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.
“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.”