Michigan coach Brady Hoke reflects on Nebraska win, looks forward to 'Ohio'
Jeff Sainlar I AnnArbor.com
It's Ohio State week. Or Ohio week, as they're calling it these days around Schembechler Hall.
Whatever you call it, it's big. Big for the first-year Michigan football coaching staff, and bigger for the players — particularly the seniors, who will try to avoid spending their entire college football careers without a single win over rivals Michigan State and Ohio State.
The Wolverines are looking for a 10th win in this turnaround season while the Buckeyes -- winners of seven straight against Michigan — limp into "The Game" on Saturday (noon, ABC) in Michigan Stadium trying to save a scandal-shredded season.
Hoke and some Michigan players will meet with the media today at 12:30 p.m. We'll update this post throughout the press conference.
• Brady Hoke: On Nebraska, "our guys played their best football game, as a team, on Saturday."
• Brady Hoke: On Ohio State, "When you get a chance to play in this game or coach in this game, it's always a fun week."
• Brady Hoke: On his seniors, "Seniors are always out in the forefront, and this is a group of guys that have been through a lot."
• Brady Hoke: On watching "The Game" growing up: "I can't remember how old I was or anything, but my dad played for Woody Hayes and loved coach Hayes. That game, you're always watching it. It's always been of special significance at 12 noon on that last Saturday in November, you were watching that football game."
• Brady Hoke: Asked why he calls the team "Ohio" instead of "Ohio State," he said there was no significance to it, just something he's always done. How long? "Always. How ever long always is." What about when he coached in the MAC and played Ohio? They were the Bobcats, Hoke said.
• Brady Hoke: On the perceived role reversal at Ohio State and Michigan: "Our teams are different every year. We'll be a different team next year than we are next year, good or bad, I have no clue."
• Brady Hoke: Would losing to Ohio State mean this is a disappointing season? "Our goal was to win the Big Ten championship."
• Brady Hoke: On the countdown clocks in Schembechler Hall: "You want to motivate your players on a daily basis, and it's just a reminder of the great history that this rivalry is."
• Brady Hoke: On keeping emotions in check this week: "It seems like we're a pretty grounded team right now and hopefully we'll do a good job, as coaches," of making sure that remains.
• Brady Hoke: On what it means that Michigan played its best game of the season against Nebraska, considering Hoke frequently says that November is the most important month of the season: "I don't know if it means anything until we see how they play this week."
• Brady Hoke: On seniors again, "This senior class that's been through a lot -- three head coaches, three assistant coaches, positionally some of them four -- I'm proud of this class. ... We're just trying to get better every day as a program."
• Brady Hoke: On seniors making the transition to Hoke and his staff, "I can't tell you it was quick. We've done some things together from a trust standpoint ... I think that's all part of it. I think our honesty -- which is sometimes tough love and sometimes a kiss on the cheek when they've done something right -- is part of it. But I think they decided they were going to stay together."
• Brady Hoke: On seniors having their legacy on the line this week, "To be honest with you, I think some of them are probably putting more on themselves than they need to. All they have to do is go out there and play as well as you can for the guy next to you."
• Brady Hoke: On OSU quarterback Braxton Miller, "I've got to watch four games now, and he's impressive. ... He does a great job for them. The way he handles himself, how he plays under pressure, I think he throws the ball well. ... We've got our work cut out for us. You put (running back Boom) Herron in there, and he's a great back."
(That concludes the podium portion of the press conference. Moving over to a roundtable discussion with reporters in a moment.)
• Brady Hoke: On the seven straight wins OSU has in the rivalry. Does he emphasize it? "To be honest with you, I haven't talked about that to our kids and probably won't." Says Michigan players are "intelligent young men" and telling him that would probably "insult that intelligence."
• Brady Hoke: On Vincent Smith, who didn't play against Nebraska: "He probably could have played, just didn't." Has shoulder injury.
• Brady Hoke: On Devier Posey, the OSU wide receiver who has played just one game: "There's some good receivers in this league, and he's right up there with those guys."
• Brady Hoke: On preparations this week: "Be consistent with how you've coached all year long. That's one thing we've always tried to do, win on a Saturday or lose on a Saturday. We have the same expectations. ... I may look at this different, but this is fun. Are you kidding me? It's hard work, and it should be. Nothing you do comes easy, so it's fun for them."
• Brady Hoke: On whether intensity increases this week: "I know one thing from being here before for eight years, you don't have to do a lot of coaching this week. You don't have to do a lot of butt-chewing ... not this week."
• Brady Hoke: Does the current status of the rivalry make you angry? "For me to be angry about it doesn't do anybody any good. It is what it is. .... My emotional state doesn't help anybody."
• Brady Hoke: On a potential BCS game and if he discusses it with his players: "It's not important." Says his team doesn't make those decisions.
• Brady Hoke: Practice schedule for this week, with Thanksgiving ... Will practice in the morning and have Thanksgiving dinner for 500 (parents and friends) in the afternoon.
(That concludes Hoke's roundtable. Players expected to join the press conference soon.)
• Ryan Van Bergen: Following Nebraska game, "That win was celebrated in the locker room and just as quickly forgotten. We have goals in front of us."
• Ryan Van Bergen: "All we're focused on is having our best week of preparation in practice."
• Ryan Van Bergen: Is Michigan back? Or to be "back" do you have to beat Ohio State: "I wouldn't say the whole season rests on that."
• Ryan Van Bergen: Will this game define anything for you? "After Saturday, maybe I'll be able to evaluate that a little better."
• Ryan Van Bergen: "So much emotion goes into this game ... I'm sure both teams go into the locker room after the game and it's extra emotional, especially for seniors."
• Ryan Van Bergen: "It's been an emphasis every day. There's countdown clocks. We talk about them every day, and I'm sure they're doing the same things down there. ... We know how big this game is. There's nobody in the Michigan football building -- even the people who let us in the doors -- that doesn't know this is the biggest game of our season."
• Ryan Van Bergen: Why is defense so improved against the run? "I would say the scheme. We're in a four-man front, there's a lot of time when we have eight guys in the box. ... We have a more aggressive mentality ... Coach has unleashed the defensive line ... and we pride ourselves in our technique."
• Ryan Van Bergen: On how similar Nebraska, with its solid run game and dual-threat QB, was to Ohio State: "I'll be honest, I've only seen about 50 clips of game film so far. ... They have a really good back in Herron, their offensive line is probably one of the best we've played all year."
• Ryan Van Bergen: "I'm trying to just embrace every moment. Nobody gets excited about a Tuesday practice ... but I'm going to enjoy every moment."
• Ryan Van Bergen: On the senior class deciding to stick together after three tumultuous years: "That meeting happened in January. Me and Dave Molk talked to the team before coach Hoke was even hired ... We really wanted to see this thing through. We say we have great leadership, but we also have great underclassmen who buy into the leadership. Leadership is worthless if you don't have anybody following you."
• Ryan Van Bergen: Watching UM-OSU games on recruiting visits: "Just the stage set for these games is a big part of the allure to go to either of these schools."