Post-Scrimmage Presser 8-16-14: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 17th, 2014 at 5:56 PM

Hoke presser


News bullets and other items:

  • Jabrill Peppers at corner looks like it’s happening. For now he’s at nickel, but all evidence points to him eventually usurping one of the corner’s spots.
  • Boo-boo watch: Kyle Kalis [back] and Ty Isaac [stinger] should be back Monday
  • Derrick Green was the #1 running back heading into the scrimmage
  • Expect to see lots of two (or more) tight end sets from the offense this season. /sighs
  • Hoke was again impressed by Mason Cole
  • The defense is ahead of the offense, which Hoke says is typically the case
  • Starters on both sides of the ball should be figured out by Wednesday or Thursday
  • Brady Hoke “Well, …” count: 11

Opening remarks:

"Number one, thanks for coming out. Thought it was a good atmosphere for our team to be in front of, environment, I think that's important. We probably went a little longer than I thought we would but I knew my math and plays and play count, I knew we'd go a little over and I think we did. There were some negative plays in there that we've got to still clean up. Some of it is up front and I really think some of it today- we've got to have better vision in the back and so from that standpoint offensively. From a defensive standpoint I thought they got after it. Too many penalties. The PI rules are going to be called, probably, a little closer in this league. We had a little bit too much, where a guy got grabbed too much or didn't move his feet well enough, those kind of things. But that's why you do what we did. Some negative plays with some penalties breaks your rhythm a little bit and you don't like that but we need to coach off of it, teach off of it, educate off of it and keep working forward. Can't complain about what these guys have done to this point, and we know we've got two weeks. This will be good to learn from for everybody and we'll start really focusing in Wednesday with Appalachian State."

You mentioned just getting them out there and getting them reps. How big do you think it is just for the freshman? They see the environment, they're here, was that kind of the main...

"Well, that's important. Then there are guys who are redshirt freshman or third-year sophomores who haven't played a lot but to get out, come down the tunnel – most of those guys, the only time they've been down the tunnel was on their visit or for games when they came as visitors and so going out there with that winged helmet on, going out there to have a big stake in what we're trying to get done I think is pretty significant. I think that helps."

Defense seemed to get the better of the offense in the running game. Have you seen more progress in the running game then we saw tonight?

"Yeah, yeah. The other night we ran the ball pretty well. Again, you can't play well one Saturday and not as well the next so there's another lesson of consistency there. Yeah, the defense I thought – and to be honest with you, they should. There's more veterans over there, more guys with game experience. I think defense always, to some degree, gets always a little ahead of the offense and it's been like that forever but we need to catch up offensively pretty fast."

You mentioned the vision of the backs you want improved but offensive line-wise, can you think of anything that's kind of keeping them from turning a corner?

"No, I don't think you can pinpoint anything particular. You've got to play with good leverage, you've got to be positive with your footwork, your hips have got to get down the field, and you've got to face blocks. I mean, it sounds easy but when you've got a defense that- we move a lot, we blitz a lot, it puts a little more pressure on them."

You mentioned on Sunday your primary depth chart at running back at that point without [Justice] Hayes. How's he been doing out there or how'd he do this week?

"Well, I think he's had a good week. Again, I don't know if any of them tonight in my opinion – again, this is without watching the tape but I think we've got to keep improving there and keep seeing things a little better."

You have two weeks to go. Your level of concern with the offensive line and the running game?

"Well, let me say this. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned about all of our football team. You know, that's just being a coach. Do we need to improve still? There's no question about it. I think the running game, like I said, the other day we ran the ball pretty well."

[After THE JUMP: evaluations of the running backs, secondary, and more, and all the Jabrill Peppers talk that’s probably the reason you’re reading this in the first place]

Jabrill – he played a pretty active role today. Is he moving into more of a starting role at corner?

"Well, the evidence for making decisions is on the film. It's evidence-based decisions based on the film, based on production. He's done very well. He'll learn some things today, in some man coverage which I think you saw. Again, we're competing and he's done a nice job.

If Jabrill is at corner than who's your guy at nickel and what about Jeremy Clark? Looked like he was out there first.

"Jeremy Clark's really had a good fall camp, you know, really excited about his progress. Delano's [Hill] out there with a vest on for no contact and he did some of the [inaudible]. AJ Pearson, I think, has really improved. What was the first part of it?"


"Well, what we'll do is slide him in to nickel."

What were you looking for out of Mason Cole? He appeared to hold his own tonight. Your take on his performance.

"He didn't have one penalty. He didn't have one hold. He lines up against a pretty good guy when Frank's [Clark] on that side, a guy that can get off the ball and torture you a little bit. He just is very consistent and to be honest with you, I think sometimes that's the least of our worries when you look at it."

How serious is [the injury to] Kalis, and Glasgow looked like he had an ankle, right ankle problem...

"He got out there and they taped it so I can't tell you. Kalis should be back Monday."

And that's [his] back?

"He'll be back Monday."

But it is his back?


Can you talk about vision in the backend and can you talk about Devin and what he was seeing, can you elaborate on that a little bit and whether to be concerned…

"Devin, I thought, did a pretty good job. I'm talking about running backs..."

Yeah, running backs.

"I thought Devin probably had two bad plays that stick out in my mind a little bit and a bunch of plays where I think he was very efficient with what he was trying to get done. One of them, I thought, getting rid of the ball and trying to, you know, make something happen because you have the confidence you can but it's never going to be there for you. I thought that was some good discipline. I thought overall he played solid. Did he play great, good enough? Probably not. You can say the same thing for Shane [Morris]."

Moe Ways seemed to play pretty well under the lights tonight. Talk about him a little bit and also the receiving corps as a whole.

"Well, I think this was one of the better days that Moe's had. He's got some talent obviously, he's a big receiver. I think overall this receiver group, I think a couple of them got tired because they run a lot. And that's one thing we've tried to cut back on but when you scrimmage and you go 100-some plays and they're out there 8-10 plays in a row they get a little tired and that's something we've got to get through that."

A lot of two tight end sets today, I think more than we've seen in the past. Are you trying things that like to try and get the offensive line and the blockers a little more help?

"Well, it's part of what we like. It's solo personnel, we call it, and getting into three tight ends and when you have an H-[back] or two tight ends with an H-[back]. I think you'll see a lot of that from us."

Talk about Will Hagerup. Looked excellent tonight. Couple really big kicks. How are you feeling about him coming back after missing last season?

"Well, I think number one, Will kicked very well tonight, punted very well tonight and we needed to because I just told all three of them before we went onto the field that I was disappointed in the week they had so it was good to see that."

On the defensive line with Mo Hurst and Willie Henry, we saw them in the backfield a lot tonight. Is that how it's been since camp started?

"Well, I think [Ryan] Glasgow, Henry, Hurst, [Chris] Wormley, [Matt] Godin, [Bryan] Mone, they've all been pretty active in there. It's a good problem we have right now but again, I think I mentioned this the other day, I'm interested to see the tape and see if there's some separation and see who played that well."

Is Ty Isaac hurt? Did he play today?

"He did not play today. He had a little stinger. He'll be back Monday."

Defensively, do you guys feel like you're where you should be? Are you excited about this? A lot of blitzing, a lot of pressure, is this where you want to be at this point?

"Well, I think we want to be- a lot of blitzing, yes. Want to have a lot of pressure. Want to be able to play better coverage with it. I think we still have a real long way to go. When you talk about the front I really below  we want to see somebody separate. Who's the guy you're going to count on? I felt Frank [Clark] a little bit tonight but like I told him, this is the first scrimmage where I've felt him. Having some consistency. We've got a chance to be good on that side of the ball but we've got, still, some issues we've got to work out."

With the wide receivers and cornerbacks or defensive backs, just looking at position groups, Darboh looked pretty good, DaMario Jones had a couple nice catches and then Brandon Watson, Jourdan Lewis, they looked sharp at times too. Could you just talk about overall what you saw from those positions?

"You know, I think you probably saw more of what they did than I did because my eyes tend to go towards the center of the offensive line to watch the defensive line, I'll be honest with you. I think DaMario made some good plays, had some good balls and at the same time he had some things he can do better. I think [Devin] Funch[ess] we're obviously very excited about, I think Darboh's had a good fall camp, I think Jehu's [Chesson] had a good fall camp. From the secondary perspective I think the safeties are, I think, really improving. I think the competition at cornerback with Ray [Taylor] and Blake [Countess] and [Channing] Stribling and Peppers- that's real and it's good."

You said, generally speaking, that you want someone to separate, it sounds like, pretty much everywhere. When do you want to have a starting lineup in pen and right now what's your hierarchy at running back? Is Derrick Green #1 now?

"Well, I think going into it Derrick was #1, yes. I think #1a, obviously, was DeVeon [Smith]. I think Drake [Johnson]...Drake can help us a bunch and Justice [Hayes] caught the ball today out of the backfield and I'll tell you there was a cavity blitz and he stepped up and took on a linebacker and really did a great job so they all have their positives. Yes, you want somebody. By when? Probably Wednesday or Thursday of this week we'd like to be pretty settled."


turd ferguson

August 17th, 2014 at 6:10 PM ^

For Hoke, I think most of this is just about mentioning guys who are working hard and playing well (and pushing the guys who aren't).  AJ Pearson?  The depth chart changes so much from one presser to the next - and the guys who are talked about are so varied and broad - that I'm not sure there's much information here.

Also, why are we sighing at the prospect of two-TE sets?


turd ferguson

August 17th, 2014 at 6:34 PM ^

That's reasonable.  I guess I'm thinking about the world after Butt's return... and one in which we might be desperate for all of the blocking help we can get.  (And it's not like no one in football is having success with two TEs right now.)

As for our WRs, I'm convinced that Funchess is awesome now and that the WR corps will be awesome in the years to come.  Those guys are really young, though, with very little game experience.  I'm wondering if people are overrating our current WR corps a bit because of what we think these guys will be in a couple of years.

Still, the WRs are a lot closer to being awesome than the TEs are, so I'm with you.


August 17th, 2014 at 7:12 PM ^

well butt has been the only TE whos demonstrated in game situations to be even remotely competent blocker.  now maybe heitzman or williams or hill or shallman or bunting will impress this year or improved greatly - but chances are slim these guys develop into beasts at LOS in one offseason.  and with 5 OL question marks already out there, why add another 2-3 below average blockers at point of attack when its unnecessary?  they can roll out 3-4 WR sets and limit the 12s and 13s, in many cases that spreads the field and limits #s in box on D.  8 below average blockers at LOS is much worse than 5 in most situations (if theyre really as marginal as theyve demonstrated in past).  

hoke cannot simply shape his team into stanford or bama with domination at LOS through his sheer continue to line up aj williams and guys like that against stacked boxes vs spacing the field, it just does not make much sense.  now im all for 12 and 13 personnel if the guys can execute... but if they cant, wheres the benefit (other than trying to satisfy hokes "toughness" identity) ?

nuss has shown he likes using TEs and HBs to get the angles and looks he wants, but only if those guys are competent and can do their jobs properly.  i dont think hell force anything longer than he has to to satisfy hokes manball desire - if heavy sets are not working early in games, i think hell spread things out more and just roll with what works (though im sure every tuesday theyll be right back with multiple TEs again)


August 18th, 2014 at 9:57 AM ^

TEs have more to gain from full-contact game simulations.  While it's not ideal, everything a slot receiver does can be drilled in pieces since they're not involved in the linemen's brawl.  You can run routes on an empty field FFS.  IZ can only be repped as a group.

If you've full squad reps to give, get your TEs involved.  Especially if they need the practice, which all available evidence indicates they do.


August 17th, 2014 at 7:49 PM ^

There are a couple ways to jump start your running game: adding blockers, or pulling defenders away by spreading the field. If your extra blockers are better than the defenders, it probably makes more sense to add them in, but as others have pointed out, that's not the case. More guys at the point of attack also means more defenders too, and it only takes one screw up to kill the play, so you've effectively increased your chances of something going wrong.

Borges often went into a shell and added the extra blockers even though it was obvious adding more subpar blockers wasn't helping... we got 27 for 27, people got rightfully angry and frustrated. One of the big hopes was Nuss would come in and be more in tune with the strengths and weaknesses of our personnel and be less insistent on lining up heavy. I'm not going to jump to conclusions yet, but it's still kind of discouraging to hear Brady try to dictate that style of play out of principle.

turd ferguson

August 17th, 2014 at 9:59 PM ^

Yeah, I hear you, but that feels like a partial solution to me.  There would be teams - the MSUs of the world - that look at that and say, "Okay, spread us out all you want, but we're coming after your asses."  At that point we have a questionable O-line, a QB with a shaky record with decision-making (who would then have to do something very quickly), a bunch of inexperienced WRs, and young RBs who are very unproven as blockers.  I'm not sure that I like the "a lot of that from us" thing from Hoke (about 2 TEs) - if that's to be believed - but if he thinks he has a non-Butt tight end who can do something, it'd be really nice to have that in the arsenal.  

Just to reiterate, too, I'm not much more sold on our 3rd/4th/5th WRs than our 2nd/3rd TEs (once Butt gets back) for this particular season.  I feel like we don't know much about either yet.  My fingers are crossed - hard - that Williams figured out that blocking thing that he was supposed to be so good at or that Bunting is a surprisingly good blocker.  We'll see.  At the same time, while I think the Canteen/Ways/Harris trio is going to be awesome, I'm not sure we can realistically expect that to start in 2014.  I haven't seen enough from Chesson, Jones, Dukes, or Norfleet (or Darboh, for that matter), either, to feel like we have really good, dependable options there right now.  Just a lot of unknowns in my mind.

But, in general, I honestly don't think I disagree with you.


August 17th, 2014 at 10:20 PM ^

The MSUs of the world are going to be single, man coverage on whatever number of receivers you use. They're coming either way, with 2 TE sets, they're just coming with more guys. Like I said, if your extra guys can block their extra guys great. If not, you're just giving yourself more chances to fail. On the other hand, if you're able to hit a few (gasp) bubble screens and slants, you might be able to back them off a little bit. There's no guarantee we can do that, sometimes the other guy just has your number either way, but on the other hand, we did the 2 TE set thing a plenty, including using an extra tackle, and it really wasn't successful.

Ron Utah

August 17th, 2014 at 11:42 PM ^

When your base play is IZ, using two TEs allows you to flip which side of the field you run to based on how the defense lines up.  Furthermore, you can motion the H to the strong side to add an extra blocker, run counter, OZ, and play action out of this look while equally threatening both sides of the field.

If you're a "spread" zealot, the two TE set accomplished a lot of the same things: it spreads the defense horizontally and forces them to make pre-snap alignment choices that allow you take advantage of what they're giving you.  You don't need exceptional TEs for this to be effective.

When we actually line-up for App. State and beyond, you'll see a much greater diversity of plays coming from these sets, and you'll see extended hand-offs, play action, and RB patterns that are set-up for success.

Nussmeier knows what he's doing.  I can't promise the O-Line is going to block well, but our formations and sets and tempo will put us in a position to succeed this season.  The question mark will be whether or not we have the talent and player development to get it done.


August 18th, 2014 at 11:31 AM ^

It can HELP a young line, but not necessarily by covering weaknesses.  Reducing the plays and formations the D can run without incurring serious risk of penalty or a miscommunication is an advantage, but it has nothing to do with experience.  Besides, if you have a gooey-soft O-line then up-tempo can mean you're just kicked off the field faster because the D's "base" play for the game might just repeatedly attack your biggest weakness (e.g., double A-gap blitz).  Up-tempo doesn't turn a bad offense into a good one; it makes a good offense more difficult to deal with.  Indiana's offense wasn't good because it was fast; it was fast because it was good.

The main benefit of an up-tempo offense for an inexperienced line is more reps.  If they play up-tempo then they practice up-tempo.


August 17th, 2014 at 6:16 PM ^

I really hope they can at least be average this season. I would absolutely hate for this position group to be the reason coach Hoke is let go. He is damn good coach and a better man. He has elite coordinators coupled with borderline elite talent at every position on the team. I want him to be successful at Michigan so bad.


August 17th, 2014 at 7:17 PM ^

It's a pipe dream but imagine Harbaugh, Mattison, and Nussmeier as our HC, DC, and OC next season. If we let Hoke go and don't get a definitive upgrade I agree it may jeopardize next season. Then again we got an 11-2 season in 2011 which was unexpected.

I don't think Hoke is let to with a 7-5 record or better though if it is 7-5 I'm not sure I personally would support another season not would it be deserved though there may not be better options.


August 17th, 2014 at 8:31 PM ^

Trust me I'm not hoping for failure. I am frustrated with the direction so far but if we can show positive momentum this year I will be extremely pleased and excited. I am tired of transitions but when you are paid the money that Hoke and this staff are paid I personally expect better results than we have gotten to date.

Let's see though what happens in the next couple of months.

Sten Carlson

August 17th, 2014 at 8:57 PM ^

You're "tired of transitions" but you're hinting (not so subtly) in here all the time that you think ANOTHER transition may be needed. 

The amount of money they're paid is not really relevant to the issue at hand. 

What is, however, is where Michigan was (in reality, not in the limited scope and vision of fans) when Hoke took over the program.  If you continually look at those numbers, everything that is going on right now could easily have been predicted by a realistic observer.  You "expect better results" because you, like many others, refuse to take into account the roster issues the seed of which were sown under Carr, bore rotten fruit under RR, and it is only recently that things have been shored up.  You call them, "excuses" and in doing so show that you really don't understand what it takes to create and maintain CFB success.

Funny that you profess to not want transition nor failure, yet everything you write seems to point to that fact. 

Brandon is NEVER going to fire Hoke, never ever.  Why?  Because Brandon knows, better than anyone, where things were when Hoke was hired and how big the mountain was he needed to climb.


August 18th, 2014 at 1:39 AM ^

Sten Carlson:

I think it's foolhardy to say Brandon is "never going to fire Hoke, never ever." There are many win-loss scenarios over the next couple of years that if they were to happen Brandon would be a fool to keep the current staff. For example, if we go 6-6 both of the next two years I would hope both you and Brandon were in favor of a new direction. I do not think it likely that we are going to do that badly both of these next two years but did want to give a hypothetical example where, yes, I would emphatically be in favor of a transition despite not wanting to have to go through another one.

However, if we go 8-4 both of the next two years I personally think we are in a murkier situation. At that point, if there is a better head coaching candidate out there I'd be in favor of going after that person and making a change. If there is not a better option then we should keep Hoke despite not getting superior results in that hypothetical situation.

You and I disagree that money doesn't play a part in this. Hoke and his staff are getting elite compensation but we are not getting elite results. Personally, this discrepancy causes me much frustration and makes it more likely to be critical of the coaching staff if we are not getting the results we'd all like. I'm especially critical when it appears Hoke is being stubborn and forcing us to run the offense a certain way even if the players aren't ready for it yet.

I do like Hoke as a person and want him to succeed because this means the program is in a good place. I'm skeptical right now given the trend line but am hoping for noticeable progress this year which I define as crushing inferior competition, winning our fair share against teams that are as good as us or on a similar level, and hanging with elite teams and not getting blown off he field. I agree we should be patient but if we are not competing for a Big Ten Title next year, Hoke's fifth year, then a change of some sort may have to occur. I'm not sure how this is a radical or unfair position.

Sten Carlson

August 18th, 2014 at 3:05 AM ^

Brandon will never fire Hoke because a) DB knows why Michigan has been struggling (it ain't Hoke); b) because after this season it's going to be obvious that Hoke is the right guy; and c) this year Michigan will once again contend annually for the Big10 and NC.

DB knows better than anyone what went on, what is going on, and where the program is heading. He's not going to get impatient like you guys who refuse to take a good hard look at where we were.

So, it's not foolhardy at all. It just took some time which thankfully our AD has the patience to give Coach Hoke. If many of you had it your way we'd be on the coaching revolving door looking for the next Bo, always pining for glory days and never being willing to say that depth is the real issue, not whether or not our coach wears a fucking headset or not.

You're skeptical due to a trend line but never accept/address the causes of that sloping line. Everything is obvious if you look in the right place. I've said it over and over, as have many others. It's still not fixed on the OL, but Team 135's defense will show everyone what Hoke can do with a deep and talented roster. That line was ALWAYS going to decline, and anyone that didn't expect it wasn't doing their due diligence in looking into the true causes of the decline.


August 17th, 2014 at 8:47 PM ^

I don't see Harbaugh coming either. He's in the NFL, he brought a team to the Super Bowl and I don't see him leaving until he wins one.

Mattison is probably gone if Hoke is fired.

Nussmeier could stay, but I think it's unlikely. A new coach is probably going to want to bring in his own OC. Although there's a tiny chance that Nussmeier is promoted to head coach, but I think the odds are low. Also, if Hoke is fired, offensive performance is almost certainly the biggest factor.

Barring a complete collapse, in my opinion Brandon should keep Hoke around for a fifth year. A big part of the reason that Michigan has struggled last year and to a lesser extent in 2012 is the lack of quality seniors recruited in the Rodriguez era. Hoke has done a good job rectifying that. A big part of the issue we've had on the offensive line is all the young guys we've had to play because Rodriguez didn't recruit for the OL. The senior and fifth-year senior OL that you would normally expect to see in the program just aren't there.


August 18th, 2014 at 7:45 AM ^

Also you are right, next year may be better but it's with or without Harbaugh because the team will be a year older and not lose a lot. Morris looked very capable in the scrimagge and with another year, should be ready to take over for Gardner. There are replacements in place at all positions now.

What you would do is risk the possiblity of blowing up the 2015 and 2016 recruiting classes and putting yourself in line for another hole like we are recovering from now. It may not be as severe because many are coming here for Michigan but you will lose players because part of it is Hoke, Mattison and Nussmeier also. There is no way Harbaugh leaves Mattison and Nussmeier in place. He has his own people so your whole argument is a pipe dream.


August 17th, 2014 at 6:18 PM ^

Are we going to see a lot of 2 TE sets when our healthy TE's have like one college football catch between them? I know the OL needs some help to run the ball, but we had no success running when we went jumbo last year so why would this year be any different

This sounds a lot more like a Hoke call than a Nussmeier call, and if that is the case we are even more screwed on offense than I originally thought.

turd ferguson

August 17th, 2014 at 6:45 PM ^

Both here and on UMHoops, your posts are so consistently negative and miserable-sounding.  You're obviously entitled to your opinion (and tone), but it's hard for me to imagine that sports bring you much enjoyment.  Maybe try to relax a little with some of these posts?  Or at least wait until the team gives you a reason for misery?