Hoke Not Surprised by Gardner (w/video)

Hoke Not Surprised by Gardner (w/video)

Brady Hoke reflects upon Michigan's 35-13 victory over Minnesota. Michigan's headman discusses the performance and growth of Devin Gardner, Denard Robinson's injury status, the defensive showing, and more. **with video**

Question: Thoughts on Devin’s ability to step in and do the job for you today?

Brady Hoke: “You know, it didn’t surprise us that, you know – his ability, gave him a lot of snaps, obviously. Been in the offense enough, knows most of it, I would say, not all of it. And when I say – being a receiver, and being over there, that’s a whole different animal. I think that helped with development. I think he did a nice job of managing the team. I think they had four drives over 79 yards that, you know, possessed the ball a little bit for us, but also – I thought he did a great job.”

Question: Did it seem like a difficult transition for him this week, or did he ease into quarterback pretty easily?

Brady Hoke: “Pretty easy. You know, he fashions himself as a quarterback, and really has made a move to help us as a football team, so you know, it tells you a little bit about him and his character, and what he believes in Michigan.”

Question: You seemed pretty confident about Denard’s status throughout the week. Did something change…?

Brady Hoke: “It didn’t change; I’m just an optimistic person. Thought it would be a little better, and it’s better than it was, a lot better than it was, but it’s just a matter of healing all the way through.”

Question: Did you guys show up to the field today thinking he was going to start? When you got off the bus, and got - ?

Brady Hoke: “No, no, really yesterday, probably, as much as anything.”

Question: Why did you suit him up, though?

Brady Hoke: “Because he can help our football team on the sideline. He can coach, he can watch, he can help. We all like to be suited up.”

Question: Minnesota started with good field position a lot today. Talk about your defense’s ability to still play (well in spite of that)?

Brady Hoke: “Well, there’s no doubt, and you hit on a key subject, which was the lack of our special teams being special at all. I thought the defense – we gave a little bit, when you look at statistics, too much yardage rushing the football, you know, I thought they had some good stops, and I think they played together well. Some crucial third downs, I thought they played well, but we can’t give up as many yards as we did rushing the football.”

Question: You used Thomas Rawls quite a bit more this game than you had the last couple weeks. What was the reason behind that?

Brady Hoke: “To be honest with you, we planned on doing a little more a week ago, and we didn’t, you know, for one reason or another, but we wanted to get him involved in the I-back stuff, and under center. It kind of…suits him. Let me put it that way. I think it suits Fitz too.”

Question: How do you think Thomas did?

Brady Hoke: “I thought he did ok. I didn’t see every play, because I talked to the defense sometimes, but I know one thing, he’s going to run downhill, and he’s going to run hard.”

Question: Could Russell Bellomy have played today for you? He didn’t seem to take a whole lot of snaps in warm-ups.

Brady Hoke: “Russell’s situation’s a little different.”

Question: And then your defense, given that you’re a perfectionist, the way that they came out, and they were able to establish a little bit of field position on you guys. Was that one of the more disappointing parts?

Brady Hoke: “Yes, no doubt about it. It really – it bothers you, you know, especially when you’re a defensive line guy, that they can run the football.”

Question: Can you talk a little bit about the help that Gardner got from your receivers today? Gallon with the catch, Roundtree with the deep ball, and even Dileo on that first one…

Brady Hoke: “Yeah, and John has a good point. I think the whole football team, defense pretty much – you know, the thought of ‘if they can’t score, they can’t win’, went in with that attitude, so I thought they played with great energy together, and all that, and I think Roy had a really nice catch early. Drew, and Devin gets a lot of credit, kept the play alive, and Drew did a nice job of adjusting, and being in the right place, and I thought Jeremy played a nice football game. “

Question: What is Russell’s situation?

Brady Hoke: “Not one that I want to discuss.”

Question: Can I also ask you about Denard? How much did he actually practice this week? Could he have played today in an emergency role?

Brady Hoke: “Probably.”

Question: Do you anticipate him playing next week?

Brady Hoke: “Yeah. I’m very optimistic.”

Question: Yeah, but you were very optimistic this week.

Brady Hoke: “Correct, so I’m still optimistic.”

Question: How much did he practice this week? Was he - ?

Brady Hoke: “Oh, he practiced this week. He took snaps, he threw the ball.”

Question: But is he still having the numbness and tingling in the hand? Is he able to throw?

Brady Hoke: “He can throw the ball and take snaps.”

Question: But not well enough to play today, obviously?

Brady Hoke: “No.”

Question: So what percentage - ?

Brady Hoke: “I don’t work on percentages.”

Question: Mario Ojemudia didn’t make the trip. There were a couple of guys who were helped off the field today. Can you get any of their statuses?

Brady Hoke: “No, not really. I mean, Cam was ready to come back, I know that, and Gallon came back. I’m trying to think of who else.“

Question: How long did it take for Gardner to get adjusted back into the game flow?

Brady Hoke: “Practice-wise? Game-wise?”

Question: Game-wise.

Brady Hoke: “I don’t think it took him very long. You know, I think he – again, he’s played a lot of quarterback. He’s worked a lot of quarterback through his – you know, it’s the old riding a bike theory, kind of, to some degree. I know it’s probably a little more difficult than that, but you know, Devin’s a smart guy.”

Question: Do you expect Thomas Rawls to get more playing time?

Brady Hoke: “He might. You know, the one thing, you have to earn it every day in practice, you know, and that’s the competitive nature of what we do, and at that position also, you know, protections, and routes, and all that, and I think that’s where his growth has been, you know, and understanding that part of it.”

Question: Do you expect Toussaint to get more production? Because I know he’s struggling maybe a little this year.

Brady Hoke: “We’d like to get him more production, you know? We’d like to block him a little better than we did. I don’t think we started the game out on the line of scrimmage as well as we’d like.”

Question: What do you do with Devin now, this week, if Denard is still banged up? How do you approach the week?

Brady Hoke: “We’ll approach it really, probably the same way.”

Question: Is he going to stay taking those quarterback reps, or start doing receiver stuff again.

Brady Hoke: “No, we’ll stay taking the quarterback reps, and we may be able to get to a point where he can do a little bit more of both.”

Question: With how well Devin played, is that starting job up for grabs?

Brady Hoke: “No, no.”

Question: Coach, when Gardner got here, ever since he got here, he’s just seemed like a very laid back kind of guy, very cool. Does he need – he had some adversity there in the first quarter. Does that help him? Does he feed on that?

Brady Hoke: “That’s a good question. Does he feed on it?”

Question: Does it help him?

Brady Hoke: “He’s competitive, and so when things don’t go as well as you’d like them to, I think it bothers him, and he wants to figure it out and do better.”

Question: Did you see that today?

Brady Hoke: “Yeah, I think so. I think his growth maturity-wise has been really substantial, and I think part of that is playing wide-out, and how they practice, and how Heck practices those guys. I think either you have the mindset and your toughness increases, and I think him getting hit at wide receiver – he got hit a couple times today – I think it all helped.”

Question: Devin did some good things with the improvisation. Is there a fine line – how fine is that line between letting him go and telling him to rein it in a little?

Brady Hoke: “There’s no question it’s a fine line. When it works out, it’s really good. When it doesn’t, it’s not so good, but like I said, the one down there, going in, in the third quarter, I thought he did a nice job throwing the ball away, because I’ve seen other times when he’s going to force it, and try to make that big play, and he did a nice job.”

Question: I just want to clarify, so you decided Friday that Denard wouldn’t play?

Brady Hoke: “Yeah, we practiced last night.”

Question: And then on Devin, you said maybe take some snaps at receiver. Do you see him now more exclusively as the backup quarterback?

Brady Hoke: “Probably right now, yeah.”

Question: As far as Devin, and the improvisation, and the flip side of that means he’s facing quite a bit of pressure, were you concerned about the pass protection today?

Brady Hoke: “Yes, very much so, because some of it was four-man rush things, and we’ve been pretty good most of the year taking care of business that way.”

Question: The lob to Gallon that was a touchdown, when he threw that, did you think Gallon would be able to go get that?

Brady Hoke: “He never surprises me.”

Question: Is Russell’s issue injury related?

Brady Hoke: “Most likely. Yes.”

Question: A boo-boo, right?

Brady Hoke: “A boo-boo.”

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