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Michigan basketball media day: Bacari Alexander transcript

Thursday, October 30th, 2014


Bacari Alexander(Duane Burleson, AP file photo)

Michigan basketball held its 2014 media day on Thursday afternoon at the Crisler Center and our lead basketball writer, Sam Sedlecky, was there to gather quotes and observe the hour-long open practice. Here’s the transcript from assistant coach Bacari Alexander’s media session. He answered questions about rebounding, losing Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford, how much he thinks about the Final Four loss to Kentucky, how to deal with so many new faces, and more.

Q: On rebounding with the current team
BA: Whenever you lose the collective prowess of a guy like Jordan Morgan who’s a fifth-year senior, Mitch McGary who we felt could be a double-digit rebounder, Jon Horford, who grabbed his share. You know, when you look at that unit, you do have some initial concerns. I think what we discovered over in Italy, the combination of Mark Donnal, along with Ricky Doyle, what we tried to do is look at them as one player, and now you add Max Bielfeldt into the mix, and you set a kind of template for them to shoot for.

We mentioned before 15 rebounds being our goal as a unit, and if you add D.J. Wilson into that mix, who may see some time in that position as well, I think it gives them an opportunity to take some of the pressure off while we develop the skills of rebounding. There’s a lot of nuances that go into being good on the glass in terms of knowing shooting angles, knowing the geometry where shots are being shot on the outer third of the floor, where they will likely bounce to, things of that nature. As they learn those things, we’re discovering in practice they’re becoming better rebounders, but until we go up against real competition, we really don’t know.

Q: On Doyle/Donnal rebounding
BA: Yeah, the competition is really allowing them to sharpen each other’s iron, if you will. Ricky Doyle walked in the door as a contact seeker. Mark Donnal learned how to be a contact seeker going against Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford banging, so I think it’s something we welcome, it provides a great competitive environment which allows them both to improve, so I encourage it.

Q: Can D.J. Wilson be a shot-blocking force?
BA: Yeah, there’s potential for all four of the guys, maybe not so much Max Bielfeldt, to be great rim protectors. D.J. Wilson has great length in terms of wingspan, so does Ricky Doyle. Mark Donnal has average wingspan, but he has experience, he blocked shots in high school, so that’s something that we could explore. Right now with their inexperience, I think the game moves so fast for them that they don’t necessarily process the opportunities to get those shot-blocking chances within the flow of the game. Once things kind of settle down, and the dust settles, I think they’ll see those opportunities.

The first thing we’ve gotta teach them is that most shot blocks generally come from the weak side, it’s not so much the primary defender. A lot of guys think because of their length, being the tallest guys on the floor in high school, think that they can block the guy’s shot that they’re guarding, which can ensue foul trouble.

Q: What did Jordan know without thinking about that these guys have to learn along the way?
BA: The rules of rebounding. Jordan Morgan, if you look back early in his career as a redshirt freshman, in those first maybe 6-10 games of the Big Ten, he was one of the tops in our league in offensive rebounding. So he understood when Tim Hardaway Jr. was shooting a shot on one side of the floor, how to get to the other and get an early weak-side wedge in air time as the ball was traveling from the fingertips to the basket. He understood maybe the importance of not dwelling on a missed chippy and retrieving that rebound for a stick back. He knew all of those different things as a fifth-year senior that these guys are learning on a daily basis.

Q: On dealing with extra motivation, how do you use or have you used that last shot from the Kentucky game?
BA: Not so much. I think when you look at the way that game ended, and how closely contested the shot was, it reminds us all that the game is a game of inches, and what we try to do with our veteran guys that are returning, like Caris in that particular situation, Zak, Derrick Walton, and Spike who were actually in the game, is we use that as a catalyst to understand the importance of valuing possessions. So when you look at that situation as a microcosm of a thought, valuing possessions is key. We shared a poem with the team the other day (titled) “It’s Only One Possession”, and I believe the author is Jeff Smith. We’re just trying to build that foundation to get these guys to understand that the cumulative effect of winning possessions throughout the course of a 40-minute game is vital.

Q: How often does it cross your mind that you were two seconds away from, potentially, back-to-back Final Fours?
BA: Every day.

Q: You think about that shot every single day?
BA: Every day.

Q: The idea of how far you went two years in a row, now you got six new guys who have to kind of deal with a certain level of, not expectations, but a standard, that you don’t want that dip, how do you deal with them, in expecting to keep it at that level, but not driving yourself too crazy?
BA: Well one of the things that’s fun when you try to compartmentalize the game for young, inexperienced players, is you make sure they understand that they have to beat drills before they beat opponents. So what’s gets measured gets done and we put them in a series of situations where we put measurements on it, whether it’s shooting drills, defensive stop drills, rebounding drills, free throws, etc. that sets the stage for them to be able to maintain those expectations, but before you can get into what the expectation is, whether it be from your fan base or from inside the locker room, you have to put one foot in front of the other, so winning and beating drills before you beat opponents is at the epicenter of our teaching.

Q: How are they doing on beating drills at this point?
BA: I think they’re doing a pretty good job. When you have so much inexperience, it can be sort of a seesaw approach. There’s great days or great stretches of days and then sometimes there’s that early pre-season fatigue that sets in where they’re not so good, but this group of guys has shown a great deal of hunger and a great deal of concentration, and an expectation amongst themselves of not wanting to let that enthusiasm and momentum subside.

Q: What did you take away from Italy from your bigs?
BA: The number one thing that came out of Italy in my mind from the post position is getting those guys to understand we can’t coach effort and strategy simultaneously, so playing as hard as you can and as long as you can was so key to both of those young guys because they hadn’t seen game reps, and they did a marvelous job of that, I think as a result that’s carried over into our practices, and it becomes an expectation. Now we can work on skill refinement, situations, things of that nature to allow them to at least be familiar with some of the scenarios that they’ll see in upcoming scrimmages and games.

Q: On rebounding with guards, specifically Caris, Derrick, Zak
BA: Yeah, we’ll rebound by committee, and one of the things that you might see early is big guys really learning to prioritize blocking their man out. OK, I may not get the carom, but my opponent isn’t either, and now when you get your guards rebounding, it ignites the fast break and gets us into our transition game quicker.

Q: Thoughts on Zak Irvin from last year taking a sixth man role with no public complaints
BA: Our core values govern everything we do. Zak Irvin, and anyone else on our roster, understands that unity, passion, appreciation, integrity, diligence, is right at the core of our culture, and so it’s very easy when you come into a program with such great examples being fed by his predecessors in Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Darius Morris, Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, Jordan Morgan – all these guys that are so selfless – how difficult is it really to complain when you see Jordan Morgan encouraging Mitch McGary, who became a starter in the NCAA Tournament, and handled that like a champ, only for him to come right behind that and be a sixth man for us. So it’s those examples, that success, that leaves footprints that allows a guy like Zak Irvin to relish that role.

Q: Is it fair at all to say right now that Ricky (Doyle) might be a little bit more polished down low and Mark (Donnal) might be a little bit more polished outside?
BA: I think ‘polish’ wouldn’t be the word that I’d use to describe the disparity between the two. With Ricky you’re dealing with a guy that’s inexperienced obviously, and Mark, being a redshirt freshman, he’s inexperienced, but is a different level of inexperienced. What we’ve learned is that if one guy is ying, the other guy is yang. There’s days where Mark Donnal is pretty dominant on the practice floor, there’s days where Ricky Doyle is (dominant) on the practice floor. Right now it’s a toss-up. It’s a coin flip.

Q: On the length that the team has now compared to with Jordan Morgan and how that affects charges and blocking
BA: What we’re trying to do is get them to those spots early in possessions. A lot of times, whether you talk about the block/charge call or the shot-blocking call, it takes great timing. A lot of times our guys, because of the stimulus of the game moving much faster than a high school level, they’re a little tape-delayed on rotations. Oftentimes we get there and we may think about blocking a shot and it leads to a foul; other times we may get there thinking about taking a charge and it leads to a foul, so there’s still some timing that has to be invested that has to get those guys to that level, but with the length, I think one of the things that you’ll see defensively that we’ll do is quite a bit is chart deflections. How much can we deflect a ball, disrupt people, pressure passes, and pressure shots to see if we can affect field goal percentages that way as well?

Big Ten Media Day Quotes: Gardner, Clark, Ryan, Hoke

Monday, July 28th, 2014


Earlier this afternoon, we posted the full transcript from Brady Hoke’s 15-minute podium session. Shortly after that, Hoke and Michigan’s three player representatives — Devin Gardner, Jake Ryan, and FrankClark — met with the media at individual podiums, allowing an opportunity for further questions in a smaller group setting. Here are some select quotes from each of them.

Devin Gardner

Gardner(Justin Potts, M&GB)

Have you reflected on last season?
“Definitely. I feel like I know what I accomplished last year. As my first time starting I feel like I accomplished a lot. I had a lot of success, a lot of adversity, but I feel like I battled through it. I continued to fight. I was there when my team needed me. Coach Nuss always says, ‘the quarterback’s always there, no matter what’ and I feel like I was always there for my team when I could and I did what I could. “

 Even though you lost to Ohio State, everybody appreciates the performance. Did anyone reach out to you after that game?
“Charles Davis was a big one and Eddie George reached out to me. A lot of different people – Archie Manning. It was great. Even though it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, being able to fight through something like that is big when it’s for your team and the fan base, but it doesn’t really matter if the fans appreciate it. My teammates appreciate it and they know what I went through and I’m excited to be able to fight with my teammates.”

What did Eddie George tell you?
“He just told me that I had a great game. He was excited. We built those relationships at the Manning Academy two years ago and he’s really excited to see the way I fought, the way that I played in that game. That’s pretty much it. He also said his sons are big fans, so that’s pretty cool.”

Are you excited to be in the same division as Ohio State and Michigan State?
“Our mentality this year is just to take every game one at a time and don’t treat other games as bigger games than some other games, and don’t discount anyone either. Obviously, as our rivals, and now they’re in our division, it will be a little heightened intensity during those games, but until we get to those we can’t see. I’m sure they’ll be really excited and pumped up to play us too, but we’re going to bring everything we have and we’re going to play as hard as we can.

Can you talk about Coach Nussmeier and what he brings to the table that Michigan fans haven’t seen in the past?
“I don’t know if it’s something we haven’t seen, but he’s his own coach. He’s very intense and he’s a fun guy to be around. He’s a player’s coach for sure. We can talk off the field and he helps me with football and sometimes it always comes back to some type of football lesson, so that’s really cool. He brings a different perspective as a guy that’s played NFL, played in college and excelled, coached NFL and excelled. He just brings a winning attitude and a successful attitude to the entire Michigan brand.”

What’s the hardest road venue in the Big Ten?
“I think Iowa, just because the fans are so close. You always try to block out the fans, but when they’re close enough to touch you, it’s hard to ignore everything they say, so Iowa’s kind of tough. But I feel like our stadium is a tough place to play as well.”

Who are some new guys that have really stood out?
“Freddy Canteen has done a really nice job for us on offense. He came in (and) I didn’t know anything about him until the first day of spring practice. He came out and made a lot of good catches and throughout the spring he’s been really consistent in making big plays, and being accountable and being there when we need him.

“On defense, I like the way Jabrill Peppers is competing. I don’t know yet what he can do on the field, and as far as knowing the plays and knowing where you need to be, and we haven’t put on the pads. But from an athletic standpoint and a competitive standpoint, he’s one of the best competitors I’ve seen in the freshman class.”

Who has stepped up defensively?
“Joe Bolden. He’s always been a pretty vocal leader. He’s a very high energy, high intensity guy. I really enjoy seeing him play. Sometimes he treats us like we’re the other team, on offense, but it’s great to see. Coach Hoke always says – any coach will say this – you would rather have to say ‘whoa’ than ‘attack’. I feel like that’s great for him that he’s always in attack mode. I’m really looking forward to seeing him this year.”

Is Bolden too intense?
“No, no, no. We can’t say too intense. We don’t want to say that. He is very intense in practice. He hits us – I mean, he doesn’t hit me, quarterback’s off limits – but he hits really hard in practice and he gives it everything he has like it’s his last play, and that’s how it should be.”

Are you excited about Ty Isaac joining the team?
“I haven’t seen him yet. I met him when he was a recruit. I hosted him when he came for a visit, but I haven’t seen him this summer or anything like that. But if he’s going to be a part of our team we’ll welcome him just like any other teammate. He’s not going to be more special or less special than anyone on the team. Whether he’s a walk-on guy or a scholarship guy, we treat everybody as a teammate and as a brother, so he’s welcome into this brotherhood. When I get a chance to meet him he’s going to be treated as such.”

Does the uncertainty of the offensive line make it harder for you?
“My job is to encourage those guys, encourage every guy that’s out there, whether they’re going to start, or who’s going to play. My job is to encourage them and for me to work on myself as a consistent quarterback. It’s not my job to be like ‘who’s going to play’ or ‘what’s going to happen with those guys’. I’m just encouraging everybody, having dinner at my house, inviting them over, and continuing to work on being a great quarterback.”

Frank Clark

Frank Clark(Justin Potts, M&GB)

Who is the toughest player you’ve ever gone against?
“The toughest guy I ever went against, who was here last year, is Taylor Lewan. I mean, I don’t really see another offensive lineman that was really close.

Who is the toughest you’ve gone up against on this year’s team?
“It’s weird because I’m the old one. I’m used to being the younger one. I’m used to going against Taylor every day. This year it’s like I’m the old one. I guess if you flip that around you’ll have to ask the younger players who’s the toughest to go against on the defensive line.”

Who has stepped up on the defensive line?
“Man, we’ve got guys like Taco Charlton, guys like Henry Poggi, guys like Maurice Hurst, Ryan Glasgow, Willie Henry. These are guys that are younger but have experience. When you have a young, experienced defensive line, the possibilities are limitless. We have a defensive line unit that has very good players, it’s almost like having a first team two times. So when your first team goes out, when Frank Clark needs a break, or Brennen Beyer needs a break, you can send the next man in. You can send a Mario Ojemudia in. You can send a Lawrence Marshall in, who’s a freshman. You can send a Taco Charlton in and it’s going to be like having your first team stay on the field.”

How tough was it to get over the Ohio State loss last year?
“It was tough. Every loss is tough. But at the same time it was a close loss. I believe it was 42-40. It was a tough loss and it was a loss that we didn’t really expect. Every game you go into playing against Ohio, that’s one game, without being confident or without being cocky, that’s one game that you expect to win, being at Michigan. You know it’s going to be a hard game, but it was hard. It just gave us that extra fire and that extra energy in every workout through the winter, through the spring, and through the summer.”

Jake Ryan

Jake Ryan(Justin Potts, M&GB)

Will playing Maryland and Rutgers feel like conference games?
“Now they’re a part of the Big Ten and I think it’s going to be great for us and great for the conference. It’ll be interesting.”

How important is it to be the better program in the state of Michigan?
“We’re both great programs, we both have great coaches. It’s just where we are on the map. It’s not who’s better, who’s worse.”

Why would you not be concerned about being the better program?
“I mean, it’s a rivalry game, it’s one of the biggest games, but we’re focused on Appalachian State. I’m not going to focus on Michigan State right now.”

Is one of the new Big Ten divisions better than the other?
“I think they’re both great divisions and I think they’re both going to do very well.”

Do you guys have a loop running of the 2007 Appalachian State game?
“No. They’re a whole different team and we’re a whole different team. We’re going to go into that game like we prepare for every other game, so it’s going to be a fun game to play in.”

How is the offense shaping up?
“I think Devin’s running really well. He’s running the offense really well. Coach Nussmeier has been doing a great job with the guys. Devin has gotten guys in the film room, coaching them up on things they’re doing wrong, so I think it’s going to good and it’s going to be fun to watch.”

Will it look like a different offense?
“I think it’s the same offense, but it’s just a matter of the guys coming in and doing their thing. Like I said before, Devin’s been doing a great job running it.”

On Joe Bolden
“Joe Bolden is a great player. He knows what he’s doing, very smart player. Joe’s always there and if I need help, or anyone else needs help, Joe’s doing his job.”

Is there a freshman that has stood out?
“All of the freshmen have really stood out. Everyone has different character, everyone has been doing their job, going through the runs and workouts great.”

Brady Hoke said let’s not anoint Jabrill Peppers yet, but Devin said he’s pretty special…
“He’s a good player. I mean, he’s very athletic, brings energy. But I think there are a lot of freshmen that do that as well and it can’t just be one guy. It’s got to be all of them.”

How has Jabrill tempered the expectations?
“He’s keeping to himself and he’s going through the workouts, going through everything else like every other guy.”

Is there a part of you that, despite all the hype, says Jabrill needs to earn it?
“Every single guy has got to earn it on the field. Every single guy has got to do their job in order to play.”

What do you think of the pictures he posts of his abs?
“Hey, that’s not my…I try to stick to golfing pictures, stuff like that. He can do whatever he wants.”

What does it feel like to watch Ohio State go 24-2 and Michigan State win the league the past couple years?
“I’m not focused on those teams. I’m focused on what we need to do as a team our first game against Appalachian State. It will be a really fun game to play.”

What do you need to do to get ready for Appalachian State?
“Every single day, take that step forward that you need to take. Technique, fundamentals, the game of football. And do it every single day.”

Did you talk to former players about the Appalachian State game?
“I have not. Nope. Whole different team.”

How do you keep that mentality that it’s a big game?
“Every single game’s a big game. Every single game. We prepare for every single game.”

Did you seek out any advice from middle linebackers in the NFL about the position switch?
“I’ve definitely gotten a lot of tips, talked to a lot of guys. Jarrett Irons is a great guy to talk to, but everyone’s pushing me. Coach Mattison is the greatest coach you could have. He knows everything about the position, so just going to him and talking is great.”

Will the switch to middle linebacker allow you to play more instinctually?
“It’s a little different. But a lot of positions are instincts, but there are always those fundamentals or techniques that you need to play with every single play. I mean, some of it is instincts, but you also need those things.”

What was the offseason like?
“Very good offseason. I thought we did really well, prepared really well. Runs and lifts were great.”

Was it any different from previous years?
“A little different because I was older, leading the guys. There’s different leaders out there, but I think it’s great and I think it’s great for our team.”

When installing the new offense, how long did it take for them to figure it out?
“They were figuring it out the first day they got it. They were running on us, they were doing well.”

How have you seen Coach Hoke evolve over the past few years?
“Coach Hoke has been the same guy ever since I met him. Hard-nosed, tough, you can always talk to him, go into his office. If you have a problem, bring it to him. He’s going to be the same guy every single time and I love that about him.”

Brady Hoke

Brady Hoke(Justin Potts, M&GB)

How close is the Big Ten to winning a national title?
“I don’t know why they couldn’t this year. A team comes out of here as champion, why couldn’t they? Now, I don’t know these other teams. I mean, when we vote on this stuff, I don’t know them. I don’t know who they’re playing…Wofford – nothing against Wofford – but I mean there are nine conference games that we’re going to end up playing.”

Why do you think it has been so long since a Big Ten team won it all?
“I can’t believe it.”

Do you feel comfortable turning over the postseason selection process, versus before when the coaches at least had a vote?
“How many of those coaches really did it themselves? I’ve got a guy who I talk to about it, but I mean, this group, the integrity these people have as far as the committee itself, it’s what the fans want. I don’t know if you all wanted it. I worry about the bowl system. I think that was always a good system. I worry about the semifinals in the Rose Bowl, how are you going to approach the Rose Bowl? It’s the greatest experience there is in America for kids. How are you going to do it? They’re certainly not going to go out and stay for 10 days and go to Lawry’s two nights before, whatever it is. It’s not going to happen. It’s a game. And I’m sure the Sugar, when they’re a semifinal, all those things go away now.”

Do you address what’s appropriate with your freshmen?
“Yes, we educate them every day. We educate them to not embarrass themselves, what their grandma wouldn’t want to see out there. Why would you do it?”

Have you had any instances?
“Oh yeah. You’ve probably made some dumb decisions.”

You talk a lot about ‘this is Michigan’. Can you talk about the importance of this season for the program and for yourself?
“It’s not personal. Believe me. Nothing’s personal. It’s about Michigan and it’s about the program as you said, and it’s about the kids in the program.”

Big Ten Media Day Transcript: Brady Hoke (podium)

Monday, July 28th, 2014


Hoke at podium

Day one of Big Ten Media Days is in full swing and Brady Hoke was the fifth coach to take to the podium on Monday morning. He delivered an opening statement and then answered questions about Jabrill Peppers, the offensive line, the competition for positions, Ty Isaac, and more. Below is the full transcript, as provided by the Big Ten and ASAP Sports.

Opening statement

COACH HOKE: We’re all excited for another season to get started and looking forward to the start of fall camp on Sunday. Our football team has come together this summer and worked very hard. I think they’ve worked hard and I think a lot of that is the foundation that’s been laid over the last three years and the depth that we have on our football team, it’s as competitive as a team that I’ve been around at all positions.

And I think that is exactly what, as Michigan, the leaders and the best, we should have. And so the way they’ve come together, the things they’ve done, we’re excited about. You never know what kind of team you’re going to have until the season’s over.

But the one thing I can tell you, that we’re encouraged by the qualities we have seen from our football team and throughout the spring and throughout the summer. Again, I believe the foundation has been laid. And you’re going to talk with three of our great representatives in Jake Ryan, Frank Clark, and Devin Gardner who have represented Michigan in a positive way.

We’re excited for August. We need to have a good August camp. And I think every coach in here will tell you that. You need to stay healthy, but you better be competitive and you better be good. And you better have a great camp. And so excited about that coming up.

We’ve got a great schedule. Okay. It’s a good schedule. But the schedule starts on August 30th with Appalachian State, and that’s where our focus will be, because you can’t win all your games unless you win the first game.

And expectations at Michigan are what they are and what they should be. They’re high. And so we’re excited about getting that started.

Staff-wise, Doug Nussmeier, who has come in and done a tremendous job offensively, came in with a championship pedigree, came in with a pedigree of molding quarterbacks. And what I’ve seen, and his track record speaks for itself, but it’s not just something that speaks for it, he’s doing it on a daily basis.

The moves that we made in the secondary and on defense, allowing Coach Mattison to be more involved from the middle of the defense instead of up front only has been very positive.

The movement of Jake Ryan to the inside of our defense has been very positive. I think Roy Manning coaching our corners and Curt Mallory coaching the safeties, because of the variables with the offense you face, I think has been something very positive for our football team and positive for our players.

Last, and I’ll take questions, we’re very proud of who we are, and we will continue to be proud of what kind of young men, student-athletes we have at Michigan.

Q&A

I just want to know, back in June, you had done the interview I believe with Bonnie Bernstein talking about Jabrill and the fact that he would come in at nickel. You’ve had the summer; you’ve probably talked to some of your players about what they’ve seen out of him. Is the plan still to play him at nickel or safety or corner when you open fall camp?
“That hasn’t changed. The plan hasn’t changed. I think we’ve got to be careful about anointing any true freshmen starting their college career, but that’s where he will start.”

Your program has a very great storied tradition. Your stadium has a great storied tradition. On Saturday, I believe the big house is supposed to break the record for the highest attended soccer game in American history. That’s two of the biggest storied traditions of clubs. Are you going to take your team? Have you been involved with that at all or any –
“I’d like to be, but I won’t be, simply because our freshmen, that’s their first day coming in as far as some of the administrative details we need to take care of.

“But I think we’re going to break a record.”

You’re in the East Division. How daunting is that division? How do you think it kind of shakes out?
“I think it’s a great competitive division. How it shakes out, we’ll find out. But as far as the competitiveness of the division, and at the end of the day, you know, it’s whatweallwanttodo,andweallwanttodoiswe want to compete. We want to compete on every Saturday.

“So as far as we’re concerned, we’re looking forward to it.”

Coach, how far into fall camp do you anticipate going before determining an offensive line for the sake of consistency and seeing those guys play together as a unit?
“I think we’ll start camp with a lineup that we’ve come out of spring with, and that will be based some things on what has been done during the course of the summer and when you see the work ethic and all those things, but a lot of it will be based on coming out spring football obviously.

“So we’ll go through that lineup, but at the same time what will change it up every day a little bit to see where the pieces fit. But I wouldn’t say — take two weeks maybe at the most.”

Considering how last season ended, has the pressure become bigger heading into this year for you to perform?
“You know, why do you coach? I mean, why do you really coach? If we’re doing everything we can for 115 guys, sons on our roster, from the graduation, since we’ve been there, 69 of 69 seniors have graduated. That’s important.

“Because football’s only going to last so long. So the only pressure is every day preparing those guys for life after football. Competition, hard work and all that, that’s part of it. But socially and academically, that’s a big part of it.

“So when you talk about that, that’s the only pressure as a coach that I’ve ever felt – making sure we’re doing it for the student-athletes.”

We’re going into a new era with college football with the playoff in the ’14 playoff, last year the Big Ten kind of struggled in the marquee non-conference games. This year the list of them is top to bottom you play Notre Dame and Michigan State’s playing Oregon. How important for the Big Ten and its champion, whoever gets out of this conference, will it be for the conference as a whole to do better in those non-conference games?
“First and foremost, we’re very proud of the Big Ten Conference. Very proud of the schools and the competition and the way our teams play and how our schools from an academic standpoint graduate student-athletes.

“Do we want to win every game? There’s no question every guy who is going to be at this podium, they want to win every game. And when you talk about the non-conference schedule, we welcome those challenges. I know our conference does and I think our conference is going to play very well in those games.”

You mentioned about having as much competition at every position that you’ve ever been a part of or that you’ve seen in the foundation that you’ve laid there. So usually the first step toward narrowing the gap between where you are and where you want to be?
“You know what, ask that one more time because I missed some part of it.”

The competition, the amount of competition that you have at every — is that really the first step toward narrowing the gap from where you are and where you want to be in any place you’ve been in the past?
“Yeah, I think so. I think that’s always been part of it. We had a very good year in 2011, ’11-12. We played in the Sugar Bowl. But because of depth, Mike Martin played 82 plays as a nose tackle. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, because that’s playing a lot of snaps and that’s taking a lot of hits.

“But if it was today, Mike Martin would play 50 plays. So that’s what we have now.”

Michigan has a history of playing the MAC early on. What sort of relationship does that program have with the Mid-American where you can have those non-conference games scheduled so easily?
“Well, I think it’s always been a nice — I was head coach of Ball State and we played Indiana twice. We played Purdue twice. Played Michigan once. I think it’s great for the Mid-American Conference, which I have a ton of respect for, and I think it’s great for regionally for families. I think it’s both for both schools, and obviously you’ve seen the Mid-American Conference teams come in and play awfully well and beat some of the Big Ten teams.

“So I think it’s a great partnership because of the competitive base.”

You mentioned Doug and what he’s done so far. But where have you seen the difference that he’s made, tangible changes he’s made? And also as far as Peppers, when can we anoint him?
“Let’s anoint him when he does something, right? I mean, let’s see what he can do.

“What Doug has done, is I think when you watch the practice in the spring, you watch the tempo of the offense, you watch the physicalness every day that guys are playing with, I think that’s where it starts.”

Is there any update right now on Drake Harris’s health, and are there any players you expect –
“Drake Harris, he’s fine.”

Any players you expect will be limited going into camp?
“No, not yet, not that I can think of or that I want to share at this time.”

Curious if you know anything about Ty Isaac and his potential eligibility.
“As far as the hardship and everything, we don’t know of anything. We expect Ty to report on August 3rd, and we’re still going through the hardship with compliance and all those things.”

Could you talk about the last — in the foreseeable future, your match-up with Notre Dame this year, and is that a little more emphasized with your players this year?
“It definitely will be an emphasis, simply because it’s a national rivalry. It’s a shame that that series is over with, because of the national rivalry that it carried with it.”

They changed the divisions obviously in the Big Ten this year, Ohio State and Michigan now in the same division. Obviously that game means so much, but now as a division game with what you thought, were you happy to see that change made?
“Yeah, I mean as long as those two great programs, you know, with their storied history, are still playing.”page3image27128page3image27288page3image28056

Doug Nussmeier introductory press conference transcript

Friday, January 10th, 2014


Michigan officially welcomed new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier with a press conference on Friday morning. Below is the full transcript. You can watch the full presser on MGoBlue.com.

Brady Hoke

Opening statement
“First I would like to say we addressed what we were going to do as a program on Wednesday and I want to thank Al Borges and his family for their commitment that they’ve made to Michigan and at San Diego State. It’s not easy when you’ve spent five years with a coach and a family and all those things, but we consider him more than just a colleague.

“But as you know, as you go through coaching and the profession itself, we took this job three years ago to make Michigan better. And we took this job knowing that every decision that’s going to be made by me is going to be made what’s best for Michigan and the kids in this program and the legacies and 134 years of teams that have come before. So it’s an exciting day because this change I think is going to be one that we’re all going to benefit from.

“As we look forward and as you move forward, the direction of where we want to go is, we have a vision, we know what that is, and that’s why Doug is here today. It’s a great day for Michigan football in a lot of ways and we’re excited to have Doug here and what we’ll do as an offense and as a football team. A couple things: Doug and I first crossed paths when I was the head football coach at Ball State. We have a mutual friend that I played with and also just happened to be the guy who was representing Doug while he was playing in the National Football League. So Doug and I had a brief conversation and I have tracked his career, obviously, for a long time.

“He’s a great fit and will do a tremendous job with what we’re doing offensively. With Doug himself, number one, he’s got a great family. Christie and Derrick and Ashlan and Colton are a great fit to our football family. We’re excited about that, excited about Doug and his background.

“Obviously, it’s a guy with national championship experience which is the highest goal that we all have, coached in the National Football League, coached in college, and and developed some outstanding quarterbacks. AJ McCarron, Jake Locker, Marc Bulger, at every level, and his tutoring of those guys is excellent.

“I think what’s also exciting is the balance from an offensive perspective that Doug brings. He’s had six 1,000-yard rushers over the last six years and obviously that’s something that we want to do as a program – we want to have that balance and we want to be able to run the football. We’ve talked about that since day one and we will improve that game and what we’re doing. Developing quarterbacks, developing young talent as an offense is something he’s done and proven, and we are a team that is young in a lot of ways but we’re getting older and we’re getting better every day. So we’re excited about that.

“He was a finalist for the head coaching job at the University of Washington. Tells you a little bit about nationally how people think of Doug and his character and what he represents. But the passion that he has for the game of football, the passion that he has for the young men he leads is really what being a coach is all about and having him here to lead our offense and to be a part of this great university and this program and having his family being a big part of it we’re truly excited.

“Today is about Michigan and it’s about Doug in a lot of ways and what he brings, so we couldn’t be more excited and I’m going to have Doug come up here and share. But we’re excited, and we’re excited because of what the Nussmeier family brings to Michigan and also we’re excited because of the fit that we feel we have.

“Doug Nussmeier, please.”

Doug Nussmeier

Opening statement
“I want to say first off, this is a really special day for our family and I can’t say enough how special it is that we are here together, my beautiful wife Christie, my sons Colton and Garrett, my daughter Ashlyn. I want to thank you guys for all that you sacrifice day in and day out.

“We’re very very blessed to be here and I want to say a special thanks to Coach Hoke for giving us this opportunity. Dave Brandon, our athletic director, thank you very much. This is a special place, a special, special place, and that’s why we’re here. We talk about 11 national championships, 42 Big Ten championships, three Heisman Trophy winners. It’s Michigan football and when you say the word Michigan everybody knows about Michigan football.

“I was fortunate enough to be in this conference before. I have a great amount of respect for this league and for all the things that Michigan football stands for. I just can’t say enough about how excited we are to be here, to be a part of the family, and really look forward to working with a great coaching staff.

“Talking about Coach Hoke and how we met each other a long time ago, the respect that I’ve developed over the years for what he’s accomplished as a head football coach. To watch him start at Ball State and to go onto San Diego State and to come here at Michigan, not only as a quality coach when you talk about wins and losses and being a coach of the year in the nation, but you talk about the type of man that he is, the type of person that he is.

“When you talk about Coach Hoke with other people in our profession you hear nothing but class, family, all the right things, cares about his players, as we all do – we want to win – but he also sees the big picture about developing young men both on and off the field. To have the chance to be a part of that, like I said before, we just feel so blessed, and to work with such a great quality of staff. I’ve known Greg Mattison for a long time and what he’s accomplished and the defensive staff, great coaches. To have the ability to come here and work with Heck and Doug and Dan and Fred, just really really excited about that opportunity and I want to thank, once again, coach and Dave for them believing in us as a family and the commitment they’ve made to us and we’re just very very excited to be here. With that, I’ll open it up to questions.”

You’ve talked about the direction and vision with Coach Hoke. In your interpretation, what is that?
“Tough. Physical. Explosive. That’s what we want to be. We want to be able to run the football and we want to be able to put points on the board. We want to force the defense to defend all different elements of the game.”

How much do you know about the Michigan offense? The biggest issue was the offensive line. How quickly do you think you can fix it?
“Well, correct me if I’m wrong but we’re 11 points away from being 11-1, so this is a good football team here with good young talent. If Coach Hoke recruits players, which I know he does because you look at our recruiting rankings over the last years, as well as he recruits coaches – he recruited me – we’re going to do really good with our young players and developing and moving toward the future.

“There is young talent on this team. We’ve got to develop it. We’ve got 45, 46 days before we go to spring football, so getting those young players on the same page, and player development is all about how you view it, and with any young player there’s a steep learning curve. So day to day continuing to improve, that’s going to be the focus. We’ve got to get better each and every day and focus on that day and what that holds and get the players focused on what we’re going to get better at today.”

What does Michigan provide that you didn’t have at Alabama? Why go from Alabama to Michigan?
“Well, obviously I can’t say enough about Coach Saban and the opportunity that we had there at Alabama. It was a great opportunity. Like I said, Michigan football, the opportunity to be here in the Big Ten, to be a part of the winningest program in all of college football, to have the opportunity to integrate into a staff and to take this program to where we all want to go. You talk about the quarterback position, the great quarterbacks that have played here, you go down the list: Brady, Griese, Denard Robinson, Chad Henne. It’s Quarterback U so to say, and the ability to be a part of that room here and help those guys develop and grow, I’m just really really excited about that opportunity.”

What’s your challenge in getting the players as ready to go in the spring as you can?
“I think that communication is essential. It’s essential in anything you do, and it starts with that. We’ve got great communicators on this staff and the biggest thing is for us as we sit down as a staff to evaluate where we are, where we want to go, set like I said a clear path every day for these young men and how we’re going to get better and the things we want to achieve on a day to day basis. As we grow daily, then the end product will evolve.”

Schematically, what are your plans, what do you want to install?
“We’re going to put our playmakers in the best possible position we can to make plays. That’s the goal. What that means is we want to control the tempo of the game on offense, whether that means we need to go fast, we need to go slow, whatever it may be, we want to control the tempo of the game on offense and give our guys an opportunity to make plays. Schematically, look at ways that we can create competitive advantages for our players. So what that means is you could see us in one formation one week running one play and a different one the next week. But like I said, the identity is we’re going to be physical, we want to play fast, we want to be explosive.”

What are your head coaching aspirations? How does becoming offensive coordinator at Michigan fit into your long term career arc?
“I’ve said it before, I’d love to be a head coach in the right situation. As that relates to being here today, I’m excited about the opportunity to learn from Brady Hoke, who in my opinion is one of the best coaches in all of college football. To learn the system here that he has in place, to get into a room with who I feel are very, very good football coaches. Anytime you get a new group of guys together when it comes to football there are so many different ideas and so many different avenues and ways you can go. It’s a really really exciting time for us as a family, I’m really excited, and can’t wait to get here and really get grinding.”

With the perception that Nick Saban likes to control things, do you feel like at Michigan you’ll have some freedoms that maybe you didn’t have at Alabama?
“Coach and I talked about his philosophy. Obviously, I wouldn’t be here today if I wasn’t all in on what Coach Hoke and I discussed and what he wanted to do on offense, how we wanted to be and how we wanted to move forward. So part of coming here was us being on the same page with what we want to do offensively, and we both agree on the identity we want like I talked about before. As far as schematically how we’ll approach that, we’ll adapt with our personnel. That’s something he and I will work with the offensive staff on a day to day basis.”

When you were at Michigan State, what kind of things did you learn about the Big Ten and how did you view the Michigan program?
“Well, I watched a lot of touchdown passes right here in this corner to Braylon Edwards the one year when we thought we were going to get a W. I have a lot of respect for that program. We had a wonderful time there in the three years we were there. But I said it before, when you say Michigan it’s synonymous with football, and I don’t care if you go to a mall in California, Texas, Florida, you’re going to see somebody wearing Michigan. When you get an opportunity to coach at a place like this and to be a part of this, and let me say this, this isn’t about me, this isn’t about coaching, it’s always about the players. The type of people that come to Michigan, the quality of kids, what they’ve achieved, not only on the field but look at the achievement off the field, it is a special, special place and there’s not many of them. So to have the opportunity to come here and be a part of that was something that after we discussed it as a family was something that we felt was the right move for us.”

What’s the key to being able to run the football even in an era where you see a lot of stacked defenses?
“Obviously, you’re always trying to identify the best way to do things. What’s the best way we can create a fair box count for our linemen to get people blocked, or can we use a receiver with this type of motion to create a numbers advantage? Those are all schematical issues, and there are times too when our players have got to know that there may be a loaded box but you know what, we are who we are, we’re tough, we’re hard-nosed, we’re physical, and we’re going to come downhill and run the ball at people.”

Have you had a chance to talk to any of the players?
“A little bit. Got to see a couple of them and great kids. Can’t say enough about the look in their eye and like I said the quality of student athlete that we have here at Michigan is second to none in the country.”

You’ve had success with quarterbacks. How quickly do you think it can take you to make Devin Gardner a very efficient passer?
“The biggest thing I think from a quarterback standpoint is trying to simulate a game type environment for them Sunday through Friday. When you get out on the field on Saturday, things happen fast, and if you’re not prepared you can get exposed very quickly. So you never want to put a quarterback on the field who’s not prepared and the way you prepare them is try to simulate as much as you can a gameday experience Sunday through Friday.

“The biggest thing is the amount of time we spend together in that media room, and obviously we’re limited by NCAA rules, and I think it’s really important at that position that the players possess a quality of self-determination. They’ve got to be self starters, they’ve got to be driven, because you’ve got to do more on your own because we just don’t have the time that you would like with the NCAA rules. But we’ll prepare our quarterback to play and play successfully, and we’ll do whatever we need to do schematically to put him in the best position to have success.”

On the timeline of the hiring
“Coach Hoke reached out to me recently and the conversations we had, like I said, having followed his career, knowing what type of football coach he was and what type of person he was, it escalated quickly. It’s a great opportunity. We’re fortunate to be here and like I said really looking forward to doing big things.”

When did you and Hoke meet?
“We met, shoot coach, it was a long time ago…”

When did you start talking about the job?
“Just recently we spoke.”

When will you get the ball rolling?
“Well, ideally as soon as possible. Obviously we’re in the heart of recruiting season, it’s important as they say, it’s about Jimmies and Joes, not Xs and Os. So the first thing is on the recruiting front. Football will take care of itself. I’m really excited just to get to know these guys more and really dive in and integrate. As soon as we can we’ll get going. Obviously we’re in a little bit of a dead period here, so the convention’s coming up next week and then after that we’ll get rolling.”

Have you sat down with Coach Hoke and discussed other assistants and what your recruiting role will be? Any specific regions or anything?
“I can tell you right now, it’s got to be tropical, coach. No, I’m just kidding [laughter]. Just joking. No, we haven’t and like I said I want to integrate into the staff and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make Michigan football be successful, whatever that may be to recruit I’m all for that. We haven’t gotten to that stage yet. We did have a brief recruiting meeting this morning as a full staff, but wherever I’m needed I’m willing to go.”

How soon do you think this team can be all the things you want it to be?
“Well, like I said and coach talked about, we need to run the football. Just briefly look at statistically where we’re at, we’ve got to eliminate the sacks. We can’t have lost yardage plays, number one thing we’ve got to eliminate that. We can’t have undisciplined penalties, pre-snap penalties. Any time you’re trying to find consistency on offense you’ve got to start from the basis of we’re not going to go backwards. So we’re not going to have lost yardage runs, we’re not going to take sacks, we’re not going to have penalties. So that’s the first thing we’ll start from, as long as the ball’s moving forward and we’re ending every series in a kick we’ll have a chance. That’s where we want to start from, but that will be the key point of emphasis to start.”

How confident are you now that you have the pieces in place to make this work quickly?
“Very confident. Like I said, this football team is 11 points away from being 11-1. That’s a darn good football team and the young players on this roster, having known some that we recruited – Derrick Green and David Dawson and Wilton Speight and Shane Morris and those guys – I don’t know the whole roster, haven’t had a lot of time to familiarize myself with everybody, but knowing the players that we recruited when I was at Alabama that are here and part of this team, really feel good about where we’re headed, and we need to get there quickly.”

How far is this team from being SEC caliber?
“I can’t answer that. I didn’t see a lot of Big Ten football this season, obviously. We didn’t really cross paths anywhere. I know this, when we prepared to play this football team last season down there in Dallas, I thought it was a very, very good football team we were getting ready to play. There were a lot of sleepless nights thinking about Coach Mattison and his blitzes and all the things that we might see the next day.”

Big Ten Basketball Media Day transcript: John Beilein

Thursday, October 31st, 2013


(MGoBlue.com)

Big Ten Basketball Media Day is in full swing in downtown Chicago and each coach got a few minutes at the podium to speak to the media. Below is the transcript from Michigan head coach John Beilein.

In addition, Michigan was picked by the media to finish second in the Big Ten this season behind Michigan State and just ahead of Ohio State. Both Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III were selected to the preseason All-Big Ten team along with Gary Harris and Adreian Payne of Michigan State, Aaron Craft of Ohio State, and Tim Frazier of Penn State. Harris was selected as the preseason player of the year.

Opening statement

COACH BEILEIN: Good to get to this point of the year where we’re ready to start another season. I like my team. I like the way we practiced. Different format has allowed us to experiment with some things and give us a little bit more contact with the players, more access.

But it’s a long season and we still have a long ways to go, even to get ready for our first games let alone our conference season. But I do like our team. I like the way we’ve approached the preseason. But we have a lot of things to replace. We have five seniors that graduated last year that were incredible leaders for our team and sacrificed so much for the other guys.

Now you lose two guys to the first round of the NBA. There’s obviously some replacement to do. At the same time, there’s 25 or 30 shots out there. There’s another 80 minutes out there. I think our guys are embracing the opportunities that they have in front of them.

Q. Obviously recruiting is very accelerated, Coach, but how have you seen making it to a national championship affect recruiting since then, please?

COACH BEILEIN: That’s a common question. Recruiting is such a unique science to it. I think there’s been good things and I think it hasn’t made a difference in some other ways as well. Certainly I think we’re on a lot of people’s lists. At the same time, everybody has different reasons for choosing their next university, the university they’re going to go to. So I’ve seen some really good things, but at times it’s maybe not the right fit. So we just keep doing what we are doing.

The young men we did have in recruiting probably were not the Trey Burkes and the Tim Hardaways, weren’t on the top of anybody’s lists. There’s a lot of different ways to form a good team.

Q. The past few years you’ve been here, can you sense the target on Michigan getting bigger from the other Big Ten teams?

COACH BEILEIN: No, I don’t think about that at all. I think all the time that we are — we’re just trying to be the best that we can be. And we have enough things to do to grow our program right now let alone worry about any target on our back. We just keep playing and trying to improve and take each day trying to improve, really.

Q. There’s been a lot of discussion about Glenn perhaps changing positionally a little bit, moving more toward the perimeter. Is that happening? And, if so, how is his skill development affecting the process?

COACH BEILEIN: Really, last year he was not an inside player at all. So he’s been a perimeter the whole time. I think the biggest difference is what I just alluded to. There’s 80 more minutes and there’s a good 20 to 30 shots, scoring opportunities that Trey and Tim rightfully took upon themselves last year that are wide open. We want him to fill a lot of those opportunities, attacking from all different sides.

We can play big. We can play guards — all guards. We can do a lot of things. He’ll probably be on the floor no matter what we do.

Q. Regarding some of the new rules aimed toward decreasing the physicality of the game, the Big Ten’s a physical league, do you think the league’s in any way being targeted by those rules?

COACH BEILEIN: The people that have changed the rules over time have really had a good record at doing this. There’s some experimentation probably we would have preferred at times. But we led the country in not fouling last year. I think we were number one or number two in not fouling. So I don’t think there’s going to be a big change in how we coach.

And the block charge, I hope it simplifies things. I do not know that it does. We have to wait. And this is where I defer to the experts and say, okay, if they think it will work, they’ve done enough research on it, we just go and we adjust from there.

But we’ve had a scrimmage and inner squad scrimmage. I haven’t seen the difference, in particular, in how the game was called against us. And I think other teams have a drastic difference. But who knows.

Transcript provided by FastScripts by ASAP Sports, courtesy of the Big Ten

Notre Dame postgame transcript: Gardner and Gallon

Monday, September 9th, 2013


(Justin Potts, M&GB)

On getting to wear Tom Harmon’s #98 jersey…
Gardner: “I appreciate that history and all the great things he did on the field, but he did a lot of great things off the field. He was a great person and a great athlete. I didn’t even know that he even played two years of varsity basketball, so that’s just the ultimate athlete and a great person. He fought for our country. For my coaches to be able to say that I’m worthy of wearing this jersey, it’s amazing that they see me as that type of person.”

On the chemistry with Jeremy Gallon and why Jeremy plays bigger than he is…
Gardner: “I mean, he’s like a little bulldog, man. We worked so hard since I got here. You guys are just now seeing it, but behind the doors we work so hard and we got the opportunity to display it in front of the biggest crowd in college football.”

On whether he has silenced doubts about not being able to win the big game…
Gardner: “Those are the games that we want, the Big Ten Championship (and) Rose Bowl games. And I feel like with the help of my teammates they helped me a lot. I made a bad turnover in our own end and the defense came out and stopped them and the offense blocked for us to get out and run the clock out. So I mean, 115,000, that’s how many people were there, but not to mention all the people that were watching on TV. It’s amazing to be able to participate in something like this, but this isn’t the big one that we really want.”

On Jeremy’s first touchdown catch…
Gallon: “It was a dig and cover-2 coverage and I was just coming down and Devin hit me. It was good to get up there and make my move and they wanted to strip the ball. I spun around and started running and I saw Jehu Chesson lay a block on somebody and I just ran in for a touchdown.”

On starting a night game in Michigan Stadium…
Gardner: “It felt great. I’ve said all week this rivalry is such a big deal, and like I said earlier to be able to play in front of so many people and to respond under adversity and under what you guys see as pressure, it was amazing for me. And my teammates believed in me the whole time, and I just want to thank all my teammates, the offensive line, the defense, and Gallon. I knew I could get the ball there when I needed to and I just want to thank my entire team for believing in me. My coaches too.”

On the interception…
Gardner:
“Coach Borges talks to us about the top three causes of interceptions and one of them is desperately avoiding sacks. That’s what I did in my own end zone which was a horrible decision, but our defense gave us a place to stand. I told them I was going to finish, ‘you give us a place to stand and we’re going to finish this football game.’ And they said they believed in me – a number of them – and that’s what happened, we finished the football game and put that behind me. I mean I’m the quarterback, I respond after adversity.”

On his injury and the chemistry beteween he and Devin…
Gallon:
“Yeah, it’s just a little hamstring deal. The chemistry between me and Devin, like he said we’ve been working with each other since he first got here and it’s been like a brotherhood and we’ll never let anything change anything. We just try to let our work off the field show on the field.”

On the potential of the offense…
Gardner:
“I feel like if I limit my mistakes we can go as far as we want. I feel like the offensive line is going to block, Fitzgerald Toussaint is going to run, and all the receivers are going to catch, and all the other backs are going to run also. I feel like if everybody does their job and if I do my job in particular we’ll be fine.”

On how he shook off the interception…
Gardner:
“I mean I just always remember that everybody’s going to look to me for confirmation that we’ll be alright. So I just tried to make sure that I stayed level. I was pretty upset with myself for the mistake – it was a horrible, horrible mistake and could have cost us the game – but like I said the defense gave us a place to stand and I went out and finished it.”

On his big game and how he will remember this night…
Gallon:
“For me, I could never imagine doing something like this. I just come out and play for my team, just play my role as a senior on this team. I mean, a good game, it’s not me, it’s the rest of my teammates, the rest of the offense and I can’t take all the credit. Those are my teammates.”

On what they will say to their kids 25 years from now about this game and the series being canceled…
Gardner:
“I don’t even know. I can’t even explain it. I’m still kind of, how I feel right now, how it felt to take that knee, I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. But we still have unfinished business in the season, so this isn’t the end, it’s only the second game of the year. We have much bigger goals as Coach Hoke always says”

On the importance of diversifying the passing game as teams start to game plan against Gallon…
Gardner:
“Jeremy had a big game but maybe seven or eight different people caught passes – big passes where we got first downs or moved the chains – so it’s not just like he had a really big game. I feel like it could happen for any of them because Gallon isn’t always on the field. Even some third downs he’s not on the field and we get the first down. So I mean, it was a collective effort. Joy Reynolds, Devin Funchess, Jake Butt had some big catches, Fitzgerald Toussaint had one at the end. So I feel like we can spread it around; he just had a big game tonight.”

On the pro style offense and was tonight an indication of what it will look like going forward…
Gardner:
“Definitely. I feel like Coach Borges is in a groove playcalling. We were in a groove as an offense. We drove the ball down with some nice drives and took a lot of time off the clock and things like that, so I feel like we performed to the level that Coach Hoke would like. I mean, obviously, we’re going to have to watch the film and there are going to be mistakes, even ones that we didn’t notice on the field, overall I feel like we fought. And that’s what we talked about all summer and all winter, is fighting and finishing, because that’s something we didn’t do last year. And today we fought and we finished.”

Notre Dame postgame transcript: Brady Hoke

Sunday, September 8th, 2013


(Justin Potts, M&GB)

“You guys ready to go home? It’s late.”

On the plan of running wide early in the game…
“Well, we thought that we had a chance to get the edge and with Mike (Schofield) and Taylor (Lewan), the two tackles, we felt that we could take over block, zone it out, and then got a couple good blocks by (Devin) Funchess. He’d motion over or be stationary there and that let Fitz (Toussaint) determine where he wants to cut and I thought Fitz made some really good runs tonight. He had some really good cuts.”

On how the offensive line was able to neutralize Notre Dame’s defensive line…
“Well, I don’t know if neutralize is the right word, but at the same time they had some success too. I thought the three interior guys, they take a lot of pride, Taylor and Mike have really taught those guys well (and) Darryl Funk has. They just, good fundamentals and really wanted to finish every block.”

On breaking two records, Gibbons’ consecutive field goals and the attendance record…
“It’s nice to see Gibby because a couple years ago, to me, he wasn’t really kicking the ball as well. To see the work ethic that he put forth and the confidence that his teammates have in him is part of it. I think having the all time attendance record, I think that’s pretty cool, and it was a great atmosphere.”

On what he was disappointed by with the defense…
“You’ve got to give Tommy Rees some credit. I think he’s a good quarterback and I think he’s proven that against us now three years in a row. He’s accurate. They have some big play receivers. We were playing mostly off until we did play man. We were going to give him some of those throws and I think what was disturbing a little bit was they ran the ball in there a couple of times when we were set up defensively well enough to where they shouldn’t, even though we played mostly a seven man front all day.”

On the defense’s ability to come up with a big play when needed at the end of the game…
“Well, that was critical. I think Greg (Mattison), especially in the second half, mixed some things up from a front standpoint to some coverage standpoint, some zone blitzes and some zero blitzes, and I thought it worked out pretty well.”

On whether he spoke to Devin Gardner after the interception…
“Every time he comes off the field we talk. Maybe we’re going to need more, like I told him tonight, we’re going to need more because we were struggling a little bit defensively. They were efficient sometimes. When he came off the field (after the interception) I didn’t have to say a word to him because he was beating himself up all the way off the field. It was one of those things that he knows better and I’ll go back to the same thing (I’ve said before), it’s a blessing and a curse when you have that ability.”

On Gardner’s athletic ability allowing him to get that pass off instead of just taking a sack…
“Yeah, there’s no question. He’s very conscientious in trying to do things that are going to help the team and stay away from those negatives.”

On how it felt to beat Notre Dame…
“Well, it’s always nice to win. It’s just such a great rivalry and to be able to be on the right side of it always feels good. It also tells you a lot (about) where you’re at when we play them early in the year, where you’re at as a program, what we need to do if we want to win the Big Ten Championship. I think we learned a lot about that because of the team we played.”

On whether the offense achieved the balance he wanted it to…
“That’s probably what we’d like to be, that 55-45, somewhere in there, run-pass. We always like to run it a little more, especially with the tailback if we’re having success. We had some tonight.”

On  Jeremy Gallon and the work he has put in to become an elite receiver…
“You know, Jeremy is, I guess I would say first of, he’s a very very tough kid. As well as he catches the ball, finds those seams and creases, he blocks. And when he blocks, he gets on people. Catching the ball is important for him, but he loves to block. And I think how he comes to work every day, because he does come to work every day, and how he competes is probably one of his strengths.”

On Gardner storming off the field…
“Well, storming off the field…I think there’s different storms that can happen. It wasn’t one that I think a whole lot of people would notice, but when good things and bad things happened during the course of the game I think he was pretty even as far as demeanor and how he looked.”

On whether Michigan took it personal this week that Notre Dame ended the rivalry…
“You know, I don’t think so. I think we were playing Notre Dame and I think they always think that – and I’m going back to the Michigan teams that I coached on when I was an assistant – and I just think that there are certain games that you get very excited about, those rivalry games. So I don’t think there was any kind of…I mean, we just…we want to win. And we want to win every week. And we want to win and improve as we win.”

On at what point he realized he needed to tell Devin we need more…
“I say that every game. You can get a feel for a game. We went three and out the first possession defensively, and I just think we always know we’re going to need more.”

On the two interceptions by Blake Countess…
“Yeah, the last one, number one, being an athlete and catching the ball that was kicked, but also being in the right place at the right time and just playing through the play. He was pursuing towards the ball and that’s what you like to see. The first one gave us great field position, a great opportunity, and it was well needed at the time.”

On where the offense is now in terms of the style he wants it to be compared to what it was with Denard Robinson at quarterback…
“Well, number one, we were fortunate to have Denard. Al (Borges) was smart enough to conform what we do with the abilities that you have on your team – and you need to do that in all, offense, defense, and kicking game. I would say this is more like what we’d like to do. We’re going to be multiple enough personnel-wise, multiple enough from a formation standpoint – two backs, three backs, whatever it takes, another offensive tackle in, a lot of different things that we like to do – but this was more like what we want to do.”

On how important was it for Devin to make plays with his legs, picking up a lot of critical first downs…
“Yeah, there’s no doubt about it. It is critical. When he doesn’t see what he wants to first and second read he does a nice job pulling the ball down and getting what he can, and we’re fortunate that he has that kind of ability.”

On what he learned about Devin in this signature game that will help for the bigger games going forward…
“I don’t know if I learned a whole lot different than I knew, because I get to see him every day. But I would say the thing that you take form it is he made some very good plays but a the same time he’s got to be more consistent once in a while.”

On the one lasting memory he will take away from tonight, the last home game against Notre Dame…
“Probably two things…three things. Probably winning for maybe the last time. 115,000 and a sea of maize. And it didn’t necessarily happen tonight, but honoring Tom Harmon and having Mark (Harmon) here. It was special. He visited with our team and it was really a special thing.”

On the injuries…
“AJ (Williams) got a little bit of an ankle. He came back in, probably could have gone, but would not have been as effective as we’d like him to be. Taylor’s fine, he got poked. Jeremy’s got a little muscle that he’s got to work through.”

On whether he brought up Brian Kelly calling it a regional rivalry this week…
“Never did.”

On what he learned about the team…
“What we learned a little bit about our team is we can be a good football team if we do a better job playing the run, if we’ll be a little more – and this is all defensive perspective to some degree to start with – be a little tighter in coverage. I think we’ll have a little more confidence to do that. I think in the kicking game, Dennis (Norfleet) had a couple of good kickoff returns. I think they were blocked decently well. Obviously, we gave up some field position, had a kickoff out of bounds, and a punt that wasn’t exactly like we’d like to punt the ball, and they had a return. So those are things that we need to work on so that they don’t happen again.”

Big Ten football coaches weekly teleconference transcript (Week 2): Brady Hoke

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013


Brady Hoke spoke for a little over 10 minutes on Tuesday afternoon, answering questions about his thoughts on the Notre Dame rivalry, recruiting battles with the Irish, Taylor Lewan, FCS opponents, and San Diego State.

Opening Statement

“We’ve got a huge football game this weekend, big game against a great rival that we’ve played 29 of the last 35 years. I can remember being here with Coach Schembechler when he was still alive and in the building. He would always tell us that that’s how you gauge your team, in this great game against Notre Dame, and you find out a lot about where you are as a football team. So it will be an exciting atmosphere, it will be a lot of fun. We obviously need to play a heck of a lot better than we did last week. We’ve got to clean up some turnovers, we’ve got to clean up targeting as far as when you look at offensive linemen getting up to the next level or those combo blocks taking them over. And defensively we’ve got to hit some runs better and play better in the back end.”

Adam Rittenberg, ESPN.com: How intense were the recruiting battles between Michigan and Notre Dame when you were an assistant under Lloyd Carr?

“They’re a national school, a national brand like we are, so those battles then and today for the student athletes I think were similar in a lot of ways when you look at universities from an education standpoint and goals that we have for our student athletes. I think we look at a lot of the same kids.”

Adam Rittenberg, ESPN.com: With Notre Dame focusing more on recruiting the southeast, are you seeing less of them on the recruiting trail than you were before?

“I don’t think so. I think it goes cyclical a little bit, how many scholarships you have to offer, sometimes positionally what you’re looking for, all those things. But believe me, we bump into them enough.”

Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com: If ND-Michigan and Oklahoma-Nebraska can go away because of conference realignment, are you worried about losing traditions in college football?

“Yeah, as a guy who grew up loving college football and grew up loving those games, those big games, were far and few between televised nationally, but you’d always have the Nebraska-Oklahoma game, Notre Dame-Michigan, USC-UCLA. Those were always games that you were interested in, and obviously Michigan and Ohio. So yeah I hope for college football that this series comes back and I know we have two more games, but I hope it comes back.”

Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com: What was your favorite besides Michigan-Ohio State?

“I would probably say the Notre Dame-Michigan game. Just as far as they’re such a national brand and we are. There were always people in your school or in your community that were staunch Notre Dame fans.”

Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune: What are the most important things that Taylor Lewan has done since deciding to come back last winter?

“I think number one, his leadership that he’s provided since that day in January. How he attacked the weight room, how he went about his business, he brought a lot of guys with him. I think his commitment level and I say that just because I’ve seen what he does in practice, what he does in meetings, in team situations and then individual situations and I think his play. He wants to master it. He doesn’t want to have minuses on his gradsheet at the end of the game.”

Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune: Were you surprised when Brian Kelly called it a regional game?

“Everybody sees it differently and I think Devin (Gardner) spoke really well yesterday about it. We all look at things in this world differently. I think that’s his perspective and that’s fine. I just grew up a little differently about this football game.”

Eric Olson, AP: In the wake of several FCS schools beating FBS schools in Week 1, do you think games against FCS schools will go away with the playoff format starting next season?

“Number one, I think we opened up with Alabama last year and some people probably think we were crazy. Personally, I think it was probably one of the best things we’ve done. No one likes to lose, obviously, but I think it taught us a lot as a staff, taught us a lot as a team (about) where we want to get to and what we need to do. I think the Notre Dame rivalry is such a great game to play. I think there’s a balance somewhere in there, but I think if they’re truly going to take strength of schedule in deciding who’s going to be in the national championship, then I think you need to play a strong schedule.”

Eric Olson, AP: Do you think in some cases playing the 120th best FBS school versus playing a top FCS school changes things somewhat?

“Well, there’s some great coaches out there at all levels and there’s some teams that through their recruiting or taking some bounceback guys that help you from year to year. But I don’t know if there’s any difference to be honest with you.”

Jonathan Schopp, Spartan Nation: How has this Notre Dame team evolved from the last time you played them?

“I think offensively, obviously, you’ve got a little bit different quarterback, but you’ve also got the quarterback who’s got right now the all time percentage in completions. He’s given us fits the last two years that we’ve played against him. I think he’s a tremendous quarterback. I think he’s very accurate. I think their team itself, they’re at the point where Brian has been there four years, he’s been able to recruit well and replace guys well. So numbers can fool you a little bit from last week, but you see the technique and the fundamentals they’re playing with, you see how hard they play. Their front seven defensively is still a tremendous front seven.”

Jonathan Schopp, Spartan Nation: What do you expect about this week’s environment and how unique was it last time Notre Dame played at Michigan?

“Well, for being here eight years before as an assistant and coming back, it was exciting as any stadium I’ve been around. The evening, the dusk and all that kind of stuff, and the fans being in the stands when warm-ups were going on, just the environment itself obviously, the game was one that was down to the wire, so it kept everybody into it.”

Stefanie Loh, San Diego Union Tribune: Have you talked to the San Diego State coaching staff at all this week and provided any insider info on how to beat Ohio State?

“Well, I don’t have that message, I can tell ya. I talk to Brian Sipe probably a couple times a month. That’s a great staff and Rocky (Long)’s a great football coach. He’ll have something unique, probably defensively, that will be a little different than Ohio is used to getting. But those kids I can guarantee you are going to play hard.”

Stefanie Loh, San Diego Union Tribune: Are you surprised by the fact that they dropped the opener to an FCS team?

“Again, I think the question really is about some of those teams. Sometimes there’s some awfully good football players that started their careers somewhere else and ended up for one reason or another back at an FCS school.”

Gannett News Service: Why did you feel Brian Sipe would be a good fit for the quarterback coach position at San Diego State?

“Well, number one, he had won four regional – in California they break it up a little differently – championships. I had gone by there, not that he had a player that we were recruiting at Michigan, but it’s Brian Sipe for God sakes, one of the best to play the game, and have the ability to visit with him, so we got to know each other, probably a little bit of a relationship, and then knowing what his teams did and how they played. You have a guy who was one of the best to ever play at San Diego State and has such love for that university. I knew he could coach the quarterback, that was the least of my worries. He was a great fit and a guy that we wouldn’t have had some of the success we’ve had if it wouldn’t have been for Brian Sipe.”

Central Michigan postgame transcript: Players

Sunday, September 1st, 2013


(Justin Potts, M&GB)

Desmond Morgan

On second half adjustments…
“Yeah, they always kind of bring us together at halftime and decide what they’re hurting us with in the first half, what things that we were kind of sticking to them. So we just assessed some of the things that they were kind of getting us with, a couple of the routes on the passing game and things like that, and just made minor adjustments.”

On the defense’s goals and how many of them were hit…
“As a defense, we always want to keep them the lowest points possible. I know one of the biggest things was redzone defense that we always stress and coming out twice with a stop was a big thing for us, especially holding them to a field goal. They started really close there in kind of a quick change of events with momentum and everything like that, so that’s one of them. As far as turnovers as well, our goal was to get two (and) we got two. I think there were a couple of opportunities that we could have got some more and as the season progresses we need to get more, but overall that’s two of the big things that stand out in my mind.”

On whether he felt if the defense got enough pressure on the quarterback…
“I think that’s something we need to improve on as well. I know me personally blitzing a couple of times, as linebackers have to get home on a couple more blitzes. I don’t think we did that too great today. Then pass rush is something we always like to improve on. There was one, the third down scramble that ended up going for a first down, (we needed to) get a little more pressure and contain that guy. So there were a couple of times where obviously we missed and that’s something we’re going to work on.”

On whether he has started thinking about Notre Dame…
“Just started. Game’s over. We’ll try to enjoy this one a little bit, we’re getting the film tomorrow, but walking off that field last year I haven’t forgotten what that felt like, so I’m definitely looking forward to that game.”

Michael Schofield

On whether Devin Gardner was too fired up at the beginning…
“It’s just the first game of the season, you’re excited to play. We’ve been hitting each other all camp, it’s the first time you get to hit a new team.”

On whether he noticed Devin settle down…
“Kinda. Yeah, in the third series he kind of started to settle down a little.”

On whether Devin is more comfortable out of the shotgun than under center…
“I don’t really pay attention to that much at all. I’m just blocking.”

On whether the offensive line feels more comfortable in the shotgun than under center…
“No, we’re comfortable with whatever.”

On if he feels they struck a nice balance between shotgun and under center…
“I think we definitely did. We’re just trying to balance it up.”

On what it means to have good depth at running back…
“It’s great. Not just relying on one guy to run the ball 30 times a game is going to be nice. We’ve got three guys, four guys, whatever it is to run the ball and kind of take hits off each other.”

Raymon Taylor

On the sudden change situations and how the defense responded…
“We do things like that in practice, so when our back’s against the wall in a game it’s just like in practice. When things like that happen we can’t panic because coach put us in that situation during practice. We just happened to come out on top and win the game.”

On if he thought he was going to score on the interception return…
“Oh yeah, I thought I had him, but came up short.”

On the performance of Channing Stribling…
“He did well. Like I told him before, don’t panic, just play like you play in practice, and get to the ball, know your assignments, and he did pretty well.”

On a CMU quarterback playing who they didn’t expect to play…
“All Central Michigan, the guys are great. He’s a great quarterback. I take my hat off and wish him the best this season.”

Cam Gordon

On the blocked punt returned for touchdown setting the tone for the game…
“Coach Hoke talks a lot about special teams. We really emphasize that a lot, so we kind of saw that at the beginning of the game with the blocked punt for a touchdown, so it was great.”

On what the team talked about regarding Notre Dame on the sideline towards the end of the game…
“We were all just thinking about on to the next one. We have corrections that need to be made and now we’re thinking about Notre Dame.”

On the electric atmosphere of the Notre Dame game…
“It’s going to be great, this being the last game, it’s going to be great.”

On his memories from last year’s game and if there’s one thing that sticks out…
“Not really. I mean, we lost. That stuck with me, so we need a different outcome this year, this week.”

On the importance of getting the win in the last game against Notre Dame in Michigan Stadium…
“It’s very important, especially with it going down in the history books. To be able to say that you beat Notre Dame the last time that you played them, so it’s going to be great.”

On what he saw from the defensive linemen…
“I felt like they did a nice job. I’m always going to say that we need corrections, but I feel like they did a nice job, especially getting the win.”

Central Michigan postgame transcript: Devin Gardner and Fitzgerald Toussaint

Saturday, August 31st, 2013


(Justin Potts, M&GB)

On how Fitzgerald Toussaint felt out there, physically and mentally…
Toussaint
: “I’d say physically I felt great, but  if I’m not mentally prepared the mental part will take over that. I felt really good mentally and I’ll be ready to play more football.”

On the importance of getting off to a fast start with the blocked punt…
Gardner
: “It was very important because that’s what the game is about early. Coach Hoke always talks about special teams and starting fast. You don’t want to get behind. If you give a team like Central confidence they will give you a really good game. They were a good team and we just kept on pounding away so they didn’t even have an opportunity.”

On the efficiency of the offense and how they felt like they did in their first game of the season…
Gardner
: “It felt great for me. We ran the ball well which was our biggest emphasis over camp. Fitz ran well. All the running backs ran well and it felt great to see that.”
Toussaint: “I just want to start by giving credit to the offensive line. They’ve been building chemistry all throughout fall camp, we just all stayed together, so we just came out here and played good football.”

On what it’s like being ‘the guy’ now…
Gardner
: “I mean it was amazing. I can’t even describe how I was feeling. My heart was racing and I was just like don’t fall, I probably won’t even touch this banner. I mean, I really can’t describe how I feel. It felt great though.”

On how the freshmen handled the pressure, specifically the running backs…
Toussaint
: “I would say the older guys are a little more anxious over nervous, some of the younger guys are nervous over anxious. The guys were nervous and a little bit anxious, just ready to get out there and be ready for their opportunity, and I think they can, but they showed that they will.”
Gardner: “We talked in camp about how pressure, you can’t touch it, you can’t feel it, you can’t smell it. It’s not tangible, so it really doesn’t exist. And I feel like the freshmen put that on their back and ran with it. They were really confident and they ran well. The DBs, I loved watching those guys play because they’ve been giving me headaches all during camp so I knew they were ready as well. It was just amazing to see guys that are like your little brothers get an opportunity so early to contribute and do well.”

On how they feel Shane Morris did…
Gardner
: “He looked fine. He made the right checks. You guys watch the quarterback, you don’t see all the inside things like the different checks you’ve got to make, getting us in the right play and things like that, so I think he did really well. Obviously, we’ve got to watch the film and see the small things that he might have missed or that he did get where he might have gotten pluses and things like that, so you just got to watch the film and see.”

On the emotion of coming back from the injury and whether he feels like he has anything to prove…
Toussaint
: “I just want to say it’s an emotional feeling. I just want to show that I can contribute any way I can for this football team and protect Devin and run the football hard. And know when it’s time to come off the field to come off the field, and my confidence to step in and my preparation to step in and I’m just ready to go play football.”

On whether it felt like a long road coming back…
Toussaint
: “Yeah, it definitely felt like a long road, but I knew if I prepared right then I could come back.”

On what Devin felt like he did well, and whether this was a good game to shake the rust off before Notre Dame next week…
Gardner
: “I feel like I managed the game pretty well. The two things I didn’t do well was throw the two interceptions, but besides that, I feel like I was pretty efficient, getting us in the right play, and making throws, and making opportunities for myself when things broke down. So I feel like I did well in those aspects. I just have to take the turnovers away and I feel like those were like rust throws. I feel like this first game was a good opportunity to knock the rust off because I’m pretty sure everybody knows the test that we have next weekend, we’ll be ready.”

On whether the two interceptions were a result of decision making or rust…
Gardner
: “The first one was inexcusable. I didn’t execute at all. I made a read and threw a decent pass, it was just a bad read, so it got turned over. The next one, I got hit while I threw it so it kind of went as far as it went. You can somewhat control that but not as much as you’d like to, so I wish I had them both back. But they’re done now, we’ll move on to next week.”

On whether he enjoys scrambling when the play breaks down…
Gardner
: “I just like to stay calm, so when I’m running around my face is pretty straight and I’m not really chaotic, my head’s not spinning or anything. I feel like my calmness allows me to help my teammates be calm. When they see me running around, they’re like ‘is he scrambling or is he not?’ so it’s probably refreshing for them and when they get open I have the opportunity to hit them, and if they don’t I’ll just run.”

On how the three new starters on the offensive line performed…
Toussaint
: “I think they did really well. Just like I said before, they really worked in fall camp to have really good chemistry. With (Michael) Schofield and Taylor (Lewan) on the outside bring those guys inside together and do a really good job of that.”
Gardner: “Yeah, I think they did a really good job. I don’t know exactly how many yards we rushed for, but I feel like we had a pretty good day on the ground. Then through the air, I had time to throw the ball and made the throws I was supposed to make. The way they were playing, our linemen responded because it wasn’t what we saw on film as much. They showed a lot more pressure on second down and long distances and they didn’t do that this game, and they (the offensive line) adjusted. So that’s one thing that you might be scared of when you have three new interior linemen, to adjust on the fly when you don’t see exactly what you’ve seen on film, and they did a really good job of doing it and giving me time to throw the ball.”

On how it went between he and center Jack Miller in their first game together…
Gardner
: “It went well. No exchange problems. Those are big deals, pet peeves for the coach. Those are things where you can’t start the play because of the exchange and we had no problems like that. Our protections were on the same page, the changes in protections, or keeping the protections the same. So I feel like it was a great opportunity for us to show that we have a lot of future.”