Northwestern Postgame Presser: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on November 11th, 2012 at 1:58 PM

“All right, let me ask [you] a question. Who started writing the article before the game was over?”

[Multiple hands are raised.]

“Yeah. Exactly ... I should have picked you out.

“Obviously we’ve got a lot that we didn’t do well, but we did do well when you win the football game. I thought it was two teams that played hard. I have so much respect for Pat and how he runs his program and how his guys come to work every day and how they come to play. We knew it would be a dog fight. We missed way too many tackles. You’ve got to give Kain Colter some of that respect, because he made us miss him. We have to do a better job there. I think offensively, moving the ball pretty consistently. Still need to rush for more yards from the backfield, which means we still have to continue to improve up front. How we’re blocking the line of scrimmage. We missed a couple cuts, but Devin did a tremendous job really managing everything, staying into the game, extending some things, and then his athleticism obviously helped in some of the first downs -- we were seven of 10. That’s all I have to say.”

Is that the kind of game where you just say you find a way to win and build off that?

“Well, yeah. There was a lot to build from and a lot to learn from. Our seniors play their last game at Michigan Stadium next week. That’s significant and if we want to send them out the right way, we have to play better. That always starts with the coaching side of it. That has to be paramount for us.”

Can you talk about the concentration on Roundtree’s catch and then Demens’s tackles to win the game in overtime?

“Yeah, and Roy really I think on a couple balls had really great focus and great intensity in what he was doing. The last tackle there, I think number one I like the call that Greg made because it was one where we may have talked them into running the football because of some of the space inside. And then Kenny just did a nice job of really working inside out to the ball, where maybe a little earlier we were maybe getting too far ahead of it.”

How much do you believe that your team’s experience in tight games in the past helped today?

“Yeah … I think that’s a great question. I think when you look at them on the sideline and you communicate with them and talk to them, never a doubt that they weren’t going to win the football game in my opinion. I think all that helps. I think experiencing anything in life helps you get through it the next time. I think the same thing [applies] in the game of football.”

What did Devin improve between game 1 and game 2?

“I don’t know if I could do that right now. I think he managed the game well. I thought he had two throws that probably weren’t the best throws. Did a nice job getting rid of the ball in the end zone. He made some good decisions.”

How differently do you run your offense with Devin in there? What strengths do you try to use?

“I think the biggest thing is there’s a little more two-back. There’s a little more vertical run, there’s a little more power play to some degree, lead play, iso … From that standpoint, there’s still the zone read and all those things from the gun, too.”

What were they doing on third down to have so much success, and how did you come up with stops late in the game?

“Yeah. What were they doing? I think they converted and they were a little more accurate in some of their throws on their seven routes -- smash routes. We needed to do a little better job in the seam part of our defense when they were throwing it. And I think he scrambled at times, and either we missed a tackle, which we did a couple times on a scramble, or we didn’t force the ball enough as far as when you talk about your lanes and compressing the pocket from the outside to the inside.”

Resolve of your team?

“These kids have been great. It didn’t surprise me. It really didn’t surprise me that -- there were 18 seconds left when they punted the ball or something like that. Dan Ferrigno did a nice job all week because they would rugby punt if you want to call it that -- it wasn’t a full on rugby -- but lining up Gallon where he lined him up, because that’s where, if you charted a year of punts, that’s where they were going if they rugby punted, and it was perfect. It got us great field position and got us the throw.”

Take us through Devin’s pass to Roundtree. Was that his first read? Second read? What was he looking at?

“Well I really can’t describe it at all for you, but we knew we had to get to a certain point on the field. We knew from the 35, 38 in is where we wanted to kick the field goal, tie it up. And it just so happened that the post part of the route, the combination was where we needed to hit it, and Devin threw it well, and Roy made a football play.”

If Devin somehow could not have continued in the game, would Denard have played?

“Maybe. He was dressed, right?”



What has Roy done to step up?

“I think Roy’s been like that. Roy’s always been focused. Prepares well and gets himself ready for a game.”

Have you seen a change in him the past two weeks?

“No, not really.”

You said you missed a lot of tackles, but from a schematic standpoint, how were you trying to stop Northwestern?

“Well scheme-wise was really good. I thought Greg and the defensive staff -- you’ll go back and look and [say], ‘Maybe I should have run this more,’ or whatever it might be, but I thought scheme-wise, especially some of the things we were doing -- I’m not going to explain them, obviously -- it was very effective. It kind of got them into one formation. When you can get someone into one formation or two formations, then you don’t have all the other problems.”

Just to follow up on Denard --

“Day to day.”

He didn’t do much in warmups.

“Day to day.”

If you were in our shoes, wouldn’t you have started writing the story before the game ended?


Why not?

“No. Because of those kids. No way. My wife just asked me that on the way in. ‘Did you know you were going to win?’ I said 'yes.'”

They had a lot of success running outside --

“Perimeter of the defense. Need to play better on the perimeter of the defense. Need to get off blocks better.”

Were you surprised they went away from that late?

“No, because I think he got beat up a little bit there for a minute. Siemian’s a very good quarterback, but he’s not the same quarterback. Then when he came back, they went to their bread and butter on the fourth down play. Tried to go option again.”

Talk about how hard Fitz ran and what the offensive line needs to do to help him?

“We have to finish on blocks better combination-wise, to answer the second part first because that one I can remember. I really thought they were getting some movement. Probably not as much as we would like, because it never is, and I did think he ran extremely hard. You could hear football on the field.”

Would you say this win keeps your Big Ten title hopes alive?

“Well. We can’t worry about what other people do. We have to worry about what we do. We got Iowa.”

When Denard is healthy enough to come back, what do you do with the quarterback situation?

“I think that’s something we’ll figure out.”

Faith in Brendan Gibbons to make that kick and the job Drew Dileo did to pick that ball off the ground?

“Well, that combination’s a pretty good combination. You know, they work so much together because we kick every day, but they’re two -- and don’t tell Gibbons I ever said this -- two football players.”

Devin was in a lot of pressure situations. What did you see out of him in terms of commanding the huddle?

“Well he’s realy done a nice job and always has. I thought the way he’s gone about his business, the maturity and the growth has been, I guess, expected.”



November 11th, 2012 at 2:06 PM ^

Then they will go out the gate a little bit more excited the week after when they host Huskers.

Regardless, I will be a very happy fan if we beat both Sparty and Buckeyes this year even without the Rose Bowl.


November 11th, 2012 at 2:12 PM ^

I'm kinda conflicted on the whole Denard v Devon issue.  On one hand i'm sad that the most exciting player I've had the pleasure to watch in many years is being denied his last few games due to injury. For his sake I hope he gets well and can play next week on Senior day and the OSU game as well as the bowl.

On the other hand I'm glad that our probable 2013 QB is getting meaningful starts (and finishes) which should bode well for next year, and with any love from the NCAA, 2014 too.  I do think it's worth noting that a lot of the elements of the game missing under Denard (varying snap counts, audibles, hot routes, etc) are in play and quite noticeable with Devon in the game.

And i understand why Hoke would be coy about telling anybody what's going on.  After two games it's pretty apparent that we run very different offenses with the two QBs and it doesnt help us to to let the opposition know which offense to prepare for.


November 11th, 2012 at 2:18 PM ^

Great response from Hoke about believing the kids would find a way. Could be coach-speak, but he even used his wife as a foil so I BELIEVE that he BELIEVES so the kids BELIEVE. Sure there was a little luck but ND wins a lot of close games because they just believe in Irish luck. Gibbons is another example of high achievement simply because Hoke has instilled confidence.

Great coaching foundation when kids believe they're winners.


November 11th, 2012 at 6:27 PM ^

I thought about that a lot during the game, and even more in the 24 hours since.

When things were looking hopeless from a fan's perspective there were comments on the liveblog to the effect that Hoke didn't seem to care. That wasn't what I saw at all--he wasn't showing the slump in the shoulders that fans were feeling because (1) he still believed and (2) it's absolutely, utterly important that that belief gets communicated to the kids.

So when the offense came off after the next-to-last series it was a clap of the hands and a "that's all right we'll get the ball back again." After the field goal it was "stay focused."

It's obvious, especially in retrospect, that those were the right things to say...but how many coaches do you see on Saturday not do it, but let the players see their frustration when things are going wrong, or forget, in their own excitement, to stabilize and refocus them after a big play?

Management--managing the staff, managing the players, and most of all managing their emotions in the heat of battle--is the most important job a head coach has because it's the one thing that cannot be delegated to anyone else.

Branch Rickey said luck is the residue of design.

Gold poop is the residue of belief.

SF Wolverine

November 11th, 2012 at 3:26 PM ^

But two things I really stand out after just about two years: (1) not one ounce of quit on this team, and that starts at the top; and (2) there is a real (not just lip service) committment to get better every week. A program that has those two traits in its DNA + good recruiting = success.


November 12th, 2012 at 2:34 AM ^

i mean... had we not been able to come back, wouldn' t the Beyer penalty be the focus of post game talk? I'm glad we won the game but there's not even a single discussion of this penalty (whether it should be called / how it could be used as a coaching point for hoke etc...) in the post game press conference. 

Pat Fitzgerald's reaction after the penalty is certainly something that changed my opinion on him as a coach too. 

and i'm just suggesting this could be areas the media could focus on rather than standard questions that you know hoke would give a non-answer.
and somehow this is voted to be "overrated"


November 11th, 2012 at 4:14 PM ^

Just watched the game on the dvr again and I must say that the offensive line is one block from springing our rb for big yards on too many plays. It seems like Fitz ran hard and could've been sprung if either Barnum or Patrick gets to their blocks.
I know it could be like that always but it seems like on a lot of plays they're just a step behind.


November 11th, 2012 at 5:56 PM ^

Hoke was right about the last punt return.  Great scouting to know where they would punt the ball; that return was HUGE and very necessary for the possibility of the comeback to even exist.


November 11th, 2012 at 6:58 PM ^

Not that it matters, but Ferrigno has been in my personal doghouse for what I perceive is poor coaching especially with punt fielding and returns.  Plotting the last years worth of punts from NW is due diligence.  I hope that part of special teams can become a weapon moving forward, instead of watching balls bounce and roll another 15 yards.

Mr. Yost

November 11th, 2012 at 8:59 PM ^

But still, can we get a punt block --- ever?!

I think part of the reason we can't get a good return is because we aren't a threat to block the kick. If we ever did, maybe teams would be a little more hesitant or keep 1 more guy back that could spring Gallon on the other end.

Mr. Yost

November 11th, 2012 at 8:58 PM ^

Devin has played TWO games (pretty well) versus MINNESOTA and NORTHWESTERN.

Not Alabama, ND, or MSU's defense.

It's crazy how Denard has made us so used to...Denard. We forget his games vs. lesser comp and only critique him in big games.

Denard plays REALLY well vs. average/lesser comp. A healthy Denard plays REALLY well vs. MINNESOTA and NORTHWESTERN.


So let's cut it out. Sure, Devin has played well --- and let's be thankful for that. But don't compare him to Denard until he plays against top teams like Denard. Or I should say, don't compare him as a complete player until then.

If you want to say "he throws a better deep ball" or "he does a better job with the snap count/offsides situations" that's fine --- but NO ONE can say he's flat out better or a better fit for Michigan until we have more information.


November 11th, 2012 at 10:21 PM ^

post. I am very excited about Devin moving forward and obviously am  thrilled  he has been able to play well in Denard's absence, but people need to step back a little bit. Devin did well against two poor pass defenses, and based on Denard's past history against mediocre to bad defenses he probally would of had huge games against both Minnesota and Northwestern.

Like you said if people want to say Devin does certain things better I don't think many people would disagree, but to claim somebody gives the team the best chance to win over the all-time leader in yards in school history after two games against subpar competition is going overboard.

I will say Hoke's comment on the matter does seem to leave the door open for discussion, but as somebody else said I think that is Hoke's way of trying to make Iowa's and Ohio State's think a little bit more about their defensive preperation, rather than there being a real possibility of Denard not starting if he is healthy.