- Courtney Avery is getting better, was still limited on Saturday.
- Joe Reynolds was also limited.
- Hoke liked the way the secondary played. Playing soft coverage was by design.
"It was an exciting environment, and it was great to win the football game the other night. Can't say enough about the Michigan fans, the students, and the people who were in that stadium. It was electric, it was definitely something that was helpful when they were loud. It was enough of a distraction to some degree, so that was great. I like how our team stuck together. I don't think we were perfect by any means, and there was a lot from the offense, defense, and kicking game that we can go back to work on, and that's what we have to do. But it was great to win the football game. Proud of our kids on the team. I thought they complimented each other when they needed to from an offensive and defensive standpoint. It's good to win, but now it's on to Akron. Starting to work on the Zips and what they're all about."
What do you take from the Notre Dame game from each side of the line of scrimmage?
"I'd say a couple things. From an offensive standpoint we've got to pick up some of the interior blitzes better. I know Darryl [Funk] was disappointed because he thought they had had enough looks to do a better job in that part of it, that phase of it. Defensively, we tried to play and did for most of the game, play with a seven-man front. We have to fit the run a little better in a seven man front. At the same time, Coach Mattison talked about changing the math, which means getting off a block and making a tackle. We've got to do that a lot better."
What do you say or do to have your guys avoid a letdown against Akron?
"Well, it's a glazed donut game. Starts at noon. We like those games. Our team has been pretty focused on ourselves and what we need to do. Like I said, there's enough out there that we need to do in all three phases where we'll go back and have a great workday tomorrow, and a great workday on Wednesday."
You mentioned that part of the game plan was to play off and take away some fades. What changed the second half?
"Well, number one, if you study them enough, especially if [Tommy Rees] is their quarterback, they're not going to let you get to him too often. They've got a six-man protection, and their routes will break sooner -- we really thought he was accurate as a thrower. Our whole plan was to keep the ball inside and in front. I thought that really worked out well. You can judge it a little bit by looking at red zone. The field shrinks, so now it's a little harder to find the room in there. I thought we really played well in the red zone when we had to. That was playing the run with seven and making sure we had good depth in the passing lanes."
Do you think sticking with Fitz Toussaint the whole game helped him later in the game?
"I don't know if that had anything to do with it. Fitz was feeling good. He didn't get tired. He was proficient in what he had to do, both in protection and in running the football. I thought he made really nice runs in there, hard runs in there. In the passing game, I know he really did a nice job on pickups."
Pass rush wise, were you okay with how the defensive line played?
"I don't think we were okay, because we had some one-on-ones -- you're going to have a one-on-one in there somewhere, and the expectation is that we have to do a better job and beat them on the one-on-ones. Beyer, on his sack, does a nice job on his counter move and beats the guy one-on-one. And so no, are we satisfied? No. Not even close to it. This week they're a wide open attack. Four wide receivers, so it's critical that we get better in the pass rush individually, but also in the games that we want to run with them."
You threw a lot of back-shoulder throws. Is that something you thought you could take advantage of from the tape or was it something that just happened?
"No, believe me, nothing just happened, because those guys have worked on that and the timing of that since last January. Believe me, from my office in Glick I can look out there and watch those guys when they're just out there trying to get better. Gallon and Devin and all the receivers. The impressive one I thought was Drew Dileo on the option route and he sat it down and then came back and Devin, with the accuracy on it. So yeah, those things all, believe me, take a ton of work with each other because of the timing of it."
How did you think Jarrod Wilson played, and how is Courtney Avery doing?
"I thought Jarrod did okay ... There's a couple times I'd like to see him bring his arms all the way through on tackles. You have a chance of knocking the ball out. I think he did a good job of communicating out there and that's a big deal for him and Thomas [Gordon], the safeties, to do a good job of that. Courtney we got in some, five or six plays. I think that battle continues. It was good. Courtney practiced early Wednesday and Thursday, didn't do a whole lot then. Hopefully he's a little healthier. I know he was feeling good yesterday and maybe that's about the right amount of plays last week."
How did you like the tackling in the secondary? You blew up some screens.
"The one thing I really liked was the three corners who played in there, and Stribling played a little bit. But Delonte [Hollowell], Ray Ray, and Blake [Countess], we were going to give up that seven-yard hitch, and that was a big part of that offense, but no coordinator is going to sit there and throw seven-yard hitches up and down the field. They threw six of them that were the hitches. After contact, out of six of them, they went four yards. That's huge, because you know you're going to give it up unless you're rolling your corners and playing press. We didn't want to play press because we wanted to defend the fades. Number 7's pretty daggone good. We didn't want to do that. Those guys, all three of them, did a nice job. The little rocket screens or whatever you want to call it, they didn't go to them much. I think the way Ray responded down in the south end zone the one time, the tight end never got to it, he did a nice job."
Looks like Jake Butt is a guy you wouldn't mind going to in big situations. Talk about where he is right now.
"When Jake got here in January -- we obviously recruited him, so we thought he had ability. But I think how he's progressed through the program has been really positive, from the weights, the academics, all that stuff. What he's done, how he learns. I know we're very comfortable with Jake. I think he's got a bright future."
How are the injured guys doing, and how nice is it to have a week where you can rest them?
"Well we need every man, believe me. AJ [Williams], we'll see how he goes along. I think the rest of them will be fine."
AJ Williams had an ankle, right?
How many doughnuts do you think you'll buy Saturday?
"Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes."
Are you handing any out?
"No. I don't think so."
When you play a team like Akron or Central Michigan, what do you gain from it, especially now with the playoff system?
"Well if you look at our schedule in the future, we're trying to transition -- when you look at Akron, I look at a team that's got 22 transfers, and 13 of those transfers are playing significant snaps. On the offensive line, one transferred from Florida State and one from Pittsburgh. Those are pretty good programs. And then they got a couple guys that transferred from Ohio [State?]. They've got a lot of good skill. They take eight receivers through, both backs are hard runners, quarterback, one of them we recruited at San Diego State and then looked at him coming here. They've got plenty of players. Terry [Bowden]'s done a nice job. So to answer your question, probably not, but yeah. If the playoffs are truly going to take strength of schedule -- or perceived strength of schedule into the equation, then I think we need to do that."
How do you think the offensive line matched up physically?
"I think they did -- it was pretty consistent, and when I say that, I think there were some good things and some hit and miss with some others. That's what Darryl was talking about when we met yesterday, talking about the game and all that. We just have to be a little more consistent, and things that we know, the targeting -- they decided to run linebackers through. They hadn't done much of that, especially on run downs, and so we had to adjust to that a little better than we did."
What else about Jeremy Gallon's performance stood out to you after watching the game tape?
"I think obviously there's a good chemistry there between both of those guys. I think at the same time, his work ethic from blocking and everything else, we ask a lot of that from our receivers, and he's one of the better ones at doing it. His toughness on the long touchdown -- I thought Jehu [Chesson] and his block just speaks to how we want our receivers to play."
What can opposing teams do to take him out?
"How much press man did you see last week? A lot, right? I think when you start -- there's some teams coming up that are going to challenge him a lot more at the line of scrimmage. We'll see how we do with that is the best way to put it."
"Missing Darboh hurts, Joe [Reynolds] probably wasn't 100 percent. He'll be more hungry this weekend. How we progress, and DaMario is a guy who plays on special teams and is a backup we're trying to get ready. Csont'e [York] and [Jaron] Dukes may be guys, but I don't know if you'll see anybody else."
What do you think you'll be able to improve this week in all three phases?
"We'd like to still run the ball better from the tailback position. I think that's always going to be a constant. We [want to] control the line of scrimmage, then make sure we're targeting the perimeter the right way. Don't have any turnovers. Defensively, fitting the run better. They will spread you out and you will be in some seven-man fronts and really a five-man, six-man box. Get off blocks better, maybe engage a little more on their side of the line of scrimmage. In the kicking game, we got out of our lanes on a kickoff return that got out 50 yards. Had a punt that we'd like not to have and a kickoff we'd like not to have. And we had a dumb penalty on their return, hit a guy out of bounds. That cost us yardage and field position."
Do you chalk that up to youth, and at what point do you say that's no longer an excuse?
"Yeah -- you know, we constantly talk about this isn't where you went to high school. This is big-boy football. There's not an excuse for being young. So no, you can't chalk it up to being young."
Since Devin Gardner took over, you've been perfect in the red zone. Is that all due to Devin?
"It's never one guy. I think the offensive staff has done a nice job game planning red zones, taking advantage of what people give you. I think the execution has been pretty good. I think the one thing is we need to run the ball better in the red zone because that will keep opening up some of the play actions."
What did you feel about Devin's number of carries? Was it too much?
"I think one shot can get you. I thought he was maybe smarter in protecting himself. The one going in to the north end, he took some shots there because he was trying to get in the end zone. Do I worry about that? Yes."
Is it more of a number or a circumstance thing for you?
"Circumstance as much as anything."
He helped block on a reverse.
Could you talk about Jack Miller?
"I thought Jack, we were very happy with his performance. I think Jack used his strengths, which are his quickness, his leverage, and his intelligence, and played with those."
Can you talk about your home winning streak?
"... I can't answer that. Players play hard at home."
On the challenge, it looked like you were waving --
"I was waiting for a little bit of help from upstairs. I do think how they interpret the rule -- I do think the ball hit the ground. Did it move? If it moved it at all, they probably would have said it was an incomplete pass."
Devin had a rushing touchdown that you tried calling a timeout --
"Yeah, because we were down to one second."
Just a play clock thing?
"Play clock, all the way."
Was that the play you wanted?
"Well he changed into the right thing. That's what took a little long. They were holding it and holding it and holding it. So he's doing his mechanics, whatever that may be, and they finally show it. And now he's got to get back over and all that stuff. I'm looking up there and it's going two, one. Anything under five you start getting nervous."
Is there anything about his decision-making that surprises you?
"There's a couple things from a play standpoint -- he could have gotten us into a better play. The interception, that's a bad decision. Take the safety. Walk away. Let the defense go play defense."
Is that the superman complex there?
"I think that's part of it, but superman has to be smart, too, right?"