Hoke talks Michigan vs. OSU, Robinson and more

Shortly before his death, former Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler told the media his teams did something "every day" to prepare for a November game with Ohio State. Brady Hoke said it's a little different in 2012.
There's a clock counting down to the game at Schembechler Hall, of course - two of them, in fact - but there are too many solid teams on the schedule to look too far ahead.
"We try and do that a lot through August as we talk about Notre Dame, a national rivalry, the instate rivalry, and then this week we'll go a little more historical," Hoke said. "I think this is the 109th game. Obviously, I think our guys know we haven't won there in a long time, all those kinds of things."
U-M hasn't won a game in Columbus since 2000, in fact.
It's the kids who come to Michigan from outside the region who have the most to learn.
"I think there are certain guys, a lot of freshmen who don't get it unless you're from the state of Ohio or Michigan," Hoke said. "Just talking to some of the older kids, meeting with the seniors yesterday, some of them didn't understand it until they went through it."
Hoke doesn't have a single favorite in the series - "the favorite ones are the ones you win," he said. His most memorable, though, was the 2002 game.
"Was that Maurice Clarett's first year?" he said. "The screen pass. Big third down play."
That's one he'd like to have back. As for the "every day" theory …
"There's not a whole lot you can do to prepare for another opponent every day," he said. "There are things we talk about every day as far as remembering that game throughout the year. But if they don't have the understanding, the wherewithal about the immenseness of playing in this rivalry, to me they're not going to play as well as they can."
Ohio State's defense has rounded into shape, Hoke said, after struggling early in the season.
"They are very physical, have very good speed," he said. "Jonathan Hankins is as good as any defensive lineman playing in the interior in the country, in my opinion. He plays hard. John Simon, I love watching him play and have a lot of respect for him. From point A to point B, he goes. I'm a defensive line coach, so I like watching guys play that way with that tempo and toughness.
"They've got speed at linebacker and flow well. Ryan Shazier is a guy you'd better get to the second level on. You don't see their back end make many mistakes, and they're athletic."
Hoke wouldn't say whether it was more exciting playing OSU in Michigan Stadium or at Ohio Stadium in his home state.
"It's just such a great game from the standpoint of rivalry. There's an excitement about it," he said. "I wouldn't say it either way. It's a fun week."
Hoke didn't see a Michigan - Ohio State game in Columbus growing up because he or one of his teams was usually playing.
Hoke doesn't foresee one program or the other monopolizing the Midwest when it comes to recruiting.
"Not really," he said. "I think we'll get the ones we get, they'll get the ones they get. It's just the way it goes.
Senior quarterback Denard Robinson continues to improve. There was a reason he was out there against Iowa Saturday.
"He's getting better. It was toughness, probably, and his love for the game and his teammates," Hoke said. "He's close [to throwing], close to 100 percent now. There were no hits on the elbow."
Robinson will play Saturday in Columbus. Fitz Toussaint won't after surgery for a broken leg.
"Fitz … he's handling it like a guy who is pretty tough and a football player handles it," Hoke said.