In part two of Brady Hoke breakout session with the media, Michigan’s headman gives the latest on Blake Countess', Jake Ryan's and Fitz Toussaint’s health, and discusses expectations for the new coaches in the league, and more.
Question: What has Blake Countess done this summer?
Brady Hoke: “I think #1, you’ve got another guy who is very intelligent. He’s graduated already. Just how he has gone about his business, his work ethic. I think everything the seniors and the drills that they run. He’s a guy that they count on.”
Question: He mentioned the film he was watching last year. Do you think he is a smarter cornerback now?
Brady Hoke: “I’m sure he is.”
Question: You mentioned that he graduated already. What is he doing next year?
Brady Hoke: “He didn’t graduate, he got into the school of sports management… which was a big deal.”
Question: Has he gotten his redshirt yet?
Brady Hoke: “I don’t think so.”
Question: He is listed on your roster as getting it.
Brady Hoke: “I think he will get it. I don’t think there is any doubt.”
Question: What about where your bye is this season?
Brady Hoke: “I think that is such an up in the air thing because doing this long enough we’ve had byes at certain times that you think are good and all of a sudden you evaluate at the end of the season, not so good. I think it depends on your momentum, the health of your team. I think there is a lot that goes into it.”
Question: The chances of playing Ohio State back-to-back weeks?
Brady Hoke: “I think that’ll be fun.”
Question: Is that the most physical game on the schedule?
Brady Hoke: “I think there are a lot of teams that initially…Iowa for a number of years has been a very physical football team. It is the most intense game from the standpoint of preparation and all those things. At that same time, it does make it physical, but the NFL is playing two weeks apart at times and three weeks apart. I think how you manage the health of your team is going to have a lot to do with what you are doing at the end of the year.”
Question: You made the comment in the offseason about Notre Dame chickening out of the series, do you stand by that still?
Brady Hoke: “Yeah. There is nothing against Brian Kelly or nothing against their kids. That started in 1887. It is a great rivalry for college football on a national scale. I know Brian didn’t make that decision and neither did the players on that team.”
Question: How different is your approach to this season than your first two? The first season obviously everything is new, the second one, you’ve got veterans on your team.
Brady Hoke: “I think from two to three is a great reevaluation year from the second year, the end of the season, the end of the bowl. All that you do, you reassess your kids, you reassess your depth, you reassess your recruiting and from a standpoint of what you do different. There will be some things that we do as we get older as a team that maybe we wouldn’t do now. We’re going to be pretty physical in how we practice and all those things. We have more depth to do that now. At the same time as that team gets older, Taylor Lewan does not need 500 snaps in August. He doesn’t need 250 or whatever it might be. We’ll try and do some things a little different with the guys who have proven and have done it and have continued with that attitude to do it.”
Question: Having three of your classes in, does that make a difference in how you approach because you know these kids maybe differently than you knew some of the other kids?
Brady Hoke: “That is a good question, it really is. I’ve never looked at it this way. That these are kids and those others weren’t.”
Question: More that they were kids that you targeted and you knew in high school and you have more background on them.
Brady Hoke: “That’s true. You know the parents better, all that. I think that makes a little bit of difference but also now being there are two seasons, I know Thomas Gordon’s parents very well. I know Taylor’s mom and dad, Devin. Maybe there is more familiarity with each other.”
Question: All the freshman qualified?
Brady Hoke: “Yeah.”
Question: Any injuries?
Brady Hoke: “No just the ones that you guys talk about. Russell (Bellomy), Blake where he was at and Jake (Ryan), and Fitz.”
Question: You still expect Jake back in mid October?
Brady Hoke: “I’m not a doctor. I don’t know a whole lot about it, but the way he has approached everything, I think he’ll be here.”
Question: Will he do contact?
Brady Hoke: “Probably not fall camp.”
Question: Do you have a feel for where he is at?
Brady Hoke: “He is doing a lot. He is running. He is doing some different things. How much 90 degree cuts and those kinds of things, I can’t tell you for sure. We’re not allowed to be with them.”
Question: When you talk about back, are you talking back practicing or are you talking about when you will feel comfortable playing him in a game?
Brady Hoke: “I would say sometime in October. If he is back that means he is part of us.”
Question: When you have a player like Taylor who probably has a future beyond college football, do you have any concerns keeping him focused when he might be thinking about that eventually?
Brady Hoke: “Yeah I think every coach goes through that when you have guys that have a certain degree of skill, talent, size, all those things that go with it and have proven it with a body of work. I think one thing and I was at Michigan a long time before when a guy named (Charles) Woodson and those other guys were there who were focused all the way first and foremost on Michigan that’s what I see in Taylor.”
Question: There are a couple of new coaches in the conference this year. What from your experience if you have to give them a piece of advice in coming in and jumping into this conference?
Brady Hoke: “I think if you’ve been a head coach enough, I was six years at Ball State and two years at San Diego State, I don’t know how much as a coach you change how you handle your daily business. With your team, with your coaches in those sense. From a difference point of view, they are all intelligent guys. They’ve all been around the great game of football long enough. I think the only advice that I would ever give them is just stay true to what you’re doing and what got you to this point because you do not have to change. I don’t know if that makes sense.”
Question: Gary Anderson at Wisconsin, how much do you know about him and how unique is that challenge?
Brady Hoke: “We played each other out when we were at San Diego State and he was Utah State. I have a lot of respect for his mind from a defensive perspective with how they play defense, the physicalness that his teams played with. That’s just from that experience of playing when he was at Utah State and we were at San Diego State.”
Question: Big difference when you are jumping into a situation where you get four to five years to rebuild a program, with you at Michigan and him at Wisconsin where you’re expected to win and win now?
Brady Hoke: “We asked for it. We knew the expectations. He knew the expectations.”
Question: Do you worry about the officials and the new rules?
Brady Hoke: “That’s why I’m saying replay has to probably be a piece of it. I think that’s important because it is subjective. The officials mechanically are not always in the right position and they are trying to be. I think that will be part of it. I think they will take some real…I know they’ve worked and we’ll meet with them in August (the officials). I think they probably understand how subjective it is and how smart and I don’t know if that is the right word, but how they have to make sure they have the clarity in what it is all about.”
Question: What about with players that are out there?
Brady Hoke: “You have to educate them. They’ve got to know. The best way to get beat is not to know the rules. So they’ve got to do a good job with them.”
Question: There is still a perception nationally and outside the Big Ten that if Michigan or Ohio State is not at the top of their games that the league is maybe not that good?
Brady Hoke: “It is hard for me to answer that because my perception is much different in how I feel about our league. I don’t worry about what other people’s perception is.”
Question: The issue of student attendance is something you talked about a little at the end of last year. It is not just a Michigan issue but it is across the board, but why do you think student attendance is lower than it has been?
Brady Hoke: “I think students are enjoying Friday nights and they are being college kids and you have HDTV and all those things that are out there. I think there is a lot of college football you can find 24/7 during the year.”
Question: On expectations…
Brady Hoke: “I think #1, we’re Michigan and we have high expectations. The bar has been up there for a number of years and then also how you perform and the expectations there are high. So to be honest with you, it is what it is and we’ve got to do better.”
Question: What are your expectation this year for your team? The bottom line.
Brady Hoke: “The bottom line is to win the Big Ten Championship.”