"This week, and we talked about it earlier on Monday, is always a different week. We had two very good sessions. You always start early it seems like for this game, but in preparation we were outside yesterday. Had a really good practice. Team’s working hard with the preparation. We got a lot that we've got to correct from a week ago but there's a lot to build off from a week ago also. The big thing is you always, listening to coach Schembechler and coach Moeller and coach Carr throughout the years, you want to play your best at the end of November. That's what we're trying to do, have our best performance on Saturday. Great rivalry. We've talked about it and it’s special. Unless you've coached in it and played in it I think sometimes it's hard to explain, but the intensity in this game is like no other you'll play."
Do you bring in special speakers? You mentioned Mo and those guys. Do you bring those guys in? I know Mo’s around here a lot. Does he come in and talk?
"At times you do. We have in the past. It hasn't been every year but yeah, we've had people come in. We do a lot of that in August during camp because you've got those days and you’ve got each other so you refer back to some of those if you're not bringing somebody in."
Bo was famous for every practice they did something for Ohio State. Is that how you handle that?
"Not every practice. We talk about it. It's visually up here in this building all the time [the countdown clock], and we talk about it weekly if not daily about the rivalry and the extent of it."
But you don't do something specific and practice for Ohio State every week?
"Not every week."
For a player like Mason Cole or Bryan Mone, what is this first experience like? How do you bring them into the rivalry and what is it like for them to go into it?
"I think a couple things. Number one, you bring up those two true freshmen. Playing at South Bend this year and then at Michigan State and now going to Columbus, which we've never done that, and we've never done that with those two teams [on the road] in the same year so playing in those venues, and Michigan State playing a night game on national television – er, Notre Dame, I think that's part of it. I think the passion in Spartan Stadium is hopefully something they can refer to but as I said earlier this is even a louder environment. It'll be a test but they've been playing football a long time and that's, at the end of the day, what it is is playing football."
[After THE JUMP: So about last year…]
You've been playing against Urban now for a couple years and you get another chance against him. What does he do necessarily with his team that works well? What are you seeing when you go up against him that maybe you have to prepare for differently?
"Well, I think that the quarterbacks have been pretty good and I think that's always a big part of it. From offensively, the offense itself in a lot of ways you play against during the course of the year. I think we both always have a little something different for each other in this game from a systematic approach when you look at offense of scheme, defensive scheme, kicking. I think like any other game you want to make sure you've covered all your bases and so that part of it."
What's your relationship like with Urban?
"I don't know if I – I don't have a whole lot of friends, period but we're professional."
We asked a lot of the guys what the difference was last year in that game, and they say it's a rivalry game, it was different, what have you, but there were stretches in that game where you guys outplayed what some would consider one of the best teams in the country last year and before that you hadn't. How has that not been able to translate to these other games, and what was different about that game other than the fact that it was a rivalry game?
"Yeah, I think we took care of the ball better in that game. I think we had some explosive plays that were a big part of it, but from the standpoint of knowing the formula for it believe me, we'd like to have that every week so I don't know if you know the formula. Every team is different. Every game is different, even though there may be a common same opponent. I can't tell you any more than that."
It has to be a bit more than they just got fired up because it was a rivalry game. They played too well for it just to be an emotional thing.
"Yeah, probably true. They executed well."
Just been hard to carry it over?
"Again, I think every team is different [and] every game is different, and I think if we knew the answer to that completely we'd try and duplicate it every week."
Obviously this is a passionate game. Urban has told his team that if you throw a punch, if you start a fight, you’re dismissed from the program. Do you send a similar message to your team before this game or do you encourage the passion?
"Well, you encourage the passion but there's also poise and composure and you never want to hurt your team. It's still the team, the team, the team so if you do get kicked out of the game or get a dumb penalty I'd say both of those things hurt the team and we want to make sure we don't hurt the team."
MGoQuestion: Knowing that they’re going to want to push the pace and play fast, do you do anything different in practice this week compared with what you've done in weeks past preparing for other up-tempo teams?
”You know, I think that we have always practiced with an up-tempo style, especially on the defensive end of the field with the look teams. I think the emphasis on that has always been very good. I think we lost a little discipline last week and that's something that we’ll correct and have an example to how not to do it and build on.”
Jake's [Ryan] up for the Butkus award. His move to the middle; just talk about the year he's having.
”Well, it's flattering for him to be up for that. I think also it's something where they made a good decision and a right decision. His development in his time here and his development just in a year playing on the inside I think has been something that we are real proud of and a lot of that comes from Jake and a lot of that comes from Greg and how he's coached him.”