Spring Practice Presser Transcript 3-19-13: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on March 20th, 2013 at 11:19 AM


  • Toussaint is in pads. Walking around and stuff. Not doing everything yet but progress looks good.
  • Thomas Gordon is practicing at both safety positions so they can try the other guys out at both positions as well.
  • Blake Countess's redshirt application has not been filed yet, but it will be.
  • Frank Clark is staying at WDE despite gaining a lot of weight. There are no plans to move him to strongside.

Opening remarks:

“It was good to be the first day in pads. I thought we had a lot of enthusiasm like the physicalness that they played with -- really for the last three days, because even with the no-pads they got after each other pretty good. We have a lot of competition, have a lot of young guys that have to go out and compete. And then some of the older guys who have played, obviously, and they have to compete also. Everybody understands that, so it’s been good. I think the leadership’s good. I like the way they’ve handled themselves and handled the team. Like I said before, that stems from the winter into this phase.”

Who are some of the guys who have stepped up?

“Well the guys you would think. Taylor [Lewan], coming back and the statement he’s made and what his goals are. Devin’s done a nice job. Fitz [Toussaint], even though he’s not doing everything we’re doing. He’s done a good job. Drew Dileo is a good guy. I think there’s a handful of guys on offense, handful of guys on defense. Quinton Washington, Jibreel [Black], Thomas Gordon, guys who have played a number of snaps.”

How much special teams can you practice? And Matt Wile is your primary punter right now right?

“Yeah. We do a lot of the fundamentals of the protection. Punt is what we spend the most time with, and most of what we do is for that. They do a lot of kicking in here when we’re not out here doing fundamentals and techniques. We’ll get to punting more live in full group here in the next couple days.”


“We catch punts and all that stuff, but as far as putting a kickoff or return in because there’s something we want to look at, we do a little bit with the punt return, but mostly it’s with the up front and how you want to trail a guy and all those things.”

What has Fitz been doing?

“He’s been running around. He’s doing some individual stuff. Fred has different drills. Cutting drills and those kinds of things. He’s still in that kind of stuff. We’re just not going to be putting him out there in live action yet.”

You’re coaching the defensive line …

“I’ve got the tackle and the nose -- the inside two if you want to call them both tackles. Greg [Mattison]’s got the rush end and the five (technique) … I did the same thing last year. Greg and I -- it’s funny, because we’ve done this together before in 95 and 96. I got the two outside guys, he had the two inside guys. It’s worked out very well.”

Do you feel like the players are ahead of the game this spring in terms of fundamentals and techniques since this is your third year here?

“You’re ahead of the game when it comes to the verbage becaue they’ve been through it enough. I don’t think we’re behind the game in anything, but you’ve got a lot of guys who have redshirted who have been running it off cards. The fundamentals and techniques of holding the blitz or blitzing or combo blocks and that kind of stuff -- that’s always new.”

How much more comfortable is Devin now that he knows he’s not switching positions?

“Oh I think so. I’m proud that he’s really figuring out that being Michigan quarterback is something special. I think his work ethic, his intelligence, and all those things -- I mean, he is a football junkie. He’s done a nice job of wrapping his arms around his responsibility.”

What do you mean by that?

“Oh shoot. He’s constantly texting Al about what the read is on this. He’ll be in tomorrow a couple hours watching practice, making sure he’s doing the right thing and his teammates are.”

How has Russell Bellomy looked?

“Russell’s looked good. In the no-pads, when you don’t have as many collisions as you do on receivers, he’s thrown the ball well.”

He’s put on some weight since last year. Was that by design?

“Yeah. He needed to get a little more lean weight. You know, muscle.”

Does that improve his arm strength at all?

“I don’t know. Russ has never really had a problem with arm strength. Arm strength isn’t the most important thing. It’s completing balls. Accuracy. I don’t think his arm strength’s ever been a problem.”

Did you move Thomas Gordon to strong safety?

“Well he’s played both, to be honest with you. Depends what we wanted to do with Jordan [Kovacs]. Did we want to have him as a down safety most of the time, did we want him over the top in what we’re doing. What we’re doing right now is having him in a dual role because of the young guys -- you’ve got [Jarrod] Wilson, [Allen] Gant, [Jeremy] Clark, [Josh] Furman, Marvin [Robinson] -- you’ve got some numbers there so you need to decide who’s going to be the guys. I think he’s pretty comfortable with either one. I don’t think he has a problem being the down safety or the safety who’s in the middle of the field.”

What are your initial impressions of Dymonte Thomas?

“Well as he keeps learning what he’s doing, he’ll probably play a little faster. I think Dymonte and Ross Douglas back in the back end are competing hard and learning and doing those things.”

Plans for Blake Countess’s redshirt?

“You know what, I don’t know if we’ve put that paperwork in yet. I can’t honestly say that.”

You plan to?

“Oh yeah. No doubt.”

Do you want to finish the spring set on your offensive line?

“I think you would always want to, but I think the summer development will be important. You look at a guy like Kyle Kalis and how much he has leaned down from body fat and how he’s running an dhow he’s doing all those things. I think you’ll see the same thing with Logan [Tuley-Tillman], I think you’ll see the same thing with [Kyle] Bosch. I think it’s something where there’s always going to be those battles and the competition.”

How much film does Devin watch?

“A lot. A lot. I couldn’t tell you, but a lot.”

Does he come in to watch film or watch at home on his laptop?

“Both. He’ll do both. He gets with Al quite a lot.”

How have you seen that translate to the field?

“Probably more confident. Sees things a little better. If you’re reading coverages and two-high safeties, one-high, man alighnments, he’s going to run to the three, away from the three, all those things.”

Can you see that there’s still room for improvement for Taylor Lewan?

“Oh yeah. I think there’s always growth. We’ve got some guys outside -- we do a pass rush drill, a 1-on-1 pass pro, and it’s really a defensive drill. It just is. We’ve got some guys when you look at Frank [Clark] and Brennen Beyer and Jake [Ryan] and [Mario] Ojemudia and Taco [Charlton], some guys who can test him and make him better.”

What specifically can he improve?

“I think balance is always something with guys. Upper body strength, he’ll continue to get stronger. He’s pretty strong, don’t get me wrong, but I think those things, I think balance and not getting your feet too wide or too narrow. I think that’s something always that a tackle -- or the protection schemes, training off a block up to a linebacker.”

Frank Clark put on a lot of weight. What’s the plan for him going forward?

“I would foresee Frank having a big role in our defense. He’s put on a lot of weight, but it’s good weight.”

Is strong side a possibility for him?

“Probably not.”

Running backs?

“It is early. I think Thomas [Rawls] and [Dennis Nor-] Fleet and Justice [Hayes] -- Justice put on weight. He’s a bigger body. And Drake [Johnson]. I think all of those guys can run the ball pretty well. When we get into a scrimmage deal we’ll see a little more.”

When will those happen?

“Why would you ask me that? We’ll do situational stuff this Saturday in conjunction with our clinic. Then obviously the spring game and one of those other Saturdays.”

How are you divvying up the running back reps?

“Right now we’re running three groups because we’ve got three full groups, which is a first. And Fred [Jackson] is taking those first three guys who are out there, and we’re getting them with the ones, with the twos, with the threes. Just trying to run them through. Right now everything’s pretty even.”


Space Coyote

March 20th, 2013 at 11:25 AM ^

Not really surprising to me, though it'll be interesting to see what kind of speed Clark still has. That's a lot of weight to gain to maintain speed and quickness.


March 20th, 2013 at 11:29 AM ^

I'm not saying he'll win it, but I think Marvin Robinson is a viable option at the SS position if they want to keep Gordon at FS.  If they can use him like they used Kovacs - as a fourth linebacker with few deep responsibilities - I think Robinson can do a good job.


March 20th, 2013 at 11:46 AM ^

I think Robinson would have some of the same limitations as Kovacs, for different reasons. Kovacs had a great mind for the game, but despite his impressive pro-day measurables he could be an athletic liability (see SC bowl game). Marvin on the other hand is a great natural athlete, but no way he has the football instincts of Kovacs. I like both of them nearer the line rather that in deep coverage.


March 20th, 2013 at 11:51 AM ^

Regardless of Kovacs's pro day numbers (and some people think some of those times would be slower if timed in the same fashion as they are at the Combine), Kovacs doesn't have great football speed.  He's been outrun numerous times and hasn't made many plays in pass coverage.  If the 4.58 forty is legit, then he just doesn't move that way when wearing football pads.

I've seen Robinson make some good plays in run support and on special teams.  He gets lost in coverage, which is obviously a problem for a safety.  But even if they sub him out against pass-happy teams or on third-and-long situations, I think he can serve a role as a part-time starter.

Blue in Yarmouth

March 20th, 2013 at 12:56 PM ^

Robinson was one of my favorite recruits from his class and I have been waiting for him to be able to make an impact. Not that I am any great football mind or anything, but I was hoping to see Gordon stay at FS and have Robinson take over at strong safety and perhaps have Wilson come in at FS and Gordon slide over for him at SS during obvious passing situations. I guess we'll have to see what happens. 

Space Coyote

March 20th, 2013 at 11:57 AM ^

I do think it's a bit unfortunate for Gordon though, as I think he has the talent as a SS to be a late round pick. The young guys that can play some FS have a bit of a higher ceiling than Robinson too, and I would not be surprised as the season progresses to see Gordon stay on the field and the coaches mix up the packages a bit more (or just flat out put Gordon at SS and someone else at FS against pass spread teams).

Michigan Marshmallow

March 20th, 2013 at 12:18 PM ^

I don't think Bellomy's arm strength is a concern for the role in which they intend him to play. He's never going to complete 40+ yard passes, but I don't think they expect him to. His role (speculation) is to come in if the starter is injuried. He needs to keep the offense moving with short completions, good reads, and effective management. I think that's a key word here. Management. He isn't going to be a superstar. He is a back-up who needs to be able to manage the offense if so called upon.

That said, short passes do require some zip which was definitely not there during the Nebraska game. I think that the coaches must feel that they have seen that zip otherwise his arm strength would be a concern.


March 20th, 2013 at 12:40 PM ^

I find it very hard to believe Bellomy is a complete hack at QB.  He must have something the coaches see in practice.

For the Nebraska game last year ... I feel for Bellomy, I really do -- the kid found himself on stage with the spotlight and he got a bad case of the nerves (along with his receivers not helping him much). 

Several quick points --

  • I think your point about Bellomy's role is spot on ... he'll never be the QB, but he has the potential to be a good backup.
  • My sense is the coaches did the right thing by catching the kid on his confidence fall and worked to get him refocused.
  • My sense is we'll see some decent QB play out of Bellomy before he takes off the maize and blue


March 21st, 2013 at 7:41 AM ^

especially when you consider our inside run game sans-Denard was non-existant, and the same line issues that didn't allow for an inside run also didn't give Belomy much time to settle.

It was really hard to watch. Just like the first four snaps of the Sugar Bowl.

ND Sux

March 21st, 2013 at 10:10 AM ^

ANY competitive sports, you know that it's nearly impossible to be at 100% physically / athletically if the spotlight of the moment weighs too heavily.  I think this is exactly what happened to Bellomy last year in Lincoln.  Had the game been in AA, the result may have been very different. 

Coaches know about his arm strength, and I trust them.  I'm personally hoping Russ gets some meaningful snaps in pre-season to get some confidence going.  We may need him. 

Frank Drebin

March 20th, 2013 at 3:37 PM ^

Hoke said that Gardner is watching a ton of film and meeting with Al a lot. My question is, how is this counted towards coachable hours? Coaches can only be with players for 20 hours per week, and I am not quite sure about meeting with them outside of practice. If Al and Devin are watching film together outside of practice time, is this counted as coached hours? Everything I see only talks about the 20 hours that coaches can use of players time, but doesn't talk about any other meetings with players on their own time. I know during stretchgate, there was a lot of confusion about what is and isn't counted, and it focused a lot on stretching with coaches present. So is this the same with a player constantly calling a coach and watching film with him, or how is that viewed?