[I'm behind on the Mattison presser transcript. It will be posted this evening.]
- Drew Dileo is still questionable to return this week.
- No turnovers.
- Stop the run.
- Be physical.
- Don't commit penalties.
“Good practices so far this week. Gonna have a really good one today. Got outside, did a little more crowd noise, trying to recreate the atmosphere, which you never can totally. You play on the road in this league, especially at certain places, it’s a hostile environment. Communication’s going to be particularly important on both sides of the ball.”
If you were granted a wish on both sides of the ball, what two things would they be?
“Taking care of the ball from an offensive perspective. That’s something high up there that is something that is important. You just look at games during the year, you look at NFL games, the turnover margin is so critical. Defensively, I think the transition – we’ve got to stop the run. Langford’s had three very good weeks. Overall with him and the other backs, they are 100-and-some yards a game. Might be close to 150 with the way they’ve been playing.”
In this game specifically, the team that rushes for more yards has traditionally won the game –
“I saw that somewhere, and it’s probably true. But there’s also years when it hasn’t, so you have to do what’s best for you as a team when you think you can have success. And both teams will do that.”
Why has that been the case?
“I think you could go back and look at any games, and the team that runs the ball the best is usually going to be the team that wins.”
Drew Dileo’s status?
“He did some things yesterday. We’ll go more today, see how he progresses. Same thing on Thursday. He’s doing some of the things we want him to do. I think he’s a viable guy for us.”
Do you expect him to be your holder in the kicking game even if he can’t play receiver?
“Yeah. I would think so. I think that’s fair to say.”
Jake Ryan and Kyle Bosch had a kerfuffle in practice the other day.
“Those things are — that’s just football. Those things just happen.”
Is that something you want this week?
“Yeah I think they are. I think that’s … I don’t know how many years I’ve been here now, but I think that’s always this week. There’s pretty good edge. We try and drive the edge every week. But this week, like the end of November, there’s an edge.”
Are your players more prepared to play in East Lansing this year than in 2011?
“Yeah. Team’s are different. There was a lot – it was our first year. I don’t know how well we knew each and every guy on that team. Until you play every game, though, that game, you don’t know. They can sit there and look me in the eyes – you don’t know, because it’s one of those games you’re going to play through the whistle. Every hit’s going to be a little harder. There’s going to be some physicalness to it. And that’s the way it’s going to be played. Until you do it, I don’t think you understand it.”
Do you explain that to your kids?
“Yeah we always try to communicate that. Especially there’s a fine line, double-edged sword, whatever you want to call it, about how far you want to go with it. At the end of the day, the ball’s kicked off and you have to go play. Simple as it is. Have to go execute.”
Are you hesitant giving Derrick Green more snaps because Fitz has been so reliable?
“I think that’s part of it, but I think it also – I don’t think we’ve been comfortable with where we’re at in some games. That’s probably what you’re asking, but trying to get him early enough is always big and see how he does. But is there a comfort level with a senior compared with a freshman? I think in any game, but yes. No doubt.”
Do you feel good about the offensive line? Kyle Bosch?
“Yeah. I like Bosch.”
How do you feel about a freshman going into that environment?
“Well, you grow up sometime. But yeah, it’ll be intense. I know one thing about Bosch: Bosch is a pretty tough guy. He’s pretty tough.”
You mentioned growing up. As a team, is this one of the moments where you have to turn a corner?
“Well, to some degree, each week is measured, and this week, because we’re playing a really good football team, a really good defensive team, and their offense has been really good the last three weeks, too, they’re a good football team. Their special teams are good. Their punter is outstanding. Would this be a defining moment? I don’t know. I think it’s a learning moment. You learn a little bit more about your guys as a team. Until you put anybody in those kinds of games in that environment, and that’s where we’ve got to do a good job of what we do and the preparation for them.”
What’s your hunch on Dileo?
“Well he’s too short to play and too slow to play, but he’s tougher than most people.”
So he’ll play?
“I didn’t say that, but I like Drew Dileo an awful lot.”
Jeremy Jackson got some snaps last week when Dileo was out.
“And Jeremy did a nice job. I don’t know if he had a reception, but blocking and route-running and stuff like that, he did a really good job that way.”
What about the guys making up for AJ Williams?
“There’s three guys. There’s Jordan Paskorz, who’s played a little bit in every game. You’ve got Jake Butt, who’s gotten better and better, who can block the line of scrimmage pretty good, and you got Funch. Those are the guys. You run some of the offense with an H-back or a fullback kind of like Aaron Shea. You’ve got that you can do, and you go with those three guys. You want everybody. I’d like to have Drake Johnson and Ondre Pipkins and those guys, but you’ve got to move forward.”
Any former players coming to talk to the team?
“You know, not this week.”
Are you comfortable with Funchess being matched up against physical corners?
“I don’t know. I think they’ll try to send some messages, and we’ll see how Funch [will respond] and I think he’s well aware of that. The in-state kids, they understand this game better than out-of-state kids. They’re playing against teammates, guys they played against in high school. I think for him it’ll be fun. They’re pretty good at corner. They’re pretty talented. [Darqueze] Dennard is a high round pick with what he can do. We’ll have to use technique and fundamentals.”