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September 10, 2012
Hoke looking for more from the defensive line
Michigan's line play hasn't been up to snuff through two games, on either side of the ball. It took a few games last year before the team jelled - especially the defensive line - but Hoke would love to see similar results.
"If I knew that, I'd feel a lot better," he said of predicting drastic improvement. "But I think we've got a long way to go."
Senior Will Campbell continues to have his ups and downs. He was chopped a number of times against Air Force, having trouble maintaining his balance against the low blocks.
"He did some good things, but the consistency from a leverage and pad level standpoint at times - he needs to play a little better," Hoke said. "William has come to work every day. I love his work ethic, how he's come in to lead, and I expect he'll keep improving.
"The only way to correct it is doing it every day, those good habits you try and create. With Will, playing defensive line maybe didn't come natural at first to him."
Campbell was flagged twice Saturday for holding, but Hoke wasn't overly critical.
"I'm a defensive line coach, so I have a little problem with the rule," he said. "I don't make rules, so that doesn't help any. He did a nice job of flattening the center. When you're flattening the center, the guard is going to cut him from the back side. Sometimes you're holding on to the center as you move your feet so you can stay upright."
"That could have been disastrous. He's a freshman, young, loves to compete, so we've got to get that squared away," Hoke said. "All his decisions were pretty good besides maybe that decision.
Hoke isn't sure if and when Norfleet will play at running back.
"There's a lot to being a running back. There are a lot of things he's still going through a process of learning," Hoke said. "If we felt he was our best running back, he'd probably be playing."
"He is getting more comfortable running the routes, doing these things within the offense," Hoke said. "I think it's still a learning curve, especially when it comes to runs and do you have the support - what guy do you have? That can change.
"I never thought how much he'd advance, like we have this marker or goal. Like all of us, if we have a chance at all to win the Big Ten championship, we have to improve - coaches, players, everybody. But he's a guy who number one is an athlete, No. 2 he understands football at a pretty good rate."
"Frank gives you, No. 1, a little experience from a year ago. He's pretty athletic and physical," Hoke said. "Whether Brennen Beyer was hurt or not hurt, it was good to have Frank back.
"Depth is always an important part, the development to our depth. We've been able to do that a little, something we've got to keep the competition very healthy and lively in practice. At the same time we've got to be able to stay confident in the guys going on the field."
"I'm happy for Mike that he's getting to finish out his eligibility, getting to play," Cox said. "I'm going to root for Mike every week but Saturday."
"There were all kinds of reasons," he said. "Was the player taking the quarterback, was the pitch guy blocked or unblocked, were they arcing, loading, loading the fullback? They did a lot of different things. It's hard to do that during that week."
Freshman linebacker Joe Bolden "saw things pretty well" in playing much of the second half, he added.
"I don't care if they do or don't [redshirt], we want the best players on the field," he said. "I think they are all making progress. That's probably as hard a position in D-I football to play as a freshman because of schemes, protections, defenses you face. There's a variety of zone blitzes, all those things. That's probably the toughest position to play as a freshman. If they progress and we feel they're better, they'll play."
"He's a long way from being the nose tackle that he will be," Hoke said. "He has pretty good quickness for a big guy, more explosion. The technique and fundamentals, if he keeps working - he's got to be better with his hands and eyes, but he's making progress."
"We started on the 20. The first part of it we wanted to see what we did on the first play, how we'd react if we got a good chunk," he said. "We didn't want to give the ball back to them. I think we did okay."
"I'd rather have 80. I'd rather have the defense watching the offense," he said. "But what are you going to do, take away a 90-yard touchdown run or something like that?"