so then Simba gets hit on the head- this is where it gets really good- and he says… [Fuller]
Your thoughts on the line play after watching film?
“Thought it was good. Graham Glasgow stood out the most and he was our offensive player of the game. Also to note, Ben Braden continued to be an ascending player. He might have got the silver medal, which was good to see. But for the line, line play’s been the same.”
Talk about Joe Kerridge. He’s obviously a captain, but what he brings you leadership-wise and what he brings you on the field.
“A++ from day one in terms of work ethic, leadership, role model, example. Been really good. Good to see him back out this week. Warms your heart to see a fullback pop a run for…what was it? 36? 34? Heartwarming! So, nice to see the fullback position do that.
“Sione Houma also has been outstanding. Both in the way they’re blocking and the way they’re running the ball. Haven’t had fullbacks like this, talented runners when they have the football in their hands. Been heartwarming to see the fullback dive be successful.”
What made that play successful? Was it the play fake to De’Veon, or whose blocking was most central to making that successful?
“Yeah, everybody. Everybody who doesn’t have the ball is essential. In terms blocking and carrying out fakes, everybody becomes a blocker who’s not carrying the ball.”
A lot of coaches and players in football and other sports talk about consistency and trying to stay consistent with a demeanor and a message. What’s been that most consistent message that you and your staff have brought to this team that has made it successful?
“I don’t know. I don’t know what the most consistent message would be. What we hope for and look for in consistency is being consistently good, as opposed to being consistently average. I don’t know what else to say about that.”
You had said after Maryland that you thought Channing [Stribling] was just a one-week injury and he didn’t play the other day. Is this a longer-term situation with him?
“Yeah, it’s longer than a one-week. He was very, very close this past weekend. He could have played, but thought it was more prudent to not play him.”
Do you expect to play him this weekend?
[After THE JUMP- It’s State week, so you know what that means: quoting Rafiki from The Lion King]
Talk about the decision to take down the countdown clocks for Michigan State and Ohio State, and this rivalry and your memories of it. and its meaning
“That was a while ago, the first part of your question there. What does the rivalry mean? It’s a trophy game. Really want to get the best grades, want to win the most awards, want to excel at sports and this is a game that has a trophy associated to it so that’s an award. Want to win it.”
Can you talk about the countdown clocks?
“Yeah, I just said that was a while ago.”
“I can’t really recall.”
How quickly did it happen after you got here?
“I don’t recall. It was a while ago.”
Along those same lines, how important is it to establish yourself first off within the state as the team. You know, Michigan State has kind of dominated this rivalry in recent years. Is it important to establish yourself as the team in the state?
“To really address your question about countdown clocks or your question on…winning the next game is the goal. That’s the most important thing. There’s nothing more important than that from where you stand in this week, so…10 out of 10.”
I imagine you know the numbers: Michigan State’s won six of the last seven games. Are you in tune with how those games have gone and the physical nature they’ve seemed to control Michigan with, and is that something that’s a focus this week for you guys?
The physical nature of how they’ve beaten Michigan like that.
“Think about The Lion King: Simba gets hit over the head and tells ‘em, ‘Yeah, the past can hurt. You can either run from it or embrace it and learn from it.’ I think that’s exactly what he said, so those seem like very wise words. We’ll go about that.”
You talked about [how] you like the way this team works and prepares for each week. Is this the week where it’s just all preparation like any other week, or is there just a little extra energy in the building because of a rivalry game?
“Yeah, again, I’m sure there’s gonna be attempts made to build the game up, etc. But we’re just, we’re working and not worrying. Have a chance maybe to hear what’s out there. We’ve just been down there going about our business. May have a chance to get the ear to the railroad track and see what’s out there, but we’re working and not worrying right now.”
MGoQuestion: At times we’ve seen you rotate a linebacker back as a deep safety. What’s the goal of that, and what are some of the advantages of being able to do that?
“The advantages are to present a Cover 2 look that really is a Cover 3 look. Show a two-deep safety look with the middle of the field open and then run a middle linebacker back to the middle, which really is a three-deep zone.”
Now that you’ve had a chance to watch the film from the weekend and see the opening kickoff did you discover something, and how much of that play is Jehu and how much is everyone else?
“The greatest share is Jehu. I mean, you’re the returner; you’re wearing the big sombrero. Got the greatest share. It’s a unit effort. It’s a team effort. As we said before, one person’s the ball carrier and everyone else is the blocker and that particular play was well schemed. The blocks were crisp and sharp, and the timing of the blocks was outstanding. Result was a touchdown.”
The so-called experts seem to think that Michigan is ahead of schedule-
“The scribes, the pundits, the so-called experts?”
‘Ahead of schedule’ is the word everybody’s using. I’m just wondering if since you took the job if you ever in your mind thought about a schedule, and are you ahead of it?
“No, didn’t think about it. Just…remains today the same thoughts. See if we can’t better today than we were yesterday and see if we can’t be better tomorrow than we were today.”
So far from what you see on film, can you talk about Connor Cook and the options he has in the passing game?
“Yes. Outstanding quarterback. The record…the record speaks for itself: 29-3. That says it all.
“And the most outstanding wide receivers that we’ve played against, or may ever. This is an explosive, talented group of eligible receivers.”
Do you have any relationship with Mark Dantonio at all? Have you had a chance to talk with him at all since you’ve been here or did you know much about him before you got here?
“Yeah, we met. We talked. Been very collegial, professional. Have the utmost respect for him and the job he’s done.”
You don’t seem to be biting on any of our attempts to make this game a little more special. Is it special for you? Do you look forward to coaching in this, or is it really just the next game on the schedule?
“Like I said, we’ve just been going about our business down there at Schembechler Hall, and I’m sure that there will be a lot of attempts made to make it…it’s already big. It’s- the game is big enough. Fair, healthy, honest competition with a heck of a good opponent. That’s enough.”
Thoughts on how Royce [Jenkins-Stone] stepped in and did for Mario?
“Really good. Thought he played really loose, focused…experienced ball player. He’s been there many times before. We’ve seen it many times in practice. Just…he gives you everything he has, which is a lot. He’s a very talented player who brings a real good dimension to the defense. Always like his demeanor; real serious about being good and doing his job, and he does it very well so we really had high expectations for him and he delivered.”
What stands out in your mind with the Michigan State defense?
“Well, this is a very good scheme. They know it extremely well. They play it, they execute it. In order for this defense to be successful and good they’ve got to have great corner play, which they have again. They repeatedly have that. It’s a must. Then the inside rushers, a good pass rush and contain. They can do it all with the front four, and they do it very effectively. Sound, sound, and they understand it well and play their defense very good.”
A lot of times with in-state rivalries one’s up, the other’s down; it’s kind of a see-saw thing. Do you believe that Michigan and Michigan State as programs can compete at a high level at the same time?
You talked about the offensive line earlier. It seems like they’re getting better as the game goes on; they’ve been really good in the fourth quarter the last couple weeks. How have you seen that play from where you are during games? Have you seen them improving as the game goes on?
“Improve? I guess. Ascending, yes. It’s very important…and again, they’re experienced players who’ve been there before and work extremely hard. Cohesive group. You expect it from them, and they deliver on that. Better and better. Building.”
With the nerves and maybe energy among the players possibly being a factor Saturday, how important is it for you guys to have Jake Rudock, especially with his calm demeanor, able to weather anything they throw at him?
“It’s very important, and I think we have that. He’s playing his best football. Preparing, preparing. Consistently good each and every week. Doesn’t get rattled. We talked about that. Come to expect that.”
As someone who’s played in this rivalry, can you kind of explain, is a uniqueness to it in terms of on the field? It’s been said over the years that it’s very physical, that it’s maybe more physical than any other game. Did you notice that when you were playing in this Michigan-Michigan State game?
“Again, the question asks to compare, and I have a thing with that. Comparing this game to that game, or more physical to less physical; seems something always gets diminished when you start talking that way.”
Then to go back to that ‘84 game when you broke your arm, how often have you thought about that moment over the years, like ‘what if?’ You were starting to emerge and get your shot as quarterback.
“I’d refer back to my ‘in the past’ comment. It’s in the past. It’s…sometimes it hurts, and that hurt.”
“You can run from it or you can learn from it. Who said that? Rafiki?”
“Rafiki! Wise words.”
In the offseason you referred to Michigan State as, I think, the biggest guy on the block. I wonder now if midway through the season you still feel the same way?
“There’s no question there. Outstanding football team. It’ll be fair, healthy, honest competition. Looking for a great week of preparation to have that. Big task this week, and our guys will be excited for it.”