Spring Practice Presser Transcript 3-14-13: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on March 14th, 2013 at 6:17 PM


  • TE Nate Allspach, S Drew Offerdahl, and DL Kenny Wilkins have left the team.
  • Everyone who was injured last season (Blake Countess, Chris Wormley, Fitz Toussaint, Chris Bryant) will participate in spring practice in some capacity. Wormley seems pretty far along and may be able to do everything. Fitz is recovering faster than expected.  
  • Will Hagerup is still suspended.
  • Manball is still happening, even with Devin at QB.
  • Interior linebackers will be expected to practice at both positions. Earlier I tweeted that Desmond Morgan will switch to MIKE and Joe Bolden will switch to WILL. Ignore that for now -- they'll be doing both.

Brady Hoke

Opening remarks:

“It’s exciting. I like how we worked during the winter and the winter conditioning and that phase of it. Excited for Saturday to get started. Spring ball’s for a lot of different things. You find out your competitiveness. You find out the guys -- who’s made the biggest improvements since fall and winter. [We’re excited to] have a great competition positionally on offense and defense. And just excited. Really, we all like how we’ve come to work every day and what the guys have done from a genetic (?) standpoint and what they’ve done in the weight room with Aaron Wellman. So we’re excited.”

Devin? Leadership?

“I think those are all things that you’ve seen him improve. The leadership, the way he finishes drills, we’re talking about the winter conditioning part of it -- and that’s all the example that you want him to show to his teammates. I like how he’s handled himself. I like how he’s -- the right word probably is ‘matured.’ His seriousness about being a quarterback at Michigan.”

What does his medical redshirt do for him and the program? Does it feel as if a burden been removed?

“You know, I don’t know if in conversation with him -- I think we were all anticipating what would happen. We all from our standpoint thought it would happen. You never know how those things can turn, but I think it obviously is an opportunity for him to play and be at Michigan another year and keep elevating his game, from intelligence of playing a position to again getting back to the leadership -- I think he feels very good about it.”

Are we going to see more of an offensive philosophy change? Will there be more passing?

“I think the play-action off the run game is going to be a big part of it. We’re not going to one-back sets and three-wides and four-wides and just start out throwing the football. That’s not who we’re going to be. We certainly get into the season, there’s game plans and those kinds of things, but when you look at what we are and what we want to be with two-back sets and being able to run the football and those things, that’s all part of it.”

What do you expect to learn about your run game?

“We have a lot of young guys up front who are going to have great opportunities to prove what they can do at the line of scrimmage. I think having Taylor [Lewan] back and Mike [Schofield] back gives you two solid guys at the tackle position. You have tight ends that are going to be a big part of it. A.J. Williams and his improvement, and [Devin] Funchess, and Jake Butt is a guy who’s been here since January. Running the football is something that we’re going to stress, and stopping the run on the other side of the ball. I think there’s a lot of young youth that’s going to get a lot of opportunity.”

What kind of boon is it to have Taylor back? How has he embraced his last spring here?

“Any guy who goes through four springs and five camps, however you want to count it -- those things are all part of it from what I can tell from the coaches’ stations. Through the winter, I think he has really done a tremendous job in leading by example and how he’s gone through drills and the competitiveness that you want to have and all those things. Having a guy that has that -- who’s at that level from a talent standpoint, he’s done a tremendous job of trying to improve fundamentals and technique. It’s real important to him.”

What are you looking for at running back?

“Well, [I’m looking for] improvements that Justice Hayes needs to have, and Thomas Rawls needs to have. You look at Dennis Norfleet, who we’ve moved back there. I think Drake Johnson is a guy who at the end of the fall and bowl practice, we liked a lot what he did.”

What did you like about him?

“Big. Ends up going downhill. Can break tackles. Has a level of fire in his play. Has an enthusiasm for it.”

Three players who are no longer on the team? Any comment?

“They’ve all made their decisions.”

Will Hagerup?

“Will’s still suspended right now.”

Will that go through all of spring?


Is the running game something that you know won’t be decided until fall because of Derrick Green?

“Well I think Fitz is a lot further along than any of us thought he would be. Doesn’t mean we’re going to put him in there and do a lot of stuff with him, but he’s really ahead of schedule. He’s done a nice job. I think the run game, depends what we do up front, no matter who’s back there. Gale Sayers could be back there and if we don’t block the line of scrimmage, we’ll have problems. We’ll get a lot of work done with how we want to play up front in the spring.”

Will Eric Magnuson be moving inside on the offensive line?

“No. Not right now.”

Where’s Blake Countess in his rehab process?

“He’s coming along. I think all those guys -- we have 92 guys and no one is limited. I mean, I shouldn’t say that. They’re all going to practice in some part. It might be individual drill parts for some, which they can handle and can add a lot of value, the non-contact aspects of it. But we may keep some guys out of some of the contact.”

Will Blake do any of the contact stuff?

“No. But he, again, all those guys, Wormley, Blake, they’ve all done really well. And Wormley will be -- he’ll be doing everything.”

Chris Bryant?

“Not yet. Not doing everything.”

But he’ll do some stuff?


Do you anticipate them being able to do more by the end of spring?

“Possibly. But at the same time I might decide Fitz has played a lot of downs. And Blake, for a young guy, has played a number of downs. They’re both intelligent football players, so how many looks do they need to get? That would kind of be my call.”

What are the chances we’ll see a full game?

“I’d love to do it. We’ll see how it goes, because I’d like the seniors to draft and have some fun with it and really make it hotdogs and steaks and all that kind of stuff. And have a lot of competitiveness. But you never know. Believe me, we’re getting more depth and I think more quality, so when we can get there I want to do it.”

How far away is this program from being where you want it to be?

“I don’t know if it’ll ever be where we want it to be. That’s just the high standards that we have because it encompasses everything, from academics and social and those things that 18-23 year olds get involved with. The competitiveness and how you win games and those kinds of things.”

How will you replace Jordan Kovacs?

“I think Thomas Gordon will play a lot of that. They were a good tandem back there. Both smart guys. Both guys did a nice job communicating. Thomas, I’m sure, will take a lead, but Jarrod Wilson played a number of plays. We’ve got Allen Gant, we’ve got Marvin Robinson, we’ve got Jeremy Clark, all guys that need to get reps, need to get out there, need to get comfortable. We have some young guys who came in in January, Dymonte [Thomas] and Ross Douglas. Where they’ll fit in? We’ll find out. I think the question about who’s going to be the bell cow will most likely be Thomas [Gordon]. We’ll look to him and I guess Courtney Avery as the two guys on the back end.”

Versatility in your linebacking unit?

“I think we probably have more versatility on the inside. Desmond Morgan will play some MIKE, and [James] Ross will play a little bit more at WILL, and put them on the field at the same time. At the same time, what we’ll do a little different than we have before, is they better know both positions because it makes them so you can slide guys in so you always have your best 11. Jake [Ryan] and Cam [Gordon] -- Cam’s had a tremendous winter. It will be exciting and fun to see the different things that we might be able to do with both of them on the field. Jake is one of those guys with his hand on the ground can rush the passer sometimes. It gives us some things that we can do.”

Can Jake and Cam be on the field at the same time?

“Can be.”

How would that work?

“You would have one in the inside and one as a pass rusher.”

Have you looked at any position changes at linebacker?

“Well, yeah. That’s one thing that we’re -- he’s going to learn the MIKE. Joe Bolden’s going to learn some of the WILL. He’ll know the MIKE also, so they’ll do both.”

Ideally, how many linebackers do you want to have in the rotation?

“I think for that position, probably if you had four that you could rotate through, and if they were all quality, that would be great. We rotated tons at San Diego State. We rotated every four plays. We’re getting a little bit more to where we can do that a little bit more. The biggest difference here is we’re still not at the point where [we have] the quality that you want or don’t know yet because of some of the young guys who are going to be a big part of it [aren’t ready yet].”

Is the rotation system a tough thing to sell to linebackers?

“I think it depends. I don’t know if selling is what I would call it, but it’s something that you get in different packages and nickels and dimes, and that’s always a part of it.”

What have you seen out of your redshirt freshmen defensive linemen?

“Ondre [Pipkins] played, but he’s one of the guys -- and [Mario] Ojemudia played. Both of them improved from a physical standpoint from the movement and the body and body fat test and all that stuff. Those have been good improvements. The other four guys have done a nice job. Chris got hurt early in camp, but watching him move around, we’re really excited to see what he can do. Willie Henry, his body has changed. It’s always the same with freshmen. There’s very few times the maturity that could talk about during the season. They’re going to hit the wall some time. Now they’re better equipped because they’ve been through a winter conditioning. They’ve been through a season, a summer, and the pressure of academics and all that. But I think Strobel and Godin have both made body improvements weight-wise, again, the leanness that you’re looking for.”

Have you seen any of the guys out for Pro Day?

“I really haven’t, to be honest with you. I looked over the balcony a little bit, but for me, there’s other things that we need to get going on. Saw them out before they got started this morning. I think they’ll all compete like heck.”

How do you handle Devin's backups this spring? Are you leaning towards redshirting Shane Morris?

“Oh, he’s going to compete. I don’t lean anywhere with anybody. We feel pretty good about Russell Bellomy. I think at times he’s the lost man in this whole conversation, but Russell Bellomy, you look at what he’s done through the winter and what he looks like. He’s a competitive guy. Obviously we thought he was a pretty good quarterback or we wouldn’t have gone down to Texas and recruited him. We’re excited about him. Devin and him, they’ll compete. Don’t assume that this is ‘here you go.’ They have to compete.”

So we can’t assume Devin’s the starting QB?

“I would never assume anything. Because you know what that does to you.”

But logically …

“At the end of the year he was the guy who was first, right?”


“So. Quinton Washington ended the year as the guy who was first, but he’s going to compete with Ondre Pipkins.”


Blue in Seattle

March 14th, 2013 at 7:38 PM ^

Hoke isn't saying Michigan will be one dimensional.  He's saying Michigan will be run first, pass off play action.  This is the first time we get to see his talent run what he has always planned to run.

If you think about the Rich Rodriguez offense, it also was a run first offense.  The only reason to throw a bubble screen was because the defense will eventually cheat in the safety or OLBs.

Hoke's run first is in the complexity of blocking to gain the man to man advantage, not the decision of the QB to run or hand off.  But both offenses want to run until the defense cheats people in, and then throw.

There is less risk in running versus passing, so most teams adopt a run first mentality.  The NFL is where run first has become the lesser tried approach, and when the pundits say "the spread won't work in the NFL" they should actually be saying "the read option run" because almost every NFL team that passes first also spreads the field.

Considering the NFL is presently all about the mega god Tight End, and so is Michigan is what makes me excited about the offense next season.


March 14th, 2013 at 7:12 PM ^

I don't get the gulp either.  ohio has been pretty good for a long time with a very unimaginative offense.  Michigan won the 1997 National Championship with an offense that just did enough.  OP already covered Alabama.  DEFENSE wins championships and I believe that the staff we have is going to build something that makes this happen!



March 14th, 2013 at 9:12 PM ^

The gulp is for the 2006 season Rose Bowl against USC, for an example.  

Both teams wanted to run in the first half, but neither could.  The halftime score was 3-3.  

USC adjusted in the second half and came out throwing.  Michigan kept obstinately trying to run.  Game over.  USC in a blowout.

We are very afraid of going back to that.  We saw glimpses of that this season when we kept trying to run Vince Smith into a stacked line that we had already proven we could not block.

Please don't be DeBord.  Please don't be DeBord.  Please don't be DeBord.



March 14th, 2013 at 10:31 PM ^

there was a Head Coach involved with the decision process, and Henne was no slouch when it came to passing.  I'm also pretty sure Carr had as much to blame for that conservative offense as anybody.  As was mentioned previously, during his 12 years as HC, the offense was fairly vanilla no matter the OC.  The exception being his last game when he said " ***k it let's do what it takes to win.


March 14th, 2013 at 11:17 PM ^

Alabama cheats to amass NFL draft picks at every position.  Until they are stopped, everybody else is just competing for people Alabama doesn't want.  Some diversity is going to be necessary in the offense to compete in this era.  

I just hope it doesn't take five consecutive ass-whippings from Urban Meyer to change the mentality among a too-large part of the donor base that "the spread doesn't work in the Big Ten."


March 14th, 2013 at 6:57 PM ^

How do you handle Devin's backups this spring? Are you leaning towards redshirting Shane Morris?

“Oh, he’s going to compete. I don’t lean anywhere with anybody. We feel pretty good about Russell Bellomy. I think at times he’s the lost man in this whole conversation, but Russell Bellomy, you look at what he’s done through the winter and what he looks like. He’s a competitive guy. Obviously we thought he was a pretty good quarterback or we wouldn’t have gone down to Texas and recruited him. We’re excited about him. Devin and him, they’ll compete. Don’t assume that this is ‘here you go.’ They have to compete.”

So we can’t assume Devin’s the starting QB?

“I would never assume anything. Because you know what that does to you.”


Love this whole section.  Every man needs to earn his spot (though the coach speak got the best of him, I'm pretty sure at the very least he could have said "Yea, Devin's our starter going into camp").  Happy with Shane's enthusiasm and recruiting efforst, and it seems like Shane has a good head on his shoulders; he knows he's not going to be given anything, he'll have to earn it. 

Go Blue.


March 14th, 2013 at 7:14 PM ^

Michigan employed "MANBALL" in the distant past (DeBordian era) with very mixed results and a lot of predictable run-run-pass-punt stuff.  In the recent past, Michigan didn't have a very  flamboyant rushing attack out of the I formation.

Personally, I think it's stupid to put Vince Young, I mean Devin Gardner, under center so much, but whatever.

I think Michigan's in a different place now with the OL and DL talent they have, and the coaching going on in the trenches with Mattison, Hoke and Funk.  

It would be cool if Borges' playcalling mutates a bit in 2013 aturning Devin Gardner into John Charles version 2.0.


Blue in Seattle

March 14th, 2013 at 7:57 PM ^

That Debord was the OC for the 1997 National Championship season?

When Debord came back, things got predictable and boring, but I think a lot of that was on Carr as well as Debord.

Actually looking up the OC's during the Lloyd Carr tenure you have,

Fred Jackson 1995-1996

Mike Debord 1997-1999

Stan Parrish 2000-2001

Terry Malone 2002-2005

Mike Debord 2006-2007

And through all of that was Lloyd Carr.  I think too much blame goes on the OC when the offense fails.  The OC does come up with the play sets, and sends calls in, but the Head Coach really dictates the overall plan and strategy (players recruited), and the OC has to work within that.  I remember quotes from Hoke that he told Al Borges to simplify everything for the MSU game this past season.  The offense was pretty boring that game, but certainly had fewer interceptions than the previous games Al had Denard winging it around.

Incidentally, Greg Mattison started his DC stint in 1995-1996 in parallel with Fred.  The offenses those two years weren't that consistant or exciting.  Except when Biakabutuka went run crasy against Ohio in 1995, but what else could you expect from Fred?

I think Greg and Al is a much more exciting combo than Greg and Fred as coordinators.


I dont' think Hoke is a boring coach overall.  Many times he and Greg have said the job of the offense is to keep the defense off the field.  Hoke, unlike Carr, takes a risk, and doesn't like to hold ground and hope the defense gets the ball back.

And I'm pretty sure everyone thought it was pretty exciting watching Denard run the ball.  So very confused on why no one wants Hoke to run the ball?


March 14th, 2013 at 9:45 PM ^

First off, the 1997 offense wouldn't come close to cutting it by today's football standards.

Second, Hoke can run the ball all day and night, as long as it works. When we face Meyer and Ohio State, or the SEC in a bowl game, we'd better have creative offensive gameplans for when the load the box and take the run away. It's much, much harder to stop the pass (3, 4 WR sets) when it's clicking.


March 14th, 2013 at 11:00 PM ^

to stop the pass when you have great receivers who can get open. It is not hard to stop the pass when you dont have that. SEC teams wished Alabama would spread it out and throw it because that is not what their talent is designed to do. That is how they lost to A&M by going away from the run. We are not Alabama but our talent on offense is clearly designed for a run first gameplan. That does not mean we will never throw the ball. We are not about to become Wisconsin..but the idea is we want teams to load the box and try to take away the run to get Funchess and Butt running open on play action. You would rather we drop back and wait for Gallon and Dileo to get open?


March 15th, 2013 at 8:43 AM ^

But isn't that sort of an indictment of Hoke's recruiting for WRs?  South Carolina's receivers were almost all tiny, but fast enough to get open.  Shouldn't Michigan try to recruit at least one Gallon a year?  Are guys like that so difficult to recruit?

I love that Hoke wants to establish a non-QB running game, but I think his (or his staff's) focus on 6'5" wide outs might hurt the team's passing options for now, or at least until Michigan can recruit guys who are  guys who are fast AND tall.


March 15th, 2013 at 8:50 AM ^

Parrish was OC in 2000 and 2001. In 2000, we scored 404 points in 12 games, which is the second highest season point total a Carr team ever had. If our defense didn't give up the lead late on the road against Drew Brees and Purdue, and if Anthony Thomas doesn't inexplicably commit an unforced fumble as he's running for what appeared to be a game-clinching TD at Northwestern, we would have been undefeated in the Big Ten and playing in the Rose Bowl.

The only Carr team to score more was the 2003 squad which scored 460 in 13 games.

In 2001, Parrish was handicapped by the unexpected departure of Henson, and John Navarre had to pretty much learn on the job.

I will give you that Parrish has one of the worst records ever as a head coach, but bagging on him for his time as OC at Michigan isn't justified by the record.


March 15th, 2013 at 6:57 AM ^

Anyone wishing that Debord had really opened up the offense in 1997 is forgetting that the offense was not designed for (nor did it have the players for) a vertical attack.  The OL was fantastic, but beyond that this was not a high-powered offense full of stars.  Griese was an excellent game manager who made few mistakes, but also rarely did anything spectacular and didn't have great arm strength or accuracy.  And beyond Streets and Tuman (and the fact that our TE was basically option 1a is telling), we had very little on offense.  In fact, the reason Woodson got his opportunity on offense, no matter how good he was (and he was freakin' awesome), was because we needed the help.

I'm not gonna claim to be a massive fan of some of our more conservative offenses (and often they could have been much more creative), but it's not always entirely up to the OC.


March 14th, 2013 at 9:28 PM ^

We haven't heard anything about Bellomy since Nebraska.  It was like he dissappeared.  I think that the kid can be a decent backup and that would be nice.  It would make it easier to preserve Shane's redshirt.


March 14th, 2013 at 8:04 PM ^

AFAIK Mike Jones is still on the team. Of note:

* He is the only member of RichRod's early enrollees from '09 that is still on the team. The others were Tate Forcier, Vincent Smith, Brandin Hawthorne, Anthony LaLota, William Campbell, and Vlad Emilien. The rest ran out of eligibility or left the team.

* He has already been a student at UMich for over four years.

* He made his first tackle on 9/26/2009. Assuming he sticks on the roster and gets some special teams action, he'll wind up playing in parts of five seasons, a la Junior Hemingway and Troy Woolfolk.

* He is a bridge from Kevin Grady (an '05 recruit) to Shane Morris et al. ('13).

He has to be one of the most anonymous 5-year guys in history. Just thought I'd share ...


March 14th, 2013 at 8:34 PM ^

I remember the 1997 season. Michigan's defense won the national title IN SPITE OF DEBORD. 

Debord was so creative he ran about 6 offensive plays all yar

1. QB waggle pass off run action (Griese pass to Tuman for like 30 yards)

2. Play action pass to Tai Streets (downfield fly for 20 yards)

3. Pass to Charles Woodson on downfield post (for TD or at least 30 yards.

4. Play action pass to FB Aaron Shea in shallow flat (for 7 or more yards)

5.  Anthony Thomas, Chris Howard or Clarence Williams 32 or 38 zone right/left.

6. Repeat

That's pretty much it.

27 points per game on avg. Offense never crested 38 pts.

Count down to the "But they didn't have to!" in 3, 2, 1... 


March 14th, 2013 at 9:00 PM ^

Would have been enough to win every game in 1997.  So you could say they over achieved in 1997.  On the other hand, thirteen years later, the offense scores about five points more per game, but would have needed to score at least 66 points each game to ensure an undefeated season.

Exciting time, 2010....I wouldn't trade the perfect 1997 season for any part of the 2010 season.   But that's just me.