News bullets and other items:
Hoke expects Devin Gardner to start against MSU, with Shane Morris now healthy enough to be his backup
Hoke identified zone coverage, the run game, and creating big plays as areas for improvement over the final five games of the season
Kyle Bosch will re-join the team in January after taking a leave of absence for personal reasons
Willie Henry could have played against Penn State if it was necessary
Hoke alluded to being past the point of making a decision regarding Desmond Morgan redshirting and was evasive when asked if he’d miss the rest of the season
The coaches go over negative highlights from around college football each week in team meetings
If you’re wondering why there were no MGoQuestions it’s because they were all about MSU, and I decided to save them for Monday since Hoke said the coaches are only in the preliminary stages of gameplanning
“Number one, thanks for coming out today. It was good to get a win. Obviously winning's an important aspect of what you do when you compete. The atmosphere, I think, in Michigan Stadium was unbelievable and I know our kids, the energy, they feed off that and it was through the whole game. It was loud when it needed to be loud [from] our students and our fans so we really appreciate that.
“Yesterday we had a shortened practice. We'll go a little longer today. Just fundamentals and techniques being the main emphasis. A little bit on our next opponent, Michigan State, but a lot of fundamental work because we've got some young guys who want to continue to grow and continue to get them as many reps as we can, and then you've got some older guys who've played a lot of football in seven games [over] seven weeks so you want to get them some rest when you can but at the same time try and get some of the early game planning stuff. And with byes, to get physically healthy is an important part of it as much as you can; you're never going to be all the way. And then we've got a great rivalry game with Michigan State.
‘So the other thing we’ll use the bye week for is recruiting. The other part of it will be for us to– for us as a staff to do some self scout with where you're at and what you've done so far and where you might want to change some details up and I think that's one thing Michigan State did – not Michigan State, Penn State, the other night when you look at some of the down and distance and formation things in the first half from an offensive standpoint. They had the bye week and I think they went in seeing that they needed to change up a little bit and I think they did that.”
Do you expect Devin [Gardner] to start at Michigan State?
“Yeah, I would. I think having Shane back and healthy also is a big part of it and as much as we are going to talk about injuries yeah, we expect Devin to be there.”
You've touched on this in the past, but what would you say is the biggest area of improvement in Devin since you've known him?
“I'd say as much as anything I think [it’s] his leadership. I think nowadays kids, not a lot of them have that natural leadership. And a lot of that is, and this is an opinion, I haven't studied this but they play so much AAU now. It used to be you go in a backyard or churchyard and you’d say [to] 10 guys, ‘Okay you're the captain of this team and you’re [the captain] of this,’ then pick. Now we have adults making decisions that I don't believe kids get to make and it doesn't help them grow and so that's just part of what I think. So it's a little tougher at times to help kids grow in that department.”
[After THE JUMP: more details on stuff summarized in the bullets]
Can you talk about the status of Kyle Bosch? Do you expect him back this year?
“Kyle will join us in January.”
How important, or is it not important at all, that you guys are coming off a win and now you get the bye week. Put a good taste in your mouth…
“Yeah, I think it’s always important. I’ve been doing this long enough [that] you’ve come off losses, come off wins. I think it’s always…creates a better teaching atmosphere when you come off a win and so I think that’s been positive. I really yesterday, the energy we had as a team and the competitiveness was really, really good and I hope to see that again today.”
You’re just past the halfway point in the season. Where are the areas where you see your team needing growth [and] where are the strengths you can really go off of going into the final five games of the season?
“Well, I think one thing- we didn’t run the ball very well obviously the other night, so that’s something that we’ve got to continue to make improvements on. Some of it, you’ve got to give the front of Penn State some credit. They were leading the league in rush defense and they’re one of the better fronts, but at the same time some of the fundamental things we need to do a better job finishing particularly on the perimeter of the line of scrimmage. That’s one area.
“I think the area you still look at [is] coverage. We did some really good things in man coverage the other night. Not as well in some of the zone coverages that we ran. I think part [of] what helped us was the six sacks and pressure on the quarterback. I will say because of some of the man stuff he had to hold the ball a little bit, or he held the ball a little bit and that helped. But I would think those two areas probably as much as anything.
“The other thing [is] we’ve got to create more big plays. We haven’t had big chunks and big plays in the last couple weeks and we’ve had some opportunities and haven’t executed all the way. At the same time, we’ve just- those change the morale of a game and the morale of a team.”
Could Willie [Henry] have played the other day if necessary?
Moving forward, I know you’re not going to get into specifics but the bye week gives you guys a chance to rest. You have a ton of guys out on defense. Do you feel that going into Michigan State you could be as healthy as you’ve been since the beginning of the year?
“Yeah, I hope so. We do have a chance to get some guys back. Hope to get some guys back. I can’t tell you if that’s going to happen all the way and probably won’t tell you. I’m just not sure. I think it helps, don’t get me wrong.”
A couple of things: is Shane healthy enough and would he be the backup going into Michigan State?
“Shane’s healthy enough, yes.”
My other question is Dennis’ dancing at the game; what was your opinion of that? The reason I ask is that I think Kentucky had a similar situation a couple of weeks ago and their special teams coach was actually worried about drawing some kind of penalty for that.
“Well, I don’t think the ball was in play.”
“I don’t think- the one thing about Dennis, I’ve said this before; you talk about a guy who brings energy and loves the game and this is what he has. I think he was inspired. I don’t know if any of us could do the dance that he did. I know you probably think you could, but he brings a lot of energy. He’s like that every day, and when the whistle blows he’s as focused as anybody on getting out and competing at a high level.”
Are you familiar with “Atomic Dog?”
“I know the song. George Clinton. I mean, c’mon. I’m 55 years old. I’ve been around.”
You mentioned yesterday with Jabrill Peppers that you’d see when you see on that. Is it a different situation with Desmond Morgan, because he is eligible to redshirt? Is it different for him because he is a senior and this is his last go around?
“No, I don’t think there’s any difference. I think it just depends how guys progress. So us not doing anything or doing something with Des, yeah.”
Is there a cut-off point that you want to get to?
“I think we’re kind of by it in some ways.”
So is Desmond going to sit out the rest of the season?
“I didn’t say that.”
Is it a possibility?
“I think there’s a lot of possibilities.”
As a former long snapper how would you assess the job Scott Sypniewski’s done this season, and what’s your relationship with him like?
“I have a very good relationship with Scotty. Number one, his dad played for us at Western Michigan so I’ve seen his dad when we were at Ball State. His dad would always come to the Western game and go see Laura [Hoke] and see me after the game, so we’ve had a very good relationship.
“I think Scotty has become more consistent. When you look at on the field he had a couple low snaps early in the year and we work on every day championship snaps. He’s got terrific speed on his snaps and we’ve just got to make sure the consistency [is there] and where it needs to be is important.”
I just wanted to ask, in light of all this other stuff going on in college football with autographs do you talk about that again with your players and make sure they’re in tune with what-
“Well, no question. Every week you have something, and we collect every headline that’s made in college football, negative or positive. The negative ones, we put them up and talk about them in team meetings. There’s rules out there and we want to abide and live by the rules.”
So just the headlines, not the stories?
“Well, it’s both.”
I’m kidding because you say you don’t read-
“That wasn’t that funny, though. Go ahead.”
I know. But have you in light of this made a point that you have to be careful about-
“Yes. Yes, we have.”
Ben Gedeon’s made a couple big plays for you this year. Can you talk about his progress?
“Yeah, I think Ben [and] Mike McCray. Mike McCray made one of the better plays that we’ve had all year on the fake. I think both those guys have done a tremendous job. I think Ben- on our punt return team he’s what we call the brain. He makes all the calls and does a nice job there. I think sometimes when you give guys a little more responsibility the intensity of their focus during everything steps up, and I think that’s what Ben’s done. Real excited about the opportunities he’s had and what he did with those opportunities.”
With Matt Wile, how involved are you in the psychology of it in terms of early in the year? Not necessarily the kicking mechanics, but did you feel the need to kind of get with him on that personally?
“I think Dan Ferrigno does a really good job with him. Dan understands a little bit more the mechanics of it and all those things. When Matt is struggling or- today we’ll start on the right hash and that’ll be the start of practice, and we’ll bring him back down the right hash because that was the hash at one time where he had a little bit of a problem and if he misses a couple in a row I’ll just tell him, ‘Don’t over-think it.’ Sometimes he just flat out over-thinks it instead of just going up there and swinging your leg, so if that’s psychology I guess that’s the best—"
You didn’t have a sit-down with the two of you?
“No, not really. We haven’t regarding that kind of stuff, no.”