April 23, 2014
Bullet-points on Brady Hoke
Brady Hoke wrapped up spring football last week with a roundtable involving a number of media outlets. Here are a few more bullet points to put a capper on his thoughts coming out of the spring sessions. Michigan's penultimate scrimmage: We went 140-some plays in here and it was awesome, from a fundamentals standpoint, and the aggression. I thought the guys up front offensively - since they're everybody's favorite targets - really have improved and come a long way."
Hoke touched on
How far, how fast? That's the question as spring moves to summer and into fall. With no transfer help on the horizon - and the fact that Michigan was seeking it should motivate some interior performers - the Wolverines have to get it done at a higher level.
Some of that falls on new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier and line coach Darrell Funk, in making a new, more simplified scheme work. Some of it falls on the individuals themselves, competing and working throughout the summer to shut people up, and more importantly, to lift Michigan up.
Hoke left it upbeat: "Their excitement, what they learned
I think they're going to be a big part of our football team in a successful way."
Michigan's intensity: "One of the kids this morning talked about the intensity this team seems to have when they get on the field. The tempo that came from how we've practiced and how they went after each other.
"I'm a big guy that, if I can hear football, I like football, and effort, and those kinds of things. I can honestly tell you that in the spring, we asked a lot of them, and they answered the bell most of the time."
They need more consistent answers, and will be asked to supply them in fall camp and beyond. Everybody talks about urgency, but it's easier to generate when you've only won seven games the previous year and many are taking shots.
Additional time with players: "The ability to have some film time with them in the summer, which we now have, is huge. But at the same time, it's everything. Again, the goal is to come back in on practice 16, not practice one. There is a lot the guys can do to help themselves.
"We've got two more hours where we can be with them. There's the voluntary discretionary period, and now there are some mandatory periods, eight hours a week. Within that, we can have film with them."
At this rate, the NCAA will soon allow adequate time for extra stretching.
Nussmeier: "He's very sharp. Very intelligent. His teaching demeanor. His consistency in coaching every day, for a quarterback, for a receiver, for a tackle.
"He has a way in his teaching that guys respond. He does a great job of circling back. Sam missed a block, and he may rip Sam's butt a little bit, but he's always going to circle back and, 'Hey, Sam, you've done this before - just go out and do it.' There is a consistency in how you handle things."
The responses to Nussmeier have ranged from sharp, to intense, to insane (the latter smilingly uttered by fifth-year senior quarterback Devin Gardner, referencing Nussmeier's demands for perfection). Without question, the new guy made an impression over the 15 spring practices.
Leading: "I think I could have been a better leader. I should have taken some of the leadership, and not anointed some of that. I could have done a much better job. It gets back to consistency, every day.
"We could have won the daggone Rose Bowl and we still would have gone back and evaluated: 'Did you lead the right way?' You still would have evaluated everything you do. There is always urgency every day. If you don't have urgency in what you're trying to get done as a program, from the academic piece to the social piece to the football piece, then you're making a big mistake.
"If you're not hungry to find out: how's this team running the power? That's one way. But how are they motivating their team? What is somebody doing that might be new? What is something where your team chemistry can be better? What's the best thing for them?"
Hoke was asked about pressure, and responded: "It's pressure for those 115 kids. Do it right for them. Be there for them. Grow them. That's what this is all about."
Hoke means it, and lives it. That's why it's important to see all the work begin to pay off in ways that are appreciated by the bottom-line folks.
Road games: "Part of it IS the road. Part. Probably a smaller part. Part of it is playing great defense. If you play defense every week, you've got a chance to win. Maturity is part of it.
"I can think of the games we didn't play well on the road a year ago, and there's probably one of them, overall, that we didn't have a chance to win the game. The others, we had opportunities. It's converting when you have those opportunities."
Three more conversions (and the maturity to move away from close games against lesser opponents) means 10 wins, rather than seven. It's that close. But making it happen is everything.
Michigan's football facilities: "There is an arms race that continues to grow. We're doing fine. You're not going to find a better one [gesturing to the indoor practice field]. The old museum really wasn't functional, because they had to come in the front door. It's not functional when our players are coming in the same door as the public.
"They did a great job. That [Bo Schembechler] statue is as neat a thing, and it's Bo all the way. We had 500-plus former players here during Victors Weekend. Just listening to them, guys who have played in this program
it means a lot."
Bo would trade the statue in an MSU extra second for a offensive line that is pulverizing people, a defense that is truly swarming, and the words "when the old season is over, you and I know, it's going to be Michigan again. Michigan
" to ring true once again.
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