Brady Hoke: “We can’t give up big plays, and we had three, really four big plays in the throw game that you can’t allow to happen. Give them a lot of credit, but at the same time, we had some opportunities. The other thing is, you give up a good punt return for a touchdown, and those things, you can’t – it hurts your football team, obviously, it hurts the momentum and morale of what you want to do. I’m very proud of our seniors, and very proud of our kids that participated and came down here, and how the guys have worked all year. We have a long way to go as a football program, and a football team, but our seniors continued to lay some groundwork and a foundation.”
How much were the big plays a function of not having J.T Floyd…
Brady Hoke: “None, to be honest with you. We missed (Connor) Shaw one time on a big play; we had him kind of in the back field – I say kind of, not as good as you’d like, obviously, and that one, Ramon thought he was going to intercept the ball, you know, so he wasn’t in bad position. Kid made a good play. The one down the middle at the end, you know, you have three deep, and we just didn’t do a good enough job with it.”
Can you talk about your plan going on blocking Clowney? Other than one or two plays, you contained him.
Brady Hoke: “You know, we have a pretty good left tackle, and he was motivated, probably, and I thought he did a nice job, and then when he went out with cramps, Scofield came in and switched sides, and did a nice job, but you know, we turned the protection to him some, and those kinds of things, but I think the matchup itself, I think Taylor, and obviously Jadaveon, they’re two competitors, and they competed.”
When did you decide to use Denard mostly at running back, and now that his career is over, what is his legacy? How do you view that?
Brady Hoke: “I’m going to answer that at a later date.”
It looked like the defense had a pretty good idea at one point of what South Carolina was gonna do…
Brady Hoke: “Well, I don’t know, there were three plays. I don’t know if we knew what they were going to do. But against the run game, I thought our kids played well. I thought they did a nice job. They had a nice scheme with the replay, they were reading the three technique and blocking it out, which is something that we hadn’t seen a lot of from them, so that scheme was pretty good for them, but at the same time, I think our kids were prepared well, and I think it happens in bowl games a lot. I think Coach Mattison and the defensive staff did a really good job of trying to hone in some things that were a little bit of a wrinkle, to do differently, and also understanding what they were doing.”
Did you feel like you had to gamble a little bit in this game, with some of the fake field goals and punts on fourth down, because – and even on some of the blitzes that you –
Brady Hoke: “No, the blitzes, the pressures, were all the same, but we’d worked on fake punt for nine weeks, and you know, last game, we’d better run it, so we had to run it, you know. The banquet is over with, so we can’t save it for the banquet, but it was something that we had seen, and liked, against multiple teams, and just felt like that was one; and on the field goal, Drew had another second to keep his eyes on Funches, there was nobody on him, but again, Drew saved it by pulling the ball down and made a football play. He did the same thing last year in the Sugar Bowl. You know, he’s a football player, and I can’t say enough about how well he plays the game of football. And then the fourth downs, I’ve done that most of the year. You know, our defense was playing pretty good. Gave up some big plays, but from the running game standpoint, and getting some three and outs, four and outs, I thought they were hanging in there, so you have a lot of faith in them.”
It looked like they were getting into a rhythm right at the time when they go the punt return touchdown. How much did that hurt that?
Brady Hoke: “Oh, I don’t know. Look, those kid are either walk on, or on scholarship to play defense at Michigan, and that’s the expectation. “
You gave up one big play; I think you can probably wrap your head around that, but when you give up multiple, what does that – for a defensive coach, what does that make you feel like?
Brady Hoke: “Well, it really doesn’t feel very well, but it means that we have to emphasize some things better, you know, deeper than the deepest, keep the ball inside and in front.”
They had the ball almost 40 minutes, almost 80 plays. Is that the game you planned on going in?
Brady Hoke: “Not really, you know, we came out in what we call NASCAR with the no-huddle offense. We’d done that a little bit over the last two years, but you know, Devin’s pretty good in the pocket, and sees things pretty well, so – but not really. You know, our normal schedule, normal clock, all that stuff, is what it was. I think being able to keep their defense on the field a little bit and get them tired, I think that was part of it; that helped us. But at the same time, we play really good defense when our offense is on the field.”
Jeremy had a nice game. What did you see that you could exploit with Gallon?
Brady Hoke: “Jeremy is a football player. He runs good routes; he’s tough; he doesn’t shy away from contact or anything. I think it was just something we thought, and some of their man coverage, that we thought we could get a little bit of a mismatch.”
Can you discuss the good and bad of Devin Gardner? Made a lot of big plays; looked like he overthrew a lot of guys as well. What was going on with him?
Brady Hoke: “I thought he played pretty well. I think he handled the situation well. I think it’s another growing experience. When you play in big games, good competition, you know, he missed a couple throws, and that’s usually mechanics as much as anything else, and maybe not stepping through the throw or something like that. Threw the one, you know, off the back foot down the field, in the middle of the field, that I really didn’t want him to do, but other than that, I thought he played a good football game.”
Was the plan going in to use Denard heavily as a tailback?
Brady Hoke: “Yeah.”
And the other guys didn’t get too much work.
Brady Hoke: “Today?”
Brady Hoke: “No, that was the intent. “
Coach, on that final drive, anything you could have done differently defensively?
Brady Hoke: “No, not really. I think Greg made some really good calls, and I would have liked to seen us when we had a hold of him a couple times, get him on the ground, but I think we were ready for two-minute situations, and you study theirs, and you know some of the things they like to do, because coaches kind of believe in certain things, so, no, not really.”
The forced fumble Jadeveon Clowney made, how big a game changer was that? And just the play itself, how dramatic was it?
Brady Hoke: “Well, it’s a big play. I mean, I believe we had just gotten the ball on a fake punt, so timing and all that, it was a huge play.”
With the season over, 8-5, do you sum up level of success, or not success, that you take out of this season?
Brady Hoke: “You know what the answer is. It wasn’t successful. You compete to win championships.”
It seemed like in the majority of those losses, it was that far away from flipping. What gets better going forward?
Brady Hoke: “Multiple things. Being able to run the ball, line of scrimmage play, both sides of the ball, taking care of the football better, playing good defense when you need to at the end of a game. And don’t take that wrong; I’m proud of the kids. I’m real proud, you know, they worked their tails off, and we’re going to miss the group of seniors, and their attitude and the things that they’ve done for Michigan, but you know, they all know what the expectations are. That’s why you go to Michigan, that’s why you play at Michigan.”
Did you have to think twice about putting Wile in there for the long – had he been doing that in practice?
Brady Hoke: “No, he – Gibbons was set to kick it, but Matt has been the long guy all year, so not at all.”
Just to follow up on that, we saw Gibbons make a 52-yarder earlier in the season. What goes into – is it just that he’s the hot leg at that time, or what goes into that?
Brady Hoke: “Well, Gibbs had made one earlier. It’s just wind, field position, all that.”
What happened with Kenny Demens?
Brady Hoke: “He got hurt.”