Ben, you guys looked like you worked pretty well together, you and Bredeson. Talk about that transition and how hard or easy it was and what you thought of it.
“I wouldn’t say hard or easy. It was different. Obviously I haven’t played tackle in a few years. Bredeson’s done really well as a freshman. He’s doing really well. Smart kid, knows what’s going on in the film room. I was very happy with his effort and very proud of him. We’ll see what happens. It was a fun transition. I always liked being a tackle, but whatever’s best for the team we’ll do that.”
Chris or Jourdan, you guys win 41-8 but you give up a late touchdown and you give up the long running play. How much does that help your coach Don Brown to be able to get in that film room and say, ‘Okay, here are some things we need to clean up’ and not to get too confident after a big win?
CW: “Yeah, I think we played pretty good as a defense as whole against Rutgers and Wisconsin and Penn State, going back a few weeks. We obviously know we’re a good defense, but at the end of the day there’s always things we can get better at, always things we can improve on as a D-line. And linebackers and secondary, obviously, as a whole. So, we’ll watch film today and see what we can do. Obviously want to stop those long runs, the late touchdown, but like I said, there’s things to get better at.”
Jourdan, Coach reemphasized every game’s a championship game, [and said] we prepare like we do for everybody. Especially for an in-state guy, does it take a conscious effort to control emotion when it’s a rivalry like this?
“I’m not really an overemotional guy. I really just love the game of football and always prepare for every single game like it’s my last. So, that’s what all of us do, especially on the defensive end of the ball. Not saying that Michigan State—not trying to slight them or anything, but it’s just another game, really, on the schedule.”
Ben, what’s this rivalry mean to you as an in-state guy?
“I mean, as everyone knows as a kid I was a hockey player, but when I first got to college and hearing about it from Taylor Lewan and Mike Schofield and Elliott Mealer and what the rivalry meant to them, it just kind of set the standard for what the rivalry is. At the same time, we’ve got to focus on this week just like we do every week. It’s just another obstacle we have to get across that’s going to take us to our end goal, and that’s just to win as many games as we can and be the best that we can and play the best of our game. So, I think as a team we’ve done really good at that this season and I’ve been really proud of the guys and how they handle every game.”
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What memories do you guys have of the last punt last year and the aftermath of how you felt?
CW: “Braden and I, I think Braden was on the field with me. We were on punt last year. Obviously it’s a devastating play. It’s a shock. You kind of scratch your head and say, ‘What just happened?’ It’s played on Big Ten Network probably once a week, so you flip through the channels and you see things like that. At the end of the day, we’re a new team. It’s a new season. We fixed some of the mistakes. You look at the past and you kind of say what can we do to get better, and that’s what we’re doing this week and each and every week going forward.”
JL: “It was a learning experience. We just corrected what happened on special teams and we move forward. Coach Harbaugh always talked about how we’re going to handle this better than any other team could ever handle it. So, he was right. We just go on and play the remainder of our games, and looking to this year, we’re just trying to go out there and execute in East Lansing.”
BB: “Yeah, looking at last year, like Chris said, we were out there on the field and I think Jourdan said it perfectly. You look at what happened and you move on and you focus on the next thing that you have, the task. Just like in life, if something goes wrong you look at it, you learn from it, and you move on. That’s all you can do.”
Two-part question. First, Jourdan, last year you and Aaron Burdbridge battled very aggressively against each other. When you look at Michigan State’s receivers with Corley, Madaris, Felton, is there any one guy that particularly stands out to you?
“No, they have a good corps. Those guys can get open and make plays. They’ve been doing it the whole year, so definitely go out there and just go out there and execute like I would any other game, [and] prepare as intensely as I would any other game.”
And for either you or Chris, their offensive line has lost some pieces, a young quarterback—how much do you guys think about that as far as a pressure point of the game, getting to a young quarterback, getting to a struggling offense?
CW: “Whether it’s a struggling offense or an offense that’s been dominating the whole year, we as a defense and Coach Brown’s philosophy is to be aggressive. Our goal each week is to hit the quarterback as many times as possible, get into their face, disrupt the pass, get pressures, get sacks, get knock-downs. As a defensive line that’s what we live for, so it doesn’t matter if they’re a first-round pick or a struggling offense. Our mentality is the same each and every week.”
Ben, what’s the biggest adjustment going back to tackle, and as a former hockey player, how much does your footwork in that sport translate to being an offensive tackle?
“I think with hockey it’s fast, there’s speed, and there’s always quick transitions, so the footwork of being out at tackle, things are faster and the guys are lighter and quicker and much more agile. Not saying the guys inside aren’t agile, just the general consensus is that everyone on the outside is faster. I think just having quick footwork and trying to get used to it. The game does change when you get to the edge, so my biggest adjustment is just getting used to the technique and the speed changes.
“And I’ve been working with Erik Magnuson a lot, just things that he’s brushed up on just to get things back under my feet because it’s been a couple years. Honestly, on Saturday I felt comfortable. Just got to keep looking at the little things, just like I would at guard: what did I do right, what did I do wrong, what do I have to keep improving and go from there.”
I know you said it’s just another game, but isn’t it important as seniors to start turning the tide on the rivalry games? This would be the first big step toward that.
JL: “It’s important for every game, so if we look at every game the same and intensely focus on every single game like it’s our last, then we’ll be undefeated. I mean, that’s the plan. That’s the ultimate goal is to go undefeated and not look at any game as one better than the other or one weaker than the other, to prepare like we have nothing else to prepare for. That’s really our mindset, that’s Coach Harbaugh’s mindset, that’s the defense, offense, special teams’ mindset and that’s really how we look at it. We can’t look at Michigan State as the end-all be-all because it’s not, because if we win the Michigan State game and lose the other games it really doesn’t matter about our tradition or our legacy.”
Going along the same lines, for Chris Wormley, the fifth-year guys are the only guys on this team that have the experience of a team win against Michigan State. Have you talked about that at all this week as far as the message and that kind of stuff like how to prepare?
“No, because especially me, I was out with the ACL so I didn’t even dress or suit up or anything like that. I don’t think we really knew what it meant to play in a type of game like this, knew what it meant to be in a type of situation like this as freshmen that didn’t play, so there’s not much to say. We’ve got to continue to work each and every day and come out with a win on Saturday.”