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Posted on Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

Brady Hoke: Next step for Michigan football team is showing it can win on the road

By Kyle Meinke


Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg has completed 62.2 percent of his passes this season and thrown 17 touchdown passes.

Associated Press

The Michigan football team is 7-1 and in a three-way tie atop the Legends Division race as the final month of the regular-season season kicks off.

But the No. 13 Wolverines are 1-1 away from Michigan Stadium, have played only one half of good football on the road and must become more consistent in hostile environments if they are to maintain pace with Michigan State and Nebraska in the division race.

Coach Brady Hoke said this is an important step in building a football program.

"I think it, obviously, is an important part — going into hostile environments to see what kind of poise and composure your team plays with," Hoke said Tuesday during his weekly teleconference with reporters. "In this league, you’re going to get punched in the mouth, and you better be able to punch back."

No. 13 Michigan will play its next two on the road, beginning Saturday against Iowa (Noon, ESPN). The Wolverines lost, 30-28, in their last game at Kinnick Stadium and haven't won there since 2005.

Iowa (5-3, 2-2) is unbeaten this year in five games at home, but is winless on the road.

"I'm not as much into the road-home conspiracy as much as some people," Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said. "To me, it's about playing well and not playing well. We haven't played well enough to win in our three road losses. In five wins, we've played well enough to win."

Making matters more difficult, Big Ten teams have struggled on the road this year. Visiting teams are 8-18 in league games, and three of those wins came against winless Indiana (1-8 overall). None of them came against a team with a winning conference record.

Hoke said for his team to be successful in Iowa City — and Michigan will travel to Illinois the following week — it needs to tighten up several flaws that were revealed in last week's 36-14 win against Purdue.

"We had way too many mistakes," he said. "We had two interceptions, and we can’t give the ball back to the opposing team. We didn’t get into the end zone at the end of the first half (when Michigan kicked a field goal instead).

"Defensively, we gave up the big play, (which) you can’t do in Big Ten play. I just didn’t think we played as crisp as we need to as a football team. This is going to be a tough test for us, going into Iowa City.

"We have a lot of work to do this week."

Other notes from Hoke's teleconference:

Kovacs 'going to be fine'
Junior safety Jordan Kovacs, who missed the Purdue game with a knee injury, ran on Sunday and is "going to be fine," Hoke said.

Hoke did not indicate whether Kovacs would play against Iowa.

Toussaint takes heat off Robinson


Fitzgerald Toussaint

Hoke said he was pleased with the performance of sophomore tailback Fitz Toussaint not only because of the production (20 carries for 170 yards and two touchdowns), but also because it took pressure off quarterback Denard Robinson.

"It takes some relief off our quarterback, and that’s always been a part of where we wanted to get to," Hoke said. "A lot of credit goes to our receivers and the guys blocking up front."

On Monday, Hoke said Toussaint has earned the team's lead tailback job.

Hoke impressed by Iowa QB
Hoke said Iowa junior quarterback James Vandenberg has been impressive this year, despite being in his first full year of starting.

"He throws a great ball, touch ball, the long ball, the intermediate routes awfully well, the check-downs," Hoke said. "He has shown great poise, and I think he’s a tremendous quarterback."

Vandenberg, a 6-foot-3 junior from Keokuk, Iowa, is 140-of-225 passing (62.2 percent) for 17 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Hoke said he was never worried about his job security as he was trying to turn around Ball State, despite the early losing seasons.

"Never thought about it, and I don't think about that part of it," Hoke said.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.


jeff blue

Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 8:29 p.m.

There is very liitle in common with Ball State and the University of Michigan. Two totally different situations and opportunities.


Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 12:44 a.m.

Theo212- I am amused by your comments. Are you a RR fan? A UM fan? or both? I have followed UM football since 1969. It has been a roller coaster of emotions. Michigan is often good - rarely great. I believe that Brady H. is the right man. I have always liked Jim Harbaugh and have wondered what if? UM 10-3 including their Bowl Game. GO BLUE!


Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

UM77, I love Michigan and have followed them about as long as you have, my friend. But I see us returning to yesteryear (e.g. immobile QBs, slowness, refusing to take chances with a pocketful of timeouts late in half, etc.), and you and I both know that yesteryear never worked. If we truly are the leaders and best, then we need to be in the Crystal hunt year in and year out, like the fast southern and western teams. Our King would have taken us there if not for the impatience and back-stabbing from the old guard. My wisdom knows no boundaries. Join the Legion of Theo fans and I'll lead you not astray.


Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 11:55 p.m.

Let's just cut out all the pleasantries and have that Vandenberg guy be the QB for us on Saturday. Everyone knows that Hoke and Borges salivate when they see a lumbering, awkward buffoon handling the reins. Don't like how these next 4 shape up. We need The King back.


Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 2:05 p.m.

One thing about you theo, you sure are steadfast in your love of the prior regime. Bottom line....Go Blue!


Wed, Nov 2, 2011 : 4:48 a.m.

Yea.. the king fared was great against Iowa.. he obviously knew how to beat them and lumbering awkward buffoon of a QB. (Who is now in the NFL)


Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 9:19 p.m.

Because the trend is for Big 10 home teams to have a huge edge, the visiting team has not played all that well. Michigan looked good at NW and besides being smacked around by Sparty, we were not blown out and could have it a very close game. Hoke talks about "poise" on the road and that sums it up. Here's one advantgae we might have, all of the Juniors on the team, including Denard, has played in Kinnick Stadium before and almost won the game. It might not seem like much but they are familiar with the stadium and it's setting and fans. IA is a wild card as they could play like a beaten team or they can rise up and play intense and redeem themselves. We should know by half time. It sounds like Hoke is dishing out too much praise for IA as harder hitting than MSU. The weather forecast is dry and very mild for Saturday's game but the wind could be Southerly 20 to 30 mph. If that's the case, Al Borges better plan on more running and short bubble screen passes. I like the Wolverines in a close one, less than 10 pt margin. GO BLUE!!!


Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

We'll need our best D of the year to keep the Hawkeye crowd out of the game. And the O line needs to open enough holes for decent production from our RBs. We don't necessarily need 170 yards solely from Fitz, but total running yardage (incl. DRob) better be >225 yards. The early weather forecast is calling for a "breezy" day, not a good omen for our still-evolving passing game. I don't see us getting more than 400 yards total offense, so I hope we don't throw any "pick sixes." We can't dig ourselves a deep hole against these guys, not on their home turf. GO BLUE!!!


Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 7:45 p.m.

There are some keys to this game. 1) Get Vandenburg moving in the pocket. He gets very uncomfortable and gets sloppy and inaccurate. 2) Both lines have to be dominate in the game, which they should be. 3) Denard has to look like a college qb this saturday and not like a sophmore in highschool like he did in the MSU game passing! 4) The ends must maintain the edge on Coker I think Michigan wears Iowa down with a consistant power run game that they finally stuck with this sat. This allows Denard to relax and make good throws down field. I think this one could be a close michigan win or a blow out michigan win. I think around the 17 point margin will be what it ends up at. Who really knows though with the predictions. All Michigan can do is play as hard and fundamentally sound as they can and let the rest fall where it may! Go Blue!!!

jeff blue

Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

Good analysis. we are the better team, but strange things have been happening in Big Ten road games this year. Iowa will turn out to be a huge game -- one way or the other. I am way more confident with home games!!!!

jeff blue

Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 7:10 p.m.

Kyle, Great job. I really like your writing -- good facts and very nice analyses. I see this as a "trap game". Iowa will be desperate, after losing to Minny. I am not sure that we match-up well. We have had some bad halves on the road this year (1st half at Northwestern and 2nd half at MSU). We'll need two good halves to beat Iowa. THANKS KYLE!!


Tue, Nov 1, 2011 : 6:32 p.m.

"He throws a great ball, touch ball, the long ball, the intermediate routes awfully well, the check-downs," Hoke said. "He has shown great poise, and I think he's a tremendous quarterback." Sounds like someone has been staying awake in the film room :) I have a feeling that, although Iowa is big upfront, Michigan's linemen will not let themselves get smacked around like they did against MSU. We should win this game as UM is the better team, but we'll see how they perform on the road. I don't see us gaining yards the way we did against Purdue, but we'll do good enough for a victory. A good performance at Iowa should lead to a win at Illinois next week.