome surprise. "I think it's real healthy for us" to have a walk-on like Brink to push for playing time. That's a credit to Brink. Will Campbell - "He's competin', he'll compete, and then we'll go from there." Brink can play multiple positions, so he's not necessarily taking a spot from Campbell.

Martin - "We've just gotta stay fundamentally sound with him. That's his biggest obstacle at times. He's not following through on the basic fundamentals once in a while." He's working hard and showing good endurance, however.

Secondary play - We have to play tighter.

Special Teams

Kicking - "we did some things up at the stadium the other day, and I thought Gibbons kicked very well. I think it's still a great competition, and I wouldn't say we have who it is. I think Wile's doing a nice job in both, well all three of them really. I imagine he'll be our kickoff guy for sure. I think he's punting pretty daggone well." Field goals still a competition.

Kenny Demens

"I feel like, as of right now, we aren't where we want to be. We want to be perfect." All the coaches preach toughness, and going the extra mile. The players have to focus on the details, and everybody has to put in the work.

Hoke's attention to the defense makes practices challenging. "We need that challenge. We have to play under that pressure."

"It doesn't mean too much" that he's not one of the players Hoke listed as starters. Missing spring ball meant he had to catch up physically, though it did give him some extra time with the playbook this spring.

The coaching staff is great at breaking down the scheme so players understand their roles. "It's all just one big piece to the puzzle."

Some young players are stepping up: "We have Desmond, we have Jake Ryan stepping up, we have Jordan Paskorz, who's competing."

The team hasn't watched any film of last year's defense. They have watched a few clips of the Baltimore Ravens from last year, to demonstrate certain techniques.

Defensive identity? "I want it to be like how it used to be... We're just gonna be tough. A tough defense this year."

Mark Huyge

There hasn't been too much change for the offensive line. They ran zone schemes last year, they ran power last year. "We just block the plays that are called." They're putting a bigger emphasis on the downhill running plays this year. Time of possession will be an important part of this year's game plan. "Staying on the field as an offense."

Mark has game experience at both guard and tackle, so whichever he's called upon to play won't affect his game.

Denard is getting more comfortable in the offense, and sitting in the pocket. It'll be nice for the offensive line to have a returning starter. "It helps a lot for consistency, because you've got the same guy back there. You know how he plays, you know what he's capable of."

David Molk is a great leader. He works really hard in the weight room, which inspires his teammates. He's a vocal leader as well, and he's proven his leadership on the field. "It's always good to have at least one guy who'll do all that stuff."

Nathan Brink is a very hard worker, and he has good technique on the field. "He comes off the real hard. And he uses his hands well, too."

Denard Robinson

"I'm doing better [than spring] but I've always got time for improvement. I'm not there yet." He's used to the plays now, because he practiced them with his wideouts all summer. "Every time I had a chance to get in, I got in."

Greg Mattison always has some crazy blitz schemes in practice. "He's making me a better quarterback... and I'm quick on my toes." Despite Mattison's blitzes, they're able to pick up protections. "I know I've got the best offensive line in the country, and I can sit back there for a while." There's good chemistry between Denard and the line now.

"I am running less, and I'm enjoying it. I love seeing Vincent and Shaw and Mike Cox and Stephen Hopkins make plays off the run." Last year, the coaches were drilling him on trusting the line to give him time before he needed to take off.

Roy Roundtree, Jeremy Gallon, Junior Hemingway, Je'Ron Stokes, and Terrence Robinson are some of the receivers who can go get the ball.

"Michael Vick and Peyton Manning. You've gotta say those two. I love watching those guys play, and Tom Brady." Even though they have different playing styles, they can stand in the pocket and make the throws, and are willing to take off if the checkdown isn't available.

There's a friendly QB competition between Denard and Devin Gardner. "Devin's probably one of the best quarterbacks I've seen."

The footwork "is one of the biggest things I had to work on. You know, that's what we had to do the whole offseason. Just work on timing and footwork." Coach Borges worked with him on taking his step up in the pocket forward, instead of taking a hop-step in place.



August 18th, 2011 at 11:29 PM ^

while i think the defense isn't going to be good this year (hopefully average) i think it's really gonna be hard to get a feel for what it's gonna be like until the product hits the field. it's hard to gauge anything you hear from the coaches with a defensive minded hc who probably wouldn't have too much good to say about a better defense. not saying thats bad it's just that it seems coach hoke's expectations are high and his praise for the defense will be minimal at best. 


August 18th, 2011 at 11:49 PM ^

Agree relative to making judgements after games are played.  I think about the past couple years - and outside of the secondary issues vs. ND in the '09 win - it wasn't until B1G play where the D just got tore up from the floor up. 

I definitely expect significant improvement from the D... but it may not truly show until October...

Todd Plate's n…

August 19th, 2011 at 10:44 AM ^

I was but a pup in his waning days as coach, but don't find that hard to believe.

I just don't think there is much that can be gleaned from the coaches at these pressers.  my excitement level is based solely on what we saw last year and the personnel that is coming back.

If the coaches sound down on the D, well, they probably want and demand for them to be the best in the country, as they should.  I know they don't expect them to be the #1 unit in the country, but I'm guessing they won't be satisfied with say 70th.  While us fans who witnessed the past few seasons would be happy to see a jump to somewhere near there (i'm an optimist hoping for sub 65th in the country this year in total D).   With no coaching, the secondary has to be leaps and bounds better with the experience and return of Woolfolk and Floyd.  Demens having mlb locked down is a a huge plus and at least 3 solid (martin is beyond solid) d-linemen starting. 

The O, I would guess will regress in yardage, but improve upon time of possession and possibly scoring in Big Ten play. 


I think this is an 8-4 team at least, as there simply is not a team on the schedule they can't compete with this year. 




August 19th, 2011 at 1:35 AM ^

"not necessarily taking a spot from Campbell", and Campbell is "competin'".

I've said it before and taken a lot of negs for it, but I'll say it again, is Big Will just not that bright or talented, and can't pick up schemes? 

Did he only get rated the way he did because he was so much bigger than his high school competition that he didn't need to develop technique or football smarts?


August 19th, 2011 at 6:56 AM ^

His size in HS allowed him to physically dominate most of the guys across the line from him, even if his technique and consistency were not at the highest level. He then gets to the next level where there are tons of guys as big or bigger than he is, and all of a sudden technique and consistency become a huge part of success.


August 19th, 2011 at 10:04 AM ^

for a alpha dog to accept. A big part of it is acceptance.

After several years of hosting HS baseball players for the USA baseball tournament, I have seen this many times. The kids come here a type A alpha, totally dominant in their local and even state or national travel environment, and then they are pitching or hitting against the other 143 best players in the country, and find they aren't maybe as good as they thought they were. Pitchers take it the hardest.

This is where some guys discover maybe they aren't a big league pitcher, and they need to start thinking about their baseball career in another light. Anyway, dealing with a bad game or two (shockingly bad in some cases), and going home not selected for the team is a bitter experience for these kids.

One of my sons just discovered this trying out for drum line in the transition from middle to high school, and winding up in the pit (two steps down from snare where he expected to be).

My point is, you can't be coach-able, until you get over the hump of accepting the new reality, and deciding to push yourself to grow from it.


August 19th, 2011 at 9:18 PM ^

With Coach Rod, it seemed like he was lazy and didn't work hard enough to prove that he's really a football player.  At the same time, the defensive coaching motivation was about as bad as it could be for a guy like that who needs to be taught in year one that he needs to change his attitude.

It looks like the current staff is able to provide all the motivation in the world, but it may be too late to make a difference in his career.

A pity, really.

Sextus Empiricus

August 19th, 2011 at 1:35 AM ^

Interesting that Kovacs has earned his starting position already...I thought he might get a push this year with Robinson getting another year under his belt.  There was some talk of Hawthorne playing some this year as well - though more at SS I was thinking it might be FS since we are markedly weaker there.

I'm proud of Kovacs and love walk on stories but I was hoping Robinson would make it a competition this year.  Maybe next year Wilson will make Kovacs sweat - it would be hard to unseat a Sr though given that he has impressed two different coaching staffs. 

This also removes any doubt in my mind of this staff pulling Kovacs' earned scholarship - though that is between him and the school.  It's been awhile since I have looked at how Hoke is getting to 26ish for 2012.  Regardless...Kovacs will not be giving up his it looks like.


August 19th, 2011 at 7:08 AM ^

...I noticed a few changes in the roster shown in MGoBlue.com a few days ago. Hawthorne's now listed therein as a linebacker instead of DB. I don't know how "official" that roster is, but I know the change was made just recently (i.e., after the revised weights were published). That was the only position change I noted. I seem to recall we dropped one walk-on, and picked up a new walk-on QB, Ben Fry. There may have also have been one or two number changes.

Kilgore Trout

August 19th, 2011 at 8:15 AM ^

In the Huyge CTK video, there was a bit of film of Hawthorne putting a nice hit on Hopkins in what looked like a 1s vs 1s segment (Demens, Roh, and Martin were on the field as well).  From my very untrained eye, it looked like he was at WIL.  Seems like he'd be as good of an option physically as either Jones or Herron.


August 19th, 2011 at 10:06 AM ^

but I actually think that was Mike Jones (#27).  I know what you mean, b/c at the end of the vid #7 Hawthorne is right there.  But if you watch it, someone puts a good lick on Hop, and whoever that someone is gets up and beats his chest, teammates mob him, and an assistant coach even comes up and smacks his helmet. 

I don't think it's Hawthorne that lays the hit, but it's very difficult to tell with the tanlge of bodies.  What looks like a 7 is visible, but I think the hitter and Hawthorne are different people.  But that would put Hawthorne and Jones on the field at the same time, which doesn't make sense.  So what the hell do I know?

Two Hearted Ale

August 19th, 2011 at 10:38 AM ^

Freshmen - Almost completely done with academic stuff for summer. "They're hit and miss a little bit with meetings, hit and miss with the period of practice times and all that." A couple of those guys will be able to help the team.

Do freshman always do summer school?  Is it normal for them to miss practices and meetings in camp for academics?  I'm guessing this isn't an issue for Winter enrollees?