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Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Updated: October 26, 11:25 AM ET
'Hokespeak' sends vague message

By Chantel Jennings
WolverineNation

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) is coming off a bye week that coach Brady Hoke says was beneficial, both mentally and physically. But let's face it, some fans can't wait for the next Michigan football game so they can get over the Michigan State loss, and other fans are looking to the basketball season to heal the wounds they believe will happen during the football season.

Remember, the 'Bag is only as good as what you ask. So feel free to send questions to us every week. All we ask is you throw at least your first name and hometown in the question. With that, let's get to it.

Aaron, West Bloomfield: After watching Brady Hoke's press conference after the MSU loss, some of his answers were a little puzzling. When asked about some MSU defenders acknowledging after the game they were able to predict the Wolverines' snap count, Hoke suggested that it wasn't true, and didn't give it much credence. Also, MSU defenders said they were trying to make Denard Robinson one-dimensional by throwing the ball, because they felt he was not an efficient thrower (which empirically has weight). Hoke again dismissed this suggestion, defending Denard's throwing ability, saying something like, "He has been able to throw it this season." These responses seem naive and troubling to me, that he does not acknowledge legitimates problems.

Brady Hoke
Ask Brady Hoke a question, and you get an answer. Sort of.
CJ: Aaron, trust me, Hoke is the furthest thing from na´ve. He is what you could call a media savant. He knows how to answer questions without answering too much. We often joke that Hoke has a special language that he uses during press conferences, called "Hokespeak." It walks the fine line between being completely confusing and sort of answering tough questions. As far as the MSU defenders predicting the snap count, I think that's very possible. Every team has a certain way it does things, and if MSU players figured it out, then they figured it out. And when it comes to Robinson's throwing, well, yes and no. No, Robinson hasn't thrown the ball particularly well during games. But you have to remember that we all see a few hours on Saturday, and Hoke sees him throw every day. So, at the end of the day, Hoke doesn't answer to the media or the fans; he is going to be as cryptic or open as he wants. But really, check our Twitter feeds during Monday news conferences, because Mike and I usually tweet about the "Hokespeak."

Nick, Santa Monica, Calif.: Concerning the quarterback position, don't you feel that mixing in [Devin] Gardner more than just a little bit disrupts Robinson, especially early on in games? It's a bit of a conundrum that one of the most dynamic and fastest athletes in the conference is the second-best quarterback on the team. What happens next fall?

CJ: I think it might mess with Robinson a bit, especially when they're moving him to the sideline rather than the running back position with the Wolverines' 2 set. But more importantly, I think it messes with the Michigan offense as a whole. The first group has been working with Robinson since day one of fall camp, so there's a comfort level there. And as far as next fall, if things don't change too much, I'd expect to see Robinson as the starter again. Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges molded their offensive scheme to fit Robinson, not the other way around. I'd assume if they were willing to do that, they have a lot of confidence in the junior quarterback. With Robinson as a senior, I see no reason it wouldn't be the same story. Now, if Gardner becomes the more impressive playmaker or Robinson gets hurt, that changes a lot. But I would assume that Robinson is the Wolverines' starter again in 2012.

Andrew Nelson, Ace Deuce: Where do you think the men's basketball team will end up in the Big Ten this year and who is our biggest threat? Who do you think will be Michigan's starting five when conference play begins?

CJ: It's so hard to say where Michigan will end up in the Big Ten this season, even though we're just two weeks out from the start of the exhibition schedule. But if I had to pick, I'd say that the Wolverines would finish in the upper third of the conference. I think with Jared Sullinger, William Buford and Aaron Craft returning, the Buckeyes are going to be the hardest team to beat. My guess is Ohio State heads into the Big Ten tourney with the No. 1 seed. But I'd expect the Wolverines to crack the top four seeds for the conference tournament. The biggest threat (other than OSU) should be Michigan State. The Spartans will be hungry after losing twice to Michigan last season, and even without Delvon Roe the Spartans should be a tough team.

As far as starters go, my guess is that senior Stu Douglass will start at the point position at the beginning of the season, but by the time conference play kicks off the job will be relegated to freshman Trey Burke. Douglass is a great sixth man who offers spot-up shooting and instant scoring off the bench for the Wolverines. Senior Zack Novak, sophomore Evan Smotrycz and sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr. will fill out the final three spots on the outside for Michigan. And redshirt sophomore Jordan Morgan will be inside, though I do believe he'll be splitting significant time with sophomore Jon Horford. But Morgan wins the starting spot because he has more game experience.

Chantel Jennings covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. She can be reached at jenningsespn@gmail.com or on Twitter at @chanteljennings.