Monday Presser Transcript 10-28-13: Brady Hoke Comment Count

Heiko October 28th, 2013 at 4:04 PM


Opening remarks:

“You know, it’s always an exciting week. Believe me. I think from campuses, both schools, both programs, the opportunity to play in a rivalry game that has a lot at stake obviously with us both in the same division, they’re an awfully good football team. I think they’ve come a long way from early in the same season as far as from an offensive perspective. I think Connor Cook has done a nice job. I think their whole offense has really taken off, and you can really see it. We pay attention throughout the year, but really their football team. Their defense is as good as any. That’s going to be a big challenge for us. Playing up in East Lansing is always a bit of a challenge. Any time you play away from home, that’s just part of it. Making sure as a team that our focus and discipline and all those things have to be spot on for us to go out and compete at our highest level. That’s what we need to do. We’re excited. It’s going to be a fun week.”

With how aggressive Michigan State plays, how do you get your team to embrace that level of physicality?

“Well you hope your team does the same thing. We’ve been inconsistent in that department, so they all know, the guys who’ve been here. I think there’s 27 of them who were there in East Lansing two years ago. It’s not a whole lot, but they understand that it’s a physical next five weeks, and it starts with the physicalness that Michigan State will play with.”

Can you talk about this game in the context of the Legends division title?

“Well number one it’s the passion for this football game by Spartans and Wolverines, something that as a coach or a competitor you understand that and you look forward to it. The other part of it, the piece of the puzzle, it is important football game when you look at where you want to be and where they want to be at the end of November.”

What are the areas you need to improve the most for this game?

“I think our special teams need to get better. I don’t think we’ve punted the ball as well as we need to. I don’t think we’ve covered at times the way we need to. Big plays defensively. Can’t give up those big plays, and you can’t have those lapses. From an offensive standpoint, you always want to be able to have a running game and count on the guys up front being physical at the line of scrimmage, and getting Fitz or whoever it might be in the backfield started.”

Michigan State likes to attack the middle of your offense and blitz their linebackers. Will you get a good test for how good your new guards are going to be?

“I don’t think there’s any doubt. I think those two guys – and the good thing is there’s nine other guys out there with them. Believe me, there’s other guys who will be there for the first time with more significant roles than maybe they were before. I think how we handle their defense, their front seven, how we get off bump coverage and all those things as tight as they play. Those are all things we’re going to learn. I’d like to know a little bit more before, but that’s not going to be the case.”

Will you know the identity of your team after this Saturday?

“I think it gives you a little bit of an idea. Will you know it for sure? I’m not sure. I think there’s no doubt that every part of this game from the offense and defense, every fabric, whatever it is, you’re going to find something out about your team.”

How do you get Devin Gardner not to try to do too much?

“Yeah. You can’t give the ball away. I think they lead the conference in turnover margin and those things. We’ve got to do a great job of taking care of the football. Great job in decision-making. I think a lot of it, and you asked specifically about Devin. A lot of it for a lot of guys is the fundamentals that you play with and the techniques, and not getting yourself off kilter with how you’re going to play.”

Can you talk about the run game and how important it is to run against them? They haven’t given up 100 yards to an opponent yet.

“Yeah. And if you watch them enough you know why. I think running the football opens up so much of your play-action game. I think that’s where offensively they’ve done a nice job. They’ve done a great job with pounding it in there with the power plays, the stretch plays, those kinds of things, and the play-action game has really helped from an offensive standpoint. I think it’s important for both of us to establish a running game of some sort.”

MGoQuestion: What have been the keys to Michigan State’s improvement on offense over the course of the season?

“I think their offensive line is better. I think they’re playing better together as a group. I think Langford is a back who’s very patient. I think he’s come on. I think the quarterback situation’s settled now, and there’s not who’s going to play, who’s not going to play?”

MGoQuestion: Given the propensity of their offensive coordinator to break tendency in rivalry games (e.g. Ohio State 2011), how do you prepare for that?

“Well you have to prepare for what they do, and most teams are going to have four base running plays, four base pass concepts. You’ve got to be a little bit different in some ways in how you call a game. But at the same time it’s the same plays, and getting all the looks you can at those plays is going to help you.”

Michigan State doesn’t like you very much. How do you feel about them?

“Well we don’t necessarily like them either. This isn’t an admiration society. It’s a great rivalry with two teams that are 45 miles apart? That might not be enough, but it’s what it is.”

It sounds like you’re hoping your players are physical rather than knowing that they’re going to be.

“Yeah, I would say this in answering that: I think there’s a lot of guys who have played a lot of snaps. They understand it. There’s some new guys, a couple true freshmen, that haven’t played in this magnitude of a game. But you look at the back half of our schedule, it’s all physical. Every game’s got to be a physical game. I think from that standpoint, yeah, there’s some guys who don’t know it yet. I think they’re learning. I think they’ve learned in the last couple practices.”

How uneasy does that make you feel, that you have to hope -- ?

“I’m not hoping. It’s not hope. I don’t know if hope’s the right word. I think it’s more of us educating guys who haven’t played in that environment.”

How would you compare and contrast this rivalry with the Ohio State rivalry?

“I think they’re both important.”



[Sorry everyone, my recorder crapped out on me while this was taping, so I’ll just write up a summary of important things that were said. As always, most of it was people trying to get Hoke to say something provocative or edgy, like “how tough is your team?” and “is this an important rivalry game?”]


  • Team is better equipped to handle the tough road environment. Learned a lot from 2011.
  • Gardner’s fundamentals have improved. Getting a couple snaps in East Lansing in 2011 was a valuable experience.
  • Michigan has not changed game prep to simulate Michigan State’s “physicality.” Will continue to do prepare the same way.
  • Jake Ryan could play more continuous snaps. Previously he was rotating in for three snaps and coming out.
  • Memory from playing Michigan State in 1997? "Charles Woodson's interception."
  • Drew Dileo’s status is questionable. Coaches will see if he can practice on Wednesday before making a decision on whether they will unleash The Threat.



October 28th, 2013 at 4:10 PM ^

70 runs for 25 yards.  One pass for 80 when Gardner throws a short slant to Gallon with the Spartans in a goal-line defense all game.  UM 7-2.

Space Coyote

October 28th, 2013 at 4:12 PM ^

I heard another question was "When was the last time you wore Green?"

Those questions I think are great examples of "trying to get Hoke to say something provocative or edgy".


October 28th, 2013 at 4:37 PM ^

It's just the lowest form of "journalism"

What coach in their right mind is going to say they'd switch defenses? No one. So by saying "no", blowhards like Valenti and company will say that Hoke thinks UM's defense is better than MSU's. If he did say "yes" (unimaginable) he'd be labeled a traitor and a guy who doesn't care about his kids.

This happened at the beginning of the year when Hoke said he'd rather have Gardner than Manziel.

It's such a pathetic grab at something that isn't even there.


October 28th, 2013 at 4:15 PM ^

I guess I don't understand all the questions about physicality. Sure, Michigan is going to have to be tough in this game to withstand the blows that will come from MSU... but I don't think Michigan wants to get into a smashmouth-fest with them. That isn't Michigan's identity... and if our coaches come into this game with the idea that we're going to out-physical MSU, the outcome isn't going to be that great.

Space Coyote

October 28th, 2013 at 4:17 PM ^

If you aren't physical at the point of attack, either on offense or on defense, if you don't match it, you won't win. It's as simple as that. That's why the focus is there. There needs to be a willingness to match the physical nature on both sides of the ball across the line, otherwise it will look like 2011.


October 28th, 2013 at 4:21 PM ^

I agree with that. I know the defense is going to have to bring their hats Saturday because MSU is going to be very physical at the line of scrimmage. And the offensive line has to be physical to withstand the pressure from the front 7 of MSU's defense. But Michigan may not want to be that physical 2TE + a FB team against MSU.

Even if there was increased execution, I don't see a Penn State-like gameplan being effective against this defense.


October 28th, 2013 at 4:31 PM ^

"Michigan has not changed game prep to simulate MSU's physicality.  WIll continue to prepare the same way."


Isn't this the same thing he said before the IU game when they asked if we did anything differently to prepare for IUs tempo??   We all saw how well that worked out.  It will be quite upsetting if we aren't preparring for this game by bumping and holding our receivers in practice and the like.   So glad we preare the exact same way for every single opponent.  That makes so much sense. 

Space Coyote

October 28th, 2013 at 4:32 PM ^

Each week, come out and prepare completely differently. Really make a point to the players this week by making them hit harder, run into brick walls, you know, things of that nature. By playing more physical they will better prep for MSU's physical play. It's not a mental thing, it's a how they prepare in practice thing that should really be adjusted.

Yup, that makes more sense from a coaching perspective.


October 28th, 2013 at 4:37 PM ^

Yup thats exactly what i said.   I was talking about how the previous game he said we hand't done anything different to prepare for IUs fast tempo offense.   And i think you can agree that we got burned by that uptempo offense a few times correct?    Now with MSU, all i see on here is people complain about how they "get away" with so much pass interference and holding of receivers.  So wouldn't it make sense for us to tell the scout team to get up in our receivers faces and maybe hold and push a little so they can kind of get a feel for what its gonna be like on Saturday?    But you're right, that equates to "scrapping everything" we've done since Spring football.   Way to run wild with what i said though.  

Space Coyote

October 28th, 2013 at 4:43 PM ^

You don't think they prep every week using the opponents style and scheme? Of course the scout team is using press coverage, and they're probably holding and all that good stuff too. That's not what he's talking about. They prep the same way they do for every team, by running what the other team, you know, runs.

Or maybe you're right, maybe the problem is that Michigan's scout team isn't running what their opponent is running. I bet Michigan's scout CBs are playing soft coverage, maybe a shell cover 2 or something. Come on? Are you really thinking that the coaches aren't prepping the offense with a scout team that plays like MSU plays? Hoke is saying he isn't doing different drills or making them hit harder or things of that nature. He's staying within the routine, part of that routine is prepping for the scheme, technique, etc of the opposing team.


October 28th, 2013 at 4:47 PM ^

The scout team always emulates the next opponent. So, if that is what you mean by doing something different in practice then rest assured that is happening.

But since the scout team always emulates the next opponent, Hoke is also correct that they aren't doing anything different.


October 28th, 2013 at 4:31 PM ^

It's interesting that he mentions how our punt coverage needs to be improved, yet we still keep going with the dinosaur punt formation. Gee Brady, maybe there's a correlation there?

How many more times will we have to be burned on coverage before he accepts that things have changed and that we need to adopt the spread punt like everybody else?


October 28th, 2013 at 4:44 PM ^

Honest question Space (and not meant to be snarky cause I lke you and we're neighbors) but is there ANYTHING schematically that Michigan does that you don't agree with?  It seems like every formation, play call, scheme, substitution, etc. you tacitly support as being the right call at the time with failure being largely a result of poor execution.

Am I just imaging this or do you actually think you would make virtually the same decisions in all facets of the game if you were the HC?

Space Coyote

October 28th, 2013 at 4:52 PM ^

But that's not to say their way is wrong. In 2011, the game plan was to stretch MSU deep by throwing over the top (similar to what ND did to MSU this year). The hope was, by doing that, you prevent the playside safety from filling the alley and the backside safety from having cut back leverage. This allows you to run more and put stress on the OLBs who are tasked with covering 1/3 of the underneath stuff within their scheme.

My preferred formations, my methods about obtaining yards, etc, may be different. But I see the ways that these coaches are trying to do similar things. It's different a different way of attacking, but it's not necessarily wrong.

I will say this for example: a lot of people constantly hope for more Dileo. That's fine, Dileo is a pretty sure handed guy that plays his role fairly well. I'd probably use him a little more in other games. But I wouldn't use him much more than the coaches use him. I think he has a limited skill set that is good for finding holes in underneath zones. From there he has quick hands to catch difficult and hard thrown balls. But I think he's an average route runner. I think he has average physical attributes. And I think he needs to be hit in the hands to make catches, and he doesn't have a great catch radius. Where he does fit is in a game against MSU, who uses cover 4 on early downs and cover 3 in and long situations. This allows him to pick his way against LBs in somewhat wide windows underneath. It allows him to use his strength, where against other teams I think people overvalue his role.

So I do to a fairly large degree agree with a lot of the personnel decisions the coaches make as perfectly acceptable methods of moving the football by and large. Though I would do things a bit differently, without getting into more specific things, for the most part it would be fairly similar.


October 28th, 2013 at 7:28 PM ^

This is not something to change midseason.

We tried that once, in either 02 or 03. We came out with a spread, rugby punt package, as we were looking to improve our coverage. It was a disaster, and blocked punts cost us at least one game (Iowa I think), at which point the special teams coach abruptly resigned, never to coach again.

I don't think we'll ever run a spread punt, but even if we did switch, I'd prefer it happen during the off-season.

Indiana Blue

October 28th, 2013 at 7:32 PM ^

Michigan actually uses the "spread" punt formation.  What you are referring to is using the "shield" punt formation.  

Odd that colleges have adapted the "shield" formation with success, yet I have yet to see an NFL team use it.  I think the reason is that NFL punters typically hit their punts 50 - 55 years with a hang time nearing 5 seconds.  Most college kickers fail to be that consistent - the "sheild" formation certainly appears to have much better coverage on those less than perfect punts.

Go Blue!


October 29th, 2013 at 12:05 PM ^

sure almost everthing leads back to coaches at some point such as not playing to your teams strengths, etc.   but in terms of punt and kick coverage theres only so much coaching to be done after they drill the kids on fundamentals and technique.  hoke cannot be blamed for wile kicking the ball out of bounds 12 times this year, thats on wile.  and hoke cannot be blamed for players failing to maintain proper pursuit angles and integrity of their lanes and failing to break down and make a tackle.  i guess you can ultimately blame hoke bc he recruited these kids and he knew he would be playing true and redshirts very frequently given the make up of roster he yes, you can blame hoke for not recruiting athletic enough kids.  but on game day it comes down to guys simply reacting and making football plays.  thomas and rawls missing tackles on coverage, stribling and lewis failing to pull in gimmee interceptions, norfleet aka devin hester taking kicks 8 yards deep to the 13 yard line, wile kicking out of bounds, etc....  just like on OL and DL, yes coaching and recuriting come in to play, but at some point the players on the field need to consistently win 1on1 matchups and make plays, regardless of experience level, and that has not happened.  just react and make football plays when theyre there to be made.  those missed tackles and dropped interceptions and elementary miscues determine games every week and even more so in rivalry games.  especially if MSU rolls out a conservative 1 dimensional offensive attack, UM cannot afford to give MSU the ball at 40 yard line every other possession or fail to convert turnover opportunities.  if theyre gonna beat you up and intend to pound it 40 times per game you better make they go 80 yards for TDs.  trust me the coaches deserve their share of blame, everything from recruiting misses to refusing to adapt in-game...but at some point its on the players to execute and beat the guy lined up across from them, if they possess the athletic ability to do so


October 28th, 2013 at 4:51 PM ^

Michigan State is not more "physical" than Notre Dame. ND's DL and rush LBs have NFL talent all over the 2-deep. It's State's aggression that you have to prepare for. ND responded by throwing about a million passes down the sidelines. Hopefully Michigan can do the same thing. ND utilized their big receiver, Corey Robinson. Michigan has a bigger receiver, Devin Funchess. He's the key to the game IMO. They will press him, and he must make them pay. Gardner is important too obviously, but the receivers have to get open. We could have Tom Brady and it'd do us no good if we can't get through the press coverage. Funchess must win. Hopefully they can stack Gallon to get him free.

I Like Burgers

October 28th, 2013 at 4:51 PM ^

This quote:

"I think running the football opens up so much of your play-action game."

Is what drives me nuts about our offensive philosophy.  Eschewing a quick pass to a WR who's open by 10 yards so we can run into a pile of bodies for -1 yard to set up a good play later on is just dumb.  Take the easy yards, force the defense to adapt to that possibility, make running the ball easier, and then still use the play action.

Running the ball 30 times for 50 yards doesn't open up jack. 

Space Coyote

October 28th, 2013 at 4:55 PM ^

If you think you're going to find easy yards to the outside, you're dead wrong. Illinois's biggest problem on Saturday was that they abandoned the run. You don't need to be great at running the football, but if you don't even threaten to run, if the defense completely loses respect for the run, then you allow a good defense to only defend one thing.

In my opinion, if Michigan doesn't use their RBs 15+ times between the tackles in this game, they won't open up things behind that, and you'll be asking Gardner to be picture perfect in all his passes.


October 28th, 2013 at 5:00 PM ^

I have read this cliche for so many years and I still don t understand precisely what it means. Is dirty? Chippy? Playing through the whistle? Grabbing and holding to take advantage of non assertive officials? I m sure it means these things and more to different people. What does it mean to you?