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October 8, 2012Michigan head coach Brady Hoke has liked much of what he's seen from his defense in the last few weeks, with one key exception - the pass rush. The front got some pressure Saturday in a 44-13 win at Purdue, but there were also missed chances due to one bad habit in particular.
"We had a couple of opportunities and instead of running through the quarterback, we jumped," Hoke observed. "I don't know why we do that. Some of it is it's a natural thing. The guy gets the ball up, his off hand comes off and you think its' going to come off.
"But you want to run through. We missed nine tackles on the kickoff team because we didn't run through. We were grabbing. It's the same thing when you jump or if you grab. You've got to bring your feet up. Your feet are the most important thing, and we've got to do a better job of that. We screwed up an inside game that was sickening how good it could have been, too."
Pass defense as a whole, though, was as good as it's been all year. It all starts in practice, Hoke said.
"As much as anything, they are taking what they are learning during the week from a personnel standpoint maybe, a formation standpoint, down and distance, all those things you want to teach as a coach that's going to help them," he said. "I think they're doing a good job with that. There are spots we're playing good coverage, but there's a consistency we don't have in coverage sometimes, pressure on the quarterback."
"There's a significance when you have a former president of the United States who is a graduate, a player," Hoke said. "Believe me, it's very significant."
Jake Ryan and Brandon Moore were the first two to wear designated legends numbers this year (No. 47, No. 87 for Bennie Oosterbaan and Ron Kramer). Roy Roundtree sports Desmond Howard's No. 21, appointed at the beginning of the year after being worn by Junior Hemingway last season.
"He's done well," Hoke said. "You'd rather have touchdowns than field goals when we're in the red zone. That's disappointing, but I think he's responded really well.
"I think Jareth Glanda, the snapper, and Drew Dileo need a little credit, and I'll tell you who else - Quinton Washington and Will Campbell. Kawann Short had blocked three this year already, and they did a nice job up the middle of our formation on the PAT team."
Gibbons' only miss was into a strong wind from 44 yards out.
"It was right on," Hoke said. "They go out in pregame and communicate before the game what they feel that spot is. It could be a little long, especially with the wind that was there. It was right on that number. He kicked it well and the wind just kept it, pushed it back."
"He was okay. He was good," Hoke said. "He's a good football player, and I thought he did a good job. He's one of those guys who have an impact. He'll be healthier this week, I'm sure, than he was last week. Having him back is important to us."
"That game needed to be that way. That was the plan," Hoke said. "Get him back running the football, feeling good and go from there."
Others will force him to throw, Hoke said, but the coach said he had no regrets about how Robinson had been used to date.
"We talked about that last week," he said. "Playing on the road, we are a different team than playing at home and have been, too."
"I can't give you the exact number, but it was probably inside 12," Hoke said. "Zero [is acceptable], really."
"He was pretty daggone good," Hoke said. "He's a football player. He's unorthodox, but he's a football player. He's playing well - he just does things differently. He can get away with fundamentally doing something wrong, but he has that extra gear where he makes it right."
He still gets chewed out when he doesn't do it right but makes the paly.
"That's life," Hoke said. "You want him to do it the right way. There is a right way."
Receiver Drew Dileo is in the same mold in that he loves the game, Hoke added.
"He is truly like Jake," he said. " They are football players. They love to play, love to learn how to play. They come with the mentality every day, they take high regard of their responsibility to their team and they love to play the game.
"I don't know if you could go through every D1 school and say all 105 or 115 truly love to play. You practice hard when you love to play. You don't make excuses and you don't make mistakes."
"There were some significant holes," Hoke said. "The first long run Denard did a little something to the safety not a whole lot of guys can do. He really did a nice job juking the guy. Everything else, the backside of the thing is where he took it three times.
"For Fitz, they were different runs. Again, they were trying to take the running back away. That left the backside open. The linebacker is quick over the top because he's trying to get to the running back, and the backside is open."