By Ashley Dunkak
Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges described the team’s performance Saturday as some great plays surrounded by garbage. Head coach Brady Hoke agreed with the assessment but said the team has had a good week and he certainly preferred an ugly, last-second win over Akron to a loss.
“You don’t want to live every game like that, but believe me, I’ve been on enough teams that didn’t make the plays at the end,” Hoke said. “The guys stepped up and made a play – and I took the garbage out last night.”
Hoke said the team prepared prior to the Akron game as they usual did in some ways but not well enough.
“We get to take 12 guaranteed tests a year, and just like taking a mid-term, your preparation is critical,” Hoke said. “In some ways we prepared like we normally do, and in some ways obviously we didn’t. We didn’t make the improvement that we want to make from week to week to week. That’s why we went out on Sunday in full pads, and we got better on Sunday.”
“It was fortunate and good to win the game,” Hoke added, “but at the same time, it’s not the expectations that we all have here.”
Turnovers, penalties and allowing Akron to convert on third down bothered Hoke most, and the coach saw areas that need improvement for both the offensive and defensive lines.
“From an offensive perspective first, I think there were some things that they did pretty well Saturday, but there were a couple occasions whether either from a run game standpoint or a pass game standpoint, some of the targeting issues we need to be a little better,”Hoke said. “Defensively, we’ve got to do a much better job of getting off blocks, even though the rushing defense was good until about midway through the fourth quarter and they popped a couple on us, and then the quarterback got out once.”
Quarterback Devin Gardner threw three interceptions and fumbled, and even throws that were not picked off looked questionable. Hoke said Gardner knows he has to make better choices on throws under pressure.
“He understands that. He’s smart enough to know that,” Hoke said. “He’s learning that each week. I think we compete quite a bit every day against each other, ones on ones, and what we do drill-wise. You’ve seen him make some decisions that are more with clarity and making better decisions, and so we’re going to keep pushing it, he’ll keep pushing it. He’ll end up getting it as we go through it, but we’ve got to accelerate the process a little bit.”
With two of Michigan’s rivals, Notre Dame and Michigan State, facing off this weekend, Stoney and Bill of 97.1 The Ticket asked Hoke which team he would be rooting for.
“You always pull for the Big Ten,” Hoke said. “That rivalry we have with Michigan State, it’s intense and it’s very, very important, but as a conference, I like our conference.”
Hoke’s loyalty to the Big Ten apparently does not extend to its referees, at least not to the ones who botched the last play of the Wisconsin-Arizona State game last weekend, taking away the Badgers’ opportunity for a close-range, last-second field goal that would have won the game.
I’m hoping we don’t have the same officiating crew that Wisconsin had, but I like our conference.”