Hoke Looking for Improvement in Trenches

Michigan headman Brady Hoke was pleased with teams victory over Notre Dame, but moving forward he wants to see his team become more imposing at the line of scrimmage.


Brady Hoke opening remarks:  "It was an exciting environment, and it was great to win the football game the other night. Can't say enough about the Michigan fans, our students and the people who were in that stadium because it was electric.  It was definitely something that was helpful when they were loud. It was enough of a distraction to some degree, so that was great. I like how our team stuck together. I don't think we were perfect by any means, and there was a lot from the offense, defense, and kicking game that we can go back to work on, and that's what we have to do. But it was great to win the football game, proud of our kids on the team. I thought they complimented each other the way you need to from an offensive and defensive standpoint. It's good to win, but now it's going on to Akron. Starting to work on the Zips and what they're all about."

Question: What do you take out of that Notre Dame game from each side of the line of scrimmage for you guys to look at and improve going forward?

Brady Hoke:  "I'd say a couple things. From an offensive standpoint we've got to pick up some of the interior blitzes better. I know Darryl [Funk] was disappointed because he thought they had had enough looks to do a better job in that part of it, that phase of it. Defensively, we tried to play and we did for most of the game, play with a seven-man front. We have to fit the run a little better in a seven-man front. At the same time, Coach Mattison talked about changing the math and that means getting off a block and making a tackle. We've got to do that a lot better."

Question: What do you say or do to have your guys not with the electric atmosphere against Notre Dame against Akron?

Brady Hoke:  "Well, it's a glazed donut game - starts at noon. We like those games. Our team has always been pretty focused on ourselves and what we need to do. Like I said, there's enough out there that we need to do in all three phases that we'll go back and have a great workday tomorrow, and a great workday on Wednesday."

Question: You had mentioned in the post game and Blake Countess mentioned in the post game a little bit about how part of the game plan was to sit back a little bit and take some of the fades away from Tommy Rees.  What changed the second half, as it seemed like Greg [Mattison] tried to get after him a lot more in the second half?

Brady Hoke:  "Well, number one, if you study them enough, especially when he is their quarterback, they're not going to let you get to him too often. They've got a six-man protection, or the routes will break sooner and those things. We really thought he was very accurate as a thrower with the fade routes. Our whole plan was to keep the ball inside and in front. I thought that really worked out well. You can judge it a little bit by when looking at red zone. The field shrinks, so now it's a little harder to find the room in there and against the red zone I thought we really played well defensively when you had to.  That was playing the run with seven and making sure we had good depth in the passing lanes."

Question: Do you think sticking with Fitz Toussaint and not working in Derrick Green may have helped Fitz later in the game that key drive where he had a long run that he broke out and he also had a nice run and catch?

Brady Hoke:  "I don't know if that had anything to do with it. Fitz was feeling good. He didn't get tired. He was proficient in what he had to do, both in protection and in running the football. I thought he made some really nice runs in there, hard runs in there. In the passing game, I know he really did a nice job on pickups."

Question: You mentioned the front four and front seven, pass rush wise, you said they are not going to let you get to him.  When you looked at the film were you okay with how the defensive line played or where you upset?  

Brady Hoke:  "I don't think we were okay, because we had some one-on-ones…you're going to have a one-on-one in there somewhere, and the expectation is that we got to do a better job and beat them on the one-on-one. [Brennan] Beyer, on his sack, does a nice job in his counter move and beats the guy one-on-one. And so no, are we satisfied? No. Not even close to it. This week they're a wide open attack, four wide receivers, so it's critical that we get better in the pass rush individually, but also in the games that we want to run with them."

Question: You guys hit a number of back-shoulder throws during the game. Is that something you saw in tape thought you could take advantage or did it just happen organically?

Brady Hoke:  "No, believe me, nothing just happens, because those guys have worked on that and the timing of that, starting last January. Believe me, from my office in Glick I can look out there and watch those guys when they're just out there trying to get better. [Jeremy] Gallon and Devin and all the receivers. The impressive one I thought was Drew Dileo on the option route and how he sat it down and then came back and Devin, with the accuracy on it. So yeah, those things all, believe me, take a ton of work with each other because of the timing of it."

Question: How did you think Jarrod Wilson played, and Courtney Avery, I think we just saw him out there a little bit.  Is Courtney close to 100%?  Where does he factor in after what we saw from Jarrod the first two games?

Brady Hoke:  "I thought Jarrod did okay.  He wasn’t a guy we put in the Victors or anything like that.  We really didn’t have any of them really except for Blake on defense.  There's a couple times I'd like to see him bring his arms all the way through on tackles. You have a chance of knocking the ball out. I think he did a good job of communicating out there and that's a big deal for him and Thomas [Gordon], the safeties, to really do a good job of that. Courtney we got in some, five or six plays I think it was. I think that battle continues. It was good. Courtney practiced really Wednesday and Thursday, didn't do a whole lot to then. Hopefully he's a little healthier. I know that it was feeling good yesterday and maybe that's about the right amount of plays last week."

Question:  The perimeter defense, it seemed like Notre Dame against Temple really attacked their corners with their wide receivers, getting the tight end out there.  It did now seem like they did it as much, where your defensive backs really tackled very well.  How much importance to you place on that and how pleased were you with the tackling on Saturday?

Brady Hoke:  "I’m glad you brought that up because the one thing I really liked was the three corners who played in there, and [Channing] Stribling played a little bit. But Delonte [Hollowell], Ray Ray [Raymon Taylor], and Blake [Countess].  We were going to give up that seven-yard hitch, and that was a big part of that offense, but no coordinator is going to sit there and throw seven-yard hitches up and down the field. They threw six of them that were the hitches. After contact, out of six of them, they only got four yards. That's huge, because you know you're going to give it up unless you're roll your corners or you want to play press. We didn't want to play press because we wanted to defend the fades. Number 7's pretty daggone good. We didn't want to do that. Those guys, all three of them, did a nice job. The little rocket screens or whatever you want to call it, they didn't go to them much. I think the way Ray responded down in the south end zone the one time, the tight end never got to him, he did a nice job."

Question: Certainly looks like Jake Butt is a guy that you wouldn't mind going to in big situations obviously throwing to him. Talk about where he is right now.

Brady Hoke:  "When Jake got here in January, obviously we recruited him, so we thought he had ability. But I think how he's progressed through the program has been really positive, from the weights, the academics, all that stuff. What he's done, how he learns. I know we're very comfortable with Jake. I think he's got a bright future."

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