Monday Presser Transcript 11-4-13: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on November 4th, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Offense bullets: 

  • Devin Gardner is still "beat up." He'll probably practice tomorrow, though. 
  • The offensive line is young. Reacted poorly to the environment and didn't play their technique well in pass protection.
  • Running back needed to protect better, too. Fitz is the best pass protector on the team, so it looks like they're out of options. This-may-or-may-not-be-significant-alert: De'Veon Smith was removed from the travel squad for vague reasons.
  • AJ Williams will be back Saturday. Drew Dileo should be back as well.
  • Hoke doesn't think Taylor Lewan should be suspended for the facemask thing. Says it's "unacceptable" but if it were suspension-worthy he'd have suspended him already. 

Defense bullets:

  • Keith Heitzman injured his hand last week in practice, so he didn't travel. He may take a while to come back.
  • Willie Henry played a good game. He'll probably get more playing time moving forward.
  • The last two long busts were because of a mismatch in personnel, which got them run over.

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Podium

Opening remarks:

“You know, coming off not the way you want to start the five-game stretch, the meat of your schedule, Saturday is something we’re all disappointed with and everything that we have to do from a coaching standpoint and a playing standpoint. Obviously it was evaluated and we all need to do a better job, and that’s just a part of it. We had some opportunities we didn’t take advantage of during the course of the football game, and that’s a credit to them. We’ve got to do a better job. Offensively, we have to get Devin a little more of an opportunity because there were plenty of them down the field. Execution’s a part of that. Always is. When you’re sliding protections or whatever it might be. Defensively, I think our defense kept us in the football game for a long time with bad field position. Needed to make some stops more in the second half. Didn’t get that accomplished. Some third downs. The score right before the half is never a good score. And then them taking the ball for six minutes or five minutes to start the second half even though they got the field goal. Again, it’s posessions. Trying to get possessions. We had a really good day yesterday, which is a really good thing. The attitude of our team, they came in and worked like heck on the evaluation part of it, and we’ll work like heck out in practice. That being said … ”

Seemed like you had success giving Funchess the ball. In hindsight, do you wish you would have made more quick drops to get him the ball?

“There were some quick throws in there, but there were plenty of opportunities I wished we would have given Devin [Gardner] another half a click to step up and throw. Because there were a lot of opportunities down the field.”

How do you fix the issues on the offensive line?

“It’s a youth problem as much as anything. The only fix is the experience. I wouldn’t trade [Kyle] Bosch or [Erik] Magnuson or Graham [Glasgow] for anybody. Or the guys they’re competing with.”

You only got Fitz eight carries. None of the other running backs were mixed in …

“Well Derrick [Green] got a couple snaps. And when you got into a protection game, for a young guy, it’s not a great time [to put him in].”

Did you plan on avoiding running back carries?

“I don’t think so. From a plan part of it, I really thought it was a very good plan. Would we have liked to have run the ball better? More? That’s kind of dumb. Yeah. We’d like to. We’d all like to do stuff better. As far as getting him more touches, it would have been great to.”

How is Devin’s heatlh?

“He’s good. He’s fine. He’s beat up. Just like Andrew Luck is today. Beat up.”

Drew Dileo?

“Drew is coming along. He’s healthier every day.”

Will he play on Saturday?

“Yeah. I think so. I haven’t gotten full word, but knowing Drew and how he’s progressed, yeah.”

You mentioned a good day yesterday. To whom does it fall to make sure that you don’t have that carryover psychologically to the next game?

“Number one, it falls on me. That’s why our Sunday was a little different in how we did some things. The leadership, coaches, captains, seniors, Desmond Morgan, guys who have played a lot of snaps. But it starts with me first.”

You said part of the problem was the youth on offensive line. You can’t do anything about it.

“Yeah, you just have to keep every day grinding. That’s all, and showing them the looks and doing everything you can. At times there’s a comfort level. Sometimes guys in an environment may want to try and set – and I’m talking pass-protection wise – a little further out than they should or a little too fast. They over set. I’m just using that as an example. If they just fundamentally keep to what they’ve been doing, there’s an excitement that I think guys get. And you see it in different guys. But we just have to keep grinding.”

After the game, you said the pass protection was about more than just the offensive line. What were some of the other issues?

“The back’s got to be able to pick them up a little better. I think there’s probably one or two where the quarterback needs to step up and feel it a little better. There’s sometimes the timing of a route. It’s hit or miss. You got ten guys good, one guy bad, it’s like anything else. That’s why it’s a great team sport. You have to have them all on the same [page].”

The first day you were hired, you said the goal was always the Big Ten championship.

“Yes.”

Four games left, it looks like that’s no longer a possibility.

“Is it possible though?”

Yes. But how do you get these guys to get motivated for the rest of the season even though it’s out of your hands?

“I don’t think you know our team very well. How they feel about each other and how they feel about Michigan and how they feel about the personal pride that they have.”

What was different about Sunday?

“We just did some things differently that were good for us.”

Seems like a couple times this game you were pushed around.

“I don’t know if it was pushed around. I don’t agree with that. We got ran over once. Twice. With a mismatch. But other than that, there was just not being in the right place a couple times.”

In hindsight, was that one of the more demoralizing moments you’ve ever had as a head coach?

“No. I didn’t feel demoralized at all. Disappointed. But demoralized? That’s kind of … I didn’t feel that.”

In pass protection, was there anything else you could have done to take the pressure off the offensive line?

“I think running the ball helps you. Any time. I think that helps you in a lot of different ways from your play-action game and all that. I think there were enough guys to protect.”

Is this a defining moment for your captains? In 2011 you were in the same place but you finished pretty well partially because of the leadership.

“Well not just the captains but the whole group of seniors because of what we ask of them. Yeah. There’s no question this is a time when your leadership always either steps forward or stays the same or steps back.”

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Roundtable

Fitz had a rough time in pass protection. Have you considered any of the other backs?

“They’re still in the mix. Fitz is our best pass protector. Has been. Derrick and some of the other young guys, it’s pretty difficult.”

What’s the status of De’Veon Smith and Keith Heitzman? Neither traveled.

“De’Veon didn’t travel because I took him off the travel team. Heitzman has a little bit of a hand issue.”

Is it because Smith didn’t earn a spot?

“Yeah.”

Will Heitzman play on Saturday?

“I don’t think so. It’s kind of day to day. He practiced a little Thursday, but he wasn’t as effective as we’d like. We’d love to have him, believe me.”

Is Funchess being coached by Ferrigno or Hecklinski these days?

“Mostly Heck.”

Is it because he already knows the tight end stuff?

“Heck knows the tight end stuff, too. If there’s anything that’s dual a bit, it’s easier to have the guy in one room the whole time.”

The cameras caught Taylor with his hand in an MSU player’s facemask. What’s your assessment on that?

“My assessment was it’s not what we want to portray or be, and he and I have had a discussion regarding that. It’s not who we are … If I think he should have been suspended it would have been done.”

With Jake Ryan healthier and Brennen Beyer playing SDE, how nice is it to have both on the field at the same time?
“Well Cam Gordon played a really good football game the other day, too, at the SAM. Having him and Jake in the sub packages, both those guys, I think it’s really good for us. I think Brennen has always been a guy that can wear a lot of hats. Smart, tough, good technician.”

What does he give you there that you may have been missing otherwise?

“I think number one it’s the quality of the football player.”

What’s it like to have an Athletic Director who’s so involved with your football program?

“I think it’s always nice to have people to work with that are positive.”

AJ Williams? Is he back this week?

“He’s back.”

Was his absence noticeable? Would it have made a difference?

“Well we changed a little bit. We used six offensive linemen in there a lot.”

Is the youth on the offensive line an anomaly? Will it be different going forward?

“Yes. Should it be? Yes. When we got here, we had eight scholarship offensive linemen. That number is usually 14.”

How much would that make a difference?

“I think I’d be wrong if I didn’t say it takes a little developing physically and mentally because of the position. I’d also be wrong if I didn’t say there’s guys who have done it and guys who have done it at a quicker pace. Kyle [Bosch] has been here since January. I think he’s coming along pretty good in some instances. Did we all have our best moments Saturday? No. Coaches included.”

How many scholarship linemen do you have now?

“15? Isn’t it 15? Yeah. 15.”

Did you guys perceive this being an issue against Michigan State? Or is this not acceptable no matter what?

“Number one it’s never acceptable no matter who it is. The expectation is for the position, and it always has been this way and it will always be this way. Do we need to do a better job? Yeah. The coaches do. I think that’s always something that we look at. We have to be able to push forward. The kids have responded well. Was it representative? No. You get seven sacks and you snap the ball 20 yards [behind you], it doesn’t help your positive yardage.”

Did you tell your staff you need to coach these guys better?

“Yeah. We all have to.”

What do you have to do defensively in a game like this?

“Well you need to steal some possessions, which means we have to create some turnovers. You have to give your offense more opportunities. That’s part of it. Getting off the field. Third downs, we weren’t great. Especially in the second half and the last drive of the first one. Getting off the field again creates more opportunities for your offense.”

What jumps out at you about Nebraska?

“Ameer Abdullah is a really good back. They’ve play two or three good quarterbacks since [Taylor] Martinez has been out. The two that I’ve seen are very capable of running their offense and do a good job of it. Physical offensive line, and that’s part of their trademark. Defensively, especially up front, Willie Henry had a very good football game the other day. Willie’s gotten better as the year has gone on.”

You said you would have suspended Lewan already if you thought he should be. He pushed the line a bit, though, with the twisting of the helmet.

“It’s not acceptable.”

Was it the heat of the moment?

“Trying in some ways to get our quarterback out of harm’s way in the pile. Some of it was he got overtaken with his emotion. He’s kind of one of those guys, as you all well know, who is a very good teammate.”

Do you think what he did was just as bad as what Will Gholston did two years ago?

“I’m not going to judge that. That’s for somebody else to judge. You guys will write about it.”

You said having the bye week was overrated. Why?

“Here’s the thing about having two weeks: they get to rest. How you approach it is getting them some rest and at the same time doing some things for the next opponent. But you want a fresher team.”

So it wasn’t about making adjustments.

“Well we did the first bye week. We adjusted the offensive line. Did some things we needed to do. It’s the first thing we talked about. Where are we at the next five games with personnel? Do we have the right personnel on the field? Do we have the right guys in the kicking game?”

Devin’s beat up. Does he need a couple days to recover?

“He’ll probably need yesterday and today.”

Do you expect him to practice tomorrow?

“Oh yeah.”

What was he like yesterday?

“Like any quarterback who gets seven sacks and a lot of helmets in different parts of your body.”

Was it your decision to take him out of the game or Devin’s?

“No. It wasn’t his decision.”

So it was yours.

“Yeah. Now he was a warrior. Did he do everything perfectly? No.”

Where is Jehu Chesson now compared with the beginning of the season?

“He’s come a long way. Look at the special teams part of it and what he’s done. As a gunner on the punt and the kickoff. He’s made a significant amount of plays. As he’s grown into a guy who’s a receiver who’s very good for us. He can stretch the field. Went up and made a nice play on the ball. One thing he wanted to do, he said yesterday, ‘I wanted to finish.’ ”

Comments

erald01

November 4th, 2013 at 5:45 PM ^

Im all about Hoke BUT he is fuckin delusional..why cant he for once be pissed off on one of these interviews and just say..Yes we screwed up big time from top to bottom and if there are no changes by next game, staff and players will be re-evaluated...PERIOD. Just be fuckin hungry for perfection..just once so we know you are for real..All these, we still have a chance crap, and we could have should have is getting old..this is RR talk all over again..next they will hold hands and sing kumba ya at church

DonAZ

November 4th, 2013 at 6:05 PM ^

Losing one's composure is not the mark of a skilled coach

I'll amplify -- losing one's composure in a press conference is not the mark of a skilled coach.

JTrain

November 4th, 2013 at 9:02 PM ^

Hoke tends to NOT throw his players under the bus. Especially when dealing with the press. But if you all think he's a patsy when one of them eff's up in the classroom or in practice....well, let's just say I'd bet you otherwise.

dragonchild

November 4th, 2013 at 6:41 PM ^

You're asking for blood when all you want is justice.

I don't want Hoke to lose his composure; that's Brian Kelly territory.  Honestly ND isn't doing any better than Michigan these days (last year was a lot of luck until Alabama exposed them), AND their coach is an asshole.  I'll take Hoke, thankyouverymuch.  I've seen plenty of people with sound and fury and zero value to society except yelling at clouds.  Passion doesn't mean dick to me.

But FFS, these questions. . . Honestly, I don't expect a crack in the walls of Ft. Schembechler, but it's one thing to bully the coach at a presser and another to just push.  He's using the same goddamn mealy-mouthed buzzwords for the umpteenth time and still no one's calling him on it.  Next time he says "we gotta coach better" someone has to say, "In the context that you've been saying that for WEEKS now and the offense is getting WORSE, what do you mean by that?"  You probably won't get a substantial answer, but at least he'll know he's not fooling anyone.

erald01

November 4th, 2013 at 7:18 PM ^

Not looking for blood just pure old school toughness...Bo was a tough one so was Woody, those guys new how to be tough on their players and also get their respect. Say what you want about Kelly but he has turned around a few football programs and went to NC last year, if we went to NC last year i would let Hoke do whatever he wants for the next 2-3 yrs..not asking for much here:

1) Beat our rivals every other year or better off have the edge on the rivalry and keep it that way. Every decade beat them at least 6 times..is that fair

2) make it to B1G championship game at least every 3 years and try to win 2-3 a decade... Fair?

3) win BCS bowl games 3-4 a decade including the rose bowl. Fair?

4) last but not least once a decade try to win the NC title, maybe try to show up there a cpl of times in that decade even if we loose the game

Being that the ncaa football has changed soooo much this are some expectations that we should have as michigan fans. But none of them have happened besides the Sugar Bowl in 2011. The least we have not even won a B1G in 10 yrs, which use to be something we would win every other year..

Now you tell me why all these fans are still frustrated

4)

ERdocLSA2004

November 4th, 2013 at 9:11 PM ^

Totally agree with you. I just can't stand his excuses. He continually falls back on the "lack of experience" excuse. We have more talent on the O-line than most of the B1G, not to mention future NFL right and left tackles. Magnuson and Bryant both have the size to play the position, so if they aren't performing up to expectations it is due to coaching. The frustrating thing is that if I got in my Delorean and went back to last Wednesday and showed Hoke and Borges the video of Saturdays game, I fear the game plan wouldn't have changed at all. To me, that is truly frightening.

getsome

November 5th, 2013 at 10:52 AM ^

theres a lot more to OL than size.....like quick feet and hands.   im critical of this team when they underperform or underrecruit but have to point out just bc of magnuson and bryants size vs performance does not mean the coaches are failing.  coaches have pretty hard time "coaching" quick feet, athletic recovery ability, violent hands and just overall consistency in mental aspects.  sure the coaches can drill kids on techniqe and fundamentals and keys and appropriate footwork, etc. but they will never be able to "coach" schofield to have the feet, hands, balance, etc of lewan, its just not possible, its biology not sled work.  sure bryant has chance wormacks size but he doesnt have his ability.  magnuson is 6'6" with long arms but doesnt guarantee he has the feet or pad level to play at elite level in space.  now maybe both of those guys will get there at some point, but its not now and its not due to coaching.  could they be coached up better? ...absolutely, but they also do not have the natural  athletic ability or mental capacity to get it done at an elite level at this point.  bosch on other hand has played much more consistently and has domniated at certain points more than those 2 have....not coaching as much as the kids natural ability and progression at this stage.  the saying "cant coach speed" can be applied generally to other areas

03 Blue 07

November 5th, 2013 at 1:14 AM ^

In response to this: 

 I've seen plenty of people with sound and fury and zero value to society except yelling at clouds.  Passion doesn't mean dick to me.

I'll go with Ralph Waldo Emerson and say that passion means more than dick in life to a lot of people, and go with "nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." I'm going to go ahead and use passion as a synonym for enthusiasm here and side with RWE (and the fact that passion means a ton to me, generally, as, umm, without it, it's hard to achieve much of anything that is difficult to achieve). 

Lac55

November 4th, 2013 at 5:48 PM ^

If Fitz is our best pass blocking rb...good god. I have no inside info. but something isn't right about this team and it has nothing to do with all the youth excuses. I wish could be a fly on the wall in the locker room.

funkywolve

November 4th, 2013 at 6:02 PM ^

Well, when a grenn tsunami is coming at you and Fitz can go 'Innie minnie miny mo pick a Spartan defender to block, my mother says to pick...Ops, Devin's already on the ground', what is he to do?

In all seriousness though, how a 3 year starter running back is so poor at pass blocking is beyond me.

TXmaizeNblue

November 5th, 2013 at 8:18 AM ^

No kidding!  My thoughts exactly.  IF Fitz is the best blocking back on the team, this team is fricken dismal at best.  Just what in the hell did you see in Green to recruit him?  He's 30 more pounds than Fitz, and how could he possibly do a worse job at blocking.  For crying out loud guys were sliding off Fitz like they were butter.  Or maybe I should say Fitz was the butter and MSU 'anyone with a pulse' was the knife.  The state of the rushing position at UofM is worse than it has ever been.  Depressing.

wolverine1987

November 5th, 2013 at 11:49 AM ^

As was pointed out by Blackledge during the game, there were a couple of instances where the design of the play looked like Fitz was the designedf blocker for Calhoun--that is just nuts if true. Totally agree that he needs to be a better blocker and that we should have an RB that is, but you can't call a play that has your RB be the blocker against one of the best DE's in the B1G.

UMFan95

November 4th, 2013 at 6:34 PM ^

I honestly dont know what is so special about fitz, what does he do that makes him so superior to the other back, and I am talking about the freshmens.  He cant run (you can blame the line), he cant pick up the blitz, so what is separating him from the rest of the group.  The only thing I see is that he is a senior.

EastUGoBlue

November 4th, 2013 at 7:41 PM ^

Do you think it has anything to do with Hoke playing the senior even though D. Green may be slightly better for the sake of not "losing the seniors?" I know it has a ton to do with roster dinamics and locker room politics, but would that cross his mind? I'm guessing everyone is going to say there's no way this plays a role but I'm just throwing it out there.

JTrain

November 4th, 2013 at 9:09 PM ^

How did our offense do in spring and fall practices running the ball??? Did the coaches know we were screwed months ago...? Seems like with as much experience those guys have evaluating they all should have known we had some glaring weaknesses. Either that or thought our defense was ALL WORLD. Maybe that's why Lewan talked up Frank Clark so much this year. Maybe he was getting sacks every play.

03 Blue 07

November 5th, 2013 at 1:19 AM ^

Guys, it's the mental part- the blitz pickups. I know Fitz looked pretty terrible at it, but I'm fairly certain Green would be worse, and the coaches likely agree. Brian mentioned in this week's podcast that he misses Vincent Smith's pass blocking, and, yeah, boy don't we all on...just about every passing down. 

EDIT: "Fairly certain" because it's the hardest part of being a running back, and is usually the most difficult part of the high school-to-college transition for RB's, as they mostly just...ran with the ball/had the ball in their hands when they were in high school. Oh, and everything moves fast as hell. Even NFL guys struggle with it. 

WolvinLA2

November 4th, 2013 at 6:42 PM ^

But is it not true?  I agree that at some point you need results, but we also have an actual deficiency that it out of the coaches' control.  Why do you think we took 4 OL two years ago (trying for more with Diamond, Kozan, etc.) and 6 last year?  The coaches knew we needed bodies, so they went out and got them, good ones too.  But they're young.  That is a fact and it hurts us.  

It's unfortunate that we've had to shuffle our OL so much this year, but the good thing is that we'll have fewer young guys, and more guys coming in with experience next year.  They'll still be young as a group, but the youngest guys won't be so young, and they'll be more experienced too (not on average, but as a group).  

yoyo

November 4th, 2013 at 6:51 PM ^

I agree that they are young but I have to say 2 things:

 

1. They played very poorly against very bad defensive lines which cannot be explained by youth and have only gotten worse as the year went on.

 

2. Is he going to use this excuse next year when Lewan and Schofield leave?  Is he gonna use this excuse when he has to bench Kalis for Buschell-Beatty (spelling) or Mason Cole because he's playing poorly?

WolvinLA2

November 4th, 2013 at 7:42 PM ^

Well, Magnuson will be one of the tackles, so he really won't be a new starter, and Kalis will take his spot.  So 4 of our 5 starters next year will have started half the season or more.  Assuming Braden is the new starter, a RS Soph being the only new starter is a lot better situation than this year.  

Our best starter next year won't be as good as our best this year, but our worst (hell, our 3 worst) will be a good step better.