Funchess, Gardner, Taylor
This one’s for Devin and Devin. That first half you came out and really made a statement. What was going through your mind? Especially, Devin, with that back of the endzone catch. What was one your minds in that first half?
Funchess: “The preparation and practice. We prepared from the later parts of camp and then the week before the game so it was just preparation and practice. We were just doing it just like we practiced. Pitch and catch, and that’s what you saw on Saturday.
Gardner: “We were just in really good sync and you could see the work we put in through the-
/Devin Funchess is told his mic isn’t on.
Funchess: “You mean I’ve got to repeat what I said? I told you it wasn’t on. I tried to check it.”
/laughter. The picture above is taken.
Gardner: “As I was saying, I feel like our preparation throughout camp, like you said. I feel like we were in really good sync and that’s pretty much it. Just focus on what we had to do one each play. Not look forward or look back.”
Raymon, Brady told us you played probably the best football game that you played. That’s pretty high praise because you know how coaches are, they don’t every want to come out and say that. Talk about your performance in that game and also look forward to Notre Dame and what your greatest concern is.
Taylor: “I’ve been working a lot on technique through fall camp. Just keep coming to work and keep working hard technique-wise. He said I did great technique[-wise]. They didn’t throw too much but my technique was great. For Notre Dame I just want to come out and compete and just keep working and just get the job done.
What about Everett Golson? What kind of problems does he create because he’s one of those quarterbacks like Devin who can beat you with the run?
RT: “He’s fast. He can get out of the pocket and sling the ball up. He can make plays and beat you deep if you get off your man so he’s an explosive player.”
After watching film, Ray, what was the best part of the defensive performance on Saturday?
RT: “The defensive backs pressing a lot. They said we were a defense that played off a lot so we came up to press. The technique was great on Saturday, but that was last week. We’re looking forward to Notre Dame week.”
This is for any of the players. When you look at the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry what stands out about it for you and what does the rivalry going on hiatus take away from college football, or does it take anything away from college football?
DG: “I feel like it’s a great rivalry. You don’t really have to talk abut what kind of rivalry it is, everybody knows. The type of impact it has on college football and they type of implications it has around the country in the past so, yeah, that’s pretty much it.”
[After THE JUMP: Devin Gardner says the thing you probably saw on Twitter but should still read in context]
Devin Gardner, you remember the pain Denard felt the last time he went over to Notre Dame. What is it like, the challenge of going in there especially in a night game setting because they’ll be pretty whipped up with it being the last game for a while between these two teams?
DG: “We don’t worry about stuff like that. We just go out and play the game in a different place. We’re going to treat it just like we’re at home. It’s going to be loud there and we’re going to prepare for that in practice and we have all camp. We’ve been practicing with loud music and it’s hard to hear so we’re [working] on our non-verbal communication. I think we’re going to prepare even more this week and we’ll be ready when we get there.”
Coach Hoke has talked a lot about the leadership on this team and [how] that’s been the difference so far this year. How do you guys make sure heading into such a big rivalry game on the road that the younger guys are ready and that they understand what this game means?
DG: “I feel like they have a good understanding of what this game means. I don’t feel like too much has to be put on that. We’re going to practice aggressively and a lot of pressure’s going to be put on us so the freshmen have already gotten a chance to feel the type of intensity that you need to have when you want to win football games. I don’t think this game’s going to be any different.”
Devin Gardner, it was kind of interesting to hear coach Hoke talk about precision and that’s what he’s looking for more from in the passing game. You were 13 out of 14. What does that mean with respect to you and what you were doing out there. What does he mean that you have to be more precise?
DG: “I just want to be perfect. Completed a lot of balls and a lot of them could have been thrown better. If I put it on the left shoulder it could have been on the right shoulder, just small things like that. I just want to be as perfect as possible and that’s what’s going to help us win. I feel like everybody, Ray, Devin…Funchess, everybody on the team is striving for perfection and just trying to be the best we can and if I can do better I’d like to do better.”
Devin Gardner, you guys over the last couple of years in these big road environments have not gotten the win. Why is this team different? Why is this team ready to win a game on the road?
DG: “I really don’t know how to answer that. I just know that we play hard and the intensity we have in practice, it’s like we’re playing a real game in practice every day. They’re putting a lot of stress on us and it’s really hard to communicate with loud music and things like that and that’s a big thing when you go on the road. Just communication, that’s usually the thing that stops teams from being as successful as they want to be is being able to communicate. I feel like we worked on that all through camp and will continue to do it and that should help.”
With the Michigan-Notre Dame game in particular, you had one of your more memorable games against Notre Dame last year. You grew up in the state. Personally, for you, will you miss seeing this when you’re gone from here?
DG: “Oh yeah, no doubt. Everybody knows how big this rivalry is and it sucks that it has to go and [that] it’s not appreciated by everybody but I really appreciate it growing up here and seeing all the great games and being able to participate in it was amazing for me. I get one more shot to do it.”
For both the Devins, we’ve had eight months of talk of new coordinator, this is going to be a different offense. You’ve gone through a first game. What did it feel like as opposed to what you were doing last year in terms of approach, in terms of having the coordinator right on the sideline, all that.
DF: “I mean, it was different. We finally got to play somebody else except our own defense. We had to go out there and make our mark. Like we said, you don’t get a second time to make a first impression so it was great with that. And then having coach Nuss on the sideline, that was great too because he got to really sit down and explain things on the white board to us that we needed to fix instead of being up in the press box talking to him over the headsets so I liked that approach that he had on the sidelines.”
DG: “For me personally it was great having him on the sidelines but I just was excited to get a chance to finally get a chance to get tackled. I never thought I’d ever say that because I hadn’t been hit since Ohio. I didn’t know how I’d respond. I didn’t know how it’d feel but it felt great to get a chance to get tackled a little bit, you know. Mix it up, like you said, against another team. I’m really sick of throwing against Ray all the time. It was exciting to play against another team and the way we came together and continued to play hard. Even when we felt like the game was out or reach we continued to play hard which is a great sign because in the past we’ve not come out the way we needed to against teams we felt we’re better than and that was great, that was the mentality we brought to the game and we did a great job.”
On the flip side, new coordinator leading Notre Dame’s defense. When you look at them on tape, are you seeing anything that’s dramatically different than what you were approaching last season?
DG: “I mean, there’s some differences. Coach Nuss played against their defensive coordinator too so we know their players and he knows their schemes and we’re going to work hard this week preparing for them and we’ll be ready on Saturday.”
Ray, it’s obvious what you guys did well as a secondary, but what did you personally like about what your position group did against Appalachian State and what kind of preparation are you guys gearing toward for Notre Dame? Have you guys gotten a chance to watch a lot of film on their receivers?
RT: “Like I said before, we came up to be aggressive in press. Against Notre Dame we’re going to try to do the same thing. We will do the same thing. Press coverage, being aggressive, get our hands on the receiver. Play from there.”
Devin Funchess, there’s a pretty big size advantage you will have. Their corners aren’t that big. How do you prepare for that? Do you kind of see it as a different matchup when there’s a size advantage or do you see different things looking on film?
DF: “I mean, looking at them I do see the size matchup though but I think they’re going to play me different this week because they saw what I did in the first week so that’s going to open up my other receiving crew throughout the game along with the tight ends as well. We just have to go through our preparation this week to see how we’re going to play.”
Devin Gardner, you touched on it. You played against your defense all fall camp. How has it changed from last year’s defense that you also played against in practice?
DG: “They’re so fast to the ball and aggressive. We have a lot of team speed on defense this year. I mean, not that we didn’t have it last year but I feel like we’re faster this year. Everybody’s getting to the ball and it’s hard to make one guy miss and get out of there when it’s like ten guys coming after that. It makes it really difficult to be successful running the ball and not to mention they kind of knew all our plays by the end of camp and everything. It was great playing against that defense though because that prepared us for the season. We have a pretty good defense. I really like our defense and I feel like they’re going to make a big splash this year and I’m lucky…well, Dev and I are lucky we were able to play against them for a whole month.”
One thing that struck me was with 1:08 to go in the first half and it’s a second-down play for Appalachian State and Brady calls a timeout. He’s sending a message to you guys that even if he can only get you 30 seconds he’s thinking he wants to score again. Talk about…
DG: “Yeah, he came over and told us, ‘we’re not messing around, man. If we get a chance to go score we’re going to go score again.’ And you’ve got to love that mentality from your head coach. It’s a tough mentality that we’ve had this year and I was excited. It’s always nice to score touchdowns.”
Devin Gardner, we talked a lot last year about your chemistry with Jeremy [Gallon] and how close you guys were and how well you worked together. It seemed that you and Funchess had a pretty good rapport. Have you done anything to work on that and how do you feel that is between the two of you?
DG: “I feel like we worked hard all summer. Coming in, getting extra work. A lot of the same things me and Jeremy did. Throwing fades over and over again, just all different kinds so we can be prepared for any situation. I feel like that’s helped us a lot. That’s pretty much it. And I also hosted him when he was a recruit and stuff.”
For Ray, talk about communication in the secondary on Saturday. Did that pretty much go off without a hitch? Were you guys making the checks that you were supposed to be making, things like that, from the safety position?
RT: “Yeah. But it wasn’t perfect so we went over the mistakes yesterday and we know this week we really need to get our communication down. Like I said, it wasn’t perfect. We missed a couple plays out there but this week we know it’s going to be a challenge and we’ll have to get everything down pat. We have to be perfect this week if we want to win.”
Were the two plays, the big play and the touchdown play, was that a lack of communication?
RT: “Yeah, that was a lack of communication on those plays. But we went into the meeting room and we got them all settled down so we’re ready. We’re ready to ride.”
Last time Michigan State press covered Notre Dame they threw deep all game long. There’s no game where the coaches aren’t going to worry about getting beat deep but do you think that gets an extra emphasis this week?
RT: “Just play football [Ed.- I think that’s what he said]. Press coverage, long balls, whatever happens is going to happen. We just want to play our defense and like I said, if we get beat on a deep ball we’re just going to keep playing our defense. Snap and clear. Just keep competing. That’s our mindset for this year and just be aggressive, keep competing and keep working at it. That’s it.”
For Devin Gardner, all offseason everyone talked about the freedom you would have at the line of scrimmage out there and coach Hoke just said you made a great check on third down that turned into a sixty yard gain. Finally having that freedom to do some different things, what was that like on Saturday?
DG: “I mean, it’s pretty good. Like I said before, I just try to go out on every play and focus on that play and focus on what my job is and what I have to do. I feel like that’s what all my teammates are doing.I feel like that’s the kind of mentality that’s helped us be successful on each play. I just try to focus on what I have to do and what my job is. On that play I came out, I focused on what I had to do and on third down all I had to do was hand the ball off, so that’s pretty exciting for me.”
Brady said this is one of those measuring stick games because these programs are so similar. Is that how you guys approach it? That this is the real test to see where this team really is?
DG: “Definitely. Without a doubt. I’m looking forward to it, too.”
What about Notre Dame will give you that real impression of where Michigan is?
DG: “They’re a good football team.”
My other question is about Devin [Funchess]. How good can he be in your opinion?
DG: “He could probably be the best receiver to ever play here.”
That’s a pretty big statement.
DG: “Yeah, it is.”