Brady Hoke: “We finished practice 20 today. We have a little less than 11 days if my math is correct and you may want to double check that, but 11 days until we open up. I think we’ve made some progress. I think we’ve moved the dial in every area. I think the thing that we have to do is become more consistent as a team. When we do some competitions where we define winner and losers and the defense will be good one day and the next day the offense is good. As a head coach, you’re neutral to all that but there has got to be more consistency when you look at both side of the balls. Saturday, I thought we were physical. You would hear football being played and to this point in camp I think the guys are really probably one practice we didn’t come out with the energy and attitude and the competitive spirit and enthusiasm with the game that we would like to have, but overall I think there is a lot of great competitions still going on, which makes us better as a team. It makes each individual better. They’ve done a nice job for the most part of coming to work every day.”
Question: Who stood out to you individually on Saturday?
Brady Hoke: “I thought Troy Woolfolk played pretty well. From a defensive perspective, Brandon Herron showed some signs that were real positive. Offensively, I thought Fitz (Fitzgerald Toussaint) carried the ball well. I think Vince Smith carried the ball well and Michael Shaw has carried the ball well. Overall, I think the physicalness with which we’ve played as a group and I think we went about 120 plays, it was pretty good. One of the things that we have to become is a finishing team. I think we had a little bit of a letdown after play 65. It just seemed as if it was not as crisp. It wasn’t as up tempo. It wasn’t as physical and then we put them on the goal line and went fourth and one for about 18 snaps with two groups and it was what you want down there. Then in two minutes, it was at a pretty good clip and good tempo on both sides. There was that finishing aspect, which you have to have.”
Question: With Matt Wile, are you any more confident now after 20 practices that he could do all three?
Brady Hoke: “I think right now we’re looking at him and Seth Broekhuizen punting and I think that is a tight race still. Him doing the kickoffs and between him and Brendan Gibbons handling the field goals. We’re going to kick up there on Friday. We’re going to kick up there on Saturday and by Sunday pretty much have our ducks lined up how we want it. We chart every kick. We chart everything they do. Right now, Brendan is probably kicking the best overall. I think when you get some distance than Matt is a pretty good weapon to have.”
Question: If you had to start today do you know how the secondary would line up?
Brady Hoke: “I don’t know completely. I can tell you that between Troy, J.T. Floyd and Courtney Avery, I think there is tremendous competition, especially between JT and Avery to one corner. When you get into a base defense four guys in the secondary. I think Thomas Gordon has had a really good camp. I really think he is starting to mature into the kind of player that you want. I think Jordan Kovacs has done a really nice job, number one he is smart. He understands the concepts of the defense and does a nice job of helping the guys get lined up and Carvin Johnson. There are three safeties and three corners right now that I think there is great competition between and we get into our sub patches, our nickel and dime packages, it is basically those six guys in a dime on the field at the same time.”
Question: Historically, Michigan has always had that one running back every year who has been the lead guy, the last few years you haven’t, is there one guy who you see is going to be like a Tyrone Wheatley or Anthony Thomas, not to say they are going to be that good.
Brady Hoke: “I think right now we would go into…if we were playing tomorrow Mike Shaw would be that lead back and I think Fitz has done some really good things. I think Stephen was better today especially in short yardage, he is a big guy. Vincent is a guy on third downs who can do an awful lot. He is a tough, tough guy and I’d take 115 of him to be honest with you. He can do a lot of things in protection, a lot of things in catching the ball out of the backfield.”
Question: What has Shaw done to kind of separate himself from the rest of the guys?
Brady Hoke: “I think he has been more consistent on a daily basis. I think that is what he really shows the most and I think he has improved a little bit. I think coming into it, I think Fred Jackson would have told you he was a little concerned about the passing game and the protections in the passing game and I think he has improved in that part.”
Question: Do you wonder at all or worry at all, people want a quick turnaround in this program, expectations are that you can come in with Greg Mattison and Al Borges and have a quick turnaround, quick impact not knowing what actually is here. Does that concern you at all? Do you worry about expectations?
Brady Hoke: “We worry about expectations, we have high expectations. I really don’t care what anyone else thinks because we’re going to do everything that we can to help these kids. I’m not talking about just the football that is third thing we worry about. It is about helping them to develop as young men and mentoring them and the football takes care of itself. No I do not worry.”
Question: Has Nathan Brink been able to sustain with what he had been doing?
Brady Hoke: “Yeah right now he has. If we would play tomorrow, he would be the starting five technique defensive end. He plays with a great motor. He plays with a great pad level. He has to be a very good technician because he is a little bit slight. You’d like to have him at 285, 290, but he has done an awful lot of good things that he keeps…you feel him a lot out on the field.”
Question: That moves Ryan Van Bergen to a tackle?
Brady Hoke: “Yep Ryan has been playing the three, Mike Martin has been playing the shade, the one and then a combination of guys, Will can play both the three and the five and the three and the one. Will Heininger can play all three and has. If we were in a base defense a lot that is probably how we would rotate them and get Richard Ash some movement in there.”
Question: How much do you like that flexibility or would you rather see a guy settle into one position to where he really gets comfortable there?
Brady Hoke: “I think you always want that but you need a guy who is flexible. Juaquin Feazell for us years ago was that guy. He played behind Glen Steele as a five technique, but he could play the three and could do a lot of different things. Will kind of has that intelligence to be able to do that because of the different calls and the technique to do those things. That’s a positive and I would say Ryan is a lot the same.”
Question: Is there an area of the team offense or defense that has improved the most since fall camp started?
Brady Hoke: “I don’t know if there is one specific group. I think when the first give guys in the offensive line are playing together, I think there is good chemistry there. I think there is a good tempo there that they play with and a good understanding of what they’re doing. I would say we would say that our wide receivers. I think they keep having Jeremy Gallon is a guy that we think has done a pretty good job. I would say those two groups as much as anything. I like the competition though in the secondary, because you can really see guys concentrating and competing.”
Question: Some coaches like to get experience for their backup quarterback in the early games, do you go in with a plan to get Devin Gardner some snaps?
Brady Hoke: “We haven’t really talked about that yet. I think that is something as we get into game week we’re starting Western Michigan, it has all been broken down in the summer and all that. Starting to run their stuff tomorrow, so we’ll talk more about that. I think you always want to have that opportunity. #1, it is great for the experience and #2, it is great for morale. If you can play more guys, I think that is important.”
Question: Has the linebacker on either side of Kenny Demens clarified itself?
Brady Hoke: “I think Kenny right now, I think Desmond Morgan is a guy who we think is going to play some football for us. Mike Jones, we’ve played a little bit of MIKE and a little bit of WILL. Marrell Evans is playing some in there. There is a group of guys, I would say right now though that Kenny is probably the guy who has a pretty solid lock on playing the MIKE linebacker.”
Question: What about the other two spots?
Brady Hoke: “Cam Gordon is doing a good job. Jake Ryan and Brendan Beyer, all three of those guys are getting snaps at the WILL. Desmond is a guy who didn’t go today, he has a little hamstring, nothing big. He is a guy who we think is going to be a pretty good football player. Brandin Hawthorne, we think is going to be a pretty good football player. He has got some ability in there that we like”
Question: Attrition is normal with new coaches, you have had three guys go in the past three weeks is that normal, troublesome?
Brady Hoke: “No. To be honest it was the right thing for them and what they felt. We wish them the best and they’re great kids. I wish them the best and they are great kids but sometimes kids move on for different reasons – homesick or whatever it might be. I’m not going to get into that, but it usually works out for everybody.”
Question: How does that affect the recruiting class next year, is it going to grow?
Brady Hoke: “I don’t know. I haven’t even thought about that to be honest. I’m sure if there are more scholarships that we can give then we want to try and fill them, but I haven’t thought it yet.”
Question: At what extend to you get concerned about offensive line depth?
Brady Hoke: “I think Daryl Funk has got six guys right now that he can roll through. I think we’re building a seventh. You’re always going to be concerned because you want to have your top five guys and so we continue to try and work with the young guys to bring them along as fast as we can. I think Friday, we’ll get after it pretty good scrimmage wise, not as many plays, but we also got to put a little different lineup together at times in there.”
Question: You are a defensive-minded coach, how hands on have you been able to be with the defensive or the defensive line or whatever, are you able to still get in there?
Brady Hoke: “Yeah. It is fun.”
Question: As much as ever?
Brady Hoke: “Pretty much, yeah. It is fun.”
Question: When do you vote on captains?
Brady Hoke: “Sunday.”
Question: You’ve talked a lot about toughness since the day you walked in here. How do you make a team tough and how do you gauge how much tougher they’ve gotten from spring to here?
Brady Hoke: “Two good questions, you start with it during your winter conditioning what you’re expectations, what you do. I’m not going to get into everything we do, but I think that is part of it. I think you build your mental toughness. How they treat that locker room. If everyone’s helmet is not the way it is supposed to be and they still not with that block M facing out then we’re going to have a problem. That is part of discipline and that is part of mentality being tough enough to take care of that locker room that is a little thing maybe but it all is a part about being a team and the respect you have for each other and we practice I think pretty physical. We’re going to do a lot of ____ line. We’re going to do a lot of what we call Michigan drill, which is one-on-one with a blocker and a defender and a back and we’re just going to continue that. Part of that is all fundamentals and technique, the other part of it is who is going to put their hands and face in there and to fight and compete to get off blocks. I think you talk about a lot. You demanded a lot and you expected a lot.”
Question: Do you go into next week with a two deep that your players are aware of?
Brady Hoke: “We’ll definitely do that. We’ll go in it, but you can lose that pretty easily. You’re going to lose it pretty easily because we’re committed to playing the guys who represent Michigan the way that Michigan should be presented. They are evaluated every day. They have to meet the expectations for that position every day.”
Question: Is toughness an issue with your first two head coaching jobs?
Brady Hoke: “I always think that is an issue. Yes would be the answer to your question and look that’s my vision of what toughness is. We all have a different vision. We all look at things differently. We just believe as a staff in the way you play the game of football and your demeanor and your mentality and your mental toughness and your physical toughness of how you play.”
Question: You talk about running the ball and stopping the run.
Brady Hoke: “Yes.”
Question: You confident that this team can be efficient in both of those areas?
Brady Hoke: “I think the jury is still out. I really do, being honest with you, the jury is still out. I think we’re going to get sick and tired of beating up on each other. They pretty much are now, but they have a few more days to do it and then as we get into game week and we’ll taper back a little bit the physicalness of everything because we want guys healthy and those things. I’ll be interested to see.”
Question: I know you can only control what happens here, but Miami, Ohio State, other rumors of other programs, do you worry about the perception of college football and how it has changed since you first entered?
Brady Hoke: “I think you do worry about it. We don’t necessarily worry about things we can’t control when you look at what happened at these other universities and they are two great universities and with great people there, but you always want to educate. You’re always trying to help your players understand the impact and ramifications and what that would mean to this great university, 132 years of football. You try and communicate and talk about it as much as you can.”
Question: What is your policy on injuries during the season? Is it top secret or do you release injuries, every coach is kind of different that way.
Brady Hoke: “Yeah they are.”