News bullets and other important items:
- Taylor Lewan is fine.
- Blake Countess has not had his ACL surgery yet.
- WR Joe Reynolds is simulating the Air Force QB.
- Courtney Avery will start at corner. No final decision on Fitz yet, but he'll probably start.
- The player receiving the Oosterbaan jersey has basically been chosen.
Oh Taylor you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind, hey Taylor.
“Thanks for coming. Game week’s going well. Thought we had a good practice yesterday. Thought we were physical. Thought we had a great tempo. Did a lot, had to learn a lot. You’re playing a new offense and they’re unique defensively at the same time because of some of the 30 stuff that they do. We have a good work day again today. They’re a good football team. Troy’s always done a good job. [I] have some familiarity with the Mountain West from playing them. They’re always going to be a team that plays 60 minutes, and they’re going to run and be disciplined in what they’re doing on both sides of the ball, so we’ve got to be at our best.”
(After the jump, Hoke discusses Air Force, the secondary, tight ends, weight loss, twitter, and health)
Does it help you to have some familiarity with them?
“You know, I think it probably does to some degree. From their offensive standpoint, there’s Army in there, there’s Navy in there. The midline series, the veer series, but then there’s also some pro-style offense. They give you a lot of looks, a lot of different formations, there’s a lot of window dressing that goes along with it. And I would say the same thing defensively how they try and hold their back end and their looks and those things. They do a nice job with it. And they’re really disciplined in executing what they do.”
Has the scout team come close to resembling them yet?
“They’ll never get close, but Joe Reynolds is coming down and doing some of the quarterback work, imitiating Connor Dietz. He’s done a nice job with it. Brian Cleary, one of our walk-on quarterbacks, I think it was kind of new to him yesterday, but he’s doing a nice job with it. That part of it, up front offensively, those guys are working at it. Ben Braden and some of those guys, it’s a little different because they’re 265 [pounds] and Ben’s a 300-pounder, but the quickness that he has, Magnuson, all those things, I think they’re all doing a good job.”
Is it hard to simulate them also because their offensive and defensive linemen are a lot smaller than your players?
“I don’t know if that part of it -- I think it’s the execution of the offense. When you got a guy who’s used to running the triple every day, he’s doing to make the reads the way they need to be made most of the time, so Joe is trying to read it a little bit, but most of the time we’re kind of giving him a heads up on where the ball should go.”
Taylor just said that he and the offensive line were shouldering a lot of the blame. Do you like when a player takes ownership for a loss?
“Well I think we all need to take ownership. When we don’t perform, when we don’t execute, when we don’t play what we would think is Michigan football, physical at the point of attack on both sides of the ball. Do you like it? Yes. And Taylor’s a guy that has grown and matured [by] leaps and bounds as a football player, and I think as a one of the guys that has a real leadership on our football team. ”
Would you agree with him that the offensive line was “embarrassing”?
“Well I’ll let him make that assessment.”
50 yards rushing, though…
“I mean, 50 yards rushing. It’s not very good. Now is it all the line? Probably not. Is it Alabama to some degree? Sure. But there’s a lot of variables. You like it though when your players take that responsibility that we’ve got to play better.”
You told your team this week you wanted to see whether they love the game of football. What does that mean?
“I think how they bounce back. It wasn’t effort. You go into a game, and that game is way over, but that’s the first thing you look for. Guys -- their effort to the football. All those things for 60 minutes. That’s pretty good. Maybe the execution of the effort wasn’t as good, but I think that part of it, we all would say our guys did a nice job with.”
Is Courtney Avery still in line to start at corner, and is Fitz starting at running back?
“Courtney will start at corner. Fitz at running back -- that will be determined. I’m sure we’ll sit down tonight after Wednesday’s practice and most likely there’s a good chance he will.”
Jordan Kovacs said Raymon Taylor did some good things. What did you see on film?
“Ray Ray did a real nice job playing physical. He kept his head in the game. I don’t think the big stage bothered him, which for a young guy, getting in there can do. I think from that perspective and I think when it was time for him to be physical as a corner, he was physical.”
How close is he to pushing Avery for the spot?
“Well they’ll compete. I don’t know how close it is, but they’ll compete.”
In practice, how has your defense looked going against the Air Force style offense?
“Today will be a better guage. There’s some good plays in there, and there’s some plays that you give up a home run where a guy didn’t squeeze or friction a block long enough or take the fullback or whatever it might be. We’re a long way from being game ready. But the tempo and the attitude and the wanting to improve as a team was better.”
You’re down a man at tight end. How have Kwaitkowski and the other guys looked in practice?
“Mike doesn’t have a lot of experience, but he is a guy who’s got a lot of pride. He’s got some size to him. I think the two young guys continue to improve. A.J., I think his weight’s down I think right under 270, which is good. PeeWee, or Ondre’s weight is I think right at 320. Been trying to get a little more carved off. It’d help him endurance wise and it’d help him from a quickness standpoint, but going back to tight end, I think he’s improving every day. I think Devin is the same. They’re both, you know, going to play a lot of football for us.”
How much does their level of experience limit what you can call in terms of plays?
“I think Al is pretty comfortable. You’re always leery, but if you go into a game leery about you not having your offense, then you can’t be effective for the team as a playcaller. The guys are doing a pretty good job of learning, a pretty good job of understanding that, and a pretty good job of taking ownership in it.”
Sounds like Pipkins is pretty serious about losing weight.
“Yeah. He has. I wish his coach would be as serious about it.”
Are you still on him a lot about it?
“I talk to him every day. We talk every day about calorie intake and honey buns and stuff like that.”
Has Countess’s surgery been scheduled yet?
“No. Not yet … They wait for it to settle down. And I’m not a doctor, but I know they wait for it to heal up a little bit because then the rehab is better and all that stuff.”
In terms of future scheduling, would you want to avoid playing two vastly different styles of football in back to back weeks?
“I don’t know if you have a chance to avoid -- honestly I love playing against the academies because of the offense they run. I think it’s a great challenge. And again, I’m a defensive coach, and how you coach defensive line play and being heavy on techniques and friction and on the eyes and hands and moving your feet. I like it.”
Would you like to schedule more against the service academies going forward?
“I don’t know. Maybe? Yeah. I think the other part of that is how much respect that we have and I have for those guys at the service academies and what their day is like every day. They’re up doing PT 4:30 in the morning, and then going to class and then going to practice. Speaks volumes. And then the service to our country that they share.”
Is that something that you’ll talk to your team about?
“I already have. I already have.”
What is like trying to stop the triple option? How would you describe being on the field and reading the offense?
“If you put aside the things that are the smoke and mirrors or window dressing and focus in on what your key is, whatever it might be, whether it’s being a one-shade or 3-shade or whatever linebacker. Then you have a chance. If your eyes aren’t where they need to be, if you’re not physical at the line of scrimmage, you’re going to have problems.”
Were you aware of the Michigan State twitter thing?
“You know, a little bit but not -- you know me.”
Yeah you’re on twitter all the time.
“All the time.”
Would you use that to re-educate your players in terms of what to do and what not do in the social media?
“I think we do a pretty good job of constantly, you know, trying to educate them. I think for the most part, from what I know, they do a good job of managing themselves and social media. I think it’s a weekly reminder how we want to represent this program and their names.
Would you use that in a month or so for motivation?
“I don’t know it has any benefit, to be honest with you. I mean, that’s not going to make you play better. It’s how you prepare, how you practice, how your mindset is and the toughness that you play with.”
How did you go about selecting who will wear the Oosterbaan jersey?
“… I kind of put a pool of names together. The qualities that we would look for and the character that we would look for.”
Have you made your choice yet?
“Uh, I think I know what we’re going to do.”
Does the player know?
“I don’t know.”
Is it based on who Bennie was?
“I think you try and look at all the variables that were involved. All the characteristics that are involved.”
What are those characteristics?
“I think there’s a lot to say about Bennie’s legacy and his performance and his production, his character and integrity that he brought to Michigan.”
Is this jersey thing something that you plan on awarding every year?
“I think how we’ll do it is we’ll award the guys who need to be in those jersey. If you’re awarding a guy that, then they should keep the jersey.”
MGoQuestion: What are your thoughts on a player taking on someone else’s legacy by switching to a new jersey number vs. establishing his own legacy for his current number?
“That’s up to them. Believe me, I’m not going to force it on anybody, but we’re going to have a conversation about it and about what this means and what an honor it is.”
How are you health-wise aside from Blake Countess and Brandon Moore?
“I thought you were asking about my health.”
“I thought one person would really ask about my health. Uh, you know what, we’re pretty good to be honest with you. We really are. We’ve got way too many guys right now when you look at Wormley out -- too many guys on crutches, to be honest with you, but we’re very functional.”
And how are you healthwise?
“Nice try. You had your chance.”