November 19, 2012
Hoke ready for 'fun' prep week
Michigan hasn't won a football game at Ohio Stadium since the year 2000. Brady Hoke won't dwell on that this week, but he knows what it's like to come away victorious in that place.
Hoke was in on the '96 Michigan win, a 13-9 defensive struggle. He was also there in 2000, when Drew Henson bolted around left end on a naked bootleg and scored to put the Buckeyes away in a 38-26 shootout.
The Michigan head coach anticipates a significant reception for his team in Columbus.
"I don't know if we're not all that well liked," Hoke quipped. "It really is a great environment. We have a lot of respect for them. They have good football players, and always have, and always will. They play with a passion. Their fans are passionate about their school, which is what makes college football so great, and makes this rivalry so great.
"I can't speak about winning down there or losing down there. I've done both. It's a fun week, I can tell you. It's a fun week of practice, a fun game to be involved with."
It would certainly be fun for the Wolverines to put the first mar on Ohio State's 11-0 record. At the same time, a circumspect Hoke waved off any notion that the Buckeyes' undefeated status adds anything to Michigan's anticipation or preparation.
"It doesn't, to be honest with you," Hoke said. "We're playing for a championship, still. If you need anything to get amped up more for this football game, then you don't know college football, and you don't understand the importance of this great rivalry."
Talk specifically about the challenge the Buckeyes present, though, and the Michigan head coach warms to the task. He knows that the Big Ten's highest-scoring offense, led by sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller, will present a major challenge to the Michigan defense.
"They're running the football very, very well," Hoke said. "They're scoring more points than anybody else in the conference. [Running back] Carlos Hyde is a big back who is physical. Braxton, with what he does with his athleticism, that's part of it - his uniqueness and his ability to make people miss.
"Their offensive line is talented. They've got playmakers at the wide receiver position that can get down the field. The way they use the tight ends
which we didn't do a great job of defending this past week. It's a concern."
Taking on the Buckeyes and coming away successful is all that matters to Hoke. That became apparent at his Monday press conference any time the discussion moved to the periphery.
That included any mention of a Hoke-Urban Meyer match-up.
"The good thing is, neither one of us are playing," Hoke said. "We'll prepare our teams to the best of our abilities, to go play in a great rivalry game.
"As we look forward, we've got a great challenge in front of us, and an opportunity. This is a fun football game. Any time you have a rivalry like this, it's a fun game to play."
• Hoke would not give details about the injury to redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, but did indicate he expects and hopes Toussaint will be back and ready to go next season.
"Fitz had surgery," Hoke said. "It went very well. I saw him yesterday. He'll get out of the hospital today. He should have a full recovery. We'll move forward and he'll move forward. Everything went well - as well as it can, as far as having an injury. No one wants that for any kid."
• The head coach indicated sophomore tailback Thomas Rawls has learned plenty through the course of the season, and figures into a bigger role because of that process and Michigan's present circumstance.
"Thomas has improved a lot as the season went on," he said. "He learned a bit more about playing the position at this level. Some people, and I am probably one of them sometimes, think you've got a gifted guy, you give the football to him and he decides where to go.
"But there is so much more, when you're looking at back-side reads on linebackers, or looking at pass protections, all the things you have to do as a back. That's where Thomas has grown the most."
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