- Boo boo watch: Courtney Avery and AJ Williams are improving. Devin Funchess had a cramp. Mario Ojemudia will be fine. Taylor Lewan is in a boot because it's fashionable.
- Jake Ryan is getting closer every day. Hoke is more scared about bringing him back than he is.
- Practice in full pads was held yesterday. Needed a kick in the pants.
- Hoke thought about putting in Kenny Allen. Didn't end up doing it because he didn't want to crush Matt Wile's psyche.
- Jake Butt's pancake got called for a hold.
"Obviously there's some things that are pretty obvious. It's good to win the game. That's always important, and that's why you play. Didn't play our best football. We need to get that straightened out. You have to give Akron some credit. They came in and played very good. We didn't play as well as we can. We have to for the goals that we set for our program. That being said, we'll improve. We went back to work yesterday. Pointed out a lot of things we have to coach better and a lot of things we have to do playing better."
Seems like a lot of Devin's turnovers came from third and long. Do you have to stay out of those --
"Well yeah. Any time you get into those situations, people can make life hard on you, either by bringing pressure or dropping eight or spying a guy because of Devin's athleticism and all that. When they do drop eight, various things [happen], and we have to not self-destruct protection-wise, not self-destruct route-running wise, not self-destruct decision-making-wise."
What was your take on the offensive line?
"We need to play better overall. I thought we get too much push at times. They gave us a little bit different [look] than we had seen from them. A little bit more 46 or bear concepts that you had seen from them before. Had seen it, but not multiple times. At the same time, I think at halftime the adjustments as I sit in there and watch the offense adjust -- I think they were on top of it."
Why weren't you getting to the quarterback?
"There's more than you would think the other day. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot three times by not keeping the contain of the rush, to be honest with you. We changed the game midstream, two-man gam. Once, maybe twice, maybe the communication across the front didn't get there. The two guys knew what they were doing, but you need all four to make sure they know. And there was a little more push than I thought during the game, to be honest with you. I watched it Sunday morning and there was a little more push, but if you're getting push up here, then you better be collapsing the outside. It's one of the other. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot some. Do we want to get better at our games? No question. I think we're a lot better than we were a year ago at it. We just have to be consistent with it."
How do you think Jake Butt played?
"You know, Jake did a pretty good job. They called him for a hold that I'd like really for somebody to find. The guy must have seen it differently. Did you see it?"
It wasn't a hold.
"I thought he just dominated the block, to be honest with you."
"Yeah! Yeah. Maybe you're not allowed to do that. I don't know. But you know, overall I think for a young kid he did a pretty good job."
You've been one of the best defenses in the country at limiting big pass plays. Now through two games there have been 14 20+ yard passes. How do you shore that up?
"I think a couple things. You always want to have better pressure. How many of those are yards after contact when you should have had the guy on the ground, how many of those are fades or streaks or go routes, whatever you want to call it that get thrown over your head? We had two of them the other day. I thought the one was defended very well to be honest with you. The guy put it exactly where he had to. It was a tough one to defend. Now, we can't get run by. We got beat a couple times early. Underneath coverage on some of the dig routes, the skinny post, yards after catch from that hurts you. A combination of things. Underneath coverage we have to be better if we're playing man coverage, and we have to pressure."
How much different of a team do you think you'll see going forward?
"Gosh, if I knew that. I guess ... we went out and practiced yesterday. Shoulder pads, helmets, the whole deal. We usually don't. They were very receptive and very -- I wouldn't say excited -- but they were glad to get back on the field. I was excited."
With Matt Wile's struggles, is it mental or is he being stretched a little thin with all of his kicking duties?
"I think that would be an excuse if you said that, because he's done all of them since he was growing up. My only analogy is it's a lot like golf. His swing and his drop has to be constant and more consistent. He works very hard at it. Why he's had three punts that haven't been as consistent? That's what he's working on and that's what he's working through. I have a lot of faith in Matt. I kind of coach the punters because I really don't because I don't know, but I know what to look for. He'll be fine."
One punt almost got blocked. Do you think he's rushing?
"I don't think so. In fact I think he did a nice job and it should have been blocked, to be honest with you. That was poor protection. Something that we work on a lot. Why does that happen? I don't know, but we need to make sure we protect a heck of a lot better."
You seem like a pretty positive coach. In a game like this, did you use any negative reinforcement at all? Any yelling?
"I wouldn't really call it negative. It's constructive criticism. Every guy you coach differently to some degree, and you always have. I could give Glen Steele a glare and it'd be fine by him. Everybody's a little different. One thing during the game -- I'm not saying in the locker room -- but in the game, if I'm a tyrant or an idiot on the field, that's not going to do anybody any good. I thought about putting Kenny Allen in to punt, but that wouldn't have been the right thing for Matt and Matt's psyche. And his next punt, he booms it. I don't know if that answers your question, but that was on my mind."
Is it easier to get your players' attention after this kind of game?
"Yeah. I would say because of the leadership and because how guys have taken this personal, in a good way, because you can take it personal in a really bad way, too. But from the leadership part of it, I think Taylor [Lewan] and Devin [Gardner] and Jake Ryan have been unbelievable. Courtney [Avery] and Cam [Gordon]. You look at senior captains, they have really pushed it a little bit."
When Devin Funchess limped off --
"He just had a cramp. He's one of those guys who ... cramps. He doesn't during fall camp or practices or anything. Only during games. He's been that way since high school."
What about Mario Ojemudia?
"He'll be all right. He just had a shoulder ding. He'll be all right."
Courtney Avery and AJ Williams?
"Courtney is a lot better, AJ is a lot better."
11 of Fitz's 19 runs went for two yards or less. Are you seeing that the holes aren't there?
"I think there's been a couple times where people have defended it pretty well. You're one guy away from a couple big ones. I don't know what the yardage was, but two penalties took away 40-some yards. If you add that in -- do we want more? Yeah. We want to be more consistent. I thought some of the lead plays with Joey [Kerridge] blocking. Joey will take on a linebacker."
Do you have a timetable for Jake Ryan?
"Not yet. Every day he gets closer. Every week. He's feeling pretty good. He's going to do more and more now with us than he has. I'm the one who's scared to death. I don't want to bring him back too fast. I think he's got a good gauge on how he feels."
Does he tell you that? Does he push for it?
"No he'll be honest with you. He feels good. The more he does football-wise, then we'll find out more."
Did you consider going for it on the fourth and one?
"I didn't and usually I do. I just didn't want -- our defense really saved us a bunch, and how many times are you going to go back and put them in bad field position and not give them a chance? That time I didn't. I judge a lot of that on the flow of the game and even though our defense was playing well enough to some degree, I just didn't feel that was the right thing. I thought if we could get good field position and let them play with 90 yards or whatever, if you get the punt you want."
Can you talk about the decision to play soft coverage?
"I don't think that was intended. I think we have to play a little tighter. I thought our eyes weren't as disciplined as they needed to be."
Is that a lack of confidence in your cornerbacks?
"I don't think it's confidence. I think it's concentration."
What goes into taking these guys on the road for the first time this year?
"Nannies. We'll take nannies with us. What do you call that?"
"I don't know. It's going to be a young team. It is a young team. Every experience will be different. Even the redshirt freshmen. They didn't travel besides the bowl game. Believe me, I've thought about this. A lot. So yeah."
Did Akron's defense anticipate your plays better than other opponents?
"I don't think so. In fact one time they were lined up wrongly but it ended up being lined up right. I don't think so. I mean when people say that, it's funny to me because they would line up right then they wouldn't give you the blocking angles and the leverage than how they lined up. Does that make sense to you?"
Does having a night game on such short notice change your preparation?
"We were kind of told a week ago, 10 days ago that it was going to be either eight or noon. Itinerary-wise we already had that plan in place."
We saw Jourdan Lewis a lot this weekend. Last weekend it was Delonte Hollowell. Two weeks ago it was Channing Stribling. Is it a schematic thing? Is it a practice thing?
"Practice. Competition. Who plays the best. That could evolve again, too."
Do you think Devin is letting his mistakes get to him?
"You know, it's a good question. I think sometimes when you make that first mistake you want to overcome it and make another good play, especially if you're competitive. Sometimes you force it maybe instead of just letting the game come to you."
What were you saying to him after the game?
"What did I say to him? You have to go forward. We're going to need you. You have to get over that one. I don't know why you didn't execute it as well as you'd like to have and move forward."
He said the pressure doesn't normally get to him, but for some reason it did against Akron.
"You know, I haven't asked him that, so I can't tell you. That would surprise me a little bit."
You mentioned that he was banged up. Did that have anything to do with anything?
"No. I don't think so."
Do you have the same level of trust in him with regard to not committing turnovers in your own end?
"Yeah. We do. We're not going to shrink the playbook or anything like that. We'll keep it going."
Your run game is better when you involve Devin's legs but at the same time you want to keep him healthy. Seems like a complicated situation, huh?
"It is complicated. But I think what you see at times with the pistol game and with the reads and all that stuff -- those are times when we think we've got something good alignment-wise and everything else. I think some of the stretch plays have been pretty good. That play probably had more of the negative yardage plays. It's a little bit how you're trying to capture the line of scrimmage and the perimeter part. I think the iso and power plays have been pretty good for us. Fitz made really good cuts off the power play."
Akron was 9 of 18 on third down. How much of that was getting gashed on first down?
"It's part of it, but I think also we had some opportunities that we didn't finish."
How much of your issues were concentration and focus issues across the board?
"You know, that's hard for me to say. We had too many targeting errors, too many errors, not necessary in alignment but the fundamentals. And coverage, underneath coverage. Tighter coverage. All those things."
In your postgame locker room speech, you promised you would coach your team better. What did you mean?
"Well the best way to put it is we want to improve every time we take the field. As a team, if you take a vote, they would have thought on Saturday we didn't make the incremental improvements we needed to. Since we missed that day, we better do it yesterday. That's what we did."
When did you decide to have practice yesterday?
"Saturday about 4:07."
When did you tell them?
"Yesterday about 12:30."
How do you change practice?
"We won't change a whole lot. We're going to do a little more inside drill with the full line. More than normal. Do two-minute on Tuesday. We do it always on Thursday, but we can get another two-minute in there."
Would your players have told you that they had bad practices last week?
"I'd say Tuesday they would have said they didn't. I think Wednesday and Thursday we made some strides. Tuesday's always a different practice because you're tweaking your game plan, formations offensively. You're doing some things different. Defensively your sub packages may be more of a part of it, so it may be a little different."
After your meeting with your assistants, did you decide this game was more of an anomaly or maybe a lasting problem?
"Well, you know, we did some good things Saturday, too. Our offense, when we got behind, came back and went right down the field. Defensively the different sudden-change situations, [whether from] the kicking game or turnovers, for a long time they hung in there and gave us a chance. The last series defensively. The last play. You've been around and I've been around where the team hasn't made the play and they had to, and then they made the play. We're not changing in our structure or our belief in what we do. Once in a while though, as a coach you have to look at where you are as a team and maybe do something different."