- Taylor Lewan will play Saturday against Indiana. He had a "hip deal" or something like that. Maybe something else too, but more the hip.
- Hoke was pretty defensive about the coaches and the players. Attributes most of the problems on the offensive line to youth. There could be some changes this week, though. Maybe. Wouldn't really commit to anything.
- Running Devin more is "unwise" because of the lack of quarterback depth.
- Play-calling at the end of the game wasn't conservative, per se. Hoke went with the high-percentage strategy. Delay of game penalty was a big mistake, however, and Hoke accepted full responsibility.
- Channing Stribling played the last drive and was told to go for interceptions. He had been doing that in practice a lot.
“It’s obviously disappointing to lose. You don’t play to lose. It is disappointing. Need to execute in multiple areas better. When the opportunity comes, you have to take advantage of it and you’ve got to make plays when you need to make plays. We didn’t do that throughout the game. There’s also an awful lot of good things that our football team did. I can tell you I was pleased with the physical effort that they put through. Tom Gordon played 91 plays and played a fast 91 physical plays. So did Jarrod Wilson. Both of them are key elements in our punt team. I’m just talking about those two guys, but you watch Jeremy Gallon, and you watch our team play, the physical effort was very good.
"Now let’s go back to the mental effort, because it takes both. Mentally we had some things that we need to do better from the standpoint of your targeting the line of scrimmage and blocking or finishing a little better on blocks with the angles or if you’re playing a coverage, making sure that we’re playing the coverage out. If you’re the nose tackle, you have to make sure we’re stepping with the proper foot there. We need to execute there better, and we will. I like our football team. There’s elements of it that need to produce a little more, need to have a little more urgency to how we’re playing. But I like our team and we’ve got Indiana coming in here this weekend. They’re a good football team. Kevin [Wilson’s] done a nice job offensively. They’ve got a lot of skill sets that they use. Defensively they’re more athletic than they’ve been the last couple of years.”
Can you update us on Taylor Lewan’s status?
“He’ll be fine. I think he got really two things a little bit. A little bit of a hip deal. Probably was most of it.”
You played Joey Burzynski and some other guys. Could we see a different starting lineup against Indiana? Could Schofield move inside to guard?
“Uh, probably not. The one thing – Mike Schofield in that football game I thought really, because he was asked to do a lot. When Taylor went out, with some of the unbalanced stuff, the shifting, he orchestrated all that with those guys. One time I think there were three redshirt freshmen, redshirt sophomore and Schofield in there. He did really a nice job. He played well but he also did a nice job of organizing those five guys. We had Chris Bryant come out and Burzynski come in. He did a nice job.”
Could we see a different starting lineup against Indiana though?
“We’ll go through Tuesday and Wednesday and see.”
MGoQuestion: It seems like the offensive line has had decreasing production over the last three years. The lack of depth has been well documented, but the talent does seem to be there. At what point do you start getting concerned about the coaching?
“Well the talent’s there. It’s young talent. I mean, redshirt freshmen playing, and they have a long ways to go.”
MGoFollowup: Are you concerned with the way they’re being coached at all?
“No, not at all.”
What can and has to get better now, especially with the young guys?
“I think when you look at it, they’ve been hit and miss a little bit. There’s times when they played well, and there’s times when they haven’t played as well. Now. You have to look at their preparation and talk to them about it. We had good preparation all week. We were physical, we were – watching the things we do against each other, I thought they were really good. Now we just have to keep taking them further.
Have you thought about reverting to the spread?
“Well, I think there’s times when we have still done that. The problem is Devin ran the ball I think 27 times the other day. Most of them, a lot of them were called runs. Not scramble runs. You worry about how many hits he’s taking. We’ve got to get production from the back end. The running back.”
Looking back, do you think the play-calling at the end of the game was too conservative?
“No. At the end of regulation we put ourselves in position to kick the 52-yard field goal with 20 seconds left. Could have just taken a knee and played for overtime. So I would say no.”
Is this team having a hard time understanding exactly what kind of team they want to be?
“Heh. If they are, then I haven’t done a good enough job of expressing what kind of team we need to be and want to be. Physical at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.”
But it seems like you’re trying to make this team be something they’re not yet. Shouldn’t you consider doing what works instead of what you want them to be?
“Yeah, and I think we do that weekly as we look at the opponents you’re going to play. We played a lot of snaps last week out of a nickel defense. And because of number one how we kind of thought we stood up to them with their passing game, I think there were some pretty good things about it. We hit the quarterback 18 times, sacked him 4, two interceptions. From an offensive perspective, point of attack blocking has to be better. I know it can be better. Our fullbacks are pretty good lead blockers when we’re in 21 [personnel]. There’s times when everything’s blocked play-side, which were blocked really well, and a guy slipping off the backside because we weren’t doing a good enough job at cutting off. I think every week you have to look at what gives your guys the best chance to win. I think we look at that and make evaluations. Now did we think we could run the ball more effectively? I don’t think there was a doubt. Did we? No. Well then you have to change a little bit, and I think Al did that over the course of the game.”
When Devin lost his helmet, did you think about taking a timeout?
“Did. Thought about it, but it was the second half. It was that kind of game. I don’t know anybody who didn’t think it would be a game that went down to the wire. I certainly did, so I didn’t want to use the timeout then. ”
Delay of game at the end of the game?
“That’s me. Totally. Totally. That’s my fault. I have to help [Devin], and I let him down.”
What’s the process? Is there someone that gives you a heads up that the clock is running down?
“Yeah … yes. Yep.”
You put the headset on sometimes. When does that help you?
“End of game. End of half. Greg [Mattison] and I talk all the time, so I don’t have to, because we’re standing next to each other. I talk to Al [Borges] before halftime about what we wanted to do at halftime. What his thoughts were. What we wanted to change a little bit. Talked in there. And talked at the end of the half, end of the game. Do you take the knee with 20 seconds and play for overtime and try to throw it down the field with the possibility of fumbling it or them intercepting it, or do you take the chance of completing it and moving forward?”
Why was Channing Stribling on the field at the end?
“Strib’s coming on. He’s come on. If there’s anybody I would want back there, I’ll be real honest, in the secondary to make the interception, it would be Strib. I would still do this day, because of his skill level and his ball skills are really realy good. I watch him every practice. He’s going to take two or three balls. We wanted to get him in the game because of exactly what we asked him to do.”
He was in position both times.
“Yeah, but there’s a lot of tough lessons in life, you know?”
Why didn’t you play him earlier in the game?
“He might. He might play more.”
Any changes going forward?
No issues about bringing him in cold?
“Well he plays on all the special teams almost, and he’s getting experience.”
Concerns about the kicking game?
“Well, he was 23 for 23 at 40 yards coming in. He hit the ground on the first one with his toe. Obviously it was low. He pushed the other one. He nailed a 40-yarder down at the other end and 52-yarder was right there at the limit.”
No concerns about the mental aspect of his game?
“I think you could have killed the guy if I had switched kickers. I know one thing: he won the Sugar Bowl for us. Made a kick here at home to beat Michigan State. I have a lot of faith in that guy.”
With how good he’s been, does it change how you play offense in overtime?
“I don’t think so. You have all kinds of positives and negatives. I think every game, your strategy because of how the game goes has a lot to do with it. I mean, Bill Belichik called three timeouts yesterday. How they manufactured that win, at the end of the day it was guys making plays.”
What did you see from Erik Magnuson?
“I was happy enough with Magnuson for once, let’s put it that way. He did some good things in there. It was kind of up and down.”
What about Jake Ryan in his first game?
“I thought he got around pretty well. I don’t think there were any ill effects. I think he ended up playing 31 or 32 plays. It was great to have him out there. I think he brings something to our team.”
Did it help you get into the backfield more?
“I think it was a combination of guys. Chris Wormley and Jibreel [Black]. We hit the quarterback five times. Frank [Clark] did some good things. I think Cam Gordon at times was good. It was just good to have Jake back out on the field.”
How many plays could Jake play against Indiana? How do you use all three SAM linebackers?
“Well, the tempo this week will be as high as it’s going to be all year, between them and Northwestern. We’re going to need bodies to come in and out. I think that’s fine. And then when you get in sub groups, it changes a little bit. But the more depth, the better you’re going to be. And you can see that. You can see Chris Wormley is a better player than he was four weeks ago because he’s been playing football. I could go through that whole group of redshirt freshmen. Willie Henry’s better than he was four weeks ago. And I think that’s part of it because we’ve had some depth.”
Now that Jake is back on the field, can you share the history of his recovery? How hard did he work?
“Well, since the day he had surgery and came back to Schembechler Hall, he’s worked tirelessly with the rehab specialist, the docs, the trainers, the strength staff. I don’t think there was any doubt in my mind that he would be back about this time. Just because, John, what he’s done – he gets voted captain on a football team by his peers because they’ve watched him and what he’s done from that leadership standpoint and example standpoint.”
You traveled with Kyle Bosch but he didn’t play. Is he up for that spot?
“Well I think the left guard spot, yeah. Does Bosch have a chance? Sure he does. We traveled him for a reason, and it wasn’t to feed him.”
You mentioned running back production. Is it blocking? Vision?
“We never got the running backs started. We never got him started. He had a 13 yard run? 12? Early in the game. Guess what? We got him started at the line of scrimmage. I mean, they had 11 tackles for loss. That’s not getting him started at the line of scrimmage.”
How do you fix that?
“Number one as a coach, you have to look and see, ‘Am I coaching it the way we should coach it?’ We are. What are we doing in practice to make sure we’re giving them the looks that they need? Am I motivating them to knock somebody off the football?”
You talked about the progress of your young defensive linemen and how quickly they’ve moved along. Do offensive linemen just take longer?
“It’s definitely a more encompassing position from a mental standpoint than defensive line. Defensive linemen, you’ve got certain things, there’s always fundamental parts of it. But there’s not the checks at the line of scrimmage as much. Do we have that? Yes. But not as much defensively. And protections. We’ve cut down on protections, believe me, because of the youth. And the different schemes you want to run, the different fronts you’re going to see and the movement of the defense and how that affects you. Does it take a little longer? I believe that does.”
To the outside observer, it appeared like you were scared to let Devin make a play with his arm. Was there any fear about turnovers? If so, is that a lack of confidence in your quarterback?
“Not at all. We wanted them to have to use their three timeouts. I think we started the drive six minutes and seven seconds. We take the drive all the way down to 52 seconds left on the clock, right? We have one penalty in there that hurts us a little bit because it stops the clock. Took all their timeouts, called a quarterback draw. We never took the ball completely out of his hands. I would expect our defense [to make the stop] if we had to make somebody go 80 yards in 52 seconds to make the stop. ”
If your best playmaker is your quarterback, shouldn’t you put him in positions to make plays instead of milking the clock?
“I think again, you have to look at the percentages. You have to look at what is the benefit of the team and the benefit of what the percentages are. How much time are you going to give them and where are you going to give them the ball? If I had no confidence in our quarterback, with the interceptions that we’ve had, he wouldn’t be our quarterback. I have all the confidence in the world in Devin Gardner. I have confidence in our offensive line getting better.”
So he’s not a short leash?
You talked about the power plays and managing the hits Devin takes. How do you balance QB runs and RB runs? Should Devin get more carries?
“I don’t think that’s wise to have Devin take more hits.”
Even if that’s the only thing that’s working?
“Who’s going to play quarterback if he takes all those hits?”
“You have to be conscious enough about the team. And he’s had 10 starts, right? 10 starts. He has improved every week. Even though we had two turnovers the other day. The fumble? That’s not his fault. It’s a blindside deal. One bad throw. He had no turnovers the week before. There is no short leash.”
Will Taylor Lewan play on Saturday?
“Yeah. He’ll play.”
Has the offensive line improved?
“I think it’s a bit of hit or miss. Graham, a week ago, played pretty daggone well. Not as well this week. So I think it’s a little bit of hit or miss. If you don’t have consistency, you’re not going to win. We have to be more consistent.”
Are Glasgow and Miller still competing?
“Yeah they’re still doing that.”
Do you plan to spend more time looking at the offensive line?
“I don’t need to do that. I’ve got a great offensive line coach. I’ve got a great coordinator. I’m with them enough because we go so much against each other. I don’t need to do that. That’s some coach trying to think he’s a hero. That's not me. I'm not a hero.”