Brady Hoke Opening Statement… “We have nine days before we open up and team 134 gets an opportunity for their first impression, and we’ve had a very good camp. We have two days left, and tomorrow we’ll start looking more as far as Central Michigan plays, scout teams, look teams, and all that kind of thing. We’ll start that. The coaches have already been breaking down that opponent in the summer, and during the last couple days getting back to it a little more, but we went to the stadium (and ) had about half the number of plays as we did in Saturday’s scrimmage, and thought we came out and played hard. I think we’ll get some answers on some rotations or spots, if you want to call them that, as we look at the tape tonight and keep evaluating through the end of camp.”
Question: You said after the other scrimmage that Fitz just popped out, just stood out watching it live. Was there anyone today that stood out watching it live?
Brady Hoke: “Devin, as always, a guy who plays pretty well. Running back-wise, we kept Fitz out, to be honest with you today, because we have Rawls, Green’s healthier, DeVeon, Drake, Justice. We really wanted to focus on some of those guys in the run and the pass game.”
Question: Was Shane Morris back in practice?
Brady Hoke: “Yeah, yeah. He went all the reps with the twos, and then he went the reps with the ones. He made some plays. He’s got some decision making that has to be a little better. We have to help him a little better at times with route running, because we had some younger receivers in there a little bit working them through, but it was – he learned a lot today.”
Question: He got all the reps with the twos?
Brady Hoke: “Yes.”
Question: So he’s the back-up quarterback?
Brady Hoke: “Yes. You guys didn’t know that?”
Question: You didn’t tell us (laughter). You haven’t said much about the returners. Have you guys gotten to the point where you have some roles defined? Obviously Norfleet is on kickoff returns.
Brady Hoke: “Well, he’ll also do punts. We have him doing both of them now. He’s done a very good job. Cracked one the other night, which was live, for about 35 or 40 yards, with some good on good competition, so that was good to see. Gallon and Dileo are obviously two guys that we like. Chesson, Jehu, in the kickoff returning, and then Stribling and Jourdan Lewis have been doing some of the punt returns.”
Question: Getting back to Shane, What did you do to make you have that confidence that he’s your guy if Devin goes down?
Brady Hoke: “I just think he’s continued to improve every day, learning the offense every day. He throws the ball, spins it pretty well. Timing’s pretty good, and I think it was better today on some things. So we just thought that he’d moved forward. “
Question: When you held out Fitz did other guys take advantage of that?
Brady Hoke: “Until we watch it and evaluate it, I thought Deveon had a couple good runs in there. Derek looked a little sharper; timing was a little better. A couple guys did a great job picking up protection, blitzes, those kinds of things. So for me to say this guy is where he’s at, I think I’d be remiss to do that.”
Question: Did you figure out your center?
Brady Hoke: “No, not really. Again, I think this was a good day for us. I think Jack took quite a lot of snaps, but Graham took them also. “
Question: As far as Shane, do you want to work him in there in the first game? Do you have a plan for him?
Brady Hoke: “We want to win the first game, so whatever that takes.”
Question: But in an ideal world do you want to get him in there?
Brady Hoke: “Yeah. I don’t know if we live in an ideal world.”
Question: Did you figure out left guard?
Brady Hoke: “No, Chris and Graham have been through there a little bit.”
Question: Tom Brady’s address to the kids today, that was pretty powerful. What did you think?
Brady Hoke: “Well I thought it just proves, number one, what a class act he is; secondly, how much he loves this university and this program, and it was a great morning in a lot of ways.”
Question: Did you surprise the guys with that?
Brady Hoke: “Yeah, they didn’t know.”
Question: What was their response?
Brady Hoke: “Well, I think as you can imagine, some wide eyes.”
Question: On the reaction to guys like Mark Wahlberg and Tom Brady addressing the team...
Brady Hoke: “I think some of the people that have come in and addressed the team, and been with the team, I think they all have had a message. It’s nice when people want to come see this great university and this program, and obviously when you have a guy like Tommy who played in this program, it’s significant.”
Question: You (and Tom Brady), you and he had a little discussion when you were up there about him not being there since 2007. When you came in, was that a priority, that you wanted him to come back?
Brady Hoke: “You know, we’d had such a good relationship, and really, when we saw him in Boston at one of our former player’s socials, and he came by, you know, we talked about when he had an opportunity, it worked out pretty well with playing Detroit, and you have to give him a lot of credit, because the third pre-season game for a lot of people is a game where a lot of your starters play significant downs, and for him to work that out and get here early in the morning, it was really something that was special.”
Question: On Courtney Avery’s performance at safety…
Brady Hoke: “I think Courtney’s done a good job. I think his intelligence level, I think he’s done a nice job, and he’s always known the whole defense pretty well, so that helps, and that’s part of his mental makeup, that his instincts have been really good for what he’s done.”
Question: The opportunity at receiver with injuries… anybody step up there a little bit today?
Brady Hoke: “You know, you have three Js, you know, Jehu, Jeremy, and Joe. I mean, those three guys that really, with Amara being out for the year, will have to carry a little bit more of the load, but they’ve been able to do that. All three of them understand the positions pretty doggone well, and can do a lot of things.”
Question: Did it kind of revitalize the feeling there, realizing there was an opportunity to get in?
Brady Hoke: “No, I don’t think so. I don’t think our kids – believe me, their hearts are with Amara, and so they also know that we all have to pull our weight, and somebody has to stand up.”
Question: Would you like someone to take that spot and be the defined number two receiver, or are you comfortable with all three of them?
Brady Hoke: “You know, I think we’re pretty comfortable with all three of them, to be honest with you. J.J…. Jeremy’s had a really great camp; his best camp. Joe continues to do a lot of positive things, and then Jehu, I think he’s really scratching the surface of what kind of receiver he can be.”
Question: So you would be comfortable with a rotation type of thing with those guys?
Brady Hoke: “Yeah, oh yeah.”
Question: (Borges) said the freshmen receivers weren’t quite ready yet. What do they need to do to get in the mix?
Brady Hoke: “Well, they need just more time, more learning, more route-running skills, because in high school, depending on the school, you don’t have a lot of that, and the idea of identification of support in the run game, identification of two high safeties, one high safety, in the pass game, you know, how you get bump-man, all those things are things they’ve never really had to deal with.”
Question: Just for clarification, had Amara separated himself from that group?
Brady Hoke: “No, I think Amara had done a really good job in spring and fall, so he had grown as a wide receiver.”
Question: Have you looked at Wile’s workload, and how have you assessed that over camp? Do you think he’s going to be able to do all the long field goals, the kickoffs, and the punts?
Brady Hoke: “I think so. I think he – number one, he wants to, and that goes a long way, and I think Dan Ferrigno’s been smart with him, like ok, he’s starting to get a little tired, or whatever it might be, leg-weary, we take a day off, you know, and let him rest it up.”
Question: Have you narrowed down the guys catching punts?
Brady Hoke: “Norfleet and Gallon’s still back there, Dileo’s back there, and I mentioned Channing Stribling, and also Jourdan Lewis.”
Question: So kickoff returns are Dennis Norfleet?
Brady Hoke: “Yes.”