Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hoke/Dantonio Quotes from Tuesday's Teleconference

Here are some quotes from Brady Hoke and Mark Dantonio from Tuesday's Big Ten Coaches Teleconference.

Brady Hoke
Opening Thoughts
We are looking forward to go out again and play at home. Our students were great and they showed a lot of support for our team. We are happy to win the game against Air Force, against a good football team, but we have a long way to go as a football team with our improvement each week that we need to have to be playing Michigan football.
On if he’s more concerned or more encouraged after these first two games
Probably a little bit of both, to be honest with you. There is some concern there, that we need to play better on both sides of the ball up front. We need to block better. We need to be a little more physical at the point of attack. From a defensive prospective, when you give up the rushing yards that we have so far, (we want to see) our defensive front playing and getting off blocks and being disruptive.
How he would like to see Devin Gardner apply his QB past and put it into being a WR
We obviously would like to see that. That helps him a little bit, knowing what Denard is seeing and what he is looking for. I think he is just scratching the surface of being the kind of receiver we need him to be.
Is it difficult to keep your team focused this week given the struggles of UMass?
No, I don’t think so. I think you see some good things they do from an offensive and defensive perspective. I know Charley (Molnar), he is going through growing pains, like we all do, and growing a program. We’ve got to get so much better as a program and our improvement has to be something that can be measured from week to week to week. We have a lot of respect (for UMass) and from all phases of the game, we need to get better.
On what he would like to see improve on the defense this week:
First and foremost, our run defense. (We want to see us) doing a much better job at the point of attack and a much better job of getting off blocks. That’s one of the things that has been discouraging. We have done a decent job of taking on blocks and pad level, but getting off blocks, I don’t think we’ve done a good job with that at all.
Did he expect these defensive issues coming into the season?
I think we all knew that we were going to be different up front defensively with three guys graduating that started and played a lot of football and were good football players. We are kind of a work in progress with some guys that haven’t played much football getting opportunities and with some guys that played some, but haven’t been full-time starters.
Do you have to be patient with so many young guys playing?
I don’t think you are any more patient. They are playing Division 1 football and recruited to play Division 1 football. There are expectations that every coach has for how they want to play the game, so when you look at it that way, we have to just keep improving. We have to keep teach fundamentals and technique…the little details of what you want to do on both sides of the ball. That is probably the biggest thing, when you’ve got young players, is them understanding how you prepare and the things you need to do to play your best.
On the “slow start” of the Big Ten this year
I don’t know about that. I think “slow start” or however you want to say it…you can spin it however you want to but we’ve got a great conference and we’ve got great student-athletes who are working hard and preparing. I’m not speaking for everybody, but our conference, at the end of the day, will hold up to anybody.

Mark Dantonio
Le’Veon Bell’s development as a runner and Brad Salem’s (RB Coach) impact
Le’Veon has always had great vision, great cutting ability and the ability to get positive yards after contact. That is one of the things he’s done since he’s come here. I think the more experience the guy gets, the more confidence a guy gets, the more instinctive he becomes. Coach Salem does a tremendous job in terms of articulating the finer points of a running back’s play or the exact….where to press or what hole to press or what gap to press in certain runs. The pass protection, the techniques and all the different things, the nuisances really of playing the game. But, inevitably it comes down to the player being able to execute and Le’Veon is able to do that at a very, very high level.
On the Big Ten’s relationship with the MAC
I think that we have had a great relationship with the Mid-American Conference. Most Big Ten schools do. I think for the most part, the in-state schools in the Big Ten actively try to play the in-state schools in their respective states. I think you look around the conference and that is pretty much the norm. (The MAC) is outstanding football. Great coaching. A lot of players you already know about, although they maybe didn’t have the opportunity to come to a Big Ten school, they were highly recruited guys and they settled at their respective schools. I think (the relationship) is a positive. It’s challenging, just like playing anybody, it’s challenging. There are some very, very good players in that conference.
Going back to the Notre Dame game 2 years ago, and the “Little Giants” call. Had he ever done it before in a game situation like that?
On the last play in the game? In overtime? No. I have never done that. Not many have, probably. As I have said before, it was about the timing of the play. We had worked on it. We had gotten sacked. We were just outside what I thought was a for-sure makeable field goal. We were just over 50 percent, I thought, if we executed the fake. I really felt like we had a cool customer. We had a guy under center, in Aaron Bates, who we had used on a lot of fakes in the previous four years. At least four or five. I felt like he was a guy who wouldn’t panic. If things broke down, he wouldn’t panic, and that’s exactly what happened. Things broke down a little bit and he had to move right or left. He moved right, stay composed and delivered.
Is there a way to prepare to make that call or is it just about feel?
I don’t know if there is any time to prepare for it. The decision had to be made very quickly. As I remember the clock went all the way down to almost zero, but we got it off. We just felt like it wasn’t a done deal. It was a 48 or 49-yard kick. Dan Conroy was a redshirt sophomore. It was his first big, big game. It was his first kick with the game on the line. I just felt like the pressure had to come to me and not to him, and that’s what we did. It’s just a game, just a game.
On the talk that MSU is carrying the banner for the Big Ten right now
I think that we have played two games. It is very, very early in the season. Last year, as I remember, we didn’t play well at Notre Dame and people sort of wrote us off. We ended up No. 9, or something like that, in the nation. People will respond. That is the nature of football, the competitive nature of it. People are going to respond and reset things and reset their compass and move forward. I think it is still very competitive in the country right now in terms of winning and losing football games. It is extremely competitive and there are so many different teams, that if their matchups go one way, the game goes the other way.
How much clearer is the receiving depth chart now compared to training camp?
When we came into camp we had quite a few players that we were looking at and saying ‘where is he at in the scheme of things’. I think now it is a little cleaner. We have designated eight guys that will travel and all eight of those guys may play. That is the reality of it. Because we are young at that position, those players need game experience to show where they are at. They can do things in practice, but they need game experience to sort of bring things along, in terms of providing that. The practice time is obviously very important as well. You have to evaluate the practice time, but all those guys will have an opportunity to be involved and play. Certainly we have three or four guys that are ahead of that group, but the other guys will play as well.

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