Wednesday Presser Transcript 10-31-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on October 31st, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Bowlettes [Updated for clarity]:

  • Devin Gardner has been taking most of the snaps at QB this week. Denard is obviously limited during his recovery, but I think it's curious that Bellomy has gotten only "a couple," regardless of whether he's the No. 1 or No. 2 backup. You'd expect Gardner and Bellomy to split reps equally and compete for the top backup spot. Plausible explanation: Bellomy is also limited by some undisclosed injury. (I don't know for sure, but it's an educated guess.) Either way, it sounds like Gardner is the bona fide starting QB until Denard recovers.
  • As of now, Denard is expected back for Saturday. Hoke says the final call on the quarterback situation will be made just before game time. If you have been paying attention to Michigan's football program over the last season and a half, however, you have surmised that Michigan is highly unlikely to make this kind of decision just before game time. That decision will probably be made very soon if it has not been made already.
  • If the distribution of QB snaps (see above) and Michigan's track record for saying things that turn out not to be true (e.g. previous injury reports and recovery projections, most notably during the Nebraska game, "Michigan says Denard will return to the game in the second half ...") are any indication, I would guess the probability that Denard plays on Saturday is around 50%, maybe less. In the absence of real information though, anything is possible; I'm not optimistic, but I never am. 
  • Amara Darboh and Joe Reynolds have gotten the reps at receiver that Gardner is now missing.



Opening remarks:

“Thought we came out yesterday and had a really good practice. That’s good to see. We didn’t play as well as we’d like to. I think everybody understands that, but I think we’ve moved forward and did a lot of things as a team very well. Competed very well. We’re pretty physical with each other, which is always a good thing. You don’t have guys feeling sorry for themselves, so the intensity level was good.”

Can you talk at all about the division of snaps at quarterback?

“You know, I couldn’t give you an exact number, to be honest with you. You know, Denard took some, Devin took a lot, and then Russell took a couple.”

Will Denard play on Saturday?

“We’re planning on it.”

Does he have any physical limitations?

“Not really. Not right now. He’s better. It’s not all the way cleared up yet, but it’s better.”

Did Denard take as many snaps as he could have next week?

“No. No. Part of that was to get more snaps for Devin. Devin hasn’t taken a ton of snaps throughout the process. He’s taken snaps, not a ton of them, so we wanted to get him back a little fresher.”

How did Devin look?

“Eh, he looked all right to me.”

Is that to get him prepared just for this week or is this for a longer term?

“This week. I think it’d be more of a this week thing.”

Is Denard having any discomfort?

“Not really. Not really. You know, he threw it. He took snaps under center and snaps from the gun.”

Have you decided on any protective equipment?

“I think him and Smitty probably talked about it. I don’t get into the equipment side of things.”

You said Devin got a majority of snaps and Russell only took a couple. If Denard were unable to play Saturday would Devin be the next guy in?

“Well, we’ll see. We’ll see how the week plays out.”

Is the main concern that Denard might fall on it again?

“That’s what it seems like. You know, if you can protect it, like anything, maybe it’ll help.”

MGoQuestion: Have any of the other backup quarterbacks taken snaps?


MGoClarification: Further down the depth chart, I mean. [Ed: This was probably not the best question in the world, but the rationale was to get an idea of how many reps Denard and Bellomy have been missing. The further down the depth chart this goes, the more worrisome the situation is. I don't think the following response shines light on the full situation, but I didn't expect it to.]

“Jack’s taken some, yeah. Jack does every week.”

So Russell is the backup?

“Yeah. It’s still -- we’ll see who competes the best. If we decide Denard isn’t good enough -- and we expect him to be good enough -- then we’ll make a decision.”

Is there a chance then that Denard can’t play?

“I don’t think so. We’re counting on him.”

When do you make that final decision?

“Probably Saturday -- what time’s the game, 11?”

So it could legitimately be a game time decision?

“Could be.”

Does it make a difference for which arm Denard tucks the ball under?

“I don’t think so.”

Does it make a difference in terms of offensive playcalling for each quarterback?

“Well, some of it changes a little bit. You always have a little bit of a plan, which we do weekly. We do full line against each other twice a week, and most of those plays are I-back, two-back set, two-tight end, hard-hitting stuff that we like to do, so we’ve been doing it the whole season.”

Are there things you can do in game planning to protect him a bit?

“I think you just turn him loose. That’s what he wants. He’s very competitive. Very -- competitive’s the best word, I guess.”

What as he had to do in terms of therapy? Is he taking cortisone shots or anything?

“I don’t know … ”

They don’t talk to you about it?

“Well, just ‘How is it?’ ”

Is Devin still taking snaps at wide receiver?

“Took a couple. Took a couple.”

Is he available at wide receiver this week?


Does taking reps at quarterback change what he can do at wide receiver?

“No. No. He’s far along enough within what route combinations and those things. He’d be okay.”

Who gets Devin’s reps at wide receiver that he’s vacating?

“Amara’s taking a few more. Joe Reynolds is taking a few more. Depends personnel groups, what you’re in.”

You and Al both talked about running the ball more in the red zone. Is that more of an emphasis this week?

“Well, you emphasize it a little more, but I don’t know if we’ve put more plays on the script, you know, because we do a pretty good job of getting the looks and what we feel the red zone defense is going to be and all those things.”

You are statistically the number one passing defense in the country. Do you bring that up at all?

“I don’t know. We don’t bring it up.”

Is it more difficult to gameplan the offense because Denard has special skills that Devin and Russell don’t necessarily have?

“Probably a little bit, but I don’t know if it’s something that Al hasn’t -- I know it isn’t -- been through before.”

How has Raymon Taylor progressed since he’s entered the starting lineup?

“Well I think he gets better each week. I think the one thing about Raymon, he’s pretty physical. He’s tough. I think he’s making progress.”

In what areas would you say?

“I think in support as much as anything. I think that’s an important part of what our corners -- if they’re going to crack safeties and all that, I think that’s part of it. Recognition is really key, and then your eye discipline that you have to have in playing that position.”

Is run support one of the more difficult skills for a corner to develop?

“I think they all want to be cover corners, so any time it comes to physicality, that’s always difficult.”

How would you characterize your offensive depth across the board.

“Oh I don’t know. I think we have a lot of kids that are working hard.”

Are there areas you feel like you have good enough depth?

“I, you know -- we have guys working hard everywhere.”

You obviously want to score touchdowns in the red zone --

“Yes. It’s a good idea.”

But when you have a guy like Brendan Gibbons, do you have to think twice about putting him out there?

“No. Not really. He’s, to me, he’s so steady from a mental point, you know. His confidence level, I think all that stuff is -- you see it in him. Practice, in games. When he does miss a kick, he self-evaluates pretty well and he knows what he did wrong. So if you ask me do I have confidence in him? Yeah. No doubt.”

That brunettes thing. Did you really say that to him?

“Come on. 18 to 23, let’s go … next question."

Is Brendan the guy for longer field goals now?

“I don’t know about that. Matt’s still got the stronger leg.”

Have you had a chance to look at the new NCAA policy changes?

“My thoughts are I have not looked at it to be honest with you. When I get a chance I’ll look at it. We hope to do things the right way to start with, but I’ll look at it some time.”

Jibreel said he’s fallen in love with his new position at DT. What have you seen from him?

“That’s probably right. I think he’s improved. I judge a lot by practice. I work with him and grade him every night and all that. I think he’s really playing a little more vertical. He’s using his strengths, which are his fundamentals and techniques, but his quickness that he has. He’s got some quick twitch going. I think you’ve got to really express that to him and verbalize, ‘Look, use your strengths that you have. You’re not going to be --’ His brother Larry plays at Indiana. He’s 300-some pounds. Larry’s a big ol’ cat. Well, Jibreel, he doesn’t have that, but what he does have is a quick twitch to him and an explosiveness. If he’ll be fundamentally sound with it, then he’ll be very good.”

Craig Roh says Quinton Washington can throw guys out of the way. Is that a rare quality?

“Well, Q’s a pretty strong young man. I think his confidence level has grown unbelievably. I think he’s really just finding out what he can do, to be honest with you. It’s fun. It’s fun to see him in development.”

Was that all that was with him? Just confidence?

“I think it’s part of it. I think with a lot of guys, it takes some confidence. Especially some guys who haven’t played a lot of snaps, and now you’re the starting nose tackle at Michigan replacing Mike Martin. There’s a confidence level there.”

Can you talk about special teams as a whole and how you feel about that group?

“You know, I think we’ve been a little more consistent than a year ago. We’re better in kickoff return. Punt return we’re better, I believe, statistically. And you can’t always believe the statistics, but we’ve got to be a little more consistent in punting the football, pooch and regular punts. I think both of those. Kickoff coverage is the thing we’ve been a little bit hot and cold. That’s one of the places that I think we need to be better. We have all defensive guys but two on that team, and the understanding that we try to convey to them is you’re helping your defense. I think we got a lot of guys a lot of snaps on special teams, which is a plus because they’re a lot of young guys.”



October 31st, 2012 at 9:53 PM ^

I'm betting he has a boo-boo, or he's in the doghouse for some 18-23 stuff... Also-I'm sure coach knows what's going on with 133 more than I do, but not putting Devin in at QB in Cornville makes less sense to me the further it gets in the rear view. Is it me, or is it odd?


October 31st, 2012 at 3:39 PM ^

I have to say that Hoke's press conferences are about worthless.  He answers questions like he doesn't even know the real answers (which he obviously does but is not telling) and he only opens up when people ask about the D-Line.  He's obviously not the poker player that Carr was, not that I expect him to give any real information.  It'd just be nice to see some banter at those things rather than pulling teeth.


October 31st, 2012 at 3:44 PM ^

I think it's about perfect. He doesn't give the media fuel to start anything controversial and he doesn't give away information to the opponents. (I think Denard will probably be out Saturday, based on Hoke's comments, but the way he says it forces Minnesota to prepare for his presence.)


October 31st, 2012 at 3:50 PM ^

Oh no, I definitely agree with you that he shouldn't actually answer most of those questions.  But at least go out there and pretend to play the game rather than saying "I don't know" constantly.  Its just style over substance, I guess, and a non-issue.  It'd just be nice to see it be more entertaining like Carr's pressers if Hoke's not going to actually answer questions a la Carr.


October 31st, 2012 at 3:57 PM ^

I'm torn. More lively pressers can generate good press or bad press depending on the mood of the media or the team's record. I'd rather have pressers so boring that I only read the highlights, I think, because it provides no opportunity for the media to shine their most negative spotlights on the program like they did with Rodriguez.


October 31st, 2012 at 4:00 PM ^

Thats an interesting viewpoint.  Kind of like the "no good can come of it" line of thinking.  I think I tend to agree with you.  When I first started working one of the first things partners told us all was to not talk to the press because they'll twist what we say.  So I totally get not revealing anything but it'd just be fun to see some kind of interesting banter about not answering questions rather than "I don't know" responses.


Blue in Seattle

October 31st, 2012 at 8:04 PM ^

Generally Mattison and Borges both get more schematic team performance based questions. Hoke gets all the "is this player hurt?", "why does this player play so poorly", "why did Lewan tell us to back off", most of which does fall in the category of "no good will come of this if actually answered."

Along those lines, I find it interesting how the commentary of Hoke's not wearing a headset goes.  Many see it as either he doesn't care, or he doesn't have the talent to be in on the play by play decisions.  But Hoke will put on the headset from time to time, and has said he does it when it's needed.  Overall I think Hoke doesn't because he's not a micro-manager, but he does pay attention to everything and he does make the command decisions.  Borges has stated that he just focuses on getting the next play in, and doesn't make the "punt or go for it" calls.  Also Hoke is just more defense oriented, and frequently is standing next to Mattison, so no need for a headset to know what the guy is thinking.

I know Borges is taking the heat now, but I think Hoke is the one who approves the weekly plan, and then Borges has to work within that framework.  They both stated there were going for very tight control of the QB in the MSU game.

So, if you disagree with anything happening in Michigan football, then disagree with Hoke, because he's the one driving everything as the top commander, but he doesn't have to be involved in the stream of communication to do it, and I think it's better to lead at the top when you maintain a view of the entire picture.


November 1st, 2012 at 9:42 AM ^

... But I think we could see him as running only, if he can't get good enough grip to pass. Gardner takes snaps, Denard in as a decoy/jet sweep threat in the slot/wideout or backfield.

He is too talented to not use if he can still run but just not pass.

My .02


October 31st, 2012 at 4:06 PM ^

ETA: Sorry, I meant this to be a reply to profitgoblue's post.

The reporters for the most part, ask him either totally worthless questions, baiting questions, or for more information than will ever come out of Fort Schembechler. For example:

That brunettes thing. Did you really say that to him?

After reading/watching all of his pressers, you come to realize that Hoke will never give you an answer about: injuries, depth, scheme, gameplan, personal questions about the players.  He also doesn't take bait nor does he throw people under the bus.  So what you're basically left with is something positive about someone or "I don't know", which when translated means "I do know, but you've got to be on something to think I'm actually going to tell you."

He usually does have a few funny one-liners. Basically the only reason I bother to read Hoke pressers.  That and the possibility that one day he'll be hopped up on cold medicine and answer everything honestly.


October 31st, 2012 at 4:08 PM ^

You may be onto something with Bellomy. I sit near him, Kerridge, and BWC in one of my classes and I heard Will ask him if he was ok today. Bellomy responded with something like, "yeah, I'll be alright." Now this could very easily be related to anything, but I thought I'd share it anyway.



October 31st, 2012 at 4:51 PM ^

I would imagine his teammates keep checking on him to make sure he's not upset. Of course BWC could have been asking if he was OK on problem 4 or something.

My take is this: Denard and then Russell have been getting the bulk of the reps in recent weeks. Devin needs more reps early in the week to get back up to speed. Who get snaps in practice tomorrow is more telling.

I don't see anything that says Denard won't be playing, and if he is taking snaps in practice I expect him to play. I think they are just working up Devin in case.


October 31st, 2012 at 7:18 PM ^

except for the fact that Borges specifically said at his presser two days ago that Gardner had taken snaps at QB "probably . . . a couple of weeks" ago.  But keep feeding us that "insider" info, by all means.

Not to say, of course, that Gardner wouldn't need some "catch-up" reps at QB, with his time spent at receiver.  But your premise that he's been put completely on the shelf at QB since fall camp was specifically refuted by Borges just a couple of days ago.


October 31st, 2012 at 5:12 PM ^

I always thought Devin had a bigger upside than Denard. Just being 6'5" and being able to see the field is helpful. He can obviously run, and I thought he has looked pretty good at QB when he's played. He seems to break the pocket & scramble more than Denard, but to be honest I wish Denard would scramble MUCH more. Sometimes I think the coaches hypnotized Denard into thinking there is an invisible fence around the pocket. If its 3rd & 3 and you see the sticks and no defenders, then GO.

San Diego Mick

October 31st, 2012 at 5:27 PM ^

I was hoping Denard would have a Troy Smith type senior season, that guy was great at scrambling on a planned pass play, Denard has lacked that ability or wanting to many times that it drives me nuts.


He just seems hesitant too often when he really doesn't need to be with how athletic and fast he is, thinking too much.


October 31st, 2012 at 6:10 PM ^

Troy Smith was exactly who I had in mind. He just kept the chains moving with his feet, and hit the big plays through the air. I think Denard looks like he's been over-coached or just had too much change. I start feeling uncomfortable when he's in the pocket looking around. I'm guessing at one point in his career his instincts were to just take off after a few seconds. Then he was coached to stay in the pocket and go through his reads. Now we're left with a super athletic guy who is over thinking things and throwing passes that he isn't sure about, just because he thinks he has to stay in the pocket. I'm not even sure he can see much of the field from the pocket, given his height. He would be much more of a headache for defenses if he scrambled more. You're doing other teams a favor by keeping Denard in the pocket. I know I wish Tressel would have kept Smith in the pocket. If he had, we'd probably have gone on to play Florida for the NC.


October 31st, 2012 at 7:33 PM ^

Denard has never, at any point in his playing Michigan career, been a good scrambler. Or any sort of scrambler at all. He's always been a great runner on designed plays, but never a scrambler.


But I do share your negative view on him in the pocket. My biggest complaint about Borges is the almost total lack of three-step drop quick throws. This would hide Denard's tendency of making terrible reads by basically eliminating them.

For the record, I never saw Denard as Troy Smith. Much more of a Pat White runner/short-tosser.


October 31st, 2012 at 7:51 PM ^

I was referring mostly to Troy Smith's ability to move the chains with his feet when the receivers weren't open, or he saw a lane in the pass rush. I do remember Denard making a lot of good, quick throws in RR's system. Maybe we just don't have the receivers we had then. I've always wondered why we could throw some slants behind the blitzing LB's, or hitches to the receivers in soft coverage. It seems like everyone we play puts their corners 7+ yards off the LOS, and we don't exploit it. Hard to blame the receivers for not getting open when their routes are downfield and the corners have a 7 yard headstart. The thing I miss most about RR's offense was his ability to stretch the field horizontally with the passing game to open lanes up in the middle for #16.

Brick in The Wave

October 31st, 2012 at 5:26 PM ^

I think the only significant time he hasreceived is against Illinois last year IIRC.  I thought he looked pretty good.  I realize it was against Illinois but...Just think if he were allowed to get into the flow he good impress

Two Hearted Ale

October 31st, 2012 at 9:03 PM ^

He clearly didn't want to answer the question. The answer is probably "we are two injuries away from being Colorado," but Hoke is a positive motivation kind of guy (as opposed to say, Nick Saban or Brian Kelly) so he gives an answer no newspaper will print and moves to the next question.

Hoke doesn't give out a lot of information at his press conferences but he isn't an ass so he still gets good press. I like his approach but I'm not a writer with a deadline.


October 31st, 2012 at 8:27 PM ^

This is a real, honest question:

Is it okay for coaches to completely lie about things (not NCAA sanction style or anything really huge) like injury, strategy, personel updates, etc.?

Just thinking: Denard isn't fit to practice this week and definitely won't start on Saturday.  Can Hoke say "Yeah, he's probably starting, coming along great, I expect him to start."

Honestly, I don't mind if he is being deceptive.  I think it is a wise decision not to share many things with the media, I am purely wondering if this is standard practice or another Hoke-ism.


Thank you in advance!


October 31st, 2012 at 9:36 PM ^

Compared with how the rest of college football handles things, Michigan's current approach is much more iron curtain than glasnost, but I don't think there's anything wrong with it. Hoke's media policy is less about "lying" than it is about "concealing." As someone who is genuinely curious about how Michigan football is coached and played, I'm not a huge fan of this approach, but like you I don't necessarily disagree with it.

I'm going to write a post at the end of the regular season about Michigan's media policy in which I'll address this as well as other frequently asked questions from you guys.


October 31st, 2012 at 10:05 PM ^

That said, I can imagine a situation where he doesn't start. Minnesota isn't exactly a power house, and we could conceiveably beat them without Denard. So if Denard is at say 75%, I can imagine a strategy where they rely on the defense to win a close game with either Bellomy and/or Devin at QB. If that doesn't work then put Denard in long enough to get control and sit him again. Why expose him to risk while he's healing if it is not necessary.


October 31st, 2012 at 11:24 PM ^

I  know he's only a freshman but it will give us a small sneak preview of what we can see developing for the future.. After all, who expected Funchess to make waves like he did early on without the lack of TE depth?