News bullets and other important items:
- Eastern Michigan is 2-0 and is averaging 331 yards rushing, which is scary to Hoke. Fear level now up to 2.
- Fitz Toussaint (shoulder) will likely return this week.
- Brandon Herron (unknown), and Cam Gordon (back) are questionable. Will need good week in practice to return.
- Woolfolk had a bit of a nose injury, but re: his ankle -- "He's fine." Period.
- Marell Evans still working on eligibility. Currently operating as scout team linebacker.
- Jake Ryan playing with hand down primarily in nickel package.
- Need to see more from Will Campbell in practice for more playing time.
- Odoms working his way back into rotation.
- No student-body tryouts until January.
- No. 21 jersey will likely go to wide receivers in the future. Unknown whether Raymon Taylor is wearing the Desmond Howard patch.
Press Conference (filmed)
"Does that make sense? It does to me ..."
Opening remarks: “You guys ready? Thanks for coming.
“Saturday was obviously very exciting in a lot of ways. The crowd, the passion, how both teams played 60 minutes of football. It was a neat environment, fun, all those things. Obviously a record crowd to see a college football game, and it was good to have the outcome the way it did. It was hard fought, not a perfect game. When you look at it offensively and defensively, things that we need to get a lot better at before we’re going to be any kind of a football team -- we need to focus in on those things, and as a team, we’ve gotta do a good job of coaching, number one, and teaching, and then playing. Our expectations are high, and we won’t get that way if we don’t possess the ball offensively to help the defense, and if we don’t do a better job in third-down conversions from a defensive standpoint.”
What did you see from Brandin Hawthorne and Will Campbell? “I thought Brandin got in there and did a nice job and made some plays. I think it was good to see him be productive in that role. Part of it [was] he did a nice job reacting and seeing the ball and focusing in on keys and finishing plays. And that was good to see from him. He had been banged up about the last week of camp. He practiced, but he had an ankle problem and still does to some degree, but it was good to see him play full speed.”
Overcoming adversity, was it especially hard trying to overcome a 24-7 deficit or trying to score with 30 seconds left? “Probably both. Our team stayed together. At halftime, we went in, and we just talk about -- asked a pretty simple question, ‘Have we played our best football?’ … ‘Are we playing our best football?’ and ‘Are we coaching our best football?’ and it was a unanimous ‘No.’
“Al and the offensive staff did a good job in some adjusting that they did. You’ve got to get Notre Dame a lot of credit. They’re a pretty good football team. Their biggest Achilles heel is they’ve turned the ball over, and you can’t do that. I’m not coaching them, but I’m sure Brian is sick about that. I thought the guys complement each other as a team, and they stayed together.”
What did you say to the team yesterday to get them to move past Notre Dame? “We were going to spend Sunday talking about the things that we did [well] and didn’t do [well]. Eastern -- they’re 2-0. They’re a confident team. I think Ron’s done a nice job. They’re averaging 331 yards per game rushing the football. That’s pretty impressive -- I don’t care who you’re playing. I think you’ve got a staff over there of guys -- with Mike [Hart] and Kurt Anderson, Steve Morrison, who are all products of this program as players -- that understand about coaching hard and doing those things, and you know just from being around those guys that’s how they coach their kids. And you can tell, with Ron’s influence as a defensive coach and defensive minded guy and an aggressive personality guy -- that’s the way they’re playing football. They’re impressive. They’ve got 10 sacks in two games. They’re doing a lot of good things.”
Did Denard have a rough game, great game, or little of both? “Probably a little of both. Obviously he made some plays when we needed to have some plays made, which a guy of his capability and caliber can do, but we also needed to make better decisions at times. He was the first one to come off the field after one [bad play] and say, ‘My footwork was bad.’ So that’s good to see. The whole thing is a process to some degree, and we’re learning everyday.”
What is Fitz Toussaint’s status, and are there concerns about repeated injuries to him? “I don’t know much of his history. I think he’ll be okay. He just bumped up his shoulder a bit against Western. Didn’t see as much as we’d like to for him to be ready for the Notre Dame game.”
You’re blitzing a lot. Are you concerned that it’s taking the linebackers out of the running game? The middle of field did look pretty open. “Well … honestly it shouldn’t have been. It’s open for a second, and then we’ve got to execute a little better at closing it off. You can get hurt, no question. If they want to take that gamble depending on who they are, depending on down and distance, they can check into a run, and sometimes you want them to. But you got to execute the defense when you want them to.
“Does that make sense? It does to me …”
Do you need to blitz more based on pressure (or lack thereof) from the front four? “I think yes, we have had to be more aggressive. At the same time, you’ve got to look at your match-ups pretty hard, and what you want to do with your guys in the back end, and how you feel about that.”
What was postgame like for you? “I have a lot of family in the Midwest, believe me. We had 35 or 40 people at our house. Nephews, nieces, brothers, sisters, and in-laws -- the whole deal. Everybody found a place on the floor and went to bed, but it was late. 3:30 maybe by the time you say hello and talk to everybody and be as gracious as I can be.”
Other health updates? Anybody definitely out for Saturday? “We’re pretty healthy. We’ve got some nicks and those kind of things, but I’m trying to think if, uh … Cam is gonna see what it feels like tomorrow. He feels better. Brandon Herron felt better but we’ll see what he’s like. I think Fitz is going to be fine. I don’t think we’re in too bad of shape.”
When you were down 17 points, was the offensive play-calling based more on Borges’ offense or 2010-Denard’s offense? “One of the key plays in the game was McColgan’s catch. Coming off the play-action, and we didn’t run a whole lot of play-action with I-backs and all that. A lot of the stuff was just being basic third-down offensive stuff and being in the gun anyway on third downs. It was a good mix, I would say.”
How much of last couple drives was within framework of offense, and how much of it was Denard making rainbows? “The rush lanes kind of went like this. And he did what he’s coached to do. Step up, step up in there, and keep pushing the pocket up when you feel it on the perimeter. It was pretty open. They were spying at times – one of the linebackers – but in that situation, they were playing pretty far off, so it bought time for Gallon. It really bought time for the sail routes, the cross, to take and suck their secondary that way, and Gallon was there by himself.”
Are you still trying to identify playmakers on defense? “I think we still are. Practice is one thing. Game time stuff is a little different. I think who plays with the lights on … we’ll see. It was good to give Will [Campbell] some snaps against good competition. Like I said, they’re a good football team, they’ve got good personnel. Right now the difference for them probably is turnover margin.”
What’s going on with Brandon Herron? “He’s got a little bit of a leg problem.”
Linebacker rotation/competition … how many linebackers are you comfortable with? “I think J.B. [Fitzgerald], all those guys, we feel pretty comfortable. I think it’s who you identify as taking most of the snaps. You work through. Kenny is pretty solid in what he does. J.B. has an opportunity to get in there and rest Kenny a little bit, which is important in the fourth quarter. There will be a rotation, and it really depends some on what package we’re in, if we’re playing out of our base front, or if we’re in our dimes and nickels.”
How would you assess D-line play? Are there things you see in practice that aren’t translating onto the field? “We’re not near to the expectations that we have. I think the kids feel the same way at that position. I think there are things that Ryan Van Bergen has done at times that are really well. I don’t want to get specific, but I think we have to feel those guys. We need to get a little big more pressure with four guys rushing the quarterback, so you don’t put J.T. or Courtney Avery out there on an island. I think we’re a work in progress in a lot of degrees. Some of it is because it’s a little different schematically, and how you attack the line of scrimmage, take on blocks, and get off blocks. We would think we’d be further along.”
Talk about efficiency of red-zone offense (Michigan was 5/5). “I think we’ve got a pretty good package down there, and the kids are executing. I don’t think it’s anything more than that. Certain teams, defensively, always are going to have certain teams they like in the red zone, and I think the kids have been executing what the plan has been.”
(we're bringing back the jump. so ... more after the jump!)
Roundtable (not filmed)
"If we play 90 plays a game offensively, it’s really going to be good, because [it means] our defense is doing a heck of a job -- watching."
Three third-and-short stops in the fourth quarter? What worked well? “I think we executed. Guys got off blocks. Jake Ryan on the one did a nice job of coming off the outside, and they didn’t have a guy to block him. They just couldn’t. But he did a nice job of bending to the hip of the back, instead of running up the field. He bent to the hip, makes a good play.
“On the same play, Will [Campbell] knocks the tackle back about two yards, which really hurt the puller. We call it a split zone or plunge play. Hurt the puller so he couldn’t kick out the other guy coming off the other edge. It was a good call by Greg, but they executed it. That’s the biggest thing. Gap fits and all that stuff are always part of it, but we’ve got to play with a little more aggression.”
How has Matt Wile held up the past couple weeks? “I think Matt’s done a really good job. I thought his kickoffs were really well done. His squib kick at the end -- I don’t know if it could have been any more perfect for where we wanted the ball, and the track that it took. Coming down and Tommy was a little high on the snap. It shows you the kind of athleticism he has. And then on the kickoff return, our kickoff coverage was much better, and Matt makes a tackle on that and does a good job getting down the field.”
Did you plan the bounce on the kickoff in the fourth quarter after Denard’s fumble recovery touchdown? “I’d be lying to you if I told you we designed it that way. So, no. It wasn’t. He just got a little bit too much under the ball, and there’s always that confusion -- the guy up front or the guy in back, who’s going to take it …
“It was a good kick.”
What’s Marell Evans’ eligibility status? “I don’t know when it will clear up, but he’s doing a great job being the best scout-team linebacker in the country.”
What do you want the players to do with their legacy jerseys? “I think it’s something special.”
You’re a defensive-minded coach. How hard is it for the players to meet your expectations? “I would hope they’d have the same expectations. We set the bar pretty high. Greg does. That whole defensive staff does. I don’t know if it’s too high, but we’ve got to play better.”
How do you make sure EMU is not a letdown game? “I can tell you one thing -- Eastern’s 2-0. They haven’t been 2-0 since 1989. They’re 331 yards rushing a game. If that doesn’t get our attention … I would hope there would be enough maturity in that room with those seniors to understand we’re going to correct mistakes and do all those things, and we’ve got to move forward fast.”
How much of D-line issues result from other teams double-teaming Mike Martin? “I don’t know if that’s an issue.”
Mike Martin dropping into coverage gave up some long runs … “I think there was one of them when he was dropping out.” What was supposed to happen there? “Zone blitz.” Was it lack of execution? “Pretty much.”
Non-production in running game outside of Denard, was that because you were down and needed to rely more on Denard? “I think that falling behind was part of the thinking going in. I think we’ve played a total of 89 offensive plays this year. So there isn’t a whole lot that we’ve gotten to get any deeper into the offense, so I think that’s part of it also.”
Anything you can point to as a problem with D-line? “We’ve got to coach them better.”
How many plays would you like to run offensively per game? “Oh I’d like to run 90 offensive plays a game. Now, that’s what I’d like to do. Reality isn’t that. I don’t know what the average is anymore, the way games are played and time and all that. There’s probably 60-70 plays average-wise. If we play 90 plays a game offensively, it’s really going to be good, because [it means] our defense is doing a heck of a job -- watching.”
You stress ball control and time of possession, but that hasn’t happened yet … “Hasn’t been there either week.” What do you have to … “Move the chains on third downs. Stop them on third down.” How important is it to have a running game outside of Denard? “I think it’s always important. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro-set or you’re a spread. You have to have somebody besides your quarterback running the football, or you’re not going to have your quarterback for very long. I thought Al did a great job of adjusting to what they were trying to [do with] Denard as far as the zone read stuff. They were not going to let him run the ball outside. I think that happened the year before, and they were not going to let it happen. And they did a good job.”
Did you see enough from Will Campbell to merit more playing time? “I think he did some good things in there. We’ll see how he practices.”
You’ve had a lot of success with walk-ons, i.e. Kovacs. Are you going to hold more walk-on tryouts? “Not during the fall. We won’t do that during the fall. We’ll do it in January, because I want to see them go through the strength program first.”
Can you talk about Denard playing too fast in the first half? Maybe too excited? “He’s excited all the time.” How do you avoid that in the future? “I’d rather break a bucking bronco than a lame mare. He’ll be all right. He’ll play within the framework and he’ll play within the offense.”
Troy Woolfolk kick to face? “Yeah, his nose was just a little torn up. He’s fine.” Were you concerned about him being a little hobbled on his ankle? “He’s fine.”
Is Odoms still bothered by hand injury, or are other guys just playing better? “I think it’s put him back a little bit. I think that’s part of it. He’s getting more and more involved, engaged, in the special teams too.”
Can you talk about Roundtree’s block on Gallon’s [Edit: I think this person means Vincent Smith] touchdown? “That’s an important thing. Receivers have to be guys on the perimeter, and that’s what springs big plays. Denard had a chance to go the distance if [a key block had been maintained] on a guy earlier in the game---that’s an expectation. You’re just not going to be guys who catch the football.”
Can you talk about NCAA taking away WMU stats? “You know what, that’s their decision.” Did you need an explanation? “No.” Did you care? “No. It’s a W, right?”
Do you need permission from NCAA to have the Desmond Howard patch? “I think you do, and I think we did that through compliance. I really don’t know. I like it.”
Does that make you think through future jersey assignments for No. 21? “I think there will be a thought process through it.”
Will 21 always go to a receiver? “There’s probably a good [chance] that that would happen.”
Does Raymon Taylor have the patch? “No … I don’t think so. That’s a good question. I don’t think he does.
“That’s a good question. That’s one I’ll ask.”
I have no idea what this question means, and I don’t think Hoke knew either. [Edit: Just kidding, this question makes sense. I was just being stupid.]) Are there plans to give more to other numbers, like number 1? “We’ll see.”
Were you happier with special teams? “Kick coverage was good. Punt coverage was good -- we had another opportunity on punt coverage to have a heck of a collision, but I think we thought the guy gave the fair catch signal and we broke down, which we never want to do. I thought it was much better. Statistically speaking, I think it was 14 yards a kickoff return, which is [a] drastic [reduction] from 31.6”
What kind of effect does Gallon’s last big play have on his confidence? “I think it has to help him. That probably helped him, and it also helped him when the guy intercepted the ball over the top of him. It’s a great coaching/teaching moment. You’ve got to become a DB when those things happen, and it was good for him to see that and learn that.”
Receivers have made really big plays, but there were some dropped balls. How do you get more consistent? “We work all the time on catching the ball, and how you catch the ball, thumbs up, thumbs down, palms in, fingertips together, not together. Look, none of us here are perfect. I mean, we all screw up once in a while. You don’t want to. I know I don’t like to screw up, but I do it daily. We just want them to play their best for their teammates, and play their best for Michigan.”
Re: recruiting, exposure, and ignoring logistical stuff, would you like to see at least one night game per year? “That probably is a pretty good deal. One a year.”
Would you like to see more of a short-/mid-range passing game? “I like getting vertical down the field. We had a couple dig routes that had opportunities.”
Is Jake Ryan evolving into a 5-tech? “In our nickel package, our sub package, he plays one of those ends. He’s not a bad pass rusher. For a young guy, he has some abilities there. He may be in that position at times.”
You smiled when you talked about Denard’s excitement. Did you say anything to him after his first couple three-and-outs? “You guys dissect it and see it a little differently than I do. Because he’s always excited. We’re going to practice tomororw, and he’s going to be running around out there and having fun.”
Are you concerned about Craig Roh’s production? Has it been affected by him having mono during camp? “We’re concerned about everybody’s play for us to play better.” But no mono? “ … ”
If you had to start a game right now, would you start Fitz [Toussaint]? “Why do you ask questions like that?” Because that’s how you always say it! “... Maybe. We’ll just see what happens. It’s a long week!”